September 28, 2022

He is willing

Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:13

For many years, I knew in my heart that God could do anything, but I wasn’t convinced that He would.  I didn’t know if He would help me out of my struggles just because I asked Him and I didn’t know if He would heal me when I was sick, just because I went to Him in prayer.  I knew that God was good and did good, I just didn’t know if He was willing to do good in my circumstances.

Then, one day I came across this passage in Luke 5 where a man with leprosy said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, (that is to say if it is your will?) You can make me clean.”  Jesus’ response was: “I am willing” which is to say it was His will for the leprous man to be healed.  In the next section of this passage, a group of people brought a paralytic man to Jesus, and He healed him too.  In fact, everyone that came to Jesus during His life here on earth, received what they came for.

It makes sense too.  As I think back to the problems and pains that I took to Him in my past, He delivered me out of all of them.  Now I know that what ever I take to Him in prayer, He is working on.  I know this because He has never let me down in the past and He has given me promises in His Word.  Below is a short list of scriptures to turn to if you have any doubts:

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

All who come to Him, He will not cast out.  (John 6:37)

All God’s promises are Yes and Amen.  (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Out of all my trouble, He delivered me. (2 Timothy 3:11)

The Lord is not slack concerning His promises. (2 Peter 3:9)

This is just a short list, but you can find your own promises in the scripture.  Just be on the look out as you read each day.  He rescued us from sin and fear, and He will continue to rescue us in whatever we face each day.  The one stipulation seems to be you have to come to Him and ask Him to take care of it. Many people want to blame God for the circumstances in the world and their life, but never spend a minute of time talking to Him and putting the problems in His hands. We must take it to the Lord and give it over to His care.

Today I want to encourage you in whatever you are up against in life.  Take time to bring it to the Lord in prayer.  Ask Him to see you through and heal your pain.  Remember the things He has brought you through in the past and most of all, know that He is our good, good Father and wants good for your life!  He won’t turn you away and He will not turn away from you.  Let the love of God rescue you today and receive the good plans He has designed for your life in this world.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 5:12-26  

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 

14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 

16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 

18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 

19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 

23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 

24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 

26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

September 26, 2022

Called

“Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:10

Did you know that you have been called to more in this life?  Yes, we are called to God’s great salvation through the blood of Jesus, but there is more.  Many people receive that salvation and think that is all there is, but God has so much planned for each person.  A special and important mission.  Each one of us have been given an assignment in the place we are right now.  As we grow and complete our current mission, we are called to the next assignment.

Maybe you are thinking: “No, I’m not qualified to minister to people.” Or “I don’t know the scriptures well enough to share.”  It is so important to recognize and remember that God has never called those who were qualified.  God has always qualified and grown people right in the middle of their current circumstances.

In today’s reading, Jesus began to call people to join Him in ministry.  He started out by calling fishermen, of all people.  These were not educated men and they were not people who had been prepared and trained in the scriptures to teach others.  These were common, hard working and diligent guys that made their living by catching fish.  When Jesus told Peter to put his net in the water, all Peter did was what he was asked to do, and Jesus did the rest.  He was blessed with a catch that he could never do on his own and then Jesus called Peter to follow Him into ministry.

It has been that way all through the scriptures.  Abraham was called to be the father of many nations.  The only problem with that was that he couldn’t have children.  Moses was called to be the deliverer of God’s people out of bondage even though he was a fugitive and living far from where God’s people were.  Samuel was called to be the prophet to God’s people when he was just a 12-year-old boy.  He certainly wasn’t qualified for that job at that point in his life. David was called to be the king of Israel and he was just a shepherd young guy left alone to figure out how keep sheep alive.  Mary was called to carry and deliver the Son of God and she wasn’t even married yet or had a relationship with a man. The list could go on and on, but as you read through God’s Word, you will see that God calls regular people like you and me to do great things in the kingdom of heaven.  You only need to respond with a resounding yes when He calls and then grow in wisdom and stature as He leads.

