Bible Study

Oct 2017
Is It Worth It?

It is the training ground for future salesmen. As a child in elementary school, you would slam your lunch box on the table, open it up, and immediately begin assessing the value of what was packed in your lunch. Some items in your lunch were the holy grail of food. You could have your pick of the lunch boxes. Other things were good but hardly tradable. Maybe if you combined it with something else you could get one better item, but more than likely you would simply settle for it. Then there were the abhorrent items in lunches. You couldn’t trade them for your worst enemy’s sister!

Some kids weren’t interested in trading, so they would simply toss everything they didn’t want into the middle of the table. There was an unwritten rule in lunchroom policy: Anything tossed in the middle was up for grabs. The youngster had forsaken their lunch, and the rest of the table could fight over it.

When you read Luke 14:33, do you immediately take inventory of what you have? Jesus said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). After reading words like “forsaketh” and “all,” most people look into the lunchbox of their lives and assess the value of what they are being called to forsake. Their stuff is pretty important. Oh, and their future is priceless. Their time is non-negotiable. All mankind looks longingly over at Jesus’ “stash” in order to make a fair trade, but Jesus is not in the trading business. Jesus, in essence, says, “Toss everything you have in the “up-for-grabs” area of the table”! He says, “Forsake all.” Can you do that?

In the next chapter, Jesus tells a story which should help us forsake all. A young man had an intricate value system. He collected all of his treasures in his life’s “lunchbox” and indulged in everything he could. The times were great, but only for a season. And we all know seasons change. Soon he felt the shove of the swine around his ankles as he was throwing slop out in the “up-for-grabs” pen for his new friends. He was about to fight the pigs for the slop when a rational thought stopped him. The father’s worst was infinitely better than his present condition.

How hard do you think it was for the prodigal son to “forsake all”? While your thinking, he’s already up and running back home. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was trading pig slop for the fatted calf. He would have never known what he would get from his father until he forsook all. What makes Luke 14:33 so hard is we have price tags on pig slop. The trinkets of this world, your stuff…it’s pig slop. That compromising relationship; pig slop. The accolades and personal achievements you value so much are pig slop compared to what God has planned for you.

What will you do? Will you forsake your pig slop? Or do you enjoy eating out of the world’s trough?

Oct 2017
For the Birds

“One, two, three…six, seven…” I soon lost count. In this fall season, I was driving on our country roads to make a quick visit when I noticed creeping travelers on their journey. They were on a mission before the first potential frost in the morning. Their trek led them, not to crawl parallel with the road, no, but their trajectory was completely perpendicular. I aimed the tires of my vehicle hoping to straddle the army of wooly bears crossing the road. Certainly, a wooly bear massacre would affect the ecosystem in some unfortunate way!

In comparison to a wooly bear, we are soaring through life at high altitude and would barely notice such an “insignificant” creature, yet they do not escape God’s notice. Jesus informed His audience, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6)? Later in the chapter, he mentions God feeds the ravens. “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls” (Luke 12:24)?

Then Luke 13, Jesus exhibits this divine and tender care for all to see. A woman, hunched over and crippled “by Satan” for eighteen years did not escape his notice. In society, she more than likely was a nuisance, a pesky beggar, scraping by from day to day. Jesus lays his hands upon the woman and says, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:12). She was “of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

There are two sins which arise when we forget God is our provider. Let it be noted: I am not advocating a foolish or imprudent lack of planning. The principle of the ant in the Proverbs is just as valuable. However, there are two sins which arise when we forget God cares for us more than sparrows and ravens, and they are worry and warehousing. Both are inaccurate thoughts about God. Worry is when we think God has forgotten us; warehousing is when we have forgotten God. In Luke 12, Jesus speaks of a rich man who had a bountiful harvest, yet he was warehousing his surplus. There were poor crippled women he could have noticed as God noticed, but this is unnatural for selfish flesh. When we seek “the kingdom of God” we remember “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:31, 15).

Whether it is sparrows, ravens, or wooly bears, remember, God notices you and He cares enough to supply your need. Lean upon Him today.

Oct 2017
Check Your Dashboard

The blue light special was flashing in my rearview mirror. This would not be good. I pulled off onto the shoulder, and the police officer informed me I was going too fast through the weigh station. At this time, I was delivering brand new trucks and busses around North America. This bus happened to be heading to Canada so the dashboard indicated kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. I was doing fine on the open road, but when you go through a weigh station in Kentucky they throw oddball speed limits like 12 mph at you. When they say 12 mph, they mean 12 mph. My quick conversion estimates weren’t good enough. I was going 2 mph too fast!

What if your life’s dashboard has the wrong metric? Could it be possible you are driving through a miles-per-hour zone using kilometers-per-hour? You may be able to make the conversions, but eventually, you’ll be found out.

