Most of us would like to have more authority. We would like people to do what we want, when we want it. The centurion in Luke actually did have this kind of influence. When he said something, it was done. But when this powerful man came across Jesus, the centurion was the only one who recognized that his authority amounted to nothing in comparison to that of Jesus’.
Everyone is in a way like a tree. We can each bear a certain kind of fruit. A friend might bear bad fruit because of his thoughtless actions. While a coworker bear good fruit, which is seen in her work habits. How does a person produce good or bad fruit, and how can you change the fruit of your own life?
We all love to point out the faults of others. It’s difficult to see anything wrong with ourselves. Other people’s sins always seem much bigger than our own. How do we live that we hold others accountable for their actions, while not being hypocrites ourselves? How do we take the speck out of our friend’s eye when we have a log in our own?
You know some times it’s hard to love the people we like. If our friends and family can drive us crazy, how can we expect to love people with we don’t want to be around? We all know many people who have this problem. Jesus commands us though to love in this seemingly impossible way. How can we follow Jesus Christ’s example of loving our enemies?
Most leaders want a stellar group of followers to represent them and do their bidding. Some gather a group of intellectuals. Others surround themselves with people who are wealthy. Still others find followers with social influence. But who is it that Jesus chose as his apostles?
Do you feel like your life is always in the fast lane? Are you worn out juggling your job, your family, and your other relationships? Do you wish you could help others, but are too burnt out or simply don’t have time? Do you find yourself yearning for a space in life where you can rest? Jesus offers a rhythm of life that provides new joy and rest.
Have you ever warned your kids not to hang out with the wrong crowd? The ones who cheated and did drugs, and didn’t have good character? We Always tell our kids to choose their friends wisely. But did Jesus himself follow these rules when picking out his disciples and friends? Who did he hang out with and why?
Sin makes us like first century lepers: disfigured, unacceptable both to God and other people, and unable to help even ourselves. The leper in Luke was an outcast. He was considered as good as dead by his society, but he still ran to Jesus and cried out for healing. How did Jesus respond to him? How does he respond to us when we turn to him for new life?
Have you ever been doing something that you love. But then something else so important came up that you gladly dropped everything for it? Well Peter found himself in this exact spot when Jesus came along. He was faced with a decision that could change his entire life forever. How did he respond to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Different people exercise their authority in different ways. A general does it by barking out orders and enforcing strict military discipline. The traffic officer does it by blowing his whistle and by handing out citations. The tax man does it by conducting an audit and assessing penalties. But how is it that the Lord Jesus Christ exercised his authority?
Who is Jesus? And what does he want with me? We have heard the news of his virgin birth. We have witnessed his baptism as the beloved Son. We have seen his struggle with Satan and listened to his preaching of the gospel. And as we look and as we listen, we are confronted again and again with his claims.
Of all the great sermons that have ever been preached since the beginning of the world, there’s no greater sermon than the sermon that Jesus preached in his home town of Nazareth. It was a sermon for bringing people to saving faith, for giving them hope in trouble, for helping them to see the glory of the Son of God.
Jesus had come to destroy the devil, to liberate people who were enslaved to Satan by sin, and rather than waging a secret war or launching some kind of sneak attack, Jesus took the fight directly to Satan.
We are passing away and shall soon be gone. This is what it means to be a human being, and we need to face it. We are born. We live a short time during which we sin and then we die. From the very beginning, God had promised to send a Savior to a long and fallen line of sinners.
It is regularly tempting to think of the one who baptizes as more spiritual, than the one being baptized. We may even be tempted to think of the baptizer as being even greater in value because of his position. But Jesus turned this temptation upside down when He was baptized by John the Baptist.
We hear of the importance of preparation everywhere. People need to prepare for all kinds of things, exams, interviews, visitors, children, marriage, deadlines, taxes and even death. Now God did not need to prepare the way for Jesus to bring salvation to the world, but he did.
In the early 1970s the good people at the TOPS chewing gum company produced a series of baseball cards that featured boyhood photos of the stars. Each card featured a black and white photograph of some baseball all-star when he was a young boy. And then in the corner there was a contemporary picture of him for the purpose of comparison.
There is no salvation without the cross and the empty tomb. And yet what Simeon said is really true when he saw baby Jesus, saying, “I have seen salvation. I’ve really seen the whole thing... because seeing Jesus is all that anyone needs to be saved.”