Today I want to encourage you to listen for God’s call on your life.  First, recognize that the Holy Spirit is drawing you to God’s great love through salvation in Christ Jesus.  Then spend some time submitting your life and heart to Him through prayer and meditating His Word.  Talk to Him about the plans He has for you and ask Him to make them plain and clear to you, step by step and give you the faith, desire and strength to walk in them.  You are called to be great things and they will start right where you are today.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 4:40 – Luke 5:11

40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. 

41 And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.

42 Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; 

43 but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” 

44 And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 

2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 

3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 

6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 

7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 

8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 

10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 

11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

September 23, 2022

Speak to your problems

“So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her and immediately she arose and served them.”  Luke 4:39

Jesus spoke to many things during His ministry.  He spoke to a fig tree. (Mark 11)   He spoke to storms (Mark 4) and in today’s passage, He spoke to a fever.  I have often wondered if these things can hear, but what I do know is that they can obey.  When Jesus spoke faith filled words to these things, they had to be obedient to what He commanded them to do.  The fig tree dried up from the roots, the storms were calmed, and the fever left.  The interesting part is that when Peter noticed that the fig tree had dried up from the roots in Mark 11, he pointed it out immediately to Jesus.  Jesus’ response to Him was amazing! Why didn’t Jesus tell His disciples that He could do this only because He was the Son of God, and that they shouldn’t try it because it would only work for Him? However, He doesn’t say anything like that.  In fact, His response is quite the opposite.  He tells them that faith did it and if they had faith, they could do things like that, too.  They could even move mountains.

Wow!  Jesus actually gave them permission to speak in faith to natural things and those material things would obey.  Not only that, but He says “whoever”. He said anyone who has the faith to speak to their mountains (struggles) and tell them to be removed and cast into the sea, with one stipulation that you have to believe, the things you say will be done.  Then Jesus Himself said, “you will have whatever you say!”  That’s a pretty serious promise and it came straight from Jesus.  The problem seems to be that most of the time I find myself “saying” exactly what the problem is and not what it should be.  Instead of talking about the problem, according to these passages, I should be talking to the problems and taking me authority in Christ Jesus over them.

The last thing I want to talk about is believing you received when you spoke to that problem, not believe you receive when you see it happen.  The passage doesn’t say believe you receive after you see it come to pass.  It’s when you prayed and spoke life into the issues you believe it just because you have taken authority over it. In the reading today, before Jesus spoke to Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever, He spoke to a demon that was possessing a person. This makes a little more sense because it is a living thing, but He still had to use faith to make the demon leave. Believe the answers you are waiting for, are on their way as soon as you take authority over them in the name of Jesus and turned them over to your Father in heaven!  Believe you received when you prayed.

Today I want to encourage you to speak to the mountains that are limiting you.  Tell the obstacles in your way to be removed and cast into the sea.  Speak over sickness and fever and command it to leave your body.  Then ask God, your Heavenly Father, to replace the problem with the results you really want to see.  Even if you don’t see immediate results, you are setting things in motion.  God is working in the situation, and you may not see any evidence at first.  Even when Jesus spoke to the fig tree, they didn’t see the results until the next day, but things were happening under the surface.  The key is to believe you received when you spoke and prayed in the authority of Jesus’ name that you have been given permission and power to speak.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 4:31-39

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 

32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. 

33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 

34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 

36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 

37 And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. 

39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them.

September 22, 2022

Our Mission

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

This scripture that Jesus read from the book of Isaiah is the passage that He spoke in the synagogues when His ministry began.  He read the passage and then He told the people there, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  This was the reason Jesus came and this was His mission to complete.

This passage identifies the condition of the people who are lost in the world.  Let’s take a minute to break down the conditions listed here and how Jesus solved the issues.

