Thursday, December 28, 2006



Just after Jesus raises the dead boy to life, John hears about what is happening. It was confusing to John. On the one hand, the people were saying, “He is a prophet.” But on the other hand, “Certainly God has come to help us.” Typically a prophet had a word from God to challenge the people. He was filled with truth, but little grace. Yet Jesus was referred to as a messenger from God who came with grace. This was a strange twist to John’s ears and understanding. Look what happens:
John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' "

John had already baptized Jesus, believing there was something special about Jesus and now from jail is wanting further verification. In a sense, John was becoming more and more discouraged as he sat in jail and was hoping for more clarity and overt action from the Messiah. The way Jesus answers this question is to first demonstrate exactly what the Messiah was to do.

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."

After performing these Messianic acts, Jesus sends John’s disciples back with a quote from the prophet, Isaiah, who is speaking about the Messiah who was to come. In other words, Jesus’ answer to John was basically, “I am the One.”

After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

Here’s an interesting comparison. Jesus compliments John as being the greatest one born of woman ever. Then immediately Jesus says, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” What in the world is Jesus saying? Simply this. John played a major role in preparing the way for the Messiah, yet he was only the preparer. As the kingdom of God is ushered in, those who will enjoy the kingdom are at a whole different level, to the point that the least one in the kingdom of God will be greater than John.

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)
John indeed prepared the way for the Messiah.

Jesus went on to say, "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: " 'We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is proved right by all her children."

Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees and the experts in the law were acting like children who wouldn’t play when invited. They were fickle. When John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, they accused him of being demonic. Then when Jesus came eating and drinking, they said He was a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. No matter who God sent to them, they weren’t buying it due to their powerful positioning and pride.

Then Jesus makes a powerful statement. He says, “But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” I think what Jesus is saying here is that God’s wisdom and God’s truth will be proved out by the followers of Jesus—by the followers of Jesus practicing this lifestyle. This is why practicing the principles and teachings of Jesus is so vital. The only way to prove that Jesus’ way is the right way of God is to practice it. And, the only way to practice His teachings and principles is to have an experiential encounter with Jesus personally. God’s way for living life most fully is not to know something, but to know someone. It is not a performance, but a person. Again, the kingdom of God doesn’t need proof; it only needs practice.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006



Immediately after the healing of the centurion’s servant Jesus has another appointment in the village of Nain: Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

This is an interesting scene in the life of Jesus. We see Him moved with compassion for this mother who was a widow. She had obviously experienced lots of grief already, losing her husband and now her only son. This gives more insight into how Jesus cares for those who are in pain, even our pain. It’s one thing to say “God cares”, but that seems still a bit removed from our reality. But when you say that “Jesus cares”, there is something about the God-Man, Jesus, that assures you that He really does. Jesus is easier to relate to. This is why Jesus came to earth—God in the flesh—so that we can more easily relate.

NOTE what Jesus does as He moves into action: Then he went up and touched the wooden frame they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Talk about a gift for this grieving woman. She was given back her dead son—alive and healthy. It’s interesting to me that Jesus doesn’t touch the boy, but the coffin-like framework they were using to carry him. In the story before Jesus healed the centurion’s servant without seeing him or touching him and here He brings a boy back to life using a similar method. The power of Jesus’ word is awesome. This is very relevant to us today and this is why Jesus is so concerned that we hear His words and practice them. When I see Jesus work in this way, I am compelled to listen to His word more carefully and follow Him.

Those in the village of Nain are overwhelmed and shocked by what they saw. NOTE the response of the people: They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

There are four basic responses here:
FIRST—They were filled with awe. They were shocked. What they saw Jesus do disrupted their spiritual and life paradigms. This is what Jesus always does. When Jesus is introduced, He changes everybody’s thinking; He breaks down your boxes and bursts your bubbles. This is what I love about following Jesus. When I used to argue about or defend my “Christian” beliefs, it always led to disagreement and was disturbing to the relationship. But saying that, “I’m doing the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’m trying to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus.” This doesn’t lead to arguments or debate, but refocuses and transforms the conversation to a whole new level.

SECOND—They praised God. This is a typical response. When something happens that is good and seemingly supernatural, the normal response is to say, “Thank God.” Also, the contrary is true, when things go bad, people tend to blame God.

THIRD—They perceive Jesus as a great prophet. This is a very good response. Obviously, they know this Jesus is not just another rabbi, but maybe a prophet or someone with supernatural connections. I mean, He just did something that is impossible to do. He raised a young man from the dead.

FOURTH—They perceive that God has come to help them. So, we have moved from amazement to acknowledgement that what Jesus just did is a work of God—something only God can do. NOTE the progression in their responses. They did not see Jesus as God right from the beginning. Many “Christians” would have difficulty with this progression. It’s going in the right direction, but too many believe that a person has to have a climactic experience that settles it once and for all. But that is not reality.

People grow in their responses to Jesus. Check out how it was with Jesus’ early disciples. We tend to hold them up as something special and having it all together, but these men were in the process of growing in their trust in Jesus. They were not believers throughout the Gospels. They were not “born-again” Christians. But they were learning, step by step, field trip by field trip, experience by experience. They were being discipled to follow Jesus by Jesus Himself. There was nothing instant or climactic about it. It was a long-term process.

They grew up in the Jewish tradition and religion. But now they are simply following Jesus. Jesus apprehended their lives and once that happened, they were on a spiritual journey that would not only change their lives, but would change the world.

Now, let me ask you something. Has Jesus apprehended your life yet? He is waiting to do so. He will do anything He has to do to in order to get you in alignment with Him. You see, there are 3 vital things Jesus can bring to you.
1. He is the best measure of character you’ll ever know and can transform your character in the process. There is no one ever with this sort of character.
2. He is the only one who can bring you the greatest personal fulfillment in your life. If you fashion your life to be like Jesus, you will know genuine fulfillment, inner peace and joy.
3. He is the only one who can bring God to you. If God ever did take on flesh and become man, then Jesus must be the one.

So, have you invited or allowed Jesus to apprehend your life? He apprehended the disciples’ lives and they were used to turn the world upside down. He apprehended Paul’s life when Paul was a Christian (a fanatic follower of the Christ) who persecuted those who were into Jesus, and transformed him into one who would bear witness to the name of Jesus to the house of Israel, the gentiles and the kings of the gentiles.

