Monday, October 31, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Love in the Mirror

Night Light for Couples, the couples' devotional from Focus on the Family ministry founder Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, brings spouses together each evening, helping them stay connected with each other and their Lord.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The overemphasis on physical attractiveness in our society is frequently damaging to self‐confidence. A case in point is the story of Peter Foster, a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

During an air battle, Foster was the victim of a terrible fire. He survived, but his face was burned beyond recognition. He spent many anxious moments in the hospital wondering if his family—and especially his fiancée—would still accept him. They did. His fiancée assured him that nothing had changed except a few millimeters of skin. Two years later they were married.

Foster said of his wife, “She became my mirror. She gave me a new image of myself. When I look at her, she gives me a warm, loving smile that tells me I’m okay.”

That’s the way marriage ought to work, too—it should be a mutual admiration society that overlooks a million flaws and builds the self‐esteem of both partners. Let’s become each other’s mirrors, reflecting back love and affirmation every chance we get.

Just between us…
  • When was the last time I complimented you on your appearance?
  • Is our marriage a “mutual admiration society”?
  • Would you still love me if I became disfigured like Peter Foster?
  • What do you think the Lord sees in me?
  • How can I be a better “mirror” for you?
Lord Jesus, You came to bring Your presence and Your love to all—regardless of looks or ability, of health or condition. Thank You so much! May we reflect that same enthusiastic and unconditional love to each other in our marriage. Amen.
  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - IN CHAINS FOR CHRIST

As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Philippians 1:13

Authorities in Afghanistan arrested Said Musa on May 31, 2010, days after the local TV station broadcast images of Afghan Christians being baptised and worshipping the Lord. A Christian for eight years, he is married and the father of six. Before release from prison he wrote:

Hello my dear brothers and sisters, lovely and strong in faith. On Saturday I went to court, but my session was not held. I met then two persons. I became very happy when they introduced themselves [as my] defence attorneys…I immediately felt joy in my heart, like somebody gave me comfort, like stars, like lights. I one hundred percent believe it was the Holy Spirit healing my heart.

On Thursday some high officials came from the Attorney General’s office. They asked me, “What is your name?” I introduced myself to them. After that they asked me, “Are you truly a Christian?” I replied to them, I am one hundred percent Christian. I believe in the Son of God Almighty, He is my Savior and Lord. I told them the only way to come to God is to have faith in Jesus Christ, He’s the way, He’s eternal life, He’s truth, He’s love, He’s really God.

After that they asked me, “What is wrong with being a Muslim that you converted to the Christian religion?” I told them, it’s the plan of God. God chose his people to complete his work on the earth. Muslim is not bad. The Christian people are never against any religion in the world. Our fight is just with Satan. We love our enemies, like ourselves. They joked and mocked me. “You want to make us Christians now?”

Today a new person came. He asked me, “Why do you not accept Islam; why is this religion better?” I replied to him, the golden thing is this; love your enemy as yourself. In which religion do you find this word? Just in Christianity.

He told me, “You know your punishment. It’s death.” I told him, I am one hundred percent ready for the sake of my faith. My Saviour gave his life for me. I am not afraid of a human; he just kills my body, but does not hurt my soul. I am afraid of my Lord and Savior; He will be able to punish my soul too. I told him I am holding on to my faith. I will never betray my faith. Without Jesus, what does the life in this world or the afterlife mean? Nothing!

RESPONSE: Today I will pray for those like Said Musa who are truly in prison for their faith.

PRAYER: Lord, may I have the strength and courage to confess You even under severe pressure.

Women of the Bible - Martha

Her name means: "Lady" (the feminine form of "Lord")

Her character: Active and pragmatic, she seemed never at a loss for words. Though Jesus chastened her for allowing herself to become worried and upset by small things, she remained his close friend and follower.
Her sorrow: To have waited, seemingly in vain, for Jesus to return in time to heal her brother, Lazarus.
Her joy: To watch as Jesus restored her brother to life.
Key Scriptures: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-12:3

Her Story

Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus, lived together in Bethany, a village just two miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. All three were intimate friends of Jesus.

