From Investing to Interceding

March 30, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Luke 19:11

People were expecting a political and military revolution, but instead Jesus taught a parable. It is a parable about a nobleman or a king who had to leave his kingdom for a while, but is going to come back.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:13

He leaves some of his funds with these servants and tells them to “occupy” – to put the funds to use – to get busy investing or using the funds to advance the kingdom to show their loyalty or faithfulness. “Pounds” is translated from the Greek word mna, which was about three months’ wages or the rough equivalent of $5000 today. When the nobleman gets back, he asks three of them for an accounting.

Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.

Luke 19:16

That’s a pretty good return, like investing $5000 and receiving another $150,000 in return!

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Luke 19:7

The nobleman tells him he has done a good job, and that his reward is… more work! But it’s honorable work.

And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.

Luke 19:18

This is not as much, but still really good.

And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

Luke 19:19-20

I’m no investment expert, but I’m thinking “hide the money in the napkin” is not the wisest investment plan – and certainly not the most proactive. Here’s his excuse:

For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:

Luke 19:21-22

The nobleman basically tells him that he’s dug his own hole. The servant knew “about” his master, but he didn’t “know” his master. We need to be aggressively investing our lives, our talents, our funds, and especially the Gospel, because our Master is kind, but He is also going to demand an accounting.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

Luke 19:35

In the record of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem we see four attitudes about Him:

1. The Roman soldiers saw Jesus as innocuous.

This parade would have looked pretty silly to them. Do you have trouble taking Jesus seriously? You shouldn’t. He is eternally serious and significant.

2. The Jewish people saw Jesus as insurrectionary.

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

They wanted to see salvation in a visible way, and to see it right at that moment. They sang a Psalm of deliverance. They hoped Jesus would deliver them from Roman rule and re-establish the kingdom of Israel on earth the way King David had done. Do you see Jesus as only the answer to your financial or health or or marriage or parenting problems? I hope not. He is much more than that.

3. The religious leaders saw Him as inconvenient.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:39-40

He was a threat to their religious profiteering. Do you see Jesus as inconvenient, as though He is in the way of your “fun” or your career or your social climbing? I hope not. Jesus is more important than all of those things combined.

4. Jesus saw Himself as intervening and interceding.

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

Luke 19:41-42

Jesus loved the people He came to live and die for, and He loves you today. Jesus got involved and He prayed and He did something about the problem. We must do these things also. The love of Jesus is real love.

The Gospel of Luke emphasizes Jesus’s humanity: He is shown joking, crying, compassionate, concerned, and even angry:

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Luke 19:45-46

Matthew 21 and Mark 11 talk about Him turning over tables and casting out the religious profiteers who were desecrating the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus was not a faker. We should not be either. Be passionate rather than fake.

A Blind Beggar and a Short Order Crook

March 19, 2020 at 11:02 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | Leave a comment
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The Bible tells of two men who at first could not see Jesus – for different reasons. Was there a time when you wanted to see Jesus but could not? Do you remember what your reaction was the first time you did see Him?

And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

Luke 18:35

Jericho was on the way to Jerusalem, which is where Jesus and His followers were going for Passover. This blind beggar had probably strategically placed himself in the path of religious people.

And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Luke 18:36-38

He used the Messianic title, pleading for mercy. He understood what the Disciples did not: that the One Who can “save” (sozo) – who could fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah and truly deliver and heal blind people and cast out demons and make the lame to walk – was here, fulfilling the Scriptures. What an advertising campaign! Is this how you would choose to market your new business? Get some homeless blind guy to shout it out on the side of the highway? Or cause a disturbance somewhere, and when everybody gets mad at you, tell them all about it?

And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

Luke 18:39-42

The man got his sight because of his faith. Faith comes by hearing, not by seeing. We walk by faith and not by sight, although a desire to see is a very good thing.

