Restoration Recap – Acts 4:1-22

Restoration Recap
Every Sunday during our gathering we take time to share with each other what we are thankful to God for in our lives.  It is one of my favorite things we do at Restoration Church.  As people share we are reminded that we serve a living God!  He is active in our lives providing for us and teaching us new things from His Creation, His Word and His people.  The fact that God is doing things among us is one of the things we reflected on during the sermon this Sunday.

This Sunday we talked about Acts 4:1-22.  In the passage, Peter and John have been arrested so the Temple leaders could determine by what name or by what power the lame man was healed (Acts 3:1-26).  Peter’s bold response makes the leaders recognize “that [Peter & John] had been with Jesus.”  So, we asked the question what is it that lets people know we have been with Jesus?  We found three answers from the text:

–     You know we’ve been with Jesus by the things happening among us.  As I mentioned to start this post, every Sunday we stop to thank God for what He is doing in our midst.  I am always encouraged and amazed by this time as we get to hear stories about how the Lord is at work bring healing, provision, wisdom, peace, understanding, comfort, forgiveness, love, joy and on and on.  Last week in our passage Peter declared Jesus to be the Restorer of ALL things!  It is true, God is at work restoring all things through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In our passage this week we saw that this man who had been crippled for over 40 years (Acts 4:22) was completely healed (Acts 3:16).  In our study of Acts we have seen that the community of believers were without any need because of the work of the Holy Spirit among them (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37).

–     You know we’ve been with Jesus by our proclamation of the Gospel.  You also know someone has been with Jesus because they proclaim His Gospel.  As Peter put it in this passage (Acts 4:11-12), “Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Everyone has a belief about what happens after death.  Our belief is that when you repent and trust Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, you inherit eternal life.  Now we declare with Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  We are not afraid of the fact that some will disagree with us, it is not a truth we desire to impose on anyone because it was not imposed on us.  However, we are not naive to think that no one will be offended by such statements.  For it was said of Jesus in Luke 2:34-35 by Simeon, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed…so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

–     You know we’ve been with Jesus by our submission to God over men.  Unwavering submission to God is the final way we saw that people know we’ve been with Jesus.  In the passage, the leaders charge Peter & John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”  Peter and John answer in Acts 4:19-20, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  Peter and John refuse to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus.  There lives have been completely changed by Him.  Even these leaders have recognized the change as Acts 4:13 says, “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”  We cannot deny the experience we have had with Jesus.  As a Christian, I can testify that it is Jesus who has changed the trajectory of my life.  He has given me the desire to spend my energy on making Him known rather than spending my energy on making a name for myself.  He has formed in me a desire to love my neighbors as my self (Luke 10:27).

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”  It is our prayer that we would be the aroma of Christ to our world.  That those who come in contact with us would recognize that we have been with Jesus.

You can hear Sunday’s sermon here

Look ahead
This week we will continue our study of Acts with 4:23-31 for which I have included some questions below.  If you are interested in joining us, we would love to have you.  We will first study the text together during our Wednesday night community group, and then again during our Sunday night worship gathering.  For more information, click here.

-How does what David said in Psalm 2 concern the disciples experience with the leaders?

-What was the response of the believers to what the leaders had told them?

-What was the result of their continued seeking of the Lord in prayer?

God bless!

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Restoration Recap – Acts 3:1-26

Restoration Recap
Sunday we looked at the healing of the cripple at the gate called Beautiful from Acts 3:1-26.  Healing stories are powerful because they are never simply about the physical healing, but they always point to a spiritual reality.  The spiritual reality we see proclaimed in the healing of the cripple is that restoration is available to us in Jesus.

When the cripple was healed he was at the one of the entrances to the Temple.  This gate is thought to be on the east side of the Temple in Jerusalem, and although it was bronze it was ornate and thus called Beautiful.  The gate is also likely to be one of the most frequently used gates to go in and out of the Temple at times of prayer.  The cripple was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and had been in this condition since birth (Acts 3:2).  He was placed at the gate by friends or family on a daily basis to beg for alms.  It seems his presence was well known to worshipers at the Temple (Acts 3:8-10).  Peter and John approach the Temple for prayer and immediately engage the crippled man.  The man thought he might receive something from them, but what he received was more than he ever could have imagined.  Peter tells him he doesn’t have any money, but instead says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”  He then takes the man by the hand, and brings him to his feet.  Acts 3:8 speaks for itself, “And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. ”  This is tremendous for two reasons:  First, obviously the man was immediately restored to perfect health (Acts 3:16).  But in addition, the man was able for the first time to enter the Temple with his family and friends to worship God!  His prior condition would have prohibited him from worshiping at the Temple.  There has been a physical healing, but also a spiritual one.

The story doesn’t end there, a crowd gathers around Peter, John and the healed man.  It seems they are attributing the miracle to the power or piety of Peter and John, but Peter denies this clearly (Acts 3:12).  Instead Peter explains that Jesus who was crucified, was raised from the dead (Acts 3:13-15), and then he emphatically declares in Acts 3:16, “And his name–by faith in his name–has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”  The source of the healing of the crippled man is the risen Lord Jesus working through the hands of the apostles!