Poor – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty we might become rich.”  2 Corinthians 8:9

Brokenhearted – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalms 147:3

Captive – “that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him (the devil) to do his will.”  II Timothy 2:26

Bound – “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”  Acts 8:23

Blind – “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;”  Ephesians 4:18

Oppressed – “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”  Acts 10:38

When He left, He passed the same mission on to the disciples and to us.  It is our inheritance as believers.  It is the good news.  Before He ascended into heaven He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel (good news) to every creature.” Mark 16:15  These were His anointed words to all those who believe and receive the message of the gospel.  The good news is the broken-hearted can be healed, the captive can be set free, and those bound by sin can be loosed.

Today I encourage you to consider your inheritance as a child of God and your mission to share the good news with those around you.  Ask God to prepare the hearts of those He would have you touch with His message of freedom. Pray for a heart of compassion to love others the way Jesus did so your desire to reach the lost is increased each day.  Then start sharing His love by reaching to people right where they are, lost and hurting.  Start walking out your mission today by proclaiming His liberty every where you go.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 4:16-30

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;

19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 

21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ” 

24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 

25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 

26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 

27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 

29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 

30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

September 21, 2022

Power of the Spirit

Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.  Luke 4:14

Jesus came out of the wilderness after fasting for 40 days in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This was when He began to minister in the synagogues.  At first it looked like He was widely accepted and glorified by all as the Messiah.  Of course, reading this passage today, we believe that His power was there because He was the Son of God and all powerful like His heavenly Father.  However, that is not what the scriptures says.  It says that after He fasted for 40 days, He returned in the power of the Spirit.  Why would Jesus need to fast for power.  He was God in person.

There is another account in the gospels where Jesus told His disciples that power comes by prayer and fasting. (See Matthew 17:21) The fact was that all Jewish people of that day practiced fasting on a regular basis.  They fasted once a week on the Sabbath.  They fasted on holy days before or after they celebrated.  They fasted when they were in trouble, and they fasted when they were mourning.  Some did it for show, some did it because of the requirement of the law, but some did it for power.  Fasting was given to them as a gift when Moses was given all the statutes of the law. A time to turn all their attention and affection to God. Fasting was an act of their worship.

In our culture today, we don’t see much of this at all.  Rarely do you find someone setting aside something to focus on their relationship with their heavenly Father or to pray for someone in need.  Fasting has really lost its purpose in the world today, but not it’s power.

Fasting is a time set aside for a person to tune into the direction and heart of God.  It is a quieting of the external to bring forward the internal person.  Fasting is not limited to food.  It can be any distractions or pass times that occupy space in your life that could be filled up with God’s presence instead.  Lastly, fasting is a sign that show that you are serious about the eternal things and want to spend time reinforcing the spiritual in your life instead of the tangible things of this world. Fasting is an act of worship.

Today I want to encourage you to consider fasting and setting up a time frame to press into God.  Whether it is one day, three days or 40 days, it just doesn’t matter.  The point is to make a decision to set aside something that can be replace with spending time praying and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to your heart.  Select scriptures ahead of time that you will focus on when the distraction of hunger comes or let that pain be the reminder that you are going to pray for a friend in need or your specific need.  Fasting does not make God move quicker or respond sooner, it is for you to shut down and listen.  To receive your next steps in the plan and to receive the power you need to take it.  If you have never faster, make a plan today.  Commit to God that you want to step closer by magnifying Him instead of the world around you.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 4:14-15

14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 

15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

September 20, 2022

It is written

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Luke 4:4

No matter what we go through in life, whatever test or temptation we face, we are not alone.  Our Savior knows and understands.  It’s easy to think, “I know He cares and knows what I am going through, but understands?  How could Jesus understand the test that I am experiencing right now?”  Here’s the thing, Jesus was in all points tempted.  Every type of temptation we could possibly come under, Jesus went through.  We can see some of the things He was tempted with in the passage below.  

