Thursday, July 31, 2014


An effective leader doesnt just say what others ought to do, but shows what leaders do.  Jesus shows us in Luke chapter four THE COURSE OF OUR SERVICE.  We do what Jesus did. 
As He embarks on His public ministrythree and one half years that changed the worldHe was active as Gods spokesman and soldier.  He shared the Gospel and He stood His ground. 
Jesus COMMUNICATED THE WORD (Luke 4:18b-21).  We see the words, preach and proclaim (twice).  He had a Word to declare.
·         It would be a message of good news to the poor, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor.”  None are so low the Gospel cannot reach them.

·         It would be a message of healing for the grieving, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.”   None are so brokenhearted that the Word cannot mend them.

 ·         It would be a message of liberty to those in bondage, To proclaim liberty to the captives.”  None are so enslaved that the truth cannot free them. 

·         It would be a message that brought light to the blind, And recovery of sight to the blind.”  None are so blind that God’s light cannot restore them.

 ·         It would be a message of deliverance to the oppressed, To set at liberty those who are oppressed,” None are so burdened that God’s promises cannot lift them.
What Jesus said was in the context of the Jewish Year of Jubilee.
And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.  Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.   And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.  That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine.  For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession.  And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another.  According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you.  According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops.  Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.  (Leviticus 25:8-17)
Christ said His message was, To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”  Jesus is our Jubilee—the fulfillment in His New Covenant what was prefigured under the Old Covenant.

What Christ communicated is the same message Christian leaders today need to declare.  Our message can inspire those we lead to rise above their circumstances and become all God means for them to be. 
But you will soon discover that plenty of people are opposed to the light.  They dont want the Gospel for the poor, because in their pride they wont admit their spiritual bankruptcy.   Rather than embracing the pain of a broken heart and seeking the Healer, they callus their heart to shut out the pain.  Such refuse to admit their slavery, proclaiming their liberation.  They hide from the light because they dont want to see the dirt on their soul.  These reject the idea of needing help for their burdens asserting their independence.   Their mocking attitude was addressed by Jesus,
He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!  Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ”  Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.  (Luke 4:23-24)
People seemed impressed as a first response, but then took a second look.
Jesus, in His leadership then not only communicated the Word, He COMBATED THE WICKED (Luke 4:22-30). 
·         Some of these wicked opponents were the skeptical, So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.  And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’ ” (Luke 4:22).  There are always those who want to make Jesus only a good man.  We must fight that error.  It is when you say Jesus is the only Way and we must bow to Him that people will reject you.

·         There are also the hateful. 

But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”  So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.  Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. (Luke 4:25-30) 

 They wanted to kill Him already!   Jesus illustrated from Scripture two instances where the Jews rejected Gods work and Gentiles instead received the miracle.  This was like throwing a lit match into a gas can!  Truth can be incendiary!
But a man is immortal until his lifework is done.  Jesus would dienot by being thrown down a hill, but raised up on one in crucifixion.  He would die according to the will of the Father and not the whims of men.  What a picture of Jesusnot some delicate, effeminate Christ of medieval portraitsbut a muscular man pushing the mob aside as He marched threw their gauntlet of fury. 

Like Jesus we need men who will take a stand no matter the costmen of courage and conviction.  We are following the footsteps of Jesus when this is the activity we conduct.  This is the course of our service.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me...” (Luke 4:16-18a).
As the Model Leader, Jesus described THE SOURCE OF OUR SERVICE.  Jesus had a supernatural assignment, so it required a supernatural ability.  Likewise, we have a task too great for human ability.  We must have Heavens anointing! 
Gods leadership standard demands one who is SCRIPTURALLY EQUIPPED, So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written...” (v.16-17).   Jesus was a student of and in submission to the Word of God.  For our service to be effective, we must be Scripturally equipped.  Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  God’s kind of leader knows the administration manual is the Holy Book and follows its direction.
Furthermore, the leader who emulates the Jesus model will be SPIRITUALLY EMPOWERED, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me...”  (v.18a).  Remember how after His baptism the Dove had descended upon Him.  Following that we read how He went into the wilderness to do battle with the Devil, “filled with the Spirit” as He was “led by the Spirit.”  (Luke 4:1)  He went out to minister, “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). 
When early church leaders were chosen, the preeminent qualifications were, “men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.”  (Acts 6:3) They would be men Scripturally equipped—the source of their wisdom—and supernaturally empowered—the source of their strength.  This is the standard for leadership in the church today—for pastors, deacons, or whatever task we have.

