Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Immediately after Peter affirms Him as God's Messiah, Jesus reveals to them that He will suffer, be killed and resurrected-all at the hands of the religious leadership in Jerusalem.  
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

It's pretty obvious this revelation either went over their heads or they thought Jesus was speaking in hyperbole. In some ways it's understandable, because they are on a 'high' with all sorts of thoughts regarding the Messiahship of Jesus and what that could mean for them. No doubt, they had a nationalistic twist in their thinking and believed their newly discovered Messiah meant the Romans would be run out of power and they would be in.
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self? If any of you are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Jesus quickly moves to bolster their personal commitment to being His disciples. Knowing that there are going to be some rough days ahead in the next couple of weeks, Jesus challenges each disciple as an individual. The challenge is to deny oneself and take up your cross and follow Him. I like to interpret this as being a call to perseverance, that 'no matter what comes I will continue to follow Jesus'.

He further explains this by putting it in terms of saving and losing. "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it." Now this is a kingdom contrast at its best. The kingdom of this world says to get all you can, promote yourself, lift yourself up and accumulate as much as you can in order to build up your position over everyone else. Jesus' kingdom has to do with losing your life in order to save it. Then Jesus says, "What good is it for you to gain the whole world while losing or forfeiting your very self?" He is saying that if you live your life in this way with a disregard for others and for God, then you are in fact in a losing position.

You may accumulate the entire world, but lose your soul in the process. It's a matter of misreading what's important in life. I see it all the time. Men and women who are willing to sell their souls and marriage and family in order to "get it all", then live empty lives of quiet desperation and loneliness.

Then Jesus brings their attention back to the kingdom of God. He says that some of the disciples would see with their eyes the kingdom of God before they die. So, therefore hang on to the kingdom principles of giving yourself away so you can get yourself back in return. We'll see in the next paragraph what Jesus was talking about here.

You see, Jesus came to introduce the kingdom of God to the world. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you and is here right now." It is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. Our struggle is that we are constantly living between two kingdoms-the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.

Your kingdom is what you have say over. So, the kingdom of God is what God has say over. Another way to look at it is that the kingdom is where the king is-where He rules! The kingdom is where what God wants done gets done. It's interesting to note the emphasis Jesus places on the kingdom-significantly more than the church. Jesus speaks of the kingdom in the Gospels around 32 times and mentions the church only twice and one of those references was referring to the universal church or kingdom.

NOTE the gospel of the kingdom is mentioned several times, but there is no gospel of the church. The kingdom is invisible and the church is visible. You go to church while the kingdom goes with you. You aren't told to seek the church, but you are to seek first the kingdom. The church may or may not grow, but the kingdom is continually growing. And the church may have God present, but the kingdom is God's presence in us.

So, let me ask you. Why is there such a massive emphasis among Christians on the church and the kingdom seems to be ignored or minimized? We seem to be at it again-majoring in what Jesus minors in and minoring in what Jesus sees as most important.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



In Luke chapter 9:18-20 we come to a brief account of the interchange between Jesus and His disciples regarding the identity of Jesus. Up to this time Jesus was busy healing those who came to Him and teaching kingdom principles. This conversation came very close to the end of His mentoring time with these men. He had been with them for over 3 years and now the final exam was closing in.
We know from Matthew's and Mark's gospels that the setting for this interchange occurred at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus took His disciples away for a little retreat before going up to Jerusalem to face a most difficult time. This retreat was a time of preparation for Himself as well as for the disciples. Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer and also disclosing bit by bit what they were all about to face. Let's listen in:
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah."

NOTE the variety of answers to the question, "Who do the crowds say I am?" These answers are still present today. FIRST-John the Baptist. John was a very powerful teacher, so people viewed Jesus as a great teacher in the spirit of John.

SECOND-Elijah. Elijah was a most impressive prophet in the history of the Jewish people. So, they viewed Jesus in the same way-a prophet who has a word for today from God.

