PRAY

 

This morning as I wake up and prepare for the day, I am easily overwhelmed at my list of to-do’s!  Today contains:  a workout at the gym, mowing the yard along with fall yard clean-up, making a meal for my husbands’ grandpa, writing this Bible Journal Post, picking up the house for the weekend, attending the high school football game to watch my daughter cheer, and anything else that may pop up.  I am totally focused on what I have to do and accomplish.  But this is NOT the work that Jesus calls me to do!  All the things on my list today are good and may serve others, but the focus is not on God.

God tells us in our reading today, Luke 10, that our focus should be PRAYER.

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Luke 10:2 (ESV)

We have to shift our focus from our daily work or list of to-do’s and focus on PRAYER.  It is hard to do, because prayer is not busy work, it does not seem to help us accomplish much in the immediate.  But, this is the issue, we focus on our immediate presence and what is before us.  We focus on what we have to accomplish today, right now.  And all this time, God is asking us to pray for workers – not be the worker.

There is so much work to be done.  When we step out of our homes we are faced with the tragedy and crisis all around us.  It is easy to think, “How can I help fix this, or what can I do to help show love to a neighbor in need?”.  We can easily stay busy meeting the needs of all those around us, and this is good work.   We are called to love and serve our neighbors.  But Luke 10:2 first calls us to PRAY!

In this chapter, Jesus is preparing 72 disciples to go out and reach the people.  These 72 are not to do the job of reaching others all by themselves, but they are to PRAY for more workers.  They are to begin by gathering more people to PRAY.  To PRAY that other people will join them in reaching out.

I know that I spend so much more time on my to-do’s then I do in prayer.  What is your focus today?  God calls us to pray for more workers to bring the good news to our neighbors.  Will you pray for this today??

Garden of Gethsemane

As I have been reading Mark 14 this week, I am overwhelmed at the number of events that are contained in this chapter!  There is so much to glean from these 72 verses.  But, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the most important lesson is that it points us to Jesus, who He is and what He did for us as a human.

I encourage you to read this chapter and see what God has to show you concerning all the events in Mark 14:

  1.  The woman that anoints Jesus with oil
  2. How Judas agrees to betray Jesus
  3. Jesus and the Disciples share the Last Supper
  4. How Jesus agonizes in the Garden
  5. Jesus is betrayed and arrested
  6. Jesus is questioned by Caiaphus
  7. Peter denies knowing Jesus

I want to focus on Jesus and what He faced in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mark 14:32-36                                                                                     32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,:  he said to them.  “Stay here and keep watch.”  35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  36“Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Jesus faced his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The meaning of this garden is actually “oil press”.  In this garden, Jesus can actually feel what it is going to be like when the weight of the sins of his people literally crush or press him and take his life.  

He asks God to “take this cup from me” in verse 36.  What is the
“cup”?  It is helpful to look back at the Old Testament to see what the “cup” stands for.  In Psalm 23:4 and 116:13 we see that a cup can be filled with blessing and salvation.  Or as in Isaiah 51:17 and Ezekiel 23:33, the cup can be filled with wrath and horror.  Many Old Testament passages use the metaphor of the cup as a reference to God’s fierce judgment.  

So, when Jesus prays, “take this cup from me”, he is referring to the references above.  He knew that when He went to the cross he would drink the cup of god’s wrath.  He would have to bear all divine judgment.  In the process of drinking the cup, he would suffer horribly, both in the physical realm and especially in the spiritual realm as he is separated from His Father.

In Jesus’ prayer in the Garden, we see that he is a genuine human being, one who is fully human as well fully divine.  I can take away from this passage that Jesus is more like me that I realize.  He is not some superhuman figure that goes to the cross without a second thought or tiny hesitation.  Jesus shows us his gut-wrenching honesty of what he is about to face.

Jesus modeled true openness with his Father as he prayed in the Garden.  He was beyond troubled.  Let this be a model for us, as we know we will face trouble in this world.