Peter goes on to say there is an even deeper reality that we all must respond to in light of this healing.  He does so by explaining the days they are living in (which I believe are the same “days” we live in today).  He shows that we live in days of fulfillment, blessing and response.

–     Peter shows they are days of fulfillment by associating the work of Jesus through with the prophet predicted by Moses (Acts 3:22-23; Deuteronomy 18:15f).  He also associates Jesus with the offspring of Abraham which would bless the nations (Acts 3:25; Genesis 22:17-18).

–     Next he shows these are days of blessing in Acts 3:26 saying, “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”  We don’t often think of the ability to turn from our wickedness as a blessing, but that is what Peter declares to us in this text.  Every day, hour, breath we are given is a blessing from God in which we can either acknowledge God’s holiness or deny His authority in our lives.  As Lamentations 3:22-23 states, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

–     Finally, Peter shows we live in days of response.  In Acts 3:19-21 he says, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”  His call is to recognize our sinfulness in the eyes of a holy God and repent!  We aren’t to stop there though, stunningly, our sins can be “blotted out.”  This is a term used for removing ink from a piece of paper.  He is saying if you wrote all the ways you have hurt those around you and denied God, in Jesus, those things could be washed away!  Finally he says this will bring times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.  As you are forgiven in this way, your love and forgiveness for others grows.  How refreshing to live in a community where people care for others more than they care for themselves.  Where people love one another and forgive each other as they have been forgiven.

So, although our story this week started with a man being healed physically, we see the healing had even greater implications.  The fact is, without Christ Jesus we are all this crippled man sitting outside of the gate.  We are unable to approach the throne of God to worship.  With Jesus, Hebrews 4:15-16 rings true for us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Jesus is the restorer of all things (Acts 3:21), and through faith in His name our sins are blotted out and now we can walk and leap and praise God!

Sunday’s message can be heard here

Look ahead
This week we will continue our study of Acts with 4:1-22 for which I have included some questions below.  If you are interested in joining us, we would love to have you.  We will first study the text together during our Wednesday night community group, and then again during our Sunday night worship service.  For more information, click here.

-What happens to Peter & John in this passage?

-Do you believe there is only one way to heaven as Peter testifies to the council?

-How does the council respond to Peter & John?  What do they have to say about their background and the content of their message?  What rebuke/punishment do they give?

God bless!

Restoration Recap – Acts 2:42-47

Sunday at Restoration Church we continued our series on the book of Acts.  As part of worship we looked at Acts 2:42-47.  In this passage, Luke records a summary of the normal function of the believers in the early church.  Very briefly we looked at the verse 42 which records that the believers were together devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.  As a community our desire is to be devoted to these things just as the early church was.

– Devoting ourselves to the apostles’ teaching means that we hold up the Bible as the authority in our lives.  It is simply the testimony that humankind cannot save itself, and its only hope is in God through the work of Christ Jesus.

– Devoting ourselves to fellowship means we are intentional about encouraging each other through the circumstances we each face day to day.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

– Devoting ourselves to the breaking of bread has a double meaning.  It first of all refers to a devotion to the celebration of communion.  As 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Communion is simply that the proclamation that Christ died on behalf of a sinner like me.  The second meaning of the breaking of bread is the simple sharing of meals together.  Too often, we retreat to our homes and do our own thing, but we desire to live in community with one another.  Doing so means, “day by day…breaking bread in their homes” together (Acts 2:46).

– Devoting ourselves to prayer is done by spending time in prayer.  The only way you can grow in your prayer life is to pray.  We are intentional about spending time in prayer during our service, at community group and in our lives individually.

The rest of our time in this passage we talked about how this community of believers was a contagious one.  Acts 2:47 says, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  The most important thing to us is to see lives changed by the love of Christ.  For people to recognize the holiness of God and repent of their sinfulness, to receive the forgiveness offered by Jesus and to surrender to the direction of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  What made this community so contagious that those around were in awe of what was going on (Acts 2:43)?  Two things: They worshiped God with great zeal and they loved one another sacrificially.

– We see in the text, the believers were daily worshiping God for what Jesus had done in them.  Just before we came to this text we saw that this group of believers had swelled by 3000 people from around only 120 (Acts 2:1-41)!  The amazing thing is they are all now praising God because for the same reason we praise God today.  We have found salvation by grace through Jesus Christ.  In Acts 2:38 Peter tells them clearly what they must do, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  3000 responded!  Christians all around the world from varying cultures have experienced the very same thing: Repentance before a Holy God, forgiveness received from Jesus and surrender to the move of the Spirit in their lives.

– Finally we see this community was contagious because it was marked by love for one another.  The text says, “they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”  There were no needs among them because of their love for one another.  At times people have tried to reason a call to some sort of communal living from this text, but that is not what is being stated.  What we do see is that as needs arose in this group and funds were needed to meet those needs, other believers sold their stuff to provide.  This isn’t some sort of human system developed to meet needs.  No, it is person to person, face to face, neighbor to neighbor extending love in a sacrificial manner.  There wasn’t one individual among them who didn’t have food, shelter and clothing.  All were contented and thankful for what God provided them through one another.  As Americans, in a time when we are reminded of the fragility of our governing systems, we must allow ourselves to be challenged by this community which loved one another with a sacrificial love.

