Sunday, September 30, 2012



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.



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?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



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.



There are 3 scenes in the life of Jesus that are quite revealing: 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.



Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:  
"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, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
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. He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
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. 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.' "
"Truly I tell you," he continued, "prophets are not accepted in their hometowns. 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. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 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."
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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. 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?

Monday, September 24, 2012



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.

Sunday, September 23, 2012



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.

Monday, September 17, 2012



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: 1-Gabriel tells Mary to name him "Jesus" which means "YHWH saves" (1:31). 2-Mary exults in "God my Savior" (1:47). 3-The angels tell the shepherds "there has been born for you a Savior, He is the Messiah, the Lord" (2:11). 4-Simeon holds Jesus and prays, "My eyes have seen your salvation" (2:30). 5-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.



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?"


Over the next few weeks I want to walk through the Gospel of Luke. Remember, Luke is the Gospel that presents Jesus as the Son of Man. For those of you who are really doing your best to follow the person of Jesus in a new and fresh way will enjoy this picture of Son of Man.

The key verse seems to be in chapter 19 and verse 10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. As an educated physician and inspired historian Luke carries the message that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Luke was probably a Greek and therefore was the only non-Jewish New Testament writer. Luke is the only gospel with a sequel--the book of Acts. The book of Luke is the longest gospel account and is more that 25% of the entire New Testament.

I think one of the most interesting things about this gospel is that there are 18 parables that are unique and not in the other gospels. We'll discover some amazing principles together within these parables.

Let's look at the first four verses of Luke's gospel: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

We don't know who this Theophilus is--probably a Roman official. By the way, his name means lover of God. Luke serves the fellowship of Jesus well with his detailed account of the facts of what Jesus said and did. Although we know and love Jesus personally and each a different experience with Him, it is great to have these facts to nail down our faith.

I am reminded of the statement: "The heart can only enjoy what the mind can accept." The key to knowing Jesus is to realize that everything about Jesus happened in real, space-time history. He really lived, really loved, really suffered and died, really resurrected from the dead and will some day really return. In the meantime, we live in the spirit of Acts 29--a continuation of Jesus really working among us today.

Let's make it our prayer to experience Jesus through the writings of Luke--REALLY.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012



I've been thinking lately about how easy it is to become side-tracked with the vastness of the Scriptures and miss the point of it all. That point which the Scriptures present is simply Jesus. Luke, the author of two of the five Gospels, notes how central Jesus is to the Scriptures.
Luke references Jesus, Himself, using the Scriptures to explain His central role. After the resurrection, Jesus joins a couple of disciples walking along the road and He begins with Moses and all the Prophets to explain what the Scriptures have to say about Him.

When Paul was in the synagogue in Thessalonica, note what he said. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah," he said.

In the next chapter of Acts (18) we find Apollos was in the practice of proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah. Also when Philip met up with the Ethiopian eunuch, he began with the prophet Isaiah and explained to him the good news about Jesus.

The primary role of the Gospels was to take a teaching strand out of the ancient teachings of the prophets about the Messiah and pull that thread through to a fuller explanation. For instance, Matthew picked up on the teaching that the Messiah will take on the role of the King. Mark pulled through the thread that the Messiah would be the Servant. Luke picked up the teaching as the Son of Man and John presented Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God.

The Scriptures were not written to build a great religious or a theological system. The Scriptures were written to teach us and lead us to Jesus. And, this is the most frequent mistake made. Too many actually worship the Bible. This is what the Jewish leadership was doing in the 1st century and Jesus called them on it. Listen to this: You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Salvation and eternal life is not a religious thing nor even a theological understanding; it's a personal thing. The person? His name is Jesus.

Monday, September 10, 2012



I love this very special passage on the Hall of Faith. It is rich with history and it is a wealth of practical application for us today. However, I think many times we put this Hall of Faith way in the past and don't get it that we can live this kind of life right now.
Remember Hebrews 11:13-16? All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

NOTE what it says: "having seen the promises and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth". This can be the same for us today! If you really "get it", then you can see Jesus in everything you do and welcome Him into every meeting you have today. In fact, living in His Kingdom is confessing or agreeing that we don't belong to this earthly Kingdom, but the Kingdom of God. As we practice living in the Kingdom of God, we are practicing the principles of Jesus, the King, in all we do.