John 16:33 states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

We may speak openly to Jesus just as He did with the Father.  With every trouble we face, be it big or little, we need to make sure we take it to Jesus.  Jesus knew what was coming up for him.  He was overwhelmed with what was set before him.  He shows us 3 things that he did in these verses, we need to do the same when we face troubles:

1-Pray to God (14:35)

2-Seek support of friends and loved ones (14:33,37,40,41)

3-Focus on the purpose god has given us (14:36)

Jesus faced the ultimate suffering for us so that we could live eternally with Him.  Let us take each and every trouble to Him and lay it at His feet.  I am sure relieved that there are two more chapters in the book of Mark and it ends in VICTORY!!!

Through the Roof

Everywhere Jesus went he attracted a crowd.  Most of the people who came to see Him wanted something from him for themselves.  In Mark 2 verses 3&4 we see four men that were more concerned about their friend’s need than they were of their own.

And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.                                           Mark 2:3-4

It is amazing for me to think of these men and what they did for their friend!  But, the more I thought about it, I wonder how the man who was paralyzed felt?  Can you imagine a friend going to all this trouble for you?  I wonder if he was afraid he was going to fall off the mat? And when they dropped him through the roof, I am sure he felt totally helpless.  

I wonder what the men felt when they walked up to the house where Jesus was and saw that it was jam-packed with people?  I hate to admit that if that were me, I would have turned around and felt like there was no more room.  Not these men, they were creative and saw an opportunity and they were not going to pass it up. 

Houses in these days were made with a flat roof and there were usually outside steps leading up to the top.  The men carried the man on his mat up the stairs and then began to dig through the clay and grass till they got an opening just big enough to drop their friend down, right in from of Jesus where he was speaking to the crowd.  

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

This verse says that “when Jesus saw THEIR faith” he forgave the man of his sins.  Jesus not only took notice of the faith of the paralyzed man, but also the faith of his four friends.  God honors those who assist others.  Especially when it comes to assisting someone to the feet of Jesus.  We all know that our faith can’t save someone else.  But, we can assist in the salvation process by helping our friends come to Christ.  

We can do this by praying for them, by listening to them and answering their questions, and most of all by showing Christ’s love to them by loving them!  Look at how much these four men had to do for their friend!  It took much work and creativity for them to come up with the plan to dig a hole through the roof for their friend.  

How creative are we in getting our friends and neighbors to Christ?  When we come to a closed door or a place where we feel like there is no room for us, do we walk away?  We have to be willing to take the time and effort to reach out and find a way to bring them to Christ.  Challenge yourself this week to be bold and go out of your way to  show someone the Love of Christ.

Become Like Children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.                                           (Matthew 18:1-4)

I have been taught over the years that the verses above tell us about coming to Jesus with faith like a child, to have the attributes of a child when we approach Jesus.  Attributes such as:  innocence, trusting, believing without complication, contentedness, and faith to move mountains.  And, while it is good and helpful to have these qualities, Jesus nowhere in the Bible actually tells us to have faith like a child.  In the passage above, when Jesus says to “become like children” he isn’t talking about faith (although faith is important as stated in numerous Scriptures). Nor is Jesus calling us to be filled with wonder in every moment the way a child so often is.  When Jesus says we must “become like children,” he is talking about humility.

In this passage, we see the disciples seeking prestige and honor for themselves.  Jesus corrects them by pointing to the example of a child.  Jesus points out the importance of humility in the life of those who claim to be His followers.  The life of one who follows Jesus is not about putting the focus on ourselves;  rather, we should be about pointing others to Jesus.  

Faith is a very humble quality, which is perhaps why it is associated with childlikeness.  Jesus was pointing out the truth that a child is completely dependent on adults for safety, sustenance, and knowledge.  Similarly, the faithful person depends on God in a way that is absolutely dependent.  The faith God looks for is humble, like a child.  In this way, we Christians are to have childlike faith.  

Childlike faith is saving faith, because it looks outside itself for salvation.  Salvation is a gift;  man does not pay for or contribute to his salvation, it is only of God.  

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing;  it is the fight of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8&9)

Just as a child depends on his/her parents for everything that he needs, we depend on God’s provision for everything.