First, the devil tempted Jesus with pride.  He tried to get Him to prove who He was.  Satan said, “Prove you are the Son of God by turning the stones into bread.” Next, the devil tempted Jesus to give up.  Jesus was fasting, preparing for His ministry He was about to enter.  Satan said, “give up this fast and turn the stones to bread.”  He tried to tempt Jesus to give up on that preparation and to eat something because He was hungry right now.  Thirdly, Satan appealed to Jesus’ self-worth.  He tempted Jesus to jump from a great height to try to end His life early.  Last of all, He tried to lure Jesus away from His ministry by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and telling Jesus he would give Him what Jesus came to earth for in a simpler way than dying for us.  He only had to bow down to Satan.  

Jesus, of course, overcame all these temptations, but not because He was God’s Son.  It was because He used God’s weapon, His Word (Scripture).  You can defeat the enemy too by speaking God’s Word.  It is the one thing that Satan hates and it will chase him away quicker than anything.  So, the next time you are tempted to quit or feel less about yourself, speak the Word of God to that temptation and chase your enemy away in defeat and terror.

Today I encourage you to three things.  One, be on your guard against temptation, meaning notice when temptation comes and call it what it is.  Don’t justify it by making it a small thing (i.e. lying, cheating, worrying).  Second, prepare scriptures ahead of time for the temptations you know that you easily give in to.  Third, boldly declare the Word of God when temptation does come.  You can even say it like Jesus did, “It is written” or “get away from here, Satan” before the scripture you have prepared.  Don’t be overcome with evil/temptation, overcome temptation with the sword of the spirit, God’s Word.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 4:1-13

1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 

2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 

6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 

7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 

10 For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’

11 and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

September 19, 2022

Start at home

The son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. Luke 3:38

I know that I am different from most people, but I love reading through the genealogies in scripture.  I so enjoy going through the names and looking for those that I recognize and how they fit in between the generations that they are built on.  No matter how many times I read through them, I am always impressed by something different.  Today’s passage is no different.

I am intrigued to read that it says that Adam is the son of God.  It doesn’t say he was the creation of God, but God’s son.  This makes sense throughout scripture because in the New Testament we read that Jesus was the second Adam.  Meaning, that Adam was intended to live the perfect life that Jesus lived, but since he failed, Jesus came to make it right. 

Today’s reading starts out in verse 23 saying that Jesus started his ministry here in this world as the son of Joseph, not the Son of God, showing that He was actually a man in this world even though He was God in human form.  What strikes me most about this reading is that the promise of the Messiah was passed through all these generations.  The message of salvation was preserved and handed down so that it was never lost in time along the way.  It makes me so thankful that God preserved and imbedded His good news into the hearts of people all through history so that His love still reaches us today.

I am reminded of how I heard about the gospel message.  It was given to me by my mother and father.  This good news had been in their families for many generations, and it continues to live on in our children’s lives today.  We ensure that our family knows God personally and that their relationship with Him grows daily, so that they are walking out the gift of salvation to demonstrate it and teach their children about the great love of God and the miracle of His salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus.

What about you?  Maybe you didn’t have the message handed to you from your parents like I did, but you still received it through someone who had held on to that love and then shared it with those outside of their family.  What ever the case is, now it is you turn to pass the message and lead your loved ones to the saving grace of God’s great plan.  Start in your home and help those you live with to know how much God the Father loves them and wants to know them personally.  Have a time each day when you read His Word and talk about how you can grow in your faith and trust Him more each day.  Go to church service together on the weekends or attend a small group that you can learn more about Him from others who have been walking with Him longer and pray together about the things that are concerning your family.