Living out these Kingdom principles and a life of faith today demands focus-focus on Jesus. This kind of focus can put your heart at peace. Jesus speaks to this focus in the 15th chapter of John, when He says: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

Jesus goes on to say in this same setting that the focus is all about loving one another within the dynamic of being friends: "I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

NOTE friends enjoy an interchange of really knowing one another. Friends do three things that cultivate their friendships. First-friends want to talk to one another. Second-friends want to listen to one another. Third-friends want to please one another. There are three vital dimensions of cultivating a friendship with Jesus-talk to Him, listen to Him and do your best to please Him.

Here's the best thing about Jesus. Jesus is the most faithful, positive, empowering friend you'll ever know. There are just no down days; Jesus is always present and always interested in you. He will not let you down. He is always available. If you feel far from Jesus, guess who moved. It wasn't Jesus.

This frequently brings me back to Jesus' revolutionary call: "Follow Me!" He continually invites you and me into a non-judgmental, loving relationship. You don't know anyone like that. Jesus never calls anyone to be more religious, but to come to Him personally, especially when you are exhausted by all of the religiosity and systems of do's and don'ts.

In this very context, Jesus says: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

You can operate within the hall of faith today right here, right now! It's not a matter of how much faith, but the object of your faith that counts. It's not a doctrinal system, an organization, a way of life; it's a person. His name is Jesus. And you know what? It's not just believing in a person; it's enjoying a special friendship with Jesus, as if Jesus is right here, right now. And, He is!



We have been making our way through the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. And in verses 32-40 the writer begins to make some general swipes over the history of faith. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. (Hebrews 11:32-40) Wow! Who wouldn't want to have these experiences of faith? This list is amazing!
God specializes in using ordinary people and producing extraordinary results through them! Gideon (Judges 6:13-14) believed the promises, but was pretty shaken up as to how God does His work! Barak (Judges 4:5-6) believed, but wouldn't go into battle alone! Samson (Judges 13:24;16:28-31) believed but his strength became his weakness! Jephthah (Judges 11:9) was a son of a harlot, but was a valiant warrior! David (I Samuel 16-17) was a young lad whom God mightily used to stop the giants! All of these are illustrations of ordinary faith!

Now, let's go on in this list. The writer shifts gears at this point and continues with people who have the same kind of faith, but in each of the experiences now listed the results are all negative, filled with pain and heartache. This sort of result is rarely referenced. Listen to this: and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Then, in summary of these faithful people with the same faith as those he listed earlier, he says: And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. So these people who walked by faith didn't receive the ultimate answers to their prayers that were to be culminated in the coming of the Messiah. But now that the Messiah has come, we who place our faith in Him are actually completing their faith. We are partners in this walk of faith.

This is spelled out more completely earlier in this same chapter in verses 13-16. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

In the next chapter we find out how ordinary faith is exercised. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This faith-walk with God is all about being in a race-the race of life. You are already entered in this race. There is no way to back out. It's a win or lose kind of race. To be a winner you must exercise your faith and trust in God.

There are four observations here I want to make: FIRST-There are already a lot of winners who stand as witnesses, all testifying that it is winnable and the victory is worth all the effort spent in the race.

SECOND-To win you must follow certain racing procedures. You must put off all encumbrances that might weigh you down in this race. Marathoners don't run in combat boots or heavy clothing. Also, you must put aside that sin-that weakness-that so easily entangles you.

THIRD-Fix your eyes on the best example ever in this race of life-Jesus. All that Jesus did and said can become your model for racing well in this life.

FOURTH-Count on God to turn the results of your faith-whether positive or negative-into something meaningful and extraordinary.

Your ordinary faith will allow God to produce extraordinary results with eternal value to your life. It's ordinary people living by faith, leaving the results completely in the hands of the God of gods that will make life extraordinary. You know what this faith-walk really comes down to? God doesn't want to change your circumstances until he changes you! So, God's work is all about you after all!

