Have you ever planted something that didn’t yield any produce? Maybe an apple tree, or a raspberry bush. If it never gave you any fruit, you probably tore it out and put something new in its place. Jesus speaks of us in the same way. If we don’t produce the fruit of repentance, we too will be cut down. Repentance is a matter of life and death. Which will you choose?
Would you be ready if Christ returned tonight? Would you have an answer if tomorrow you had to stand before God? We don’t know when Christ will come for the final judgment. But we must be ready for it. Jesus warns us that he will be coming back soon, and gives us hope that we can put our trust in Him.
“Ready or not, here I come!” These are the works spoken in the child’s game of hide and seek. But one day they will be spoken by Jesus Christ. Those who haven’t hidden themselves in Christ will find out that life is not a game. Our decisions have eternal consequences. How should we be living now to prepare for Christ’s return?
We all know that worrying is useless. It won’t give us more time in our day, and will cause us to work slower. Worrying won’t provide the clothes we need, or our food. Yet for some reason so many of us are addicted to this useless activity. Jesus commands his people not to worry and gives some very good reasons why we shouldn’t.
It seems to be ingrained in us to always want more. We want to get ahead, to make our lives pleasant and comfortable. We want to secure our future, so we prepare for retirement. It’s easy for us to be busy storing up our wealth, forgetting that we are told not to gain treasure here on earth, but rather in heaven.
We hear stories of people in other places and times boldly trusting God and proclaiming his name, even to death. That often seems very far away from the reality of our lives. But we, too, must courageously stand for Christ.
Jesus was not the “nice” guy we often make him out to be. He was notorious for creating uncomfortable situations, and sometimes offended the very people who were feeding him. Today we’ll be looking at one such dinner party. The chances of Jesus staying for dessert at this home are very slim – in fact, his hosts are beginning to cook up a very different plan for him.
When Christians get offended we often call it “righteous anger”. But usually it’s only our personal preferences or sensibilities that have been violated. Today we’ll learn about how to identify hypocrisy in ourselves, and what to do about it.
How often have you heard someone say “if God would just give me a sign, then I would believe in him”? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. People have been asking for a sign to prove God’s existence for centuries. When skeptics asked Jesus to prove that he was God, he said their only sign would be the sign of Jonah.
It may look great to other people when we clean up our lives and live morally. But self-help methods end up hurting us in the end. The truth is we can’t help ourselves. When we try, we open ourselves to the attacks of the devil who loves to take possession of our souls. What we need is for Jesus Christ to take possession instead.
It’s easy to give up on praying when we don’t see immediate answers. In a culture where instant gratification is the norm, persevering in prayer is a strange concept. But God calls us to continually come before him with boldness. We can have confidence that when we pray according to God’s promises, he will be faithful and delighted to answer them.
Lord, teach us how to pray. The plea that resounds through history started with the disciples. So Jesus taught them. The one who was in constant communication with his Father, showed his disciples how they could have the same relationship.
They say if you want to get something done, give it to someone who’s already busy. Martha was that person. She knew how to get it done, and was great at serving. But somehow in her preparation for Jesus’ visit she forgot the most important thing: the person she was serving.
Everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It shows how we need to be more compassionate to those around us. We need to love others in tangible ways, even across social and religious barriers. But when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, he wasn’t just trying to inspire us to be better people. There was a lot more to it.
Jesus’ followers came to Him full of excitement because they where able to cast out demons. Jesus responds that they should instead be even more joyful because their names are written in the book of life. What does Jesus mean by this? Why shouldn’t his followers rejoice in casting out demons?
Jesus sends 72 of his followers ahead of Him to the towns he’ll soon visit. He tells them to take nothing with them – not even a change of underwear! This is a strange move for a King: to have his ambassadors rely on people’s hospitality while having nothing tangible to give in return. Jesus gives his followers some other rather strange instructions as well.
The demands of Christ may be more than we think. We want to pencil Jesus into our schedules. But Jesus refuses to be squeezed in. He wants to have our whole lives. Today we’ll wrestle with what it means to follow Christ – and not look back.