Today I want to encourage you to secure God’s message of love and salvation in your family lineage.  Walk by faith each day and teach it to your children and grandchildren by your example.  Make sure that this message continues to flow through the generations all the way up until our Savior returns.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 3:23-38

23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, 

24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, 

25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 

26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, 

27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 

28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, 

29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 

30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, 

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 

32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 

34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 

36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, 

38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

September 18, 2022

Well pleased

And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22

Recently, I have heard a couple well meaning speakers say there is good pride and bad pride. I understand what they are saying, like it is the right thing to do to take pride in your work or be proud of who you are.  Even being proud to be an American.  Certainly, it is important to do a good job and to the best of your ability in whatever you do.  It is for sure a good thing to like who you are and who you have become.  However, I cannot find any scripture that uses pride in a good way.

In today’s scripture, when Jesus came up out of the water at His baptism, God spoke from heaven and said:  “This is my Son that I am well pleased with.”  This was an audible voice for everyone to hear that was there that day.  Note that God doesn’t say: “This is my Son, and I am very proud of Him.”  The reason is because God hates pride.  All through the scriptures there are warnings about being prideful and the destruction that comes with it.  Below is a short list of verses about pride:

Proverbs 11:2 – Pride brings disgrace; humility brings wisdom.

Isaiah 23:9 – The Lord will humble all who are prideful.

James 5:6 – God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble

Proverbs 8:13 – God hates pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction.

Proverbs 6:16-17 – Pride is an abomination/atrocity to God.

The difference between being proud and being pleased with something or someone is where your focus is being placed.  If you are proud of your child for an accomplishment, the focus is on yourself and the fact that you are responsible for the things they have achieved.  If you are pleased with your child for their accomplishment, it puts the attention one the child and takes it from yourself. You give honor to whom it is due.

Our focus should always be on others and how we can encourage and build them up. When you are preoccupied with your own life and the things you are going through, that is where pride has an open door to come in and trip you up.  I know it seems like a technicality but think about where you are placing your attention the next time you use the word proud or pride.  Don’t be fooled like some are, thinking it is right to be proud because we have been given so much.  The truth is that we are blessed, but it has nothing to do with who we are, only who our God is.  There is no such thing as good pride.

Today I want to encourage you to consider if you have let pride creep into your life.  Take inventory of the feelings you have about the things you have accomplished in life.  Even if you don’t feel good about your abilities, you can still be in pride.  The fact is when you are the center of your life, pride has entered in.  Make others your focus today.  Look for those you can bless wherever you are.  Listen to those who are around you and their cries for help and pray for the hurting people that God brings into your life.  Eliminate pride from your life once and for all and ask the Holy Spirit to expose the hidden corner where it may be lurking.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 3:21-22

21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 

22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

September 17, 2022

Expectation

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not.  Luke 3:15

The people that went to hear John the Baptist’s message were expectant.  Before they ever got there, they were hopeful.  These people had been watching for centuries for Messiah to come.  When John began ministering, many of them thought maybe he was the One.  They came out to hear him expecting signs and they were set on being delivered from their oppression.  The Hebrew people held on to the promises of God, knowing that He had kept His promises in the past and He would fulfill all He promised to at this point in time.

Of course, we know now that John was not the One, but he was the one preparing the way for Jesus to begin ministering publicly.  Now, after so long, the expectation was high in the people.  This is actually the first recorded time in the Bible that people were expecting the Messiah to come.  Maybe it was because of the Roman oppression they were under or maybe it was just because they were discerning the times as the scriptures said they should.  What ever the case, at that time their expectations were high, and they were full of hope.

This is where we should be today.  We should be going through our lives with high expectations and full of hope.  What?!!  In the mess that the world is in, how can we have any expectation except for things to continue to get worse?  This is where perspective and faith comes to rescue us.  We are God’s people, and even though the circumstances around us look bleak, it is still His story.  He is the One who created it all and He is the One that is at work through it all, the good and the bad.  He is not making bad things happen, but He is working in the hearts of people to draw them to the truth of His love for them.

This is where our hope needs to be, and this is where we have great expectations.  God has promised and already made the provision to deliver us from every oppression of the enemy.  He has already made a way for us to walk closely to Him and protected in His provision of love. His promise for salvation from eternal separation and punishment has been secured for us in the blood of Jesus, our Savior.  We better get our hopes up because that is what faith is made of.  Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things we have been hoping for and faith is what brings the unseen answer into the visible world.