In Luke 10, three stories weave a fascinating portrait of service. The disciples were commissioned to preach and return celebrating their accomplishments. The lawyer challenges Christ and learns a lesson from a good Samaritan. Martha is cumbered about with much serving and learns about priorities. All three stories are meant to calibrate our metrics when we are engaged in the Lord’s work.

The disciples rejoiced, “Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17)! Jesus recalibrates their dashboard. “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Serving God is not about the results, but about your relationship with God.

The lawyer tests Christ and Jesus shakes his metric system. While the lawyer and scribes and Levites were self-congratulating “servants of God,” they would hardly lift a finger to help someone in need. Jesus insulted their identity by forcing them to learn from a Samaritan. Serving God is not about the respect, but about your relationship with God.

The final story involves a flustered Martha and focused Mary. Charles Spurgeon said it so well, “Her fault was that she grew ‘cumbered with much serving,’ so that she forgot him, and only remembered the service.” Serving God is not about the rush, but about your relationship with God.

These reminders are for you and me. I have caught myself measuring my service to God by the results, the respect, and the rush, but God uses a different system. Do you want the heart of Christ to rejoice? “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father” (Luke 10:21)! Recalibrate your metrics when it comes to serving God. If you are rightly related to God, you will not stumble whether the results are great or small, whether man respects you or not, or whether you feel important or necessary. Your badge of honor is your relationship with your Heavenly Father and the wonderful privilege you have to serve Him.

Oct 2017
What is Faith?

After some exchanges between the man and Christ, the boy is delivered from demon possession. The disciples ask Christ after the matter, “Why could we not cast him out” (Mark 9:28; cp. Matthew 17:19)? Matthew attaches records Christ’s words, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21).

Scripture tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6), so understanding faith is imperative! Some say faith is believing. This is only part of it. It is a dangerous oversimplification. In a culture of self-determination and fairytale imagination, you may “believe you can fly” or “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Is this faith?

Faith begins with an awareness of your circumstances. In salvation, I am aware of my sin and the prohibition in heaven against it. To enter God’s presence is an impossibility because of my sinful condition. The disciples in this story needed to be aware of their circumstance and realize their insufficiency in themselves. “Belief in yourself” is the devil’s lie leading you to a substandard, less than stellar life. If the future challenges you, if you feel inadequate for the task at hand, if you are questioning why God has brought you to this moment, believing in yourself is delusional! You must lock onto something or Someone greater than your circumstance. A Christian’s failure in faith is either because they refuse to encounter circumstances which challenge their own ability or they look at the Grand Canyon of an impossible situation and revel in their capacity to do great things. Both are failures in faith.

Being aware of your circumstance drives you to adjust your confidence. The adjustment in faith is done only through prayer and fasting. Prayer is not a discipline, but a dependence. Prayer actuates the power of God through you. Fasting eliminates the friction to His power working through you. You must strip away everything which could distract or dilute your access to the only Source of strength. Moses had to remove his shoes because even the tiniest sliver of sandal leather would have been a chasm between himself and God’s solution. Jesus told his disciples to fast. Once you eliminate every impediment, you are now a vessel prepared to receive the work of God.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him” for it is by faith you come to God and the end of yourself.

Oct 2017
Crumbs of the Infinite

The competition of superlatives must be an unwritten rule of childhood. There is always the challenge between children as to who has the best toy, the strongest dad, or the winningest team. Sometimes the competition spills into the innumerable category.

“I love you.”
“I love you more.”
“I love you most.”
“I love you infinitely.”

Whoever gets to “infinitely” first is the winner. A young child may try to get the advantage by saying, “Infinity plus one,” but it is in ignorance for infinity absorbs everything.

Think for a moment: What if you were given a crumb of the infinite? How far would the crumb take you? If “infinity plus one” is irrational because you can’t improve upon infinity, then isn’t infinity minus a crumb a boundless portal of possibilities? What sort of potential energy of the miraculous would be possible in the crumb of the infinite? Is there anything too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:27)?

The Syrophenician woman’s plea was not pathetic. She wasn’t necessarily asking for the leftovers. She recognized Jesus as the Host of the table was extraordinarily gracious. The children at the table faired sumptuously in His bountiful blessing. The overabundance would spill from the table upon the floor. No, her plea was not pathetic; it was profound! She was not asking for only a crumb. She was saying she needed nothing more than a crumb for a crumb from the infinitude of God’s ability would sustain her for a lifetime. It is but a crumb of his power which overthrows the kingdoms of darkness in our lives. It is only a crumb of His goodness which loads us daily with benefits. It was only a crumb coupled with “be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Matthew 15:28) and her life was changed.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world (Mark 8:36)! Just like “infinity plus one,” everything the world can offer you is lost in the smallest of crumbs which tumble from the Lord’s table. A crumb of the infinite will suffice.