Archive for February, 2015

Luke 10:17-24 — Today, we move on to a new passage, Luke 10:17-24. We will spend a few days here as well.

Jesus spent a pretty extensive speech in the previous passage about what to expect and how to react to it when spreading the gospel message. Somewhere between Luke 10:1-16 and Luke 10:17-24, the seventy-two are sent out to prepare the way for Jesus. At Luke 10:17-24, the seventy-two return to Jesus. The disciples are excited. They had expelled demons by invoking Jesus’ name. They were on a spiritual high. They were pumped up.

You know this feeling. If you have ever participated in one of our church’s Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway, you know this feeling. You have participated in a Holy Spirit move.

You know this feeling. You have been witness to someone accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

You know this feeling. You have just witnessed the most amazing church service where people let loose and praise the Lord like it’s nobody’s business while at the same time you see that their country is one that suffers from desperate poverty.

You know this feeling. We, as Christ followers, have often seen the power of the Holy Spirit move through us, seen Him act in others and in situations around us, that inspire wonder and awe on our part. When this happens, we feel special. This is how the returning 72 felt. They were walking in the clouds. They felt they had been witness to the power of God and they reveled in the moment. Everything Jesus had promised had played out right before their eyes. As humans, though, we can easily mess things up. Pride can sneak in. We can sometimes take pride in the accomplishments that we see in the name of the Lord and begin to take credit for what happens as if it were something that we had done. Notice that the disciples said, “the demons obey US…” Notice that. The disciples are claiming that the demons are obeying them, rather than the Holy Spirit who is working through them.

Jesus handles this situation with His usual grace and charm. He wanted them to know that they should be excited to see what God can do. They should be excited that their faith allowed the Holy Spirit to work through them. He wanted them to know, “see this is what you can do when you have an all-in kind of faith, that totally sold out to me kind of faith”. Jesus wanted them to know that it is this kind of faith that can conquer anything. So, Jesus celebrated the victories with them. However, He also used the victory as time for additional teaching. He warned them about taking personal pride or credit for that which is of God. The demons were driven out by the Holy Spirit acting through the disciples not because of any special thing about the disciples. Their only qualification was their willingness to be sent. He warned them to remember, basically, to give credit where credit is due, to God. We are the vessels and not the contents. Our names are registered in heaven simply through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and being willingly submitted to Him and whatever He sends us to do. There’s an old saying that “Jesus does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” We must remember that any power that we have has been granted to us not anything that we are ourselves. God uses so many different kinds of people in so many different kinds of ways, there is no common thing that we can learn to acquire the power of God. It is something that He grants us when we are submitted to Him.

We can easily become prideful for the successes that we see in the name of the Lord. The church I call my home, LifeSong Church, in Lyman, SC has been extremely successful over these 7 years of its existence. It has grown from a handful of people meeting in Pastor Jeff’s living room to now where we have 700-800 people on our campus each weekend. It would be easy for us to take pride in that. But as Pastor Jeff tells us as the staff that the success of our church has nothing to do with him as lead pastor or any of us as staff. The growth of our church is, he says, a testament to the fact that the Holy Spirit knows what He is doing and not us. The only credit we should take is that we are willing and submitted to Him and earnestly wish to do His will. There is a reason that our church has grown so rapidly. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s it. Yes, we are to work hard and be witnesses and develop systems and processes to make our jobs easier and our work more fruitful, but that is simply the window dressing for what the Holy Spirit does all on His own. Don’t get me wrong, we must have all of our systems and processes in place so that we can indeed not have to think about mundane things and can consciously participate in the Holy Spirit’s move among us. Our systems and processes should be so well oiled that we don’t have to think about our systems and processes – they just work. That is so we can be fully engaged and watch what the Holy Spirit does and assist in any way that He calls us. We cannot take credit for what He does but we can be there as He does it. Humble servants we must be and watch God in His Sovereignty work.

With the phenomenal growth of our church over the past 7 years, we can also easily take pride in the fact that “we get it and you don’t”. We can look at other churches in our area and see them struggling but yet we are growing and say we get it and you don’t. My church is better than your church. Sure, we can see that there is something special going on at LifeSong and be thankful that we happen to be at this place at this point in time with these people doing what God has called us to do at this place at this point in time, but it is not because we get it and you don’t. It is because God has chosen this church at this moment in time at this place with these people. Our only qualification is our willingness and our submission to the power of the Holy Spirit. What is happening at LifeSong is not about how cool our worship is, not about the cool names we give our ministries, not about how talented our leadership team is, not about how special we are as a team, but rather, about God Himself, about the power of the gospel message in its purest form. The only credit that we can take is being willing to serve Him, being willing to share the gospel in His Name, being willing to love as Jesus loved, being unpretentious about who can come to our church, remembering that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. Humble servants we must be and watch God in His Sovereignty work.