When Jesus apprehends your life, He will do great things in and through you, too. So let Him!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006



In the 7th chapter of Luke we come to the story of the Centurion’s encounter with Jesus: When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

NOTE first that the centurion is a Roman soldier who was stationed at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Here in Capernaum he has heard a lot about Jesus and maybe even heard Him speak or seen Him do His miracles in the area.

The second thing I note about him is that the centurion was a good man who had endeared himself to the Jewish community because of his love for the nation of Israel and by building the synagogue in Capernaum. Every time I have been to Capernaum I think of this encounter, because of the foundation of the synagogue he built is still there.

Thirdly, the centurion didn’t feel worthy to come to Jesus himself nor did he feel worthy to have Jesus make a house call. As a military man he respected Jesus’ power to work through His servants to get things done—even miracles. What’s so interesting to me is that he believed that Jesus was the only way his servant had any chance of living and he believed that all Jesus needed to do was to give the order and his servant would be healed.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

The fourth observation regarding this encounter is the man’s faith. His faith really stood out to Jesus and He said, “I have not found such great faith, even among the Jewish people.” You see, this soldier was an outsider in most every way. He was a gentile and not Jewish. He didn’t grow up under the teachings of any rabbi and certainly didn’t have a working knowledge with the Scriptures.

The centurion was an outsider, yet his faith in Jesus was genuine and totally accepted by Jesus as authentic and adequate. This is one of the many instances where Jesus accepts an outsider’s faith and applauds this faith as being outstanding.

Although I will make this point in several upcoming passages, it is so important to realize what’s really going on here. The Jews were the chosen people alright, but they weren’t chosen to be the exclusive people who would come into a relationship with the God of gods. They were to practice such a dynamic and authentic relationship with God so that they would serve as lights to the world. Jesus didn’t come for the Jews, but came for the entire world. He came to reach out and touch every nation and tribe. The Jewish people were to be conduits for such a touch.

However, the Jews then and the Christians today seem to be missing the point. Jesus is all inclusive. He came for everyone. The Jews then and the Christians today believe they “own” the word of God, that they are right and the rest of the world sits in darkness and are wrong. I think this is why Jesus sprinkles these scenes throughout His teaching in order to make the point as clear as He can make it. For today, the principle is CHRISTIANS DON’T OWN JESUS. He is for every cultural and religious background. He is universally the Son of God and is irresistible as He is lifted up within any and all cultures of the world.

NOTE Jesus doesn’t make the centurion join Judaism or become a member of the synagogue. He isn’t interested in “converting” him out of his Roman culture and religious system, but to commend his faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus is interested in “converting” or transforming his heart through the centurion’s encounter with Jesus personally.

It’s not about certain propositions or doctrines to believe. It is totally and completely and only about a person. His name is Jesus.

Monday, December 25, 2006



In Luke 6 and verse 43 Jesus continues teaching His disciples. In this section Jesus is referring to good trees and bad trees that bear fruit: "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

NOTE that Jesus’ point is that all fruitfulness—whether good or bad—comes from what’s at the core of the heart. Whatever comes out of the mouth is an overflow of your heart. That means that whatever is in your heart will come out and show itself. So, pay attention to your heart.
Next Jesus moves into an interesting new thought for His disciples. Jesus is saying, “Since the heart is most important to the fruitfulness that will flow out of your life, let me point out how to work on your heart.”

He starts with this statement: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” That’s the key to your heart. It’s all about DOING WHAT JESUS SAYS. Apparently, He has certain people in mind who have been talking a good game, but have no follow-through. They want to be known as good trees, but their fruitfulness betrays what’s really in their hearts. The bad fruit they are displaying is a neglect or a refusal to do what Jesus says to do.
He continues with: “As for those who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But those who hear my words and do not put them into practice are like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
Jesus sets forth two simple options. Either come and hear Jesus’ words and put them into practice or choose not to put them into practice. They are simple, yet dramatically different.

Practicing what Jesus says to do is the pivotal point. If you practice what Jesus says, you are like a man who builds a house and digs down deep so that he has a firm foundation. If you don’t practice what Jesus says to do, you are like a man who builds a house on the ground without any foundation at all.

NOTE that both houses face the same storms of rain, flooding and winds. Just because you follow Jesus doesn’t mean you will be hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar to keep you from all trouble. No, the trouble will come, but with a foundation, you are unshakable. Without a foundation you are facing sure collapse and complete destruction.

Now, get this point. Practicing what Jesus says to do is simply following Jesus. There are 3 very important observations here: FIRST—Following Jesus is more than calling Him “Lord.” Talk is cheap.

SECOND—Following Jesus is more than coming to Jesus. It’s more than attending church.

THIRD—Following Jesus is more than just listening to Jesus. It’s more than showing up at a Bible study, even if it’s every week.

In other words, Jesus is not nearly as interested in you talking a good game or in your church attendance or even in your study of the Bible as much as He is that you are following Him and doing what He says to do. That’s the performance He wants!

So, where are you performing? Good, religious talk? A faithful church-goer? A regular at a small group Bible study? Or, are you focused on doing what Jesus says to do?

Thursday, December 21, 2006



In the next two verses Jesus teaches His disciples two negatives and two positives: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

The 2 negative commands are (1) Do not judge and (2) Do not condemn. Jesus isn’t throwing out the need for discernment in order to make judgment calls or personal life decisions. He is not speaking of this kind of judgment (discernment). He is referring to judgment that condemns and sentences a person, when that right only belongs to God, Himself.

The 2 positive commands are (1) Forgive and (2) Give. This goes right along with the preceding section where Jesus urges His disciples to love their enemies. Instead of condemning and judging them; forgive and give to them. It’s an attitude.

Now NOTE something else here. In each case there is a return on investment. On the negative side, if you judge and condemn another, you will be judged and condemned in the same way. This works in everyday life. If you are critical of a person’s parenting style, you will likely be judged on your parenting style. So, watch out how you judge another. First, you don’t have the right to condemn and sentence anyone and you will, most likely, stir that person up to come right back at you.

On the positive side, if you give and forgive, there will be certain consequences come right back at you. If you forgive, you will be forgiven. If you give, it will be given to you. This is not the principle of Karma, but it is a reciprocal principle of life. When you forgive someone, you will receive and experience forgiveness in the very act. If you give to someone, you will receive back in the very act of giving. Don’t misunderstand. Your enemies you forgive and give to will not forgive you or give something to you. It’s the Most High God Who will forgive and give to you, His children.

