Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Luke 18

In Luke 18, Jesus shares some parables and lessons. His first is around how we “ought always to pray and not lose heart”.  One part of prayer is persistence.  Jesus tells the story of a widow who kept coming over and over to the judge seeking justice.  God wants us to persevere in prayer.  When we do, Jesus says “will not God give justice to  his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily”.  Jesus makes it clear that we need to continue to pray and not give up.  Throughout scripture, we’re told that God listens and answers.  We merely need to keep asking.

The question comes to Jesus about how we should prayer.  He gives two examples – one on how not to pray – on on how to do it:

  • “The PhariseeGod, I thank you that I am not like other men
  • the tax collectorbe merciful to me, a sinner”!

Jesus makes it clear that it is the tax collector who will be saved – “this man went down to his house justified”.  It wasn’t the religious leader that He was speaking about.  It was the tax collector who humbly prayed to God as a sinner who needed mercy, not a prideful religious leader that feels like he is good enough on his own.

Jesus is among the people and parents are bringing their kids to Him.  “When the disciples saw it, they rebuked them”.  Jesus was too busy to spend time with kids.  He had more important things to do.  But Jesus has a different plan.  “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.  Jesus was not only blessing the children but goes on to say “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”.  These little kids were the example of the kind of faith that is needed to gain eternal life.  True, complete faith.

A ruler came and asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life”?  Jesus gives him the first bar – “You know the commandments”.  The first thing is to obey what God has told us in His Word.  And when the ruler said he was good on that, Jesus gives him the second requirement.  “ One thing you still lack.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor”.  Obedience is one thing, but a willingness to give up control to all we have is another.  We have to put our faith and trust in Christ.  Unfortunately, “when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich”.  He wasn’t willing to let go of his ‘stuff’ and follow Jesus completely.

There is a cost to being a Christ Follower.  In fact, it costs us everything.  But Jesus makes it clear that “there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life”.  Following Jesus will cost you everything, but it will return even more.  We have to let go to be able to receive all.  It’s a difficult thing to do, but the rewards are beyond anything we can imagine!

Luke 16

In Luke 16 Jesus teaches His disciples about money.  He tells a story of the rich manager who was being fired from his job, and decides to call all the debtors to the business he was managing and offer them a reduced level of debt.  His logic was that it would build good will, and once he was fired and on the street it would provide him some friends and places to go.  The truth of the matter is that you can’t buy friendship.  But Jesus’ lesson was about much more – the importance of integrity and honesty.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own”?  Jesus makes it clear that we are to be honest in all things we do.  And when we are not, there is a price to pay.  Our character matters and will cause issues if we don’t live it well.

He goes on to share an important principle.  “You cannot serve God and money”. He doesn’t say that money is evil.  But He does make it clear that it competes for our heart and can get in the way of our serving God.  The reality is that money can cause us to prioritize the wrong things, and put stuff ahead of God and people.  We can only have one Master in our life.  We can’t have split allegiance.  God doesn’t share that spot well, actually not at all.  He insists on being Lord, the King of Kings, and that means money has to serve Him, and what matters to Him.

Jesus finishes the teaching by telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, a poor man who suffered much on this earth but ended up sitting next to God.  The rich man could see him across the chasm from hell, and asks God to allow Lazarus to give him some relief from the very uncomfortable place he was.  God says no, and we need to heed the reality that there is a big difference in eternity between heaven and hell.  The rich man then asks that someone be sent to warn his family.  Jesus says “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”.  We all face a very real judgment.  We’ll stand before God one day.  We need to listen and heed the truth that the Bible contains.  Sin is a real problem that will cause eternal separation from God.  We can avoid that, but we have to take action while we are living.  Are you ready?

Luke 10

Luke 10 gives us the plan Jesus has to reach the world – 2 by 2 evangelism.  He appointed 72 others and sent them out in pairs to spread the good news.  “The Lord appointed  seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go”.  John the Baptist was tasked with preparing the way of the Lord originally, but now, Jesus sends out groups of two into every town and place he is planning to go.  That was quite a group of preparers, but Jesus is kicking his ministry into high gear.

Why?  He makes it clear.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are fewTherefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”.  That hasn’t changed.  The harvest today is still plentiful – but we get so busy living our own lives and caught up in the chaos of the world that we don’t share the Good News with those in our patch.  Jesus warns his disciples: “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves”.   The world was a rough place back then, and it is no different today.  The enemy wants to destroy all Christ Followers, whether we’re doing the work of the ministry or not.

Jesus makes it clear that like the four kinds of soil that God’s Word can be sown upon, there are two kinds of towns that the disciples would encounter:

  1. “Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you
  2. But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near”.

As we share the Good News, we must never forget that we are not responsible for the response.  The harvest belongs to God.  Our job is to live our lives in a way that others can see Jesus in us, and to speak the Good News to those we come across in a way they can understand it.  It is up to them as to their response.  We will not see everyone receive it with joy.  But that isn’t what we are tasked with.  We are to go and share!

Jesus is asked a very important question – maybe the most important question of all that each of us need to know the answer to.  “Teacher, what shall I do to  inherit eternal life”?  A simple question, but profound in its impact.  Eternity is a very long time.  We need to know, with confidence and assurance, the answer to that question for our life.  Jesus told the man “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”.  The two great commandments where Jesus summarizes all the law down to these things.  Unfortunately, we all fall short.  That’s why we need Jesus.  Christ alone is the way to eternal life.  There is no other path!

