Luke

Trust Him

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I have a friend who immediately left a ministry and job that he loved, to move several states away to a place that he’d never been because he believed God was telling him to do so. He didn’t have anything set up at his new location; no job, no house, and no contacts, but he knew - even though it didn’t make sense to him at the time, that God was calling him. And he knew that even though he didn’t understand God’s plan at the time, that he should trust him. Have you ever been in that place? Have you ever felt God calling you to do something that made no sense at the time? Simon Peter did. And if God ever calls you to trust him by doing something that doesn’t seem to make sense, I encourage you to do what he did. It says in Luke, chapter 5, verses 4 and 5:

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

To Simon, it made no logical sense to follow Jesus’ command. He’d already fished all night with no results. Neither did it make any logical sense for my friend to leave everything he’d known and move to a strange place. But they did. And as a result of their obedience, God led my friend to a new ministry calling and when Simon obeyed, he caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break. We might not understand God’s plan when he asks us to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense, but even still, we need to trust him. He has a plan. He sees what we can’t see, and he knows what we don’t know. Our job isn’t to question God. Our job is to obey him, even when it is difficult, and even when it doesn’t make sense.

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If you went back in time and warned your younger self about something you wish you would’ve avoided or handled differently during your life, chances are that your younger self would trust your advice, follow your instructions and ultimately choose a better path than the one you originally chose, even if it didn’t seem to make sense at the time. Likewise, we need to trust God if he calls us to do something that doesn’t make sense on the surface. For Simon, God had in mind a miraculous outcome from his obedient act. What might God have in store for you if you choose to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense at the time? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure whatever it is, you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Extreme Mercy

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I’m always learning, and I’m always being reminded, what it means to be like Christ. Being Christ-like is what we are called to pursue, but it is an effort that is difficult to do, and impossible to maintain, without the help of the Holy Spirit. One area that I find particularly difficult is when he calls us to be extremely merciful toward our enemies. He calls us to be extreme in our mercy because he has poured out extreme mercy on us. Remember, the Bible tells us that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. So, even when we were his enemies he showed extreme mercy, and he calls us to do the same. In Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 28, Jesus says:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

And in verses 35 through 36 he says:

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”

God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, so we should be too. I don’t think he is calling us to be a doormat, but he is calling us to be extreme in our mercy, extreme in our forgiveness, and extreme in our love toward those who are extreme in their hate towards us. When I think of extreme mercy, I’m always reminded of the persecuted church; believers who are imprisoned, tortured, or killed because of their faith in Christ. Often times, I read stories of how they pray for their persecutors, and how they genuinely show love toward those who are expressing hatred. They are not doing this in their own strength. The Holy Spirit helps them. And likewise, we need the help of the Holy Spirit if we choose to love our enemies as well.

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Jesus tells us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us.” That is extreme mercy. But Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he didn’t do himself. He showed us that kind of mercy, and that, I believe, is why he asks us to do likewise. Not every day do we have the opportunity to love our enemies; at least that is the case for me. But when you have the opportunity, I challenge you to show them extreme mercy. If you do, you will be taking on the likeness of Christ. And not only that, Jesus assures us that if we show extreme mercy then our reward will be great.

Good Soil

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If I dwell on the state of our country and the world, often times, I become discouraged. Evil seems so pervasive, there seems to be an overwhelming aversion toward anything Christian, and it seems as if everyone is selfish; caring only about themselves. If you get caught up in the news, you may begin to wonder if God is at work in the world anymore. You may even begin to question if anyone is trying to share the gospel anymore. But when I read the parable of the sower, found in Luke, I’m encouraged that the word of God is being spread, but the ground in which the seed is sown may be more hard, more thorny and more shallow than in days past, producing fewer crops. In effect, the word of God may be shared, but it is having a more difficult time finding good soil. When Jesus shares the parable of the sower, he explains that when the seeds of the gospel fall on soil that isn’t good, the word may be ineffective. Only when the seed falls on good soil will it produce a crop. It says in Luke, chapter 8, verse 15: 

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Have you heard the good news? Has anyone told you that the blood of Jesus has the power to save your soul? If so, do you believe? Did those words fall on good soil? Because only when they have are you truly able to grow in your faith and produce a crop.

