Keep Knocking

Luke 11:13
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

There seems to be some striking differences between the Church in the book of Acts and the church today. The impact they were having on their world was tremendous; we read of the sick being healed, the dead being raised, and most importantly, multitudes of people believing in the resurrected Lord, and their lives being transformed. How is it that they, with so little, were able to do so much? We know they did not have the completed Bible, much money, or the technological resources we have today, yet they were turning their world upside down. The secret to their success was the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is clear, what they did not have was overshadowed by what they did have; that is, power from on High!

Here in Luke 11 we are told, the same Holy Spirit that empowered the Apostles is made available to all of us. Jesus said, if we want to be filled with the Spirit all we need to do is ask. However,  it is important that we notice that He emphasizes how we are to ask. Sometimes, we ask without really caring about an answer, other times we ask because we feel like we were required to. We do not expect to get what we were asking for, but we have the attitude that it cannot hurt to ask. I want you to notice that Jesus has been telling us to pray with persistence. He said we should pray like the man who wanted something from his friend, so he knocked UNTIL he received it. Jesus said when we pray, we need to ask, seek and knock. The key is persistence. We are exhorted to pray, pray, and keep praying, until we receive from the Lord. And the primary thing to be praying for, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do you lack the strength today to live for, and serve Jesus? Are you failing to overcome sin in your personal life, or to be an effective witness of Jesus to your friends and family? What you need is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and you will find that in persistent prayer. Take some time to get alone with God and ask for the Holy Spirit. Start by telling God your need, and your intention for being there, before Him, then begin to worship Him. Let yourself be caught up in how wonderful He is, and the amazing promises He has given us. Focus specifically on the promise of the Holy Spirit, and just keep asking. God will pour out His Spirit upon you, but He does require persistence in prayer.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 11

  1. Who are we to address when we pray?
  2. What is happening in the second phrase of Jesus model prayer?
  3. What do we learn about prayer in the story of the friend coming at midnight?
  4. What are the two requirements to receive the blessing of Jesus in verse 28?
  5. In the section of Jesus comparing signs, He speaks of the city of Nineveh responding to Jonah’s preaching how?
  6. Who is Jesus referencing as the “greater than Jonah?
  7. What is the lamp of the body?
  8. In the “woe” to the Pharisees, Jesus points out that the inward part, the part that no one sees is more important than the outward appearance. Take a moment and let the Lord examine your inward heart. Are there secret things that need to be dealt with? Now respond as the men of Nineveh did in the description of verse 32 (repentance). Ask the Lord to help you never to return to those things again.
  9. Were the lawyers doing any better than the Pharisees?

Old Testament:
Leviticus 18- Counter Culture
Leviticus 19- Being Different

The Harvest Is Great

Luke 10:2
The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; . . .”

IMG_1504Sadly, the world has no shortage of those who are in need of Christ. Our population has reached the seven billion mark. Seven billion souls walking this planet, many of whom do not yet know Christ. We recognize certain places in the world as being unreached. Places where many, or even most, of the citizens are yet to hear the good news of salvation, through faith in Christ. We need to pray, send, and provide for those who go to the uttermost parts of the earth with the Good News of Christ. However, we cannot neglect to remember the many unreached souls in our own backyard. Here, in Luke 10, as Jesus sends the seventy, we have some practical instruction on how to reach the lost.

Two by two he sent them. Fellowship and accountability are crucial to effectively serving Jesus. When we get discouraged another can lift us up, when we get stuck, another can aid us with a timely word. Team up with a friend, or friends, and commit to serving the Lord together.

Pray! No ministry can be effective without constant, continual, and corporate prayer with your team. PRAY! Pray for opportunities, and for specific people who matter to each of you. Don’t stop praying, God will answer.

Go! Sometimes the very thing keeping us from seeing God work in our lives is just getting involved. Service is not something we should only know about and talk about, but it is something we must be doing. Who can you share Christ with today?

Carry nothing. While it is not wrong to have, it is wrong to put confidence in what we have. It is usually what we lack that keeps us from telling others about Christ. “I don’t know what to say”, or “What if they ask a question and I don’t know the answer?” When we let those things stop us, we are not trusting Jesus.

