Faith

Ten Lepers Cleansed {Luke 17}

12:00 AM



By Lisa Moore

We begin this chapter with Jesus and the disciples traveling to Jerusalem.  They are passing between Samaria and Galilee, and stop to enter a village.  There is a group of ten leprous men made up of both Jews and Samaritans.  They see Jesus from a distance and call out to Him.  Verse 14-17 tells us , "When He saw them, He said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.'  And as they were going they were cleansed.  Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him.  And he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed?  But the nine-where are they?  Was no one found to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 



Many times I've found myself skimming over this miracle Jesus performed because I'm more focused on what is about to happen once Jesus enters Jerusalem.  But when I actually slowed down and spent some time digging in deeper, I discovered the importance of having a faith filled with gratitude.



How wretched those men were.  Because of their leprosy the only people they could associate with was other lepers.  They were shunned.  They could go nowhere near their friends, their loved ones, or even their synagogue.  When people looked at them they were automatically assumed to have been cursed by God.  What a miserable, painful, and lonely existence.  Imagine their hope and excitement when into their village comes Jesus!  The One who they have heard performs great miracles, and who is their only chance for healing.  Now imagine their confusion when they cry out to Jesus for mercy and He simply responds by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests.  



In that time the priests had the final say when it came to diagnosing leprosy.  Only they could declare someone as being "clean" and free of the disease thereby allowing them back into society.  I'm sure these men, looking down at their still infected bodies, wondered why Jesus would tell them to do such a thing.  But it was in that moment that they had a decision to make.  Stay where they were ravished with disease and hopeless, or to put their faith in Jesus and follow His command.  They chose Jesus.  And as they stepped forward in trust and left to find their priests, they were cleansed.  End of story right?  Not exactly.  The Bible goes on to tell us that after realizing they had received their healing, only one of the ten, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus.  This causes Jesus to ask why it was only him, this foreigner who returned.  But why was Jesus upset?  After all didn't the other nine do as He commanded and leave to find the priests?  







All ten men had faith.  But it was only this Samaritan who understood who Jesus truly was.  Unlike his Jewish counterparts, He recognized Jesus not only as a divine Healer, but also as his Redeemer and his Savior.  It is this realization that causes him to return glorifying God. He then falls at the feet of Jesus in praise and thankfulness knowing he is need of salvation.  In turn Jesus tells him to, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." (v. 19).  



All ten of the leprous men received physical healing based on their faith.  But it was only the Samaritan who came to God in dependence and thankfulness.  Because of this, he also received spiritual healing.  Jesus expects us to show gratitude.  Gratitude, giving thanks, and a grateful heart are all a part of God's will for our lives.  And as important as it is to dedicating ourselves to following Christ in faith, it is just as important to remember to thank Him for all that He is, all that He does, and all that He blesses us with each and every day.  

Lisa Moore

Salisbury Steak Recipe

12:16 PM



By Lisa Moore
It's been a rainy chilly weekend, and my guys wanted some comfort food. This definitely fit the bill! Try throwing in some fresh mushrooms and garlic for extra flavor. Served with some creamy mashed potatoes, this rivals any diner dish!
Salisbury Steak
Meat Mixture:

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled (or powdered beef base)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


Gravy:
1 whole onion, halved and thinly sliced (or diced if you prefer)
2 cups beef broth, more if needed for thinning
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon seasoning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet, optional
4 dashes Worcestershire
1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional
Salt and pepper

For the meat mixture: Combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, ketchup, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon and some salt and pepper. Knead until all combined. Form into 4 to 6 oval patties, and then make lines across the patties to give them a "steak" appearance.

Fry the patties in a skillet with the butter and oil over medium-high heat on both sides until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the skillet and pour off any excess grease.

For the gravy: Reduce the heat to medium and add in the sliced onions. Stir and cook until golden brown and somewhat soft, for several minutes. Add the beef stock, ketchup, seasoning sauce, if using, and the Worcestershire. Then combine the cornstarch with a little beef broth and add to the sauce if using. Stir and cook to reduce.

Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and more broth if needed for thinning. Then return the patties to the gravy. Spoon the gravy over the top and let them simmer and heat back up for a couple of minutes.