It is time for church leaders to raise the level of their experience to the high bar God has set, rather than bring the bar down to the level of our experience!  It is not hard to jump over a bar designed for the limbo instead of the high jump!  Yet, that is the failure we are succeeding in accomplishing far too often.  Churches are crumbling because leaders are stumbling short of God’s standard.  Lord, help me to what I can’t do apart from You!

Monday, July 28, 2014


So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:16-21)
Years ago it was the rage to wear a rubber wristband that had the letters WWJDand you would see it in other placest-shirts, bumper stickers, and so forth.  It meant, What Would Jesus Do? 
But, I like the letters WDJD better: What Did Jesus Do? because if we know what He did, then we know what we are supposed to do.  Before Christ ascended back to heaven He told His disciples, As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.  His mission is our mandate.

Let’s do a spiritual inventory this week and see how we measure up!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.  For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.  Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.  And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.”  (Luke 4:9-15) 
Here was a shortcut to being acclaimed as the Messiah.  He could make a grand entrance and have the applause of the masses in the place of prayer below.   It was a temptation to the pride of life. 
The Devil even quotes Scripture as an incentive to take the leap of faith, which was really not faith, but presumption! 
The sly speech of the serpent, however, is taken out of context.   This is what false religion does.  Lets examine the original quote and see how Satan amended it:
For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.  You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. (Psalm 91:11-13)
I think we can see why the Devil left out a significant part.  First, he ended the phrase, For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you” and omitted, “in all your ways.”  His ways were ever the Father’s ways, as He did not come to do His own will, but to glorify the Father’s name by doing His work.  It is even more apparent why Satan would not quote verse thirteen, “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.”  This predicted the Devil’s demise!  It is the very thing Christ was doing in the desert—overcoming Satan who goes about as a roaring lion (1 Pet.5:8) and stomping the Old Serpent’s head underfoot (Gen.3:15).
Satan whimpers off like a scolded puppy.  James 4:7 says, Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  But he wont go far, and wont stay long.  As with Jesus, Satan will watch for an opportunity later to assail us again.  He is nothing, if not persistent!
Jesus proved His impeccable credentials and was now ready to embark on His mission with great power.  He was tested and triumphant.  Gods voice had spoken His approval from heaven at His baptism and now His victory had given the assurance of holiness in His temptation. 
May God help us to be tried and trueHis tool to do our task for Him.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”   (Luke 4:5-8)  
The crown rightfully belonged to Christ.  The glory of the world’s kingdoms should have been His to claim.  But, first He would have to wear a crown of suffering before He could wear a crown of sovereignty.  Humiliation would precede exaltation. 
Adam had been given dominion over the earth, but forfeited that when he sinned.  Satan claimed the kingdoms of men.  In fact, Jesus called the Devil, “The prince of this world.”  Now, he offers the scepter back to Jesus—and all He must do is worship him.  That is what the angel Lucifer craved that turned him into Satan.  If he could but get Jesus to bow and worship, he would have what he wanted. 
Of course, Christ rejected it—and by quoting the Word of God.  That is how you overcome temptation.  The Psalmist said, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  (Ps.119:11)  Each time Satan attacked, Jesus gave the counterthrust with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
All the quotes that Jesus used were from Deuteronomy.  How many of us could recite three verses from that book?  We might argue, “But being God, Jesus was omniscient!”  Indeed, but recall that He had limited Himself in living as a man.  His knowledge of Scripture wasn’t the product of Divine attributes, but of diligent study—the same way we can—and must.
Spend time looking into the Word and it will diminish the appeal of the world.  Scripture provides a lens through which we can correctly view how worthless this world is compared to the value of eternity.  That knowledge will aid us in triumph over the lust of the eyes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.  And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” (Luke 4:1-4) 
When did this temptation occur?  It was after an occasion of unparalleled blessing.  Some of the most dangerous times you will face are after such times.  Christ had just been baptized and heard Heavens approvaland now He will engage in a titanic test with the Tempter.  You cannot drop your guard for a moment.  Satan is like a poisonous viper coiled to strike as soon as you cease to be on the watch for him. 
Thankfully, Jesus was ready.  He goes out in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.  But, so can you.  We are no match for the Devil in our own strength and wisdom, yet we are foolish to think we mustwhen God intends for us to be filled with His Mighty Spirit.  Indeed this test was ordained of God.  Jesus was not only filled with the Spirit, but it says He was led by the Spirit.  God will never lead you into a war you cant win.  If he brings you to it, He will bring you through it. 
Where did this conflict occur?  In the wildernessand isnt that an apt description of the battlefield we find ourselves onthe wilderness of this world?  It was in the wilderness that Israel was tested for 40 years and failed, and it is in the wilderness where Jesus is tested for 40 days and wins! 
What was the nature of this temptation?  He fasts for that period of forty daysto the limits of human endurance, and is famished and fatigued at the end.  Then Satan tempts him to fulfill a God-given drive in an illegitimate way.  He suggests, The end justifies the means.  It is a pragmatic approach to life that asks, Will you get the right results?  The world functions that waynaturally.  Sadly, the church has bought into the same philosophy far too often.  This is a man-centered approach that appeals to our desires.  What we need is a God-centered approach that rests in Gods designs.  Jesus had this theological approach to life that asked, Will this be the right thing?
It was then that Jesus overcomes the lust of the flesh by a greater appetite for the Word of God.  The body requires food, but life is about more than our bodyfor we have a spiritual side to nourish as well.  The Lord always did thisdaily feeding on that which put strength into His souland thus, when the battle broke, He had the resources in reserve to answer the challenge.
Have you fed on Gods Word this morning?  That is how we have triumph over the lust of the flesh!