THIRD-one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life. Jesus must be a reincarnation of an ancient prophet who has come back to life.

NOTE Jesus is seen as a great teacher, a prophet or maybe a reincarnated one. This speaks to our many cultures today. Some see Jesus as a teacher, a prophet or a product of reincarnation.

Also NOTE that Jesus doesn't put these references down. I've come to realize that knowing Jesus is a progression-the more you hang out with Him, the more amazing and divine He becomes. This is a necessary progression that people must go through in order to embrace Jesus fully. I'm sure even within the band of the disciples they had come to know Jesus in the same way. Some connected Him with John the Baptist, others as a great prophet and still others wondering if Jesus was somehow reincarnated from an earlier time in history.

Then Jesus asks, "Who do you say I am?" Peter steps to the line and gives the answer Jesus was looking for-the revelation that Jesus had been sent by God as God's deliverer, God's Messiah. Jesus had performed the messianic acts and wonders that the prophets described the Messiah doing. Jesus had made the claims that the prophets said He would say. Now, it was time for His disciples to really get it. Jesus was God's Messiah.

Here's what's interesting to me. Even though Peter gave the right answer, still he hadn't embraced Jesus' identity for himself. In other words, it was still maybe a "factual" observation, but not yet of the heart and soul. Just as soon as Peter gave the proper answer, within a few days he was denying that he was a follower of this man, Jesus.

This goes to show that you cannot rest totally on your education or knowledge of the facts to transform your life. You must be dependent on the Spirit of God to make what you know alive in your heart. This is the Spirit of God's work on the inside. No amount of theology or belief systems can transform your heart. No church or charismatic cleric can transform your heart. It's only as you come to know Jesus that the Spirit of God does His work of illumination in your heart. Then and only then will you be given ears to hear and eyes to see.

What will you hear and what will you see? You will be able to hear and see Jesus and His kingdom working in and through you. As Jesus often says, "He that has ears to hear, let him hear."

Monday, October 29, 2012



Jesus sets them up with training and empowerment and now for the test. When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.  
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." He replied, "You give them something to eat." They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Picture this! The disciples have just returned from the most amazing experience they could have ever imagined-a mission trip where they were able to see people healed and where they were proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. NOW, Jesus puts them in a laboratory setting. He turns to them to feed the 5000+ who were gathered there listening.

He asked them! Why do you think He asked them to pull this off? Why did Jesus take them through this lab and give them this pop quiz? I can see, at least, 3 good reasons:

FIRST-He wanted them to feel their inadequacy without Him. Throughout the Scriptures there is recorded a continuous theme of people receiving great blessings from God and then taking credit for it. Here the disciples just experienced an amazing opportunity to actually be used to heal others from all kinds of diseases. It could be very easy for them to forget where they got the power. This pop quiz sets the record straight.

SECOND-He wanted to demonstrate to them how He is interested in the little things, like feeding people who had come to hear Him. Jesus was known for His dramatic miracles that either saved a person's life or relieved a person from the clutches of an illness or deformity. Here Jesus is performing a miracle of hospitality. His guests are hungry. Sure, there are many more guests than the average person might host. He even turned this normal act of feeding a person lunch or early dinner into a supernatural feat that has been talked about ever since.

THIRD-He wanted them to know that when He is involved in the process, He will produce more than enough to meet their needs. It's better, because Jesus handles problem situations in such a way that it turns out so much better than if you were to do it on your own. NOTE what happens. Jesus has the disciples experience how large the overflow was in having them pick up the leftovers-12 baskets full.

SO, what is it that you are trying to do on your own without trusting in Jesus to empower you? Whatever it is, Jesus will make it so much better. So, why don't you let Him?

Sunday, October 28, 2012



We come now to one of my most favorite chapters in Luke's gospel-chapter 9. Each paragraph pulsates with amazing power demonstrated by Jesus. The disciples not only get to watch, they have the privilege of participating in this demonstration of power. This chapter will take 9 or 10 days to cover with a surprising climax to it all. Let's get started:  
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.

