ONE WHO SERVES

Luke and The Lost

Why do we feel satisfied and more content when we serve others expecting nothing back in return, doing it just for the joy of helping someone else on their journey? Because it is stamped into the DNA of our being. We are created to give back. Jesus gave the ultimate example of “one who came to serve, not be served” to all humanity when He moved into the neighborhood of earth for awhile.

We go against the grain of pure Life with Christ as His disciple when we posture ourselves to be above others with the attitude of expecting to be served. The very word disciple in the Greek means “one who learns”. I would add that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are ones who learn to serve. How will Jesus say at the end of our days, “Well done, servant”, if we do not serve with love and humility, justice and mercy, wrapped up in grace? Mm.

Jesus teaches the disciples, once more, about who they are (and who we are) in Him. They are scrambling thoughtlessly about who will be the greatest in His Kingdom without having a clue about what is about to happen in the next few hours. But we know. We have the whole story. Does this prompt us to serve well with the right attitude of gratitude?

Jesus also follows with warnings to “stay on your toes”, Satan wants you for his own and help each other through times of testing. Serving also means helping each other stay focused on Christ!

Luke 22 service as a leader

Luke 22, The Message
24-26 Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.

27-30 “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people.

31-32 “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”

33 Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”

34 Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”

35 Then Jesus said, “When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?”

“Certainly,” they said, “we got along just fine.”

36-37 He said, “This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, ‘He was lumped in with the criminals,’ gets its final meaning in me. Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion.”

38 They said, “Look, Master, two swords!”

But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!”

What do we learn?
–Be more concerned with trying to serve well and less, much less about being served.
–Jesus came as “One who serves”.
–Be ready for Satan to interfere with schemes to draw you away from Christ to serve him. How do we serve the evil one? By being selfish and thinking only of self’s desires to be served.
–Another trick Satan uses is to get us to look good serving always expecting something in return. Avoid that attitude at all cost says, Jesus.
–Need more? Go to Philippians 2 and read Paul’s testimony about the supreme example of serving with humility.

Philippians 2
1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Read all of Philippians 2…there’s much more! (There always is… with God’s Word to us about Him.)

Dear Heavenly Father, 
We think badly of those young men clamoring for position right before Jesus’ eyes and ears, but we are the same at times as we serve in Your Kingdom. We repent of those times and move on to greater service with humility. We are grateful when you invite us to join you in your work. Thank you, dear Lord. You are my everything. I adore You. I will serve you by serving others. Keep me focused.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH

Luke and The Lost

Family gatherings bring out the best in humans and sometimes the worst. We love eating together and sharing life with each other. But what if you knew those gathered at your table had been gossiping about you before they came? What if you knew one of them had betrayed who you are to someone else? Would they still be welcomed at your table? This happens in the best of families.

Jesus said to his closest followers, “You have no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering.” His disciples were his brothers, his earthly family. One of them had betrayed him, but Jesus still loved him and said this out loud to ALL of them. WE have no idea just how much Jesus loves us.

Jesus will welcome Judas to the table, but will let him know He knows what evil he is about to do. Jesus, according to John’s gospel, even bends down to humbly wash the feet of His betrayer. As a servant who washes the feet of those who enter a home as guests, Jesus bends down, on His knees to wash ALL those dirty feet.

Then after a memorable meal with his close brothers, Jesus faces torture with His flesh being nailed to splintery timbers of wood. One of his closest disciples, Peter, denies Him, as predicted. Jesus still loves him. All the rest run for the hills. Jesus still loves them and prays for them. Jesus still went to the cross because we had a sin problem that blocked us from God, our Father and this had to be fixed. Jesus, Son of God, came to rectify the sin situation…because He loved us.

Yes, we have NO idea the depth or height of God’s love expressed by His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can do that will keep us from the love of God.

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Think about the love of God as we read “The Passover Meal”.

Luke 22 given

Luke 22, The Message
1-2 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, drew near. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way to do away with Jesus but, fearful of the people, they were also looking for a way to cover their tracks.

3-6 That’s when Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot. He was one of the Twelve. Leaving the others, he conferred with the high priests and the Temple guards about how he might betray Jesus to them. They couldn’t believe their good luck and agreed to pay him well. He gave them his word and started looking for a way to betray Jesus, but out of sight of the crowd.

7-8 The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”

9 They said, “Where do you want us to do this?”

10-12 He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.”

13 They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.

14-16 When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”

17-18 Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”

19 Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”

20 He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

21-22 “Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It’s true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out—no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday.”

23 They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.

“We love Him because He FIRST loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Do we love God, no matter what?

