Do you realize what you have to offer?


Sometimes people only think with one train of thought and end up missing out on the things they could do. There are daily opportunities for you to be a blessing if you are ready and willing to share what you have to offer. Do you realize the gifts that you have been given? Do you realize the promises that you have been given? Will you give what you have to offer in order to help others? You may not have what they are asking for, but you probably have what they need!


Consider the day when Peter and John were heading to the temple…

1-5One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.
6-8Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.
8-10The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.
11The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves.
— Acts 3

Sometimes people as asking for a handout, but the reality is that they need a hand up. With a handout they will get it, use, and need it again. With a hand up, they get a new fresh start, they have a new beginning where the rules are different and they are able to start a new life. Do you realize what you have to offer?

Do you realize God if giving you a platform? He is setting you up for a comeback? He is able to use every opportunity to allow you to point people back to Him. Consider how you can glorify God and point people back to Him. The story continues…

12-16When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people:
“Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead—and we’re the witnesses. Faith in Jesus’ name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet—yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.
17-18“And now, friends, I know you had no idea what you were doing when you killed Jesus, and neither did your leaders. But God, who through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that his Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfill his plans.
19-23“Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’
24-26“All the prophets from Samuel on down said the same thing, said most emphatically that these days would come. These prophets, along with the covenant God made with your ancestors, are your family tree. God’s covenant-word to Abraham provides the text: ‘By your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ But you are first in line: God, having raised up his Son, sent him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways.”
— Acts 3

People are walking around feeling unloved, feeling condemned, feeling accused, feeling let down, feeling hurt, feeling depressed, feeling forgotten, and needing hope. Will you share the hope that is within you? Will you share the truth that is within you? Will you share the truth that is a reason hope. Will you share the love of God with those you encounter?


 

Some people may even try to stop you or confront you for doing good and for speaking life, hope, and truth. People may try to quiet you because they don’t like what they are seeing because it is removing their power over the people. But doing what is right isn’t wrong. Speaking the hope that is within you and sharing what God has done in and through you so that others can get a hand up is important. Consider when Peter and John were confronted and how it actually opened up another door that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible for them to share such a message…

1-4While Peter and John were addressing the people, the priests, the chief of the Temple police, and some Sadducees came up, indignant that these upstart apostles were instructing the people and proclaiming that the resurrection from the dead had taken place in Jesus. They arrested them and threw them in jail until morning, for by now it was late in the evening. But many of those who listened had already believed the Message—in round numbers about five thousand!
5-7The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander—everybody who was anybody was there. They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: “Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?”
8-12With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”
13-14They couldn’t take their eyes off them—Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright—so healed!—what could they say against that?
15-17They sent them out of the room so they could work out a plan. They talked it over: “What can we do with these men? By now it’s known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and that they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. But so that it doesn’t go any further, let’s silence them with threats so they won’t dare to use Jesus’ name ever again with anyone.”
18-20They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”
21-22The religious leaders renewed their threats, but then released them. They couldn’t come up with a charge that would stick, that would keep them in jail. The people wouldn’t have stood for it—they were all praising God over what had happened. The man who had been miraculously healed was over forty years old.
— Acts 4

We need to stand united. We need to come together with other believers to speak truth and life into our communities. We need to encourage one another to also do greater things for God.

23-26As soon as Peter and John were let go, they went to their friends and told them what the high priests and religious leaders had said. Hearing the report, they lifted their voices in a wonderful harmony in prayer: “Strong God, you made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. By the Holy Spirit you spoke through the mouth of your servant and our father, David:
Why the big noise, nations?
Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth’s leaders push for position,
Potentates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers!
27-28“For in fact they did meet—Herod and Pontius Pilate with nations and peoples, even Israel itself!—met in this very city to plot against your holy Son Jesus, the One you made Messiah, to carry out the plans you long ago set in motion.
29-30“And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence.
32-33The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.
34-35And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.
36-37Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.
— Acts 4

So where are you at today? Do you realize what you have to offer? Consider what they are asking and are they wanting a temporary fix? Consider what they are asking and is there a way to help with a hand up rather than a handout? A handout may make you and them feel better in the moment, but eventually they will be back in the same situation and when you see them, how will you feel? Consider the options and the alternatives. What do you have to truly offer them! Ask God for wisdom if you aren’t sure.

 

 

 

 

 

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How will you make a difference in the world today?


