24
Apr
14

It’s In The Asking

What if the reason we struggle in so many ways is because we will not humble ourselves before God and ask Him for what we need?  Jesus says to ask God to supply our needs three different times and in three different ways in Luke 11:5-13.  First, he speaks of asking a friend for bread at midnight so that you could feed a friend who came to you after a long journey.  MIDNIGHT!  I would be rather upset due to the fact that I am an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of guy.  But the fact that you asked at midnight tells me of your desperate need.  This audacious and persistent request stirs the friend to action and generosity, even at such a late hour.  The point is that we should humbly ask God and continue to humbly ask of Him.  In His will and in His time, He will answer the request and fulfill our needs.
Then Jesus simply says, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Luke 11:9a, NIV).  Again, God’s answer is according to His will and in His time.  We must humble ourselves before Him and ask for what we need.
Finally, Jesus says that God is good and loves to generously give His children what they need.  Jesus describes people as “evil” (Luke 11:13, NIV) and yet capable of giving generous, good gifts to their children.  God, who is good (all the time), is so much more capable and willing to give good gifts to His children.  The best gift of which is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of born again believers in Christ.
So we see that God is capable and willing to give His children what they need.  James 4:2b-3 (NIV) says:

You do not have because you do not ask God.3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Maybe our struggles in this life have little to do with God and much to do with us.  I think that we need to ask God to supply our needs every day.  After all, in Luke 11:3 (NIV), Jesus said to ask for “daily bread.”  We get so focused on working for tomorrow that we forget to ask God to supply our needs today.  This requires humility and patience.  Humble yourself before the Lord, ask Him to provide, and patiently wait for Him to supply.  God is not mean and stingy.  God is not incapable of providing.  The problem is not God.  Make humble prayer your habit and wait upon the Lord to give you all that you need.

Luke 11:5-13 (NIV)

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

23
Apr
14

Jesus’ Prayerful Example

E. M. Bounds was a minister in Missouri after the Civil War until the early parts of the 20th century.  He wrote eleven books in his lifetime, nine of which were on the power of prayer.  Here is a quote attributed to him:

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.”

​ – E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer​
​We see our own need for prayer in the life of Jesus.  He made communication with our Heavenly Father in prayer a priority.​

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1 (NIV)

The desire to pray is sorely missing from Jesus’ disciples today.  We say that we’re too busy to pray.  We make the excuse that we don’t know how to pray.  We complain about how we feel powerless in our lives.  I believe that it is because we lead prayer-less lives.  A life void of spiritual communication with God will be a life void of spiritual power from God.  Jesus knew the importance of prayer.  If He knew the importance of prayer and He made it a priority, how much more do we need to do so?  His disciples saw the importance of prayer because Jesus modeled it to them.
We need to make prayer a greater priority and we need to model it for our families and other believers.  Prayer is more than catch phrases and flowery language.  It is the cry of our hearts to our Father in Heaven.  It is about baring our souls to God.  It is about seeking communication with Him for He desires to be in relationship with us.  Take a few moments right now to seek the Lord in prayer.  Use the model prayer Jesus gives in Luke 11:2-4 to be an outline of your prayers.
Begin with humble praise to God.  Continue with your requests for yourself and others.  End with a confession of your sins for His forgiveness and a petition for God’s power and help in your life to forgive others and for His protection.  God will move in your life in a powerful way when you begin to live your life in a prayerful way.

Luke 11

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

22
Apr
14

He Knows Your Name

The sermon from Easter Sunday at Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

22
Apr
14

Working For/Listening To Jesus

Sometimes I get so busy working for Jesus that I forget that I’m supposed to be listening to Jesus.  Mary and Martha are two sisters who loved the Lord.  Martha opened her home to Jesus when He and His disciples came to their village.  I have little doubt that she was excited to have the Master in her home.  She worked diligently to prepare a meal for them as well as all of the other preparations that had to be made.  She was working for Jesus.
Her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him teaching.  She wanted to know Jesus and hear what He had to say.  Martha grew frustrated with Mary because she was doing all the work and Mary was sitting around being lazy!  Martha wanted Jesus to tell Mary to help her in the preparations.
Both sisters loved Jesus.
Both sisters wanted to please Him.
Both sisters had their hearts in the right places.
Each sister made a choice.
Martha was focusing on working for Jesus.
Mary was focusing on listening to Jesus.
They’re both important, but one is better.
What are you focused on?  Before you focus on working for Jesus, make sure you’re listening to His voice.

