The power of God's family.
"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Heb 3:13
What are your top temptations? Those top ones are always knocking on each of our doors. How often do you open that door to one of your favorite temptations? Who in your life knows your top temptations? You might say, "That is nobody's business but mine." In God's family, that saying does not apply. We are commanded to be involved in each others' lives.
The evil one loves it when we do not let anyone know what we struggle with. He loves it when we dabble in our temptations secretly. Soon this gradually pulls us away from God and His family. Soon, we find ourselves alone, detached, isolated, unplugged from God and His family. Soon we find ourselves neck deep in our sin, ashamed and in deep trouble. Who is holding you accountable so you do not drift casually like this? If you do drift away, who is going to come and get you?
What about your brothers or sisters in Christ, do you know their top temptations? Is anyone holding them accountable? Have you ever gone to rescue them?
If you know someone wavering in their faith, it is your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into the mercy and grace giving family of God.
"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." Gal 6:1
I am thankful for the brothers in my life whom I meet with every other week on Wednesday mornings who help me see my favorite temptations for what they are; sin that leads to death.
Maybe it is time to set up a coffee or a lunch with a brother or sister in Christ in order to strengthen each other.
Praying for more and deeper brother and sister in Christ relationships.
Pondering - the exciting yet painful path of discipleship and leadership training.
Don't we all wish we could have been one of the twelve disciples of Jesus? Don't we all wish that we could have been in the front row seats watching Jesus calm the storm, heal the leper, cast out evil, challenge the religious leaders, raise the dead daughter? But, could we really have stomached the discipleship and leadership challenge Jesus kept in front of those twelve? Do we accept Jesus' challenge today?
Listen to Jesus' words again.
"Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." Mark 10:42-44
Isn't following Jesus an opportunity for Jesus to serve me? Isn't being a Christian; Jesus forgiving me, providing for me, healing me? Isn't being a Christian; Jesus answering my prayers to solve my problems and my loved ones' problems?
Why does Jesus keep challenging me to service?
Why does Jesus keep calling me to less freedom?
If I want to be great, I need to be a servant. You mean, stop doing what I want to do and start doing what Jesus wants me to do? You mean change my plans and adopt Jesus' plans?
Then, Jesus says if I want to be first, top, the best, the only way to grow into that is to become a slave? What is this discipleship and leadership calling of Jesus? Is this too invasive of my privacy and my life? Why is Jesus meddling so personally? Why is it so hard?
I am amazed that Jesus did not call us into something He Himself did not do. Jesus was born to serve. Jesus was a slave and did what His heavenly Father wanted Him to do every day. Then Jesus even went further: He willingly went to the lowest possible position, a criminal nailed to the cross. Is there a lower position? Isn't that for the worst people on the planet? Isn't that for the scum of the earth who deserve capital punishment?
Paul then invites us to pray like him. "I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death," Phil 3:10
Discipleship, leadership training of Jesus: descending from a servant to a slave to a suffering follower of Jesus. Suffering like Jesus? Yikes...
Jesus, we humbly, ask for your help to follow you downward into spiritual maturity. Give us courage.
Jesus' story about the Rich Man and Lazarus must have truly shaken Jesus' audience, especially the Religious Leaders. At the beginning of the story, the religious leaders are feeling great about themselves as they identified with the rich man. The rich man was the one helping the poor, sick, needy man named Lazarus. They thought God must have blessed the rich man, knowing that he would help those in need. But, then Jesus did the old switcheroo; He flipped the tables on them. He pulled the rug our from underneath them. He knocked over three false ways of salvation.
False way number one - being blessed and doing good works.
False way number two - being born into a Christian home.
False way number three - being religious, knowing Scriptures.
Again, why did Jesus tell this story?
I believe He told it to clearly communicate with everyone, that Jesus does not want anyone to go to hell.
"The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9
"This (praying for all leaders) is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone." 1 Tim 2:3-6
So, if Jesus confronted three very common false ways of salvation, what was Jesus saying is the true way of salvation? Great question.
What does Lazarus mean?
Do we pay attention to the details of Jesus' parables?
Lazarus means "whom God helps."
Jesus is communicating that there is no name under heaven which we might be saved except God's name. "Jesus" means Jehovah is salvation. The angel defined Jesus' name and purpose when he instructed Joseph to name his stepson "Jesus, who will save people from their sin."
Jesus communicated that we, humans, need to call on God to help us with salvation. That salvation is a miracle work of God. No one can remove their sin and the stain of sin from their lives. No amount of good works, not being born into the right family, not being religious enough knowing all of Scripture are ways to remove sin from our lives. Only Jesus' perfect life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection can remove sin, the stain and effects of sin from our lives.
Now that I know the definition of Lazarus, I love that name. I want that name to be my name. I need Jesus to help me for salvation. I am so grateful that God helped me by adopting me into His family by the work of Jesus. How about you? Have you adopted the name Lazarus? Have you received God's help for salvation?
How about the people in your life, do they know this story? Are they relying on false ways of salvation? Do they know and understand the true and only way? Have you loved them enough to actually talk to them about this? Maybe Jesus wants you to buy them their favorite coffee in order to have a wonderful spiritual conversation.
Praising Jesus and seeking to share Jesus' story.
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.