Jesus then turns their attention to a parable: He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? Students are not above their teacher, but all who are fully trained will be like their teacher.

It's as if he were saying, listen carefully and don't think you know it all. If you want to be able to judge and discern accurately you need to be fully trained by me and undergo a spiritual change of heart. This is why it’s so important to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus—to be trained by Him.

As you are being trained, you must learn to see more clearly. Jesus uses a humorous illustration here: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, 'Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person's eye.

To sum up this section:
1. Jesus prohibits His disciples to condemn anyone.
2. Jesus promotes doing something positive toward others—to give them some slack—to forgive them and give to them.
3. Jesus wants His disciples to be fully trained by Him.
4. Jesus shows His disciples that the whole issue of discernment and making judgment calls about others requires that they see more clearly.

And, what is needed to see clearly? We as His disciples must always look at ourselves first and deal with the logs hanging out of our eyes. Then, we will be able to see more clearly how to help another remove a speck from his eye. It’s not just the ability to see more clearly how to help others with their problems. There is another factor at play here. If you take care to deal with your own problems, you will have a greater compassion to deal with others—even your enemies. You will have what it takes to forgive and give to them, because you have either done the same thing or worse yourself.

You know the drill: IF NOT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, I could be in the same mess with the same eyes full of specks. Personal transformation through Jesus is the only way to change the world around you. But note that it all begins with you!



In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus gives a revolutionary plan for killing off all of your enemies. Let’s check it out:
"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now this is kingdom of heaven talk in a revolutionary way! If you only love those who love you, what’s so great about that? Absolutely nothing! Or if you do good to those who are good to you? Big deal! Then He speaks of lending money. This moves from preaching to meddling real quick. If you lend someone money, expecting to get it all back? Big deal! There is nothing so hot or different about that.

So Jesus gives three dimensions of kingdom living with respect to your enemies—those who are against you in some way. First—love your enemy. Second—do good to your enemy. Third—lend money to your enemy without expecting to get anything back.

In the prior paragraph He gives what may be used as the practical steps for loving, doing good and lending to your enemy.
Step #1—Do good to those who hate you. You see, Jesus is not talking about having sweet, ooey-gooey feelings for your enemies, but acting out your love—do good to them.
Step #2—Bless those who curse you. Instead of a curse for a curse, give them a blessing. A blessing is speaking well of them, giving them a gift or praising them for something in them.
Step #3—Pray for those who mistreat you. Now, Jesus takes it to the highest level—pray for them. Pray for them? My natural tendency is to pray against them. Jesus says, “Pray for them.”

Then Jesus offers one of the most quoted illustrations. He says that when a person slaps you on the cheek, turn your cheek so your enemy may slap the other. Wow! This is not just revolutionary, but sure suicide!

What Jesus is setting forth here is the difference between living in the kingdom of man, which is full of retaliation and getting even, and the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God. Jesus ushered in the kingdom and taught the good news of the kingdom everywhere He went. According to Jesus, living by the kingdom principles is not only revolutionary, but it is the best, most rewarding way to live—both here and now and for all eternity. This is why Jesus says your reward will be great and you will be considered children of the Most High God.

But wait a minute. Turn your cheek to be slapped again? Are you kidding? Think about this. The kingdom of man is all about the physical—the external. The kingdom of heaven is all about the spiritual—the internal. You are to take another external slap in order to heal this person on the inside. You see, this person who slapped you (did something against you) must be hurting very deeply on the inside. So, what’s a little bruise on your cheek (or on your self) matter compared to the bruising that is in his heart. And, the Most High God will be on your side working through you.

Don’t get hung up on the literal slapping on the cheek, but see it as an affront to you. He is not condoning staying in a physically abusive situation in your family. But the revolutionary principle is found in the last line of this paragraph: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s the golden rule, quoted by nearly all religions and recognized as the most fundamental way of living ever. This is at the foundation of what Jesus is saying when He says to love your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This revolutionary kingdom principle doesn’t need further explanation or proof that it works. We can all bring up impossible situations where there is no way this will work. Your mind has probably been flooded with all sorts of “exceptions” to what Jesus is saying. But here’s the problem. All of your exceptions are theoretical, not realities until you actually practice the principle. You see, Jesus and His principles need no further defense. Jesus and His principles require action. Don’t just tell people about Jesus; be Jesus to those you love and especially to those who don’t love you. Love your enemies. Try it out and watch Jesus begin to work in them and, more powerfully, within you.

Kill off all your enemies by loving them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



In the 6th chapter of Luke, beginning with verse 17, we again see Jesus surrounded by people from all around the region:
He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

NOTE this mini-seminar of Jesus is not on the mount as in Matthew 5-7, but on the plain. There is wide spectrum of people from all over the coastal region to the west and all the way from Judea and Jerusalem. Jesus continually taught those who would listen about the kingdom. He’s at it again here with the teaching and the touching of the kingdom. Jesus didn’t just talk a good game; He practiced it.

Also NOTE that Jesus uses four metaphors in this message—poverty, hunger, weeping and personal rejection. Let’s look at them.

Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Jesus is not exalting poverty, but illustrating a person who senses his or her need for something. He uses this with all four illustrations here—poor, hungry, weeping, rejected. In each case Jesus is describing a person who senses his need for God. Those who are poor are those who own and embrace the kingdom of God. Those who are hungry know real satisfaction. Those who weep have a laughter of joy in their hearts that sustains them. Those who are hated and rejected, feeling on the outside, can stop right now and rejoice.

Those who live life in the invisible kingdom of God are vitally aware of their need for God. Those who are rich tend to believe they have no need for God or anyone. Those who are well fed don’t sense a need for God’s feeding. Those who laugh will be weeping and mourning when they understand that they have missed the real thing—the real life—the kingdom of God.

In addition to sensing your need for God, Jesus is stressing that there are two kingdoms. You are living between two kingdoms now that the kingdom of God is here and accessible to you on earth. This fits with what Jesus told the religious leadership. He said that He came as a physician seeking to help those who are sick, not the healthy.

So, Jesus uses these four metaphors to speak of spiritual poverty, hunger, weeping and rejection. And He carefully points out the blessings for those who sense their need for God:
FIRST—You own the kingdom of heaven.
SECOND—You have an indescribable satisfaction.
THIRD—You have a laughter in your heart.
FOURTH—You can rejoice in the midst of being hated, rejected and excluded from man’s kingdoms.