During one of his frequent stays in their home, Martha became annoyed with Mary, her indignation spilling over like water from a boiling pot. Instead of helping with the considerable chore of feeding and housing Jesus and his retinue of disciples, Mary had been spending her time sitting happily at his feet. Feeling ignored and unappreciated, Martha marched over to Jesus and demanded: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

But Jesus wouldn't oblige. Instead, he chided her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her."

Jesus' tender rebuke must have embarrassed and startled her, calculated as it was to break the grip of her self-pity and reveal what was really taking place under her own roof and in her own heart. Perhaps this competent woman realized for the first time just how much she had been missing. Distracted by the need to serve Jesus, she had not taken time to enjoy him, to listen and learn from him. Her anger at Mary may have stemmed more from envy than from any concern about being overworked, for her sister had made her way into the circle of men to sit at the feet of the Teacher and learn from him.

Martha's story, of course, points to what is really important in life. She seemed confused and distracted, conned into believing her ceaseless activity would produce something of lasting importance. But Martha does more than simply instruct through her mistakes. She shows what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus so solid and close that no posturing or hiding is necessary. Martha seemed free to be herself in his presence. Where else should she have taken her frustration and anger, after all, but to Jesus?

Martha seems to have worked out her faith directly and actively, questioning, challenging, asking Jesus to rectify whatever had gone wrong. Her spirituality was like that of Jacob, who wrestled all night with an angel, or Job, who questioned God in the midst of his suffering, or Peter, who stumbled brashly forward into faith despite his mistakes.

In a later scene, after her brother died, we see Martha running to meet Jesus as soon as she heard he was near. Her greeting to Jesus was tinged with complaint: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." But faith, too, was present: "I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

"Your brother will rise again," Jesus assured her.

"I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day, " Martha replied.

"I am the resurrection and the life, " Jesus said. "Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

"Yes, Lord, " she told him. "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

But right after her tremendous expression of faith, Martha's practical side reasserted itself. When Jesus asked for the stone to be removed from Lazarus's tomb, she objected, raising the concern on everyone's mind: "But, Lord, there will be a terrible stink. Lazarus has been there four days!" How amazed she must have been when instead of the stench of death, Lazarus himself emerged from the tomb.

The more we delve into Martha's story, the more familiar it seems—as familiar as the face gazing at us in the bathroom mirror. A woman who placed too much importance on her own activity and not enough on sitting quietly before Jesus, she pleaded for fairness without realizing that her version of fairness was itself unfair. Her commonsensical approach to life made faith difficult. But she also loved Jesus and was confident of his love for her. How else could she have found the courage to keep pressing him for answers to her many questions? Martha offers a warmly human portrait of what it means to have Jesus as a friend, allowing him to stretch her faith, rebuke her small vision of the world, and show her what the power of God can do.

Her Promise

Martha meets Jesus again in John 11 after the death of her brother, Lazarus. With characteristic forthrightness, she tells Jesus that if he had come earlier, Lazarus would not have died. Her statements open the way for Jesus to declare for all to hear—including us today—that he alone is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in him, even if we die, we live. What a promise! What a comfort! Through Jesus, death no longer has any power over us.

Girlfriends in God - When You Just Need to Breathe

by Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

Friend to Friend

It was one of my favorite trees. And it was dying.

We live on a lake, and my dying tree was truly a “tree planted by streams of water.” So how could it be dying? How could branches right in the smack dab middle of the bushy green be turning into kindling? It didn’t make sense.

I called an arborist to come out and take a look. He saw the problem right away.

“Ma’am, see how that tree looks like a telephone pole stuck in the ground? That’s not the way a tree should be planted. You should be able to see some of the roots spreading out from the trunk. Those roots are covered up with dirt, grass, and these pretty perennials you’ve planted at the base. The tree can’t breathe.”
“It can’t breathe?” I asked.