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am overwhelmed right now, at this moment, with love for You. 
There are no words to express my gratitude and thankfulness for your love so I will just love You back with all that is in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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EXPECTED OR SURPRISED?

Luke and The Lost

“Whoa, I did not expect this” we say when we are stopped from the normal routine of life to an unexpected occurrence, good or bad. We cannot be prepared for everything except one…Jesus will return. Will we be expecting Him or totally taken off guard when He comes back to claim His own. Jesus wants us to think about it, be prepared with hopeful, excited expectation rather than than be totally taken by surprise. He is lovingly warning us with how to stay in focused with anticipated expectation for Him.

Luke 21, The Message
25-26 “It will seem like all hell has broken loose—sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.

27-28 “And then—then!—they’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style—a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!”

29-33 He told them a story. “Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner. The same here—when you see these things happen, you know God’s kingdom is about here. Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

34-36 “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”

luke-21-33

The world we live in will be turned upside but Jesus remains the same. I love singing “Praise the Lord, He Never Changes”. This song was written in the 70’s but the words, taken from God’s Word, remain current and hopeful for the world today.

Verse:
Life is moving faster than it ever has before
What tomorrow brings us, isn’t certain anymore
So many paths from which to choose, don’t know which way to run
But every road leads nowhere, every road except for one
Chorus:
Praise the Lord, He never changes, I come to Him, He’s always there
He comforts me on every level, takes the burden that I bear
Praise the Lord, He never changes, He’s never any other way
And He’ll be the same tomorrow, as He was and is today
Verse:
Friends and faces come and go like ashes in the wind
Attitudes arise that I don’t fully understand
The things that you can count upon, grow fewer every day
But when that number gets to one, that one will show the way
Chorus:
Praise the Lord, He never changes, I come to Him, He’s always there
He comforts me on every level, takes the burden that I bear
Praise the Lord, He never changes, He’s never any other way…..
Tag:
And He’ll be the same, tomorrow as He was and is, you know He is today

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your loving assurance and unchanging love for us. Help us to stay focused and alert with anticipated expectation for your return.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

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MAKE UP YOUR MIND RIGHT NOW!

Luke and The Lost

The biggest sin that probably breaks God’s heart the most in our world today is the inability to make a decision with commitment to follow through and stick with it. Tony Campolo said, “We don’t even sin passionately anymore!” “Make up your mind!” He was not encouraging sin but pointing out that no one seems to be able to say yes or no to God. We spend all our efforts in trying to stay in the middle.

When our children are standing in line to make a choice about buying something they want, we get impatient and irritated when they stammer around and delay the choice. How much more so must God be when we won’t make and choice and commit to His best for us! But, He won’t force our decision as parents sometimes do. He offers then waits for us to decide. Oh, what a patient God we have!

To God, not making up our minds and sticking with it IS a decision to not follow Him and be saved. Jesus teaches followers that even when people around you say the sky is falling, like Chicken Little shouted, “make up your rind right now not to worry about it.” If we say a heart felt Yes to God, He will always take care of us. What a promise! It’s time to make up our minds….right now? There are only two choices. There is no middle. Yes or No. Who do you choose?

Luke 21 worry

Luke 21, The Message
Watch Out for Doomsday Deceivers
5-6 One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, “All this you’re admiring so much—the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.”

7 They asked him, “Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it’s about to take place?”

8-9 He said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.”

10-11 He went on, “Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You’ll think at times that the very sky is falling.

12-15 “But before any of this happens, they’ll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’ll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.

16-19 “You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.

What do we learn?
–Make up our minds right now Who we will listen to and worship.
–When called upon to witness, He will give us the words to say.
–He knows us, love us and will care for us.
–Stay with it. That is what is required.
–We won’t be sorry, we will be saved…forever.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Forgive us our sin of trying to sit in the middle of this great decision, trying to please all people all the time and also wanting to please you. We know that this does not work. Just being nice and kind doesn’t cut it either. I give all my life, everything that you created in me, back to You. I’m Yours, Lord. Everything I have and everything I am is Yours. I’m not turning back, because I know you won’t let me go. Thank you for caring for me in this life as I look forward to the next life eternal with You. Great are you, Lord!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

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ALL

Luke and The Lost

If we desire all that God wants to give then we must first give our all to Him. This is a small price to pay. A widow, at the end of the giving line, does just that and Jesus notices.