Faith always has an object, you always have faith in something.  It would be worthless to hope for something and not have a source to hope in.  The faith that saves is faith in Jesus.  To have faith in Jesus means that you have become like a child, you humble yourself and see that God is your Creator, your Father, your Provider, your Protector, your Savior, and your Lord.  

 

 

 

Our Reward

Every morning I have a goal of walking.  One reason, is for my health, but a second is because we have a very rambunctious 4 year old Wheaton Terrier.  Her name is Sami, she has taught us that she has much better days when we start our days with a long walk on the trail.  Sami pulls as hard as she can the first 4 blocks of our walk.  Why???  Because she cannot wait to get to the trail!  Why???  Ground Squirrels!!  Everywhere!!  We have one of those retractable leashes for Sami and it is the perfect way for her to enjoy her hunt of the ground squirrel.  As we walk along, Sami will spot a ground squirrel 40ish feet away and begin her secret stalk.  She very slowly creeps up to the ground squirrel until she is just 5 feet away and then POUNCE!  She takes off and tries with all her might to catch that little guy.  I always hope I have two hands on the end of the leash before she goes.  A couple of times I have been caught off guard when she pounces and I can feel every muscle and nerve in my arm give way when she reaches the end of her leash and the handle pulls my shoulder out of joint!  To this date, Sami has never caught her reward of a ground squirrel. She has come close, but never won.  What will I do on that day that she actually captures one in her mouth??  You may hear my scream no matter where you live!  Even though she has never captured her squirrel, she never tires of trying!  Every day she can’t wait to get to the trail and secretly stalk her reward!

We all like getting rewards!  (ok, maybe not a squirrel in the mouth!)  Rewards motivate us, congratulate us, and keep us going.  They tell us we have done a good job.  Rewards make us feel worthy.  There are endless types of rewards we enjoy:  likes on a social media post, winning a game, fitting into a smaller size, good grades, buying an item that has been saved for, paying off a debt, getting a promotion, graduating from high school or college, rewards from hotel stays or flights, and even rewards from certain grocery stores!  

We also see rewards offered for certain things…like a missing person, a lost dog, or a lost piece of jewelry.  These are things that mean so much to a person and they will pay a high price to get what they love back.  

Today, in Matthew Chapter 6, we see the word REWARD used 7 times.  Jesus is teaching the Sermon on the Mount and one of the things He is stressing in this chapter is where we will find our reward.

Here are 3 topics that Jesus discusses in Matthew 6.  

1-Giving – Matthew 6:4  “so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

2-Prayer – Matthew 6:6  “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

3-Fasting – Matthew 6:18  “so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen;  and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

All three of these verses state the words, will reward.  These 2 words in the greek language comes from the word:  apodidomi – apo=from+didomi=give  This means to pay for or give back, implying a debt.  This word carries the idea of obligation and responsibility for something that is not optional.  To give back or pay back or to do something necessary in fulfillment of an obligation or expectation.  The idea is that God will fulfill His promise to us because it is His obligation.  There is no wondering if we will be rewarded.  It is a promise that if we do what He is asking in secret (not for the honor of men) then He will reward us.

People are motivated by rewards.  I know I am!!  There may be those who think the idea of being motivated by an attractive reward is unspiritual.  Yet God has filled the Bible with promises of amazing rewards.  He makes promises to keep us from giving up hope, to inspire us to persist in the face of adversity.

God built the desire for reward into our hearts.  He created us with the desire to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew‬ ‭25:23‬ ‭NIV‬)

As Christians, we should spend more private time with God.  Our relationship with Him should be the most important relationship we have.  All that we do should be done to His glory, for His cause, and in His name.  Whether it be meeting the needs of others, spending time in reflection and prayer, or fasting for some specific purpose. What God sees us doing in secret, He will reward us!

Heaven promises to be more than we ask or imagine.  Paul says, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  (1 Corinthians 2:9).  What motivates us to give, pray or fast in secret?  The God who sees what is done in secret has promised that one day it will all be made right.  He will reward us beyond our wildest dreams.  It is so easy to let this slip our minds in our busy day to day life.  