“Yep. You see a tree is a living organism that needs to breathe just like you do. If the roots are smothered, then it can’t. Trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the soil. Those flowers you have planted around it are actually stealing the nutrients. The dirt covering the roots is suffocating it. It has water, but it needs more than that.

“Bottom line, your tree is stressed out.”

Ah, words I understood. “Stressed out.”

So, the arborist cleared away some of the dirt from around the roots to allow the tree to breathe and cut away the dead limbs. Then he dug up the flowers and tossed them aside. I could almost hear the tree take a deep breath as if to say, “Ah, thank you!”

Three months later, it looks like the tree is going to make it after all.

All this thinking about my tree planted by the water made me think about my schedule…my life. And of course, that led me to your schedule…your life.

I like to think of myself as a tree planted by the water similar to the one mentioned in the first psalm. I get up every morning and soak in God’s Word before jumping into my day. That’s my water. My living water.

But it’s not enough to drink in the morning and then smother my day with too many activities, commitments, and deadlines. I need more than water to thrive. I need to be able to breathe.

I can plant “beautiful” activities in my life like those flowers, but they may be sucking the nutrients right out of my soul. Those activities might look nice on my calendar, but they might not be soul nice. I can smother my roots with commitments and pile on the soil so that I look more like a non-living thing stuck in the ground—a telephone pole—rather than a fruit-bearing tree.

So as I begin this fall season with its activities left and right, I need to stop and examine if they are exactly what God wants me to do, or if they are just “pretty flowers ” that are keeping me from being that tree that yields fruit in due season.

As I think about my fall schedule with its commitments and deadlines, I need to ask myself if I am covering up the roots of my heart—smothering it from the very air I need to breathe.

And that’s what I want you to consider today. Let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive! Clear away what needs to be cleared away. Toss out what needs to be tossed (even if it looks pretty on your schedule). Make room to breathe.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I want to be a tree planted by streams of living water that bears fruit in its season. As I move into the fall season, open my eyes to unnecessary activities and commitments, and help me to know when to say “no”. Show me what I need to dig up and toss. Help me to do what I need to do to avoid stressing out my roots and suffocating my soul.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

I want you to keep this devotion in mind as you head into fall. Before putting something on your schedule, ask yourself these three questions that Liz Higgs asks herself in her book Only Angels Can Wing It.
  1. Will this activity matter one week from today? One month? One year?
  2. Is there someone who does this task better than I do, to whom I might delegate it?
  3. Does it satisfy a heart need for me or someone I love very much?
  4. What are the ramifications if I don’t do it?
  5. What are the outcomes if I do?
More From the Girlfriends

When it come to all the activities that scream for your attention, one of the best ways to know when to say “no” and when to say “yes” is to become a woman who listens to God. This book, Becoming a Woman who Listens to God, includes a Bible Study guide that is a perfect resource for Bible study groups and individual study. Learn how to see God’s fingerprints on the pages of your life and experience His presence on a daily basis.

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Un Dia a la Vez - Jesús y la limosna

Cuando ores, entra en tu aposento, y cerrada la puerta, ora a tu Padre que está en secreto; y tu Padre que ve en lo secreto te recompensará en público. Mateo 6:6, rv-60

Fíjense bien que lo que Dios nos ha exhortado durante estos últimos devocionales es a que todo lo que hagamos para Él sea en silencio, pues es un Dios de intimidad. Es evidente que le molesta la gente ruidosa y que les dicen a todos lo que diezman, lo que ofrendan y hoy, en este devocional, lo que oran.

Una vez más Jesús dice que si vas a orar, lo hagas solo, que no seas como los hipócritas que oran de pie en las sinagogas y en la calle para que los vean. ¡Cuánto le choca esto a nuestro Dios!

Ahora bien, esto no quiere decir que no podamos orar en grupo o en familia de una manera audible. Tampoco se trata de que no podamos ir a las misiones, pues a lo que Dios se refiere es a la intención de nuestro corazón.

También nos enseña que no seamos repetitivos en la oración como los loros, sino tengamos una conversación natural y sincera de nuestro corazón con Él.

