Acts 26–Pressing on toward the Mark

Paul continued upon his journey toward Rome. This day Paul stood before regional leadership of Festus and Agrippa.  He was to defend his behavior transforming from being the former Jewish enforcer to becoming the proponent of changing the world for Christ.  Agrippa had listened to Paul before but, now the Roman leader Festus heard Paul speak of his transformation.  At the end of the day, not much was different.  


Remembering that Paul had a single purpose is critical.  He was not out to win his freedom.  He was out to reach Rome and change the World for Christ.  Festus called Him crazy.  Why would such a gifted scholar waste his time giving a simple testimony of how Christ changed his Life? Paul was clear–I am not crazy, I am simply telling How God changed me.  Festus responded by asking if He thought he could so quickly convert him.  Paul smiled and replied he was not concerned about when he was converted–JUST THAT he was converted. 

 
Then Festus made the golden statement–If he had not asked to see Caesar, He would be free to go! Point was that he did ask, and as such, to Caesar Paul would go.  God’s plan executed with precision.  Paul said in Philippians that the Philippians did not need to be worried about his imprisonment in Rome.  Because Paul was in chains it had become clear throughout the entire Praetorian guard and everyone else that he was in chains for Christ.  One can only imagine the number of instances that Paul gave the testimony he spoke to Festus.


In the charge of the light brigade, Tennyson writes, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do or die!” As warriors for Christ, We, like Paul, must charge forward and face the enemy no matter the cost.  If we will, he will lose, and we will make a difference in the lives of our family and our community.  We made be called crazy, fanatical, or even criminal; but truth is we cannot help but to share the difference Christ has made in our lives.


God Bless You


“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests, I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.

12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so, I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Acts 13 Part 3–If Anyone is In Christ…

God used Peter to establish His intention to not only restore the Jewish people to a right relationship with God, but to offer salvation to all that would believe.  Cornelius was the poster child for God’s intention to save the entire world.  One need not forget that God set Israel apart not to be a nation of warriors, but to be a nation of priests and ambassadors for Him.  While Paul and Barnabus were preaching the Gospel in the synagogues, many devout Jews were hearing the Gospel and being saved. Still, the religious leaders were not happy and stirred up opposition among the prominent families, to stop Paul and Barnabus from sharing the Gospel with the Jewish people in the area.  During one such event, Paul declared to the crowd that while God was committed to making salvation available to the Jewish nation, He always intended to be available to all people.

  
It is important to know that God truly desires that no one would perish.  The Father sacrificed all that was precious to Him so that we could enjoy a renewed and personal relationship with the Lord.  Paul says in Romans, in Corinthians, In Philippian’s and in Colossians, here there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, Barbarian or Scythian slave or free. The point God wants us to grasp is that if we are in Christ, we are citizens of Heaven.  our earthly origins and nationalities are of no consequence once we join the family of God.  Paul and Barnabus were simply the first of countless men and women that have marched around the globe presenting God’s message of salvation to all that would listen.  We must see the world from God’s perspective to grasp the enormity of the Gospel’s scope and freedom.  The Gospel is divisive because the enemy does not want to admit defeat and will fight against God’s message at each front.  But the message is truly the most unifying message of all time.  It is best said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  The old is gone and the new has come.” 


God Bless You


 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
    be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews[d] saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 12 Part 2–Herod’s Demise and the Gospel’s Global Spread

The Hubris of Herod.  He truly felt untouchable and immortal.  He killed the guards that lost Peter, He traveled to the land of Tyre to exert his authority over the people in Tyre and Sidon.  He sat on his throne and delivered a speech that even impressed himself.  Then, as the people began to deify Herrod, he not only let them, but was pretty sure they were right.  He was a god! That was the last thought He had before he died.  The Bible said He was eaten by worms, like a sick dog…not a very dignified way to die–but, probably better than he deserved.

After Herod’s death, the church was able to grow, and the gospel continued to spread.  Paul and Barnabus went to Jerusalem to deliver the money to the church and as they returned to Antioch, they took a third, John Mark–Mark of gospel fame. At every level, things were moving forward.  The church was spreading in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  Now that the veil between the Jewish nation and the gentile world had been pierced and the persecution subsided–The spread of the church was about to go global. 

It is amazing that now, almost 2000 years later, the Gospel is truly available across the globe.  We are as inspired to reach the world as were the young founding disciples.  God has blessed us with tools to complete the work, but it still takes each of us allowing God to work through us to make the saturation a reality.  We must embrace Paul’s attitude from Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe!”  Help me Lord to share your Gospel with boldness!

God Bless You


Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.

The Death of Herod

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,[b] they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from[c] Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

Act’s 10 Part 2–Peter’s Faithfulness Was God’s Game Changer

What a dream! Peter had no idea that the picnic he was just attending was the precursor to God’s bigger plan.  Peter stood with Jesus as the Lord returned to His Father.  Jesus told the Disciples that they would be God’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  Peter was now faced with the opportunity to make that charge a reality.  