Money

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart

12:00 AM




By Sandra Wyatt


Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Luke with verses 12:34…


“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”



I chose this verse because it is, in its very nature, a verse of self-reflection.  Here in this verse Jesus is asking:  What is your real treasure? What absorbs your attention and your time? In which world do you live?



There are two kinds of treasure: that which grows old and rots and that which lasts.  If we know that we have treasure in heaven, the need to store treasure here on earth disappears. Jesus is not telling us that we should not have possessions, but He does teach that possessions should be placed within proper priorities.  People and their needs matter, but possessions should not be our focus. 



I know, personally, that I struggle with the my desire for earthly possessions.  I know it is a worldly desire. I must ask myself often, “What is God’s will in this particular decision or situation. Where is my focus?  Is it on His Kingdom or on my pleasure?” I must change my response when tempted to, “I want God’s will, not mine.  I trust in You and rest in Your provision.  My true treasure is stored in Heaven and I am to glorify You here today!”


Have a precious and blessed day everyone!


Angie Benjamin

Handling Money and Possessions {Luke 16}

2:08 AM



By Angie Benjamin

The use of wealth is the major topic of  Luke 16. Wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether it is used as a means to exercise power, a tool of self-indulgence or a resource to serve others. 

In this chapter Jesus tells two parables—the unrighteous steward and rich man and Lazarus—to show that God’s perspective on riches and our perspective are often very opposed. If we want to be truly rich, we need God’s perspective on money.

Wealth's danger is that it can turn our focus toward our own enjoyment, as the rich fool showed in 12:13-21 and as the rich man of 16:19-31 will show. Money is a tool. It is an excellent resource when put to the right use. It can help to build many things of use to others. But to possess money is also to hold a sacred stewardship. Our resources are not to be privately held and consumed but are to be used as a means of generosity, as a way of showing care for our neighbor, as the good Samaritan showed in 10:25-37 and as a restored Zacchaeus will show in 19:1-10.



Jesus' applications extend in various directions. First he notes that people of the world are more shrewd than the people of the light (the disciples) are. People of this world think about how they use their resources. Even if they misuse them, they still give it thought. They think about the long-term benefits of what they acquire. Disciples should apply themselves to honor and serve God by their use of resources. They should think through their actions, both short and long term.

Money cannot come with us to heaven. Its value is limited when it comes to everlasting life. So recognize its limits and use it for others, not selfishly. To gain friends by means of mammon is to use money in such a way that others appreciate you for your exercise of stewardship, your kindness and generosity.

Jesus calls mammon "unrighteous." The NIV is too soft here, calling it simply worldly wealth (NRSV has "dishonest wealth," which is not quite right either). Mammon is called unrighteous not because it is inherently evil but because of the unrighteous attitudes the pursuit of money can produce. If money were inherently unrighteous, then all uses of it would be evil. But that is not Jesus' view (see 19:1-10). The attitude reflected here may be similar to that of 1 Timothy 6:10, where Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money itself is not  evil because of how it brings out distorted values in people.The attitude towards it can be evil. Pursuing money can make people selfish, leading them to take advantage of others, to treat other people as objects and to be unfaithful to God. It tends to reflect an excessive attachment to the world. So it is better not to be attached to the pursuit of wealth.

Possessions are a responsibility, call it time, skills and talents...their use is a test of character, values and stewardship. The one who is faithful in little is also faithful in much. So also the other way around--to be dishonest in little things is to be dishonest in much. Faithfulness with the "little thing" of money indicates how faithful we are with the big things, the true riches of our relationships to God and to others. So if we have not been trustworthy in handling possessions that produce unrighteousness, who will trust us with true riches? The true riches in this passage seem to involve future kingdom service--that is, service for God and to others. True wealth is faithfulness in serving him.

The theme of responsibility continues as Jesus raises the question about being faithful with something that belongs to another so that later one can receive reward for oneself. If someone is unfaithful as a steward, why should that person be entrusted with ownership? Handling wealth is a preparatory lesson for other responsibilities before God.

The entire chapter should make us all stop and think carefully about our attitude toward money...how can you tell if you're slave to money?

Ask yourself... Do I think and worry about money frequently? Do I give up doing what I should do or would like to do in order to make more money? Do I spend a lot  of time caring for my possessions? Is it hard for me to give money away? Am I in debt?

