August 16

Outside the Walls
by Andy Avalos

 

Years ago, my wife and I used to do our weekly outreaches in a particular duplex community.   We had been going there for several months every Saturday evening and weren’t getting any response. One Saturday morning, I went to drop some food off to a family there and many different churches were out doing door-to-door invitations, and I felt bad because we were going to be there that evening to do an outdoor service.

That evening, I did the opening prayer and shared with the residents that I felt badly because I knew people had been there all day knocking on their doors and now they had to hear me.  I said, ” I apologize for those that may come with a judgmental attitude and forget that at one time we were where you are, but I want you to know that God loves you and is more concerned about you than He is about me.” 

The message that day was based on today’s devotional, Luke 15:1-10…leaving the 99 to find the one. That statement that I made that evening was a turning point.  From that Saturday on, people started to come out to sit and listen to the message, to meet with us and to ask questions about Jesus.  Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to leave the comfort of the four walls and seek out the one. 

Blessings! 


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August 15

Invitation
by Kevin Clark
Luke 14:15-24
 
Did you get your invitation to the big wedding? Did your invitation to the royal wedding get lost in the mail? No worries, you have been invited to the biggest party in the universe.
 
Jesus uses a story to explain the changes. When the original invitations returned with “regrets”, a new list was extended to include the most unlikely of guests. This is your opportunity to respond to the Kings invitation. Don’t miss the once in a lifetime opportunity. The deadline is quickly approaching. Don’t miss the biggest event of eternity!

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August 14

Do you know who I am?

By David Voight

Luke 14:1-14

 

Watching the news one night, I couldn’t help but being drawn to a story involving a celebrity being arrested for public intoxication.  If it were anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance, but it was someone famous!  I had to stop and take notice.  After all, that’s exactly what the news outlet was hoping. Sensationalize another starlet’s fall from grace and humiliate her in front of her fans and the public at large.  Her only response to the arresting officer was, “Do you know who I am?”

Jesus warns those attending the dinner about humility in today’s passage.  I can just imagine the scene as those attending were jockeying for position at the head of the table; a place of honor for the most distinguished guests.  But Jesus paints a picture of how true humility can be the most honorable of all.  “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” v11

Are you trying to take a position of importance because of who you think you are or who you know?  Try taking a position of humility and put others ahead of yourself.  Then ask that same question again.  “Do you know who I am?”, and hear Jesus say, “Yes I do.  Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 


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August 13

The Bell is Ringing
by Kevin Clark
Luke 13:22-35
 
For me, I was always anxious on the first day of school. I imagine it was caused by the unfamiliar schedules and teachers. I wonder how I may have reacted if the course introduction included a proclamation that most of us would try and fail. What if the teacher declared only a few had what it took to pass this subject.
In today’s ready Jesus presents his followers with a similar and sobering statement, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. (Luke 13:24 NLT) He later reveals it is not our G.P.A. or our class rank that will save us but the condition of our heart. Lives surrendered undergo the work of purification, but to the impure, He says, “Get away from me, all you who do evil.” Our actions reveal the condition of our heart.

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August 12

“Complete Loyalty, Complete Control”

By Jonathan SIetsma

John 10:1-18

 

Think back through your life and try to remember someone you either worked for or followed at some point. I’m not talking about being a groupie who’s awestruck by glitz and star power. I’m talking about someone who was a real leader to you and who you were “on mission with” either to accomplish a task or achieve some greater goal. Perhaps there was even danger involved. What was it that made you willing to follow them and why? My guess is that in many cases, the leader figure did not simply demand loyalty, much like a tyrant would, but gave and demonstrated it freely to you as well. A mutual bond of loyalty is one of the greatest uniting forces in the world and very hard to overcome or separate.

 

Such great loyalty alone is formidable, but combine that with power enough to back it up, and you will also possess a great calm and poise in the face of adversity. Following someone who is in complete control of the situation and cool and calm when the surrounding world is going crazy is tremendously reassuring. It helps you feel safer and makes you able to accomplish tasks set before you without worrying if the leader you follow will be able to see things all the way through.

 

A good shepherd would be such a leader. The Good Shepherd is the greatest of these. Who has your loyalty today?


