Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Deny Thyself!

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

There’s is a generally accepted saying:  “Anything worth having is worth working for.”  That principle is generally understood.  One place in our society that it doesn’t seem to be accepted is in religion.  For some reason, many believe that the benefits of religion should be had....just because.  But Jesus sees things differently.  

First of all, Jesus indicates that if we want the benefits that he has to offer, we must come after him.  The word “come” is a word of action.  That means that we cannot access his benefits by simply existing.  But that word also implies that we must walk in a specified and directional manner.  We cannot go our own way in our own way, but we must go to where Jesus is and in the manner that he commands.

Secondly, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves.  Jesus is telling us that if we want the benefits that he has to offer, we must make some sacrifices.  Our purpose in life must no longer be about fulfilling our own wishes and desires, they now must be converted into doing what our master wishes.  We must now realize that if we are to follow Jesus, it is no longer our own lives to do what we want.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 

The significance of this concept cannot be overstated.  We do not belong to ourselves any longer, we belong to God.  Therefore since God is the owner, he must be the controller of  our lives

Lastly, Jesus states that we are to take up his cross.  In other words, we are to carry on the mission that he started.  He came to seek and to save those that are lost, and that must be our mission as well.

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward 
their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More than a Baby!

Luke 9:19-22 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. (20) He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. (21) And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; (22) Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 

During this time of the year, we hear a lot about the Baby Jesus.  You know, “Born in a manger”.  “No room in the inn”.  “Peace on earth, good will towards men.”  We see the messaging everywhere... in songs, on advertisements even in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  But the messaging that we hear this time of year is only part of the whole message.  In fact, the birth of Jesus is a very small part of the important message of the gospel of Christ.  Jesus alludes to more of that important message in our text today.

We often hear that “Freedom isn’t Free!” and that certainly applies to Christianity as well.  Jesus, as he is asking about rumors of who he is, reveals more about the destiny of his near future.

Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

He says that:
1.  He must suffer many things
2.  Be rejected by the religious leaders
3.  Be killed
4.  Be raised on the third day.

For Jesus’ birth to have ANY meaning at all, we have to look at the purpose of his life.  And that purpose was to be the perfect sacrifice to take away the sins of man.  To do that, he had to endure the cruelty of the cross.  The problem for most people is that the same man that died on the cross for our sins, made demands for our lives.  In general, he told us to hear him, follow him, reject sin, forsake our worldly life and to live a life dedicated to serving him and to others.

You see, people love the story of the baby Jesus because the baby doesn’t make demands, but the man does.  Jesus is more than just a baby.  In fact, for the promises of that baby to have any impact on our lives, we must understand, and accept the fact that the man demands that he be the Lord and Master of our lives.

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward 
their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Such a Tragedy?

Today, I want to take a detour off of our normal path to address the tragedy that took place on Friday.  In the morning hours of an otherwise normal day, an evil, heartless gunman walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, and opened fire on a room full of kindergarten children killing everyone in that class.   Before he was finished, he had killed 20 children and 6 adults.

The obvious question coming to everyone’s mind is WHY?  Why would this happen?  Why would a loving God ALLOW this to happen to such innocent little precious lives?  While we may never really understand the “Whys” of this incident, we can better understand “why” in general.  Why is there so much evil in the world created by a loving God?  In short, the answer comes down to two words:  FREE WILL!  When God created man in his image in the garden of Eden, he created us with free will...the ability to choose our own path.  The opportunity to choose right from wrong.  So why wouldn’t God have created us only to do good?  Why would he ever even give us that choice?

Think of it this way... for those of us that are parents... what do we want most from our children?  To be loved!  So, when we wanted to be to be parents, why didn’t we just go to a toy store and buy a baby doll that we could pull a string and hear:  “I love you mommy...I love you daddy”?  If all we really wanted was to be loved, we could have been told that by a mechanical doll.  The difference is that it means significantly more to us to have a child choose to love us and choose to say it rather than to repeat it out of a sense of mechanics.  There is nothing that warms my heart quite like the way my daughter greets me, hugging me really tightly after she had been gone a while.  God really isn’t any different. God wants to be loved...truly, genuinely loved.  But it only means something when we choose to love God on our own.  If he would have created us without choice, we would have been no different than a mechanical doll, only stating the words:  “I love you God” out of a  sense of mechanics.  He wants us to CHOOSE to love him and then to demonstrate it to him.

