Saturday, February 28, 2015

Outline: “Lessons at the Dinner Table” Luke 14:1-14 March 1st, 2015

“Lessons at the Dinner Table”
Luke 14:1-14
March 1st, 2015

 The Setting: Jesus was invited to dinner which revealed hostile hearts (:1)
1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

I There is tremendous value in Questions which  reveal the heart (2-3)
2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

II.  Silence can be deafening   (4a)
4a  But they remained silent.
III. Take advantage of Teachable moments as Jesus did in Healing this man.(4b)
4b Then he took him and healed him and sent him away.

IV. Inconsistency between belief & action should encourage us to evaluate life  (5-6)
5 And he said to them, ““Which of you,  having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

V. Seeking worldly honor and status is ultimately futile (7-9)

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast,  do not sit down in a place of honor,   lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,
9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

VI. Let others Honor You (10)
10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’  Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

VII. In the Kingdom of God the way up is down (11)
11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

VIII. Giving to get something back brings no reward (12)
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.

IX Giving without expectation of return will bring ultimate reward (13-14)
13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.  For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ask the Relevant Question

The following question is asked of Jesus from Luke 13:22-23

The Question asked: “Lord, will those who are saved be few ?” (22-23)

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

Jesus continued to teach and preach on His way toward Jerusalem and His ultimate destiny of being crucified. He was focused on His mission and purpose in everything that He did. When we keep focused on the “Big Picture” in our lives it puts everything else into proper perspective.
Someone asked Jesus a question. The identity of the person was not relevant. The question asked was “Lord, will those who are saved be few?

Sometimes people like to get caught up in theological speculation.
>Who are the elect?
>Who are the chosen of God?
>How are they chosen?

A lot of theological speculation is not useful when it does not encourage us to practical service and holiness. While there is value in reading and studying the works of Christian authors, they should not supplant a commitment to God’s Word and replace a heart bent on serving the Lord in the circumstances of their lives.

The Relevant Question: “Will the saved be you?*”

Jesus had an amazing way of cutting through the fluff and distractions of what people said to focus on what people needed to hear. One of the dangers of familiarity with the things of God is presumption concerning the blessings of God. People can assume that since they have a godly heritage that everything will work out.  However, we need to remember that God does not save through our heritage or religious activity.  Each generation, each person needs to response in faith to the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus corrects the false assumptions of the person asking the question, will those who are saved be few?” with the following which encourages us to  Respond now to enter the narrow door before it is too late .

Luke 13:24
24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (ESV)
1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” 

Jesus speaks an uncomfortable truth to many people. You either in or out of His kingdom.
Our world, our culture, perceives spiritual truth as all relative. Like there is a complex spiritual highway system that eventually leads everyone, except a few like Hitler, to God.

However, when the door is shut… it is shut.
Whether it was Noah’s ark or someone who rejected Christ in life and then regretting it in death.
Jesus described the imperative of being right with Him this way.

Jesus told a religious man.- Nicodemus
John 3:3 (ESV)
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The radio Bible teacher Greg Laurie in a message said something very interesting. “All roads lead to God” All of us are accountable to God and will stand before God. “But only one road leads to Heaven”

“only one road leads to Heaven”
John 14:6-7 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”                                       

Isaiah 52:7 (ESV)
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

May people respond now before it is too late.

* phrase from Darrel Bock - NIV Application Commentary

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Lesson from the Garden

For many years my father had a very impressive garden. He had grown up on a farm and had enjoyed the process of seeing crops planted and harvested. His desire to be a farmer was never fulfilled. So gardening was a way to scratch that itch to be a farmer. He bought a small parcel behind his house to increase the size he could plant.  Part of the process as tilling the ground,  planting seeds, fertilizing, watering, tilling, etc... all went into producing a crop. If you wanted corn, you planted corn see. If you wanted lettuce, you planted lettuce. To ensure a good crop, you cared for it.

The Bible was written to people who were very familiar with agriculture imagery and lessons.

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
  (cf Job 4:8; Proverbs 11:18; 22:8;Obadiah 1:15; Hosea 8:7,10:12-13)

This processing of reaping and sowing is used to describe what happens spiritually when a person sows to their flesh or to the Spirit. There is a natural, supernatural, outgrowth from the choices people make. Godly choices lead one to reap the benefits of eternal life.  In the previous chapter we are called to “keep in step with the Spirit” which is another way of describing sowing to the Spirit.