Herod seems to have miscalculated John's ministry. He thought that John was just a nut-case out in the desert. Therefore, Herod believed that if he were to kill John, then he could kill off this pesky movement. But Herod was very wrong. John represented Jesus, God's Messiah. He asks the right question, "Who, then, is this that I hear such things about?" Herod didn't understand what he was up against. John was just the one who introduced Jesus to the world.

NOTE what Jesus did with His disciples. Now, remember that these disciples are still trying to figure it out. Their faith is still in a very immature state, but Jesus sends out the 12 with a minimal amount of training.

The training consisted of empowering them and giving them authority over the demonic world and the power to heal the sick. They were to go in the name of Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal people everywhere. Think of it. This band of men were sent out to do some amazing, miraculous feats.

There are two basic observations that strike me in this mission: FIRST-The power to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal people everywhere didn't lie within the disciples who were sent out. The source of the power was unmistakably in Jesus. The disciples were willing to surrender their wills to His will in order to be conduits of His power to touch people. So, the power to do miraculous things comes from Jesus.

SECOND-It seems that the basic requirement for these disciples who were sent out was that they were interested and actually followed Jesus and His instructions.

Here's the takeaway for us. Our responsibility is to be interested enough to follow Jesus the best way we can. His responsibility is to supply the direction and the empowerment. What a deal! Here we go again, as we have seen so many times in the gospels, Jesus is looking for anyone who is interested enough to follow Him.

It's not following a set of beliefs; it's following a person who calls us into relationship with Him and with one another. Aristotle said, "Follow my teachings." Plato said, "Follow my teachings." Socrates said, "Follow my teachings." Mohammed said, "Follow my teachings." But Jesus came along and said, "FOLLOW ME."

The truth of life is not to be found in a principle or propositions or a system of beliefs. It's found only in a person. His name is Jesus. Are you interested enough to follow Him?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012



In Luke 8:40 we come to a fascinating story where Jesus performs a miracle while on His way someplace and then made an appointment for another miracle.  
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me."
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher anymore." Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."
When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

These two stories fused together are interesting to compare. Both women are called daughters, both have to do with the number 12-the age of Jairus' daughter and the suffering of the woman-and in both situations faith was key. Also both saw Jesus as the only answer to their need.

There was a superstition at that time that seems to have motivated the woman to touch Jesus' garments. The fringe worn on the border of the outer garment was believed to have special power of the Messiah's robe. If she could just touch that fringe border, then she might be healed of her condition.

Jesus shows Himself to be the physician and healer of the unacceptable, the sick and the dead when He heals this woman. Think of her desperation. She had been unclean because of her bleeding for 12 years. That adds up to 12 years of disappointment, 12 years of being left out, unable to participate in worship or feasts, 12 years of being rejected and unacceptable, 12 years of feeling like a nobody. She saw Jesus as the only answer she might ever have to solve her problem.

Think what Jesus did for her: 1. Jesus' presence and touch actually healed her. 2. Jesus made her clean. 3. Jesus made her a participant again. 4. Jesus gave her peace. 5. Jesus made her feel special by not leaving her in the crowd. No doubt, once Jesus identified her, she must have felt like she was the only one in the crowd.

Jesus didn't let the woman remain as part of the faceless crowd, so He identified her! Jesus actually said, "Be continually healed." To the only person He ever called "daughter" He granted continuing health.

After this unusual encounter, Jesus overheard that Jairus' daughter was dead. Jesus interjected Himself into the situation, encouraging Jairus, the leader of the synagogue not to be afraid and to have faith.

It's interesting that Jesus took His three main men along with Him as He went to visit the daughter of Jairus who was presumed to be dead. This is another field trip with His disciples, but this time it's a triple A miracle that is needed here. This girl is dead and the mourners are well into the mourning process. Jesus goes into her room and raises her from the dead.