Luke 10:38-42

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

21
Apr
14

Your Enemy/Neighbor

The parable of the good Samaritan is quite familiar to Christians.  The phrase, “good Samaritan” is well-known to many who are not believers.  We associate that phrase with someone who does a kind deed for a stranger.  That’s not what Jesus had in mind.  True, the Samaritan in His story did not know the individual he helped.  They were strangers.  But they were more than strangers.  They were enemies.
The expert in the law (what we would consider to be a lawyer) was testing Jesus.  He wanted to know Jesus’ thoughts on what it takes to go to Heaven.  Jesus turns the tables on him and asks him for his opinion first.  The lawyer answers with a very good answer from the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus:

‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

​ – Luke 10:27 (NIV)​
Jesus commends him on his correct answer.  Then the lawyer wants to impress Jesus by asking a profound question:

And who is my neighbor? – Luke 10:29 (NIV)

Jesus, as He often did, tells him a story that we know as the parable of the good Samaritan.  We may think of this parable as a nice little story about two men who were unwilling to help a man in need and one kindly Samaritan who helped the beaten and battered man.  That is far from what was actually going on in Jesus’ day.  The priest goes by and then the Levite.  They are on their way from Jerusalem to Jericho.  They both served in the temple.  The priests were considered the most holy men of their day.  Levites were next to them in holiness since they also served in the temple.
Then the Samaritan happens to pass by.  One commentator said that Jews and Samaritans “despised” each other.  These guys are enemies.  We’re talking Packers’ fans and Bears’ fans times 10!  They hated each other!  The Samaritan, despite his peoples’ hatred of Jews, has compassion on the half dead man.  He goes above and beyond what any human being would do for someone else.  This despised Samaritan becomes the hero of the story!  What do you think was going on in the minds and hearts of those who were hearing this story?  Anger!  Blood boiling!  Teeth clenched!  Jesus asks the lawyer:

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? – Luke 10:36 (NIV)

The lawyer can’t even bring himself to say the word, “Samaritan.”  He says:

The one who had mercy on him. – Luke 10:37​a​ (NIV)

Then Jesus frosts the cake with, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b, NIV).  Jesus tells this Jewish lawyer, “Be like the Samaritan.”  OH!  How it must have burned his ears to hear such a thing!
So what about you?  Who is your neighbor?  Who needs you to be the conduit of God’s love and mercy today?  It’s probably the person you either least expect or least want to show it to.  That’s the person Jesus wants you to love today.

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

18
Apr
14

He Put The Good In Good Friday

There are no words that can adequately describe what Jesus did on Good Friday.  The nails.  The jeers.  The taunts.  The humiliation.  The forsaking of His Father.  The crushing weight of sin and guilt that He had never known previously.  He didn’t deserve it.  He deserved to be seated on a throne, not nailed to a cross.  Yet He chose to carry the cross.  He chose to take the nails.  He chose to die.  In those six hours, Jesus fulfilled His purpose – to die for the sins of humanity.  To die for you and for me.
His final words, “It is finished,” have such weight and meaning.  What was finished?  The need for sacrifices for He was the ultimate sacrifice.  His ministry on earth had been completed.  The need for an intermediary between God and humanity.  It was the end of the enemy’s tyrannical reign over sinners.  He was the ransom and the price had been paid in full.  It was the end of Jesus’ life, but it was the beginning of hope and freedom and forgiveness.  These were made possible by the One who gave up His throne, His spirit and His life for us.
John 19:16b-18, 28-30 (NIV)
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
​28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
17
Apr
14

Jesus’ Emotional Suffering

The physical anguish was awful.  The flogging nearly killed Him.  The pain was intense and excruciating.  Jesus had been arrested and tried.  Though innocent, He was found guilty.  He had neither sinned against God nor man.  Yet here He was being punished for crimes He had been accused of but had never committed.  He was suffering physically, yes.  But what about the emotional pain Jesus experienced?  We don’t give much of a thought to that.  As He watched them twist thorny branches into a makeshift crown.  As they pressed it into His head.  I wonder if His thoughts drifted to the Heavenly crown He had given up for life on earth.  As they placed a purple robe on Him to mock His claim to be a King.  How did this robe compare with the robe of light He wore in Heaven?  As they mockingly cried out, “Hail, king of the Jews!” (John 19:3, NIV).  Did He remember the angels singing His praises in all sincerity?  As they slapped Him in the face over and over, did He recall the 24 elders bowing down before Him in worship?  Had they seen Him as the Lion of Judah sitting on His throne in splendor and glory, they would have bowed in adoration.  Yet He did not come as the Lion, but rather as the sacrificial Lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world — including theirs.  Yes, Jesus was at the doorstep of death on that day.  The pain and agony were only beginning as they flogged Him.  The emotional pain had begun the night before in the upper room and in the garden.  Only death could stop the suffering now.  It wouldn’t be long…

John 19:1-16 (NIV)

Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe,Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.




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