Because we have a choice, freedom of choice has extremes.  We can then choose to love or to rebel and to do those things that are at the most extreme limit of evil.  That was exactly what was demonstrated on Friday.

We have to know, that as badly as we hurt and mourn for those precious little lives and their families, God is hurting even more.  He is broken hearted by the pain that his children are suffering.  And he is broken hearted at what one of his children has done.

So what’s the answer?  How do we deal with this?  First, we have to realize that these kinds of tragedies will always exist.  They always have, they always will.  It is a fact of life.  Death is a part of living.  The only way that we can minimize it in our society is to have a society that looks to God for guidance and the sense of right and wrong.

Deuteronomy 4:7-9 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (8) And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (9) Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; 

If we search for a reason for why so much tragedy in world, in our culture, in our society today, it is because we continue to push God out of it.  We are a great nation or society when we draw near to his statues.  We lose that when we draw away from him.  The farther that we get from God, the closer we get to evil.  The only answer is to individually and societally better live by the ways of God.

What would this world be like if everyone followed the teachings of Jesus?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Go the extra mile  and on and on.  If everyone simply lived as God has directed us, we would NEVER have to experience this kind of tragedy again.  But the truth is, as a nation, as a society, we are running from God, and as long as we do, we will have to endure the actions of those that choose to do evil.

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward 
their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jesus Needs Us!

Luke 9:11-17 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. (12) And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. (13) But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. (14) For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. (15) And they did so, and made them all sit down. (16) Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. (17) And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets. 

This is one of my favorite miracles that Jesus performed, but for an odd reason.  First the context.  Jesus’ ministry has gotten so popular by this time that he is able to attract huge crowds,  So much so that we are told that over five thousand people has assembled to hear Jesus speak.  After the crowd had been with him all day, the disciples recommend to Jesus that he dismiss them so they can go and get something to eat. Instead, Jesus tells his disciples to feed the crowd.  Of course, they are stunned at that asking because they had only five loaves of bread and two fishes between them that they could offer.  Because they can’t, Jesus takes matters into his own hands...sort of!  He tells the disciples to make the people to sit down, he gave thanks for the small amount of food and then gives it to the disciples to pass out to the crowd.

So the important question is:  Did Jesus perform a miracle?  I think the answer is obvious.  He fed 5,000+ people with enough food to feed only two people.  There is  no other possible explanation for this event.  But here is the point and the reason this is my favorite miracle.  Jesus NEVER touched the bread or fish!  It was all done through the hands of the disciples.  Did they DO anything miraculous?  Absolutely not.  They simply waited tables.  But this miracle could never have been performed without the simple caring actions of the disciples.

I think God still works in similar ways today.  I think God’s love is best demonstrated when we show it through our own caring actions.  It does not take us signing over our entire paychecks or giving enough money to build a building.  Just a cup of cold water.  Just pat on the back.  Just a simple hug.  A simple, cheap card.  But when we do, we can warm someone’s heart and show God’s love.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward 
their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Is NO Parlor Trick!

Luke 8:41, 51-56 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:... (51) And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. (52) And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. (53) And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. (54) And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. (55) And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. (56) And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done. 

Miracles continue to be a hot topic in the world of religion.  There are many people that dismiss the Bible’s account of miracle’s existence as recorded in it’s text.  They do not believe that they happened then nor that they happen now.  Of course, most of them dismiss the Bible altogether as God’s revelation to man.  To debunk the mentioning of miracles, they explain this sort of account as a parlor trick.  They want to imply that the little girl was just asleep and that Jesus simply woke her up.