Father, in heaven, I thank you for your providence in which you have guided and directed me to be at this church at this moment in time with these people doing the work that you have called us to do at this time in this place. Help me to always remember that you are the One who makes everything happen. I am just the vessel but you are the content. Help me to always remember that the credit for miracles that we see in the lives of people that cross our doors is not because we are the coolest church in the area or because we have the corner on the market of salvation, but rather it is because of the pure and simple power of you. It is because you through the Holy Spirit change people from the inside out not because of the snazzy building, or the cool music, and the awesome names of our ministries. It is you, Lord. It is you. Help me to remember that you are Lord and I am just your servant with a willing heart. Help me always to give the glory to you for you are the Sovereign Lord. Amen.

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Luke 10:1-16 — Today, we conclude our look at this powerful passage when we look at vv. 13-16. These verses are tough to write about. I have been dreading getting to these verses in the time we have spent on this passage. These are tough words in vv. 13-16. We live in a day that we have sanitized hell. We live in a day where we, even as Christians, don’t talk about it. We live in a day where we have found it easier to leave hell out of the story when we talk of Jesus. We have rationalized that we cannot in today’s society speak of hell for fear of turning non-believers away from accepting Christ as their Savior. People today don’t like the concept of hell. So, we leave it out of the conversation. Final judgment is just something we are supposed to learn on our own in our own Bible studies. Hell is like that 800 lb. gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about but we know is there. Jesus has tough words of judgment here. If you follow through the gospels in a passage by passage way you have to deal with these tough call verses. When we do topical devotionals, we can avoid these verses by avoiding the topics of judgment and hell. OK, so we are here. Let’s deal with it.

These verses bring to mind those that think that they have outgrown Jesus Christ and Christianity and all religion for that matter. Let us expand upon yesterday’s devotional. It reminds you of Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory who berates his east Texas mother for the believing in archaic myths such as Christianity. Sheldon disdains God because he can’t prove it, touch it or see it, so he dismisses it. As we sit in our Christian cocoons and venture not much out of it, we do not see that Sheldon’s view is the growing majority.

It reminds you that you could place the names of any major metropolitan city in the city names of this passage. Don’t get me wrong, I love big cities like New York and San Francisco and love the culture that they have to offer that you cannot find anywhere else. At the same token. It is in these places of high culture that Jesus has often become passe. Among the cultural and intellectual elites that gather in these cities, God is seen as a mythological relic of a less-informed past. These elitists have grown to worship man himself rather than a Creator of all things. They believe man created God rather than the other way around. They pursue breaking down old boundaries of civility and behavior in the name of enlightenment. They have discarded prohibitions of the Bible so as to justify their seeking of lifestyles that are inherently self-destructive. They feel that man unleashed from social restraints imposed by archaic religions will allow man to reach his full potential. They pride themselves in their enlightenment. They pride themselves in rejecting God and anything about Him in favor or worshiping enlightened man. We live in an age of narcissism where we worship ourselves and only things that we have created. All things of past generations with the exceptions of art and literature are seen as old-fashioned and out-of-date. It is like the worst prom queen your ever met in high school who is so wrapped up in her own beauty that she fails to see anything other than herself. This is the world in which we live. This is the media that we watch. These are the cities upon which Jesus caste his woes. This rejection of God in favor of humanism has spread through media throughout our nation. We are now a nation that worships ourselves. Jesus castes woes upon us as well as the cities of Tyre and Sidon.