To ponder:
Our use of money is a goo test of the lordship of Christ.
  • Money belongs to God, not us; so let us use it for good.
  • Money can be used for good or eveil; let us use ours for good.
  • Money has a lot of power; let us use our material goods in a way that will show and inspire others to faith and obedience.


Becky Bramlett Austin

Lost and Found {Luke 15}

12:00 AM




By Becky Bramlett Austin



Have you ever lost something that was very important? Do you remember how diligently you searched for it?  Did you think about anything else?  Did you search the same areas over and over again?  

And do you remember the relief, the pure joy, the celebration that came naturally when you finally found what you had been seeking so earnestly to find?

I think we all can relate to such a situation.  When the Scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing sinners and publicans near him, he told three Lost and Found stories that even today we can universally relate to:

1.  THE LOST SHEEP:  Sheep can get lost easily. In that day, a shepherd was very protective of all of the fold.  He was their protection from the elements, from the dangerous terrain, and from the wildlife that would devour them. If a single sheep strayed from the others, it was extremely vulnerable and wouldn’t know how to find its way back.  So too are those lost in their sins. They don’t know how to protect themselves from the dangers around them or how to save themselves.  David could relate: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, For I do not forget your commandments. (Psalm 119:176)” It’s interesting that he uses the active words “Seek”.  That is what Jesus does for us.  He actively seeks and pursues us. For thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I Myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. (Ezekial 34:11)  And Jesus further emphasizes seeking after even one: “ What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”  Jesus came into “our dangerous wilderness”, taking on the form of a human in a very dark, cruel world just to find and save each of us. And when he finds us there is incredible joy and celebration. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (v6)”


THE LOST COIN: “what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”  No one wants to lose their hard earned money.  I’m sure the woman in this story felt the impact of losing one of her 10 coins.  I can imagine that she left no crevice unchecked, no item unturned.  If it took her hours and hours, I’m sure that finding that coin took full priority and all of her attention.  Again, we see the active seeking as in the first story and also the gathering of friends and celebration when the lost coin is found.  Can you imagine God seeking you diligently because he values you dearly? “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)”

But what about the second son.  He does not rejoice that relationship has been restored between the Father and the first son. His focus is on criticizing and judging his brother.  The scribes and Pharisees were doing the same when they criticized Jesus for allowing the sinners to gather near him.  Instead, they should have been rejoicing that these “sinners” were interested in changing their hearts toward God. Are we guilty of the same?  Do we know how to truly rejoice when others draw near to God? Do we gossip and criticize or do we pray for and hope for God to work in every heart we encounter? Do we realize that Jesus came to die for every human being and as the old hymn says, “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Rejoice, my friend, if you were lost and now are found! Rejoice over every lost soul that is brought safely into the fold.




THE PRODIGAL SON:  2 sons.  One is given his inheritance early but he wastes it.  Destitute, and empty handed he returns to the Father.  He returns humble however and truly repentant.  The Father is so excited that his child has returned that he kills the fatted calf to celebrate the restoration of relationship.  We are like that son.  We who are given such abundant blessings and yet we squander and waste our resources on our own pursuits of selfish pleasure and ambition.  I noticed that in contrast to the other 2 stories, we don’t see the Father seek after the son.  But there was no need to. The son knew his way home and he wouldn’t have appreciated the Father coming after him. Sometimes, we need to realize that just because someone seems to be going away from God, that doesn’t mean God has given up on them.  Sometimes they know the way they should go but they have to come to the end of themselves first.  In verse 17, we see that the son came to his senses and was ready to return home. When we come to the end of ourselves, realize how empty handed we truly are and learn to value relationship with our Father above any material gain, then he graciously welcomes us with open arms into fellowship with Him. 

Friendship

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People! {Luke 14}

12:00 AM



By Sue Desmarais

I find that often some of the meaning of a passage can be lost over 2000 years. Take this passage for example;

“And there went great multitudes with him: and He turned, and said unto them,
 ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.’” Luke 14:25-27 (emphasis mine)

Let’s examine this picture before us… A “great multitude”, too many to count, were following after Jesus and He turns and says to the crowd, “Come, join Me and be My disciple and your life will be glorious from this point on!!”

