GOD SEARCHES OUT THE LOST

Luke 15:3-7
Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent. (NIVUK)

Sheep are a good metaphor for people.  They like to be with others, willing to follow a dominant leader but also like to make sure they can get away on their own.  They are easily frightened and hate going through narrow gaps.  They like going up but are frightened to go down.  Therefore, when they are out on the hillside, they can easily wander off, clamber up a steep bank, and not be able to get down again.  At that point, they are lost; away from the safety of the shepherd they are vulnerable to predators, and unable to take any initiative to help themselves.  

Sheep were common in Israel.  They provided meat, milk and wool.  They were valuable and needed to be looked after, because they could not look after themselves.  King David, who had been a shepherd wrote in Psalm 23:1-6 that he was still as vulnerable as a sheep and still needed the Lord to lead and provide, protect and heal him.  Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd who will stand between His sheep and every evil to the point of sacrificing Himself for them (John 10:11-17).  

Jesus used sheep as an illustration of how human beings get spiritually lost.  Pride, independency, fear and an inability to find our way back to Father God on our own – means that we have no hope unless somebody comes to find us.  The only person who can and will come is Jesus (Isaiah 53:6).  His rescue is personal to each of us.  He does not process people like herds of sheep but is concerned for every individual.  Even if ninety-nine are safe, He will search for the one who is lost.  Instead of being angry with the wanderer, He is only too glad that He can carry back home those who are weary and damaged.  Joy in heaven is not only a product of the greatness of God but also His sacrificial goodness in searching out those who are lost.  

Many of our friends and colleagues may have abandoned hope of ever finding their way to God.  Foolish actions and careless words so easily foment into an inescapable lonely trap.  They use the pressure of work and family responsibilities as a way of numbing their consciences, but in the quieter moments they know they are lost.  It is the same for the successful person in business or professional life.  Without Shepherd Jesus close by, both failure and success will lead people to a hopeless place, but as they call to Him, He will come to bring them safely home (Ezekiel 34:11-16) .  This message of God’s love through Jesus is the good news (gospel) the church has got for the world (John 3:16).

Dear Lord. Thank You for Your love which reaches out to weak, wandering sinners like me and my friends. I am amazed by Your desire to search for each individual; and I would like You to motivate me to work with You today – bringing the news that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. Please forgive me for being indifferent to the searching love of Jesus for the lost. Please strengthen me to join with Him in that task and give me a fresh desire to be Your witness to a world that is lost. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

GOD LOVES THE UNGODLY

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’ (NIVUK)
Luke 15:1-2

What a paradox!  In human relationships, we love people like ourselves or those who complement us – not those whose values are totally opposed to ours.  Yet Jesus welcomed the immoral and corrupt people whose businesses were a national disgrace.  The Pharisees observed that Jesus showed far more than polite interest in them.  His welcome was lovingly warm and mealtimes were shared as though He really wanted them to be His family… and He did!  He even appointed one of them to be on His team – Matthew who later wrote the Gospel (Luke 5:29-32).

But the mutterings of religious disapproval only increased.  Surely Jesus could not be anything to do with God, because God hates sin and cannot tolerate its presence near Him (Isaiah 59:1-2).  But Jesus had come to forgive sinners and welcome all who trusted in Him.  There was something about repentant sinners that shone brightly whereas self-satisfied religious pomposity was very dark.  Jesus even said to the devout religious leaders, “…the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31).

That was because: “… God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).  The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  It is unique among all the world’s religious philosophies, that God, who hates sin, should love sinners so much that He took the punishment of their wickedness onto Himself – so that they might share His righteousness. 