We have each been given the gift of life. We have each been given the gift of getting to live at this time in history. It was on purpose and for a purpose that we have been put right here, right now! So what are you going to do with this gift? What are you going to do with the talents you have been given? How will you use your time today? What words will you use to express yourself and make a point? Today is right here and right now! What will you do with it? Will you turn to God for wisdom to help you make your decision? Will you allow your steps and your decisions to be lead by the Holy Spirit? Will you listen and obey the still quiet voice?


 

Have you been baptized in the Spirit?

1-4When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
12Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”
13Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”
— Acts 2

Who among us will be brave enough to speak up? Who among us will be brave enough to speak out? Who among us will be obedient enough to speak the truth about what has taken place and who sent us? How about you and me?

14-21That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:
“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved.”
22-28“Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you’ll never dump me in Hades;
I’ll never even smell the stench of death.
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around.
29-36“Dear friends, let me be completely frank with you. Our ancestor David is dead and buried—his tomb is in plain sight today. But being also a prophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, he talked of the resurrection of the Messiah—‘no trip to Hades, no stench of death.’ This Jesus, God raised up. And every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear. For David himself did not ascend to heaven, but he did say,
God said to my Master, “Sit at my right hand
Until I make your enemies a stool for resting your feet.”
“All Israel, then, know this: There’s no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross.”
37Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?”
38-39Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”
40He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
— Acts 2

 

Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything that will take place within it. I lift it up to You and ask for wisdom and discernment. Help me with every interaction and every conversation to have ears to hear and eyes to see what You would have me do and say in each situation. It is only by Your grace and Your mercy that I am able to be and do what I do. It is only because of Your leading and prompting that I have gotten to this point and os I ask Lord that You would help me so that in everything I do today You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can pressure make people do things they don’t believe in?


If a crowd shows up to a political rally wanting something, will they get it? If the crowd won’t give and are persistent, will they get it? What if there is no foundation or truth or justification for such action? What if it was a work? What if it was a neighborhood thing? What if…

1-2Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, “We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King.”
3Pilate asked him, “Is this true that you’re ‘King of the Jews’?”
“Those are your words, not mine,” Jesus replied.
4Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, “I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me.”
5But they were vehement. “He’s stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He’s a dangerous man, endangering the peace.”
6-7When Pilate heard that, he asked, “So, he’s a Galilean?” Realizing that he properly came under Herod’s jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.
8-10Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, he’d heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular. He peppered him with questions. Jesus didn’t answer—not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.
11-12Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.
13-16Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, “You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It’s clear that he’s done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I’m going to warn him to watch his step and let him go.”
18-20At that, the crowd went wild: “Kill him! Give us Barabbas!” (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.
21But they kept shouting back, “Crucify! Crucify him!”
22He tried a third time. “But for what crime? I’ve found nothing in him deserving death. I’m going to warn him to watch his step and let him go.”
23-25But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.
— Luke 23

What is your first response when someone is doing something wrong or bad against you? What do you do when people treat you wrong or improperly? I have tried it both ways and forgiving them was the road of most peace. Forgiveness is the key to peace because when you don’t you allow a bitter root to take hold, you allow your joy to be stolen, you give up the power over to them and you end up in a place you were never meant to be. After I learned the lesson and another opportunity to try this out came up, I went the forgiveness route, which really surprised some people around me, however, it allowed me to not get off kilter and to step up and move forward without that boulder getting tied to me and holding me back or holding me down. When I consider how much Jesus went through to allow us to be forgiven, it only makes sense we should be people who forgive, people who shine for Him and allow the world to see there is another way and His name is Jesus!

Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” — Luke 23:34

Forgiveness is the key to freedom! Imagine if our first response was to forgive instead or seek revenge? Imagine if you were in a situation like Jesus where you were about to forgive people no matter what they had done? By receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, by asking for forgiveness, He will forgive us. He spoke to us we aren’t supposed to keep track of how many times we forgive people, it reminds me of a song 7×70 which had a big impact in turning me around from my unforgiveness. Interestingly enough, image_thumb.pngisn’t a word!

Are you living for you? Are you taking accountability for your actions? Are you just trying to get yourself out of the situation you put yourself in?

39One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!”
40-41But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.”
42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
43He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”
— Luke 23

We don’t have to get depressed or down because of what has happened. When we allow forgiveness to keep those bitter roots from taking hold in our hearts, we find ourselves in a situation where we can live life the way God wants us to. Jesus conquered the grave so that we could be overcomers! As we read in John 16:33 :

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]


What is it going to take for you to believe?