OK, those weren’t quite His words, but some would like to believe they were today! Just think how Jesus’ words actually impacted this great multitude!! The cross was the most horrible, heinous and hated form of punishment reserved for only the very worst criminals, but you and I could probably imagine that the corrupt Roman officials probably liked to use it from time to time to set an example for the Jewish citizens at the time; to keep them in check sort of speak, for thousands of Jews were crucified during that time and not all could have been for murders. Therefore, can you imagine how repulsive Jesus’ words must have been to this multitude pressing in to see and hear Jesus?

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and even his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.

I imagine a collective gasp of horror could be heard at that moment especially coming from His own disciples, for yes, Jesus had said the same to them in so many words a few chapters back (Luke 9:23), but clearly Jesus must have known this was no way to make converts and influence people!! Surely not! Could you just imagine how this must have thinned the size of the crowd? Just how many do you think were still following after Him then?

Only, Jesus did know the impact His words would have, for He goes on to list several examples where it’s feasible to count the cost before proceeding further. Choosing to follow Jesus will be hard! All will face some sort of persecution; some will loose friends, loved ones, even businesses and some would loose their lives. To say that life would be wonderful the moment you give your life to Jesus would be a lie! Therefore, we too would be wise to follow Jesus’ example here, for too many have bought into a lie, and later fall away when the journey becomes difficult.

Those who choose to follow in spite of the possible hardships must after all, “…deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow” Him (9:23). Which simply means; we must surrender all (our rights, wants, desires etc,) placing Him first and foremost in our lives and pick up our cross (our mission and reason we’re here) and follow Him each day.


Being a disciple of Jesus, or a Christian, is more than learning about him; it includes following His leading. The disciples had already “left everything” to follow Him, and the Lord had promised them “a hundred times as much” blessing in return (Mark 10:28-30). Jesus also promised that they would have trials in this world (John 16:33). But He also promised He would never leave nor forsake them and assured them that He had already overcome the world!


The Christian life is not an easier life, but the joy often times outweighs the hardships. We fix our eyes on Jesus, who “for the joy set before him . . . endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


God has set His followers free from the bondage of sin and through the Holy Spirit; we receive wisdom and understanding on how to go forward, encouragement, and the ability to persevere. And we trust that our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18).

There is so much more I’d like to say, but let me close with just a bit of a personal note:

Psalm 1 begins,
“Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.”- Psalm 1:1-3


My husband and I began following Jesus together after we had been married for more than five years and our children were still young. That was over thirty years ago and I can honestly say, our lives haven’t always been easy, but God has definitely blessed us! When asked, I like to say that our marriage is as good as two sinners can get, for I can’t imagine a marriage being any better, though the Lord often enjoys proving me wrong. We’re also blessed with a wonderful close-knit family that also follows Jesus.

I know that had we not chosen to follow Jesus back then we would not be experiencing the joys we do today! I have been blessed far beyond my wildest dreams! (Eph 3:20) There is nothing more I seek or desire in this life that I haven’t already been given! Therefore, should God call me home today I am good to go! But I need to ask, are you?


There were many, I imagine, that turned away and stopped following Jesus that day, but I’m confident that those who chose to remain and follow Him never regretted their decision!

Faith

Free from your disability {Luke 13}

4:29 AM




By Lisa Thayer

Are you ashamed of something or many things from your past?  Have you always been nit-picky?  Maybe some people describe you as particular.   Do you hold a longtime grudge against someone?  Do you put your husband or children down?  Do you put down a coworker or boss?  Do you look at hypocrisy around you in anger or disgust?  

Do you recognize the crippling effects of these?

Are you like this woman who has been crippled by some life circumstance and even the people around you don't realize it?   Yet, Jesus, stoops all the way down to her, and calls her forward in front of everyone, and tells her she is free!  (v. 12)  Free from this bondage!  The synagogue leader hadn't even noticed her!  She'd been coming for 18 years and he hadn't seen the crippling effects of what held her hostage.  Satan is so clever!  He disguises sin from all of us.

Have you ever wondered why the synagogue leader was so upset?  Is this Jarius the synagogue leader we read about back in chapter 8?  It says here in verse 17 that the people were humbled and they glorified God.  What happens to humble people?  Have we judged these people ourselves and thought they were not worthy because they didn't treat this woman ‘right’?  Have we judged this woman? Are we being hypocritical?  Are we like this synagogue leader and have not recognized what a sabbath rest truly is?  Jesus is our rest from works now, just as He is the gate to heaven, where we will rest in Him forever.  There is no sabbath rest besides Jesus.  He alone satisfies the requirements of the law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin.  He is God's plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works.