Saturday, September 08, 2012



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer you several real-life examples of a faith-lift. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews this is illustrated by many key characters-Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua. Now we come to a most surprising person who is listed as a Hall of Fame person of faith. This one is very different. This one is a woman, but not any woman. This person of faith in God is a prostitute by the name of Rahab. It says: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Rahab was very instrumental in the destruction of Jericho and the siege of the land of Canaan. When Joshua sent spies into the land, it says: So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.

Here's how the story unfolds: It was told the king of Jericho, saying, 
"Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land." And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land." But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. "It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them."

To sum up, Rahab hid the spies and lied to the king's men about it. So, she hid them on her rooftop until the king's men left the city and the city gate was shut. But before they went to sleep, she asked for a commitment that she and her family would not be harmed in the battle for Jericho. They agreed and told her to make certain to place a scarlet thread in the window.

Rahab confessed her faith in the Lord and said: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."

The next morning she let them down out of the city through that window. After letting them down out of her window, Rahab tied the scarlet cord in her window and no one in her home was destroyed when the children of Israel took the city of Jericho.

James used Rahab to illustrate his major point of the balance of faith and works. He says: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Her faith in the Lord was clear and her works that demonstrated her faith was when she risked her own life in order to hide the spies from the king's men.

Rahab was a harlot. She used to manage a place called Rahab's Rest Stop! HOWEVER. And this is the great HOWEVER of God. God used her for His great purpose. No matter what you have done in the past or are now doing in the present, God will accept your faith. Her works proved her faith conclusively.

Do you ever feel that your past or present lifestyle holds you back from being used by God? Rahab had a very colorful past, but when she was given an opportunity from God, she seized it. Note that she seized it by her faith in the God of Israel and the proof of her faith was clear through her works.

The pendulum swing is between faith on one side and works on the other. Many are into faith alone. Others are into works alone. But there must be a union of both faith and works. It's like a rowboat with two oars-one is faith and the other is works. If you insist on using only one of these oars, you'll just go in circles-you'll go nowhere.

So how does Rahab's story help you to demonstrate the balance of the two? FIRST-No matter your past or your present situation, God will honor your genuine faith.

SECOND-God will honor your genuine faith when He can see your faithful works.

THIRD-God will honor your genuine faith and faithful works by using them for His purposes.

FOURTH-God will reward your genuine faith and faithful works with personal protection for you and your family in the worst of times.
Rahab demonstrated the works of faith-the fact that faith and works are never alone. Martin Luther put it this way: "Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone." In other words, the work of faith is the only faith that works! All other expressions of faith without works are simply empty.



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! With Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith", because when God called him out of his comfort zone, he obeyed. Then in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we discovered the "wealth of faith" through being blessed and blessing others.
We examined the incredible life of Joseph who had all kinds of things go against him. Joseph illustrates the "won't of faith", because he refused to compromise his walk with God no matter the circumstances. Yesterday we dealt with the life of Moses. Moses illustrates the "will of faith". Moses discovered that the will of faith in the midst of frustration is the way to maturity.

Today we come to the life of Joshua. Although the writer of the book of Hebrews doesn't mention Joshua's name here, he does identify one of the great events in the life of Joshua-the conquest of the city of Jericho. It says: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30)

Joshua took over the leadership of the Jewish people after Moses and found himself against all odds. He was to lead God's people into the land of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were deeply into prostitution (both male and female) and child sacrifice. They were into all sorts of corruption. They were known as a brutal people. Battle after battle Joshua continually was against all odds. "And Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel" (10:42).

As the children of Israel came to the land of Canaan, twelve spies were sent on a mission into the land of Canaan. Upon their return only two of the spies had the faith to believe that the children of Israel could take the land, empowered by God. The other ten came back with a very negative report, not believing God had given the land into their hands. Because of their unbelief, the children of Israel had to wander in the wilderness until that generation of unbelief had died out.