These two women serve as great illustrations of hope when you're in the midst of desperate situations, even to the point of death. Here's the way I see the principle:




As we proceed through chapter 8 of Luke we come to verse 26 where Jesus encounters the wild man from the land of the Gerasenes on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.  
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demonized man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demonized man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

We've looked at this story recently and it always speaks to me of transformation. There are four phases in genuine transformation that comes through Jesus:

FIRST-You have to be in real trouble. Maybe you aren't as bad off as this man, but everyone of us has a desperation factor from time to time. Just last night we were discussing with some friends how amazing denial is within a family. Well, this man was not in denial about his alienation and there was no family member left to cover up for him. He was just too far gone.

SECOND-Jesus must intervene within your desperation.

THIRD-Just about everything is transformed from the inside out. In this case the demonized man was sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind. His insanity was turned into sanity. In his insanity he was repulsive; and now he is attractive.

FOURTH-Because of the demonized man's story, his entire village heard the good news of Jesus. He couldn't get enough of hanging out with Jesus and begged to be able to go on the road with Him. Jesus sent him right back to his people.

Now, note something here. This transformed man didn't go to his people and condemn them. He didn't go to them and try to straighten out their belief system. He simply and persuasively told all who would listen about what Jesus had done for him.

This must be our focus, too. We must be about sharing what Jesus has done on our behalf. It's not the program; it's the person of Jesus that matters most. Let me ask you something. What has Jesus done for you lately? Are you able to identify the Jesus factor in your life? Can you see yourself sharing this with another friend? Then think and pray about going back home and wait for the opportunities to do so. Remember, God sets up the appointments. All you have to do is SHOW UP.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The next story in the life of Jesus doesn't necessarily follow after the last. But here is a great scene in the training of His disciples.
One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

What an illustration! NOTE the logical progression of this training session.
FIRST-Jesus gave the directions to cross over to the other side of the lake. It was Jesus' idea. The disciples were not wandering off by themselves.

SECOND-Trouble showed up for the disciples, even though they were following Jesus' directions. You don't have to pray for nor look for problems. Problems will be provided.

THIRD-The trouble got worse before any assistance came. This is a normal occurrence. Sometimes like in surgery, you must hurt deeply in order to heal.

FOURTH-Jesus seemed to not care about their plight. Here He was sleeping. Don't you feel like Jesus might be asleep or away from time to time. No, He's still very attentive.

FIFTH-Jesus showed up at just the right time. The timing of God is the most amazing thing of all about this spiritual journey. I can think of so many times that Jesus was late from my viewpoint, but perfectly on time from His viewpoint. There are many times that I can look back and thank God for not doing it in my way. Did I say many? Most of the time.

SIXTH-When Jesus showed up, He rebuked the storm and it responded to His words. His presence with them was a sure guarantee that everything was going to be alright. Whenever He wants, He can speak the word and calm the situation.

SEVENTH-Jesus then rebukes the disciples by saying, "Where is your faith?" NOTE the disciples are still working on their faith. They aren't there yet. They haven't arrived. In this case Jesus is not saying where is your great faith, but simply where is your faith?

The primary principle to me is WHEN JESUS IS RIDING ALONG ON YOUR JOURNEY, YOU NEVER HAVE TO BE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES BUT LIVING ABOVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Jesus will always get you through whatever comes upon you and He does it by lifting you up to a higher perspective to get the big picture. Even the greatest problems and trials look a lot smaller from that vantage point.

SO, where is YOUR faith? Your faith can be simply to continue on your spiritual journey with Jesus, believing that He will get you through whatever the storm may be and therefore no matter what, everything is going to be OK.