Why? Because you are living life in a different sphere—the sphere that you were created to live in. You see, you were created to live your life according to the kingdom of heaven. It makes sense to live life this way. It’s natural or better yet, it’s supernaturally natural.

This is why I’ve said for years that in order to turn the world upside down, you must turn man rightside up. And, Jesus through His kingdom is the only way to that kind of personal transformation. Here we are again, back to the two most important issues in the universe—the person of Jesus and His program, the kingdom of God. A friend of mine appropriately calls it “The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person.”

Monday, December 18, 2006



Out of all of the disciples or followers of Jesus at the time, Jesus chooses 12 to fill the role of apostles. Before choosing these men, Jesus thoroughly prepares Himself to make these choices. We get a glimpse of this scene in Luke 6:12-16.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

After praying all night, Jesus chose 12 men out of the group of the many followers. He chose them to fill a certain role—to be apostles. An apostle literally means to be one who is sent. Jesus wanted a few—the 12—to serve as “sent ones” who would go out to spread the Good News of Jesus and the Kingdom. In my opinion, we don’t have the “office” of apostle any longer. However, we do have today those who serve as apostles, those who are sent into new areas to introduce Jesus and the Kingdom there.

NOTE what Jesus did before selecting the 12. He prayed all night. Have you ever wondered what praying all night might be like? Do you think Jesus did all of the talking? My first thoughts have always been that I wouldn’t be able to last, because my requests would run out. I’ve done lots of thinking about this and have come to realize through several of my friends that there are two dimensions to prayer. Naturally, there is the asking where you do all of the talking. This is legitimate and encouraged everywhere in the Scripture.
This is by far the most common understanding and practice throughout the world.

However, there is a second dimension to praying that is not understood and commonly practiced. This is to listen! That’s right, listen. After you have expressed your heart and desires before the Lord, it’s important to spend some time quietly before God in order to hear from God. So, God has heard from you and then He wants you to hear Him.

Think of it this way. Suppose you go to your father and ask several questions, then as soon as you have finished expressing your question or questions, you split. “See you later, dad.” Now, what’s missing here? Well, you are asking questions and not waiting around for the answers. This is precisely what we do with God. We ask and plead and beg and ask some more, but we don’t take the time wait for the answers. Then, after praying in this way, we wonder where God is and what He wants from us. You see, He really wants to give you His wisdom and His perspective on the matters you have brought before Him. He would love to give you some answers to your questions.

When I first prepared a message on prayer years ago, I discovered a great saying about prayer that has stuck with me. It is simply, “PRAYER DOESN’T NEED PROOF; IT NEEDS PRACTICE.” Now, that says it all. It’s so easy to cuss and discuss all we know and all our experiences with prayer. We can do so much that we end up in what is called analysis paralysis. Prayer is the missing link in our lives that without it, we can miss all that God is trying to say to us. If we only ask God for things and don’t wait around to hear the answers, it’s no wonder we’re confused about God. It’s no wonder we tend to doubt that He cares. It’s no wonder we tend to think that God is too silent in our lives. It’s no wonder we wonder if God is really there at all. If all you do is talk, you’ll never hear His voice.

Sunday, December 17, 2006



In Luke chapter 6 we come to a segment where there is a conflict over the issue of keeping the Sabbath. In addition to fraternizing with sinners as Jesus often did, the breaking of the Sabbath was a major sensitivity to the religious leadership of the time.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
You see, the Pharisees being a hypercritical bunch taught that you can’t even rub the wheat kernels in your hand or you are working and threshing the grain.

Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
The point here is that when David and his men were hungry, the need of their hunger superseded the law of what to do with the consecrated bread. Then, Jesus points out that He, Himself, is the Lord of the Sabbath, so He can do anything on this day.

Right after this, Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching there. He spotted a man who needed His help. I think Jesus saw this as a perfect opportunity to make His point further. It’s like Jesus went out of His way to heal a man on the Sabbath. Check out what happens here:

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.
Jesus really sets up this miracle, so that everyone will see it and get the point. I’m sure it was clear that Jesus was going to disregard the Sabbath laws in order to heal this man.

Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t opposed to keeping the Sabbath. What He was opposed to was making the Sabbath so prominent that it became the new God that threatened the vitality of a relationship with Him. In another Gospel Jesus said that “man was not made for the Sabbath to serve it, but the Sabbath was made for man to enjoy and get a rest from the stresses of life.

Sabbath is for man to enjoy. Before finishing up on this paragraph, I want to clarify what keeping Sabbath might entail. Here are a few reflections on the proper view of Sabbath:
1. Sabbath is A SANCTUARY IN TIME!

This last reflection is exactly where Jesus was from the beginning. He invited all who wanted to follow Him to come apart for awhile and just be with Him. This is just as vital today. Jesus is still calling men and women to come and just be with Him.

There’s a great statement that has caught the theme of keeping the Sabbath: It is “COME APART FOR AWHILE OR YOU’LL JUST COME APART.” Since Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, then He can make it all work best without any legalistic system of do’s and don’ts for you to perform. So, think about it. COME APART FOR AWHILE OR YOU’LL JUST COME APART.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006



In the last section of Luke chapter 5 we come to an interesting encounter between the Jesus and the Pharisees. After Jesus called Levi to follow Him and Levi’s response was to have a party, the Pharisees and scribes are very upset and offended. So, they pitch out a criticism to Jesus about the behavior of His disciples:
They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking." Jesus answered, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."

The implication of the criticism was, “Your disciples are not as spiritual as John’s disciples or our disciples.” There is indeed a fasting theme throughout the Scriptures. You must remember that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were called hypocrites, but it is best to understand that word to mean hyper-critical. They were hyper about everything, including fasting. Fasting was a practice, but the Pharisees took it to a new level with a super-spiritual pride attached. They fasted twice a week—Mondays and Thursdays.

NOTE Jesus answers with a word picture: “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?” Jesus fashions Himself as the bridegroom and this bridegroom is ushering in the Kingdom of God. And, while He is here, there is to be celebration. There will be a time when the bridegroom (Jesus) will be taken away and then fasting will be appropriate.