To draw this conclusion, we have to assume that humans during this time were simply “prehistorics”.  According to Wikipedia, surgeries were performed as early as 3500 BC.  That is 3500 years prior to the time of which we are speaking.  Granted, they do not have the base of knowledge that we have today, but they could tell when someone was dead.  So much so that when Jesus informed them that she would “awake”, they laughed at him.  They knew it was a ridiculous notion.  It may have been ridiculous to most but Jesus had the power of God.  Notice how the Bible words this.  When he called to her...

Luke 8:55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 

Her spirit came again to her.  Clearly she was dead because her spirit had departed.  Jesus had the power, that only God has, to bring the life of a human back to their body once it has departed.

Jesus is different from every other religious leader because he was able to perform, real, substantial, verifiable, instantaneous miracles.  Jesus clearly is the REAL deal and therefore worthy of us seeking and following him!

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Manner of Man is This?

Luke 8:22-25 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. (23) But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. (24) And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. (25) And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. 

While the Bible has countless examples and encouragement for us to have faith in difficult times, it is encouraging to see that, even those that walked and talked with Jesus daily, saw him do countless miracles and experienced his power on a personal level, had times of fear and distrust.  It is easy for us to be hard on ourselves for not being as strong as we should, but we need to realize that faith is a process.  Faith takes time.  Faith requires substantive growth. 

In our text today, we find that Jesus and his closest followers are on a ship crossing over to the other side of the lake.  While it was quiet, Jesus found it a prime opportunity to get some much needed rest.  During his slumber, a severe storm arose and the passage tells us that they were in jeopardy.  I would imagine, that due to the fact that several of these men were professional fishermen, it had to have been a fierce storm to terrify them.  And terrified they were!.  They went and woke up Jesus to inform him that they were about to perish.  Sometimes we use such language as hyperbole to emphasize a though spot.  However, I think they were giving a literal assessment as to how they perceived their situation.

Notice now Jesus’ reaction.  Once he stilled the storm he asked them ”Where is your faith?”  Was Jesus being too hard on them?  Didn’t they have a right to be scared?  Certainly fear is natural, but we should not abandon our faith in the process.  

To understand this concept, we need to refresh our understanding of what faith is.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

Faith is based upon knowledge and understanding of God’s truths.  So what was the truths that they ignored when they panicked? 

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

These men knew better than anyone that Jesus was the son of God and that he had a unique purpose on this earth that was not fulfilled.  They should have known that God was not going to let his son perish on that boat.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am NOT saying that I would not have been scared or that I would have done things any different.  What I am saying is that this is a great opportunity to learn the lesson that Jesus is teaching us.  When we are dealing with a difficult situation, we need to learn from these men.  We need to stop and think about what we believe...about what we know....and rely on God’s promises.

Reflecting the SON, 
Dennis Hogan

Questions, comments or  further explanation?  Contact me at:
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that you feel could benefit from RTS, please forward 
their e-mail address to me and I will add them to my mail list.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who Is Important to Jesus?

Luke 8:19-21 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. (20) And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. (21) And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. 

If we were to take a poll, who would you say is the most important person in the world to you?  I would have to say the most important person in my life is my lovely wife.  A very close second would be my daughter.  Next would be my parents and then my brothers and sisters along with some of my closet friends.  In our text today, Jesus wasn’t exactly polled about this, but he gave us his opinion anyway.  

We know Jesus was out preaching and his mother and brothers came to see him.  There was such a large crowd gathered that his family could not easily get to talk to Jesus.  Instead, they got a message into him via a messenger, informing him that they were outside and wanted to see him.  Here is his response.

Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

In this response, Jesus is not saying that family is not important.  On the contrary.  Throughout the Bible, we are told that family is very important.  In fact, there are commands in place that directs us to take proper care of our family.  It is our responsibility.  So what is he trying to convey?

Jesus was here on earth for a spiritual purpose and used earthly things to convey spiritual messages.  Here he uses his physical family to teach this all important lesson:  That following God, hearing his word and following it is the MOST important thing we can do!  God, and obedience to him must be our number one priority!  His spiritual family was a higher priority than his physical family.  In saying this, he began to define who fit into the spiritual family:  those that do the will of God!