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In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us that “the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”. Is your heart made of good soil? Do you expose yourself to the word of God, retain it and by persevering produce a crop? I encourage you to get serious about your faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to till the soil of your heart so that when you hear the word, read the word, or in any way are exposed to the word of God, you retain it. And that by living out what you’ve learned you’ll be able to produce a crop by leading others to Christ and storing up treasures in heaven.

Gone Fishing

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I love how Jesus uses analogies and parables that are directly pertinent to what he is dealing with at the time, to make his point. For those who have memorized popular statements from Jesus, though they are still very powerful on their own, may not understand how artfully Jesus was able to craft his words if we take them out of context. A good example was when he spoke to Peter, James and John after performing the miracle of the large catch of fish. He said these words in Luke chapter 5 verses 10 and 11:

“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

I don’t have to tell you that the metaphor of “fishing for people” was spot on. Not only did it harken to their fishing trade and the fishing miracle they just experienced, it is a perfect analogy for what we do when we share about Jesus to the lost. We are, indeed, “fishing” for them. The bait is the truth of the promise of salvation through Christ alone. And every time we share about him, we hope and pray that our listeners will bite, and in effect become hooked to the point of giving their lives to Jesus. My question to you is, “are you fishing”? For you to play a part in the Spirit’s plan to win souls for Christ, you might have to be proactive. You might have to go out into deep waters, cast the word toward unassuming prey, and exercise patience with those who are considering what Christ is offering. But the first step is being willing to fish.

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25 years ago, God gave us the ministry of KTF Productions. And with projects like this one, I always hope and pray that as we cast our nets with every segment shared, that God may reap some harvest from the effort. God gave us this ministry to fish for men. And though we are not all called to evangelistic ministry, we are all called to be fishers of men even if only on a one-on-one, face-to-face basis. It isn’t about how may God brings to himself through you, it is about being willing, listening to the Spirit, looking for open doors and opportunities, and obeying. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to become fishers of men. Pray to God and ask him how he wants to use you to bring others to him.

Be Ready

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You may have heard the phrase, “there’s no rest for the wicked”. But I submit to you, in many respects, that can also be said of the righteous. Don’t misunderstand, I realize that we do find rest in the Lord. Jesus encourages us to find rest in him. But what I’m saying is that we never really take a break from being ready for the Lord’s return. We can never let our guard down, or lay down our Christian walk for a season. Luke chapter 12 verses 35 through the first part of 37 says: 

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”

These are the words of Jesus. And a little bit further, in verse 39 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. “

Being ready can be easy if it becomes your lifestyle. But it can be difficult if you still have a foot in the world. I encourage you to be less and less like the world, and take on more and more of the character of Jesus. I believe that the more we become like Jesus, the easier it is to be ready for his return. Becoming more like Jesus is a sign of spiritual maturity; a sign of spiritual growth. We, as believers, shouldn’t stay in the same place with our Christian walk year after year. We should be growing. And the more we grow, the less scary this portion of scripture will seem because being ready will become second nature.

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Jesus tells us that we need to be ready for service, like men waiting for their master to return. He says that it will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I’m convinced that the more we become like Jesus, the easier this task will be to accomplish. Being ready isn’t so much a mindset as it is a lifestyle. I’m sure you can identify habits in your life, whether good or bad, that have become so much of who you are that you keep doing those things without even thinking. Even still, those things that have become easy for you, may be incredibly difficult for someone who hasn’t made it a part of their lifestyle. Growing in the Lord is a process that continues to transform our lifestyle. So I encourage you not to stay the same. Continue to become more and more like Jesus. If you do, your lifestyle will be such that you’ll always be ready and watching with less and less effort over time.