Monday, October 22, 2012



The clear theme of the parable of the soils is hearing or being fully receptive to the Word of God, and it seems that this theme stretches from 8:1 where Jesus is traveling from village to village "proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God" to 8:21 where Jesus says that his true family are those who hear God's Word and do it (8:21).
In the first paragraph here (16-18) Jesus gives the illustration of a lamp: "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. 

Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light." If you are going to light a lamp, then you place it at the highest point in the room in order to shine the light as wide and far as possible. Jesus' statement is almost funny-and he probably smiled when he said it. If you're going to light a lamp, you do it for illumination, not to hide or conceal it. If that were your purpose, you wouldn't light it at all.

Jesus then gives the purpose for using the lamp properly: "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

In the previous paragraph Jesus tells His disciples that He is revealing to them the secrets of the kingdom. The light of revelation, the previously unknown mystery, has been lit by the coming of Jesus and His proclamation of the good news of the kingdom. Jesus then lit up the disciples by giving them the secrets of the kingdom. Now, it is time for these secrets to be made known everywhere THROUGH THEM. The "lamp" revealing the good news of the kingdom has now been lit, and must not be extinguished until the mission is complete.

Jesus continues: "Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them."

NOTE, because you have been given the secrets of the kingdom to reveal these secrets to the world for them to hear, you must be careful how you listen. Again, this entire chapter is about hearing-being the good soil that is receptive to the seed of the kingdom knowledge. Then Jesus inserts a warning that those who are listening intently so that they have receptive hearts will be given more understanding of the kingdom and those who are not listening well will lose what understanding they have.

It's all about hearing-having ears to hear. In the parable of the sower there were 6 uses of the word "hear" or "hearing". James, the brother of Jesus, wrote "Don't be hearers of the word only who delude themselves, but be doers of the word." What he means by "hearing" properly is to act upon what you hear. Practice what you hear from Jesus.
Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you."

He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

Hearing God's word and putting it into practice is the message that must be indelibly tattooed upon our minds. So, here Jesus makes a clear, yet difficult comparison regarding His mother and brothers who have shown up to visit Him. He says, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." Jesus is talking Kingdom talk. He isn't anti mother and brothers, but is demonstrating that in the kingdom your real family members are those who hear God's word and practice it.

I return to Jesus' earlier words, "Be careful how you listen", because Jesus will give much more to those who have ears to hear. Are you listening?

Sunday, October 21, 2012



In chapter 8 verse 4 we come to a familiar scene where Jesus introduces the parable of the sower: While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
FIRST-UNRECEPTIVE SOIL-Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

SECOND-INSINCERE SOIL-Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

THIRD-DISTRACTED-The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

FOURTH-GOOD SOIL-PRODUCTIVE-But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

1-Jesus is the sower of the seed. In Matthew's version of this teaching (Matt. 13:37) Jesus says that the Son of Man is the sower. When Jesus was physically on the earth, His words were pitched out to those who listened to Him. Today, Jesus is still sowing the seed as we introduce the person of Jesus to others through our lives and through our own stories.

2-The seed is the word of God. What the word of God meant to Jesus was the "Good News of the Kingdom of God." This is what His primary message was as He taught throughout the villages and synagogues. Therefore, the word of God is the active presence of God in us in the form of a seed.

3-This word of the kingdom of God has tremendous spiritual power within us to be productive-to be fruitful. It was able to produce amazing levels of fruit.

4-Its effect on you is determined by your response to it. It's all a matter of responsiveness. NOTE that you are not responsible to bring forth the fruit, but the power of the seed will produce the fruit if planted in the good soil.

In the past few years I've come to realize that these soils are dynamic in our lives. I have been each of these soils at one time or another. So, I must concern myself with having ears to hear the word in order to be receptive as good soil. This also answers what I see with people who all of a sudden "get it", yet they have been around this sowing for years.