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Is My Sin Better Than Your Sin?

Luke 7:36-48 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. (37) And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, (38) And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (39) Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (40) And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. (41) There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (43) Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. (44) And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. (45) Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. (46) My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. (47) Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (48) And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 

We will break this lengthy reading into two separate RTS’s so that I do not write too lengthy of a post today.  Today, I want to focus on verses 36 through 39.

To set the stage, a Pharisee, (typically an enemy of Jesus, for they were continually trying to catch him in error), invited Jesus over for dinner.  We do not know Simon’s motives for we are not told.  My impressions are that he was at least somewhat open minded to learning more about Jesus.  I conclude that because the Pharisees typically wanted to publicly ridicule Jesus and Simon’s invitation indicates that he wanted to talk and discuss privately.  

While they were dining, a woman from town, who had heard that Jesus was there, came to wash his feet and and head with oil and her own tears.  The important thing about this passage is that the Bible clearly identifies her as a SINNER!.  I think we are suppose to read between the lines here to understand that this woman was a woman of “reputation”.  She was known in that area for her widely public and notorious sins; probably for both the quantity and the shameful nature of them.

Even though she may be entrapped in these sins, we must not conclude that all people that are clearly living in sin are there because they want to be.  Yes, sin is ALWAYS a choice, but life’s circumstances can wrongly lead folks to believe that sin is the only solution.  Satan is a master at that!

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 

The text clearly indicates that this “woman of sin” was not happy about her circumstances because she washed Jesus feet with her mourning tears.  She came to Jesus because she did not like the predicament that she was in and most likely thought that Jesus was here ultimate solution.  That brings us to the point of this lesson...Verse 39.

Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

Simon the Pharisee is clearly put off, by both this woman’s behavior and Jesus’ reaction to it, or more specifically his lack of a “proper” condemning reaction.  He was offended that Jesus would allow such a woman to interact with a man proclaiming to be a prophet, teacher and more specifically the Son of God.

We must be very careful that we do not have the attitude of Simon.  Somehow, we can tend to think that OUR sin is not so bad, but other’s are inexcusable, shameful, disgusting.  Before we get on our high horse, we need to remember a few priceless principles.

1.  All Have Sinned!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 

No one is perfect, save Jesus.  Therefore, we must not act as if we are “better” than others.

2.  ALL Sin Separates from God!

Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: (2) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 

There is no such thing as “good” sin and “bad” sin.  No “white” and “black” sin.  Just sin and every sin has the potential of separating us from God.

3.  Because of one’s own individual sin, All need to their sin Washed Away!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

4.  Since Sin takes us to the same place of Despair, We, the forgiven, need to have compassion, and Love for those still Entrapped in Sin!

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

Let us all have the same attitude as Jesus about those that are trapped in sin.  Sin should NEVER be condoned, however, Jesus was always willing to help those that wanted out, to get out of sin.  We must love as Jesus loved.  A condemning attitude towards “sinners” will never endear them towards christianity.  However, a loving, forgiving, helping and understanding attitude may actually give them an understanding about the forgiving nature of our Loving God.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Did Jesus Do Miracles?

Luke 7:19-22 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (20) When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (21) And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. (22) Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 

Yesterday,  I talked quite a bit about Jesus’ power to perform miracles and especially his power over death.  In doing so, I made a distinct contrast between what Jesus did and his REAL power over illness, nature and death versus the claims that so-called “faith healers” make today.  Apparently part of the problem with this issue is the misunderstanding of why Jesus did these miracles.

Did Jesus heal the crippled of his day to rid our society of crippling disease?  Surely not because either it would be wiped out, or Jesus failed because we still have it rampant in our world.  Did Jesus still storms to put an end to natural calamities?  He must not have, because we still have them.

Jesus demonstrated the deistic power to prove that he is IN CONTROL and to cause the people of his time and all people of the future, to believe in HIM!  (John 20:29-31)  That is proved out by our text today.

