Faith & Ownership

Standard

online-giving-picMatthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

When I was in seminary in Dallas, I remember getting gas at a station that had a sign with big letters that said FREE CAR WASH. When I paid for the gas, I asked about the free car wash and quickly found myself in an argument with the attendant who insisted it was not free. He affirmed that the sign did not say FREE CAR WASH but rather said TOUCH FREE CAR WASH. I can sometimes miss things so I looked again. Sure enough, just above the giant letters outside the colored starburst that framed them in significantly smaller print was the word “touch.”

He was right and wrong at the same time. He was right about the details. The advertising, like much advertising in our world, was dishonest at the core. Makes me glad Jesus doesn’t treat us that way. He tells us the true price of life in him. John 3:16 is the bottom line truth, “whoever believes in Him has eternal life.” Yet what does it look like to believe in Him?

Continue reading

Buying In to Jesus

Standard

coins in handLuke 14:33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

If you stop to hear it Luke 14:33 is among Jesus’ most shocking statements. On face value it should rattle most American believers. This weekend we are going to wrestle with what this means. I invite you to read the whole chapter before Sunday and come ready to work it out.

Here are some of my early personal thoughts while preparing the lesson.

  • God wants His people to so trust Him that they do not misplace their faith in possessions OR misuse their possessions. He wants them to honor Him with their possessions by using them for His purpose and glory. He wants them to be willing to give them away or walk away at any moment without hesitation.
  • God wants Jesus to have first place in our lives. He wants us to trust Him with every aspect of life. He wants us to trust Him with all we have. We do this be acknowledging that we only have things by His hand. We do this by trusting His provision, care & purpose for our lives.
  • Through Jesus, God will give us better than what we can gain for ourselves. We can trust Him to provide without clinging fiercely to what He has provided so far.

While prayerfully reflecting on the passage I sensed God’s Spirit say, “Trust Me. You do not need wealth. You need Me. I am your wealth. I am your way. I am your life. Just follow me with your heart at peace. Do not let it get worked up with thoughts of what you have, what you used to have or what you wish you had.”

What thoughts come to mind for you?

The Price of Following

Standard

12396041 - orange arrow contrary to crowd. concept of beeing different.Luke 9:23   And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Luke 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Jesus is truly the son of God who offers eternal life. He invites us to follow but if we do so He remains God. He expects that we relate to Him as God and not our personal Santa Clause. God calls us to have enough faith in Jesus to follow Him even if it costs our lives.

Those who began to follow after the resurrection had it tough. To follow Jesus meant living in the fallout of what other family & neighbors thought of Jesus. It meant a change of values and habits that came with the teaching Jesus wanted his followers to embrace. Initial followers were beaten, jailed, threatened, silenced and killed. Would they embrace His leadership enough to live the way he asked in the face of opposition?

Some religions look to kill those who disagree. Not true followers of Jesus. We follow Jesus not to make others pay, but with a willingness to pay ourselves. Last week we looked at the price Jesus requires of all who follow Him. Here are the main points:

Continue reading

The Bottom Line of Following

Standard

follow-me-graphicLuke 9:23   And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Too often we hear discussion, debate, and even judgmental attitudes between churches about who are the true follower of Jesus. Often those issues involve the form of baptism, the style of worship, whether the Lord’s Table is every week or not, which spiritual gifts are still in play. And dozens of other practical and theological questions.

A lot of that can become smoke screen that distracts from the ultimate question. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? Is there a core way to know whether you are or aren’t really one of His followers? What about you? Do you follow Jesus?

What does it take to become a follower of Jesus? Jesus gives a bottom line answer to this question in a single sentence. Let’s look at Jesus’ answer now.

Continue reading

Transformed by His Word

Standard

man with bibleWhen our 18th street facility was being built. Used to walk and pray over the site frequently. I mostly prayed that it would be a place where Jesus is always be honored, where the gospel is proclaimed, His word always taught and lives would be transformed. As long as I’m here, I will work towards that end.

Life change through Jesus’ word is a core mark of any who follow Jesus. In fact Jesus says that without it you aren’t really one of His followers. That was the focus of last weekend’s lesson. Here are the core points.

John 8:31-32 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

2John 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

BOTTOM LINE: Following Jesus Includes a Life-long Commitment to Learn & Live His Word.

Continue reading