Now, here is what blows my mind about this teaching. Jesus is saying that if you have ears to hear, are receptive to the Good News of the kingdom, be sincere about it with a single-minded focus, then you will be very fruitful. He uses 30, 60 and 100 fold in fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is basically the spiritual growth and maturity in your own life and the effects of your life on others around you. He begins with 30 fold. To be 30 fold is three times that of a normal crop. So, this means that the lowest level of fruitfulness will be outstanding. Then, He goes on to say you may enjoy multiples of that, even to the point of 60 and 100 fold. That's incredible-beyond belief!

So, which soil are you right now? Since you are reading or listening to this daily instruction, I'm going to eliminate that one for you. That leaves, the insincere, the distracted and the good soil. So, where are you when you measure your receptivity to the seed Jesus is sowing in your life right now?

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Come Along With Tim & Diana Timmons to Israel
"In search of Jesus"
10 Full Days-9 Nights: February 22-March 5
An all-inclusive 5-Star Trip for only $3509 (double occupancy)

We know what you're thinking: "You're going to Israel with Iran and Israel threatening one another?" This is my 33rd trip to Israel and we have yet to plan a trip that wasn't in the midst of turmoil. But once we arrived in Israel, there is a wonderful feeling of the reality of peace and safety. Of course, we will not go, if it is unsafe! 

This is truly a trip of a lifetime! As when people encountered Jesus they were never the same, so will it be with you as you meet up with Jesus and follow Him in His homeland! One of the amazing benefits of walking where Jesus walked is that your Bible will never be the same again. It actually comes alive in your reading as you reflect on your experiences from this trip. After taking hundreds of people to meet Jesus in Israel and Palestine, no one has returned the same!

We have 3 goals for our trip. FIRST-To get to know Jesus better! SECOND-To learn to love each other! THIRD-To wait for Jesus to show up among us with unique experiences and opportunities! Please reserve your seat as soon as possible, because space is limited!

CHECK OUT THE ITINERARY AND TRIP INFORMATION AND CONSIDER COMING ALONG WITH US! CONTACT: Kathe Jones-Personal Assistant to Diana & Tim Timmons. Email: Phone: (949) 394-5444 Mail: 2618 San Miguel Box #221 Newport Beach CA 92660

DAY 1 (Sun) Depart LAX to Newark on our way Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

DAY 2 (Sat) Arrive in the Holyland. After Customs, we will be taken to our Hotel in Netanya right on the Mediterranean. There we will have Dinner and Overnight.

DAY 3 (Sun) We'll begin our day at Caesarea By The Sea and view the beautiful, ancient amphitheater, where both Paul and Peter visited. We continue to Mount Carmel, where Elijah challenged the false prophets. On the way to Nazareth we visit the excavation of Megiddo and are able to view the northern most end of the famous valley of Armageddon. After Nazareth, where Jesus spent the quiet years of His life, we travel down the winding roads to the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Here we will check into our Hotel and will enjoy dinner and an evening together, positioned at the shore of Galilee.

DAY 4 (Mon) We rise early and cruise on the famous Sea of Galilee. This day is full of adventure, visiting the Mt. of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered His Sermon on the Mt. On that very hillside, we will read His words and listen for what He is saying to us today. We will also visit the three villages where Jesus performed most of His miracles-Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. We'll also visit a special site called Tabgha, commemorating the feeding of the 5000. During our three days in the Galilee, we will celebrate a special baptism for those who want to participate.

DAY 5 (Tues) Borders of Israel. We take the road through the Golan Heights where we will hear the explanations of the strategic and political significance of this area. Time permitting; we will visit Israel's finest winery. Also, on the Golan Heights we will visit Caesarea Phillipi. This is the actual site where Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say I am?" We'll continue to the source of the Dan River, which leads into the Jordan River. At the Tel Dan Nature Reserve we will be treated to a refreshing walk to view the Abrahamic Gate. In our travels we will be able to view the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. On this evening we will enjoy a special festive dinner at a private restaurant on the Sea.