13-16That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
17-18He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
19-24He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
25-27Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
28-31They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
32Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
— Luke 24

No really, what type of an event would it take? Or is hearing enough for you to believe?

33-34They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”
35Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
36-41While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
41-43He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
— Luke 24

Don’t allow your joy to be robbed by doubt! Don’t allow the incredible miracles of God to be lost because of doubt or fear!

33-34They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”
35Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
36-41While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
41-43He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
— Luke 24

The plan revealed…

44Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”
45-49He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”
50-51He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52-53And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
–Luke 24

It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the heart!


Are you a giver? Are you a giver hoping to get? Are you a giver hoping to help? Are you a giver wanting to give a hand up? Are you a giver out of your excess? Are you a giver out of your lack? It’s not about the quantity of your giving, it’s a matter of the heart! Why are you a giver? Why are you giving? Are you giving so that others see it? Are you a giver hoping that you will get something back? Are you giving never expecting anything back in return? Are you giving out of your excess? Are you giving out of the first of your fruits or the last? Are you giving out of the little you have because your care?


This morning’s reading from God’s Word started with the story of the Widow’s mite.

1-4Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”
— Luke 21

Are you giving your all when you give? Are you giving for a purpose that is greater than yourself? Are you giving so that you feel better? Are you giving because you are supposed to? Are you a sacrificial giver? Do you just give what is already falling out of the excess? Where is your heart?


Don’t be fooled…He will come back the way he left!

5-6One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, “All this you’re admiring so much—the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.”
7They asked him, “Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it’s about to take place?”
8-9He said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.”
10-11He went on, “Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You’ll think at times that the very sky is falling.
12-15“But before any of this happens, they’ll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’ll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.
16-19“You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.

— Luke 21

Don’t worry about it, for worry changes nothing, prayer changes everything. So pray to God to give you the Words to speak for every situation you face! Pray to God for wisdom to know exactly what to do in every situation you face!

 What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Don’t worry or get worked up, put your trust in God! Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Press forward pursuing after God and His will. Don’t be afraid of what they can do to your body, God’s interested in your soul and when we get to spend eternity with Him, that will be the greatest time ever! Heaven is for real (an incredible book) and an incredible truth that God’s Word promises!


The battle belongs to the Lord! In the Old Testament and in the New! Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow! The battle belongs to the Lord! Vengeance is His! Don’t try to do it or get it yourself, it won’t make you feel any better and it won’t make the situation any better. Forgiveness is what we are supposed to be about so that we can ensure we don’t allow it to take root in our heart and eat us up from the inside out!

20-24“When you see soldiers camped all around Jerusalem, then you’ll know that she is about to be devastated. If you’re living in Judea at the time, run for the hills. If you’re in the city, get out quickly. If you’re out in the fields, don’t go home to get your coat. This is Vengeance Day—everything written about it will come to a head. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Incredible misery! Torrential rage! People dropping like flies; people dragged off to prisons; Jerusalem under the boot of barbarians until the nations finish what was given them to do.
25-26“It will seem like all hell has broken loose—sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.
27-28“And then—then!—they’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style—a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!”
29-33He told them a story. “Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner. The same here—when you see these things happen, you know God’s kingdom is about here. Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.
34-36“But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”
37-38He spent his days in the Temple teaching, but his nights out on the mountain called Olives. All the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him.

— Luke 21

Nothing surprises God! Jesus knew why He came! He knew what was going to happen! He knew what it was going to take! He knew it was going to be worth it as it would open the door to forgiveness and reconciliation back to the Father!

1-2The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, drew near. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way to do away with Jesus but, fearful of the people, they were also looking for a way to cover their tracks.
3-6That’s when Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot. He was one of the Twelve. Leaving the others, he conferred with the high priests and the Temple guards about how he might betray Jesus to them. They couldn’t believe their good luck and agreed to pay him well. He gave them his word and started looking for a way to betray Jesus, but out of sight of the crowd.
7-8The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”
9They said, “Where do you want us to do this?”
10-12He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.”
13They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.
14-16When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”
17-18Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”
19Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”
20He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.
21-22“Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It’s true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out—no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday.”
23They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.