Our desire at Restoration Church is to be devoted and contagious just like the believers described in Acts 2:42-47.

Look ahead
This week we will continue our study of Acts with 3:1-26 for which I have included some questions below.  If you are interested in joining us, we would love to have you.  We will first study the text together during our Wednesday night community group, and then again during our Sunday night worship service.  For more information, click here.

-What happened at the Beautiful Gate?

-To what/whom did Peter attribute this miracle?

-What does Peter instruct the people watching to do?

-Who does Peter say prophesied concerning these things?

God bless!

Restoration Recap – Acts 1:1-11

On Sunday at Restoration Church we began a series on the book of Acts.  As a part of our worship service we studied Acts 1:1-11.  In this passage we saw that after Jesus resurrection He was taken up to heaven.  Before ascending to heaven He left the disciples some specific instructions about the mission of the Church along with the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  He told them they would be His witnesses to Jerusalem, to Judea & Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  As Christians, we recognize this instruction applies to us today.  Our lives as followers of Jesus ought to witness to the repentance and forgiveness which Christ proclaimed in His first coming (Luke 24:46-47).  Just as the disciples call to be witnesses started in Jerusalem, which is where they were, for Christians today the call on our lives is to be witnesses of the work of Christ from where we are.  In addition, we should always be looking for how we can be involved in the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness in our region, nation and throughout the world.

 
A major theme throughout Acts 1:1-11 and the book of Acts as a whole is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the disciples as they witness to the work of Christ in their lives.  This power is directly tied to baptism as indicated here as well as in John the Baptist’s prophecy of the coming Messiah’s baptism (Luke 3:16).  This led us to a closer examination of the various names we are to be baptized into (Matthew 28:16-20).  In Matthew’s gospel, He records what has come to be known as the Great Commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”  At Restoration Church we believe baptism to be a public declaration of our faith in Jesus as our Savior.  While we do not consider it a salvific act, we do consider it an incredibly significant act in which we are declaring our allegiance to God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  However, I have come to believe that a lot of the time we accept baptism from the Father and the Son, but disregard or misunderstand baptism in the Holy Spirit.  To be clear, I don’t believe these to be separate baptismal events, but I do believe, as Acts testifies (Acts 19:2-6), it is important to know what you have been baptized into.  Baptism in the Father is marked by repentance, this is similar to baptism as John the Baptist preached it.  Baptism in Jesus is marked by forgiveness as I Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Baptism in the Holy Spirit is marked completely immersing our lives in the purpose God has for us; being led by the Spirit in all we do rather than by our flesh (Galatians 5:16-17).  In addition, baptism in the Holy Spirit is marked by both fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) & gifting (I Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:3-8).  There are many more passages upcoming in our study of Acts from which we will deal with these things in greater detail.  But know this, as little or as much as you understand about being baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit, He lives inside You as a believer (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

Click here to hear Sunday’s sermon

Look ahead
This week we are studying Acts 1:12-26 for which I have included some questions below.  If you are interested in joining us, we would love to have you.  We will first study the text together during our Wednesday night community group, and then again during our Sunday night worship service.  For more information, click here.

-What are the disciples doing in this text?  What is the importance of the 12 Apostles?
-What were the requirements for Judas’ replacement?  How did the disciples decide between their two candidates to replace Judas as an Apostle?
-What evidence does the text give for the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Old Testament?  How should we understand New Testament writers interpreting Old Testament passages?
-Were there only 120 who believed & followed Jesus at this point?

God bless!

Did Jesus come for peace or division?

At Restoration Church we walk through the books of the Bible we are studying one passage at a time, and this week’s passage challenges us to consider Jesus’ identity.  If you ask most people whether Jesus came to bring peace or to bring division, most would say he came to bring peace.  Are they right or wrong?  The answer is in how we understand this statement from Jesus in Luke 12:49-53:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus’ first two statements are full of imagery.  Fire and baptism.  Allow me to share briefly what I think these statements mean.  First, Jesus says he came to cast fire on the earth, a fire he wishes were already started.  Now that doesn’t seem very pleasant, does it?  Jesus is using the image of fire to communicate the impact of the work He will complete.  The fact is we can look back on 2000 years of history and see the ministry of this Carpenter from Nazareth did have an effect similar to a fire.  The influence of Jesus on human history is unmistakable which is why we should be compelled to understand what it is He stood for.  Jesus wishes this fire had already been kindled because at this point in Luke, Jesus is still looking ahead to laying down His life on the cross for all humankind.  Which leads us to His next statement.

Next, Jesus says He has a baptism to be baptized with and that He is in distress until it is finished.  The normal usage of the word baptism is to immerse in water.  Jesus has already been baptized in water by John the Baptist (Luke 3:21-22), and a second baptism of Jesus into water is not recorded.  So, if Jesus isn’t going to be immersed in water again, what is He going to be immersed in?  Given His distress about this imminent “baptism,” His crucifixion is most likely in view.  On the cross, Jesus is taking on the judgment each of us deserve for our sin.  There is some precedent for this interpretation in the Old Testament where water is seen as a means of judgment.  The clearest example is Noah & the Flood.  Noah endures the judgment of a flood that destroys the rest of humankind by building a wooden ship.  Jesus is looking forward to His baptism on the wooden cross.  His baptism is the taking on of judgment the world deserves.  Jesus is anticipating the physical, emotional and spiritual pain He is about to endure and is distressed about it.

