We had a devotional, then we played “sardines” and then we had a snack. Sardines is similar to hide and seek, except after you find someone you quietly stay with them while the others try to find you.
“(The man) fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace, at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying, Come in, come in; Eternal glory thou shalt win.”
Luke 13:24, Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:11
Acts 14:22 “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Read Matthew 11:7-11
To think that even though John was greater than anyone born of a woman, any Christian is even greater. The reason is that a Christian is not just born of a woman; he is also born again by the power of God. While John the Baptist spent his life preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, those of us who are Christians have the privilege of being a part of that kingdom.
The Effort of Forceful Men
Read Matthew 11:12-15
There seem to be two different groups of men who are being discussed here by Jesus. First of all, there are forceful men who seize hold of the kingdom of God. And secondly, there are others who reject it even though they have seen the evidence. Jesus commends the one group and he condemns the other.
Some are willing to do whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifices are necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Set down my name Sir!
It has been said that our favorite hypocrisy is to make a choice and then to refuse to pay for it.
The price for the Christian life is high, and Jesus wants us to count that cost as part of our decision to follow him.
Read Matthew 10:34-39
The Cost of Accepting “free” Grace
We must be willing to face broken earthly relationships in order to have our relationship with God restored.
We must be willing to pay the price whatever that price may be in our lives.
No one will stroll into the Celestial City with his hands in his pockets.
That place is reserved for forceful men who in their desperation will do whatever it takes.
We can’t just sit back, relax and take it easy. Rather, we as Christians must continue to struggle toward heaven. We must be diligent to enter that place of rest. We must strive to enter the narrow gate. We must constantly struggle with whatever forces within or without us that try to keep us out of heaven. We must shout to the recorder, “Set my name down, sir,” and then we must fight our way into the Celestial city of God.
Love Doesn’t Rush
In I Corinthians 13, when Paul describes the nature of love and loving, the first trait he lists is patience. Consider that the God of the Scriptures is in no hurry to become angry with us. If, as Paul said in I Corinthians 13 that love is patient (God is Love) then God is patient, and He is patient with me. Take Time to Care Read again Luke 10:30-37
We are on the road. We have somewhere to go. We have a full schedule. The needy person along the way is an inconvenience, an interruption. I may complain that loving everyone in the world is impossible, but that’s not what Jesus commanded. Our Lord directs us to care for the person who is actually crossing our path. Proximity provided an opportunity to love.
The Unexpected Hero
The Samaritan saw the wounded man. Love looks long enough to be affected by what it sees. Love doesn’t look away from what is hard to see. Too often we want wounded people to hurry up and get better because they are inconveniencing me; I want to get on with my life. But what is God’s invitation for a given season of my life? To Follow or Not to Follow? God is love. Period. Are we love? Do we love? Love is the primary measure God uses to determine what is valuable and what is worthless. Love lasts. And love requires us a more unhurried approach to life.
To Follow or Not to Follow?
God is love. Period.
Are we love? Do we love? Love is the primary measure God uses to determine what is valuable and what is worthless. Love lasts. And love requires us a more unhurried approach to life.
A Weeping Woman
We can imagine the effect this was having on Simon’s banquet. Keep in mind that Pharisees had nothing to do with women in public Remember the reputation that this woman had in the public eye.
Read Luke 7:39 again
As far as Simon was concerned, the facts only permitted two possible conclusions: Either Jesus did not know what kind of woman she was, or else He knew who she was and did not care.
A Simple Story Verses 40-43 This Simple story gets to the heart of the matter. Who has been forgiven little? Who in the story has been forgiven much?
Read Luke 7:44-50
How did Jesus’ host respond to His accusations? The Pharisee was perhaps speechless as Jesus explains the simple story and surely Simon understands that the story is about him.
This woman was now walking with forgiveness (verse 48). And like us today, forgiveness (grace) is a strong motivator to sin no more.
Am I aware of the enormity of my sin?
Am I aware of the wonder of being forgiven of my sins?
Having been forgiven much, do I love much?
Has my love found expression?
Read Luke 5:5 again.
Maybe you have experienced the same thing, disappointment.
Just like those fishermen in this passage, sometimes we fish all night long, trying and trying only to pull up empty nets. We suffer disappointments and we get depressed. All because what we expected to happen didn’t happen. And now we are at a loss as to what we should do.
Read Luke 5:4-5 again.
Peter set aside his own feelings, set aside his own disappointment, and he obeyed God he did what Jesus Christ told him to do.
Read I Corinthians 15:58 “Labor, not in vain”
Analogy: Jesus was going to take Peter from his superficial, half-hearted attention to Him and turn that into a deeper, more personal and real commitment to Jesus.
