Jesus accepted association with all kinds of people, including “tax collectors and sinners.” People often use this example to argue that the church should accept everyone regardless of lifestyle without calling for any change or repentance. The whole story is that Jesus accepted contact with all, and called all to repent. Mark 2:13-17 Luke 5:27-32 John 8:1-11 Matthew 11:28 John 8:11 Matthew 9:13 Mark 1:15 Luke 14:26-27,33;13:3 Matthew 21:31 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Quite often we sin because we try to go with what “works.” We have desires, and satisfying those desires as soon as possible is an attraction that produces temptations. We see that other people seem to get what they want through sinful behavior. We don’t want to be a sinful person, but for a moment, we are tempted to do what “works.” Many Bible stories tell of people who sinned, and it seemed to work. Even Judas betrayed Jesus for money, and it worked. He got the money. It was a shortsighted approach, but sinning is usually shortsighted.
John 11:1-7 God moves in mysterious ways. His ways and his timetable often baffle us, especially when we think our problem is urgent and God takes his time. Lazarus, the friend of Jesus was ill, but he and his family waited almost an entire week for Jesus to respond to their 911 call. By then, Lazarus had been dead for four days. If Jesus was going to restore Lazarus to good health, why not act sooner?
“Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are,” says the Bible in Hebrews 4:15. Beginning in the wilderness, but throughout his ministry, Satan tried to lure Jesus away from trusting God’s power, presence and plan. He offered shortcuts to world fame. He played on doubt and on vanity. He used enemies and friends. Indeed, Jesus was tempted as we are. And just as with Jesus, every temptation is an opportunity either to do wrong or to do right.
Scripture: Isaiah 45:9-13 It is preposterous that clay would talk and critique the work of the potter. It is no less preposterous that mankind would critique the work of God, the Creator. God works constantly to teach us things we desperately need to know, but are slow to learn. He pokes and squeezes, shapes and reshapes, to make us the way we need to be. It’s not always pleasant, but when we trust the Potter, his way is always best.
Scripture: Judges 6:36-40 Learning God’s will for our lives is not a matter trying to guess what God might want, or of deciphering hidden clues about “open doors.” In the Bible, God tells us all we need to know to please him. Beyond that, he allows us to make choices according to our likes and preferences. When a decision is ours to make, we should not expect God to make it for us.
Evangelism’s Voices Romans 10:14-15 What do you think of when you think of evangelism? We might think of a powerful preacher; someone going door to door; or an overseas missionary. What about the person who took the time to walk with us through the process of learning the good news about God’s Son so we could become one of God’s people? They used their ability and voice to seized the moment! The result allowed God to work something beautiful in our hearts. They gave us the opportunity to know God better and be obedient to Him. This is what we will see Sunday night as we look in the book of Luke: disciples of all backgrounds and talents working together to seize the moment to help others learn and be obedient to the gospel.
God Remembered Noah Genesis 7:17-8:1 It’s hard to picture how bad things must have been in Genesis 6 when every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually. Did God forget about His creation? Does it ever seem like God has forgotten His people today? At this awful peak in man’s history, God extends His grace. He remembers Noah. I imagine Noah was eager to escape such a violent time. But God also extends grace to the world by patiently waiting nearly a century before the flood comes. We remember that Noah stood out for his obedience to God, but also that he held out hope as a willing messenger on behalf of God’s goodness and patience.
Scripture: Romans 5:6-11 The crucifixion and resurrection are not isolated events, and they should not be remembered without remembering why they are important. Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, sin has been the number one problem of man, and the constant theme of the Bible. Sin is not a mistake with no major impact. Sin separates us from God, and only the sacrifice of God’s Son could overcome that prime problem. In remembrance of the cross, we must weigh the importance of the problem it solved.
1 Peter 3:18-22 – When we follow the context, we can often understand even the most difficult passages. Peter wrote to encourage suffering Christians for whom righteous living didn’t seem to be rewarded, and those who persecuted them seemed to thrive. Christians are encouraged by the example and actions of Christ. He suffered and died, but then triumphed over death. Those who accept the preaching of the gospel will share in his victory, and those who reject him will hear words of judgment.
Genesis 4 Luke 24:25 and Psalm 103:11-13 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”
1 Peter 2:20-25 We are fully aware of the extreme pain and suffering involved in a crucifixion. But during his last night, Jesus suffered a full assortment of cruelties both great and small. He was abandoned, disappointed and betrayed by friends. It’s happened to us, and it hurts. Lies were told about him, and he was ridiculed, even in front of friends and family. He was hung on a cross, exposed naked in public, and saw his mother witness his shame and pain. All comfort, recognition and vindication came too late – after he died. Jesus knows every pain we suffer, and has shown us how to keep it all in perspective.
Genesis 3:8-13 Entitlement goes back to the garden of Eden. The sense that I deserve more, or I deserve better, or I’m not getting my fair share for my work, has been around since Genesis 3. It’s easy to be disappointed in Adam and Eve’s unwillingness to submit to God. Still, I live with more than enough but always seem to be longing for more. What does it say about my heart that it’s easier to fill my emptiness with…
Scripture: John 12:27-34 The gospel of Jesus is full of positive and appealing features, but it is the most repulsive one that draws us to Jesus. His miracles and teachings are impressive, and the resurrection is exceptional. But the crucifixion is the item that makes Jesus unique and attractive. Without the crucifixion, the rest is just a nice story. The Lord’s Supper makes sure that we don’t forget the crucified body of Jesus. But as we remember the crucified body,…
Scripture: Isaiah 41:8-13 Already in the Old Testament, God wanted his people to be heaven-focused. Many of the blessings announced to Israel would not be enjoyed by those who heard the message, but by later generations. The ultimate fulfillment was eternal. The same goes for Christians. God’s promises hold true even if we walk a rough road in the meantime. Regardless of present circumstances we can still trust God to strengthen us, help us and uphold us.
Scripture: Colossians 3:12-17 A healthy church will be solid in biblical doctrine, but also in biblical attitudes. Many New Testaments lists of virtues or graces are actually describing attitudes that should be prevalent in the church. A church without these attitudes will not have the peace or unity that God desires; it will not look like the Lord’s church. When describing the church, the portrait should include compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness among the members. For a…
Ephesians 4:25:32 Our world is plagued by major evil, but also with daily nastiness. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can make a mark on our personal world by simple kindness. We should be kind to others because God has been kind to us. Many activities require some special gift or talent than is given only to a few, but kindness is accessible to each one of us. It is something that we can…
Scripture: Genesis 1:26-28 Genesis teaches that God is Creator and that man is made in His image. A shadow is an image leading back to something of substance. In a similar way, man is made to be connected with God while also resembling Him. In the garden, man is given a place to belong and work to do, though is left to feel his need for companionship. Some needs are met before feeling them; others remain unfulfilled for a time.…
Scripture: Psalm 19:7-14 Even faithful Christians sin occasionally. That does not mean that we should live in constant fear of going to hell just because we may not have time to repent after the last sin before we die. We do not live each day constantly slipping back and forth from salvation to condemnation. Even though all sins are serious and dangerous, all sins do not lead to immediate spiritual death. Even imperfect Christians can rejoice in the Lord.
Scripture: Hosea 4:1-6 Hosea not only had to preach gloom and doom, he had to live it in a marriage with a harlot named Gomer. He traces the infidelity of Israel to a “lack of knowledge.” But this lack of knowledge was more than not knowing the commandments in the Law of Moses. Israel didn’t know God. He was knowable, but they had replaced him with idols. They paid no attention to his works, even his blessings on Israel. Those…