So, what is divisive about the expansion of Jesus’ influence in the world and His taking on the sins of the world at the cross?  The divisiveness comes as a result of a decision each person must make in regard to Jesus identity.  When someone makes a statement, there will be people who agree and people who disagree.  As a result you have division.  Jesus during His time on earth asserted many things about His identity and we can either accept them or reject them.  Throughout our study of Luke we have seen this to be true.  One example is found in Luke 5:17-26 where Jesus heals a paralytic.  Before doing so He says to the man, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  The truth Jesus asserts about Himself in this statement is that He has the authority to forgive sins.  It is clear what some of the religious leaders think about this because they say in response, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  Do you believe that Jesus can forgive your sins?  That is His claim.  This statement will be accepted by some and rejected by others.  Thus, Jesus brings division.  The division according to our passage will even occur among family members.  Some family members will accept this truth others will reject it.

I accept this claim that Jesus makes to forgive sins.  I know that I am a sinner.  The number of times I have sinned is overwhelming; the times I have been enticed by my own desires (James 1:14-15) is immeasurable.  My only hope is to find forgiveness in Jesus.  While accepting the claims Jesus asserts will certainly create division between me and those who reject him.  Jesus has become my peace.  As Ephesians 2:13-14 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace…”  My deepest need in life is to be restored to God.  I cannot do that through my own efforts because my sin is too great.  If I gave the rest of my life to doing good in order to overcome my sin, I would not make a dent.  In spite of my sin, I am restored to God through Jesus’ work on the cross.  I am at peace.

Thank you for reading my blog, we will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on Feb 17.  We meet every Sunday night at The Sage Events Venue.  We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights.  If you would like more information, feel free to email me: blake@restorationclearwater.org.

Luke 12:35-48 – Jesus is Coming Again

The passage we are looking at this week (Luke 12:35-48) deals with one of the fundamental beliefs of a follower of Jesus Christ, His literal return to earth.  The fact is according to the Bible, Jesus came once two thousand years ago, and He is coming again.  Our passage this week gives us details about three aspects of Jesus’ second coming: 1) When He is coming; 2) How we should prepare for His coming; and 3) The reward for being prepared for His coming.

When is He coming?  Well actually…He doesn’t tell us.  In fact, what He tells us about when He will come is that we won’t know when it will be.  This is why I find it funny when Christians claim to know when the world will end or when Jesus is coming back because He explicitly tells us it will be unexpected.  In Luke 12:39-40 he says, “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Jesus, the Son of Man, compares His coming to the coming of a thief to a house.  The thief doesn’t tell the owner of the house when he will come, that would be ridiculous!  The thief comes when the owner of the house will least expect it.  This is when Jesus will come, when we least expect it.  We will not know the hour of His coming; we just need to be ready for it.

How are we supposed to be ready for Jesus’ return?  Jesus gives us two images to describe how we ought to be ready for His coming.  The first is of servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet (12:35-38).  Luke 12:35 says, “be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning.”  While the master is at the wedding banquet, the servants are to be ready to serve the master whenever he returns.  In fact, Luke 12:38 indicates the wait may last until the second or third watch of the night.  We’re not sure whether a Roman night-watch is indicated or a Jewish night-watch.  A Roman night-watch is separated into four watches meaning the second watch would be between 9pm & midnight, and the third watch between midnight & 3am.  A Jewish night-watch is separated into three watches meaning the second watch would be between 10pm & 2am, and the third watch between 2am & 6am.  Either way, these servants need to be ready to serve at all times.  Jesus is telling us we need to be ready for His return at all times.

The second image Jesus gives about how we are supposed to be ready, is one of a master who has put a manager in charge of his servants (Luke 12:42-44).  The manager does not know when the master will return either, and so he must be diligent to continue doing the things the master has told him to do.  Jesus says the manager is supposed to give the servants “their food allowance at the proper time.”  In the Gospels we find Jesus gives very clear instructions about how His followers are to conduct their lives.  This is why it is so important that we seek to understand the things He has said.  His words are spiritual nourishment, and we are responsible to share this food with all whom we have an opportunity.

What is the reward for being ready?  In the first image, the wedding banquet, the reward for readiness at all times is that the master will serve the servants.  Backwards, right?  Faithfulness to Jesus results in being invited to recline at His table.  He says in Luke 12:37, “I tell you the truth, [the master] will dress himself to serve, will have [the servants] recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  In the second image, the manager of the servants who is faithful is also given tremendous blessing upon the master’s return.  Luke 12:44 says, “I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” Wow!  Jesus is promising we will share in His inheritance and sit at His table.

These are amazing rewards.  Rewards worth getting ourselves ready for.  But the truth is the reason the servants are ready, the reason they wait expectantly for the master’s return and do what He asks is that they respect the master’s identity.  The fact is that throughout Luke’s gospel we have seen Jesus demonstrate His authority over disease (Luke 4:40), nature (Luke 8:22-25)and death (Luke 7:11-17).  We have seen Him forgive people’s sin (Luke 7:48) and preach with authority (Luke 4:31-32).  If we respect Jesus’ identity, we will be ready when He comes again.