DAY 6 (Weds) Leaving our Galilee resort, we head toward Jerusalem. On the way we proceed through the city of Beit Shean, one of the earliest and most important cities in Israel from the time of the Canaanites. We will view its magnificent excavations. This is a live dig where you will see both Old Testament and New Testament sites. We continue through the Jordan Valley, passing by Jericho, the first city conquered in the Promised Land. From here we continue on the road to Masada, a spectacular desert fortress. We will take the cable car up the high, rocky cliffs of Masada to explore Herod's palaces and learn of its powerful story of perseverance. Masada overlooks the Dead Sea, where we will visit to give you opportunity to float in the Sea and experience its healing minerals. This is the lowest place on earth! On our way back to Jerusalem we will visit the Caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Tonight we enter the Holy City of Jerusalem. After checking into our beautiful hotel for the next five nights, we will enjoy dinner together.

DAY 7 (Thurs) Enter the Old City through St Stephen's Gate; Visit the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured an invalid man; visit the site of the public trial of Jesus, and his condemnation, and view its ancient remains in the Fortress of Antonia, seat of the Roman Procurator; proceed to the Temple Mount to view the Mosque of Omar and visit the Western Wall, sacred sites for the Muslims and the Jews. Continue through the picturesque market streets past the Citadel of David and exit through the Jaffa Gate, passing the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the way.

DAY 8 (Fri) Begin the day early with a special visit to Biblical Shiloh and Bethel; continue in the new part of Jerusalem by visiting the Israel Museum where there is a scale model of the city of Jerusalem from New Testament Times, including the Second Temple. Also at the Museum we'll visit the Dead Sea Scrolls, housed in a specially prepared building. Before dinner, we will visit the Western Wall for a most interesting experience of the Jews bringing in the Sabbath.

DAY 9 (Sat) This morning we start the day at the Mt of Olives for an introduction to Jerusalem. Ascend the mountains of Jerusalem from Scopus to Mt of Olives for an outstanding breathtaking view of the city across the Kidron Valley to the Eastern Gate. Walk down Palm Sunday Road and visit the Garden of Gethsemane, cross Mount Moriah viewing the Tombs of Absalom, Saint James and Zacharia. Continue to the southern suburbs where there is an overview of Bethlehem and the Shepherd's Field. We will then make the border crossing into Bethlehem to visit the birthplace of Jesus and may meet some friends there before returning to Jerusalem.

DAY 10 (Sun) Travel around the temple pinnacle to the City of David and on to the House of Caiaphas and visit an ancient tomb with its own "rolling stone" to seal it shut. Continue to Mount Zion, the Upper Room. Drive to Yad V'shem, the memorial to the Holocaust, a memorial to 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. FREE TIME before our last dinner at our hotel.

DAY 11 (Mon) We visit the Old City of Jerusalem's reconstructed Jewish Quarter. See the Ancient Cardo and confirmation of historic sites of the 1st Century. Visit to the Southern Steps, the archaeological reconstruction of the Temple Steps where Jesus walked so often. We end the day with quiet prayer and meditation at the Garden Tomb. Continue to Farewell Dinner at Middle-Eastern Restaurant in Abu Ghosh on the way to B.G. Airport for overnight flight back to USA.

DAY 12 Arrive back home to the USA, filled with a life-time of memories!
TRIP INFORMATION DEPOSIT & DUE DATES: * Deposit of $500 per person to secure your space in Coach Class. * Deposit of $1000 per person to secure your space in Business Class. (Business Class is limited. Please call our office for pricing.) {MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO EMBERS FELLOWSHIP.} PRICING: Per person (double occupancy) $3509 (Coach Class airfare) (Single occupancy, add $998)

INCLUDED: * Round trip airfare from LAX to Tel Aviv. (Add-on connections are available from different cities.) * All airport taxes and fuel charges as of July 2012, subject to change by the airline. * 1 Suitcase per person (50 lbs.). * 1 Carryon per person. * Transportation to and from hotels. * First Class Hotel accommodations. * Full Breakfast & Dinner daily (some lunches). * Tips and Government Taxes. * Entrance fees to all sights according to itinerary. * Sightseeing in luxury air-conditioned Coach. * Guided by a handpicked Israeli Guide along with Tim Timmons.