These are some of the difficult passages of Jesus. Many recognize the existence of Jesus even the intellectual and cultural elitists. However, even many of us Christians want to make Jesus into this flower child of the 60’s Jesus. Peace. Love. Dove. There is no judgment in this Jesus. There is only love and freedom. There is no responsibility. There is no accountability. There is no judgment. There is no consequence to sin. There is no consequence of rejection. And most of all there is no hell. Here, Jesus says there is a judgment coming. Those who reject Jesus in the name of enlightenment, those who reject Jesus in indifference, those who reject Jesus because He is seen as representing a lifestyle that is opposite of the one they want to lead will face judgment. Acceptance or rejection are our options. We are on a collision course with our eternity. We are fooling ourselves into believing that we are our own gods. We are fooling ourselves into believing that there is no judgment. What a rude awakening there will be when we get to eternity’s door and realize, “whoops, we had this thing all wrong.” Jesus makes it clear here that there is a judgment for rejecting Him. Plain and simple. It is not just all love, peace signs, free love. As we found out the utopia that we searched for in the 60s was unreal, we will find that there is a God. We will find that there is judgment. We will find that we had the opportunity to accept Christ as the Son of God and as our Savior but we rejected Him. We rejected Him because it was cool to reject in the world in which we live. We rejected Him because it did not suit our modern desires. We rejected Him for Fifty Shades of Grey and how enlightened that is supposed to be for us. We rejected Him because we want what we want and don’t want some God in heaven telling us we can’t eat the fruit from a certain tree. We reject Him because the theology of condemnation resulting from sin means that we cannot save ourselves. We reject Him because it is admitting that we cannot fix ourselves. Paul tells us in Romans that we all know there is a God. He wired us all that way. There is no excuse for our rejection. It is blatant rebellion. Do you want to bet your eternity on rejecting Jesus because it does not fit your lifestyle? Do you want bet your eternity on values that would be considered unacceptable as late as 30 years ago rather than the timeless, eternal values of the Bible? Do you want to get there and find out that the Bible was true and your beliefs were not? There is still time to ask Jesus into your heart and have your eyes opened to God and His Word. There is a judgment coming for us all. Would you rather be with the guy that has the keys to heaven in eternity but that is not so popular here in the temporal world as Jesus is now or would you rather place your faith in what is popular here on this temporal world but is all false when it comes to eternity? There is a judgment coming. What’s it gonna be? These are the choices:
• Accepting Jesus as your Savior and believing that He is the Son of God, God in the flesh, who came to earth to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins that condemn us to hell and who reconciles us to God through His sacrifice for our sin and who conquered our sin through His death and resurrection OR
• Living life your way and finding out that Jesus’ warnings of judgment were actually true but having waited too late to realize it.

What’s it gonna be?

Luke 10:1-16 — Today, we move on to vv. 8-12 of this passage. To illustrate this passage, let’s think about the fact Jesus began life looking for a place to be born. Joseph and Mary had gone back to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home, for the Roman census taking. They could find no place, no room where they could stay. They were rejected most everywhere they went in Bethlehem in part because there private places available and partly because Mary was about to give birth. Acceptance came only through the generosity of an innkeeper who knew of some animal stables outside town. The caves were made for the care of newborn animals so the thought was that in the absence of a proper place in town, it would be perfect for delivering and keeping newborn Jesus protected and warm. Jesus’ earthly life was about acceptance and rejection from the beginning and it still is. Here, we see in this passage that Jesus understands there will be acceptance and rejection of His message and He is preparing the disciples for both possibilities. There is no middle ground with Jesus. Either you accept Him fully or, in the absence of that, you reject Him fully.

In this passage, we see Jesus tell the disciples that in the towns that accept them that they are to accept whatever hospitality is given them and then they are to heal the sick. It is in Mark 6:5 that tells us that faith and healing go hand in hand. If we accept Jesus as our Savior, we believe that He is God in the flesh. If we believe this, we have faith that Jesus is who He claims to be. If we believe He is who He claims to be, there is faith. If there is faith, we open the way for His healing, both spiritually and physically. I have never seen an atheist healed by the power of God. We hear stories even today of the power of prayer and the action of faith. These are the modern day miracles of healing of cancer that we blow off as explainable. These are the miracles granted to those who have faith in Jesus Christ. In order to access the miracles of God today and as well in biblical times comes down to faith. If we truly believe in Jesus as the Son of God down deep into our soul and without doubt that He is God in the flesh and really believe that He can change things, we have the faith of Moses. God granted all these miracles to Moses because Moses actually deep in his soul believed that God would do as He said. Faith is necessary for miracles. How hard core is your faith in Jesus? Do you have lip service faith while in the back of your mind think that miracles are just made up stories? Or do you believe that Jesus is still in the miracle business. It is about full acceptance or no acceptance. It about acceptance or rejection.