Thank you for reading my blog, we will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on Feb 10.  We meet every Sunday night at The Sage.  We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights.  If you would like more information, feel free to email me at blake@restorationclearwater.org.

Do We Need a Sign?

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.  For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.  The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, there are large crowds (Luke 11:29) coming to see Jesus because word is out that He is healing people of their diseases and casting out demons from those who are possessed.  As the crowds build Jesus discerns their motives for coming and says to them, “This is a wicked generation.  It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”  Rather than listening closely to Jesus’ message the crowds were following Jesus for the show.  They wanted to see Him do the miraculous things He had become known for.  They were completely missing the point. Jesus was calling them to repent of their self-indulgent lives and devote themselves to loving God and loving others as much as they love themselves (Prior post on Luke 10:25-27).

He goes on to describe the sign of Jonah saying that Jonah preached God’s word to the Ninevites and they responded, not to miraculous signs, but simply to the message Jonah shared with them.  We are not given many details about Jonah’s message except that He told the Ninevites they had 40 days before destruction would come (Jonah 3:4).  To even Jonah’s surprise Nineveh repented of their evil ways (Jonah 3:10), from the citizens to the king.  As a result of their response to the message, God had compassion on them (Jonah 3:10).

Are we like the Ninevites who responded to Jonah’s message or are we like the crowds looking for a sign from Jesus?  I’ll be honest, often times I am like the crowd looking for a sign.  My wife and I moved to Clearwater a little over a year ago from Boston because God led us to move here to start a Christian church.  This fall we began meeting on Sunday nights.  They are very small meetings right now and I find myself wanting God to bring more people to confirm we are doing the right thing.  The truth is that I know we are doing the right thing because God led us to take this step, that was His message to us.  I cannot only look for signs; I have to trust the message.

The same is true with placing our faith in Jesus’ message.  Romans 10:17 says, “consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”  Faith does not come from seeing a sign, it comes believing the message.  Jesus’ message is simple: Eternal life comes from fulfilling the law by loving God and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Luke 10:25-27).  The problem is we can’t do it.  We are broken.  We don’t always love God.  We don’t love our neighbors all the time.  The amazing thing is that Jesus knows this about us and it is precisely why He came to earth.  He came to reconcile us to God by sacrificing Himself on the cross on our behalf (II Corinthians 5:17-21).  God is still doing signs among us if we will open our eyes, but more importantly we must open our ears to the message which was spoken through Christ.

Thank you for reading my blog, we will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on Jan. 27.  We meet every Sunday night at The Sage.  We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights.  If you would like more information, feel free to email me atblake@restorationclearwater.org.

Luke 11:1-13 – How does Jesus say we should pray?

In Luke 11:1-13 we hear some of Jesus’ thoughts on prayer.  It is evident from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus prays often (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28).  Jesus’ disciples have no doubt noticed His prayerfulness and in this passage they ask Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).  Jesus starts His instruction by saying “when you pray.”  For the follower of Christ, prayer is not a matter of if, but when.  That isn’t to say that prayer is some heartless command, rather it is the natural result of a belief in a personal God.

What follows is what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  The prayer is also recorded in Matthew 6:9-13.  The two passages are very similar.  The only difference being that Luke’s version is shorter at various points.  Even still the concepts shared are the same and are given in the same order.  The prayers are also recorded in different contexts.   Matthew indicates this prayer was shared with a large crowd during the Sermon on the Mount.  Luke indicates the prayer to be part of Jesus’ answer to a question from the disciples about how to pray.  While I certainly think it fruitful to pray the prayer verbatim, it is important to consider the concepts contained within the prayer.

Father

First, Jesus instructs us to approach God as Father.  God is our Heavenly Father.  For many, envisioning God as Father is not a very flattering thought.  Often great pain is brought about because of the absence or because of presence of a hurtful father.  However, all that is lacking in our earthly fathers is found in our Heavenly Father.  He loves and cares for us more than we’ll ever know.  He desires to give good things to us, even His presence through Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).  The word father is probably too stuffy a term to define Him.  Daddy would be more appropriate.  He cherishes us over all His creation.  He is our Dad and He cares for our every need and circumstance.

Hallowed be your name

Next Jesus says we should pray “hallowed be your name.”  This is essentially a declaration of praise to God for His perfect nature.  It is an acknowledgement that His name is worthy to be set apart as Holy.  In the same way, as we pray to Him, we ought to start by exalting Him for His marvelous attributes and His faithful character.  Just as last week we considered the things we ought to love God for, in our prayers we ought to express these things to Him.  King David was a master at writing prayerful psalms which give God the praise He is due.  Consider Psalm 100:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!  Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!  Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!  For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

As we approach Him in prayer we ought to thank Him for the good He has done.  The breath in our lungs, the mind He has given us to think with, the body He has given us to be productive with, the sun He has given to light our days and the moon to govern our nights, the people He has surrounded us with.  All of these things are good gifts which He has granted to us.  He is truly worthy of all our praise!