Aprendemos, entonces, que todo lo que hagamos en secreto, Él nos lo recompensara en público. Y aun si no se nos reconociera, es bueno hacerlo en silencio.

Verse of the Day - October 31, 2016

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Read all of 1 Peter 5

The Daily Readings for October 31, 2016

Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34
The wisdom of the scribe depends on the opportunity of leisure; only the one who has little business can become wise. How can one become wise who handles the plow, and who glories in the shaft of a goad, who drives oxen and is occupied with their work, and whose talk is about bulls? He sets his heart on plowing furrows, and he is careful about fodder for the heifers. So too is every artisan and master artisan who labors by night as well as by day; those who cut the signets of seals, each is diligent in making a great variety; they set their heart on painting a lifelike image, and they are careful to finish their work. So too is the smith, sitting by the anvil, intent on his iron-work; the breath of the fire melts his flesh, and he struggles with the heat of the furnace; the sound of the hammer deafens his ears, and his eyes are on the pattern of the object. He sets his heart on finishing his handiwork, and he is careful to complete its decoration. So too is the potter sitting at his work and turning the wheel with his feet; he is always deeply concerned over his products, and he produces them in quantity. He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing the kiln. All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work. Without them no city can be inhabited, and wherever they live, they will not go hungry. Yet they are not sought out for the council of the people, nor do they attain eminence in the public assembly. They do not sit in the judge's seat, nor do they understand the decisions of the courts; they cannot expound discipline or judgment, and they are not found among the rulers. But they maintain the fabric of the world, and their concern is for the exercise of their trade. How different the one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!

Revelation 14:1-13
Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless. Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, "Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name." Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them."

Luke 12:49-59
"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be 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." He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain' and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat' and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 56 Miserere mei, Deus
1   Have mercy on me, O God, for my enemies are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.
2   They hound me all the day long; truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.
3   Whenever I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
4   In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?
5   All day long they damage my cause; their only thought is to do me evil.
6   They band together; they lie in wait; they spy upon my footsteps; because they seek my life.
7   Shall they escape despite their wickedness? O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.
8   You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book?
9   Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight; this I know, for God is on my side.
10   In God the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can mortals do to me?
11   I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; I will present to you thank-offerings;
12   For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Psalm 57 Miserere mei, Deus
1   Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by.
2   I will call upon the Most High God, the God who maintains my cause.
3   He will send from heaven and save me; he will confound those who trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.
4   I lie in the midst of lions that devour the people; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongue a sharp sword.
5   They have laid a net for my feet, and I am bowed low; they have dug a pit before me, but have fallen into it themselves.
6   Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.
7   My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody.
8   Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will waken the dawn.
9   I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD; I will sing praise to you among the nations.
10   For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
11   Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.

Psalm 58 Si vere utique
1   Do you indeed decree righteousness, you rulers? do you judge the peoples with equity?
2   No; you devise evil in your hearts, and your hands deal out violence in the land.
3   The wicked are perverse from the womb; liars go astray from their birth.
4   They are as venomous as a serpent, they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears,
5   Which does not heed the voice of the charmer, no matter how skillful his charming.
6   O God, break their teeth in their mouths; pull the fangs of the young lions, O LORD.
7   Let them vanish like water that runs off; let them wither like trodden grass.
8   Let them be like the snail that melts away, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
9   Before they bear fruit, let them be cut down like a brier; like thorns and thistles let them be swept away.
10   The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11   And they will say, "Surely, there is a reward for the righteous; surely, there is a God who rules in the earth."

Evening Psalms

Psalm 64 Exaudi, Deus
1   Hear my voice, O God, when I complain; protect my life from fear of the enemy.
2   Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the mob of evildoers.
3   They sharpen their tongue like a sword, and aim their bitter words like arrows,
4   That they may shoot down the blameless from ambush; they shoot without warning and are not afraid.
5   They hold fast to their evil course; they plan how they may hide their snares.
6   They say, "Who will see us? who will find out our crimes? we have thought out a perfect plot."
7   The human mind and heart are a mystery; but God will loose an arrow at them, and suddenly they will be wounded.
8   He will make them trip over their tongues, and all who see them will shake their heads.
9   Everyone will stand in awe and declare God's deeds; they will recognize his works.
10   The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and put their trust in him, and all who are true of heart will glory.