I once met a preacher that claimed that he had all of the power that Jesus did.  I was amazed to say the least.  I frankly, but politely told him that I did not believe that he did.  So I asked him to prove it.  I suggested that we go to the nearest cemetery and that he raise someone from the dead.  He refused my challenge because there was no point in that because I didn’t believe.  I assured him that if he truly caused a dead man to live again I WOULD be a believer.  He still refused.  This man and all others like him has not read what Jesus says about why he did these things.

In our text today, John the Baptist sends two of John’s disciples to find out if Jesus is THE Messiah of which they were looking.  What was Jesus’ response?  He let his actions do his talking.

Luke 7:21-22 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. (22) Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

Jesus did not tell these people they would never believe it even if they saw it.  He performed MANY miracles, of all varieties, for the purpose of proving to these two men that he had the power! Now lets look at the last seven words of our passage today.  This again is a real distinction between how and why Jesus performed miracles verses the pretenders of today.

Luke 7:22 the poor the gospel is preached.

All of the benevolent works that Jesus did was for this purpose:  To PREACH the gospel.  Everything that he did was for the purpose of capturing attention of the followers so that they would listen to him about the will of God.  Every so-called faith healer I have ever seen or heard up until now, the “healing” was their message!  That is all they talk about.  It is the focus and center of their religion.

Again, Jesus did NOT COME TO heal.  He healed so that he could preach and lead lost souls to a knowledge of the truth that would save their eternal lives.  

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

Let us all have the same motives and focus that Jesus had!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Power over Death!

Luke 7:11-17 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. (12) Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. (13) And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. (14) And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. (15) And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. (16) And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. (17) And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. 

Along with the daily instruction from Jesus,  those that followed him also got to witness the power of God through his many miracles.  It continues to amaze me how that, in modern day religion, those that claim that they are able to perform miracles, continue to attempt to duplicate Jesus.  However, have you noticed these pretender’s limited repertoire?  If you watch one of these performances on TV, you will find person after person coming on stage in a wheel chair, with unproven illnesses and then they walk off seemingly ok.  

Once, I saw a “preacher” who brought a deaf/mute man out on stage and the preacher claimed that he had already healed him back stage.  He only wanted to demonstrate the “power of God” so he asked the man to say “baby”.  After lots of prodding, three times the man was only able to get out the sound “bah”.  When the preacher saw that it wasn’t going to happen, he defended the difficulty by saying that the man could hear, he would now just need to learn how to talk.  REALLY?  Carefully notice a similar experience that Jesus had.

Mark 7:32-35 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. (33) And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; (34) And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. (35) And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake PLAIN. 

When TRUE miracles were performed by Jesus they were instantaneous and COMPLETE.  No need for the deaf to learn to hear.  No need for the mute to learn to speak.  No need for the lame to learn to walk.  No need for the crippled to learn to do.  No need for time for the storm to move out.  No need for the dead to learn to live.

If these so-called “miracle workers” wanted to truly prove they could do what Jesus did, they need to follow Jesus’ lead from our passage today.  Go to a funeral home or go to a cemetery and prove they have the power over Death!  Jesus not only healed all manner of illness, he also stilled storms and raised several people from the dead including the man in our text and his friend Lazarus.

John 11:23-27 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. (24) Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (27) She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 

In the case of Lazarus, Jesus used his raising to relate it to the Great resurrection.  If we are followers of Jesus, we can beat the final death, in the same manner that Jesus was rasied from the dead.   In that final resurrection, we too can be victorious over death.

1 Corinthians 15:52-57 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is Jesus Lord in Words or Action?

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 

In our text today, Jesus asks a very poignant question.  I believe it to be largely rhetorical.  A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply.  In other words the answer is assumed.

Jesus is asking how or why would you call him Lord if you are not interested in doing what he says.  To better understand this further, we need to better understand the word “Lord”.    So often the word “Lord”, is used is a religious setting that it loses its true meaning.  According to the dictionary I referenced the word Lord means:  “A person who has authority, control, or power over others;  a master, chief or ruler”.  