We are called to train ourselves to be godly (1 Tim 4:7) and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.(2 Peter 3:18) ”

No one can hinder a Christian’s relationship with God. If we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord,  we can sow to the Spirit. Only we can hinder our relationship with God. May we focus on sowing to the Spirit and enjoying the benefits of eternal life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

God is in the Nasty Details

The following are some insightful comments by Dr Harry Schaumburg

God Is In the Nasty Details
I have always enjoyed reading the story of Joseph since I first heard it in Sunday School until finishing it again last week. As a boy in Sunday School, I loved to hear how Joseph went from being a slave to a prince. Now I enjoy reading all the details that outline the providence of God. This story teaches us that God reigns, not chance!
Our understanding of the providence of God is naturally limited by the mystery of His providence, but nowhere is this more apparent than in God's mysterious use of evil to bring about His purpose. The story ends with Joseph telling his brothers, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20). 
Out of the forty-five events that had to occur for God to bring about His purpose, I find eleven negative or sinful events.
  • Rachel's agonizing struggle with infertility was part of God's plan (Gen. 30:1-2).
  • Jacob's long-term preference for Rachel and therefore his insensitive favoritism shown to Joseph was part of God's plan (Gen. 29:30, 37:3).
  • Joseph's brothers' jealously, sibling rivalry and family conflict was part of God's plan (Gen. 37:8).
  • Joseph's brothers' evil, murderous, greedy betrayal of him, and Judah's part in it, was part of God's plan (Gen. 37:18-28, 50:20). 
  • His brothers' 20-plus year deception of Jacob regarding Joseph disappearance was part of God's plan.
  • The existence of an evil slave trade at the time was part of God's plan (Gen. 37:26-27). 
  • Potiphar's wife's desiring to sexual sin with Joseph was part of God's plan (Gen. 39:8-12, Rom. 1:24).  
  • Potiphar's wife's false accusations were part of God's plan (Gen. 39:14-18).
  •  Potiphar's unjust judgment of Joseph was part of God's plan (Gen. 39:19-20)
  • The cupbearer failing to remember Joseph for two years was           part of God's plan (Gen. 41:23-41:1).
  • The threat of starvation that caused terrible fear and caused Jacob to send his sons to Egypt for grain was part of God's plan (Gen. 42:1-2).
We are more than willing to experience God's favor in His acts of divine intervention on our behalf that we understand, but what about when there is jealousy, betrayal, deception, false accusations and even imprisonment, to accomplish His purpose? Like Joseph, we don't like it when God brings us into circumstances that we can't understand at all. Lack of understanding of the circumstance doesn't take away the good that is being accomplished

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Boundaries: preserving your sanity

I recently gave a copy of the book "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend to a good friend. The book is available from Amazon or their ministry website:
What brought it to mind was recently listening to a counselor at a local hospital who said in response to a question that "family issues are boundary issues." 

The following is from their website and more thoughts on boundaries are at

Boundaries: Good in, Bad out

July 26, 1992 

Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. They help us to “guard our heart with all diligence.” We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. They guard our treasures (Matthew 7:6) so that people will not steal them. They keep the pearls inside, and the pigs outside.

Sometimes, we have bad on the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to open up our boundaries to let the good in and the bad out. In other words, our fences need gates in them. For example, if I find that I have some pain or sin within, I need to open up and communicate it to God and others to “get it out” so that it does not continue to poison me on the inside (1 John 1:9; James 5:16; Mark 7:21-23).

And when the good is on the outside, we need to open our gates and “let it in.” Jesus speaks of this phenomenon in “receiving” him and his truth (Revelation 3:20; John 1:12). Other people have good things to give us, and we need to “open up to them” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). Often we will close our boundaries to good things from others, staying in a state of deprivation.

In short, boundaries are not walls. The Bible does not say that we are to be “walled off” from others; in fact, it says that we are to be “one” with them (John 17:11). We are to be in community with them. But in every community, all members have their own space and property. The important thing is that property lines be permeable enough to allow passing and strong enough to keep out danger.

Often, when people are abused while growing up, they reverse the function of boundaries and keep the bad in and the good out. When Mary was growing up she suffered abuse from her father. She was not encouraged to develop good boundaries. As a result, she would close herself off, holding the pain inside; she would not open up to express her hurt and get it out of her soul. She also would not open up to let support from the outside in to heal her. In addition, she would continually allow others to “dump” more pain into her soul. Consequently, when she came in for help, she was carrying a lot of pain, still being abused, and “walled off” from support from the outside.

She had to reverse the ways her boundaries worked. She needed fences that were strong enough to keep the bad out and gates in those fences to let out the bad already in her soul and let in the good she desperately needed.
From Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Zondervan, 1992

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Message Outline: “Developing Your Spiritual Life” Ephesians 6:10-20 February 8, 2015

“Developing Your Spiritual Life” Ephesians 6:10-20
February 8, 2015


I.   BE STRONG [10-12]

A.  By relying on the Lord’s strength (10)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 

Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  

What defines everything? Everything within the will and purpose of God for our lives.