Your Kingdom come

Another component of our prayers ought to be for God’s Kingdom to come.  In Matthew’s version he says, “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”  Luke’s version is communicating the same thing just in a shorter form.  The prayer for God’s Kingdom to come is a prayer for His authority to reign in our hearts and His will to be done in our lives.  I believe in a God who works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).   As a result I welcome His authority in my life, and I depend on Him entirely.  I also desire His will to be done in my life because His will is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

Give us each day our daily bread

Next Jesus says we should pray God would supply our basic needs.  The statement recognizes our dependence  on God.  In our independently minded culture, it is probably not so popular to freely admit I am entirely dependent.  Though it should be a natural conclusion.  Our very existence depended on two individuals.  Our successes today are very much dependent upon the efforts of others before us.  Our ability to function is dependent upon the natural laws of the universe.  Our entire functionality in this life is dependent on things and people outside of ourselves.  Chiefly our dependence is on God.  We depend on Him for even the very basic necessities of life.

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us

Not only do we depend on God for our basic provision, but we also depend on Him and Him alone for spiritual provision.  As we touched on last week, we fail to fulfill the command God gives us to love Him and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  The Bible clearly teaches our salvation depends on God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone (To name a few passages: John 3:15-18; John 14:6 Romans 3:20-23; II Corinthians 5:14-17; I John 5:11-13).  We are sinners.  That is we disrespect God’s authority in our lives, we pursue our own desires rather than His, in our pride we fail to acknowledge that we are dependent upon Him for all things, rather than seeking justice (Micah 6:8) we seek our own pleasure, rather than loving our neighbors we love ourselves.  We are in desperate need of forgiveness because of our sin.  Interestingly, after Jesus tells his disciples to ask God for forgiveness, he says we should do so as we forgive those who sin against us.  A person who has received God’s forgiveness is marked by a spirit of forgiveness.

And lead us not into temptation

The emphasis on this final portion of the prayer is on keeping us from the very real power of temptation in our lives.  The fact is that we are tempted in many ways each day to be unfaithful to God, to our families, to our friends, to our employers, to our employees, to our fellow employees and to our neighbors.  We can trust that God is with us when and wherever temptation arises.  As we are reminded in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

So let’s recap.  Jesus lays out a prayer for his disciples to pray.  It is good for us to pray it as it is given, but it is also important for us to understand what we are saying.  We ought to approach Him as our loving dad, declare His goodness & holiness, ask for His authority & His will for our lives, recognize & seek His provision for our basic needs, come humbly before Him to seek forgiveness, and request His strength to resist the temptations we are faced with in this life.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Feel free to share your own thoughts, I would love to hear them.  We will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on January 20.  We meet every Sunday night at The Sage.  We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights.  If you would like more information, feel free to email me at blake@restorationclearwater.org.

Luke 10:25-42 – We Will All Die, What's Next?

It’s been six months since my last post to this blog.  I could list a myriad of excuses, but that would be lame.  So, I’ll just remind my avid readers (all two of you) why I am blogging.  I am a minister at Restoration Church, and this blog is the fruit of my preparation for our Wednesday Bible study and our Sunday worship service.  This week we are looking at Luke 10:25-42 which contains two stories: The Parable of the Good Samaritan and the home of Mary & Martha.

The passage starts with a lawyer approaching Jesus to ask the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This question is relevant still because studies still show that 100 percent of us will die. Eventually, our bodies decay and our lives end.  So, it begs the question, is that it? Do we just get 70 years to roam our little corner of the vast universe and then cease to exist?  I believe the Bible teaches something different, and that is what our passage this week explores.

Jesus responds to the lawyer’s question about how to obtain eternal life with another question. He says, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  Jesus is referring to at least the Pentateuch (the first five books in the Old Testament) and perhaps to the entire Old Testament. His answer is simple but profound. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus approves of his answer saying, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.”

As a result of this exchange we see that the Bible has a clear answer to our question, is there something beyond our imminent expiration? There is eternal life and a means by which you obtain it. According to Jesus the means to inherit eternal life is to fulfill the Law through whole-hearted devotion to God and a love for others which is equal to our love for ourselves. As it turns out, these two simple instructions are quite challenging to carry out.

First, we must love God. As I reflect on this, loving God means to love His existence, His goodness, His authority, His created order, His saving power, His moral standard and probably a host of other things about His character which don’t immediately come to mind.  We ought to love Him for all that He has revealed about Himself generally through creation (Romans 1:20) and I believe specifically in the Bible. This is not an easy task to be sure. Speaking for myself, I am aware of my deeply rooted desire to have control of my circumstances. At the core, I want to make my own way.  However, God calls us to yield to His purposes in our lives and often those are in conflict with the things we are trying to accomplish on our own.  If I acknowledge that God is Creator and Ruler of this world, it is prideful for me to think I know how to live life better than He directs me to live.

Second, we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Loving anything more than we love ourselves is a difficult task.  We naturally chase personal comfort, pleasure and achievement. And we often do so with no regard for our neighbors. Even still the instruction is that we love our neighbors more than ourselves.  This is where the lawyer is tripped up. The text says he desired to “justify himself.” It is as though he know there were some people he couldn’t possible love as much as he loved himself and he hoped that those people weren’t included in the term “neighbors.” So he asks, “who is my neighbor?”