In this passage, we see that it is yes about acceptance or rejection but rejection has a price greater than we want to realize in today’s world in which God’s judgment is downplayed. In giving us free will, God took the risk of us rejecting Him. He did not want us to robotically be His children so He gave us free will. In our free will, we have the choice to accept or reject the One Who Made Us. In today’s world, hell is rarely ever spoken of in any serious way. It is rarely preached on. It is rarely discussed. We present the benefits of accepting Christ as our Savior but never the cost of rejecting Him. We speak of God’s love but never His judgment. It is almost as if we have made the acceptance of Christ as our Savior as a choice between what gloves to wear on a cold day rather than a choice that has significant eternal consequences. In today’s world, in order to reconcile ourselves to the God of love only God that we have fashioned that any and all roads lead to heaven. Thus, hell has been eliminated. You can believe whatever you want to believe and do more good than bad and you will make to heaven. God is a God of love only. There is no hell anymore. As the GEICO commercial with the little old ladies says, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.” God is a just God as well as a loving God. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that rejection of Jesus Christ as your Savior has no consequences in eternity. It is more than just a choice about what underwear to wear today. It is more than just a choice between ice cream flavors. There are consequences to this rejection. Sodom was destroyed by God for their hedonistic lifestyles and their rejection of God. Jesus is the only way to the Father. Accept Him or reject Him. Sodom will be better off on judgment day than one who rejects Jesus. There is hell. Or Jesus and all the prophets and God Himself are all liars and lunatics. In order to pursue the things that we want to pursue in life, not just now but always, we have rationalized away hell. But it is real. It takes faith to believe in hell too. Otherwise, we rationalize away the need for judgment. We rationalize away consequence. We rationalize away our very real need for Jesus.

He becomes an underwear choice. He becomes a menu option at a restaurant. He then becomes a liar when He says He is the only way to the Father. He is a liar here too when He says there is judgment for rejection. Is this the basis on which to face your eternity. Have faith that what Jesus says is true. Have faith that there is really a hell and it is an awful place to spend our eternity. Have faith that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Have faith that one sin taints you in God’s eyes. Have faith that you deserve hell with one sin. Have faith that you can never be good enough to get to heaven. Have faith that we need to be perfect 100% of the time in this life to reach heaven. There are no scales on which we weigh good vs bad. We must be perfect and we will never make it there on our own. We need an intercessor. We need to be clothed in someone else’s perfection. We need Jesus. It takes faith to say these things. Accept or reject. You have free will. But the consequences are real. It is more than just the gray underwear or the black underwear. It is an eternal choice. Heaven or hell. The New Jerusalem or a fate worse than Sodom. These are the real consequences of acceptance and rejection.

Luke 10:1-16 — Today, we move on to vv. 5-7 of this passage. These verses are Jesus’ instructions on what to do when they arrive in their appointed town. It reminds me of growing up as a Methodist preacher’s kid. Methodist preachers when they are moved have a specified moving day, the third Wednesday in June. On those days, you would arrive at your dad’s new appointment, the new town, the new church(es). When the moving van would pull up to parsonage, the members of the church would attract there like bees to honey. Bring cakes, pies, and other food, the members of the church would welcome us to town. It would be interesting to see who showed up. Those who were just curious about the new preacher and his family would come. Those who had an agenda would come. And as interesting would those that did not show up. Everyone vying for the attention of the new pastor. You see it still in today’s churches, pastors have to be careful among whom they make their friends among the church people so as to make sure that a celebrity status does not start and people then lose focus on what church is supposed to be about. It is also kind of like these large corporations out there that were once solely focused on one thing and were good at. Somewhere along the way these companies start acquiring other companies that have nothing to do with the original purpose of the company. In a lot of cases, these companies begin to lose their way and begin to founder and lose momentum and eventually destroy themselves. They forgot what they were good at, what they were created for. They forgot their mission.

Jesus’ instruction to stay in one house allowed the disciples to avoid certain problems. Shifting from house to house could offend the families that first took them in. Some families might begin compete for the disciples attention while some might get the feeling that they are not good enough to host them. In all this competition and jealousy, the message would have gotten lost. Because of actions that create human jealousy, a whole people group might reject Jesus and His message when He arrived in that town. Jesus’ concern here was make sure that things that don’t really matter in eternity did not get in the way of His message of God’s love. Sometimes, we get so caught up in who’s doing what with who in church that we forget the whole point of our existence as a church and that is spreading the message of God’s love expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

If we let ourselves descend into petty jealousies that message gets lost and Satan smiles. If we get caught up in the color of the carpet, or who is on what committee, or who is in what position of leadership, and why we were not tapped on the shoulder for it, we miss the message and we become about what you can do for me. We should all be eager to serve in whatever capacity that God has called us to serve within our local body. If we are not willing to serve in a capacity that is available and serve under the leadership of others, we must re-examine why we are offended. Is it because of ego? We must have the attitude that God has us serving where He wants us to serve at this moment in time for a reason, for learning, then we can really focus on spreading the message of God’s love for us to others rather than being concerned about who said what, us vs. them, and creating our own power base, our own church within a church. We have all seen churches torn apart by petty politics in our lifetimes. New churches are supposed to be created as church plants, but many new churches are created by church splits. These are the things that breaks Jesus’ heart is when a church loses sight of its purpose and goes off the cliff like a train off its rails. Let us not be this church. Let us seek unity with one another through discussion and let us align ourselves with the leadership that God has presented to us at this moment in time. Let us be about the business of the church – expanding Christ’s kingdom here on earth.