B.   By putting on the Lord’s armor (11)
Put on the full armor of God,  so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 

The object of the power of God, the armor of God, the strength of God is not to have an easy life. It is to have the strength to have a God-honoring and empowered life which stands against the forces of evil. We are to honor God in the circumstances in which he has placed us.

C. By being Alert to the nature of the enemy (12)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,   but against the rulers,  against the powers,  against the world forces of this darkness,   against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.         
Our struggle is not against People. It is not against flesh and blood.

What do we know about the devil?
We know a lot from the names used in the Bible
Adversary, Beelzebub,  Belial, . Devil, Dragon, Enemy. Father of Lies. god of this Age (false god.) Murderer. Serpent. Tempter

II.  STAND FIRM [13-18]
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 
A.  Live in Truth and Holiness (14)
14 Stand firm therefore, having girded  your loins  with truth, and having put  on the breastplate  of righteousness, 
B.  Live in Peace because of the Gospel (15)
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation  of the gospel  of peace; 

We have peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus. We are told blessed are the peacemakers.
As far as it is possible within our ability, we are to be at peace with other people.

C.  Live by Faith to stand against the evil one’s attacks (16).
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Faith is our trust that God is at work
    even in the hard times
    even when we don’t see anything tangible
    even when we feel attacked by the evil one.
    even if....

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  

D.   Live by confidence in your salvation (17a).
17a And take the helmet  of salvation,

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--  13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.   

We don’t weave in and out of salvation. We don’t go in and out of eternal life. Eternal life by nature is eternal.

How do you respond when people who one time professed Christ and seemed to possess Christ drift away or walk away from the Lord?
Let your sadness motivate you to pray for them.

E.  Live by actively using the Word of God (17b)
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.      

A.  To be spiritually alert   (18)
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 
B. To effectively share the mystery of the Gospel (19-20)
19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,  20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 

The benefits of problems.(source unknown)
1. Problems often provide us with greater opportunities
2. Problems can promote our spiritual maturity
3. Problems prove our integrity
4. Problems produce a sense of dependence
5. Problems prepare our hearts for ministry (more empathetic)

All of us have problems, how we respond determines whether they will help us on the path toward spiritual maturity.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Outline “Do Not Misread Life” Luke 13:1-9 Feb 1st 2015

“Do Not Misread Life”
Luke 13:1-9
Feb 1st 2015

Each of us in our own way(s) –  We want life to make sense.

This desire for life to make sense has been around a long time.

The episode of the blind man in John 9 illustrates this,
John 9:1-3 (ESV)
1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The assumption of the disciples around Jesus was that the cause of this man’s blindness was sin. Sin from his parents or his own behavior. 
While sometimes individual’s poor circumstances are the outflow of sinful behavior, there are many times when it isn’t or we just don’t know.
Our rush to wanting life to make sense sometimes leads to making unfair judgments or assessments.

Jesus’ response in verse 3
3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
The Lord Jesus said this man’s blindness was not the result of anyone’s sin, but it was going to provide an opportunity for the work of God in the healing of this man.
Sometimes the works of God are displayed in a miraculous healing.
Sometimes the works of God are displayed through patient endurance trusting God in a circumstance that does not change.

While it is fair to have our preferences, it is much more important to pray that God’s glory, the works of God, be revealed through whatever He chooses to do.

Big Idea: Do not misread evil and accidents by ignoring the call to repent.

Do not misread life is developed with do not misread evil by ignoring the call to repent.
Do not misread accidents by ignoring the call to repent.
In our passage this morning Jesus gives the same response - to an act of evil and to an accident. He says don’t ignore the call to repent.
Our lives are ultimately short. What is of great importance is being right with God.

Mark 1:15 (ESV)
15  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) wrote
“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement;
he is a rebel who must lay down his arms ... This process of surrender-this movement full speed astern-is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years.
It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

To often people nourish the thoughts of why things happen in order to ignore the call of God in chaos of life. I don’t know why a lot of things happen, but I do know that God desires we seek Him through it. In the middle of Hebrews 11:35 - the author transitions from miracles through faith to suffering through faith. Both are equally commended.  Both honor God.

I. Situation I. [1-3]
A. How do you understand and respond when people do evil things to others? (1)
1 There were some present at that very time  who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

In most cultures people assume that bad things happen to bad people.
That makes sense in their lives. Someone mentioned to Jesus the cruel death of these Galileans. I suspect they wanted Jesus to make some helpful comforting comment.

Job’s friends were called his “comforters” as a play on words.
His friends wanted to explain things so life made sense.
Job 4:7 (ESV) 7 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?

