Luke 7 Part 3–John, and the Crisis of Faith

Clearly, the crowds had moved on.  For a time, John the Baptist was the Rockstar.  People came from everywhere to see and be baptized by this man of God.  He spoke with authority and preached repentance to a world that had abandoned their faith.  He was rough and burley.  He was so different from the norm, that people would come to see him simply because of his oddity.  But, when they heard him speak of Messiah–well then hope was restored.  

Then, the day came when Jesus started his ministry.  John announced Jesus and baptized him.  John knew Jesus was Messiah–he had known it from the time they met in their Mom’s wombs!  Still as Jesus grew in popularity, John’s following dissipated.  His disapproval of Herod’s behavior landed John in jail awaiting execution.  John’s faithful team kept him up to date about what was happening and the growing popularity of Jesus.  There in the jail, John questioned his purpose and his call.  John sent his guys to confront Jesus–Are You the one?

Jesus, as he had with so many others, sent back a message of comfort and peace.  “Tell John what you have seen–the healing, the opening of eyes, the casting out of demons and the raising folks from the Dead.  In a word, Jesus assured His cousin that while His ministry was different, their purpose was the same.  Jesus was changing the world and Its picture of the Heavenly Father.  Jesus was not mad.  He did not take offense at John’s crisis of faith.  Instead, Jesus reminded all that were there–a large crowd, to say the least, that John was a superHero.  He changed the course of many lives and prepared the way for Messiah.  Still, compared to God’s chosen, Jesus reminded the people that even rockstars pale in comparison.We, as His people, are children of God. 

We will stand with the Lord for eternity.  When life gets hard and circumstances seem hopeless, we must take our hope from that promise! John knew and we must cling to the fact that Jesus Christ is enough. He must be enough in both good times and bad.  He must be our sufficiency whether we are hungry or well fed.  He has to be the center of our faith.  Jesus comforted His friend because sometimes it is hard to see the miracle that is sitting in front of us.  Because of Jesus, we are able to be in a personal relationship with God, Our Heavenly Father.  That is a great gift.

God Bless You


John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’[b]

28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Luke 6 Part 3–Loving and Judging

Perspective changes everything.  Imagine being an all-knowing, all-powerful, and omnipresent God.  Not only could you control all circumstances and overcome all obstacles; but you have known what the obstacles were and when those obstacles would occur since the dawn of time! That is the God we serve.  Jesus came to help people understand that this very God personally loves and cares for each of the people on earth.  This is not a God that is either distant or aloof. This is a God that truly loves His own and would do and give anything to save them.  

With that in mind, Jesus called the folks He met to do the same.  Love people.  Make the love unconditional.  Love them simply because that is what God does–loves us.  Also, quit judging the folks you disagree with.  Nobody knows each of us like God knows us–still, He loves us completely and perfectly.  Jesus called His followers to practice the very same lifestyle.  No more Loving “IF” or loving “Because” we simply love folks.  Our only acceptable “Because” is Because God Loves US!!!!  it is not an easy request.  it requires a faith that clings to a perfect God.  

We cannot place our faith in people, they always disappoint.  We cannot place our faith in science, money, history, or power–those things change constantly.  We must place our faith in the one constant–Our Heavenly Father, Adonai.  As it says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”  As Jesus began changing the world, His message was that we needed to accept this amazing Love that God demonstrates.  He also emphasized the critical nature of our sharing that unconditional and non-judgmental love with all the folks we meet.  If we will do that, we will truly experience the power of God in our lives!  Believe me, that power is darn well worth it!

God Bless You


27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Numbers 31 Part 2–Becoming a Free People

God had just blessed the Israelites with a mighty victory over the Midianites. They wiped the nation out.  What’s more, after the battle, the troops were counted and Israel lost no men.  So It was time to divide the plunder of the victory.  There was a large amount. So Moses and Eleazar divided the spoils the way God told them to.  The result was amazing. Everyone got plenty of livestock, slaves and treasure. What’s more so did the priests and Levites. There was no fussing, no deceit and God’s people began acting like a free people.  It was beginning to look like God had finally prepared Israel to claim what was theirs.

It seems like it takes forever to be ready for God’s leadership. We face trials and temptation. Our lives take odd turns and terrible sidetracks. Then one day, we accept God’s leadership and know that He is God.  We pray, serve and mostly wait for the Lord’s leading. As we do, we become more prepared to receive all the blessings He has to offer.  As with Israel, God stands ready to bless us. We simply have to be ready to accept that blessing and recognize it is from the Lord and for Him and His Glory.  If we will–He will do amazing things in our lives, and we will rise up and become a free people; untouched by sin or the traps of this life.  The hymn says it best, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community.28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. 30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.