Jesus also settles the issue of whether those who are His messengers deserve their pay. It is a definitive yes. Some are called to be pastors and leaders of the flocks entrusted to their care. We should never use their pay as a weapon to control them, to get what we want. They are called by God not by the church they serve. They have a right to support their families just as we do. Their salaries should never be a political issue about between competing interests within the local church. We should never withhold our giving just because the preacher preached a sermon that hit a sore spot with us. We should never withhold our giving just because the preacher seems to like another member more than you. Our giving (which happens to support our pastors and the work of the church locally) should never be about the pastor, or who’s doing what with who, it should be in obedience to the commands that God has given us.

All of us should be about the business of the church not the politics of it. We should remember that church is not really about us at all. It is about glorifying God. It is about equipping the saints to go outside the four walls of the church to reach a world that so desperately needs to know of God’s love and about the salvation and reconciliation that comes through a relationship with the one and only way to Him, Jesus Christ. Petty politics seem kind of petty when you think of people out there never knowing the name of Jesus Christ. Lost souls are our business. Not who picked who. Not who said what. Not who is in what position.

Father in Heaven, thank you for today’s reminder that we are in the lost souls business not about pleasing ourselves within the four walls of our churches. We are to be about one thing, reaching the lost with the gospel message. Let us make sure that we ask that question before we do anything at church. Are my motives about reaching lost souls with the gospel message or are they about something else. If they are about something else, we must reexamine ourselves, ask for Your forgiveness, Father, and ask for you to guide us back to the mission. Amen.

Luke 10:1-16 — Today, as we move forward in this passage, we look at Luke 10:4 where Jesus says, “Don’t take any money with you, nor a travel bag, nor an extra pair of sandals, and don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.” What was the point of this instruction and what does it mean to us today? It reminds me of Dory on the movie, Finding Nemo. She would be talking to Nemo’s dad and would be easily distracted by “bright shiny objects” and she would forget what she was talking about. On the movie “Up”, the talking dog was distracted by “squirrel!” These are animated examples.

Let’s make it real life. To kind of illustrate the point, I know that there are many stay-at-home-moms or stay-at-home-wives out there. I think that they can relate to this point being made by Jesus. Being a stay-at-home wife/mother requires a great amount of self-discipline. You are basically your own boss. You direct yourself and the tasks that you have to accomplish each day. You can be very easily distracted too if you allow it to happen. One phone call can change your day. One sick child can change your day. Seeing something that needs doing right now can distract you from your original plan. You start one thing and run into something else that needs doing and that something else makes you drop what you were intending to do. If a housewife or stay at home mom is so easily distracted, a lot of things get started but none get completed when intended. For a wife who used to work in the workplace, the self-discipline required to be an effective housewife and/or stay at home mom can take some adjustment. You must have the same discipline in the home as any person who works outside the home. Housewives must have to-do lists for the month, the week, and the day and overriding goals just like their husbands do at their jobs outside the home, just like their fellow ladies who work outside the home. They must keep focus in order to have their home run smoothly. It is this focus, this self-disciple of which Jesus speaks to his disciples and to us through the centuries as His followers.

Jesus’ message to His disciples is that if you take money with you on this trip, it will be a distraction. You will be concerned with protecting it, keeping it, storing it, spending it. You name it when it comes to money. It will be a distraction to them. Same with stuff. Travel bags and sandals are all possessions. The late George Carlin had a great stand-up comedy bit called “a place for my stuff.” We build houses to contain our stuff. We have storage buildings for our stuff. When we leave home for a trip, we have suitcases for our stuff. We always have to have some stuff with us. We are preoccupied with our stuff. It is a distraction. Just think of it. We once had a friend of ours play a trick on us while we were out of town and it makes this point hit home. While we were at the beach for a weekend getaway a couple of years ago, a friend pranked us by texting that while riding by our house, he noticed our garage door was open. We freaked out. We ended up calling the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department to send a cruiser by our house to check on it. We were so distracted for those several hours that we forgot what we were in Myrtle Beach for – to enjoy a weekend getaway. Jesus, through these instructions to His disciples, is telling us today that we cannot be so preoccupied with our possessions that we miss the kingdom of God. We cannot use our possessions as excuses for why we cannot participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom. What is our God? Our possessions or Jesus Christ? Do we say, “You know I would go on a mission trip if it were not for…” Do we say, “I would tithe, but I have this house we just bought and there’s the notes on the these two new cars, and then there’s the boat, our timeshare, the motorcycles…” Let us put the Kingdom of God first and if there anything left over give it to our stuff instead of the other way around. That’s the message.