Every morning, my Sami reminds me of this in our first 4 blocks of our walk!  She never forgets what is waiting for her on that trail!  She pulls and pulls until we get there.  We should have the same motivation every morning we get out of bed.  Yearning to spend time in secret with our God, getting to know Him deeply, knowing of the promise of His reward!!

Love People

 

1 John 2:7-11

“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning.  This old command is the message you have heard.  Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.  But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.  They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

The Apostle John calls the people he is writing to “Dear friends.”  John was writing to remind his dear friends about an old commandment they have known from the beginning.  This is also a new commandment that is true in Jesus and those who believe in Jesus.  

The old commandment John is referring to is found in Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus gave His followers the second greatest commandment to follow, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).  He also told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another: (John 13:34).  Loving our neighbor is not optional, it is a command.  All of Jesus’s commands benefit all people.  Loving people is living in the light and proves a person is a true believer in Christ.  A person who says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in the darkness of sin.  The person loving his brother lives in the light and does not stumble.  The person hating his brother walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because no one can see in the darkness.  The test for genuine Christianity is loving people.

This time of year is BUSY!!  No matter the age of your kids, as a parent you are running around getting everything needed for “back-to-school”!  From the sports physical to school supply list, it is never ending.  I am the first to admit that I get caught up in my own family and getting things done.  Then, I read todays reading and it was a HUGE reminder to me.  I need to stop!  God does not command me to make sure everything is perfect for my kids to go back to school.  He commands me to love my neighbor.  What have I done for any of my neighbors recently??  

This was made clear to me 2 weeks ago.  My husband travels out of the country frequently and on a Wednesday, he found out he had to leave on that coming Sunday for Germany.  He was to be gone for 2 weeks.  This was not a happy surprise to me.  We had end of the summer things we were going to do as a family and he would miss sending his son back to college.  After a bit of time and discussion I came around and decided to make the best of the situation as there was not much I could do to change the fact that he would be gone.  But, one thing that God wanted to make clear to me is that my neighbors cared about me!  The day after he left I received an email from Starbucks.  I had to reread it a few times, but it was from my friend!  She sent me a Starbucks gift card to enjoy with my kids while Tim was out of the country.  She said she knows from first hand experience how it feels when her husband is gone and wanted to make sure I knew she was thinking of me!!  Wow!  When I saw her a few days later I told her how thoughtful it was and she told me how she follows through with every thought she has about how she can bless others.  I was honest, I said, “I have lots of thoughts, but I don’t usually follow through.”  But, I also said that her love for me showed me tangibly what that means, and I will do much better at following through to actually show others that I love them.  

This is our commandment!  That we love one another!  Both, physically and tangibly.  What have you done to go above and beyond to show someone that you care about them?  If you love your neighbor, you are living in the light!  

Choosing to love people well shows the world what God is like.

Wake Up!

Revelation 3:2-5

“Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.  Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you  But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

This passage in Revelation is written to the church in Sardis, also known as the dead church.  

A few years ago, my husband and I had a heart to heart conversation about the condition of our hearts!  After some soul searching and time, we took a deep look at our lives and realized…we were just like the church at Sardis!  We looked good on the outside.  We went to Church every Sunday.  We participated in a small group.  We had our 3 children with us and in their respective classes.  But…we were spiritually dead!  We had no spiritual life beyond these few practices.  Sadly, this went on for about 2-3 years.  We let all the things of life get in the way (work, opening a small business, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, a new puppy, school).  We had good intentions, but lost our focus.  

This is what happened to the church in Sardis.  They looked good.  Sardis was a city on a hill.  Literally, the city was built on a hill some fifteen hundred feet above the valley floor, which made the city very secure.  The hill on which Sardis was built had nearly perpendicular walls on three sides and the city could only be approached from the south by a steep, difficult path.  The people of Sardis became overconfident in the secureness of their city and on two occasions the city was conquered.  Overconfidence and complacency led to defeat as they let their guard down.

God cared about them so much, that He sent a messenger to them with a warning!  

