27 Oct 2013
October 27, 2013
Get Laser Focused
Luke 22: 31 - 38
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers."
Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you."
But Jesus said, Peter, let me tell you something. The rooster will not crow tomorrow morning until you have denied three times that you even know me."
Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traverler's bag, or extra clothing, did you lack anything?"
"No," they replied.
"But now," he said, "take your money and a traveler's bag. And if you don't have a sword, sell your clothes and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: 'He was counted among those who were rebels.' Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true."
"Lord," they replied, "we have two swords among us."
"That's enough," he said.
The subtitle for todays lesson reads 'Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial'. And I have written in the margin 'If you didn't learn anything last week, you are here now....in denial.' It seems Peter may have stepped into a pool of denial. Have you? I may have.
The first paragraph may leave folks in a state of confusion. Who did Satan ask to 'have all of' Simon Peter? How did Jesus know? Who did Jesus plead in prayer on Simon Peter's behalf? Why did he bother? Let's look at those answers.
Satan asked God to have all of Simon Peter. Jesus knew because he was one with the Father in Spirit...and second in line to the throne....if you will....and therefore made privy to everything it seems. Jesus prayed to God. He 'bothered' because Simon Peter had accepted Jesus as the Messiah....his Savior. Apparently, from the looks of things, he had yet to make him Lord of his life. This is true for many of us. Have you made Jesus Lord of your life? I am still lacking in some areas. I am determined to grow. You?
Simon Peter was needed by God and Jesus to strengthen and build up his brothers....those who were in and with Christ....the other disciples....Christians.
Why Jesus prayed for Simon Peter, knowing he was going to deny him....3 times before morning!....could cause a quandary for some. Do you remember the part in the Bible where Jesus didn't want to lose any that the Father had given him....all those called to believe in him?
Do you recall from Matthew 3 11-12 that John the Baptist said that Jesus would separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork and then clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn, but burning the chaff wit never-ending fire? See also John 15:6, Luke 15 15-16 and Jude 5, 6, 7. The grain is the good stuff, life fortifying. The chaff, well, it's pretty much useful for fuel for a fire....or trash....or in the case of Christianity....worthy of hell by analogy. Would that be you? OR are you the grain? Are you on the threshing floor now? I am.
Will you deny Jesus 3 times before morning? Will Jesus need to assess you as to whether you are the chaff or the grain? Does he know who you are by the fruit you produce? By how you live your life? By others' commitment to him, who learn who he is, that he is, and how wonderful he is....by the choices you make in your life....how you live it....what you speak? In other words, do others' know Jesus because of you? Have they committed their lives or turned their lives around because of what you have shared to enlighten them? Gee, I sure hope I don't deny him 3 times by morning. I sure hope he 'gets me'.....and that others' find him through me, my life, my actions.
Chaff? Grain? 'Hark....Who goes there?'
'Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler's bag, or extra clothing, did you lack anything?"
"No," they replied.'
Remember the part when Jesus said, "Take nothing with you. Go."? Have you 'gone'....forth....for him? Remember the Beatles' song, "All You Need Is Love"? "Love is all you need." Jesus' other name is Love. Take him with you in life, or living that life will have been all for naught.
It's not how you are dressed, it's who you have in you, that measures who you are as a person of integrity and credibility. However, I DO realize how cruel this world can be. And looks can be deceiving. Take the person who dresses up for church every Sunday and touts that she or he 'knows' Jesus and then screams at their kids, beats on them in public, has to have many diamonds or a fancy car to prove Jesus is in their life, when he may not be IN their life at all....even though they go to church and know the Word. Or the poor lonely homeless person, or the mom at home cooking and cleaning with little to nothing, sharing Jesus' words as they can. Do they know Jesus....have them IN them?
Do you? Are you reading enough to talk the talk? Have you believed, accepted, taken, and received all God, Jesus, Holy Spirit have to offer? Are you walking the walk?
'"But now," he said, "take your money...."' [means you have some!!!!] [Believe that you have it. Accept what is given to you. Take all of what is given to you. Everything the Father has in the Kingdom is yours! Give honor, praise and thanksgiving to WHO gave it to you!]
'"....And a traveler's bag."' What do you suppose should be in YOUR traveler's bag? The same as the disciples? Clothes for the journey? Will you pack and 'Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so after the battle you will still be standing'? You will need, according to Paul, as he outlined to the Ephesians in Chapter 8 Verses 13-18:
'The sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to STOP the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
You will need to put on salvation as your helmet.
You must take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.'
Jesus went on to say, according to Luke in todays lesson, "And if you don't have a sword, sell your clothes and buy one!'
Do we need a literal sword in todays world? Ok....perhaps in some areas of the world for defense. But if we have the WORD of GOD, how much greater a defense we would have, instead of the literal two-edged sword against us!!!!