Jesus also told them not to greet anyone on the road while on their way to their destination city. Wow, that seems almost out of character for what we think of Jesus. He would encounter anyone it seems. He is Jesus the super social guy who spent His ministry among the people. 95% of what Jesus said in the Bible was outside the synagogues. He was a people person. Why would He tell his disciples this? Regardless of what kind of people or where it was He met people and stopped to encounter them, He never let His goal of heading toward Jerusalem to do what He came to do get out of focus. Everything He did was pointing toward that Good Friday. Everything He did was training for His disciples for the aftermath of that Friday and His resurrection on that following Sunday. He stayed focused. Jesus, understanding that His disciples were human, had given them a very specific task to do in a short period of time. These factors made it important for them to stay focused and get the job done. Stopping to greet someone would have taken time away from their task at hand. What does this say to us today though? Like the housewife who lets a phone call get her all turned around from what she planned to do for the day, we too can be distracted by worldly distractions when we are intending to work for the kingdom. We can let those distractions take days, weeks, and even years away from us following the calling of God on our lives. Believe me, I know. I have felt the call to ministry since I was saved at age 39 however I let worldly distractions get in the way. I greeted other things on the way. I let life take over instead of preparing myself for what the calling was. I needed to get my life in order. I needed to get myself ready. I needed to be in a position where saints could help equip me for my journey into ministry. But worldly “conversations”, worldly distractions, worldly excuses, worldly laziness, and listening to Satan’s reasoning for why I should not follow my calling. Satan will certainly attempt to distract us from our mission from Jesus because He has to so as to keep his grip on the world. Satan will distract us through thoughts, through other people, through distractions. We can’t stop for the distractions. God is with us and He will make a way for us. He would not call us to ministry or whatever it is He has called you to do without providing you a way to get there. He is God after all. All He asks from us is total focus on Him in every aspect of our lives. Not our stuff. Not our shortcomings. Not our distractions. Focus on what He gave us to do and He will make the path. He will make the way. We must start the journey and stay focused on what He gives us to do. He will make provision for us along the way to where He wants us to go.

Luke 10:1-16 — As we continue our look at Luke 10:1-16, today we are going to concentrate on Luke 10:3. Jesus says, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Wow, that’s sound pretty inviting!

It reminds me of the football practice through the years. Football practice is where you spend most of your time on a football team. It is not fun. It is painful at times. Guys, you remember the exercise called “six inches” when you were laying flat on your back and had to hold your legs up off the ground but only at six inches off the ground. The coaches would make us hold our legs like that for about 20-30 seconds at a time. It was ok for the first two or three times you did it but we would have to do it like twenty times. By the time you got past the first two or three sets, the pain would set in and you thought you were going to die or at least puke. Either one would be acceptable! We would be put through some tough, tough exercises during football practice particularly at the beginning of the season. It was to get us in to playing shape. It was to teach us discipline. If we did not have practice, we would not have games. Playing the games each week was a welcome relief from the grueling grind of daily practice. Each year, there would be those who would quit because the daily grind was too tough. They weren’t willing to pay the cost of being on the football team. What stood between you at the beginning of each week and the glory of the lights on game night was a lot of hard work that nobody saw except your teammates. Some just were not willing to go through the gauntlet of practice. It was too tough of a calling for some. This is true whether its pee wee, junior, high school, college or pro football. Those who have the love and the passion for the game are willing to pay any cost to be able to play the game. As the stakes get higher at each level, those who are willing to pay the cost are fewer and fewer.