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August 11

Eyes Wide Open, Blinded by Pride

by Jonathan Sietsma

John 9:1–41

Have you ever seen something you thought was really amazing? You try to show it to a friend, but he or she simply can’t see it. You can see it as plainly, but try as you might—even with as much pointing and orienting as possible—your friend simply can’t find it. Finally, whatever amazing thing you can see passes from view. You feel disappointed that your friend missed it and couldn’t share in your wonder. Or worse yet, your friend chides you, claiming what you saw was never even there.

In today’s passage, did you notice the irony of the situation? The trained and thoroughly educated Pharisees, who should know every sign they should possibly watch for, are not seeing Jesus for the Messiah he is. Even though Jesus heals a man who has been blind all of his life so that the man can instantly see—none of the Pharisees can. The once blind man, try as he might, simply cannot get the Pharisees to see the truth and they curse him and cast the man out of the synagogue.

The Pharisees allowed their pride to get in the way. They refused to listen to truth because it was coming from an unlikely source. They believed, with all their education and training, that they “knew better” than a blind man. Be careful to check yourself on occasion. Are the “blind” seeing better than you are?


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August 10

Jesus Drops the Mic
by Kevin Clark
 
We are taught early in life that time and location can affect our safety. Curfews are enforced because we are told: “nothing good happens after midnight.” And proverbial teachings ring in our ears as “bad company corrupts good intentions.” What are we to think then when evil visits our homes, schools, and churches?
The Bible is just as relevant today as when the ink was still wet. The events recorded today in our reading could have been taken from our twenty-four hour “breaking news” headlines in 2018. Occupying Forces Murder Pious as they Worship in the Temple. Jesus addresses the unspoken concerns. How could God let this happen? In the act of worshiping God, they lost their life. Is God not strong enough to protect them or does he just not care? Did they sin and therefore deserve this punitive death?
Jesus answers their questions by redirecting their focus. Jesus sees the desperate position of our current dilemma. We are all destined to die and because he cares he was sent to be the remedy. He forcefully offers the only solution to our death destiny. “And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.” You can almost hear the mic drop.

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August 9

Fire Starter
by Kevin Clark
Luke 12:49-59
 
We are witnessing a dangerous and deadly fire season. The confluence of factors creates the dangerous scenario. Dry hot weather transforms innocuous materials into fodder for potential flames. The pending inferno awaits a catalyst.
In today’s reading,
 
Jesus refers to himself as a fire starter. His questions and comments are less than comforting and certainly challenging for both the original hearer and us today. He firey words are burning away the chaff of indecision of casual commitment. We must choose and choose soon. Even if it cost us everything. Will we follow him? It only takes a spark, are you on fire?

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August 8

Thief
by Kevin Clark
 
We moved from motes and walls to protect our valuables to cameras and motion detectors. We no longer have to station guards at the wall now as images flood our smartphones. Packages delivered, the neighbor’s dog pooping in the yard, even the kid next door riding her bike up and down are driveway streamed in real time to our screens. Don’t you feel safe? No more worries or are they new worries?
 
In our reading today, Jesus addresses our natural obsession with worry. It appears to be an even greater human issue today. In both examples, Jesus points his followers to behave differently by thinking differently. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
 
A movement toward God will shift our thinking and more importantly our heart for, 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. In a plot twist, “the thief” in the first example becomes the hero in the second. Are you ready for our Saviors return, he will come like “a thief in the night?”

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August 7

Who’s gonna know?

By David Voight

Luke 12:1-21

We’ve all been there.  Maybe it’s a juicy piece of gossip that we just can’t wait to share.  Or maybe it’s our own little secret that we would just die if it ever came to light; a temptation to do something contrary to God’s desire for our lives.  Who’s gonna know anyway?  No one is around.  What could the harm be?  It’s my secret.

As I read today’s passage, it’s a very sobering message from Jesus about hypocrisy.  He warns his disciples of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees but then turns it back on them to drive his point home.  “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made know to all.” Luke 12:2  Wow!  How many of us would welcome that revelation of what we did and said behind closed doors?  But it’s not just about living right so we don’t get embarrassed when our secrets come into the light.  Jesus puts it into perspective with how he sees it.  We don’t need to fear man because once this life is over their ability to inflict harm is over.  Jesus warns of God’s ability to go beyond our bodily death and affect how we spend eternity. 

But God loves us more than all of His creation and wants to have a meaningful relationship with us.  Jesus told his disciples, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.  But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. Luke 12:8-9

Maybe it’s time to confess what we’ve done behind closed doors and finally take a stand for Jesus.  Let’s shout it from the rooftops for all to hear!  Jesus is Lord!


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