Last week I received an email from Sylvia Gunter and it happened to arrive a day after I began researching for my post.  I could not have said it better…

Isaiah 42:3. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice."   Psalm 147:3. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds to the promises of God for healing. In His humanity Jesus knew all your griefs, your rejection, your shame and guilt, your infirmities, your wounding, your suffering, your  tendencies to go astray (Isa. 53:1-6). He identified with you in every respect, because He was made like you in every way. Therefore He is able to come to your help (Heb. 2:17-18). He understands feeling bruised, broken, wounded, and barren. He turns them to shouts of joy (Isa. 54:1). He is your healing sacrifice.
Healing prayer is about applying God's healing words to wounded, helpless, and hopeless places of life. Isaiah said that God takes our wounds as an opportunity to display His glory (Isa. 61:3). That's how God can be glorified in the broken places. In the end He "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:4). God can restore what the enemy plundered. He said, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25).

Let the Holy Spirit of truth touch those things He wants to touch, and be blessed to partner with Him to do His work. Give Him all blocks to healing, especially unforgiveness, inner vows, judgments, and hopelessness. Be blessed with the healing love and compassion of Jesus touching everything from the past. Be blessed as Jesus lifts from you the scar tissue of past wounds, be they physical, verbal, emotional, or mental.

Let your spirit lead the way. Choose release, choose to open the doors of the prison of fear.  Ask the Holy Spirit of truth to minister truth, and let Him bring you into His light. Be blessed as He heals deeply at the root, not just put a band-aid to cover over the injury.

Be blessed with the comfort of the Lord for all negative emotions. Look into the face of your tender Abba to heal them all. Allow Him to minister His healing. He feeds you with gentleness and kindness, nourishing you with hope in him, drawing you deeper into His grace.

God told Hezekiah, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears, I will heal you." It is as true today as when it was spoken then. He responds to our tears with healing. Jeremiah said, "Heal me, and I shall be healed indeed." God remains faithful to you. Rest in those words. Breathe in the love and healing of God.

Your Comforter indwells you. He administers comfort and healing in every area of hurt. Be blessed in the peace of God with His joy and strength. Be blessed in the courage of the Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus living in you is bringing you resurrection power. Align yourself with the Spirit of Christ Jesus every moment of every day. Be blessed as He washes those areas that were tender and raw. He brings back to life those parts of your being long denied or buried. Be blessed that He is everything that you need.

Your heavenly Father honors your tears that seek Him, your patience to wait for Him, your eyes to behold Him, your heart to meditate on Him, and your life to show Him forth in the power of the Spirit of Jesus your Lord.




Lisa Moore

The Parable of the Rich Man {Luke 12}

2:29 PM



By Lisa Moore

Luke Chapter 12 begins with thousands of people gathered together to hear the teachings of Jesus and to witness His miracles.  There are so many people, that they are literally stepping over each other to reach Him.  In the chaos Jesus warns the disciples of the "leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (v. 1)   He tells them to ignore the opinions of others and to worry not.  For our God who remembers even the tiny sparrow will never forget those whom He calls his own.  He next instructs them to be without stress when called to defend their faith, for through the Holy Spirit the perfect words would be provided.  It is in the midst of this teaching when a man yells out to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."  Think of that.  Standing face to face with the Lord and making such a shallow request.  But before we scoff at the wasted opportunity this man had being concerned with the pettiness of wealth, if we were to look inside ourselves can we say that we are so different?  For Jesus warns, ""For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." (v. 34)


Now in those days family descent, inheritance rights, and land possession were very important both religiously, and economically.  And by bringing this matter to Jesus this man recognized the authority of Jesus.  But he missed the big picture.  He didn't understand that Jesus didn't come to settle petty disputes, nor did He come to call people to cling to their worldly possessions.  Instead He came to call people to cling to God and to trust Him as our provider.  So in responding Jesus admonishes this man saying, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (v. 14)  Jesus takes this opportunity to warn against the destructive sin of covetousness.  True joy can never be found in things.  True joy comes from having a close, personal relationship with God.  Anything else is a hollow substitution.  To illustrate this point, Jesus tells a parable to teach us how foolish it is to think that life is about money and possessions.