The really important piece of information here is that this setting, in this ONLY our Lord from a VOLUNTARY basis!  Many times in history, Lords were made through conquest!  A war lord would conqueror a land and enslave the people.  The people did not want that new ruler, but through threat, force and the possibility of losing one’s life they would at least go through the pretense of calling that conqueror “Lord”.

However, To call Jesus “Lord” is purely voluntary!  If you do not want him to have authority, control or power over your life, you can simply choose to reject him.  But if you do choose to make him the MASTER of your life, then by definition, you are CHOOSING to relinquish the control of your life, and replace it with Jesus as your ruler.

That brings us back to the initial question that Jesus asks.  WHY, why, why would anyone call Jesus Lord, Master, Ruler, Controller of my life and not be willing to do what he says?  Everyone needs to search their own hearts on this question.  If you want to call Jesus “Lord” because of the blessings that he offers in that role, we must truly search the scriptures to think how he tells us to think, to live like he tells us to live, to behave like he tells us to behave and to worship as he instructs us to worship.

If you are not willing to live by the teachings of Jesus, that is certainly a choice that he allows us to make.  But by all means, do not fool yourself into thinking that he is still the Lord of your life and through it you will still be receiving the blessings that he offers.

James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who Are You Really?

Luke 6:43-45 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (44) For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. (45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 

Have you ever heard a person make a justification for an action of theirs say something to the effect:  “That really wasn’t me”.  While I understand that sentiment, and may have used it in the past myself due to unusual and overwhelming circumstances, our passage today, spoken by Jesus himself, declares that is an exception and not the rule.  As a RULE, we act, react and behave because that is precisely WHO we are.

To make this point, Jesus asks several thought provoking examples:
1.  A Good Tree CANNOT produce Bad fruit.
2.  A Bad Tree CANNOT produce Good fruit.

The point is that we determine whether a tree is good or bad based upon the fruit that they would produce.  We do not draw those conclusions independent from the fruit.

In verse 45 Jesus makes the application.  A good man does good things because it comes from his heart.  An evil man does evil things because those evil actions are a natural reaction to who he really is.

Who really are you?  Not how you think of yourself.  Not who you claim to be.  Not who you want to be.  But who are you based upon Jesus’ standard?  Who are you based upon your actions, reactions and behaviors?  You cannot “be” one thing and do another!  If your actions are ungodly,,,simply NOT God-like, then you are ungodly.  If your actions are rebellious against God YOU ARE in rebellion.

The good news about the gospel is that it is never too late to change.  If you do not like who you are you can do something about it.  To do that you must change your heart and mind.  That requires changing what influences it.  If you surround yourself with negative influences, you will be a reflection of that.  

To be the kind of person that is pleasing to God, you need to be influenced by him.  We do that by studying and following his word and surrounding ourselves with like-minded folks.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Love Your Enemies?

Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 

Nobody said that Christianity would be easy.  Nobody said that Christianity would be fun....and our passage today is proof positive of those sentiments.

Some may have an impression of Christians that we are different in the way that we think and react to common human stimuli. Christians have the same kind of human reactions as anyone else.  We feel pain, we tend to shy away from conflict, and enemies are a source of great discomfort and discouragement.  Does anyone really enjoy their enemies?  I think not.

The real difference with Christians than from most other people is our response to these kinds of stimuli.  While others may want to and try to hide from enemy confrontation, and others may even try to retaliate, Christians are instructed to respond much differently...LOVE!

Remember now that Love, in a spiritual sense, is quite a bit different than the way that the world thinks about it.  Love in the Bible, is less about warm and fuzzy emotions and more about intellect and action.  Notice these two verses.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

There are thought processes, choices, behaviors and lifestyles that we can choose as humans that can cause us to be enemies with God.  But even with that being true, he gave his only son as a sacrifice for all in the world to have the opportunity to be saved.  Why did he do that?  Because of his LOVE for us.  