This paradox is still a puzzle to sinners, but it is the truth.  Many hide away from God, because of their evil deeds and rebellious hearts (John 3:19-20).  They believe that there is no hope for them.  Their ‘natural religion’ does not allow the possibility of mercy and grace, for they have not received it in this cause-and-effect world.  That is why we, who know Jesus, must proclaim the truth that He loves sinners; He welcomes all who hear His Word and repent so that they might receive His mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16) .  Even some believers have lost sight of those facts, demoralised by their conscience as they accept the devil’s lie that they cannot be forgiven.  If that is you, dare to come to Jesus, listen to Him and know that His blood cleanses every sin (1 John 1:7).  And those friends and colleagues, who groan under a load of unforgiven yesterdays, need to hear you say that Jesus loves everybody, including the ungodly – and invites them to sit with Him if only they will receive Him (Revelation 3:19-20).

Gracious Lord. I am amazed that You should love people who turn away from You, but I am so glad that You do! I worship You for Your mercy in not giving me what I deserve, and in freely giving me what I do not deserve. Please forgive my sins and help me to resist Satan’s lies which tell me that You will not cleanse me fully. I pray for my friends who are so burdened by their past sins; may I be bolder in sharing the good news of Your welcome to sinners. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

GOD LOVES THE UNGODLY

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’ (NIVUK)
Luke 15:1-2

What a paradox!  In human relationships, we love people like ourselves or those who complement us – not those whose values are totally opposed to ours.  Yet Jesus welcomed the immoral and corrupt people whose businesses were a national disgrace.  The Pharisees observed that Jesus showed far more than polite interest in them.  His welcome was lovingly warm and mealtimes were shared as though He really wanted them to be His family… and He did!  He even appointed one of them to be on His team – Matthew who later wrote the Gospel (Luke 5:29-32).

But the mutterings of religious disapproval only increased.  Surely Jesus could not be anything to do with God, because God hates sin and cannot tolerate its presence near Him (Isaiah 59:1-2).  But Jesus had come to forgive sinners and welcome all who trusted in Him.  There was something about repentant sinners that shone brightly whereas self-satisfied religious pomposity was very dark.  Jesus even said to the devout religious leaders, “…the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31).

That was because: “… God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).  The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  It is unique among all the world’s religious philosophies, that God, who hates sin, should love sinners so much that He took the punishment of their wickedness onto Himself – so that they might share His righteousness. 

This paradox is still a puzzle to sinners, but it is the truth.  Many hide away from God, because of their evil deeds and rebellious hearts (John 3:19-20).  They believe that there is no hope for them.  Their ‘natural religion’ does not allow the possibility of mercy and grace, for they have not received it in this cause-and-effect world.  That is why we, who know Jesus, must proclaim the truth that He loves sinners; He welcomes all who hear His Word and repent so that they might receive His mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16) .  Even some believers have lost sight of those facts, demoralised by their conscience as they accept the devil’s lie that they cannot be forgiven.  If that is you, dare to come to Jesus, listen to Him and know that His blood cleanses every sin (1 John 1:7).  And those friends and colleagues, who groan under a load of unforgiven yesterdays, need to hear you say that Jesus loves everybody, including the ungodly – and invites them to sit with Him if only they will receive Him (Revelation 3:19-20).

Gracious Lord. I am amazed that You should love people who turn away from You, but I am so glad that You do! I worship You for Your mercy in not giving me what I deserve, and in freely giving me what I do not deserve. Please forgive my sins and help me to resist Satan’s lies which tell me that You will not cleanse me fully. I pray for my friends who are so burdened by their past sins; may I be bolder in sharing the good news of Your welcome to sinners. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

REALISTIC DECISIONS.

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:31-33

The people listening to Jesus would have remembered all the trouble that came when King Herod Antipas divorced his first wife and got into a catastrophic war with her father – a powerful Arabian king.  Everybody knew he shouldn’t have tried to fight his way out of the problem, and ought to have found some way to make peace.  But Herod was stubborn, manipulated by his lover, who was married to Herod’s brother Philip, and Herod desperately wanted to retain his privilege of power without upsetting the Roman Emperor.  However, a realistic assessment of the military options should have made him give up his personal ambitions for the good of his kingdom.