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Luke 19:1-2

Zacchaeus was not only a crook, but a chief crook and a rich crook. We might also call him a “short” order crook.

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

Luke 19:3-4

Climbing up in a tree was not very dignified behavior for a rich publican.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

Luke 19:5

How would you feel about Jesus inviting Himself to your house?

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Luke 19:6

When you see Jesus, follow Him, talk about Him, and praise Him with others.

And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Luke 19:7

These people were talking about Zacchaeus, referring to Him as a sinner. Nobody ever really accused Jesus of being a sinner; they accused Him of being the friend of sinners.

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Luke 19:8

Zacchaeus’s reaction was the opposite of the rich young ruler’s reaction.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Luke 19:9

The true sons of Abraham are those who are truly saved.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

The Stones of Covetousness

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 9 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

Warning Sign #6: Visualization Techniques

July 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 13 Comments
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The false teaching of the prosperity gospel is partly about greed. Therefore, if you expect the prosperity preacher to talk about “claiming” and “grabbing” and “seizing” you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s good health, popularity with the world, or just plain old filthy lucre, though, the prosperity preacher knows one thing:

You have to see it before you reach it!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Speaking “words of faith” are all well and good. But if you’ve been speaking to your checkbook, your doctor’s appointment book, and your Facebook for a long time, and you still don’t have as many dollars, healings, or shallow friends as you would like – it just may be that you are not “visualizing” hard enough!

I have heard visualizing techniques attributed to all sorts of Biblical characters – from Abraham to Jabez to David to Zacchaeus. To be fair, Zacchaeus did seem to be a little (no pun intended) bit of a visualizer.

“See there!” says the prosperity preacher, “The Bible does teach that we are supposed to see what we want, and then reach for it!”

Not so fast. Zacchaeus had a desire to see, alright – but a desire to see what… or should I say Whom?

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Luke 19:3, emphasis added

Despite what the prosperity teacher tells you, remember: Our help comes from seeing Jesus – not the personal comforts we can concoct in our own imaginations.

So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:19, emphasis added

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

John 12:21, emphasis added

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added

The King Who Will Return

November 6, 2009 at 9:23 am | Posted in Luke, parables | 11 Comments
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As Jesus and His followers approached Jerusalem at the time of Passover, rumors began to spread of a rebellion against Rome. People were worked up and excited over the idea that Jesus would establish the throne of David, and rule His people. However, instead of inciting violence, Jesus told a parable.

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Luke 19:11

This parable serves as a warning to the people of God even today. It is a warning to stay busy until the Ruler of the Kingdom returns.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:13

What will believers on the Lord Jesus Christ do with the treasure of the Gospel message as we await the return of our King? Will we fail to guard it, and allow it to be taken from us and corrupted? Or will we, in seeking to protect it, hoard it up, and fail to put it to maximum use?

When the ruler in the parable returned to obtain an accounting of the treasure he had given the servants, he found that he could trust and reward those who had worked diligently with what they had been given.

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Luke 19:17

Today is the day for believers to get busy, and stay busy, using the great gift of the Gospel message to do the work of our Ruler, anticipating His soon return!

Trusted with the Treasure

June 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, parables, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
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If you are a born-again child of God, saved by grace, though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been entrusted with a great treasure. What is this treasure? It’s the Gospel message!

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

I Thessalonians 2:4

We have a responsibility to be keepers of, and stewards over, this treasure. That means we are to protect it, and put it to work, spreading it around, and causing it to multiply.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

I Timothy 6:20

In our finite minds we might wonder why Almighty God would ever entrust something as important as the Gospel into the care of the frail and faulty care-takers we so often are. However, God in His wisdom decided that such an arrangement best serves His glory.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:7

In Christ’s parable of the faithful and the unfaithful servants found in Luke 19:11-27, we see that all the servants were given a treasure. The ones who recognized the importance of this treasure were rewarded. We must never fail to recognize the significance of working for Christ. We do not work for our salvation, but as faithful stewards, we certainly ought to work because of it.

