Archive | April, 2014

4 Tasks to Get Our Spiritual House Clean

April 8, 2014

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An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Luke 12:41-48 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England.

An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Luke 12:41-48 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England.

Firemen are fully suited when they get in the truck.

Our military wears all of their gear when they train.

Policemen have their bullet-proof vests on routine patrol and they are even armed during their off-duty time.

These servicemen all keep their gear clean and organized so they are ready in a moments notice. A wise Christian is ready for action in the same way. Luke 12:35-48 is all about Christian readiness and their fate if they are found otherwise.

The Messy House

Anyone whose house has been a mess when they were surprised by a drop in guest, might have just a taste of the surprise we will feel if the Lord comes back and finds our spiritual house is in disorder.

Avoiding the fate of those caught short requires us to be ready – as if the Lord will be here momentarily. Our text shows us much praise for the diligent servant.

For those caught sleeping? The punishment is swift and severe – especially when they knew better. (Luke 12:47)

Keeping the House Clean

Just like being ready for visitors requires daily attention in our houses, we need daily maintenance for ourselves. We should be planning for the Lord to return at any time, and we should be helping others prepare.

In addition to understanding and coming to Christ through his Plan of Salvation, We are to be trying to live as perfectly as we can in his service. It is a lifelong process of dedication and growth. It is easy to get started and to create the habits needed to be one of the “faithful servants.”

  1. Study – 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV. Understanding the Bible will help you avoid depending on others
  2. Teach – 2 Timothy 2:2. Being capable of teaching helps you stay prepared
  3. Choose friends wisely – Galatians 5:7-9. Friends are a lot like the leaven. Their influence will spread into our lives
  4. Avoid the filth – Philippians 4:8. What we expose ourselves to and think about directly impacts our attitudes

Ready For Visitors

Whether we get into a situation where we can defend God’s word or Christ returns, we need to be ready. Starting with these basic things will help us mature. (Romans 10:17)

Being on the path to maturity is they only place we will want Jesus to find us!

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4 Reasons God Says “Don’t Worry”

April 7, 2014

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Worry accomplishes nothing.

Worry accomplishes nothing.



Big house.
Fast cars.
More money.

More more.

Doesn’t it seem like it never stops? The more someone has, the more worried he is about obtaining more.

Life is more than stuff. Life is more than food and clothing. (Luke 12:23) Life is a limited resource that we ultimately have no control over how much we are given. (Luke 12:25)

Jesus’ message is clear in Luke 12:22-34 – Don’t worry about the small stuff.

Worry is counter-productive to our dependence on God

God has promised that he will make sure our needs are met. The first thing to disappear when we worry is our trust in God to provide. Next to go is our communication with God – we forget to pray.

Paul told us the things we need are a simple thankful prayer away. There is no need for worry! (Philippians 4:6)

Not only is there no need for worry:

  1. Worry is sinful – it reflects a lack of trust in God (Philippians 4:6. Matthew 6:30)
  2. Worry is wasteful – it doesn’t accomplish anything (Luke 12:25)
  3. Worry is harmful – The science is very conclusive that worry is destructive to our body (Proverbs 12:25a)
  4. Worry is contagious – If someone we trust is worried, it is difficult not to be worried as well isn’t it?

What to do:

Getting our priorities in the right order is the theme of so many lessons Jesus had for us. In this lesson, the Kingdom of God is the object we are to seek first.

The promise we have is this: in the course of getting ourselves ready to meet God, we will accumulate enough of what we need to sustain us along the way. (Luke 12:31-34)

Question: What do you worry about?

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3 Things Jesus Taught Us About Praying

April 4, 2014

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The Lord's Prayer - ca, 1890 - James Tissot (1836–1902)

The Lord’s Prayer – ca, 1890 – James Tissot (1836–1902)

How much prayer is enough?

Whatever the answer to that is, my guess is that we don’t pray enough.

We’re too busy. We don’t really need any help. It feels awkward.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say. Maybe we feel what we have to say is inadequate.

When we look at Luke’s account of Jesus’ model prayer, we can learn a few things that might encourage us to develop a better prayer habit. (Luke 11:1-13) Jesus taught us that he doesn’t require it to be a fancy production, but it is more about remembering to do it.

Here’s How to Do It:

From looking at only his six line example, he shows us that God wants a prayer that is…

  • short and simple
  • reverent to God
  • about our basic needs – food, forgiveness, etc.

I know we have heard others give long beautiful prayers that say all the right things. That is intimidating. Luckily, we are not responsible for praying like that – and it may even be sinful if the person is doing it to be flashy!

Be comforted that in terms of content, this is one of those times that less is more!

Here’s When to Do It:

The other thing that Jesus teaches us about prayer in Luke 11:9-10 is to always be asking, seeking and knocking. In other words, we need to get out of the habit of going solo until we need something. The way those verses are worded says that God wants us talking to him all the time.