Say peace to this house. Be a blessing to those who don’t know Christ, yet. They are not the enemy, but the object of Jesus’ love. Think about the behaviors of those Jesus to whom reached out. They were sinners in every way, but Jesus loved them and reached out to them. Do the same.

Tell them the Kingdom has come near. Let people know that salvation is a call away. Paul said it is not far from us, but so close that all a person needs to do is believe and receive. That message is easy to remember and you have been equipped by Jesus to share it.

Let’s team up, and go out with the glorious message of salvation through faith in Christ.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 10

  1. The Lord is looking for laborers or people to go out into whose harvest?
  2. What does Jesus say is the problem with the harvest?
  3. Are you a laborer for the Lords harvest?
  4. According to verse 3, is it safe to be a laborer?
  5. As we are sent out according to the command of verse 4, we have no choice but to __________________in the Lord.
  6. As a laborer, if people reject the message of Jesus that you share, who are they actually rejecting?
  7. The seventy servants return to Jesus and illustrate for us the byproduct of being a laborer for Jesus. How did they return to Jesus?
  8. According to verse 20, what are we to rejoice in?
  9. Take a moment and consider the story of the Good Samaritan. Now take a moment and pray that the Lord would give you a heart like Him.
  10. Now consider the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus just finished communicating in this chapter the importance of serving Him and being a laborer in His harvest. What is the more important part as illustrated by Mary?

Old Testament:
Leviticus 16- Go-Goat
Leviticus 17- Imposter

Are You Going To Answer That?

Luke 9:1

“Then He called His twelve disciples. . . “

IMG_1502When the Lord calls us to serve Him, there seems to be a universal response. Our hearts cry out, “I can’t.” This was the same response of Moses, Saul and Gideon. We feel this way because the Lord always seems to call us to do what is beyond our capacities. A young woman with small children senses a call to teach in children’s church, or a retired couple hears the call to the mission field, or a young man has a burning in his heart to become a pastor, and the voice in our head cries out “I can’t.” I think there is something encouraging here as Jesus calls the twelve. He is sending them out to serve Him. They will encounter many with needs beyond their capabilities to handle. They will cross paths with the sick, who will look to them for the answer, the demoniacs, who are held under by the powers of the devil, and some will will oppose the work of God. For their journey they are told to take nothing; no money, no provisions, no extra stuff.  These things will not equip them for the ministry. Jesus wants them to understand that those are not the things that enable them, nor will a lack of those things restrict them. Instead, Jesus provides everything that is necessary. We read, “He gave them power and authority” All of their objections, and ours, should be silenced by these six words. Whatever reasons they had for objecting to the call, whatever lack they may have felt, must be silenced when Jesus declares, “I have given you power and authority.” Just as their objections are silenced by His promise, so must ours be silenced. Whatever objections you have to the call of God on your life, understand what He calls us to, He equips us for. As He said to Gideon, He says to you “Mighty man of valor… Go in this might of yours”(Judges 6:14). Will you go?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 9

  1. What did Jesus send the disciples to do?
  2. Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing on their journey?
  3. Why do you think Herod wanted to see Jesus?
  4. How many men followed Jesus to the deserted place?
  5. How many baskets were left over after all the people were fed?
  6. What example does Jesus set for us in verse 18?
  7. Who do you say Jesus is?
  8. Verse 23 says that in order to be a follower of Jesus (a disciple) you must deny yourself. List some things in your life that may be hindering your walk with the Lord. Are you willing to give those things up for Jesus?
  9. What happened to Jesus face as He was praying on the mountain?
  10. Who were the five people present with Jesus on the mountain?
  11. Read verse 35. Are you taking time to listen for the voice of Jesus?
  12. Take a moment and think about the contrast of verses 43 and 44.
  13. What subject does Jesus come back to in verses 57 – 62?

Old Testament
Leviticus 15- New Nature

Mystery

Luke 8:10
“ To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God…”

IMG_1497I love a good mystery; as a child I had a book titled “2 Minute Mysteries.” It was a book of short stories, in which a crime would be described and the reader was left to guess who the guilty party was. The trick was, the answer was hidden. There was always something tucked away that was hard to find, almost like a secret, that revealed the answer. I would try so hard to guess correctly, but most often, when I flipped to the back of the book for the answer I found my guess was wrong. When Jesus speaks of the “Mysteries of the Kingdom,” He is not speaking of a secret truth that only a few can understand by reading their Bibles with a special code. Jesus is telling His disciples that everything we need to know about the Kingdom of God can be found by those who are part of it.