Then Jesus takes this opportunity to do some teaching and shares a parable with them. The point He wants to make is that His teaching and His disciples cannot and must not fit into the mold of the traditions of the Pharisees and scribes. He first uses the metaphor of patching a garment:
He told them this parable: "No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. If they do, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

NOTE the contrast between the new and the old. To try to somehow attach the new of what Jesus is teaching to the old traditions will not work. It will be destructive. The new garment will tear and it won’t match. He then uses a second example—pouring new wine into old wineskins:
And people do not pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And none of you, after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, 'The old is better.' "

Jesus is referring to the fermentation process of wine. New wine will ferment and burst an old wineskin. Again, He contrasts the old and the new. His point is that you can’t attach the new to the old or you’ll ruin both the new wine and the old wineskin.

Jesus (the new) has come with a radical message of the good news of God. He especially appeals to those who don’t have it together—the broken, oppressed, sick and the poor. His entire appeal was about the internal factors of the Kingdom (the heart). That’s the new. The old was embodied by the list of do’s and don’ts of the Pharisees which had an external focus and much of that was for show.

There is a curious statement made by Jesus that might throw you. He says, “None of you after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, ‘The old is better.’” What is He saying, “The old is better”? I think he’s pointing something out that is in human nature. Change is so difficult. It’s always easier to go with the familiar, the convenient, the comfortable—the old wine—rather than to step out into being led by Jesus through His Spirit. One has the visible security of a list of do’s and don’ts and the other has only the invisible security of walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting on Jesus to lead out. One way is an easy check-list of performance for all to see with all sorts of measurables that can be seen. The other is an invisible lifestyle that can only be measured by God, because it’s a matter of the heart.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the old, but to make it full and meaningful. What are the old boxes and structures of your life that lean toward the comfortable and the convenient? Break down those boxes and burst your bubbles, so that you can enjoy the new that Jesus has come to give you. It’s not a time for fasting, because Jesus is here. It’s time to party!


EMBRACE the life and principles of Jesus as a lifestyle!
MENTOR others into the Jesus lifestyle!
BELIEVE God will raise up leaders and resources!
EMPOWER the youth of the world!
RESTORE the broken, fallen, wounded, abused and addicted!
SERVE everyone in the spirit and love of Jesus!


2618 San Miguel
Box #221
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Wednesday, December 13, 2006



Along the shores of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee was a tax-collector booth. Levi, Matthew, was the one who manned the booth. No doubt Levi had observed many of Jesus’ miracles and heard lots of speeches and conversations with Jesus. And, like the local barbershop in a small town, Levi probably picked up lots of people’s opinions about Jesus.

Now, Jesus comes from the house that was bustling with people coming and going to be healed. After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Can you imagine? Here is Levi, a very non-popular tax collector who was known by most everyone around the Sea, has been personally chosen by the new and most popular rabbi to follow and study under Him. Levi had never excelled in his studies with the rabbis, yet now finds himself “chosen” by this Jesus to be a follower. Levi may have fantasized about being a part of a rabbinical school and maybe even thought about how wonderful it might be to just hang around this Jesus. I can imagine that he and Jesus most likely had exchanged glances on several occasions. Then, shock of shocks, this Jesus walked right up to Levi and invited him to “Follow Me.” It was an invitation that said, “You are welcome and acceptable to be a follower.” Levi was ecstatic and threw a party!

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. He naturally invited his best friends who were not part of the religious community. Levi, who had been an ‘outsider’ has now been invited to be an ‘insider’ with the new rabbi Jesus. And, those who have been the traditional ‘insiders’ are now standing on the ‘outside’ of this unusual appointment.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Two of the primary tenets of the ‘religious’ were keeping the Sabbath and separation from sin and sinners. They viewed themselves a pure and holy—separate from the non-religious who were the sinners and tax collectors. For Jesus to hang with the unclean rather than with the pure was unthinkable and offensive to them.

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Jesus responds to their thinking by revealing His mission—to reach out to the sick, because they need the doctor. Those who deem themselves healthy had no need of a physician. The sinners saw their need for God’s Messiah while the so-called “righteous” were too busy trying to keep themselves separate and pure, mostly to keep their lofty positions among the people.

By calling the non-religious, the sinners, to Himself, Jesus turned the world upside down and is still doing it today. His call is summed up in the two most revolutionary words ever spoken: FOLLOW ME! It’s not follow this denomination or religious system, but FOLLOW ME. He’s looking for those who need Him most and are interested in what He can do for them. Let me ask you, “Do you see your need for Jesus and what He can do for you?” FOLLOW HIM!



One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
Well, which is easier to say? Naturally, the easiest thing to say is “Your sins are forgiven”, since you can’t see it when a person’s sins are forgiven. Jesus then does the more difficult of the two options, so that they might believe that He can forgive sins.

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

There are 3 observations that strike me here:
1. The devotion of the men who carried their friend to Jesus. You can actually carry those who are interested in Jesus, but are damaged in some way.
2. Sometimes you may need to call others to carry you to Jesus. This was an amazing help to the paralytic man.
3. Jesus was moved by the faith of the men who brought the paralytic man to Him. It was their faith that moved Jesus to forgive the paralytic’s sins.

We desperately need more men who are willing to rip out roofs in order to introduce people to Jesus. We need people who will actually believe for others. Let me ask you, would you be willing to carry your friends to Jesus? Are you doing that right now? Also, are you willing for others to carry you to Jesus? We need a greater sense of relationship that goes both ways. We need more roof-rippers and stretcher riders! Jesus will do the rest.

Monday, December 11, 2006



In Luke 5:12 Jesus is uniquely approached by a leper. Leprosy in Biblical times was a terrible thing. We're not exactly sure what Biblical leprosy was. While it may have described what is known today as "Hansen's Disease," the word probably included other skin diseases, as well. Whatever it was, once a person caught it, it was considered incurable, and those diagnosed with leprosy were banned from society. Lepers were considered unclean and must be separated from the rest of society.

To the rabbis, the cure of a leper was as difficult as raising a person from the dead. In all Biblical history only two people had been cured of leprosy—Miriam, who had leprosy for seven days as a punishment for speaking against Moses' leadership (Numbers 12:9-15), and Naaman, general of the army of Aram, a Gentile from Damascus (2 Kings 5). When he obeyed Elijah's instruction to wash seven times in the Jordan River he was healed. Healing a leper had not been done in Israel for seven hundred years, and was thought to be a sign of the Messiah.
But to come to Jesus for healing is a risk in itself. The leper will be beaten if he doesn't strictly observe the rules to keep his distance from "normal" people, at least six feet, and some people will throw dirt and stones at him if he is twice that distance. He decides he must risk it. If Jesus can heal him, he must risk any punishment, however severe. He must!

