September 12

Here He Comes!
by Kevin Clark
 
 
Here Come The Judge by the Magistrates 1968 is a fun look at a terrifying reality. In today’s reading, Jesus gives some readers good news while others may be receiving sobering news. In this passage, He describes the Final day of Judgement. He teaches that the evidence of true transformation by the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers will manifest itself in growing acts of love toward others.
 
As you reflect on our Saviors words today, will you pray that Jesus’s love will be revealed in you today?

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August 25

Do Something

By Tom Willey

Luke 19:11-27

 

Our recent sermon series has been on the subject of tension in scripture, and this passage exemplifies that state.

There are specific problematic portions of this section that theologians have struggled with for years, but I will choose to focus on that which is the clearest: The king gave each of his servants something, and he expected them to do something with it – he specifically said, “Invest this while I’m gone.”

One thing I noticed is, that while he rewarded his servants in proportion to the level they had grown their investment, there was no negative comparison between the first and second servants. He didn’t say, “My first servant did double what you did with the same amount – why didn’t you do the same?” He simply said, “Well done!”

The tough words were for the servant that did nothing – the one who didn’t even try.

It was not out of ignorance – the servant said, essentially, “I know you had high expectations, so rather than disappoint you with my failure I chose to risk nothing and give you back exactly what I started with.”

I may be wrong about this, but I bet if the last servant had even tried and failed – the king would have had kinder words. It was the complete unwillingness to take a risk and obey that landed the servant in hot water.

To apply this passage, the first question to ask is, “what has God given me to invest?” This parable states that each servant was given something; unlike the parable, not all of our “somethings” are the same. Some have the talent to teach, others to worship through music, others to show hospitality. I had a niece who was grappling with her calling a few years ago and felt that what she felt being called to do wasn’t “big enough”. She told her mom, “I just want to love on orphans.” WOW. That’s a HUGE gift!

The next question is to ask God, “show me how to do this – show me where to invest.” Unlike the parable, God the Father has given us the Holy Spirit as a kind of “investment adviser” to guide us on how to be obedient and follow his plan.

Once He shows you how to invest your gift, then do it. Start small if you have to, and if you fail at first, that’s OK. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Sometimes it is the trying and failing that God sets you up for your next and more successful task.

The point is: do something – put the “talent” to work. God knows your heart and wants you to try your best regardless of the apparent outcome. While you may think what you’re doing is small and perhaps underwhelming in the world’s eyes, you may be pleasantly surprised in heaven to see how God grew your investment in the kingdom.

But doing nothing – that isn’t an option.

 


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August 24

All or Nothing

by Amy Sietsma

Many years ago, I saw an interview with a popular football player. This man was at the top of his career and, one would think, had it all. Towards the end of the interview, this rich, popular athlete looked at the interviewer with tears in his eyes and said he felt hollow—that all the money and fame left him sad, lonely, and he couldn’t believe that this was all there was to life.

While I no longer remember that man’s name, his question stuck with me. I see him in today’s passage. A young man, who seems to have the world at his feet, asks Jesus the same question… what can he do to follow Jesus? What can he do to give his life purpose and meaning? Jesus doesn’t give him an easy answer. In verse 21, Jesus instructs the man to “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor.” The man is devastated by this answer and leaves. Jesus then tells the disciples in verse 23, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”

It seems little has changed in more than 2,000 years! Jesus isn’t asking the man merely for his money. No, he is asking for the man’s everything—his security, his identity, his whole self. The disciples begin to despair, but Jesus gives them comfort in verse 27, saying that while it is not possible for people to get into the kingdom on their own, “Everything is possible with God.”

What is God calling you to that feels impossible? What things are standing in the way of you chasing God’s purpose? Does the life of a follower in today’s world seem impossible? Remember, no matter what it is, nothing is impossible for Go


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August 23

Breakthough!
by Andy Avalos

 

Most people wonder what will heaven be like…the experience of being in the presence of Jesus. One of my prayer partners told me years ago,” you need to have breakthrough”, and I experienced that breakthrough in my prayer time.