Read Luke 5:6 again
Just as Jesus met the need of those fishermen, God will meet our needs as well.
Ephesians 3:20, 21 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”
What I am trying to say is that God has promised to meet our deepest needs. Not our deepest wants, but our deepest needs. He not only has the ability to do it, but He has the desire to do it.
A Change of Focus
Jesus provided for the needs of the fishermen in Luke 5, but He also let them know that His focus was not on physical things, but on spiritual. He wants us to focus on the spiritual.
Read Luke 5:10 again.
As long as Peter was only concerned about fish, he was never going to achieve great things for God. His focus needed to be on the souls of men. Like Peter, it is so easy for us to get caught up in physical things; but Jesus is always more concerned about the spiritual.
Response of Worship
Read Luke 5:8-11 again.
Because of the power that Jesus displayed, Peter was willing to accept the call of Jesus, and he followed Jesus. He placed Jesus first in His life and did what Jesus called him to do.
Are we willing to go before the Lord as Peter did, recognizing that we are sinners in need of salvation? Are we willing to forsake all and follow Jesus? Are we willing to place Him FIRST in our lives?
The only things we are told about Simeon are those things which matter most to God—things which pertain to his faith and his character, things which tell us about his relationship with God. We are told that Simeon was just and devout—he was a man who loved God deeply, so much so that God was able to use him in a wonderful way.
Read Luke 2:26, 27
Today, those who look for Jesus will find Him.
Simeon was waiting for something. In fact, he had waited for a long time for this moment. As Mary and Joseph came into the temple area, Simeon reached out and he took this baby Jesus in his arms, and he must have experienced that same feeling when grandparents have when they first hold that new grandchild. There was such joy and excitement. Then Simeon burst forth in praise to God because this wasn’t just any baby.
Read Luke 2:28-32
Notice: Matthew 13:45, 46 The pearl is so spectacular that the merchant realizes that nothing else really matters as long as he had that pearl and so he sold everything to obtain. It. For Simeon, seeing Jesus was all that he wanted in life. With his own eyes and with his own arms he held the Messiah, to him, that was the Pearl of Great Price. Nothing else really mattered anymore.
Luke 2:34, 35
Simeon tells Joseph and Mary that Jesus’ life will involve as much pain as it will joy. The sword that will pierce Mary will inch its way even deeper into her heart as Jesus experienced rejection that eventually ended at the cross.
Simeon’s words seek to prepare Mary for the grief she must suffer.
When God came to tell us the truth about our sinfulness and our need for Him, it wasn’t appreciated by everyone. And so Simeon says that people will stumble over Him. Many people would turn away from Jesus.
Simeon knew that God wanted to bless us, to save us, but that salvation would come at a great cost. The salvation that God brought to us through the baby born in Bethlehem was going to cost the life of that child. And unless the baby dies, there is no Joy for us.
The joy that Simeon experienced and shared with Mary and Joseph wasn’t just an excitement of holding a newborn baby. It is a joy that is centered on knowing and believing that, in spite of who we are and what we do, there is a God who loves us and has sent His Son Jesus so that He could rescue us from our sins by dying for us on the cross.
That sword that pierced the soul of Mary resulted in the greatest joy that we can ever possibly know.
When the Birth of Jesus Meets the Real World
Jesus’ Birth: Then
The birth day of Jesus was not one of peace and tranquility. Everything about the birth of Jesus was difficult.
Read Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20
Mary: Ordinary Peasant Girl; Young teenager, engaged to Joseph; Her thoughts were on the upcoming wedding; But God chose her to carry His Son; Did she appreciate the news?; Did she feel that some of her dreams were no longer possible?
Joseph: He thought about working hard and making a life for his wife; He knew that he wanted children; But what does he think when he finds his beloved is pregnant?; And what would others think, after all they could count to 9 just as well as we do; Can you imagine Mary telling him, “I’m pregnant, but it’s alright, it’s God’s baby, His Spirit covered me and His angel told me the good news!
Joseph too is visited and told of their situation
Jesus’ Birth: Today
For many, the birth of Jesus is summed up by the announcement of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Luke 2:14
Christ was born into a world of hardship and pain and suffering in order to bring us to eternal hope. The point of His story is not that everything is going to be alright, but that God is in Christ, and that everything will eventually turn out right.
Image Magazine “God did not come into a perfect world to institute carol-singing, gift-buying and chestnut roasting. He entered a world blighted with suffering and cursed by sin in order to bring hope, salvation and healing…We would miss the point of Christmas altogether if we turned away its anguish.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
¨Is it possible we expect too much of the holiday and not enough of Jesus? The Holiday itself cannot take away our problems, but Jesus can!