Now the parable Jesus tells to answer the lawyer’s question is a familiar one to many.  It is the parable of the good Samaritan. The Samaritans were held in very low regard because they were not pure blooded Israelites and because it was thought that they compromised the faith since they worshipped at Mount Gerizim in Samaria rather than Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The understanding that the relationship between Jews and Samaritans was tenuous at best is vital to seeing Jesus’ point in telling the parable.  With that, here is the parable:

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:30-37).

What a powerful story. The point is clear: “Neighbors” is not limited to those who live in close proximity to us or to those with whom we agree. No, according to Jesus “neighbors” clearly includes people with whom we may differ on very important issues, people who on the surface of things would be considered our enemies. This Samaritan looked beyond religious differences he had with the man left for dead on the road, and had compassion on him. He bound up his wounds, set the man on his own animal, took him to shelter, and paid for his recovery. He loved his neighbor as much as he loved himself.

The fact is, we all fail at both of these commands, whether to love God or to love our neighbors, we fall short. As a result none of us deserve the eternal life which the lawyer was seeking out in this text. Which, I believe, is exactly why Jesus came to earth. We had no remedy to restore our relationship with God, and he came to be that remedy for us. To live a perfect life and lay His life down on the cross for us. I find this statement by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 to be true: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners– of whom I am the worst.” According to the Bible, there is life after death, and that life is spent with God if we recognize our inability to fulfill the Law and accept that Jesus is our only hope, our Savior.

Thank you for reading my blog, we will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on Jan. 13.  We meet every Sunday night at The Sage.  We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights.  If you would like more information, feel free to email me at blake@restorationclearwater.org.

Luke 3:21-38 – Jesus' Baptism & Genealogy

Plug for upcoming Christianity Explored class
Christianity Explored is a FREE seven session course which explores basic concepts of Christianity including:  Humanity, Jesus’ Identity, Sin, The Cross, Resurrection, Grace and Following Jesus.  These concepts are explored by studying and reflecting on the Gospel of Mark together.  The study will include dinner, a brief lecture, time of discussion and material for personal reflection.

The course will start on June 19th at The Sage Events Venue 22 N. Fort Harrison Clearwater, FL.
Dinner starts at 6:30pm | Study starts at 7:15pm | Study ends at 8:30pm

You don’t need to know anything about the Bible.
You won’t be asked to read aloud, pray or sing.
You can ask any question you want.

Please RSVP here so we can arrange for dinner and study materials.
We look forward to meeting you and exploring Christianity together.

Luke 3:21-22 – Jesus was baptized too
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened  22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

If Jesus is born of God and lives a sinless life, why does He participate in John’s baptism of repentance?  Surely he has no sin to repent of, right?  Only Matthew’s gospel gives us any explicit insight into the reason that Jesus was baptized too.  He records Jesus’ statement to John, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  I believe Jesus’ participation in John’s baptism has a couple of important aspects to it which are not explicitly stated:

  1. Heaven’s Approval – Jesus’ baptism demonstrates Heaven’s approval of John’s ministry.   John’s baptism was a new experience for the people of Israel, and the language seems to indicate that droves of people were coming out to hear what he had to say and participate in the baptism he was performing.  It’s not that his message was in competition with the teachers of the law, he was calling for a very simple righteousness, but he was in a word…radical.  According to Matthew & Mark, John wore clothes made of camel’s hair and he ate locusts & honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).  And according to Luke’s account the things he was saying were very bold (JtB’s Ministry).  The fact that Jesus participates in this baptism indicates the seemingly eccentric ministry of John the Baptist was met with Heaven’s approval.  We see this more clearly in Luke 20:1-8 where the chief priests & teachers of the law come to ask Jesus where He gets the authority to teach in the way He does.  It is in this moment Jesus asks them whether they think John’s baptism was from Heaven or man (Luke 20:1-8).  They are stumped, but it is clear that Jesus believes John’s baptism is from Heaven; He participated in it.
  2. Symbolic Act of Faith – The fact that Jesus is baptized by John shows that John’s baptism was symbolic.  It demonstrates baptism as a symbol of a heart set on God.  For anyone but Jesus that meant turning from selfishness and living a righteous life.  For Jesus it simply meant continuing in righteousness, “fulfilling all righteousness” as it is put in Matthew.  It should not be surprising to us that this action would be symbolic.  The Temple construction itself was symbolic of a spiritual reality, which we discussed in detail with the foretelling of John’s birth.
  3. The Importance of Baptism – Just because baptism is symbolic, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.  In fact, Jesus’ baptism demonstrates the importance of participating in baptism for Christians today.  This may seem obvious, but as a Christian, I consider myself a follower of Jesus.  As a result I think it important to follow in Jesus’ example as much as I am able.  If baptism was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me too.  The fact is, Jesus doesn’t just demonstrate the importance of baptism by participating in it.  He also demonstrates it’s importance by commanding its continuance as a practice of the Church in the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20.