So now, all of a sudden, he rushes across the street to where Jesus is standing, and falls down with his face to the ground before Him. You can almost hear a gasp from the people around Jesus, and they involuntarily take a step back, hands to their mouths. Let’s go to the text itself:
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.

When you think about it, his statement is remarkable for its faith. Here is a man who states his belief that Jesus can do what only Elijah could do—heal a leper. It isn't a matter of ability, the leper is saying. It is a matter of will. Jesus is ABLE to heal him, the man boldly states. Is He WILLING to do so?

Jesus is standing. The leper is kneeling, face to the surface of the street, inches from Jesus' feet, already violating the law of distance that lepers were to keep. And then Jesus begins to stoop. Jesus is moved by the boldness of this man’s faith. Before the eyes of the onlookers, Jesus begins to stoop down and reach out his hand. He extends His fingers until they rest on the unclean leper's head. A murmur goes through the crowd as Jesus touches the unclean man, and then total silence as Jesus speaks quietly: "I am willing, be clean!"

Luke records, "Immediately the leprosy left him." A moment before, he was covered with leprous sores and lesions, "full of leprosy," and now his skin is clear, unblemished. A dramatic and instant transformation has taken place in him.

A gasp goes through the bystanders. The man is healed! The leper is healed! Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Think about this a minute. Only two lepers had ever been healed and healing a leper was to be something only the Messiah would be able to do. Instead of just wowing the crowds with this amazing feat, Jesus routes the cleansed leper to his priest to perform the appropriate sacrifice for the healing of a leper.

No priest had performed the appropriate sacrifice for such a miracle for a long time until now. I believe Jesus sent the leper to the priest in order to spread the message even further than a simple word of mouth from the crowd might have done. Whoever the lucky priest might be who would get this walk-in request would, no doubt, call the press, radio and CNN in order to let the world know that he was going to actually perform this sacrifice for the first time in centuries.

This, then, was a clear and specific sign that Jesus was God’s Messiah. Healing a leper is an amazing thing. If Jesus can pull this off, then just maybe He is able and willing to heal other things in your life. Are you willing to ask?

Sunday, December 10, 2006



In chapter 5 of Luke we are immediately set into a sharp contrast from chapter 4. Jesus was having some difficulty in Nazareth, but here in Capernaum He is finding a mass acceptance. Let’s look at it: One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

This all seems pretty presumptuous on the part of Jesus to simply get into a boat that didn’t belong to Him. But if you investigate the context of this story in the Gospels, you will soon see that Jesus had already had an encounter with Peter and his friends in the 1st chapter of John.

The first time Jesus met Peter He challenged him to follow Him. It must have been a positive encounter and impression on Peter, but they really didn’t start following Jesus fully at that time. They were still in the fishing business, yet were probably following Jesus from afar. This time Jesus is going to sink the hook a little deeper and He does it by advising these professional fishermen on how to fish. NOTE what happens:

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.

Peter is really saying, “Jesus, we know the fishing business and there aren’t any out there in that area. We’ve been fishing there all night.” Then Peter relents and says, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.

Simon Peter and his partners were very impressed with Jesus’ fishing knowledge. Even though they were experienced professionals at fishing and Jesus wasn’t, Jesus really showed them up. Now listen to what is said next: Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

There are 3 very important principles here:
1. There are various levels of commitment in following Jesus and both are acceptable. Yet, it’s important to note that Jesus seems to have changed the level. This time Jesus wants these fishermen to be released from their vocations and begin fishing for people.
2. No matter your profession, Jesus knows how to work it best, so let Him. Listen to Him and follow His lead. You don’t know better than He does how to run your business.
3. When you see Jesus at work with His miraculous touch, you will drop to your knees in submission. As you see His purity and power, you come to realize how vulnerable and weak you really are. Therefore, you are drawn to Jesus as the only solution to your need.

What strikes me about this episode in the life of Jesus is that here we have a clear as to the heart of Jesus. He isn’t concerned to start an organization or club or to build a membership list. Jesus is most concerned about people and He will continually come back to you, until He gets you headed in that same direction with the same heart He has. If you are in real estate, you are not just selling property. It isn’t the property, but the people that matter most. If you are in the high tech business, you are not just building a competence in high tech. You must be concerned about developing a high touch with the people around you.

The focus for revolutionaries today is reaching and touching people in the name of Jesus. He calls you to be a fisher of men and then gives you the opportunities and the power to fish most effectively. So, if you are hearing Jesus’ revolutionary call, “Follow Me!”, then do whatever you have to do to follow Him. Have you ever heard those words from Jesus, “Follow Me”? Listen carefully, because you are just the kind of person He is looking for.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The EMBERS TRAINING CENTER has a new site! It is located at 1900 Port Carlow Place, Newport Beach, CA 92660. CLICK HERE FOR MAP.

Going on MacArthur toward the beach...
Take a left on Bonita Canyon...
Take the first right (Mesa View Dr.)...
At the stop sign go right on Ford...
Then immediate left on Newport Hills Drive...
Follow Newport Hills Drive (keep right always)...Until you come to Port Carlow Place...
Take a left on Port Carlow Place and go to the end of the street on the left.

Traveling on Bonita Canyon toward MacArthur...
Take a left on Mesa View Dr.)...
At the stop sign go right on Ford...
Then immediate left on Newport Hills Drive...
Follow Newport Hills Drive (keep right always)...Until you come to Port Carlow Place...
Take a left on Port Carlow Place and go to the end of the street on the left.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 14578, Irvine, CA, 92623

For emergency call 949-285-2212.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and the Lord appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.

The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with All his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing signs of discouragement, the Adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind:

"You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough." And that is what he planned to do, until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, using all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But is that really so?

Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back is sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock."

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.... By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves the mountains.

⇒When all hope seems to be lost....PUSH
⇒When you are tired and battle worn....PUSH
⇒When you feel like giving up.....PUSH
⇒When you are disillusioned by a friend...PUSH
⇒When you are accused and are innocent....PUSH
⇒When all looks dark around you....PUSH
⇒When you lose your job....PUSH
⇒When you are weary with the world....PUSH
P.U.S.H - Pray Until Something Happens!!!!!



There are 3 scenes at the end of this chapter that are quite revealing of the power of Jesus:

A demonized man healed
Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, "Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"
"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!" And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Simon’s mother-in-law healed
Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

A variety of people healed
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Remember when Jesus spoke to the synagogue in his hometown? He quoted Isaiah 61 which set forth the mission of the Messiah—healing all kinds of diseases and difficulties, setting people free. Well, in this section of Luke, Jesus is doing just that—being God’s Messiah.