Jesus’ parable about such a king would have brought the crowd to silence.  He presented the military and diplomatic options available to the king in the face of overwhelming opposition.  Either option risked losing everything, but a thought-through approach would have saved many lives and much embarrassment.  It is better to give away the pride of conquest if you can win the peace by agreement.  Jesus is not advising appeasement of an evil aggressor, but the humility to know when you are wrong (1 Peter 5:6).    

Jesus said that people who persisted in retaining their personal ambitions could never be His disciples (Luke 14:26-27).  Those who could not see that Jesus was superior to them, in every way, would be unable to learn from Him or follow Him, because they would always be agitating to get their own way.  So, it is logical that the ‘bottom line’ of discipleship must be a willingness to give up everything to follow Jesus and be on His side (Philippians 3:8).  Failure to do so will inevitably bring points of conflict which are unwinnable against Jesus.

Except in times of persecution, it can be all too easy to call yourself a Christian.  But believers who have not committed themselves wholly, will assume the right to hold on to their own priorities – even though they claim to be disciples of Jesus.  That results in a sort of spiritual schizophrenia, or a dual objective in life, which Jesus says is incompatible with following Him.  This can be a particular problem in the world of business and personal finances: Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Gracious Lord. Thank You for this wake-up call to alert me to examine the consistency of my discipleship. I repent of trying to run my ambitions and Your purposes in competition, and therefore failing to please You. I am sorry when money becomes my god, and when I become so focussed on what I want to do that I resist whatever You want to say. Please help me to realise that You will always win and that being Your disciple is the greatest privilege in the world. May I start to reassess my life and my walk with You today, so that my life will glorify You and enable me to enjoy the blessings which follow obedience. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

WELCOME AND REJECTION

Sir,” the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.” ‘Then the master told his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”’ (NIVUK)
Luke 14:22-24

When Jesus told a parable, His primary audience was the trainee apostles.  But even they did not understand the teaching at the time, even when it was explained to them (Luke 18:31).  However, when Jesus had ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit was given, then they understood the teaching which was to be passed on to the church (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5) , and in turn to us (John 17:20).    

In this parable Father God is depicted as a people-loving and generous host, who wanted to share good things with His people, Israel (Luke 14:15-17).  They were invited to the banquet but refused to come – offering feeble excuses.  Even though they opted out, the host was still determined to hold the feast which had been prepared, and to hold it on time.  The servant in the story is God’s Servant of Isaiah 24:1-4 , Jesus the Messiah.  As the parable moves on, it is He who was commanded to invite the disreputable people of their society, and then anybody who would believe the invitation and come.  The religious elite criticised Jesus for spending time with the fraudsters and immoral people who wanted to hear His message of God’s love (Luke 5:30).  He was also despised for attending to the sick, children, women and Gentiles – all people who the religious leaders wrongly thought God did not care about.

This parable has a sense of urgency as well as the open generosity of the host.  Jesus wanted people to understand that God was not mean or miserly.  He is open-hearted and loving, but His purpose will not be deflected by those who despise His invitation.  They did not understand that ‘welcome’ and ‘rejection’ are opposite sides of the same coin.  So, in His parable, Jesus taught that God, who welcomes those who accept His invitation, is the same God who rejects those who refuse to come when He calls (John 3:16-18).

It is the same today.  God’s invitation to eternal life through Jesus is not just for the Jews, but for anyone who will listen and believe that God is speaking to them.  The sadness remains that those who refuse to believe and obey the gospel will be actively rejected by Father God and excluded from His heaven (Matthew 7:23).  That is why sharing the gospel is always prophetic – it announces heaven to those who will believe and hell to those who will not.  So, the Apostle Paul says, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.” (2 Corinthians 5:11) .  You can only be a follower of Jesus if you have accepted His invitation to salvation: but once you have, you also have the key to eternal life to share with others.  There is still an urgency to announce God’s salvation to anyone who will listen.  Although many think that they will go to heaven, if they refuse to trust in Jesus, they will not even get a taste.