That point, the willing few, is kind of the point of Jesus’ statement here. Yesterday’s devotional was about the fact that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few. The workers are few we learn today because the work is hard. Jesus says “Go!” He says that a lot. He has an expectation that we are not to simply sit still. We are not to rest on our laurels. We are to go forth and make disciples. He also says that He is sending us out like lambs among wolves. Lambs as you know are gentle creatures and just not well equipped by their mental nature or by their physical abilities to defend themselves against attack. They are easy pickings for a pack of wolves – they always hunt together. They surround their prey on all sides and slowly decrease the circle and then pounce on their prey. Jesus is saying that our work will be hard. There will be rejection, persecution, ridicule and sometimes even death in spreading the gospel message. In modern day America, where we are all about luxury and satisfying ourselves, this just doesn’t sound all that appealing. That’s why the workers are few. Jesus says if you are really my disciple, if you really love me, you will be willing to pay the price. We are lambs. We go in peace. We do not spread the gospel by war, with guns, terrorist attacks, exploding roadside bombs, by beheading people, or any other warring means. We spread the gospel in peace. We teach people of the love of God as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ in whom and through whom we find salvation and eternal reconciliation with God. The job is not fancy. The job is not to make headlines but rather quietly, softly spread the gospel message. If we are in it to be seen, it is like a football player only wanting to play on game night and not wanting to be there at practice during the week.

Jesus tells us to go where the wolves are. He tells us to go into the world and be Jesus to a world that is trying to tear Him down every day. Jesus tells us to stand up and be counted. We are to in the culture and not of it. We are to lovingly share the gospel with the world but we are not to compromise the message. We must be willing to address the hard issues out there that stand squarely against the Bible and not shy away from them. We must not avoid these issues just to fit in. We must not avoid these issues to be culturally relevant. God’s Word is timeless and so are its standards. Culture’s standard are lowered with each generation. So, what culture used to reject it now accepts. What was once considered wrong is now acceptable. It is shifting sand while God’s Word is a solid rock that will never be moved. This will bring us into conflict with culture at times. We stand not with fists raised or with guns in our hands. We stand like lambs. We are His lambs.

Jesus tells us to go where the wolves are. He tells us to take the gospel to the places that it will be attacked. We take the Bible to the hard places. We take the Bible to the places that are difficult, both here at home and abroad. We take the Bible to the homeless shanty towns in the Upstate. We take the Bible to China. We take the Bible to North Korea. We take the Bible to Hindu nations. We take the Bible to Buddhist nations. We take the Bible to Islamic nations. It is similar to Kennedy’s space program speech at Rice University in September 1962, where he said,

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win”

The harvest is plentiful but the number of workers willing to put forth the effort are few. How many of us are willing to let souls pass into eternity without hearing of the Word of God that is encapsulated in Jesus Christ? How willing are you to spread the gospel? How many of us are willing to put ourselves out to spread the gospel? How many of us are willing to do the unseen work of the gospel in the places where we live, work, and play much less spreading the gospel in ways and/or in places that make us uncomfortable? How many of us are going to put ourselves out to serve the Lord? How many of us have the attitude that I will do these things later? How many of us have the attitude that sharing the gospel in that way is just not my cup of tea? How many are the few. How many of us are willing to go through the pain of the long days of practice to get to the 3 hours of game time on Friday night? How many are the few?

Father in heaven, awaken our souls that you never said that serving you was just when it was convenient and painless. Awaken our souls to the tough work of spreading the gospel. Give us the passion to do what is necessary regardless of the cost, regardless of how inconvenient it is, regardless of how difficult it is, regardless of whether we get praise of men for it or not, regardless of whether anyone is looking or not, regardless of what we have to give up or not, regardless, regardless. Give us the passion for the hard work because we love the game, the game of seeing lost souls out there, and there are too many, come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s game night. That’s what all the hard work, pain and suffering are for, Lord. People coming to know you through Your Son!

Luke 10:1-16 — Today, we return to this meaty passage. Today’s passage brought an old classic from the Lucy show that we have all seen in re-runs numerous times to mind. Do you remember that episode of “I Love Lucy” where she and Ethel went to work in this chocolate candy factory. They were simply to pack chocolate candies into boxes as they conveyor belt brought the chocolates by in front of their workstation. At first, it was pretty simple. The conveyor was moving pretty slow and at pace that Lucy could handle. Then, her supervisor seeing that Lucy was handling that pace, she tells the unseen machine operator to fire up the conveyor to full speed. That’s where the funny stuff begins. Lucy cannot keep up. She, being the greatest physical comedian of all time, makes this scene one of the classic comedy bits of all time. Lucy is stuffing chocolates into her mouth, into her apron, into her cap. It was hilarious in a way only that Lucille Ball could have made it.

It reminds me of Jesus’ words in 10:2, “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'”. There are chocolate candies going by so fast that we cannot handle the pace. Just as Lucy could not handle the pace of the chocolates passing by so, too, do we see souls passing by so quickly and we feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem of the world not knowing Jesus. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. This idea of plentiful harvest and few workers brings two points to mind. First, that we should be heartbroken. Second, we cannot abdicate our role in the kingdom to those who get paid to be preachers.