Psalm 65 Te decet hymnus
1   You are to be praised, O God, in Zion; to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.
2   To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come, because of their transgressions.
3   Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out.
4   Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there! they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple.
5   Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away.
6   You make fast the mountains by your power; they are girded about with might.
7   You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples.
8   Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs; you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.
9   You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; the river of God is full of water.
10   You prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
11   You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
12   You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty.
13   May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing, and the hills be clothed with joy.
14   May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak themselves with grain; let them shout for joy and sing.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

The Daily Meditation for October 31, 2016

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Scott B. Hayashi

Revelation 14:1a (NRSV) Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion!

We close our time together in the company of John on Patmos. I imagine him both alone and lonesome. The life that he knew is over.

Without his community, he is adrift, yet it is under these circumstances that he has his visions and is enraptured with the sights and sounds of heaven. Is he near the end of the world or simply the end of his life? Do the visions come because his grip on this life has been loosened? Or are his visions the gift of exile?

I think of Stephen in Acts, as he is faced by the angry mob, turning his eyes toward heaven and praying for his soul and the souls of those who are in the process of stoning him. Neither John nor Stephen is saved from his time of trial. Yet the mercy of God is present to them in their final moments. Job, a kindred spirit to John and Stephen and you and me, says, “After my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). And so will we. Thanks be to God.

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Our Daily Bread - It Never Runs Out

Read: 1 Peter 1:3–9 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 22–23; Titus 1

He has given us new birth into . . . an inheritance that can never perish. 1 Peter 1:3–4

When I asked a friend who is about to retire what she feared about her next stage of life, she said, “I want to make sure I don’t run out of money.” The next day as I was talking to my financial counselor he gave me advice on how I might avoid running out of money. Indeed, we all want the security of knowing we’ll have the resources we need for the rest of our lives.

No financial plan can provide an absolute guarantee of earthly security. But there is a plan that extends far beyond this life and indefinitely into the future. The apostle Peter describes it like this: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

When we place our faith in Jesus to forgive our sins we receive an eternal inheritance through God’s power. Because of this inheritance, we’ll live forever and never run short of what we need.

Planning for retirement is a good idea if we’re able to do so. But more important is having an eternal inheritance that never runs out—and that is available only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Dear God, I want that assurance of an eternal inheritance—the certainty of everlasting life with You. I put my faith in Jesus to forgive my sins and make me His child. Thank You for saving me and reserving a place for me in Your eternal kingdom.

The promise of heaven is our eternal hope.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Unser Täglich Brot - Immer genug

 Lesen: 1.Petrus 1,3-9 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Jeremia 22–23; Titus 1

Gelobt sei Gott . . ., der uns . . . wiedergeboren hat . . . zu einem unvergänglichen Erbe. 1.Petrus 1,3-4

Als ich eine Bekannte kurz vor dem Eintritt in den Ruhestand fragte, was ihr im Blick auf den neuen Lebensabschnitt am  meisten Angst mache, erwiderte sie: „Ich muss dafür    sorgen, dass mir das Geld nicht ausgeht.“ Als ich am nächsten Tag mit meinem Finanzberater sprach, erklärte auch er mir, was ich tun müsse, damit mir das Geld nicht ausgeht. Ja, wir alle wünschen uns die Gewissheit, dass wir für den Rest des Lebens genug haben.

Kein Finanzplan kann uns auf Erden absolute Sicherheit garantieren. Doch es gibt einen Plan, der weit über dieses Leben hinaus bis in die Unendlichkeit reicht. Der Apostel Petrus beschreibt ihn so: „Gelobt sei Gott, der uns nach seiner großen Barmherzigkeit wiedergeboren hat zu einer lebendigen Hoffnung durch die Auferstehung Jesu Christi von den Toten, zu einem unvergänglichen und unbefleckten und unverwelklichen Erbe“ (1.Petr. 1,3-4).