When it came time to finally enter the land of Canaan, Joshua was the man placed to lead his people to first conquer the city of Jericho. Joshua was an experienced military leader, but nothing in all his military training could have prepared him for God's plan to take Jericho. It would require a lot of faith to complete his mission.

Jericho is considered the oldest known inhabited city in the world. Around 1400 B.C. Joshua laid siege to the fortress city. The armies of Israel surrounded it so that no one could enter or leave it. This was the plan: For six days the army was to march around the city once each day while the priests blew their ram's horns. The priests with trumpets went first, then the priests that carried the Ark of the Covenant, then the army. The only sound would be the sound of the horns; no one could speak a word. Then on the seventh day, they would encircle the city seven times in the same manner, and then when Joshua gave the signal, they would shout with a great shout. It was at that moment the walls would fall flat, so they could capture the city.

What a battle plan! I keep thinking how tough it must have been to pass along to his highly trained generals and officers just what the plan was to be. "Are you kidding me? What kind of plan is that?" Talk about a battle that was against all odds! Well the truth is that it is a battle plan that could only be accomplished by trusting in the power of their God. Joshua was successful because he followed God's battle plan to the very last detail. By building a wall of faith with his people, he was able to bring down the walls of Jericho.

To sum up Joshua's life listen to one of his most memorable challenges to the people: "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15)

Frequently, you may find yourself against all odds. So what must you do? #1-RESPOND TO THE LORD. Fear (reverence, respect, bow in awe, etc.) the Lord. JUST DO IT!

#2-RISK SERVING HIM. Joshua was there at the Red Sea crossing. He saw that the waters didn't part until someone stepped into the water. God isn't going to do a thing until you put your foot in it. You have a mini Red Sea crossing of your own.

#3-REPENT. Clean up your act. God will not work as well without a clean heart-a heart that is bent toward Him. So change your mind about where you are and turn toward God.

#4-REMOVE THE GODS OF YOUR FATHERS. Put away all other gods-your personal, relational, material and religious gods.

When Joshua was against all odds at Jericho, he only had to do a few simple little things. They walked around the city a prescribed number of times, blew their horns, and shouted. His part was simple and God's part was the most complex. You do the little things and God will do the large things-you, the possible and God, the impossible. You do your part by faith that God will do His part.

When you are up against a wall of frustration or fear, turn it into a wall of faith! When you do, God will shatter the walls of frustration and fear and strengthen your walls of faith! Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods of your society, the gods of your religiosity or the gods of your making; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. How about you?



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! With Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith", because when God called him out of his comfort zone, he obeyed. Then in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we discovered the "wealth of faith" through being blessed and blessing others. Yesterday we examined the incredible life of Joseph who had all kinds of things go against him. Joseph illustrates the "won't of faith", because he refused to compromise his walk with God no matter the circumstances.
Today we come to the amazing life of Moses: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

The story of Moses is a phenomenal illustration of the process of maturity. By faith he was hidden as a baby. By faith he refused the lifestyle of Egypt to live with the Jews. By faith he led God's people out of Egypt. By faith he kept the Passover. By faith he crossed the Red Sea. Moses did these things by faith in His God.

The way to maturity is breaking through the impasses of life-the frustrations and blockages. A baby must breathe or die. He must eat, crawl, and walk. But each of these is a break-through. As a child learns to overcome frustration, he grows up. When a child is not given enough frustration or is baled out of it, he is spoiled-emotionally crippled.

Moses was prepared for a great and most memorable mission for God. Even to this day it is celebrated as the Passover. Moses was miraculously spared and placed in the palace of the Pharaoh for 40 years, where he was highly educated in the things of royalty. Then, after killing an Egyptian who was hassling one of his Jewish brothers, Moses fled to the desert, where he learned the principles of herding and caring for sheep and the ways of survival in the wilderness. Then at 80 years of age he was ready-prepared by God-to fulfill his mission to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.

Moses illustrates the "will of faith". Moses discovered that the will of faith in the midst of frustration is the way to maturity. The will to do what is necessary in order to do the things you've been called to do, can be found in the life of Moses. There are four observations here that lead to practical application of the will of faith.