Do we really think that God has a positively warm and fuzzy emotional feeling toward every human on earth regardless how defiled and degenerate that they are?  Certainly NOT!  However he still loves all of us.  In fact, he loves us so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice.

That is the pattern for us loving our enemies as well.  We are not instructed to have a positively warm and fuzzy emotional feeling towards our enemies.  But we are to love them.  That means instead of retaliating against them, we should seek to do good for them.  Unfortunately, we should not even shy away from them, but engage them in a positive and beneficial manner.

It won’t be easy.  It won’t be fun.  But it is behaving in a godly manner.  May we all strive to love our enemies as God loved us when we were enemies with him!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jesus...Hated for Good!

Luke 6:6-11 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. (7) And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. (8) But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. (9) Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? (10) And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (11) And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. 

As I continue to read the New Testament...specifically the Gospels, I am regularly bewildered by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  They are almost always mentioned as being present where Jesus is teaching and such and yet, they are not only NOT impressed but ANGERED.  They quite literally hate Jesus and every time he does something beneficial for others, they despise him all the more.

In our text today, Jesus is healing yet another of the countless people that happens upon him.  This particular person crossed paths with Jesus at an unfortunate time, on a Sabbath day.  And that is what the religious leaders decide to make the issue on this given day.  Jesus knowing their thoughts asked if the Sabath was for doing good or doing evil.  Because they did  ot have an answer, Jesus went forth and restored the man’s crippled hand.

These religious leaders remind me of modern day politicians.  They can overlooked good because it does not benefit THEM.  Jesus’ notoriety and fame served them in no way and for that reason, they had to bring him down.  Whether we like it or not, people do not always want what is best for others.  Sometimes they only care what is best for them.  We may have expereinced similar kinds of people.  We have to have the mind of Jesus and just keep pushing on.  Jesus ran into this on a daily basis...even to the point of this death, but he kept on keeping on...and so must we!

Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jesus...Not Too Good for Anyone!

Luke 5:27-32 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. (28) And he left all, rose up, and followed him. (29) And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. (30) But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? (31) And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (32) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 

Jesus certainly did things in an unusual way didn’t he?  

If you wanted to start a new religion, who would you try and recruit for your core ambassadors?  What is the best kind of person that would continue your message into the future?  Would you choose the most educated, well spoken and influential citizens or the dredges of society?  I for one certainly wouldn’t trust people like Tax collectors or ordinary fisherman...and I would be wrong!

In our text this morning, we find that Jesus approaches a publican or tax collector named Levi.  Our distain for tax collectors today does not even begin to approach the hatred that they had for them in Jesus time.  The reason is that the Roman government recruited people from respective societies to collect taxes from their own people.  This made tax collectors traitors in the eyes of their peers.

Jesus had the audacity to not only approach Levi but actually asked Levi to follow him.  Jesus wanted a despised Tax Collector?  Yes he did.  In verse 29 we get a hint of why Jesus did this. 

Luke 5:29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 

Levi was so appreciative of his being picked by Jesus that he threw a great feast and invited his friends.  Levi wanted to share his new find with his those that were important to him.  Are we like Levi?  Are we too thrilled that Jesus is willing to pick us that we are excited to share him with our friends?  If not why not?

When the religious leaders of the day saw that Jesus was ‘stooping into the gutter’ to eat and socialize with ‘such people’, they were outraged!  They thought that if Jesus was trying to promote himself as a leader that he should be trying to endear himself to them instead of tax collectors and such.  Jesus...why on earth would you want to eat and drink with SINNERS?

But Jesus’ response says it all!

Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (32) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Because Jesus is a spiritual doctor and his mission is to heal those that are sick!  It is the tax collectors and sinners of the world that will sooner acknowledge their sin than those that perceive they have no problems, like the scribes and pharisees.

I for one am SO thankful that Jesus stoops down into the gutter to try and relate to the sinners of the world.  If he didn’t, I couldn’t have ever been saved.  I am SO thankful that Jesus was not too good for me!