Paul tells us, the truths of God cannot be understood until we are converted (1 Corinthians 1:18). To the unbelieving mind, the things of God rarely make sense, but upon receiving Christ, His words come to life. We find them to be our daily manna, and our source of strength and encouragement. Jesus promised, when the Holy Spirit came, He would guide us in the truth. We are given an example of this at Jesus’ baptism. After the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, He heard the Father speak. One of the benefits of the Spirit coming upon us is, the Word of God comes to life. We begin to hear God speak to our lives as we read His Word. John tells us, because of the work of the Spirit, we have an anointing from the Father and do not need anyone to teach us. Now John is not undermining the need for pastors who teach the Bible, but is declaring, the same God who speaks to Him, will speak to you. We do not need great intellect in order to hear from God, but simply time with Him in the pages of His Word.

The privilege of knowing God has been given to each of us. We can hear Him speak, daily, in the pages of His Word. I wonder, are you taking advantage of that? If you have received Christ, and been filled with the Spirit, allow me to encourage you to go into the Word expecting God to speak to you. He promises to reveal to you the mysteries of His Kingdom.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 8

  1. What kind of tidings did Jesus bring concerning the kingdom of God?
  2. How many different types of ground are described in the parable of the sower?
  3. What does the seed represent?
  4. Which description of soil best describes you in vs 12-15?
  5. Where did the demon possessed man live?
  6. Who did the demon possessed man recognize Jesus as?
  7. When the people of the city came to see Jesus how did they find the demon possessed man?
  8. Read vs 39. In what ways can you better put into practice this verse in your life?
  9. Jairus was a ruler of what?
  10. Why did he want Jesus to come to his house?
  11. What miracle took place on the way to Jairus’s house?
  12. What happened to Jairus daughter?

Old Testament
Leviticus 14- Mission
Leviticus 15- New Nature

Love Much?

Luke 7:40
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

IMG_1492The event which occurs in the house of Simon the Pharisee stands out to me as one of the most fascinating in the New Testament. No miraculous healing takes place: the deaf do not hear, the blind do not see, nor are the dead raised. Yet this story is both priceless and timeless in the truth it reveals. It is the story of two people and their view of Jesus. Simon was a religious man that showed interest in Jesus. He valued Jesus more than many of his contemporaries.

While other religious leaders were plotting the death of Jesus, Simon was opening his home to Him. He was willing to invite Jesus in, dine with Him, and listen to what He had to say. Then there is the woman. She is quite different from Simon. She is described simply as a sinner. In all probability, she was a prostitute. When she entered the house she did what was customary for the host to do, she washed the feet of Jesus, but  in a very unorthodox way. Instead of a bucket of water and a towel, she used her tears and her hair. It seems she came to Jesus with the purpose of anointing Him with perfume. As she approached Him, she became overwhelmed with emotion, and began to express worship with reckless abandonment. Those who looked on were shocked, both by the behavior of this woman, and by the reaction of Jesus. In response to this Jesus said,

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

This woman’s unrestrained worship flowed out because she knew what Christ had done for her. She knew she was a sinner and desperately in need of the Savior. She placed the highest value upon Jesus, and gave all that she had. Simon was no less in need of Christ than this young woman. His sins, though different, were no less. He was as desperately in need of a Savior as she, but his religious activities blinded him of his need.

How about you? Have you seen your need for the Savior? Do you understand that He has forgiven you of a debt greater than you could ever pay? How do you respond to this? Do you come to Him prepared to worship? Are you willing to give all you have and all you are, to show your love to Him, for all He has done for you? After all, Jesus said the greatest of all commandments was to love Him.

To understand His love for us, we do not need to sin more, we simply need to understand that we are sinners. Take time right now to worship Him, and when you gather for public worship, come prepared to give of all that you are.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 7

  1. Who was sick and ready to die?
  2. What was the attitude of the centurion in vs 6-7?
  3. What word describes the heart of Jesus towards the widow?
  4. What was the response of the people when Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead?
  5. What is Jesus description of John the Baptist?
  6. Who interrupted the meal that Jesus was having with a Pharisee?
  7. What did she do to Jesus?
  8. What did Jesus do for her?