Mark 16

Mark 16 picks up with Jesus in the tomb, or is He?  “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him”.  Some of the women who had followed Him to the Cross and watched Him die, come early the day after Sabbath Day to put spices around the body.  They did recognize a potential problem – the big rock Joseph had put in front of the tomb.  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb”?  They knew it was much bigger than they could move on their own.

They arrive and find that the stone had been rolled back so they enter the tomb and “they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed”. Talk about a shock.  You just don’t expect someone to be sitting there in a dead man’s tomb.  But this isn’t just any dead person.  This was Jesus.  The stranger told them to “See the place where they laid him”.  He obviously was gone, but they needed to see it for themselves.  And then they were sent to “go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee”.  It’s exactly what Jesus had told the disciples himself, but now that He was alive it was time to tell them again.

So “they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”.  They didn’t do a great job telling the disciples, but Mary Magdalene did tell a couple of them.  Jesus begins to show Himself to the twelve, but they couldn’t believe their eyes or ears.  So “he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen”.  Faith isn’t about what makes sense or seems reasonable.  Faith if believing things unseen.  It’s the foundation of Christianity.

Jesus commissions them to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”.  That’s what each of us as Christ Followers are to do.  The message is powerful and needed.  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  We have the cure to the biggest problem the world has ever seen – sin.  That cure is God’s grace provided through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  And He Himself commanded us to go and tell the world – all the world – of that free gift of grace. It’s why He came to this earth.  And once He had commissioned the disciples, He was ready to return to the Father.  “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them,  was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”.

Thoughts From Others – My Sermon Notes from Sunday – Church on Fire – Acts 20:17-38

Matthew 7

Matthew 7 has Jesus teaching some powerful truths.  He begins warning us about judging others.  “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you”.  We need to think twice before judging someone else.  We’re quick to do it because it takes the light off us.  But Jesus goes on to ask “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye….first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.

 

We need to start by looking inward before we lash outward.  Jesus goes on to tell us about the power we have through prayer.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;  knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened”.  Talk about an amazing prayer promise.  Jesus makes it clear that when we ask, seek and knock, it won’t be in vain.  God will hear our request and answer.  He’ll show us what we are looking for.  He’ll show up and let us come to His throne with our requests.  Prayer works.  Always.

That said, Christ also makes it clear that there are some true gates that will make it difficult for us to get into heaven.  In fact, on our own, we aren’t going to make it.  We’ll never be that good as God demands holiness and righteousness and we fall short.  He does give us some guidance for how to live – the golden rule – “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”.  Basic truth but so important for us to understand and live by.  But back to the future and our standing before God, Jesus says this: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”.

Heaven is an amazing place, but getting in won’t be easy.  We’ll stand before a perfect and holy God and have to give account.  Jesus tells us that we’ll be known by the fruit of our life.  It won’t we what we say – it will be based on how we have lived.  “You will recognize them by their fruits….Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”.  God will clean house and not let everyone enter.  If our life has not been bearing good fruit, we’ll not gain entry.

The truth Jesus tells us is that “Not everyone who  says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will  enter the kingdom of heaven….many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord….then will I declare to them, ‘I  never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”.  Our words aren’t going to be our ticket into eternal life with the Father.  What will is how we have lived and addressed the sin problem we have in our life.  We will never be good enough to enter.  It is only by having the blood of Jesus cover our sin that we’ll be able to enter heaven on that judgment day.  Jesus is the only ticket that will work for entry.  Have you received His offer of grace where He went to the cross to cover your sin?  If not, now is the time to make sure you are ready!

Jeremiah 18

Jeremiah 18 has our prophet getting some lessons at the potter’s house.  God’s word came to him as he watches and learns from the potter who is working at his wheel.  “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words”.  Jeremiah does and enters the house to see the potter create something that didn’t turn out as desired, so he reworked it into another vessel.  God gives Jeremiah the first of His words: “can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord.  Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand”.  The truth is clear that God is the Author of life.  God is sovereign and has the right to do whatever He wishes with us.  But He wants to created good.

God gives Jeremiah two possible outcomes for people.  The first was “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will  pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it”.  God is a God of restoration.  If we repent and turn from our sin, He’s there to bring us to Himself and set us free from the bad outcome that would happen as a result of sin.  He wants us to be restored to Him.  Jesus is the way we can get to God.

On the other hand, Jeremiah receives these words for the opposite response.  “And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will  build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it”.  The hard lesson here is that sin carries a price, no matter at what point it happens.  The requirement is clear: “Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds”.  God’s requirements aren’t changing.  Sin will be dealt with.  The only hope is for us to confess, repent and receive His gift of salvation through Christ.

Unfortunately, the people in Jeremiah’s time are in the same place much of our world is today.  “We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to  the stubbornness of his evil heart”.  We’re not listening to God or anyone else for that matter.  We will do what we want and feels good, without regard to what might be the outcome.  “My people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods”.  This doesn’t play well with God.  We are not in charge.  And there is a price to pay for our stubbornness.  “Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy.  I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity”.  We must not forget God, nor the consequences of our sinful choices.  There is a payment coming.  We need to seek His face, confess our sin, repent and seek His salvation!

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