Luke 21, The Message

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

luke-21-4

 

Jesus looked up from previously observing the religious elite making a lot of banging noise with their offerings and words. This moment of noticing a quiet widow comes after telling the disciples to watch out for those who use religion to get what THEY want by exploiting people like this widow and others. It is a perfect, powerful segue from misuse of power to the faith of one widow who gave her all. Jesus notices. Let that sink in.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am reminded also of what your servant Paul told us about Your love, that if I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I don’t want to make a lot of noise to be heard, I only want to love You back with all I have within me and be all you intended for me to be. Speak to our hearts, Lord for we are listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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GREAT QUESTION!

Luke and The Lost

They say to avoid answering someone’s question you respond with your own question. This puts off the answer until you can understand what the other person is really asking. You also get a feel for what they already know. It also works if you really don’t want to answer because of closed minds not really listening to what you are saying. We play a lot of games when relating to others, don’t we.

Not so with Jesus. The Master teacher uses questions to bring them to greater understanding of what they know and need to learn. At this moment in our passage today, he has heard the slimy questions of the religious elite and has answered them with wisdom and accuracy of God’s Law. Now, Jesus puts a question to them that causes awkward silence. You can almost hear, “Huh?”. I’m sure those who knew the Scripture walked away thinking about his powerful question. We know the rest of the story…Jesus IS the Messiah. The religious leaders just cannot wrap their proud minds around this new knowledge so they refuse to assimilate it into their lives.

The world has a hard time assimilating who Jesus is and why He came to earth as well.

Luke 20 Messiah word

Luke 20, The Message
41-44 Then he put a question to them: “How is it that they say that the Messiah is David’s son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says,

 

God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
until I put your enemies under your feet.”
“David here designates the Messiah as ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”

45-47 With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Don’t allow us to get caught up in posturing for positions in Your church. Instead bring your church to humble repentance. Then help us grow and be Spiritually fruitful with generosity, gentleness, patience with each other, forgiving, kind, unconditional love like you love us, restored joy, peace no matter what storm is brewing, and most of all You living in us. You are Messiah, Lord. You are Lord of our lives.
In Jesus Name, Amen

Galatians 5:22-24 The Message (MSG)

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

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GREAT ANSWER!

Luke and The Lost

When challenged by an unbeliever, are you prepared to quote God’s Word in the right way at the right time so you can help them understand more about God? Jesus is perfect, (of course), in nailing down the meaning of questions thrown at him meant to tear down Jesus’ preaching. Like skilled lawyers, the religious elite try hard to use God’s Law to trip up the Son of God. Ludicrous, isn’t it? Because Jesus is Truth as the Son of God, He fulfills the Law, helping them to understand the INTENT of the Law. He was The Word.

The Sadducees, a group who do not believe in the resurrection of anyone, comes to try their hand at turning what Jesus says about God’s Law into foolishness. Jesus has the greatest answer that does not thwart the Law in any way and teaches us about God and heaven at the same time! There is no one like our God! Right?!

Have WE stopped to think about what Jesus is really saying?

Many times as pastors and well meaning others who want to comfort those who have just lost a spouse, we will say, “you will see them again.” Yes, but there is MUCH more! All who believe will see what they have never seen and be rejoicing in heaven with God forever! We will have a new body that will use every physical sense and beyond to see, hear, touch, and finally understand all the mysteries, ecstasies and intimacies surrounding God, our Heavenly Father. This unfathomable joy will forget all earthly worries and cares for there is no crying there.

This joy unspeakable will provoke nothing but praise and worship for the Creator of all, Who is in all and above all! The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ will welcome us with open arms like the father who looked down the road for his prodigal son and ran to welcome him back into their home. Jesus, our Savior, is preparing a place for you and for me who believe Him with all our heart, mind and soul. Can you imagine hearing the Voice of God saying, “There you are!” “Take your place at my table!”

Marriage, a wonderful union between our spouse and ourselves was created by God for us to enjoy and as much as we do, there will be even greater cause for joy in heaven that we cannot wrap our minds around at the moment. But later, we will. Yes, Jesus uses this “teachable moment” that was meant to trip Him up to teach us more about God and what to expect when we live with Him forever. See this story from the “God” perspective, not the human, worldly view.

Luke 20 welcome home

Luke 20, The Message
All Intimacies Will Be with God

27-33 Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now—in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her.”

34-38 Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’ God isn’t the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.”

39-40 Some of the religion scholars said, “Teacher, that’s a great answer!” For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Yes…Teacher, what a great answer! Thank you for another lesson about You. We want to know more about you. We want to know you more intimately. Thank you for letting us in on your plan for our future even though we cannot understand it all now. Thank you for Your Presence. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

About the “knee thing”…
“God elevated him (Jesus) to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11, NLT

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