Cornelius Had served God and His people faithfully.  As the local Roman leader, he was kind and generous to God’s people. He sought God and followed as best as he was allowed.  Now, God would honor Cornelius’s faithfulness by giving Him and His household salvation. Peter was gifted with the opportunity to see the Spirit fall upon these people who were not Jewish.  How could that be, you ask?  Well, as the Lord had demonstrated to Peter, What God had prepared, no man would be able to call common, or unclean.

The Church stands in communities across the globe because of Peter and Cornelius’s faithfulness.  Paul was able to express the idea most clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any person ne in Christ, He is a new creation.  The old is gone and the new Has come.” Later Paul said in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free.”  Why? you ask, it is simple–because Christ is all and in all!

To whom and how Christ spreads His Gospel is only our responsibility to the extent that we remain obedient in sharing His message. Like Peter, ours is not to determine if someone is fit to hear the message of salvation, our only responsibility is to remain available and speak God’s truth in love.  He will do the rest, and we will enjoy the blessing that comes from following Him.  

God Bless You


 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,[c] for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends…
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Luke 14 Part 2–Inclusion and Sacrifice

Jesus was committed to the preparation of the apostles and others that would follow Him.  So, every message had an important component to their development.  In this story, the lessons were about opening the family of God, and about counting the cost of following God.

In the first part, Jesus tells the story of the bridegroom being snubbed by the family and close friends.  As that occurs, the bridegroom then invites others outside the original group to fill the hall.  Jesus was foreshadowing the spread of the Gospel.   Jesus came to be the Messiah for Israel.  But, after the Jewish nation rejected Jesus, in Acts, we learn that God opened the hall and led gentiles from around the globe to be a part of the family at the wedding feast of the Lamb.  In Romans 1:16, Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation to anyone that believes. First to the Jew, and then to the Gentile.”  God’s plan was always to reclaim the entire world. 

Next, Jesus discusses the cost of following Him.  No matter how one slices it, Jesus was clear–He must be the center of the believer’s life.  Jesus and the salvation He provides must never be an accessory nor an afterthought.  Our Lord wants His chosen to understand that being Christ’s disciple is an all or nothing proposition.  It does not mean that we do not live our lives and do our jobs, it simply means that as we do, we do all things in a way that reflects and honors Jesus Christ.  Jesus was not being harsh or mean, He was simply making clear that following Christ is the life, not simply a component of our lives. 

Paul said it best, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” We conduct our lives with Christ at the core.  Not as an afterthought or occasional token. Our faith draws us to be like Christ and to share the Gospel with any that will listen.  That is the calling, and that is the life.

God Bless You


When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

The Cost of Being a Disciple

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Luke 10 Part 1–Sending out the Teams

Jesus’s ministry was growing.  He sent out 36 teams to prepare for his visits.  He taught then the importance of walking by faith.  Take no food and make no arrangements in advance.  The disciples were to experience ministry on the front line.  Jesus knew they would be rejected by some.  Jesus wanted to teach His folks that rejection of them was more accurately rejection of the Lord.  They need not give it a second thought.  So as Jesus sent them out, He armed them with peace and courage. 

Now, these thousands of years later, He is still sending us out.  He is still arming us with peace and courage.  Jesus is still reminding us that when our message is rejected it is at Jesus and not us that rejection is aimed.  He also still wants His chosen to remember He is with us always.  He is faithful to supply all our needs.  We are His workmanship, and we need to follow Him closely.  If we will; this journey will have purpose and make sense.  Otherwise, we will wander aimlessly to an empty conclusion.

God Bless You


After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Luke 9 Part 3–Who Jesus IS

Luke continues to spotlight amazing moments in the life and ministry of Jesus.  One of those moments was the moment when Jesus asked the group who people were saying that He was.  Jesus knew, of course what the people were thinking and saying, But He wanted His chosen guys to ponder it a bit.  So, when He asked, the answers were all over the board–John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the other prophets from old.  In Jesus discussion, that was warm up question.  Then Jesus asked the main question.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter, always blunt and always 1st says, “You are God’s Messiah!”  

That statement must have exploded through the group..  It would have been stunning to see the eyes of the other disciples and the reactions they gave.  Jesus had performed some amazing miracles.  He spoke of life and of God in a way no other prophet or preacher had done.  He was a man of authority and His following was great.  He calmed storms, cast out demons, healed the sick, fed the masses, and raised the dead.  Still, at the end of the day, it was a huge leap of faith to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah.  Peter was the faithful one.  He rose and took the lead.  Scripture shows that Peter was not perfect, but there is little doubt that he was all in.

In our day, we see how the story played out.  We know that Jesus is the Messiah.  We know he was not simply a prophet, a good teacher,  or a Rockstar.  We know that Jesus was God and is God.  He made himself nothing and took on the form of man. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2). 