32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was:

337,500 sheep, 37 of which the tribute for the Lord was 675;

38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;

39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;

40 16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the Lord was 32.

41 Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part, as the Lord commanded Moses…Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses 49 and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. 50 So we have brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles each of us acquired—armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces—to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”

When its Time To Go! Genesis 31 Part 1

 It was time for Jacob to return to Canaan–How did he know, well it might have been the way his brothers-in-law were talking about how he had stolen their flocks, it may have been the way that his father-in-law had changed the way he was dealing with Jacob.  It could have been the dream Jacob had telling him to go home.  Whatever was the reason that spurred him, Jacob knew it was time to go.  After 20 years of shepherding and caring for his and his father-in-law’s flocks, Jacob would return to Canaan with his own wealth and family.
 
It would not be easy, it would not go over well, but, Jacob gathered his family, his belongings and left–Haran.  Not too surprising was the fact that uncle Laban would not be pleased–nor, would his brothers-in law.  It would also be difficult on his family to leave all they had known for the last 20 years; but, Jacob knew God was telling him to go–and he knew that if God was calling him to go, then God would make the move possible.
 
In modern day, it is very easy to make decisions using all the media, research and technology available.  Sadly, often times, we forget the best tool of all–seeking God’s guidance.  Jacob was led to change, but, often we change–then simply ask God to bless our decision and alter his plan to meet ours.  That is not how God works.  He will allow us to choose our own course, but, if we will wait on his course and direction, then we can be assured he will be the one that does it–leads, guides and directs our path.  We can never quit believing, nor, should we ever move God aside to accomplish our plan.  Isaiah said it best, “Those who wait on the Lord, will renew their strength–they will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
 
God Bless You
Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

I Samuel 2 part 3–The Life of an Ambassador

When we represent God as his ambassadors, we must live a life that is worthy of his name.  When we do not, it is apparent.  We not only ruin our names and reputation, but we put God’s credibility at issue.  As he becomes real in our lives, we no longer want to feed our sinful nature.  If we do, we must check our hearts and daily put those things we desire to control on the alter before him. Eli’s sons had no desire to serve God and as his priests—their sin affected the entire nation.  God will not tolerate his name being used to hurt others.

We must start each day—boldly seeking him and checking our hearts to be sure we are willing to be his ambassador. As we do, we must also realize our impact upon others. We live selflessly, and patiently following the path he has set before us.  As we do we will grow in favor with Him and with those we do life with.

God Bless You

22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[f] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[g] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.

I Samuel 2 part 2–Respect and Representation

Samuel went into the service of the Priest Eli.  Eli had 2 sons.  They had no respect for the Lord.  They treated their duties with Contempt—they treated their father with contempt and worst they treated God and his sacrifice with contempt.  What an environment for a child who is to serve God all his life.  Fortunately, God’s plan is often greater than even his priests!  What an important reminder for us as his children to remember that we are often God’s representative to the people.  He does not take lightly the mistreatment of his people, his name or his sacrifice.

In our lives, we are often faced with opportunities to represent God.  If we try to act in our own power, it is like Eli’s boys acted about the sacrifice.  We need to remember as living sacrifices, we need to submit to God’s leadership—honor his name and walk humbly in his love.  We respect his plan.  We do not try to do this on our own, but we simply follow his lead—like Samuel.  Then we can enjoy his peace that truly passes all understanding.

God Bless You. 

 12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.

Matthew 5 part 2–Salt and light

Assalt and light Christians, we are called to be salt and light…that is a significant calling.  Salt is both a flavor enhancer and a preservative. Light is the element that both exposes and casts out darkness. We as God’s people are called to bring light to the world.  We are the ones to show the world the reality of its sinful and hopeless state.  We are the ones to enhance life through freedom and preserve the life God intended for his people.  But, this is no easy task.  By stepping out, we expose ourselves to temptation and to criticism. We are rejected or minimized for being weird.  Also if we make a mistake, we are opening ourselves and God up to abuse.

So it is easier to step back, be quiet and let the ones we know quietly go to hell.  That is not acceptable.  We need to enhance and preserve the faith.  We need to shine before the world.  This is accomplished by faith, and is continued as we humbly follow Christ in this amazing journey.  God neither expects nor demands perfection.  He simply requests that we follow and seek his leadership and power.  He will accomplish—through us, more than we could ever hope to accomplish on our own. The Hymn says it best—“Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to trust and obey.”

God Bless You

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.