Dear Lord God. Thank You for Your kindness in offering me an invitation to Your heaven through believing in Jesus as the Way. Please forgive me when I have forgotten the potency of the gospel and my responsibility to pass it on to others. May I be freshly stimulated to offer salvation, through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to my friends and colleagues and those I meet while travelling or on business. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

HAPPY FAMILY MEAL TIME.

Luke 14:15
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’ (NIVUK)

Mealtimes say much about a person. In the dysfunctional world of some Western societies, many families do not have meals together regularly.  Or they may eat while being diverted by television or digital devices – when ‘refuelling’; the meal becomes a selfish activity, instead of being an opportunity for relationship, joy and service.  

Jesus had been invited to a ‘dinner party’ at a rich Pharisee’s home.  The other guests were preening their social feathers hoping to be noticed, while the host enjoyed being their patron.  Yet the poor, sick and undesirables were refused entry. So, Jesus had just been pointing out that their behaviour was dysfunctional for the Kingdom of God (Luke 14:7-14) . Then one person exclaimed ‘How wonderful it would be to eat at God’s table!’
 
Before we look at the parable of the great banquet over the next few days, we must pause to examine this person’s statement.  People who are a part of God’s heavenly celebration are truly blessed (Matthew 5:3-12).  But perhaps the word ‘blessed’ gets overused and we miss its wonder.  To be ‘blessed’ is to be filled with undiluted joy and gladness, because of the provision of the very best gift or relationship, with nothing to spoil it (Deuteronomy 33:29) .  To be in God’s Kingdom is not just good: it is wonderful without limit and His provision is bountiful without end!
 
Followers of Jesus Christ sometimes forget the wonder of His salvation, the strength of His love, the security of His peace, the kindness of His care and the generosity of His provision.  So, it is very important to be reminded that those who are assured of a place at the King’s table are immensely privileged.  Indeed, Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  If that is true (and it is!), we should start to live in the light of this truth.  Worry should be allowed no place; fear should be dismissed in Jesus’ Name.  The weak should claim His strength and the weary should seek His courage to endure.  The King, who calls us, also wants us to live confidently until the great family reunion in Glory.  Believers with a heavenly confidence will let it show through in their earthly life – and a little taste of heaven in the workplace will be healing medicine for everybody, and point the way for others to follow Jesus too.

Gracious God. I know that You are wonderful in every way but I sometimes get so wrapped up in my little world that I forget I am a part of Your big Kingdom will all its blessings. Please forgive me for living as though my name is not written in heaven, and for reacting like those in the world around me when things go wrong, instead of trusting in Your kindness and provision. Help me to have heaven as my horizon, Your glory as my goal, Your love as my support and Your gospel as my service. Help me to live in confidence, believing that You will lead me through the uncertainties into the security of Your future for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

GOD’S QUESTIONS

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. Luke 14:1-4

You would think that religious people would want to know the truth from God. Yet when Jesus came, they tried to trap Him by asking questions which they thought He would not be able to answer (Luke 20:20) so that they could accuse Him in the courts.  They were trying to prove that Jesus has no authority for God and no right to exercise a spiritual ministry – especially on God’s special day of rest for His people.  But Jesus always asked them another question to show the hollowness of their opinions and the godly authority of His ministry.

Today’s reading shows Jesus setting the agenda and provoking the Pharisees into responding.  The Master was on a truth offensive, and all He did was to ask questions.  The debating style at the time was that whoever could not answer the last question had lost the argument (Luke 20:26).  They had no reply to the question about whether the Law of Moses allowed healing to take place on the holy Sabbath day; even though they had severely criticised Him for doing just that (Luke 13:10-17).  As they said nothing, they agreed that it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.  

The end result was the complete opposite of what they wanted.  Instead of finding a reason to condemn Jesus, they knew that His words condemned them (John 3:18).  Instead of preventing Jesus healing the man, they tacitly gave their permission for Him to make the man better instantly.  He did it in front of them, proving that He had the power and right to heal.