Monday, July 21, 2014


Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. ... Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.  (Luke 4:1-2a, 13)
You can love the Lord or you can love the worldnot both.  Jesus said you cannot serve two mastersyou will choose one.  John tells us that these loves are in conflictone negates the other.  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15).  
What do we mean by the world? 
Obviously not the planet—this is my Father’s world.  He created it and pronounced it, “Good.”  Although I am not to worship the creation, the creation declares the glory of the Creator.  I am to be a good steward of that which God has fashioned. 
Neither is the world John writes of speaking of the people, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son...” and I must love people.  If I love God then I love those who are made in His image. 
“The world” I am not to love is a principle of evil, a spiritual power that permeates man in rebellion against God with the passions, philosophies, practices, pursuits and pleasures that mark it.  John described it in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”  We might define this unholy trinity as hedonism, “the lust of the flesh” or the love of pleasure; materialism, “the lust of the eyes” or the love of possessions; egotism, “the pride of life” or the love of position:  sensuality, stuff and status that sinners seek.
These, Christ steadfastly resisted.  Jesus was tested at every point, and was triumphant.  He came and showed us how man was to live.  He did not face these temptations as God or they would have been no test at all—nor helpful to we creatures of flesh and blood who are not ominpotent.  Rather, as a true man, Jesus fought and won the same way that we can.  This is the way to victory.  Let us study His manner carefully and by God’s Spirit apply it consistently, and we too can though tested can be triumphant.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli...the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.  (Luke 3:23,38) 
Luke, the meticulous historian, in the third chapter of his Gospel, begins with a list of political leaders to set the historical context of the ministry of John the Baptist as the herald of King Jesus.  Then, he concludes that chapter with another list of names to set the genealogical context for the mission of the Messiah.  Reading such a catalog of names—several of which are virtually unknown and even unpronounceable with any certainty—challenges us to skip over those portions of the text.  That would be a mistake.  There is a lesson to LEARN!
The royal lineage was what qualified someone to be a king.  Jesus’ heritage establishes His legal right to the throne of David.  But further, it extends back to Adam, so that He was fully man, but then to God—so He was fully God.  God set Adam in the Garden and gave him dominion, but in disobedience that was forfeited.  Now, Jesus comes as the Last Adam that by His obedience all that the First Adam lost may be restored.  In the next event, Jesus will march right out into the wilderness and do battle with Satan.  When Satan questioned the Word of God, Adam and Eve were deceived and disobedient.  But when Satan questions Jesus, Christ will rely on the Word of God and overcome the wicked one.
The genealogies found in Matthew and Luke differ at certain points.  There are at least a couple of good explanations.  I think the best is that Matthew’s is Joseph’s biological line and establishes Christ’s legal right to reign through His adoptive father, and Luke gives us the biological connection through Mary.  The fact that she isn’t mentioned and only Joseph would again be a legal matter, making her marriage to Joseph meeting the requirement for Christ to be King—and yet the blood of royalty literally ran through Christ’s veins, imparted by His mother.  Matthew’s genealogy starts with Abraham and goes through David to Jesus.  This suited Matthew’s purpose to present Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews—the Son of David and Son of Abraham.  Matthew writes as a Jew to the Jews.  Luke, on the other hand, begins with Jesus and winds his way back through family history to Adam and his creation by God.  Luke is a Gentile addressing a Gentile audience.  His intent is to present Jesus as the Son of Man and Savior of the world.  The missionary heart of Luke’s mentor, Paul, always bleeds through his writing.
Jesus is the only One qualified to be our Mediator.  He is both one of us and Other than us—Son of God and son of Adam—that He might bring men to God.  Understanding who Jesus is should lead us to cry out to Him as Savior and bow before Him as Lord.  That is essential for getting ready to meet God.
Are you prepared to meet God?  If not, then you need to come to Christ without delay!  You may be connected with the church, but have you truly repented of your sins?  Is there fruit?  If not then the ax of judgment will fall!
