A Remarkable Gift

How do you make Jesus take notice of your offerings?  Give from the heart and not from your wallet.  Give with an attitude of gratitude and not begrudgingly.  Give with joy and not out of obligation.  It’s not the size of the gift, but the love for God and your trust in Him that counts the most.
The poor widow woman had no one to take care of her.  She had nothing to live on and no one to provide for her.  Yet she in her poverty gave a gift that made Jesus take notice.  The wealthy people giving their gifts would have been very noticeable.  The sounds of large metal coins striking the metal boxes into which people put their offerings would have clang-clanged loudly.  The two small copper coins would have barely made a sound.  Yet Jesus remarked on her gift and not any of the others.  Why?  Because she gave all that she had to live on.  Why would she do such a thing?  Perhaps she trusted in God to provide more than in her money.  Maybe she had such a deep faith that she knew God would take care of her.
Sometimes we try to bargain with God.  “If I give this offering, then You have to take care of me!”  Our attitude should be, “Since You have provided for me, I gratefully and joyfully give this offering, Lord!”  God has provided in so many ways.  But, we put Him last instead of first.  Too often God gets the leftovers instead of the firstfruits.  He provided the job.  He provided the energy.  He provided the paycheck.  He provided the home.  He provided the car.  He provided the clothing. It all comes from Him.  Let us be cheerful and joyful as we give Him the first and best fruits of our labors.  After all, God loves a cheerful giver and takes notice when we give faithfully.
Luke 21:1-4 (NIV)
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”



Jesus Is The Messiah King

Jesus quotes Psalm 110 in Luke 20:42-43 about the identity of the Messiah.  David, in Psalm 110, says that the Messiah was his Lord.  The Messiah was going to be the son of David in lineage and there was hope that the Messiah would be a king like David.  This was faulty thinking.  Jesus, the Messiah, truly was the Son of David in lineage, but He was so much more than the king of Israel.  Jesus is the King of kings.  He is the Lord of lords.  He is the One who sits and reigns at the right hand of God the Father.  He is the Lord of creation.  He is the King of the universe.  He was crucified and buried and on the third day after His crucifixion, He did the seemingly impossible as God raised Him from the dead.  He is greater than any earthly king.  He is more powerful than any earthly ruler.  One day soon, presidents, prime ministers, kings and rulers of every sort will bow before Him.  Every knee will bow as it says in Philippians 2.  Every tongue will declare that Jesus Christ is the Lord!  You can do this willingly during your lifetime and bow gratefully at His feet when He returns.  Or you can reject Him and reject His lordship in this lifetime.  When He returns, you will have no choice but to bow before Him in awe and reverence.  The difference is that for the one who bows willingly, you are bowing before your Redeemer.  For those who reject Him, they will be bowing before their Judge.  The choice is yours.  Will you bow now and be saved?  Or will you bow then when it is too late?

Luke 20:41-47 (NIV)

41 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David?  42David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
43 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”


Out Of The Depths

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This message is based on Psalm 40 and is about how God can lift us from the pits of our lives.


There Is A Resurrection

As we read the story of Luke 20:27-40, we probably have many questions about Jesus’ words.  The Sadducees were a sect of Jewish priests (Luke calls them the “chief priests”) and according to one commentary, they controlled the Jewish temple.  Apparently they did not believe in a resurrection of the dead.  This is the crux of the matter in today’s passage.  Do people live forever and ever?  Once we die, what happens?  The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection and they wanted to get Jesus’ opinion on the matter.
In those days, if a man died childless, his wife would be passed along to the next oldest brother so that she could bear children by him.  The Sadducees concoct a story where this happens over and over again.  If there is a resurrection from the dead, they say, then whose wife will she be in eternity?  Jesus says that it doesn’t matter for in Heaven, things are different than they are here on earth.  In Heaven there is no need for procreation because people will never die.  The marriage relationship will be so much different.  It will be perfected.  The jealousy will be gone because sin will be done away with.  Imagine never fighting over money with your spouse again!  There will be no more hiding and lying.  There will be no more cheating and deception.
That is not the point of this story, though.  The point of the story is that there is indeed a resurrection of the dead.  Jesus proves it by pointing to Exodus where the Living God says that He is the God of the patriarchs of Israel.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had all long since died by the time Moses comes on the scene.  Yet, God was still their God.  In other words, they were alive and living forever!  I think that Jesus’ wise words can comfort us and help us to see that eternity does not begin at His second coming.  It appears that Paul’s words of being absent from the body and present with the Lord are true.  When we die, we go to a place of comfort and peace.  We who follow Jesus go to be with Jesus.  That is a day I am looking forward to!
Luke 20:27-40 (NIV)