Truth is interesting ‘stuff’!  It is at its best out in the open.  But when it conflicts with what is wrong in people they often react negatively.  That is because truth demands that wrong is given up and that change should start.  When Jesus wants to get our attention, He will often put a question to us: ‘Is this thing, attitude, activity right or wrong?’  But He also speaks about what He wants to do in us, for us, through us and around us… which we do not want Him to do!  He has the right and the power to do whatever He knows will glorify Himself and shower blessings on those who cooperate.  So, surely it is time to stop arguing and welcome whatever Jesus wants to do in your workplace, church and home.

Heavenly Father. I know in my head that You are always right, but I do not always want You to do it in my heart and life or work through me in the way that You have chosen. Please forgive me for being willing to listen but not ready either to do what You say, or to let You do what You want. Please help me to accept that You know what is right and best in every situation and that I need to cooperate: either by obeying what You say or by letting You fulfil Your purpose. May I get better at listening to the questions You ask me; and more welcoming of the work You want to do in me, through me and for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

UNREQUITED LOVE

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13:34-35
Jerusalem..

True love hopes that the loved one will respond in love – but can never demand it.  The intensity of genuine love is not weakened by silence, carelessness or even antagonism; but eventually hopeful joy gives way to pain.  God had a long history of loving Israel, although His people failed to respond in faithfulness (Hosea 11:1-3).  The prophet Hosea was instructed to love and marry an adulterous wife, so that he would know how God felt about His people (Hosea 3:1) .  Despite many blessings and promises, Israel rejected God’s love; despite allowing His people to be taken into exile, God’s love persisted; He promised that He would restore those who returned to His love (Isaiah 57:18).

Now we read of Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem with the Father’s pain in His heart.  Despite its long history of killing godly prophets, Jesus loved Jerusalem because Father God had chosen to reveal His Name there (2 Chronicles 6:6) .  Their long history of rejecting the Messiah, they claimed to be awaiting, would culminate in God inviting Gentiles to be grafted into the stock of Israel – all those who trusted in Jesus would be included in God’s family (Romans 11:17-19). No wonder John wrote, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:10-12).

Jesus was the finest expression of God’s Name and so He loved the city and its people, wanting to be their Saviour, but they did not want His love at all.  How painful was that?  It exceeds the anguish of a parent whose child has become wild, or a wife whose husband has been unfaithful.  In just a few months, on Palm Sunday, Jesus would return to that spot and repeat His heartfelt cry, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42).  

Within 40 years of Jesus’ statement, Jerusalem was destroyed and its inhabitants had to flee.  Today, the city is divided. But on the Day when Jesus returns, Zechariah 14:4 says that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. Then “every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7), and will mourn because they realise the horror of their lost opportunity to respond to God’s love.  All the more reason for us who know Him to allow Him to ‘spread His wings over us’, encouraging others to do the same – welcoming His love and receiving His grace.  The greatest folly in the world is to despise God’s love.All loving God. Thank You for the intensity of Your love towards me. I am sorry for the times when I have refused Your grace and spurned Your love. How I must have grieved You very much. Please give me a new realisation of the need to welcome all of Your loving kindness to me in Christ, and to welcome Your Holy Spirit to give me more of an appetite for Your love. May I live each day in the light of Christ’s promised return and encourage others to do the same. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

INFECTIOUS GRACE

Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
Luke 13:20-21

Yeast (there are over 1,500 species) gets everywhere!  It is a fungus which grows wherever it can find sugars.  Yeast is the naturally occurring ‘bloom’ on grapes and other fruit which enables fermentation of the sugary contents into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  We use yeast’s ability to produce gas in a flour-mix, enabling it to ‘rise’ when we make bread.  Yeast is also very hardy; when conditions are not right for growth, spores form which are able to resist the harshest conditions and can live for ever without water.  As tiny light particles, yeast can be blown by the lightest wind and carried by animals and birds and human transport.  However, immediately water and sugars are available the spore germinates and very quickly multiplies.