There once was a rich man who had a very productive year.  His crops were so plentiful that he didn't have barns big enough to store the surplus.  Instead of taking his abundance and sharing it with those in need thus honoring God, he decides it would much better for him to build larger barns and store his crop so he could live a life of ease, "eating, drinking, and being merry." (v. 19)  Jesus calls this man a fool in verse 20 saying, "This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?"  Instead of worrying about worshipping God and being thankful for the blessing, this man is worried about his material things which amount to nothing but dust.  Where is your focus?  Is it on pursuing God or storing your crops?  Do you use what God has blessed you with to glorify Him, or is your time and energy spent building bigger barns?  Jesus tells us that instead of storing up treasures for ourselves, we should instead store up treasures in heaven becoming rich toward God.  But how do we do that? 


 First, be anxious for nothing.  Jesus tells us, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." (vs. 21-22)  Needless worry fixes nothing, robs us of our peace, and keeps us from trusting God completely.  By seeking God's kingdom above all else, we can rest in the knowledge that our Father knows exactly what we need and, "has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."  (v. 32)  Finally Jesus tells us that we can be become rich toward God by giving away our things.  He tells us to sell our possessions and give to the needy.  By doing so we "make ourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes nearer nor no moth destroys."  (v. 33)  All we have is from God, and to Him only goes the glory.  We are to be generous with all He had blessed us with.


Jesus ends by imparting wisdom about our hearts and our treasure.  He tells us that wherever our hearts are, there too will be our focus.  If we seek the things of this world, the fleshly desires, our heart is going to follow.  Investing in the things of this world comes with an empty and risky rate of return.  But investing in God brings riches far beyond measure and an eternity of treasure.



Prayer

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart- Prayer

2:13 AM




By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday! Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Luke with verse 11:9…
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
While I was spending time meditating and reading about this verse I found a commentary that spoke about prayer - how we approach our Father with our requests.

The first way we approach our Father in prayer is by asking. It is the simplest to do…simply ask. Ask, and the answer will be given. Is that not what James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5). Ask and it will be given. But remember it must be asked in faith. Did you ask in faith? Did you believe God when you asked? James goes on and says, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:6-8)


God loves to be trusted. Ask God, trust Him to answer, and the answer will be there.
The second way we approach our Father in prayer is to seek… Seeking is not a simple act, it is a process, a series of acts. Jesus says there are areas of life that require more than asking; there must be seeking, searching. 

Something is lost, hidden from us, and our prayer then becomes a search, a plea for insight, for understanding, for an unraveling of the mystery with which we are confronted. Again, the answer is absolutely certain. Seek, and you will find!

The third way we approach our Father in prayer is to knock. A knock is not a single rap, it is a series of raps. It is an asking for admittance, where we seek an entrance, or an opportunity. We come before God and confidently knock, each time making an attempt to enter in, for we are resting on the solid assurance that what Jesus says here is true, “…knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Prayer is not simply asking. Prayer is also seeking and knocking. Knowing and trusting in our heart, mind, and soul that our prayer will be answered for the glory of God.

Have a precious and blessed day everyone!

Faith

ASK in Faithful Prayer {Luke 11}

12:00 AM



By Mari Sandoval

I don’t know if it has ever happened to you, but there have been times when people have approached me asking to pray for them, because they believe that God will answer my prayers, because they pray but apparently nothing happens. They doubt their prayers will be answered! This is a great opportunity for us to minister to them and let them know about God’s Faithfulness and Promises to their children.

Today Luke writes about an occasion: “…as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."  It was probably one of the seventy who made this request, who had not been present on the first occasion, when the Lord gave his prayer to the 12 disciples (Mat. 6:9-15) and the people on the mount.

This disciple had been there watching closely, carefully observing Jesus as he prayed in such a special and intimate way, and longed for this too! 

So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

John had taught his disciples to pray; but not in such a way as that they should call God Father. It was a privilege reserved to the Son of God to give this power to His disciples and to us, too!
This is a prayer that puts God's interests first; it is His name, His kingdom, and His will that are primary.  Prayer isn't a tool to get what we want from God. It is a method to get God's will accomplished in us and all around us, for His Purposes.