Wake Up

The phrase, wake up, means to be watchful, awake, and to prevent oneself from falling asleep.  How do I wake up?  First, I need to search my heart.  Are the things I am doing for the glory of Christ, or for my own glory?  Whom do I want to get the credit for what I am doing, Jesus or myself?  Not only must I wake up, but I must stay awake and be watchful.  I must keep a careful guard of my heart.  

Rekindle

“and strengthen the things that remain”

This second part of verse two is encouraging to me!  God has begun a good work in me and does not want it to die.  Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  God is saying to me…”Get the flame burning again!”  There is hope!  Don’t just look good and go through the motions.

Remember

Go back to the truth of God’s Word, the basics.  Jesus Loves Me!  He wants a true genuine relationship with me.  

This is a huge reminder to me that going through the motions and checking things off the list is not good enough!  God does not care if I show up at church or my small group.  He cares about my heart.  He wants me to be awake and listening.  He wants me to hear His message.  Just like this call to Sardis to WAKE UP…He is telling me to WAKE UP!  Do not let the works I have begun in you die!  His message is for us to be alive for Him and not dead in our own works.  His message is for us to repent and confess our sin to Him.  He wants to clothe us in white garments.  He wants us to confess our sin to Him so that He can forgive us of our sin.  He wants us to be righteous, and holy before Him.  He wants our name to be in the book of life.  He wants to walk with us.  

Do we want the same thing?  He gives us the choice. God wants to use me and you…it is up to us to WAKE UP and have a relationship with him.  That is His deepest desire.

I am thankful for this warning!  God does not want us to die spiritually.  He is reaching out with limitless chances to begin again (and again!) and reach out to Him!  We daily need to WAKE UP and talk with Him.  Yes, it is important to be involved in a local Church and have community with other Christ followers, but what does your heart look like today?  Is it time for you to WAKE UP?

My Phone

I promise that if you see me, I will either be carrying my phone in my hand or it will be in my purse pocket.  It is never far from me.  If I am working in the kitchen, it is on the counter near me.  The most important reason I keep it close is in case one of my children needs me.  But, the other 23+ hours in a day when they are not needing me, I am on my phone for many unjustified reasons…mainly…social media.  I get my news from my phone, updates on friends and family (and updates from people I have never even met in person) and spend more time than I care to admit observing other people’s lives.  It is a temptation for me to get wrapped up in my phone and avoid the things that I need to be doing.

For various reasons, I deleted all social media off of my phone on July 1 and am taking a break from looking at Facebook or Instagram for the entire month.  For the first few days it was just weird, every time I picked up my phone I had nothing to do but check my email and the weather.  Well, that got old real quick.  In fact, I find myself spending more time reading my Bible app, devotions that had been emailed to me, and journaling.  But, now that the month is almost half over,  the TEMPTATION is REAL!  I just want to open my social media apps back up!  

I am definitely not saying social media is bad, but when it is being used in the place of a productive activity, it is sin.  And, in my life this was becoming way to often.  

What is it that tempts you?? 

Today our passage, James 1:13-18 discusses the fact that we will be tempted.  

James 1:13-16

Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.”  Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone.  You are tempted by the evil things you want.  Your own desire leads you away and traps you.  Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin.  Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.  My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled about this.

Temptation comes when our own desire leads us away and traps us.  As long as we are in this physical body we are going to be tempted.  There is no sin in being tempted, it is when we give in to the temptation that we fall into sin.  

What are the top five self-reported temptations in America?  According to a Barna survey:

1.  60% of Americans are often or sometimes living in a state of noticeable and debilitating temptation to be anxious or worry.  

2.  60% of Americans are often or sometimes stuck in habits of procrastination.

3.  55% are often or sometimes overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much.

4.  44% pf Americans admit that they face temptations to overuse electronics and social media.

5.  41% of Americans say they are often or sometimes tempted by laziness or not working as hard as reasonably expected in their occupations.

Is this a complete list of temptations we face?  Absolutely not, anything that lures us from God’s best plan for us is a temptation.