— Luke 22

So let’s be ready in and out of season! Let’s be ready to speak of the hope that is within us! Let’s be ready to stand up for what we believe in! Let’s be ready for His return! Let’s get rid of the baggage that is holding us down or holding us back from being ready for His return! Let’s remove it through forgiveness! Let’s remove it pulling out those bitter roots through the incredible power of forgiving others and forgiving ourselves for things in the past. Let’s leave the past in the past! Our eyes are on the front of our heads, so let’s keep moving forward and let’s stop tying ourselves down with chains and ropes and other things just because we are too prideful to forgive others and let it go and move on! Let’s grab onto Jesus’ yoke! His yoke is easy and His burden is light! Let’s make sure that when we get into new arrangements we are equally yoked! Be it personal or business relationships! Let’s make sure we know what we are getting into!

24-26Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.
27-30“Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people.
31-32“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”
33Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”
34Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”
35Then Jesus said, “When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?”
“Certainly,” they said, “we got along just fine.”
36-37He said, “This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, ‘He was lumped in with the criminals,’ gets its final meaning in me. Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion.”
38They said, “Look, Master, two swords!”
But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!”

— Luke 22

Let’s take the place of humility! Let’s take the place of serving others! Let’s take the place of being givers rather than takers! Let’s be forgivers! Let’s be people who don’t let pride get in the way, but walk with humility in everything as we work to serve others! Let’s do it His way! He washed their feet – so let’s take care of one another! He was the ultimate example, so let’s give our all to exalt Him today and always! It’s not all about us, it’s about us helping others to get into the Kingdom too. Let’s not just grab the fence sitters, but let’s put on the full armor of God and be willing to go in and fight to win people’s lives from the pits of hell behind enemy lines. Don’t go it alone, because God didn’t intend us to go it alone! Let’s stand together and allow God’s army to take back ground that has been taken or lost! Let’s come together in unity and hope to bring the light of the world into the darkness and help out, help them out, help breakdown strongholds, break chains of oppression, and set the captives free!


 

Jesus paid it all! He never gave up on us! He knew what was going to happen and so He provided us His Word to encourage us, Instruct us, and Direct us!

A Dark Night

39-40Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”
41-44He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
45-46He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, “What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”
47-48No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49-50When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.
51Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.
52-53Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: “What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it’s a dark night, a dark hour.”

A Rooster Crowed

54-56Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, “This man was with him!”
57He denied it, “Woman, I don’t even know him.”
58A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, “You’re one of them.”
But Peter denied it: “Man, I am not.”
59About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.”
60-62Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.

Slapping Him Around

63-65The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, “Who hit you that time?” They were having a grand time with him.
66-67When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, “Are you the Messiah?”
67-69He answered, “If I said yes, you wouldn’t believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer me. So here’s what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God’s right hand, the place of power.”
70They all said, “So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?”
“You’re the ones who keep saying it,” he said.
71But they had made up their minds, “Why do we need any more evidence? We’ve all heard him as good as say it himself.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you doing up there watching? Why don’t you get involved?


How long have you been just been out there looking down? How long will you stay up there out of the hustle and bustle of everyday? Are you a watcher rather than a doer? There are things to do that need your help! There are things to do that only you have the ability to help make come to fruition! There are things that need you to be involved! Will you climb down from your spot and come help complete the incredible things that have been planned in advance for you to accomplish?

TODAY IS YOUR DAY!


This morning is another great one because God’s Word is before me to help me prepare and get my day started off on the right foot.

1-4Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
5-7When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
8Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
9-10Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
— Luke 19

Do you realize what you have? You have been given great things! What will you do with the gifts God has given you?

11While he had their attention, and because they were getting close to Jerusalem by this time and expectation was building that God’s kingdom would appear any minute, he told this story:
12-13“There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, ‘Operate with this until I return.’
14“But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: ‘We don’t want this man to rule us.’
15“When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done.
16“The first said, ‘Master, I doubled your money.’
17“He said, ‘Good servant! Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’
18“The second said, ‘Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.’
19“He said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of five towns.’
20-21“The next servant said, ‘Master, here’s your money safe and sound. I kept it hidden in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don’t suffer fools gladly.’
22-23“He said, ‘You’re right that I don’t suffer fools gladly—and you’ve acted the fool! Why didn’t you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?’
24“Then he said to those standing there, ‘Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.’
25“They said, ‘But Master, he already has double . . .’
26“He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.
27“‘As for these enemies of mine who petitioned against my rule, clear them out of here. I don’t want to see their faces around here again.’”