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


God and Caesar

All they wanted was a simple, “Yes” or “No” answer.  Jesus gave them neither and left them speechless.  The Jews hated the Romans.  They hated the fact that they were ruled by them and that they had to pay taxes to them.  The religious leaders decided to use this information to try and trap Jesus one more time.  They asked Him a simple question about paying taxes.  Was it proper for God’s people to show allegiance to a Gentile Emperor by paying taxes to him?  After all, Caesar was typically seen as divine, a god on earth.  Surely this went against God’s will!  If Jesus had simply said, “Yes” and indicated that it was proper, then Jesus would be endorsing Caesar as king and in effect, a god.  This would cause Jesus to lose respect and favor in the eyes of many Jews because of their hatred of the Romans and the taxes they begrudgingly paid.  If Jesus said, “No.” then they would turn Him over to the Romans as an insurrectionist and His blood would not be on their hands.
Jesus is so wise.  He knew what was going on and He would not fall for their trap.  Instead, He asked for a coin with Caesar’s likeness on it.  He tells them to give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s (taxes) and give to God what is God’s (glory, honor and worship).  Later in the New Testament, Paul told the early church to pray for the leaders of governments and to obey the laws of the land.  This is important because we are commanded to live at peace with everyone, including the government.  We, as Christians, are not to resort to violence and insurrections in order to impose God’s will on the government.  We pray for them and ask God to do His will in our land.  Until then, we pay taxes and obey the laws.  We may not always agree with them, but violent disobedience is not an option.  We must operate within the framework of our laws in order to make our voices heard and our opinions known.  Jesus did not come to overthrow the government of His day.  But one day, He will return and will deal with all that runs contrary to the will of His Father.  Let us make sure that we are doing the will of our Heavenly Father as He would have us to do.
Luke 20:20-26 (NIV)

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


The Song Of The Humble

The latest sermon from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This message is based on Psalm 138.


The Offensive Jesus

Jesus wasn’t concerned about offending the religious leaders of His day.  They were trying to find a way to have Him put to death and He knew it.  He also called them on it in the Parable of the Tenants.  The religious elite of Jesus’ day had been ignoring and killing prophets for years.  Those who spoke for God were dismissed and their warnings were not heeded.  God chose to send His Son to call the hearts of His people back to Him.  Again, the religious leaders did not listen and instead tried to find a way to kill Him.  He warns them that they will be destroyed and the very Kingdom of God that had been entrusted to them would be given to others.  He meant the Gentiles who would be grafted in to the people of God.
Jesus’ words still offend.  They offend us in our pride and arrogance.  They offend us in weaknesses and sins.  They offend us in our laziness and complacency.  They offend us in our apathy and lack of devotion.  He calls us to serve and follow and we only want the benefits of love and forgiveness.  We want grace without any call to commitment.  We want the gifts of love and mercy, but we don’t want to have to show any gratitude.  Jesus calls us to follow Him and sometimes His call is offensive to our selfish pride.  We may think that we have it all together, but in reality, we are so far from where we need to be.  Do not ignore the call of Jesus today, but pray that God will instill in you a fully devoted heart to Jesus.
Luke 20:9-19 (NIV)

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest himimmediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.


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