#1-FOCUS ON YOUR BURNING BUSH. Moses' burning bush experience is when God spoke to him to give him direction. God is continually speaking to you through His "burning bush" today-His living and written word. Jesus is the living word and He is also the living expression of the written word. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the spoken word of God"-the life and teachings of Jesus. The written word speaks of Jesus and Jesus speaks to you, when you seek Him with all your heart and listen for His direction. Focus on it by listening and learning and living it! The action step is to REPROGRAM YOUR MIND around Jesus!

#2-FACE YOUR BLOCKAGES. When God spoke to Moses and called him through the burning bush, he responded with several excuses-"I can't speak very well!" or "The people of Israel will not follow!" or "What will make the Pharaoh acknowledge what I have to say?" So when God speaks to you and calls you to a certain calling, what's your excuse? What are your blockages? The action step here is to REMOVE THEM the best you can!

#3-FIND YOUR BOOSTERS. Moses' best booster was Aaron. Without his support Moses couldn't have accomplished all that he did or matured to one of the most significant leaders ever. You need your friends and family as your own personal boosters-your support team. They become your inner security system. The action step here is to REACH OUT TO YOUR BOOSTERS!

#4-FOLLOW THE BASICS. Moses followed the Lord simply and basically, step by step, one day at a time. He stayed with the basics. On your way to maturity you must follow the basics. The action step here is to REMIND YOURSELF TO KEEP DOING THE BASICS!

Follow the life of Moses and you will find the will of faith. The will of faith is the willingness to be content with God's preparation in your life no matter how long it takes and then a willingness to do what He calls you to do no matter how impossible it seems. God wants to do great things in this world and He has chosen to do great things through those who have the will of faith to participate.

Are you willing to do great things with God as your partner? God has great things for us. Unfortunately, much of the time we're like the caterpillar that watches a butterfly fly by and says to himself, "You'll never get me up in one of those things", when God had exactly that in mind all along! The will of faith. Think it over!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! With Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith", because when God called him out of his comfort zone, he obeyed. Then in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we discovered the "wealth of faith" through being blessed and blessing others.
Today, we come to a short verse that sums up a long and faithful life in the character of Joseph. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. Although Joseph's life is not rehearsed here, he lived a life of faith that was nearly without equal.

Joseph was a most incredible man. His life is impeccable! He just didn't seem to blow it at all, but was a faithful follower. This exemplary life was primarily due to his strength in saying "I WON'T!" So, I call his life the "won't of faith".

The first dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was when his jealous brothers left him for dead. When his brothers turned against him and threw him in the pit to die, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE UP!" Although very few would criticize him for wanting revenge, Joseph refused this natural urge.

The second dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was after he was able to secure a most powerful job in a wealthy man's estate. He was the COO of Potaphar's house. Note what is said about him: Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

When his boss's wife tempted him with her body, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE IN!" Very few men would have been able to turn down her repeated and intense advances, but Joseph resisted this natural urge. Although he successfully resisted her advances, she accused him of molesting her. This sets up the third dramatic scene in the life of Joseph.

Potaphar believed his wife's claims and had Joseph put in prison. When he was persecuted for doing right in refusing the temptress, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE OUT!" Who could blame him for giving out at this point? He was the focal point of gross injustice.

God was with Joseph in the prison in a special way: But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph's charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper. Again, Joseph was promoted to the top position in the prison.

The fourth dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was that he was able to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker while they were inmates with him in prison. And for doing this Joseph said: "Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.

Well, the dreams came true, but the chief cupbearer forgot to say a word to the Pharaoh when he was released from prison. He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh's hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Later, when the Pharaoh was being troubled by dreams, the cupbearer referred the Pharaoh to Joseph. Joseph interpreted his dreams and the Pharaoh decided to reward Joseph in a big way: So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. "You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you." Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt.

In all of these amazing scenes Joseph's example is the "won't of faith"! When your family and friends turn against you, when temptation strikes to trip you up and pull you away, when you find yourself persecuted for doing right, there is a "won't of faith"-a refusal to compromise your walk and relationship with the Lord.