The tabernacle was divided into three sections.  In the first section people would bring their offerings.  The second section was divided by a veil where the priests were allowed to enter, and the third section held the mercy seat and was where the high priest entered to make atonement for the people.  Most people today congregate in the first section and never understand that they can stand before the mercy seat because Jesus made atonement for each one of us by the shedding of his blood on the cross.

I have experienced breakthrough that has allowed me to enter into his presence within myself though my life prayer life. It’s an experience that I hunger for daily and seek it out.  We no longer have to just stand in the outer courts, but we can stand before the mercy seat before the Holy One and feel his presence within us.

Many will not have this experience because they are content just being in the outer courts, but those that hunger and are on fire will seek His presence and experience a bit of heaven in their lives. 

BLESSINGS 


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August 22

Paint your world RED!
by Kevin Clark
Luke 17:11-17
 
I was reading an online blog The Six Habits of Highly Grateful People by Jeremy Adam Smith posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016. In the article, Jeremy challenged me to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. The following is an excerpt from his article.
 
How bad am I? I’m so bad at gratitude that most days, I don’t notice the sunlight on the leaves of the Berkeley oaks as I ride my bike down the street. I forget to be thankful for the guy who hand-brews that delicious cup of coffee I drink mid-way through every weekday morning. I don’t even know the dude’s name!
 
I usually take for granted that I have legs to walk on, eyes to see with, arms I can use to hug my son. I forget my son! Well, I don’t actually forget about him, at least as a physical presence; I generally remember to pick him up from school and feed him dinner. But as I face the quotidian slings and arrows of parenthood, I forget all the time how much he’s changed my life for the better.
 
Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.
 
Are you painting the people along your daily path with gratitude? In today’s passage, we are shocked when only one of the ten men healed of leprosy returns to thank Jesus. Maybe 10% is normal. Could you imagine how our lives might be different if “normal” were 90%? Paint your world red!
 

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August 21

“Seeing isn’t believing”

by David Voight

John 11:37-57

 

Years ago there was a movie called The Santa Clause.  In this movie, there is a scene where Scott Calvin, played by Tim Allen, sees Santa’s workshop for the first time.  He tells the elf that is showing him around, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing!”  Judy, the elf responds, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.”

As I read through the text today, I can’t help but think of the people that were watching as the events of Lazarus’ death and resurrection played out.  They certainly knew him personally and watched him die.  But even after he was raised back to life by Jesus through the public display of God’s mighty power, there were still those who doubted Jesus and refused to believe in him. 

The Pharisees saw what was going on.  They witnessed the many “miraculous signs” Jesus performed, but they were so blinded by their own selfish ambitions of power that they refused to believe what they saw before their own eyes.  Even in their own disbelief, God was going to use them to carry out His plan of salvation.  Caiaphas, the high priest, unbeknownst to him, makes this prophetic statement in verse 50.  “… it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”  Of course, he was speaking to the religious leaders about killing Jesus in order to maintain their own power over the nation of Israel.  God was about to use them to bring salvation to, not just one nation, but to all who believe in His son Jesus.  Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing who Jesus really is; the son of God sent to bring everyone who believes in him eternal life.  Just believe!


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August 20

Timing is Everything

By: Valery Dierdorf

John 11:1-36

I remember traveling to Israel and visiting the village of Bethany where Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus, lived. Yes, this is also where Lazarus died.

I went there with my brother which made it very interesting in relating to what had happened. I can’t imagine losing one of my brothers. Truthfully, even more, frustrating would be the fact if I knew Jesus, and I knew he could heal him.