One of our primary jobs as Christians is to represent Christ. But instead of showing people who he is, we often get in the way. Today we will examine our own lives and see how well we represent our Savior.
Sometimes we envy the disciples who actually walked and talked with Jesus. We think if we could just touch him, we’d have a greater faith. Or if we could only see Jesus face to face, following him would be a lot easier.
Do you feel comfortable with your life right now? Are all your ducks in a row? Is your life running smoothly and comfortably? Today we’ll look at what it means to follow Christ. The way we live now has huge eternal implications.
Peter has a reputation as being the loudmouth of the disciples. When asked who Jesus is, he blurts out that he is the Christ of God. This confession has a lot of implications for who Christ is and what he does. Are you able to make this same confession? Do you know Jesus as your Christ?
What is impossible for man is easy for God. The disciples learned this first hand when Jesus commanded them to feed five thousand hungry men. After insisting that they couldn’t possibly achieve such a feat, they watched Jesus simply break bread and have it multiply in his hands. But Jesus did much more that, He taught his disciples some extremely valuable lessons.
Doing something is often the best way to learn it. That’s why Jesus sent his apostles out on an internship. He told them to spread the gospel with their words and their actions – healing the sick and casting out demons. From their trip, the apostles learned valuable lessons of what it means to trust God. These lessons still apply to us today.
When people come to Jesus in extreme situations, he offers them extreme solutions. A man’s daughter dies while he is begging Jesus for help. He speaks to the girl and she comes to life again. A woman has been bleeding for years, and no doctor can help. Jesus heals her and brings her back into the relationships she’s not had for years. Let’s see how Jesus responds to those who have faith in him.
Do you remember the story of Jesus allowing a bunch of demons to enter a herd of pigs? We find if funny but it is no laughing matter. Today we’ll be looking at how Jesus responded to a demon possessed man. And how the community reacts when that man is given a new life at the cost of a herd of pigs?
Do you feel like a storm has taken over your life? Have you recently been faced with unemployment, a sudden illness, or some other painful event? Jesus’ and His disciples were sailing across a lake when an unexpected storm blew in. The Storm was so strong that even these experienced sailors feared for their lives. They frantically came to Jesus, who was asleep in the boat. Sometimes we feel Jesus doesn’t care about the danger in our lives. But He does care. Jesus is able to calm our storms just as he calmed the disciples’ storm at sea.
Have you ever been told that you look just like one of your parents? Or maybe you have the same mannerisms as a brother or sister. What about your spiritual family? Do you live in such a way that others will be able to see the family resemblance? Is it easy to see from your actions that you are a child of God?
Jesus gives His followers a parable to teach them how people respond to the good news of the Gospel. Some people embrace it enthusiastically, but quickly fall away because it wasn’t rooted deep within them. Others have it snatched from them before it even enters their consciousness. Still others believe, but when they tested, the truth gets strangled inside of them. There are some people, however, in whom the Word of God firmly takes root and produces wonderful fruit in their lives and the lives of others. What kind of person are you?
A prostitute walks into the dinner party of a prominent religious leader. She cries over Jesus’ feet, then uses her hair to dry the tears. She then pours very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. The religious leader is indignant. Surely Jesus can’t be a prophet if he’s letting this woman touch him! The Pharisee is in for a powerful lesson today concerning his own sinfulness and lack of love.
Are you disillusioned with God? Are you disappointed because your expectations haven’t been met? Maybe God didn’t heal you or provide certain finances? John the Baptist dealt with these same struggles. The very man who proclaimed Christ as the Messiah was now doubting that himself. John dealt with his doubts in a way that sets an example for each of us.
Have you ever been faced with someone who is mourning a death, and not known how to respond? It’s easy to turn away and not comfort them, because we don’t know what to say or how to handle their grief. Jesus meets grief head on. When faced with a widow who was burying her only son, He doesn’t shy away from the uncertainty of what to do. How does Jesus Christ confront death?
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.