NOT INCLUDED: * Personal items such as laundry. * Some lunches. * Bottled drinks and water along the way. * Excessive baggage and forwarding of baggage. * Transfers other than with the group.

CANCELLATION & REFUND: * Full refund up to 75 days prior to departure. * As we all know, events in Israel are sometimes demonized and nearly always exaggerated. Israel is safer than in most American cities. Tourism to Israel is at record levels both this year and last year! * In the event of war, all payments are insured by the Israeli Government through the Israeli Tour Operators Association, of which Transglobal Travel Ltd. is a member.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: We recommend you purchase travel insurance that covers you for health issues, lost luggage, delays and other conditions. Information will be available to you after registration from Transglobal Travel.

PASSPORT: Passports must be valid for 6 months AFTER the date of arrival in Israel.
CONTACT: Kathe Jones-Personal Assistant to Diana & Tim Timmons. Email: Phone: (949) 394-5444 Mail: 2618 San Miguel Box #221 Newport Beach CA 92660

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



Here in this last story of Luke 7 we come to a scene that simply begs to be read, because it takes little commentary to understand what is happening. Check it out:  
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

I love this story. Through this openly recognized, sinful woman Jesus illustrates His message most clearly.

There in the home of one of the Pharisees Jesus is being treated to dinner. In the Pharisee's home, you just know that he is looking for the opportunity to impress Jesus with his religious purity and righteousness. Most likely, others knew of this special dinner meeting with Jesus and there was somewhat of an anticipation, if not a tenseness about the evening they were to spend together.
But at this most holy performance, a party crasher has just appeared in the house, definitely not on the official invitation list. But this wasn't a socialite barging into this party, this was a woman-of-the-night kind of woman-a sinner in most every respect.

NOTE the following observations: 1. The pure Pharisee is upstaged by the impure woman. The Pharisee was the host and expected to be seen as the prominent focus of attention. Yet this unrighteous, sinful woman took center stage and became the focus of attention for the evening.

2. Not only her presence at the dinner party was offensive, but her touching and washing the feet of Jesus with such extravagant perfume certainly posed a great offence. It was unlawful to be in the presence of such a woman, let alone have contact with her. Yet, Jesus allowed her to express herself.

3. The performing Pharisee was out performed by this sinful woman. The Pharisee embodied the performance mentality of keeping the Law and the traditions. But the sinful woman's performance was in the spirit of gratefulness and servanthood.

4. Jesus affirmed what was at the core of this woman's masterful performance. It was her faith that set her performance apart. She performed alright-even more than the Pharisee-and her performance was an overflow of her faith and devotion to Jesus.

This scene in the life of Jesus is about people who need forgiveness and know it. It's about people who receive forgiveness and are grateful for it. It's also about people who need forgiveness and don't know it. It's about religious people who absolutely, totally miss the point!

Jesus demonstrates that God wants a personal relationship with people, no matter what they have done or haven't done. Life isn't a checklist for following a religious system of do's and don'ts, even if it is a good religious system. It's all about a relationship of faith (personal trust) and forgiveness (personal acceptance of God's grace).

The woman is totally acceptable to Jesus and completely unacceptable to the Pharisee. Jesus more freely accepts the sinner, the broken one, and stands a distance away from the self-righteous Pharisee. So, which are you? The person who is in need of forgiveness and knows it and is grateful when it is received? Or, the person who needs forgiveness and doesn't know it, therefore missing the point of Jesus' message altogether?



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.

Monday, October 15, 2012



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!

Sunday, October 14, 2012



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.

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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



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 to 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?



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!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012



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.