¨The story of Jesus is ultimately not about a cute and cuddly baby in a manger; it is about an old rugged cross and a forever empty tomb.
Ephesians 5:18b, 19, 20 “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,”
When the Jews sang in the synagogues, they tended to chant their songs. They used Psalms and other source material as their “song book.”
When the Hebrew religion ended by the death of Jesus upon the cross, a dramatic change was brought about in the way God wants to be worshiped.
When Jesus came and started His church, the music of worship also changed. The music of the early church was all vocal.
History: In Chapel Style
The word a-cappella is a very important word when we talk about the idea of history. Most of us have heard this word in our lives. Many of us understand it to mean “without instrumental accompaniment.” What most people don’t know is that a-cappella is an Italian expression that literally means “in chapel style.”
Over time the idea of “in chapel style” came to mean “without instrumental accompaniment.” That is because throughout most of Christian history the music heard in chapels, was without instrumental accompaniment; it was purely vocal.”
The Music of New Testament Worship
I refuse to worship God with musical instruments because my primary goal as God’s child, His slave and His worshiper is to please Him; and because He has not indicated that he would be pleased with a praise offering from a musical instrument. I will not make such an offering to Him.
Let’s Read our Bible a Minute
2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Ephesians 5:7-10;Colossians 1:9-10;Hebrews 13:15-16
See also I Thessalonians 4:1-2; I John 3:21-22 and I Timothy 2:1-3
And so we ask, who are we trying to please with our worship?
I want you to see that “pleasing God” must also be our bull’s eye in matters such as coming before God with our offering of praise.
Shouldn’t our first question be: “What can be done in worship to please God?”
God Has Told Us What Pleases Him
Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16
Ephesians 5:19 “addressing one another”
Colossians 3:16 “teaching and admonishing one another”
The instrument of music never fulfills the desires of God and the intention of singing. It is an addition to the Word as revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.
Singing involves the mind. And with our mind and our voices we speak to one another, we teach one another and we encourage one another.
The idea of “making melody” or “with thankfulness in your hearts to God” lets us know that we are to engage our minds when we are singing. Singing is not just about notes and pretty singing, but it is worship to God. Our worship partakes of the essence of God. Worship is making melody in our hearts.
Christians should emphasize music and realize that the worship of God involves spirituality and sincerity from the depths of their hearts. Music becomes vital as we enter into our worship. It is our own human response to God Almighty, and we cannot help but become better people when we sing and participate.
The Sound of Praise
Read Hebrews 13:15-16 God wants “the fruit of our lips that acknowledge His name.” And we know, of course, that this phrase means heartfelt words of praise and thanks.
I Corinthians 14:15 Here Paul discusses how worship must come from both our spirit and our understanding.
Read also James 5:13 Also consider Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18, 19 and Acts 16:25.
As we look at the expression in these verses we notice something. Expression like “singing…to God,” “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” and “were praying and singing…to God.” Heartfelt singing and heartfelt praying are given “to God.” That’s an offering. That’s worship. And that obviously pleases God.
It hasn’t been specifically forbidden!
We can’t make assumptions about Worship and assume that we are pleasing to God. Can you read God’s mind? Are you a mind reader? Are you going to base your soul on what you feel?
We are under the New Covenant now, and under the New Covenant isn’t it true that God is only concerned with the worshiper’s heart?
Although pure motives and sincerity are without a doubt fundamental factors in how God responds to us, the Scriptures make it unambiguously clear that God is also concerned with our actions.
So please, do not try to have a relationship with God based on the false assumption that all God cares about is your heart—your motives and sincerity. He is also concerned about your actions.
People worshiped God with instruments in the O.T.
2 Chronicles 29:25 “for the command was from the LORD.”
Notice Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Certainly in Tabernacle worship they used a trumpet to call everyone together. When David was getting people ready for Temple worship, he was commanded to make instruments and add a chorus to the mix.
Consider this: If the O.T. was binding on us today, then why don’t we have an alter of acacia wood to burn incense to the Lord as commanded in Exodus 30:1? Why didn’t you bring your grain offering today made of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil an a griddle to the Lord as commanded in Leviticus 2:4-9? Why didn’t you bring a bull or a sheep or a goat today to fulfill the required sacrifices as described in Leviticus 1:1ff.
Shouldn’t we be consistent with our arguments?
Because my ultimate desire in worship is to please God, I’ll keep opting for singing. The potential of displeasing God in worship is enough to keep me right where I am. As long as I continue to offer to God only those sacrifices of praise that He has specifically indicated are pleasing and acceptable to Him, I know that He will be pleased and that I will be pleasing.
Hebrews 13:15 “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips that acknowledge His name.”