NOTE that when the people tried to keep him in one place, Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Just a few years ago I came to realize that Jesus is the Gospel—Jesus plus nothing else. Now, here Jesus talks about the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” Jesus is the person (the what) of the Gospel. The Gospel is a person, not a program. And, the Kingdom of God is the way we act out this person’s presence in our lives (the how). When you practice kingdom principles, you are practicing the rule of Jesus in your life in that situation, in that moment.

So, the Gospel—the good news—is Jesus and His kingdom. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (that’s Jesus). Just as we have been seeing in the book of Acts. The primary theme is Jesus and the kingdom. Jesus, in person, taught the disciples about the kingdom, Jesus, in person with His great I AM’s taught mostly about the kingdom. Then at the end of Acts Paul hosts all those who are interested in his rented quarters and taught them about Jesus and the kingdom of God.

When you encounter Jesus, you will be changed or will be healed. The healing touch of Jesus’ presence is most powerful and empowering, no matter your background or religious beliefs. So, do everything you can do to stay close with Jesus and His kingdom and you will know His healing touch on your life. This is not just a first century experience; it is for today—for you and those you love.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006



14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me 
to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself!' And you will tell me, 'Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "

24 "Truly I tell you," he continued, "prophets are not accepted in their hometowns. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Why are the people so furious? These are his neighbors from his home-town, so what are they reacting to?

It’s important to note that Jesus was accustomed to going to synagogue. And, at the synagogue he was given the opportunity to read the Scriptures. This is still done at the synagogues today. Years ago I visited a synagogue and was asked to read the appointed passage of the week.

But in this case, Jesus is reading Isaiah 61, which is a passage explaining the work of the Messiah would do when He comes. He will proclaim the good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. This is all Messianic. Now, Jesus comes to Nazareth after having performed many of these same miracles elsewhere. BUT the locals from Nazareth just weren’t that impressed.

So, Jesus acknowledges this and gives them two illustrations when God used two of His prophets to do miracles. However these two prophets didn’t perform the miracles among the Jews, but among the Gentiles. There were many widows in Israel, but Elijah sought out a Gentile widow in Sidon. And, although there were many lepers among Israel, but Elisha sought out a Syrian, Naaman, to heal of leprosy.

What really ticked off the people in the synagogue was that Jesus compared them to the unbelieving Jews of Elijah and Elisha’s time that forced them to go outside the Jewish community to bless and heal those who would really appreciate what God can do.

I’ve received some of the same fury when I speak of true followers of Jesus who are not Christians, but Buddhists, Moslems or Hindu. What this scene in the life of Jesus says to me is that God is out to touch the world, no matter who they are. They just have to be interested. Well, are you interested?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006



Here in chapter 4 of Luke we come to the first step after His dramatic baptism. He is now ready to launch into an impactful work among people.

But note what this first step is. Jesus doesn’t wander off, but is led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This battle of temptation will put to the test the claims of Jesus. If He can survive this, then He must be for real. Listen to the words: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

NOTE what happens when Jesus is vulnerable from being so hungry. The first temptation he uses is as follows:
The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered, It is written: “People do not live on bread alone."
This sounds strangely familiar to what the devil used on Eve in the Garden. Eve saw that the tree was good and had the desire to eat.

The second temptation:
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours."
Jesus answered, It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."
What’s interesting here is that the devil’s offer of all of the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus was legitimate. Since he is the “god of this world”, then he owns the kingdoms temporarily and can give them away.

The third temptation:
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."
Jesus answered, It is said: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Here the devil attempts to lure Jesus into performing a useless miracle, just for the heck of it.

NOTE 4 vital principles for us today:
1. Each of the temptations is not new. They have all been used in the Garden and are still being used on us today.
2. Each temptation is an offer for immediate gratification rather than taking the long way—instant lunch, instant king of kings and an instant use of power for a frivolous activity.
3. Each temptation is an attempt to secure dependence on the devil, his ways and timing rather than being dependent upon God.
4. Temptation will occur when you have just experienced a high and have become vulnerable in some way—hunger, anger, loneliness or tired.

Note what it says at the end of this scenario: When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Just when you think that you are safe, the devil will show up. He won’t show up to mess up your life as much as he will do anything he can do to distract you away from your simple dependence and reliance upon God and God alone.

Monday, December 04, 2006



Chapter 3 of Luke begins with “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.” John went throughout the country around Jordan and preached his message—the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, right out of Isaiah.

Remember, John is to be the great introducer of God’s Messiah, Jesus. The people were quite impressed with John: The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Interesting comparison John makes. John baptizes people with water, but the Messiah will baptize people with the Spirit and fire. John’s is an external sign, but the Messiah will bring spiritual transformation of the heart. The text goes on with: And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

Now we come to a brief mention of Jesus’ baptism and the genealogy of Jesus: When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

The important focus of the genealogy is to prove that Jesus was in the godly line of the seed of David. Seventeen verses in the New Testament describe Jesus as the "son of David." What does this mean? How could Jesus be the son of David if David lived approximately 1000 years before Jesus? The answer is that Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:14-16). Jesus was the promised Messiah, which was of the seed of David. Matthew 1 gives the genealogical proof that Jesus was a direct descendant of Abraham and David through Joseph, Jesus' legal father. The genealogy in Luke chapter 3 seems to give Jesus' lineage through His mother, Mary. Jesus is a descendant of David, by adoption through Joseph, and by blood through Mary. So, when Christ was referred to as the Son of David, it was meant to refer to His Messianic title as the Old Testament prophesied concerning Him.

Who is Joseph's father? In Matthew 1:16 it says, "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Yeshua, who is called Messiah." However, Luke 3:23 says, "...Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli..." Following through the genealogies, note that there are some names which are common to both, but also, a great number of differences. Matthew begins at Abraham, and works his way to Yeshua the Messiah. Luke begins at Yeshua, and works his way back to Adam. There are two genealogies, with two distinct purposes. Matthew, it appears reveals the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke, presents the genealogy of Mary.
I see the genealogies of Matthew and Luke like listing out the two family trees of Jesus. The two trees don't match up. Some of the people correspond to each other, but many of them don't. However, both of them give proof to the fact that Jesus, God’s Messiah, was of the godly lineage of David.