Wenn wir glauben, dass Jesus uns die Sünde vergibt, bekommen wir durch Gottes Macht ein ewiges Erbe. Wir werden ewig leben und es wird uns an nichts fehlen, was wir brauchen.

Für den Ruhestand planen, ist eine gute Sache, wenn wir die Möglichkeit dazu haben. Aber wichtiger ist es, ein ewiges Erbe zu haben, das nie versiegt—und das gibt es nur durch den Glauben an Jesus Christus.

Lieber Vater, ich möchte gewiss sein, dass ich ein ewiges Erbe habe—ewiges Leben mit dir. Ich glaube und vertraue darauf, dass Jesus mir meine Sünde vergibt und mich zu seinem Kind macht. Danke, dass du mich erlöst und mir einen Platz in deinem ewigen Reich reserviert hast.

Die Verheißung auf den Himmel ist unsere ewige Hoffnung.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Не кончается

Читать сейчас: 1 Петра 1:3-9 | Библия за год: Иеремия 22-23; Колоссянам 2

Благословен Бог... возродивший нас... к наследству нетленному. — 1 Петра 1:3-4

Я спросил знакомую, собиравшуюся выйти на пенсию, чего она больше всего боится на этом новом этапе своей жизни. Она ответила: «Хочу быть уверенной, что не останусь без денег». На следующий день мой финансовый консультант поделился несколькими советами, как мне самому обеспечить свое будущее. Всем нам хочется чувствовать себя в безопасности, зная, что у нас есть что-то на черный день.

Увы, никакой финансовый план не может гарантировать безопасное будущее в земной жизни. Но есть план, простирающийся за пределы земного существования и устремленный в бесконечное будущее. Петр говорит о нем так: «Благословен Бог... по великой Своей милости возродивший нас воскресением Иисуса Христа из мертвых к упованию живому, к наследству нетленному, чистому, неувядаемому, хранящемуся на небесах» (1 Пет. 1:3-4).

Принимая верой спасение в Иисусе Христе, мы обретаем небесное наследство. По этой причине мы будем жить вечно и никогда не останемся «ни с чем».

Позаботиться о пенсии – это мудрая мысль. Но намного важнее получить вечное, нетленное наследие, которое доступно только через веру в Иисуса Христа.

Боже, я хочу иметь уверенность в вечной жизни и небесном наследстве. Я уповаю на подвиг Иисуса Христа, ради Которого Ты простил мои грехи и сделал Своим чадом. Благодарю Тебя за мое спасение и место для меня в Твоем вечном Царстве.

Обетование рая – наша вечная надежда.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Il ne s’épuise jamais

Lisez : 1 Pierre 1.3‑9 | La Bible en un an : Jérémie 22 – 23 et Tite 1

Béni soit Dieu […] qui […] nous a régénérés […] pour un héritage qui ne peut […] se flétrir. (1 Pierre 1.3, 4)

Lorsque j’ai demandé à une amie sur le point de prendre sa retraite ce qu’elle appréhendait le plus par rapport à sa prochaine étape de vie, elle m’a répondu : « Je tiens à ne pas manquer d’argent. » Le lendemain, mon conseiller financier m’a expliqué comment procéder pour éviter que cela m’arrive. Il est vrai que nous cherchons tous à savoir avec certitude que nous aurons de quoi subvenir à nos besoins pour le reste de nos jours.

Aucun plan financier ne peut nous le garantir ici bas, mais il en existe un qui va bien au‑delà de cette vie jusque dans l’éternité. L’apôtre Pierre décrit d’ailleurs ce plan ainsi : « Béni soit Dieu, le Père de notre Seigneur Jésus‑Christ, qui, selon sa grande miséricorde, nous a régénérés, pour une espérance vivante, par la résurrection de Jésus‑Christ d’entre les morts, pour un héritage qui ne peut ni se corrompre, ni se souiller, ni se flétrir » (1 PI 1.3,4).