With the historical perspective that we have, we can be as confident as Peter when we announce that Jesus is the Messiah.  We must live our lives in a way that honors the love and sacrifice Jesus made.  If we will, He will lead, provide, and protect us until we are with Him, in eternity.  Help me, Lord to honor You as my Messiah!!!

God Bless You


Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 8 Part 2–Lamps and Faith

Luke takes us through an average day with Jesus. He started with the parable of the sower–see yesterday.  After the parable, Luke walks through some scenarios.  First, is a reminder that we have the message of Salvation.  The good news.  Jesus tells his followers that kind of message is not kept secret.  We broadcast it like a lamp in its stand.  One should never be ashamed of the Gospel.  In Acts, Paul says it best, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God for salvation to all that believe!” 

Next, Luke highlights Jesus in the midst of the day.  His family had come and were trying to come in and see him. In Mark 3:21 it indicates they were coming to restrain Him.  So, Jesus says–nope! My family are the ones that put God’s word into practice.  It had to be a disappointment for Jesus, if anyone should have known His mission, His family would be the ones.  Sadly, pressure from religious leaders and community has an impact. So. instead, Jesus focuses on the mission and continues to preach, heal, and encourage.  

Next, after a tough day of ministry, Jesus heads across the Lake to the next spot .  He lays down to sleep while the team sails the boat.  A storm comes in and the boat is getting pummeled.  So, the disciples wake Jesus and tell him that they are doomed.  Jesus calms the storm with a word.  Then He looks at the group and shakes his head that they doubted God’s protection. And then goes back to sleep.  Jesus was always on mission and never out of control. What a day.

The message for us is the same.  We can never be ashamed of the Gospel.  It is God’s power in our lives.  We are His chosen.  As such, we need to follow Him and trust His plan.  I difficult times, we move forward in faith and trust that He is in charge,  if we will, we will be blessed beyond measure.

God Bless You


16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Jesus Calms the Storm

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8 Part 1–The Parable of the Sower

Of the messages from the Lord, the parable of the sower is both one of the most convicting and freeing messages Jesus shared.  In a sense it is very convicting.  When we realize we are to be sharing God’s message, it is a very daunting reality that many will hear the message but not be changed.  Life happens, and people reject the message, fail to grow because there is no follow-up, or simply allow life to choke out their walk with God.  Still, as we are faithful, with His message, God draws people into the kingdom, and they draw others until the Gospel wins the day.

So, while it is important that we share the Gospel, it is equally important to realize once sown, we do not control what happens to the message.  Sure, we need to follow up and disciple those who we know have received Christ, but we cannot stop people’s personal choices and life’s incredible attack.  That is God’s job through His Spirit in men’s lives.  Jesus was making clear that the message gets out there. God makes sure of that.  What men do with that message is all over the board.  We, as His chosen, need to share boldly and love unconditionally as we minister.  We are not the judges, we are the planters, crop caretakers, and harvesters of the message.  We allow the Lord to do the work and change lives. As Paul reminded us in Romans1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe!”

God Bless You


Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed

One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets[a] of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they look, they won’t really see.
    When they hear, they won’t understand.’[b]

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Luke 7 Part 2–Taking a Step Off the Beaten Path

As doctor Luke continues to tell our Lord’s story, He makes a brief diversion.  He takes us off the beaten path to a farming community of Nain.  Jesus happens onto a funeral. A widow is burying her only son.  The procession is coming out of the city gate and Jesus and His guys meet up with them.  Jesus sees the widow, the community, and takes compassion on the widow.  Jesus raises the son from death and returns him to his mom.  What a great story!

That is, however, only part of the story.  To understand the depth of love and grace God has for us, let me throw out a couple extra facts.  Nain was well off the beaten path to other communities.  Jesus would have had to be going there for a specific purpose.  It was a long and arduous walk to the edge of a mountain.  So, Jesus walking there to coincidentally meet a funeral precession is simply unlikely.  Truth be told–Jesus set out very early that morning to meet a woman in great need.  He was the only solution to her life–a life that was now decimated.

Luke’s sidetrack was one of the great character revelations demonstrated in God’s word.  It is a physical example of God’s personal care.  This widow in this small farm town lost everything when her son died.  Her dear boy, her protection, her livelihood, and her standing in the community all now lay in a coffin.  Jesus went way out of His way to meet the widow, the coffin, and the boy to restore what this woman had lost.  The people in the town were rightfully amazed, but this was a small town–so what.  The “so what” is the reminder that God loves us personally! He will travel anywhere to meet us in our times of need; and He will restore what we have lost.  

I love Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is a spiritual version to Jesus journey to Nain.  God knew our need and he went way out of His way to meet us.  He comes to our funeral and restores us.  We can never forget that God’s sacrifice was not made at a point that we deserved it.  No, He made the sacrifice only because He loves us personally and completely. 

Thanks Lord, for allowing Luke to demonstrate that character trait in the little town of Nain.

God Bless You


Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.