For me, it is really easy to get hung-up on performance and focusing on not giving into temptation.  But, I love that the last two verses of our passage today focus on Who god is and What He has given us.  It gives us all the reason to want to please Him and follow Him.  

James 1:17-18

Everything good comes from God.  Every perfect gift is from him.  These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky, but God never changes like the shadows from those lights.  He is always the same.  God decided to give us life through the true message he sent to us.  He wanted us to be the most important of all that he created.

 

What has God invested in YOU??

The Parable of the ten minas.   Luke 19:11-27

In the parable of the ten minas in the gospel of Luke, we read about a man of noble birth who goes to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.  Since he will be gone, he calls ten of his servants and gives them each one mina (about 3 months wages) and tells them to put this money to work until he comes back.  When the king returns home, he sends for his servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find what they have gained with it.  

The first servant showed that his mina had earned ten more.  The king was pleased, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!…Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (verse 17).  

The next servant’s investment had yielded five additional minas, and the servant was rewarded with charge of five cities (verses 18-19).  

Then came a servant who reported that he had done nothing with his mina except hide it in a cloth (Luke 19:20).  The king commanded that his mina be given to the one who had earned ten.  People in the crowd did not think this was fair.  The king responded, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (verses 25-26). 

The nobleman in this parable is Jesus, who left this world but who will return as King some day.  The servants who are given the mina represent you and me, as followers of Jesus.  The Lord has given us a valuable commission, and we must be faithful to serve Him until He returns.  Upon His return, Jesus will determine the faithfulness of His own People.  

We all have the same job – to live for Christ.  I assume you are reading this Bible Journal daily because you have an interest in living for Christ.  This passage today tells us that we must invest the investment that Jesus made in us.  God has invested many things in each one of us.  Our possessions, our time, our lives, and even the Gospel message has been placed in our care.  God has given us these things and said, “Put ___________ to work, until I come back”. So, we have to ask ourself, “how am I using the things God has given me?  How am I spending my money, my time, and my life?  How am I using the Gospel message?”  And…”What kind of return is God getting on His investment in me?  I hope and long for the day when I hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant”!  

Also read Psalm 129

The Importunate Friend

I learned a new word yesterday…importunate. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, importunate means – troublesomely urgent, overly persistent in request or demand, troublesome.

Today in Luke 11:5-8 we read about the Importunate Friend. In these verses Jesus told His disciples a parable about a man going to his friend at midnight and asking “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him” (5-6). Midnight is not a very good time to go asking for bread, but having nothing to set before a guest, regardless of time, was unthinkable for a host in Jesus’ day. The friend of the man refuses to help because everyone in his house is asleep. Jesus said, “though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (8).

I found it very interesting learning about the housing of the typical poor Israelite family. They often lived in a one-room house. Sometimes, the house also served as a part-time stable for the family’s sheep, goats, and chickens. All family members would sleep in the same room on a raised platform. They slept with their clothes on, covering themselves with the cloaks they had worn durning the day. They would sleep side-by-side on straw mats rolled out at night. Getting a whole family to bed was a considerable undertaking, as parents know. Once children were asleep, parents want to keep them that way. Once the animals were asleep, parents would want to keep them asleep too!

This was going to be a huge inconvenience to get up, unlock the heavy door, wake up the whole family + animals to give the neighbor bread. The man did not want to do it! But, he finally gave in and gave the man what he wanted because of his boldness and shameless audacity in asking in the middle of the night.

Jesus goes on to explain in verses 9-13, how much more will your Father in heaven respond to your bold and shameless requests when coming to him to meet your need. Jesus is not teaching us in this parable that we need to pester God until he finally gives us what we are asking for, but that we are to come boldly and shamelessly before God with an expectation that our need will be met.

Jesus told this parable to call us to shamelessly and boldly ask God the Father to help in times of need. An important difference, however, is that God is not answering from a locked house saying, “Do not bother me”, but He is saying, “ask…seek…knock” (9). If you truly need God, boldly come before Him in Prayer and shamelessly ask Him for what you need.

Also read, Psalm 117