Angels came with a message of joyful praise; they revealed the identity of the newborn baby Jesus to the shepherds. The shepherds took the angels by their word and went to see Jesus. The result was worship and sharing the good news of the coming of the Savior of the world.
One of the great mysteries of the universe is the fact that when God the Son became a man he spent his first night in a barn. Now why was Jesus born like this? What does the crude and unwelcome poverty of his birth tell us about the way of salvation?
After long months of pregnancy, and hard hours of labor, old Elizabeth had her baby, and the whole town came over to celebrate. In a small village, any birth is a public event, but under these circumst
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ met while their mothers were still carrying them in their wombs. Elizabeth acknowledged the young One in Mary’s womb as Lord, and John leapt in excitement. It was an i
An angel visits a young girl, telling her that she would conceive and bear a son. His name was to be God saves, and He was to be son of the Most High. He would be given the throne of David, His father.
As the early Christians looked back at Jesus’ ministry, they recognized what God had done through Him. They also realized that God’s work had actually been started through John the Baptist. John was the forerunner, the herald, sent ahead to announce the coming of Christ.
Doubt. Little by little it gnaws away at the soul. Now to be sure, there are times when Christianity seems to make all the sense in the world - when the mysteries of the faith appear so certain that it would be foolish even to call them into question, and yet there are also times when we have our doubts.
Have you ever looked at a work of modern art and been puzzled as to its message or purpose? So much of the art in the world today seems to be odd that we find it hard to fit it into our Christian world-view. But what’s the bigger question … what role do the arts play in the church today? What does God say about the arts? And what kind of art glorifies God?
“You belong to me.” Did you know that there are over 50 songs that have been written about those four simple words? Jazz, pop, country -- artists of all kinds of music have written lyrics about this concept that conveys such strong feelings. But these feelings didn’t start with us.
Is your prayer life where you want it to be? Do you ever feel like the words you’re trying to lift up to God’s ear just fall to the floor the minute they leave your lips? We all feel like that at times.
Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? It’s easy to wonder -- we don’t always feel like our lives are achieving any greatness. Well, there is a purpose...but with all the difficulties and distractions of daily life, it is easy for us to get lost in the details.
We often describe our Christian communities as a “body of believers” or “God’s church family.” You might call yourself a “believer” or a “follower of Christ.” But do you ever think of yourself as a priest, or as part of a royal priesthood?
Most of us wear our “Sunday best” for church. We try to look a little nicer than normal, as it’s after all for worship. So too the priests of Israel had fine garments they had to wear when entering into God’s presence. But one Priest didn’t wear them when he made His sacrifice. He didn’t need outward splendor -- he had a splendor all his own.
Have you ever wanted to know exactly what God wanted you to do? Decision-making can be difficult, and when it’s time to make an important life choice, people often wish that God would write his will for them in the sky. What they fail to see is that God has revealed his will for them. He has even given us an instruction manual on how his children should go about learning just what his will is.
The priests of the Old Testament were holy men with a holy calling. They were servants of God, offering sacrifices to Him for the entire nation of Israel day and night. They had the high privilege of entering into the Holy Place were God was. They wore sacred and beautiful garments. But they weren’t perfect. They were still sinners -- except for One. And this Priest has offered the perfect and final sacrifice.
Many people today say that they want to know God. However, what they're really interested in is what God can do for them. They’ve got a lot of questions they’d like him to answer, problems they’d like him to solve, and blessing they’d like him to give. But this is not how God operates. God is holy, we’re not, and before anything else happens, something has to be done about our sin.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, President Ronald Reagan spoke of the astronauts as having “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” This phrase expresses one of our deepest longings. We want to meet with God. We want to see him -- the only problem is, we’re sinners. We stretch the truth. We use our money selfishly...these sins keep us from God. And that’s why we need Jesus.
Do you find it hard to be one of the only Christian at your work place? How much do you talk about your faith to the other parents at your child’s school? It’s not easy, but there are so many people living in darkness who cross our paths each day who need to hear about the light that God offers to sinners. The only way to have the light of God is to come to faith in Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the light of the world,” and that’s a message you can help tell them deliver as you shine for Christ in this dark, dark world.