Well, it turns out that God just kept rewarding and elevating Joseph to higher positions and responsibilities, because God had a bigger mission for him to do. Joseph was positioned in Egypt by God to preserve his family and the godly line in the nation of Israel during a most devastating famine.

When his brothers, who had left him for dead in a pit, came to Egypt for grain, they had to face their brother, Joseph, in order to save their lives. When they found out that their brother was alive, they were so ashamed. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

When you're in the midst of a great refusal for God's sake, He is setting you up for a strategic mission and you will enjoy His blessings! When you are in the place God has established for you, you are now ready to serve Him best. When you find yourself in a predicament that has brought you so low that you can only look up, remember God is up to something really good just for you.



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! Then with Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith".
Today we come to the next characters of faith in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews-Isaac, Jacob and Esau. There is a profound experience throughout the generations that we need to embrace today. It's the experience of passing on the blessing from one generation to the next.

Abraham obviously blessed his miracle son of promise-Isaac. And now it is time for Isaac and his son, Jacob, to pass on that same blessing: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

As the blessing is passed on from generation to generation, it came to be the greatest wealth that could be inherited. This blessing was passed on by faith and received by faith with the understanding that one was to carry on the name of the family. Note what was said when Jacob blessed Joseph: He blessed Joseph, and said,
 "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." (Genesis 48:15-16)

Passing along a blessing is not just an ancient tradition, but is also for us today. I've come to realize that being blessed and blessing others may be the greatest wealth you can give or receive. This is what I call the "wealth of faith".

Note there are two dimensions to this blessing concept. First-Being blessed. A blessing is when you feel special. It's when you feel honored by others, when people are grateful for you, when someone is praying for God's favor to fall upon you and when you are empowered by others who really care who you are and who you are becoming. It's knowing and feeling that you are loved for being you.

The act of blessing involves meaningful touch! A very common vehicle for giving a blessing is the "laying on of hands." Another dimension of giving a blessing is words. A blessing is communicated with our words whether by mouth or in writing. The communication of a blessing has a message declaring high value of the person being blessed. The expression of appreciation or affirmation of another is a way of giving a blessing. Also, included in giving a blessing is a sense of destiny and purpose for your life. When you point out another's uniqueness or move them toward a special future, you are giving a blessing.

The ultimate blessing you could ever receive is the stamp of approval that you are special and you are OK. Only your Creator can give you a stamp of approval, because he made you. However, there are others God has empowered to uniquely place this stamp of approval on people-parents. God has charged parents to the task of stamping each child: APPROVED and SPECIAL!

Although the most natural place for you to receive the blessing is from your parents, unfortunately very little blessing is passed on from generation to generation. All families have a certain degree of dysfunction about them and therefore are unable to give the blessing their children need.

If you didn't receive the blessing you needed from your parents, you are not at a total loss. You can find a blessing in a personal relationship with Jesus. God's blessing of approval and acceptance can be found in the unconditional and sacrificial love of Jesus for you. You can also get your blessing through your relationship with the community of Jesus-through the dynamic relationship of gathering together in the name of Jesus. Remember, it's when two or three gather together in the name of Jesus that Jesus will show up there in their midst. I've experienced so much healing by the touch of Jesus through walking with others. That is truly the wealthy experience of being blessed.
Once you experience being blessed, then the second dimension of blessing can become a reality-Being a blessing. Now, if you can receive a blessing through others from God, then you can also be a channel to release God's blessing to others! Blessing others is not so much you giving your riches to others, but being able to reveal their riches to them-showing them acceptance and unconditional love. It's being a friend who speaks well of them and asks God's favor to fall upon them.

You see, the real wealth of faith is the blessing of God that flows two ways-being blessed and being a blessing. There are two ways you can make this a reality in your life. First-receive the love and acceptance of Jesus for you right now by faith. Count on it! Second-release the love and acceptance of Jesus into the lives of others. The wealth of blessing occurs in exactly this way and in this order. God is blessing you in order for you to bless others. We are told: The God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. So, seek after your blessing from the Lord Jesus and then seek to be a blessing to all He brings your way. Now, that is true wealth!