Quarterback Commandment No. 8

June 1, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 24 Comments
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When Bill Parcells included Commandment No. 8 in his list of Quarterback Commandments, he wanted Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, to be very conscious of time.

Quarterback Commandment No. 8: Learn to manage the game – personnel, play call, motions, ball handling, proper reads, accurate throws, play fakes. Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.

Spiritual Application: The life of a Christian quarterback involves much hectic multitasking, but we must not forget that we do not have a limitless amount of time to do the work of the Lord.

Let’s start with a strong dose of reality. NFL quarterbacks are not beleaguered martyrs. They are pampered multimillionaire superstars. Their wristwatches cost more than my house. They drive expensive cars, they live in mansions, and unless they get addicted to drugs, gambling, fast women, dogfighting, or bad investments, neither they nor their grandchildren, nor their grandchildren’s grandchildren, should ever need to lift a finger to do any real work a day in their lives. Do they receive some harsh criticism in the media? You bet. But, the bottom line is, they are worshiped, adored, and feted for playing a game. Do they deserve it? No, they don’t! Except for Romo – he deserves every penny, perk, and privilege. (Hey, leave me alone – I’m a Cowboys fan!)

Now, having taken that strong dose of reality, and having chased it down with a shot of levity, I hope you will, for spiritual illustration purposes, note that there are an impressive and daunting number of things that Parcells understands an NFL quarterback must tend to during each and every play:

Personnel: Which of my teammates are actually on the field for this particular play, and what particular skills and reactions are they capable of utilizing given the ever-changing situation?

Play call: Which of the 88 plays printed in microscopic code on my wristband, or being barked at me over my helmet phone, are we going to run next?

Motions: Which players are going to be moving around after we line up but before the ball is snapped, and which ones must remain completely motionless?

Play fakes: Will I make sure not to allow the ball to bump into my own player or a marauding defender in my own backfield, as I fake handoffs and passes in an attempt to misdirect the other team?

Proper reads: Which defenders are lined up where, and what does that mean about where I look first, and throw next?

Accurate throws: Will I need to loft a high floating pass beyond a linebacker’s outstretched fingers, or plant my feet and rifle a crisp bullet pass between a blanketing cornerback and a rapidly closing safety?

Ball handling: Oh yeah, I’ve got to remember to get a good firm grip on the ball before I snatch my hands from under the center’s rear-end, or none of this matters anyway!

And all this must be computed in about 25 seconds max (!), through a brain that wouldn’t have passed “hotel management” at Midwestern U without the help of “special tutoring.” As Parcells says, “Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.” I was pretty hard on the quarterbacks, as far as having things easy, but that is a lot to think about.

Now, Christian ministers, the quarterbacks of, not just a game, but the work of God’s Kingdom, must also be very conscious of time.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

We live in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. All the signs that we can discern from the Bible for Christ’s imminent return seem to be readily apparent. No man knoweth the exact hour or day. But Scripture is clear. We are to love, live, and lead as though the trumpet could sound at any moment.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:16-17

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed… Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:52,58

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

I Thessalonians 5:2-4

I think one of the main reasons that Jesus taught the parable that begins in Luke 19:11 – the so-called “Parable of the Pounds” – was to remind His disciples, and all His “Christian quarterbacks” today, to not forget that the game clock is running down, and that our time must be managed effectively. We must act with a sense of “cool” when things get hectic, but always have a sense of “urgency,” knowing what’s at stake. Now is the time for Christian quarterbacks to break the huddle, remember all our assignments, call for the ball, and use every tick of the clock to reach the goal line, anticipating the final whistle, which will signal the return of our King!

One of my favorite hymns says, “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more…” One day, those who have been given eternal life by Christ Jesus will live outside of time. Until then, however, Christian ministers must remember: Clock, clock, clock… Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.


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