 Some see the three greatest things in these three requests. To pray Our Father requires faith, because he who comes to God must believe that He is. To pray Your kingdom come requires hope, because we trust it is to come in fullness. To pray Your will be done requires love, because love is the incentive to obey all of God's will. God also wants us to pray for our daily, practical needs-like our daily bread.

“ Forgive us our sins: We also need forgiveness from God. "As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul." (Murray)

- For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us: God forgives sins, we forgive debts. What we owe to God isn't the same as what others owe to us.

- Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one: We constantly plead to God for strength and protection against temptation and the evil one (1 Corinthians 10:13). True prayer is always offered knowing how weak we are in ourselves, and how much we need the power of God.
 In Luke 11:5-8, Jesus instructs to pray with boldness and persistence:

God often waits for our passionate persistence in prayer. It isn't that God is reluctant and needs to be persuaded. Our persistence doesn't change God; it changes us, developing in us a heart and passion for what God wants.

In Luke11:9-13, Jesus instructs us to pray with a childlike faith: 
“So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who [h]keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened.13 If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”  Yes, we need the Power of His Holy Spirit to accomplish God's will in us and among us!

 Jesus said: “22 “Have faith in God [constantly]. 23 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and [a]does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will]. 24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.” (Mark 11:22-24)

Are there still prayers in your life that have not been answered yet? How long have you been waiting? Only “Believe” = put ALL your trust in Him! It may take more time than you expect, but didn’t we affirm in prayer, “Thy will be done”? It is in His perfect timing!
 We are told to keep on Asking, Seeking and Knocking: ASK in faithful prayer! All three verbs are continuous. “Jesus is not speaking of single activities, but of those that persist." (Morris) These descriptions speak of an earnestness and intensity; all too often, our prayers are merely wishes cast up to heaven, and this is not real prayer.

And while you wait: “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].”(Phil. 4:6-7)  Amen, our Heavenly Father is Faithful!!
 Blessings ladies!

Mari

Becky Bramlett Austin

Eternal Focus {Luke 10}

12:00 AM




By Becky Bramlett Austin


In this chapter, we see Jesus emphasize some important priorities for us as representatives of his Kingdom here on Earth. Each one of us is important, a living stone building up the church.

 “Come to the Lord Jesus, the “stone”that lives. The people of the world did not want this stone, but he was the stone God chose, and he was precious. You also are like living stones, so let yourselves be used to build a spiritual temple—to be holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God. He will accept those sacrifices through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)



1. We have important work to do to share the news of Jesus. 
In the first part of this chapter, Jesus sends out 70 to go before him in pairs, depending on God’s provisions and sharing the Good News of the Gospel with those who would hear.  They didn’t come back complaining but rather came back excited because they were blessed and they had God’s resources to help them on their mission.  God will give us resources too to help us in this work of bringing others to Christ. But no matter how exciting it is to have God empower us to do his work here on Earth, our greatest joy should always be that we have eternal security in Jesus. Keep your eyes on the future joy that is yet to come.  Jesus reminds the disciples “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

2. We are to extend the love of God to a hurting world.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.(v27)  Jesus gives the illustration of the Good Samaritan.  Two priests passed a man in need because they could not feel compassion for his circumstances and did not want to get involved with someone they considered inferior and unworthy.  The Samaritan, however did have compassion and showed mercy.  He went the extra mile to take care of this poor man without thought of recompense or of how much it would inconvenience him.  What about us?  Do we truly have compassion for those in need?  Are we willing to get our hands dirty, get involved?  Are we willing to be inconvenienced because we truly have the love of God and a heart that extends mercy?

3. Do not let the cares of this world hinder your spiritual walk with Jesus.
We are supposed to be responsible people, but our spiritual growth should always be the highest priority.  We have to find a balance between earthly duty and spiritual duty.  Mary did not waste the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus.  Martha, on the other hand was too “cumbered” by the cares of the world to choose spiritual sustenance when she needed it.  Cumbered means “hindered, afflicted, weighed down”.  Could Jesus put your name in the place of Martha’s and say…” you are anxious and troubled about many things”.  If so, then you have not done as Mary and “chosen the good part”. It’s not too late, Make it a priority to spend time with Jesus, to be aware of the earthly cares that compete for your attention and cause you to forsake spiritual growth and sustenance.  Don’t forget that time spent seeking what is of eternal value can never be wasted time.