Hope is what faith is built on.  This isn’t blind hope or blind faith, it is hope in God’s Word and hope in God’s promises.  We have high expectations that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose because He said He would in His word. (see Romans 8:28)  Our hopes are high because we have seen God work in our lives in the past and bring us through to victory over and over again.  So, the next time you are feeling discouraged about the circumstances around you, build up your hope by meditating a promise from scripture instead of meditating on the problem and rehearsing past triumphs that He has already given to you.

Today I want to encourage you to take a step back from what ever you are going through to get a big picture perspective. Recognize God’s hand in your life and start expecting good things to happen around you and to you!  Believe God’s promises to you and start filling up your life and heart with the things He wants to accomplish in your life.  If you are not sure what they are, spend some time talking to Him about that and ask Him to lead you to scripture that points in that direction.  Ask Him to bring peace in any area you are struggling in right now through remembering past successes not failures. Press in and listen to the promptings and urging the Holy Spirit is putting in your heart. Then write them down so that when your hope is low you can go back and reinforce that expectation in the promises you already received.  Get your expectation high and keep them there by trusting and believing that God will do what He already said He will. In that way when you are under pressure, those promises will be squeezed out of you because that is what you have been saturated in.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 3:15-20

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 

16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. 

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 

20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

September 15, 2022

Bear Good Fruit

And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:9

I have struggled with this idea of bearing fruit for quite a while, even years.  My concept of bearing fruit was lives rescued and brought into the kingdom of God.  As many things that I was trying to do to be fruitful, I wasn’t seeing the results of lives being saved.  Not that it wasn’t happening. It may or may not have been, I just wasn’t seeing it.  Many times, when I had opportunities to give to someone or encourage someone, I didn’t see if my acts of love had any impact on lives.  It has always been a work of faith.

Recently I got the revelation that the fruit that is seen is more about attitude and grace.  We know this first of all because we have a list of the Spirit’s fruit in Galatians.  Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  In the passage today, John the Baptist talked to his crowd about good fruit.  When he was asked what people should do to bear good fruit, he give them some ideas. Such things as: giving to others, being honest in business and not cheating people.  He also included avoiding intimidation or falsely accusing those around you. And . . . here’s the kicker!  Be content with your wages.  I would almost say you could equate that to: don’t be a complainer.

Now, I realize that bearing fruit is in your heart and what comes out in your words and actions shows if you have good fruit or bad.  For example, kindness to others that doesn’t depend on them deserving it.  You are kind to others simply because you are a child of God and bear His love fruit.  Good fruit also shows up in your joy.  Do you rejoice because you have been rescued from an eternity of separation from God or is the fruit of your heart sadness because your focus is on what you lack in this world.  What about peace.  Do you bear the fruit of peace knowing that the One who holds your life is faithful to keep working with you to the day of completion? Or is your heart fearful at the latest headlines and stresses of the current world crisis?  The list could go on: impatient with other or longsuffering? Harsh and rude or gentle and good?  Faith or anxiety? Pride or meekness?  Irritable and touchy or temperate?  These are the fruit that can identify what you are bearing, and these are the postures that expose what is in your heart.

Today I want to encourage you to do a heart check.  Pay attention to the attitudes that you are sharing with others.  Ask those around you what they see.  Often times we have a different view than those on the outside do.  Mostly, check in with your Father in heaven.  Tell Him that you want to bear good fruit and ask Him to expose any fruit that may be rotting your core.  Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to get rid of the rotten and grow up the good.  Start being intentional about what you are planting in the world around you by sharing your good fruit everywhere you go.  Not because others are so deserving, only because you are displaying the good fruit of the love of God that is in you and you are different than the world.

Today’s scripture reading: Luke 3:7-14

7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 

8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 

9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”

11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”