Jesus is baptized and immediately we are presented with a Trinitarian event.  After Jesus is baptized, he is praying and as he prays, Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove.  Simultaneously, the Father’s voice from heaven speaks saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  It is instances like this which persuade readers of the Bible that there is one God in three persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  Obviously, this is a large topic which we don’t have space to tackle right here, but if you have questions, I would be happy to discuss it further with you…just shoot me an email.

An interesting thing I noticed while studying this passage was a literary connection between the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts which I had not seen before.  After Jesus is baptized the Holy Spirit descends on Him and soon after Luke records the beginning of Jesus’ ministry which is the focus of the remainder of Luke’s gospel.  We see a similar event in Acts.  The book of Acts opens with the disciples waiting for the promised arrival of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-5).  They are together praying as Jesus was (Acts 1:14; 2:1), and the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 2:2-5).  Immediately after this, they begin their ministry preaching the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the crowds that come to hear what is going on (Acts 2:6ff).  The remainder of the book of Acts is about the ministry of the church as they rely on the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:23-38 – The Genealogy of Jesus
23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,  24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,  25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,  26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,  27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,  28 the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,  29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,  30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,  31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,  32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,  33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,  34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,  35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,  36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,  37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,  38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Aside from the statement that Jesus starts his ministry at the age of thirty, the rest of this passage is a genealogy.  It can be very easy to skip over genealogies as they come up throughout the Bible.  This is probably because many of the names are unfamiliar to us and we don’t see the importance of the genealogy.  Luke does not include this genealogy without a purpose; it tells us some very important things.

First, there is one other place where we find Jesus’ genealogy, in Matthew 1.  We should start by noting the differences between Matthew’s account and Luke’s.

  • In Luke the genealogy goes from present to past whereas Matthew goes from past to present.  Luke’s version is not typical for a genealogy, and we will talk about why he may have done that later.
  • Luke’s genealogy extends back to Adam, whereas Matthews stops at Abraham.
  • In the stretch which they both cover, Abraham to Jesus, Matthew includes 41 names and Luke includes 57.
  • The genealogies are identical from Abraham to David.
  • Between David & Joseph only two names match, those being Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.

How do we explain the differences?  The main questions seem to be why does Luke take his genealogy through Nathan rather than Solomon?  Why does Luke take 16 more names to get from David to Joseph than Matthew?  Why is Joseph said to be the son of Heli in Luke and the son of Jacob in Matthew?  These are the sort of questions which people write doctoral theses about.  So, I will not pretend to fully comprehend the theories in this post, but here is a brief summary of some popular theories:

  • Some believe the difference is that one genealogy represents Mary’s line and the other Joseph’s line.  This is easy enough to understand, under these theories, one genealogy represents Mary and one Joseph.  I don’t think this is the best approach.
  • Some think one is a “natural” line and the other is a “royal” line.  This set of theories is also easy to understand, one genealogy represents the natural genealogy of Jesus whereas the other gives the royal ancestry.  You can see how this theory comes about when you compare the genealogies to the Old Testament history.  Matthew clearly records the kings of Israel (royal line) and Luke does not (natural line).  So, as I understand it Matthew’s genealogy would be the royal line whereas Luke’s would be the natural line.  This would mean Joseph’s ancestry could be split after David and still return to Joseph by both lines.  This helps, but it still doesn’t explain why Joseph has two dads.
  • Finally, some think one is a “natural/royal” line and one is a “legal” line.  This set of theories proposes the idea of a “legal” line.  As I understand it, Matthew would become both the “natural and royal” line, whereas Luke would be designated the “legal” line.  This approach explains the split after David, and potentially the two dads of Joseph.  The theory being that perhaps Joseph’s “natural” father, Jacob, died while Joseph was young and his “legal” father is Heli.

If you have more questions, which I’m sure you do if you read this far, feel free to email me.  I would love to hear your questions.

Okay…enough of that.  Why does Luke include this genealogy?

As we have discussed before, the gospel writers all write with purpose and with emphasis.  They all share the purpose of recording their perspective of the good news which came through the life of Jesus Christ.  They all testify to Jesus’ divinity, His humanity, His life, His teachings, His death, His burial and His resurrection.  That said, each of them have their own distinct emphasis.  Matthew is often thought to be written to a community of Jews some of whom have come to believe Jesus is the Messiah and some who have not.  This is why Matthew’s genealogy stops at Abraham, the patriarch of Israel.  Luke on the other hand is written to gentiles like Theophilus who have questions about the faith they have received given the amount of persecution Christians are enduring.  Therefore, his genealogy goes back to the first human created, Adam.  Luke includes this genealogy to show Jesus’ connection to humanity (through Adam), to Israel (through Abraham) and to the Messianic line (through David).

There is another interesting thing about Luke’s genealogy, he lists it backwards.  Most genealogies go from past to present.  Luke’s goes present to past ending with Adam.  This too is done with purpose because as we will see next time, the following passage is Luke’s record of Jesus being tempted in the desert.  This connection seems to communicate, “Where Adam failed, Jesus prevailed!”  Jesus did not give in to the temptations offered by Satan.  Though tempted, he resisted with the power of the Holy Spirit and a clear understanding of the Word of God.

I pray that you have been encouraged by the reading of this blog.  As always we would love to have you join us as we continue to study through the book of Luke.  For more information about when and where we meet, email me.