In today's struggling economy, a lot of us have come to a place that we thought we would never be...worrying about how we will meet our needs. If you've lost your job, you're probably worried about how you will pay your bills and provide food for your family. And you may feel like nobody understands or knows your needs. But someone does. And he knows your needs even better than you do.
Have you ever wondered how the Old Testament is relevant to you? Could studying the building plans of God’s Tabernacle help you in your life today? Well, the Bible makes an explicit connection between the tabernacle in Exodus and the coming of Christ. God gave us his Son, just as he gave Israel the tabernacle, only this time he didn’t just pitch a tent! He took on our flesh and blood in order to give us direct access to God.
The Bible teaches us that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I think the reverse is also true, that where our hearts are, that is where we put our treasure. So if all this is true why do we spend so much money on earthly things? Well, it’s because our hearts are hard. But when we give back to God what he has given to us, we have the privilege to participate in God’s work of spreading the Gospel.
Boasting is never attractive. But have you ever noticed that, despite the fact that nobody likes a bragger, everybody brags anyway? And what about? Our brain power, our muscle power, our buying power...anything that makes us feel like we are better than someone else. But when we come to know Jesus, we humbly realize that we have nothing, except for his cross, to boast about. And for the cross we should boast eagerly.
Have you ever broken the law? We’ve all had the occasional traffic violation or parking ticket.... but many of us try to lead good lives. We go to church every week, help others, we’re not lawbreakers... or are we? The Bible says we are. In fact, we have so often broken God’s Law that we have accumulated an infinite debt to him. That infinite debt, that we could never pay back, was completely erased -- completely cleared -- on the cross at Calvary.
Christians believe that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with his resurrection, was the most important event in the history of the world. To Christians, the cross of Christ is the source of all hope and comfort. Yet the same cross that is so attractive to the followers of Christ is exactly what keeps others from coming to him at all. How could there be any power in a man hanging on a cross?
If I were to ask you "Are you at war with anyone?" you would probably be surprised, maybe even offended. And why would that be such a strange question? Probably because we all want to think of ourselves as peace loving individuals. But the fact is, we are at war, with God. The good news is, that God has made a peace offering towards us. Will you accept it?
Most of us in our day to day lives feel pretty good about ourselves. We're generally truthful. We put in an honest day's work. We are by and large, good people...good enough to get into heaven...or are we? The Bible teaches us that we are helpless, hopeless, and unrighteous. The good news is, that's not the end of the story.
Grotesque, morbid, unsightly... those words describe something that is at the very heart of Christianity. It's something that is preached and taught about all the time in the Christian faith. I'm talking about Christ's crucifixion. And while some may find it too brutal, or think it unnecessary... because of our sin, it is essential to our very salvation. For wherever the cross disappears, true Christianity also disappears.
Peter was a big disciple. He was the first disciple to trust Christ with his life. He left his career and followed God. But even Peter denied Christ... not once but three times! But thankfully Jesus Christ did not abandon Peter. He picked him up after he had fallen, set him back on his feet, and encouraged him to continue to grow in his faith. And the good news is that this same encouragement is available to us when we stumble.
The Bible teaches that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most significant events in human history. The reason Jesus rose from the dead was to conquer sin and death once and for all. That sounds like critical information for all of us to hear. But the question you might be asking is this: “Is what the Bible says about Jesus really true? Did Jesus of Nazareth actually come back to life?”
“I need just a little peace and quiet.” That’s something we’ve all said on occasion. It may seem innocent enough, but the truth is, deep down inside, we all long for peace... in our relationships, at our workplace, in our families. Often these areas of our lives have very little peace, even though we may work hard at it. The problem is, real, genuine peace in our lives only comes after we make peace with God.
The times we live in are difficult, some might even say tumultuous. If you look around you can find much to be afraid about...the economy, current world affairs, wars. We can let our fears get to us, or we can stop, and take a minute to look at what the Bible has to teach us about this world, fear, our future, and the courage we can have as we face all of those things.
Have you ever left a project unfinished? Our lives are filled with projects that we have never quite managed to complete. We have half-read books on our shelves and piles of junk left abandoned from hobbies we've started, but never finished. Thankfully Jesus Christ did not leave the great project of his life unfinished. He got the job done, He accomplished the mission.