Yet the things that jump out at me in this passage are:

  1. From the start, Jesus declared “this is not unto death.” It might have been nice if he would have messaged Martha and Mary or even sent a tweet out to Lazarus himself that said, “ Don’t worry—got you covered, see you in a few days.” His delayed arrival no one certainly could have thought would be good.
  2. Jesus had his own timeline—God’s timing! One area, maybe, we all struggle with. At least, I struggle with from time to time. Yet, it is always the right timing for a greater purpose than we can see at the time.
  3. By waiting, Jesus knew everyone would be absolutely sure Lazarus was dead. May sound harsh but not really. Jesus wasn’t insensitive to the grief, in fact, the passage says; He wept. He knew death was and is still our enemy.
  4. To bring God the glory and show God’s power over death and the grave, He stuck to the plan, even if his own safety was shaky.

In the flesh, it seems that Jesus might have already been thinking of what would be ahead of him in just a few weeks.

And maybe he was also giving Satan a preview of what was to come….just to torment him!


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August 19

The Good Life

by Andrew Seip

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in response to the scoffing of the Pharisees, who among other things, were lovers of money (Luke 16:14-15).  Jesus had witnessed the Pharisees despise his act of grace, choose the places of honor, disregard the poor and pitied, and grumble over his mercy and generosity toward the lost (Luke 14 and 15).  When Jesus tells his disciples they cannot serve both God and money, overhearing this, the Pharisees begin to ridicule him.  This is the setting for Jesus’ parable.

We must be careful to presume Jesus is only teaching about money.  The word he uses when addressing his disciples is mammon, which is effectively confidence in wealth, usually in opposition to God.  What do you treasure greatly?  Do you value it in opposition to God?  The Pharisees valued their social stature, money, and racial and religious pedigree over God and his Word. 

Look carefully at the way Jesus describes how Lazarus—whose name means “whom God helps”—is lavished in the Kingdom.  The rich man dies and is buried.  Lazarus is ushered into eternity by God’s angels.  The rich man resides in torment.  Lazarus is reclining at a feast with the saints.  John depicts a similar image as he tells of his reclining at a meal when he leans back into Jesus’ chest (John 13:23, 25).  Let your heart be overwhelmed by the intimacy of this picture.  Indescribably full life awaits for those whom God has raised from the dead.  Where is your treasure?                        


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August 18

“Can’t Bring Your Money to Heaven”

By Kristen Dunn

 

We have all heard that phrase “you can’t bring your money to heaven”. It might make you giggle or maybe you brush it off because you have heard grandma say it a hundred times. With that phrase, comes a question…what do we do with it?

I remember when Michael and I took a financial class, and, in the first lesson, the instructor said, “What would you do with your money if you weren’t a slave to your debt?” Wow! That shook me in all kinds of crazy ways.

You see, God has entrusted us with this gift and He trusted us to manage it wisely. Money’s value is limited so we need to recognize its limits and be willing to use it for others. Our possessions are a huge responsibility! They test our character, our values and our stewardship.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:10-11

I know that I want to be wise, to be known as giver and to be trustworthy! What do you want?


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August 17

This is not working out!    

By: Valery Dierdorf          

Luke 15:11-32

Ever felt like a failure?  Ever say, “boy, did I blow that one!”

“I feel so unlovable, and rightfully so, with what I did.”

Ever feel like they will never be able to forgive me?

Quite different than awhile back when it was all about me, my time, my way! And feelings of who cares what they think or feel anyway! It’s my ‘right’.

I have to admit I’ve never known a time that doing wrong brought long-term or permanent success. At some point, an epiphany, coming to one’s senses, must happen.

The beautiful part of this story is the father hadn’t moved away. The father kept the faith and kept watching for his return. The father was full of compassion and ran to meet him. He never rubbed it in or humiliated him, but instead welcomed him back and in good standing. The past was just that- the past! Never, never, never to be held against him.

In the same way, this is an example of God and us.  Nothing is greater than God’s love for us or means more than our return to Him. The moment we look to Him, he will run to meet us and love us and restore us and welcome us home.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me when I was unlovable and at my worst. Thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Thank you that my salvation is not because of my goodness—but totally because of yours.

 

 

 


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