We all know the usual “good times” to have a prayer: At meal time, bed time, etc. Why don’t we add a new time to our schedule –

ALL the time!

What better way to grow closer to God than to talk to him more often “just because?”



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5 Things We Can Do To Love Others Better

April 3, 2014

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Parable of the Good Samaritan - 1670 - Jan Wijnants (1632–1684)

Parable of the Good Samaritan – 1670 – Jan Wijnants (1632–1684)


Love your neighbor

Equals this:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind

According to Luke 10:27, both are required to inherit eternal life. In fact in Matthew 22:39, it is worded quite clearly:

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s an astounding thought at first glance. But then – not really. The expectation is for Christians to be kind and loving to other people.

Here’s the Problem:

One of our goals is supposed to be to get people to heaven – to give them the same hope we have.

Collectively, we might need to do a better job at that. We will not win many people over for Christ being less than loving. A less than loving Christian, is not Christian at all.

Once we put ourselves out there, everyone is watching. They are going to make a judgment about our sincerity.

The kind of stuff that hurts us:

  • Gossip – Remember what mother taught. Just say nice things about others.
  • Inconsistency – Mood swings are no good.
  • Unhappiness – The Bible says over and over again to rejoice
  • Selfishness – that self-love is exactly the intensity we are to show toward others
  • Dependability – When a neighbor calls on us, they need to hear “yes” more often. Being true to our word wouldn’t hurt either.

The Fix:

Nobody is perfect. It is unlikely that any of us will get to the point of winning over everyone we meet. We will get a good start down that path if we just clean up some of those hurtful things. My guess is if we work on these suggestions, we can build momentum to do even more:

  • We have to stop being negative about others. The Bible has much to say about gossip and idle talk.
  • Control that mood. Running hot and cold causes people to avoid us.
  • Rejoice! Be happy. Take it from me – It’s a habit.
  • Collect less stuff. Give more.
  • Never go back on your word.

God loves us and expects us to return that love. Part of that love is loving others just as much.

What is the first thing you can do to contribute?

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Will Christ Accept Your “Good Reasons?”

April 2, 2014

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Landscape with the Parable of the Sower - 1557 - Pieter_Bruegel

Landscape with the Parable of the Sower – 1557 – Pieter_Bruegel


Pick any goal or responsibility that didn’t quite turn out as was expected. Is there a good reason for it or just an excuse?

Is there a difference?

If we contrast the account of Jesus’ three prospective followers (Luke 9:57-62) with the parable of the sower, (Luke 8:4-8) some similarities pop out. I’m looking mostly at the people represented as being eager to follow the Gospel when they first heard about it.

Think of some reasons why a new Christian might fall away after obeying the gospel:

  • It is hard to leave that old lifestyle
  • Dear old friends are left behind
  • Family pressures
  • Learning to read and understand the Bible is a challenge
  • The feeling of being out of place with the “experienced” Christians

In both of our passages, we see reasons for whom are presumably new followers of Christ, but are the reasons much different for a “mature” Christian falling away – or being slack?

  • That other lifestyle looks interesting
  • There are some “really good” people out there
  • No support from extended family
  • Bible reading habit never really developed
  • Not growing relationships with other Christians


Good reasons


Good reasons

In the end, the result is the same. We were never given any exceptions to the requirement to follow the Gospel.

To not fall in that trap, we have to put a lot of effort into prioritizing what is required over what is a “good reason.”

To avoid the trap, we have to recognize an excuse for what it is.

When we look at the three prospective followers, some might say the reasons they gave for wanting to do something else first were pretty “good reasons.” Jesus didn’t see it that way. It seems like this would worry us more than it does.

Just as an experiment, let’s practice what we would say to Jesus on judgment day to explain why we put him second. How would that change your priorities?

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Happy Atheist’s Day!

April 1, 2014

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April Fool's Day

April Fool’s Day

The joke goes something like:

An atheist complained to a friend, “Christians have their special holidays, such as Christmas and Easter; and Jewish folks celebrate their holidays, such as Passover and Yom Kippur. EVERY religion has its holidays. But we atheists,” he said, “have no recognized national holidays. It’s unfair discrimination.”

His friend replied, “Well … Why don’t you celebrate April first?”

There is plenty of scripture that compares the non-believer to a fool. I am convinced that in the Proverbs, wisdom = God’s word and the fool or foolish = non-believer.

In fact once, when Paul differentiated his inspired speaking from his own words, he said he was speaking as a fool. (2 Corinthians 11:16, 17, 21)

For fun today, here are five of my favorite verses that David and his son wrote about non-believers:

Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

Psalm 39:8 – Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!

Psalm 53:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Proverbs 10:23 – Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.


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