Old Testament:
Leviticus 12- Bad Connection
Leviticus 13- Unclean

Forgive

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

IMG_1489Giving is an important part of being a Christian. Our checkbook often reflects our heart. The things that matter most to us are the things on which we spend our hard earned money. When we are struggling about whether we can trust God with our finances, we are sometimes reminded of this verse. While it is true God is trustworthy and we will never be able to out give Him, I think we have missed a key message from this verse. Note with me the context; Jesus has been speaking of the Father’s mercy. He tells us God is kind to the unthankful and the evil, and we should be like our heavenly Father. Rather than being critical of every action, we should forgive one another.

Forgiveness is a simple concept: it means to treat someone as though they had never wronged you. In the U.S., once a person has been acquitted of a crime, they can never be charged for that crime again. It has been forgiven. In the same way, when someone wrongs us, we must forgive them; we must acquit them of all charges, and treat them as if it never happened. A common phrase today is “forgive and forget”, but the reality is, the things that are hardest to forgive, are the things we cannot forget. Forgiveness is a choice. I must determine not to let the wrongs done to me stand in the way of behaving like my Heavenly Father and being merciful and kind to the unthankful. When we choose to forgive, Jesus promises that within us we will experience an overflow.

Perhaps what you need is a release from some past hurt that is holding you back. This morning, will you choose to forgive? Then you will see Him fulfill all He has promised.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 6

  1. Who questioned Jesus about the disciples plucking the grain on the Sabbath?
  2. Were the Pharisees happy with Jesus healing the man with the withered hand? Why?
  3. How long did Jesus pray on the mountain?
  4. How many disciples did Jesus call?
  5. What is the repeated word in vs 20-22?
  6. What is the repeated word in vs 25-26?
  7. What is the key word in vs 27-36?
  8. Jesus illustrates the good treasure of the heart with what illustration?
  9. What is required of a person to have a life built on a solid foundation of Jesus?

Old Testament:
Leviticus 10- Holy Life
Leviticus 11- Forbidden Food

Jesus Saves Sinners

Luke 5:30
“Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

IMG_1486The scribes and Pharisees are complaining about Jesus’ actions. They do not think He should meet with sinners. I hear this complaint every time we gather as a church for corporate worship. It is not the voice of the Pharisees that I hear, but my own voice. I begin to think of all the reasons why I cannot enter into the presence of God, enjoy access to the throne of Grace or experience His work in my life. I am reminded of my sins, both the things that I have done and what I have failed to do. Along with those thoughts, comes an overwhelming sense of not being worthy to enter His presence. It is at that moment when this great truth rings out from His Word:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

Although hidden and unconfessed sin will hinder your relationship with, and experience of, God, Jesus came for sinners. When He entered the synagogue in Capernaum He was drawn to the man with the withered hand. In a room filled with people, He did not avoid the one who needed Him most, but was drawn to Him. He does the same thing today. The very things that we think keep us from being able to meet with Him and experience His grace, are the very things He wants to address in our lives.

If you have sin you have yet to deal with, that you are holding onto, confess it, lay it at His feet, and let Him wash you and empower you for victory. Don’t let your failures keep you from coming to Him, worshipping Him, and experiencing His marvelous grace and power in your life. After all, it was not the voice of Jesus that was keeping the sinners away, He is calling for you.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 5

  1. How did Jesus teach the multitudes?
  2. Jesus gave Simon Peter a command. Did Peter yield to Jesus right away?
  3. What happened to the boats as they brought in the nets filled with fish?
  4. What was Peter’s humbling response to the fishing miracle?
  5. Who were Peter’s partners in the fishing industry?
  6. Peter, James, and John set a good example for us to follow. Are you willing to forsake all and follow Jesus?
  7. What example does Jesus set for us in vs 16?
  8. What are the repeated word and the main topic of vs 20-24?
  9. What was the occupation of Levi (Matthew)?

Old Testament:
Leviticus 8- By The Blood
Leviticus 9- Let’s Worship