Get a Bible, if you don't have one. READ that Bible. Immerse yourself in the words of God, so that you will know them and can spew them forth at any moment against the enemy.
Jesus goes on to say to the disciples, 'For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: 'He was counted among those who were rebels.' Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true."
"Lord," they replied, "we have two swords among us."
"That's enough," he said.'
'Gather the troops.' Be strengthened in your faith. Repent and turn to Jesus....again(?). Strengthen and build up those around you. Do not deny the Lord your God. Be lacking for nothing. Believe, accept, take, receive all God has to give you for the journey. Get the WORD of GOD within you, so you can battle the enemy. Go. There is no sense in Jesus telling you to take a traveling bag, if you aren't going to travel. Go forth! Are two swords significant for, or an analogy for, the remark that the disciples were to go out two by two? And because whenever two or more are gathered, there he is amongst you? Hmmmmmm.
In reading the reference Jesus gave about everything written about him by the prophets coming true, which is from Isaiah 53:12, I decided you might appreciate all of Chapter 53 from Isaiah, so I provide it here in its entirety. May you be embraced and convicted by the reality of documented truth, and prophecy, and, in turn, embrace Jesus to make him Lord of your life once again....or anew.
'Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the LORD's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried, it was our sorrows that weighed him down. and we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and cursed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins - that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.
But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet, when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted amongst those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.'
In case you are unsure still of whether Jesus is God's son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, read this from Matthew 3:13-16:
'Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John didn't want to baptize him. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"
But Jesus said, "It must be done, because we must do everything that is right." So then John baptized him.
After the baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him."
Is God fully pleased with you? Turn to him....or turn back to him. And then get laser focused in doing what he needs you to do for him and for yourself.
Trust and obey, there's no other way.
Let Us Pray
Lord God, I have made so many mistakes in life. And I continue to make mistakes. I also make willful choices. Like not always placing you first, but putting you into my schedule, when, and if, I can fit you in. By the condition of the world, I am guessing I am not alone. And reading the Word is not the same as memorizing the Word. I can immerse myself in the Word, but I'm finding it difficult to be filled to the point of overflowing, due to my memory not being the best it could be. I now realize the importance of raising up a child in the ways they should go....learning the Word in youth. Father God, please heal me in whatever ways are necessary to better remember your Word, so that I can share all of you with the world. Be in my head and in my understanding....my lips and in my speaking....my heart and in my loving....my life and in my living. Oh, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit....I pray that I may be all things to you that you are to me. Please forgive me. And love me still. Help me in the ways I am failing....you....and others, that I may be able to show myself approved. Help me indeed to trust and obey....and....with laser focus, on you and with you, go forth. Oh, and thank you for helping me realize it isn't always about me, it can be the sins of the world upon me....just like it was for you in your suffering. Help me to forgive them, Father God, Jesus, just like you forgive. Thank you. I love you. Amen.
Grateful for God's lesson today?
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Let us hear from Paul as he prays:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT
Scroll down to read Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving...'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'.
Definition of a Christian: Anyone who believes in God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. Regardless of church name or religious affiliation.
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Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
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It is time to reach into the community and the world around you to see wherein lies the greatest need. As you choose to focus on these areas, do so with a servant's heart. Whether the need is for children, adults, or animals, or any cause in between that will help those in need, ask God how you can best serve his needs, what path you must take, and how long you should persevere. Sometimes we are to be in the lives of others merely as stepping stones. Sometimes we are to touch those lives forever. Whatever journey you are called to take, whatever team you will be a member, know this: God is with you always...even til the end of time. He loves you, is grateful for you, and will help you along life's way, especially if you are helping others along theirs, persevering with a servant's heart.
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One last thing....
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father - Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen."
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11: 25-30
And the people said,
I now write most prayers in the position of ' I ' (first person) because most people are sitting at their computer alone, not in groups, and it allows those reading and praying to personalize the prayer as coming from them going to God. Variations may appear on holidays when families may wish to use the prayer provided. I encourage you to pray your own prayers as well.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
NOTE: I said it long ago, but let me say it again. If you are wanting to lead a group, start a church, or are confined in an institution, or live in a country where the Gospel is not preached, and you don't know what to say or how to say it, and yet feel led to share, teach, or preach, besides just reading straight out of the Bible and sharing what God puts on your heart, please feel free to share any or all of what I've written, if it will help you, as long as you include where it comes from, due to copyright laws. Jesus gave God's love and healing freely, as well as his message. Our responsibility is to get the Word out to those who need to hear it. If what I've written....by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit....or what he has said through me....has helped you, it may help others that you know. You are welcome to share it. God calls all of us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please share it with the fullness of love that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit....and I....have given it. Amen!
Bible Authors and Minister