Lorsque nous faisons confiance à Jésus pour qu’il nous pardonne nos péchés, nous recevons un héritage éternel par la puissance de Dieu. En raison de cet héritage, nous vivrons pour toujours sans jamais manquer de quoi que ce soit nous étant nécessaire.

Si nous avons les moyens de le faire, c’est une bonne chose que de planifier en vue de sa retraite. Cependant, il importe davantage de veiller à acquérir un héritage éternel qui ne s’épuisera jamais et que seule la foi en Jésus‑Christ peut nous assurer.

La promesse des cieux est notre éternel espoir.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Fickle Values

Night Light for Couples, the couples' devotional from Focus on the Family ministry founder Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, brings spouses together each evening, helping them stay connected with each other and their Lord.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

If I (jcd) were to draw a caricature of an adult experiencing a lifelong crisis of confidence, I would depict a bowed, weary traveler. Over his shoulder, I would place the end of a mile‐long chain attached to tons of garbage. Inscribed on each piece of junk would be the details of some humiliation—a failure, a rejection, an embarrassment from the past. The traveler could let go of the chain, but he is convinced that he must drag that heavy load throughout life.

If this describes your own self‐concept, realize that you can free yourself from the weight of your chain. You have judged yourself inferior based on shifting standards. In the 1920s, women asked plastic surgeons to reduce their breast size—now many women undergo surgery to do just the opposite. In King Solomon’s biblical love song, the bride asked her groom to overlook her dark, well‐tanned skin—but in our country today, she’d be the pride of the beach. Rembrandt painted overweight ladies, but now, “thin is in.”

To be content with who we are as God’s creations, we must base our self‐image on His values, not on the fickle notions of human worth.

Just between us…
  • Do you ever feel like the weary traveler described above?
  • Do you sometimes feel that even God couldn’t love you?
  • What feelings of inferiority or inadequacy do you carry around? What would God say about your “junk”?
  • Do I help to elevate your opinion of yourself, or am I part of the problem?
Lord, open our eyes to the half-truths and lies about ourselves that keep us in chains. We are made in Your image. May we affirm that beautiful truth in each other daily. Amen.
  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why then did God create a world?

“Why then did God create a world? God created the world for something like the same reason that we find it hard to keep a secret! Good things are hard to keep. The rose is good and tells its secret in perfume. The sun is good and tells its secret in light and heat. Man is good and tells the secret of his goodness in the language of thought. But God is infinitely Good and therefore infinitely Loving. Why therefore could not He, by a free impulsion of His love, let love overflow and bring new worlds into being? God could not keep, as it were the secret of His Love – and telling it was creation. Love overflowed. Eternity moved and said to time: ‘Begin.’ Omnipotence moved and said to nothingness: ‘Be.’ Light moved and said to darkness: ‘Be Light.’ Out from the finger-tips of God there tumbled planets and worlds.” 
~Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen~

Reformation Sunday

Today is Reformation Sunday.

Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31, alongside All Hallows' Eve, in remembrance of the Reformation. It is celebrated among various Protestants, especially by Lutheran and Reformed church communities.

It is a civic holiday in the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Slovenia celebrates it as well due to the profound contribution of the Reformation to that nation's cultural development, although Slovenes are mainly Roman Catholics. With the increasing influence of Protestantism in Latin America (particularly newer groups such as various Evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals or Charismatics), it has been declared a national holiday in Chile in 2009.

In the United States churches often transfer the holiday, so that it falls on the Sunday (called Reformation Sunday) on or before October 31, with All Saints' Day moved to the Sunday on or after November 1st.

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," which came to be known as The 95 Theses. Hans Hillerbrand writes that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices, and the tone of the writing is accordingly "searching, rather than doctrinaire." Hillerbrand writes that there is nevertheless an undercurrent of challenge in several of the theses, particularly in Thesis 86, which asks: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?"

Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as 'into heaven'] springs." He insisted that, since forgiveness was God's alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.