Love

Let us Love Supernaturally {Luke 9}

12:00 AM



By Sue Desmarais

Chapter 9 in the Book of Luke is full of important truths; most have been included in other Gospels as well, so I decided to write about the one portion of the chapter that is only mentioned here and that is Luke 9:51-56,

 Now when the time was approaching for Jesus to be taken up [to heaven], He was determined to go to Jerusalem [to fulfill His purpose].  He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went into a Samaritan village to make arrangements for Him; but the people would not welcome Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.  When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?” But He turned and rebuked them [and He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they journeyed on to another village.

Can you relate? I mean have you ever treated someone unkindly because they had mistreated you in someway? Ever:

  •  Snickered when you pass a car pulled over for speeding after they were on your tail and finally blew by you going way over the speed limit?
  •  Not smiled and greeted a person because they never greet you, so you both ignore one another in the hall?
  •  Not “liked” someone’s post on Facebook, because they never “like” yours?

It may sound silly, but it happens!

Theologians often refer to this passage in Luke when trying to explain why Jesus named these brothers the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) It seems so out of character for these boys. Why would Jesus choose men like these to become His disciples anyway?

I also thought of a similar time in David’s life that takes place in 1 Samuel 25. David had been kind to Nabal’s servants and hoped Nabal would seek to return the kindness, but instead Nabal insulted David and refused to share his food with him and his men. Upon hearing this, David immediately instructed his men to strap on their swords and set off to destroy Nabal and all that belonged to him. Fortunately, Nabal’s wife, Abilgail was able to reach David before he made it to the home and convinced David that what he was attempting to do was not of God.

In the Old Testament the law of “an eye for an eye” is mentioned twice (Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). Each time, the phrase is used in the context of a case being judged before a civil authority such as a judge. “An eye for an eye” was intended to be a guiding principle for lawgivers and judges; it was never to be used to justify settling grievances personally. However in the New Testament, it seems the Pharisees and scribes had taken the “eye for an eye” principle and applied it to everyday personal relationships. They taught that seeking personal revenge was acceptable. If someone punched you, you could punch him back; if someone insulted you, he was fair game for your insults. Therefore, it may have seemed acceptable to John and James at the time to destroy everyone in the city simply because they refused to be hospitable, but this was not what the Master had been teaching at all!

Jesus had preached from the beginning of his ministry on the Sermon on the Mount that one was blessed to be poor in spirit, to be meek and mourn.  They were blessed to hunger and thirst after righteousness and be filled with mercy; to be pure in heart and a peacemaker. One was even blessed when persecuted for righteousness' sake! They were to rejoice, rather than get even! (Mt 5:3-12)
Jesus even went on to say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...” Matthew 5:35-44
As the New Testament church began, James became the first apostle to be killed (Acts 12:2) but, John was the last of the apostles to die of old age. In John’s epistles, written late in his life, he hints that he still possessed a fervency in his spirit, especially in his denunciations of apostates and deceivers (1 John 2:22; 2 John 7; 3 John 10) but, by then his fervency was definitely tempered by love. In fact, in 1 John the word “love” appears over 40 times!

When John first met Jesus, he was one of the “Boanerges- the “Son’s of Thunder” but after walking with Jesus for a lifetime, he earned a new nickname the “Apostle of Love”, for he constantly emphasized love in his letters:
  • “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).
  • He calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20)
  • He admonishes his fellow believers, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

Scripture also testifies that David’s attitude changed over time as well. Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that the desire to get even somehow when mistreated is natural. Its part of our human nature, but loving others after being mistreated is supernatural and can only be done when one walks surrendered to the Spirit’s power within.

Our attitudes towards others can be used as a barometer to help us gage how closely we’re walking with Jesus at any given moment and whether or not we need to make some adjustments in our walk with Him. Does your love towards others tend to be supernatural and unconditional, or are you only giving out no more than what you’ve already received?


O Father, come in and take over. Love others supernaturally through us! And may our love, or lack of love act as a barometer that reveals at all times just how closely we’re walking with You, for it’s in the name of Your precious Son who loves us beyond measure we pray. Amen