— Luke 19

Are you willing to take that risk for God? Are you willing to give your all for His glory? Are you willing to share His love with those around you? Are you willing to show His truth in love to everyone you meat? Are you willing to take the risk for God’s sake? Are you willing to take the risk that will multiply the reward, the harvest, the outcome so that God will receive greater praise, honor, and glory? He has given you gifts and talents! Are you investing them and increasing them for His glory so that on that day when He returns you will get to hear Him say: “Well done my good and faithful servant”?


 

We all have our part to making God’s truth, hope, and love known! Will you do your part or will you let rocks cry out in your place? Will you get past the fear or worry or doubt and in faith praise God by loving others the way He first loved you? Today is a day where you have opportunities to show God’s love to the world. You can do it in how you speak! You can do it in what you share! You can do it in what you give! You can do it in how you care! The decision though comes to you… What are you going to do? Will you do anything? Will right wrongs? Will you speak up for those who can’t speak? Will you provide a hand up rather than a hand out so that people can get back on their feet? Will you speak truth in love so that people can get back on track? What are you going to do?

28-31After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When he got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘His Master needs him.’”
32-33The two left and found it just as he said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, “What are you doing untying the colt?”
34They said, “His Master needs him.”
35-36They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street.
37-38Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:
Blessed is he who comes,
the king in God’s name!
All’s well in heaven!
Glory in the high places!
39Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!”
40But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
41-44When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.”
45-46Going into the Temple he began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything. He said, “It’s written in Scripture,
My house is a house of prayer;
You have turned it into a religious bazaar.”
47-48From then on he taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him. But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn’t come up with anything.

— Luke 19

What’s easier to try and accuse and question others or to give an answer? What easier to stand up for what is right or sit back and do nothing? What’s easier to give it all or to lose it all? What’s easier to press on or to fall back? Nobody ever said life would be easy! God just promised He would be with you every step of the way! He will never leave you nor abandon you! So which road will you take the wise road that leads to destruction or the narrow road that leads to eternity with God? Choices, choices, we will face them everyday, so choose wisely!

1-2One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”
3-4Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?”
5-7They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know.
8Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”

— Luke 20

How are you going to handle the responsibility you have been given? How will you return someone’s trust in you? How will you take on the tasks given you?

9-12Jesus told another story to the people: “A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black-and-blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.
13“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘I know what I’ll do: I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’
14-15“But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. ‘This is our chance—this is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all to ourselves.’ They killed him and threw him over the fence.
15-16“What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others.”
Those who were listening said, “Oh, no! He’d never do that!”
17-18But Jesus didn’t back down. “Why, then, do you think this was written:
That stone the masons threw out—
It’s now the cornerstone!?
“Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup.”
19The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.

— Luke 20

The truth can sting, but how you respond to it will either eat you up from the inside or make you stronger and turn your life around! Again with the choices…Choose wisely!


Trickery…Some live by it. Some are able to bypass it. Some try it. Some avoid it. Seek wisdom from God and He can reveal the true intentions of the questions being asked. They may not really be asking for an answer. They may be trying to trip you up or trick you. God knows the heart and the intentions. The battle belongs to the Lord!

20-22Watching for a chance to get him, they sent spies who posed as honest inquirers, hoping to trick him into saying something that would get him in trouble with the law. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re honest and straightforward when you teach, that you don’t pander to anyone but teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23-24He knew they were laying for him and said, “Show me a coin. Now, this engraving, who does it look like and what does it say?”
25“Caesar,” they said.
Jesus said, “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is his.”
26Try as they might, they couldn’t trap him into saying anything incriminating. His answer caught them off guard and left them speechless.

— Luke 20


God’s plan isn’t to be out there somewhere. He wants to have an intimate relationship with you! Are you willing to start having a relationship with God? Will allow Jesus into your heart? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to be that comforter and guide who can help you every step of every day? It’s not about religion and rituals, it is about a relationship that grows and flourishes because it is based on a foundation of LOVE!

27-33Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now—in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her.”
34-38Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’ God isn’t the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.”
39-40Some of the religion scholars said, “Teacher, that’s a great answer!” For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him.
41-44Then he put a question to them: “How is it that they say that the Messiah is David’s son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says,
God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
until I put your enemies under your feet.”
“David here designates the Messiah as ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”
45-47With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”