Usually, in the Bible, yeast is a picture of impurity and sinfulness  – because it gets everywhere (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).  It is impossible to eradicate and is highly infectious.  But in this parable, Jesus used yeast as a picture of the kingdom of God, for the same reasons – it would get everywhere, would be impossible to destroy and wherever hearts are receptive, the grace of God will take root and grow fruitfully.  Whenever the yeast of the gospel is mixed with faith, the kingdom of God grows: Hebrews 4:2 says, “For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.”

Like birds and animals (and aircraft!) carrying yeast spores, the workers in God’s kingdom are often unaware of the potency of the gospel of Jesus they carry with them.  Wherever they go, the seeds of the kingdom travel.  That happened during times of persecution when believers had to flee their homes and countries (Acts 11:19-21) .  Yet, for the gospel to germinate, it needs to be mixed into hearts that will believe it.  Scattering gospel seed is not just the work of full-time clergy and missionaries; it is the work of every believer.  Then their lives will become fruitful in growing God’s kingdom.

Such followers of Jesus Christ are found in all sorts of routine employment, travelling on business or meeting strangers in the course of their work.  They are conscious of their responsibility to spread the truth of the gospel and to invest time with those who are starting to want to believe.  So be much encouraged… God’s kingdom is unstoppable (Mark 4:30-32) , the gospel is still the power of God for the salvation of all who believe and you have an essential part to play in His kingdom… be aware of it, commit yourself to kingdom growth and work hard at it wherever you find the opportunity!

Father God. I thank You so much that Your kingdom will never fail and that the gospel of Jesus continues to be carried around the world today – so that people might be rescued from darkness and have a new life in Your light. Please forgive me for those times I forget that the yeast of the gospel is in my heart, to be shared with others. Help me to be aware of the precious seed of truth I carry with me, so that I may intentionally share the life and truth of Jesus Christ wherever I live, work or travel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

GOD’S LIMITLESS HORIZON

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.’ Luke 13:18-19

The religious people-controllers, who took every opportunity to criticise Jesus, had very low horizons – they were preoccupied with themselves, their position and what people thought of them.  Their objective was to retain their carefully worked out power hierarchy, so that their authority could continue to dominate people’s lives (Luke 11:46; Luke 11:52) .  But the Lord Jesus was so different.  They wanted to bind people to rules, but He wanted to win them to a relationship with God. His purpose was to include them in His kingdom which was going to be far bigger than the rabbis could imagine – it would be populated by believing Jews and Gentiles from every people-group in the world.By using the analogy of the mustard seed, Jesus identified a well-known tiny seed which had the potential to become a huge tree.  He said that was a picture of the Kingdom of God.  He was, of course, pointing to Himself… a small living seed which must die in the ground, but which would germinate to form a huge tree which would welcome whoever wanted to rest in its branches.  That prophecy is still being worked out.  Over a third of the current world population believes in Jesus the Saviour.  They are from every kind of ethnic background, language, religious tradition and cultural lifestyle.  Wherever persecution is most severe, that is where the church grows strongest (Acts 8:1-8).Whenever Jesus is forbidden, people want Him more; and wherever He is announced people are saved (Romans 10:11-13) .  It may take time: it takes time for a small seed to grow into a tree; however, the end result is certain… a horizon filling, Jesus-worshipping, God-glorifying, world-wide, heaven-high church (Habakkuk 2:14).  So, take courage, do not be ashamed of the gospel, the church, the Bible or the Saviour: because everybody who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 1:16)!
Sovereign God. Thank You that Your purposes can never be defeated. Thank You that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. Please forgive me when I have had such low horizons, hardly daring to believe that Your Kingdom will grow where I live and work. Help me to be greatly encouraged today that I will be among that great company of Your people in heaven one day. May I not be ashamed of You, and may I learn to trust You more and more like my brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith even now. Fill me with Your Spirit and enable me to live confidently as a follower of Jesus Christ. In His Name. Amen.
Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started