B. Jesus’ response: repent or you too will likewise perish.  (2-3)
2 And he answered them,“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

The Lord’s response speaks to their miss-perception of these Galileans. They were not worse sinners than anyone else. There time had come to face death. It was unexpected for them. But the call to his audience was to be ready for death by repenting.

Whether through an act of violence, an accident, illness, or old age, death is the common fate of everyone.
Unless Jesus returns in our live times, we will die.
II. Situation II. [4-5]
A. How do you understand and respond to accidents that kill people? (4)
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

“Many believe that the tower stood at the juncture of the south and east walls of Jerusalem and may have fallen during the construction of an aqueduct from the reservoir of Siloam to improve the water supply. Some of Jesus' listeners could have argued that the Galileans had "asked for" such tragedy from Pilate due to their political activity and thus were morally culpable, but no one could say the same about the random deaths from the collapse of the tower of Siloam.” [Preaching the Word]

Have you ever looked at someone’s circumstances and said, “they asked for it.”  I know I have. That is so unfair of me to do that.  Or on the other side,  have you ever wondered, why did they get away with it?”  They should have been thrown into jail.  We need to be tough on crime, throw those people in jail.

B. Jesus’ response: repent or you too will likewise perish (5)
5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The others who died by an apparent accident were not worse sinners or offenders than those who were spared.   
Jesus is taking away their excuses...
The call for them, as the others, was to repent or perish.

A remorseful man, wanting to reassure his skeptical wife, said: "I'm going to make a 360-degree turn."

David Jeremiah writes: "That's the kind of change a lot of people make. A 360-degree turn is no change at all. What we need is a 180-degree change, a reverse direction, a U-Turn.

"In driving, U-turns are handy when we realize we're going in the wrong way. The same is true in life. The Lord tells us to turn from our wicked ways and to turn toward Him in confession and true repentance. This involves a change of heart, a change of mind and a change of direction.

"What direction are you traveling right now? Don't keep barreling the wrong way. Turn 180 degrees to Christ and start living for Him today."
(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 7-24-10)

Many of you here know Fred.  We talk on most Fridays. Yesterday I called him with Marv on the speaker phone. He and Edith continue to pray for the ministry here in Lehi. Fred is a WWII veteran. Over the years I heard many of his war stories.   He became a Christian through the ministry of CMA chaplain in the South Pacific during the war.  In the times of combat a number of guys suddenly got ‘religious’ when the bombs were falling. Fox hole conversion. But once the pressure of combat was gone, the concern about God faded away quickly.

Eternity faces us all. Whether the bombs are falling or not.
We still need to ready to meet the Lord.

Do not misread evil and accidents by ignoring the call to repent.

III. The Big Idea illustrated with the parable of the fig tree [6-9]

A. Expectations of a fruit from the tree. (6)

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and   he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

Most commentators agree with the following description..
“The fig tree represents Israel, as it sometimes did in the Old Testament. Jesus' hearers, and us by virtue of our desire to follow him, were to examine themselves through the metaphor of the fig tree. The owner is emblematic of God the Father, and the caretaker represents Christ. They are in concert, but, without interrupting their harmony, the owner argues from the logic of righteousness, while the caretaker reasons from the logic of mercy.”

There is the expectation of fruit from the fig tree.

B. Evaluation of the fig tree status (7)
7 And he said to the vinedresser,
‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down.  Why should it use up the ground?’

The problem was that there was not fruit from the fig tree. The owner thought it should be cut down and the ground used for something else. That would be reasonable to most people

There is the expectation of fruit in the lives of believers. Our lives are to reflect the presence an work of God.

C. One last opportunity for the fig tree to bear fruit (8-9)
8 And he answered him, Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.
9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good;  but if not, you can cut it down.’”

“EBC 224] When the blind English poet John Milton was old and obscure he was visited one day by Charles II, son of the king that the Puritans had beheaded.  “Your blindness is a judgment from God for the part you took against my father,” said the king. Milton replied, “If I have lost my sight through God’s judgment, what can you say of your father who lost his head?”

224]6-9}The parable has an application to individuals  and to the nation of Israel. God is gracious and long-suffering toward people

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
And does more than enough to encourage us to repent and bear fruit. He had every right to cut us down, but in His mercy, he has spared us. Yet we must not presume upon the kindness and long-suffering of the Lord, for the day of judgment will finally come.”

The promises of God are profound.
John 3:18 (ESV)
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

A last few reminders
>Suffering and disaster are not necessarily the result of specific sins.
>But everyone is a sinner, and all are called on to repent
>God in his mercy may allow time for repentance, but there is a limit to his patience.
[teach the text]