The Messiah was to come through the lineage of David. This is why these boring genealogies are so important. What blows my mind is that the last time any person could be confirmed as the Messiah was before 70 A.D. That was the year that the Romans destroyed the Temple and all of the genealogical records.

This is a good lesson for us. Jesus came on time the first time and He will be on time when He returns. You can also count on Him to be on time in your life. He will act on your behalf in His way and in His time. You can count on it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006



In the second chapter of Luke beginning in verse 22 Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to be consecrated to the Lord, because He was the first male.

There are 3 roles played out here that are interesting to me. First—the role of Simeon, the priest. Simeon was a righteous and devout man who was looking for the coming of the Messiah. He believed that he wouldn’t die until after he had seen God’s Messiah. Simeon must have been quite a student of the prophets who foretold even the timing of the Messiah’s appearance.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
Second—the role of Jesus’ parents. Note what it says in verse 33. The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Third—the role of a prophetess. There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then had been a widow for eighty-four years. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

ONE MORE THING HERE: Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Festival, according to the custom. After the Festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And as Jesus grew up, he increased in wisdom and in favor with God and people.

1. Jesus was exceptional, because Simeon and Anna recognized Him.
2. Jesus was exceptional, because His parents see that everything was true to what had been told them by the angels.
3. Jesus was exceptional, because He was able to converse with the rabbi’s at the age of 12 years old.

But here’s the bottom-line. Jesus was not exceptional due to some theological treatise affirming Him to be this way or that. He was exceptional, because it is obvious He is supernatural. But He is not only supernatural; at the same time Jesus is very real and basic—growing up and increasing in wisdom and favor with God and all the people. Jesus was supernatural alright, but He was supernatural—naturally. In order for us to relate to Him, Jesus was down-to-earth and natural. This is what I like best about our study in the writings of Luke. Luke presents the humanity of Jesus as the Son of Man. If we’re going to follow Jesus, then it is important to embrace His humanity. I can’t be God as He is God, but I can follow in His footsteps as I understand the Son of Man.

Now, as we walk through Luke, check out the Son of Man and emulate Him with all your heart.

Thursday, November 30, 2006



Beginning with the 26th verse in Luke chapter 1 the story moves from Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Mary’s. When Elizabeth was 6 months along in her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she would be the chosen one of all women to give birth to the Messiah. According to Gabriel the Messiah would be called the “Son of the Most High” and should be given the name of JESUS.

Naturally, Mary was eager to tell her family, so she visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John. Both Elizabeth and Mary were overwhelmed with what God had done in both of them.

Elizabeth gave birth to her baby and when it was time to name him, the neighbors and relatives were shocked. You see, it was customary to name the baby after his father. But Elizabeth protested against doing that and said, “No! He is to be called John.” When the people questioned this to Zechariah, he wrote out the name “John” on a tablet. Immediately when he wrote this, his mouth was opened so that he could speak.

He began to prophesy over his new born son and said, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

In chapter 2 Luke explains the birth of Jesus. They were in Bethlehem for legal registration for the census and Mary gave birth. Since there was no guest room available at the local inns, she gave birth in a cattle stall—a cave.

From that obscure location, the ripple effect began in the fields of Bethlehem among the shepherds. An angel appeared to them saying: ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Luke is caught up in the motif of Jesus being the Savior of the world. He presents Jesus as the Savior in many ways:
• Gabriel tells Mary to name him “Jesus” which means “YHWH saves” (1:31).
• Mary exults in “God my Savior” (1:47).
• The angels tell the shepherds “there has been born for you a Savior, He is the Messiah, the Lord” (2:11).
• Simeon holds Jesus and prays, “My eyes have seen your salvation” (2:30).
• Jesus describes his mission as coming to “seek and save that which is lost” (19:10).

Luke makes it clear that the real Jesus has not come as a spiritual guru to guide you into the self-realization of your identity or even divinity. He hasn’t come to be your moral example, so you can try a little harder to be good. He has come to rescue you from your spiritual lostness. He came to be your Savior. He came to save you from your self and selfishness, from your self-centeredness and alienation from others and from your rebelliousness against your Creator-God.
His name is JESUS. Listen to Him. Believe Him. Follow Him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006



In Luke 1:5-25 is recorded the miraculous birth of John. His dad was a priest (Zechariah) and his mom (Elizabeth) was unable to conceive. Both were righteous before the Lord. Then, they were chosen to have a baby with a special mission of introducing the Messiah. An angel appeared to Zechariah while performing a sacrifice:
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

John came in the spirit of Elijah. What does this mean? Well, John came wearing a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. So did Elijah. He was a hairy man with a leather girdle.

Maybe John the Baptist is a continuation of the stance of Moses. John confronted a king, stays in the area of Jordan and the wilderness. But listen to this. Elijah also confronted an evil king, spent a lot of time outside of Israel proper, called down plagues on the land as did Moses, called down fire and was supernaturally fed by angels in the wilderness. So, Moses and Elijah played similar roles representing God. Both their lives were ended near Jericho across the Jordan. Moses was buried there and Elijah was taken up into heaven in a firey chariot. Note that John the Baptist spent his time at the same location baptizing people in the Jordan River.
One more connection between Moses, Elijah and John occurs with their successors. Elijah was followed by Elisha and was granted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. At this point Elisha walked through the Jordan on dry ground. Centuries earlier Joshua walked through the Jordan on dry ground, leading the Israelites into the promised land to conquer Jericho (Josh 3:14-17; 6). Just as Elisha was Elijah's successor, Joshua was Moses' successor. Here in Luke’s portrait we see Jesus as the highest successor of all, preceded by John.

This background gives a great meaning to John’s baptism. Just as Joshua and the Israelites originally entered the promised land by baptism in the Jordan, now John is baptizing people in the same place. It wasn’t a convenient place to go for the people, but they went. It was like people who came to be baptized by John in the Jordan were re-entering Israel. This time, they were entering the land, acknowledging their prior failure to keep the covenant and now looking for a second chance.

I like to think that we all come in the spirit of Elijah and John with the privilege of introducing Jesus to the world around us. We don’t have to preach or prophesy nor do we have to be articulate witnesses. The thought of that is most intimidating to most of us. You can operate in the spirit of Elijah and John by simply introducing Jesus to those who are interested. Your best approach? Check out what Jesus did and said and go do it! Just by your loving touch on the people around you, Jesus will show up. Don’t forget the most powerful question of all, “What can I do to help?”