If you have repented of your sins, have you publicly acknowledged that in baptism?  Following Christ into the water is a necessary first step in following Him for a lifetime.
As John prepared the way for Christ’s first coming, so we are to prepare people for His second.  Are you being God’s voice in the world?  Do you fear and back down?  Let us pray for the boldness of that herald of the King, John the Baptist.  Let us summon the lowliest of society to know they can be forgiven and be washed and made children of the King.  May we not hesitate to confront the highest in authority and call them sinners in need of repentance though such courageous conviction costs us dearly.  It would cost John everything.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”  (Luke 3:21-22) 
Jesus was, is and shall ever be utterly, inexpressibly holy.  No wonder then, that as John came to baptize Him, even so great a mortal as John the Baptist (Jesus said there had been none greater) balked at placing his hands on Him and immersing Him.  John was baptizing sinners—and Jesus did not belong to that crowd.  John himself said he wasn’t worthy to assume the position of the lowliest slave and stoop and loosen Christ’s sandal thongs, much less have Jesus submit to him in baptism!  Still, John listened and did as Christ required—and then he heard something else.
There is need to LISTEN!  Not only did John listen, but we need to do so as God speaks through this text.  To the voice of the Herald was added the Voice out of Heaven.  This is the Father’s affirmation of the absolute faithfulness of His Son.  For the eighteen years after the episode in the Temple, He has lived a spotless life.  Not once did Jesus as a boy fail to honor Joseph and Mary in their parental role.  Never did a lie slip from His lips as a teenager.  As a true man, reaching young adult life, He steadfastly refused to look at a woman with lust.  At age thirty, when John declares Him to be the Lamb of God, He is without spot or blemish, absolutely qualified to be the perfect fulfillment of what the Passover lamb pictured.
This makes it all the more remarkable that Jesus comes along with sinners to be baptized by John!  Imagine—in front of the lengthy line of baptismal candidates waiting their turn to step into the Jordan River, there may have been a remorseful prostitute in front of Him, and a repentant homosexual behind Him.  We know there were all manner of scoundrels there.  So, why was Jesus among them?
He was identifying with them—and that was His mission.   These were the very people He came to reach.  God did not leave us in our hopeless state, but He came to us!  In the act of baptism He was declaring His death, burial and resurrection.  This was a Gospel message, which is declared every time someone is baptized.  Being baptized was a step of obedience required—a positive act, and not only was Christ not guilty of a sin of commission (doing the wrong thing), He could not be accused of a sin of omission (failing to do the right thing).
Christ’s purity was ever reinforced by prayer.  We hear Him lifting up His voice in prayer as He is lifted up from the water.  Such intimacy with His Father was indispensable in maintaining His impeccable life.  How we who are so weak in comparison to Him can think we will stand strong until we kneel in weakness is beyond me.  It is foolish!  If I don’t win the battle in prayer, I am beaten before the Devil ever shows up—and he is coming to encounter us (Luke 4:1-13), lurking right around the corner.
His obedience and prayer brought down the anointing of the Spirit for His ministry.  The Dove descended from heaven and rested upon Him.  His life was continuously, conspicuously and comprehensively related to and reliant upon the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was conceived in holiness in the virgin’s womb by the Holy Spirit’s creative act.  Being always submissive to the Father’s will, there was never a time Jesus was not filled with the Holy Spirit.  Now, as He embarks on three and one-half years of ministry, the unction and anointing of the Spirit comes upon Him to enable Him to do the work.
I am called as a child of God to be holy for He is holy.  Followers of Christ need to emulate His actions.  Though I will not be sinless, I need to seek to sin less.  To submit to God’s will for me as Christ did in baptism, and publicly confess my allegiance to Him is the first step.  Then, I need to maintain close communion with God in prayer—daily and throughout the day.  The same Holy Spirit can fill me inside with His grace and come upon me in power for godly character and conduct if I will seek Him.  Thus, God can speak His benediction on my life as He did for His only Begotten Son!  Not to the same degree, of course, but any commendation from the Father is precious indeed.