The chocolates rolled past Lucy at a frenetic pace. She could not keep up. It was a hilarious scene that will live in comedy lore forever. Let’s think of that when it comes to souls. We don’t think of it much. To be honest, I do not think about it much. But, my friends, oh how we should. Jesus says in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Do we take that statement seriously enough? Jesus says that He is the only way to the Father. If we fully believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, then, we must really, really, really believe that no one, absolutely no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ alone. Not through Buddha. Not through Mohammad. Not through New Age faiths. Only through Jesus Christ. If we take that seriously, that means that people that do not come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior will be excluded from the kingdom of God. To make that statement plain and clear, they will not go to heaven without having known the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Nonbelievers and believers in other religions basically boil down their eternity as trying to live their lives by scales – that if I do more good than bad that I will get to heaven. If we fully believe in the Bible, then, we know that this is not true. We only get to heaven through Jesus Christ. No ifs, ands, or buts. Therein lies what should break our heart. There are people out there that don’t know Jesus Christ that will not spend eternity with the Father unless they know Jesus Christ. Romans 1:18-25 tells us that we are all wired to know that there is God. We are all made that way and we are aware of the existence of a higher power greater than we. God made us that way. It says the following:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

There it is. Plain as day. We all know of God. We were made to know Him but we choose to go our own way and reject Him. Regardless of who you are, where you live, what religion you believe in, whether you believe in any religion at all, you in your heart of hearts know that God exists. None of us can claim exclusion from this fact, as Paul says. This is where our hearts should be broken. This where we see the chocolates speeding by on a conveyor. There are so many people out there that don’t know Jesus and they most assuredly need to know Him. He said Himself that you must know Him to reach the Father. That guy sitting next to you at the office needs to know Him, really know Him. That guy that lives next door to you needs to know Him, really know Him. That guy that you see at the gym needs to know Him, really know Him. We should be compelled by this thought. We should be crying in our hearts for all those people out there that do not know Jesus and are deluding themselves by thinking that if they are simply “good enough” that they will go to heaven. Not without knowing the only way. The only way. Not without knowing Jesus. Can you feel the sorrow that I now feel in my soul? There are people dying without knowing Jesus Christ. They are people passing by on the conveyor belt of life that are not being touched with the gospel. There should be a frantic nature to us about this fact because Jesus is the only way. Does it bother us at all that people might not go to heaven, and dare I be as bold to say, and go to hell. That should compel us to action.

That leads me to my second point. In this world in which we live as Christians where we have formal churches in buildings and have pastors whom we pay to be our flock leaders and do the full time work of leading the effort to equip the saints, we have abdicated our roles in seeing the urgency of the need out there. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. We have decided that it is the preacher’s job to save the planet, spiritually speaking. We make the excuse that we do not have time to witness to others and we blow it off as it is the pastor’s job to do that. Day before yesterday, I mentioned the sign at the exit of a church saying, “You are entering your mission field.” That is the mentality we should have because the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. We should not blow off our responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus and say it is someone else’s job. We should be so compelled by John 14:6 that we act out Matthew 28:19. We are commanded not asked to go. Go. That means move forward. That means getting off the couch. That means getting off the pew. That means sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the one and only way. We do not have the luxury of saying it is not our job. Non-believers are passing by us on the conveyor belt of life at a frenetic pace. They are passing by. They are our divine appointment to share the gospel message of redemption and of new life in Jesus Christ. Are we going to miss them? What if your touch of someone is the difference between knowing Jesus and never knowing Jesus as their Savior? Think about those times that you know you should have shared the gospel and didn’t because it was going to make you uncomfortable. Think about that missed opportunity and someone’s eternal destination. How much more uncomfortable is for a person to spend an eternity separated from God in hell than it is uncomfortable to share the gospel. The conveyor is running right now and the souls are passing by. Do you leave it up to one person, your preacher. Our preachers, God love them, are only human and have limited hours in a day just like us so they cannot touch every person that we can touch. It is all our jobs to share the gospel. It is a command from Jesus Himself. We must make Him known. We must all share the gospel. We are all ministers in our spheres of influence. We are all ministers of God’s Word and the redemptive story wrapped up in Jesus Christ where we live, work, and play. The conveyor belt continues moving along daily, constantly. People going by daily that need to know Jesus. Hurtling toward their eternal destination and needing to know Jesus. The harvest is plentiful but we must join in and be the workers all of us. There are so many souls to harvest! And the conveyor keeps running, and running, and running…