According to Philipp Melanchthon, writing in 1546, Luther "wrote theses on indulgences and posted them on the church of All Saints on 31 October 1517", an event now seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation. Some scholars have questioned Melanchthon's account, since he did not move to Wittenberg until a year later and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther's posting of the theses. Others counter that such evidence is unnecessary because it was the custom at Wittenberg university to advertise a disputation by posting theses on the door of All Saints' Church, also known as "Castle Church".

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press. Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.

Luther's writings circulated widely, reaching France, England, and Italy as early as 1519. Students thronged to Wittenberg to hear Luther speak. He published a short commentary on Galatians and his Work on the Psalms. This early part of Luther's career was one of his most creative and productive. Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - ADVANCING THE GOSPEL

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12

The Apostle Paul writes these words from prison but he assures his readers that prison in no way hindered the spread of the gospel, but actually advanced it. Then he states in the following verses that he is in chains only because of Christ and because of his imprisonment, others have become bolder and fearless in sharing their faith. And the gospel advances!

A Vietnamese brother, we’ll call Daniel, was led by the Lord to the minister in the north where he soon found himself in the midst of a revival. The inevitable soon happened and Daniel was sent to prison, his “training school,” for three years. He shares his experience in prison:

After my arrest I was put in solitary confinement and chained to the ground for six months. This was a very hard time for me. The cell was only 2 x 3 meters, there were no lights in the cell and I only had one bowl of rice and salt a day. A piece of bamboo was stuck between my crossed legs and chained to the ground. My hands were chained to the ground behind my back and whenever I had to go to the toilet I was offered only a plastic bag.

I felt totally deserted. I asked the Lord to take my life. It was too much for me. I prayed a lot but thankfully the Lord did not do what I asked.

One night in my prison cell, chained to the ground, I saw a vision of the Lord. He did not speak a word. He just placed his hand on me and I felt how new strength filled my body. I cried and repented before the Lord. Then I knew the Lord was saying to me that He would not allow me to leave this world defeated, that when He takes me “home” it would be victoriously. The next day the police came and took me to another cell but I could not walk. After one year I could walk again.

Today I can see why God allowed this difficult time. After three years in prison there is a church in every area where I spent time and more than 200 inmates came to know the Lord. Three other prisoners who came to know the Lord also started churches in prison.

When I was released, I found that my village church had grown to 500. I know that God has a good plan. He sent me to prison to preach the gospel and so that I may become a strong warrior for Him.

RESPONSE: Today I will pray differently for brothers and sisters in prison for their faith.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to always trust Your plan – even when it seems difficult and overwhelming.

Un Dia a la Vez - Jesús y la limosna

Que sea tu limosna en secreto; y tu Padre que ve en lo secreto te recompensará en público. Mateo 6:4, RV-60

En este día veremos principios que Dios dejó establecidos a fin de que se cumplan al pie de la letra. Y juntos vamos a pedirle a nuestro Jesús que nos ilumine y nos permita entender, con palabras muy sencillas, lo que nos dejó en la Biblia. Lo que es más importante, una vez que los entendamos, que seamos capaces de aplicarlos para tener una vida en victoria.

La limosna o la ofrenda, como se le conoce en otras partes, debe ser algo que se entregue con mucha prudencia y no de una manera ruidosa y llamativa, pues Jesús mismo llama hipócritas a quienes lo hacen así. En realidad, esta clase de persona es la que se hace pasar por piadosa sin serlo. Por eso recuerda que la ofrenda es algo entre tú y Dios.

Tampoco llamemos la atención con nuestros actos de humanidad, porque lo que hacemos es como para Dios y no para los hombres. Nadie necesita saber lo que haces por los demás y menos en cuestión de dinero.

Verse of the Day - October 30, 2016

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Read all of Ephesians 2

The Daily Readings for October 30, 2016 - 24th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading
from the Old Testament

Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation-- I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:10-18, NRSV)

This is the Word of the Lord


Psalm 32:1-8 (NRSV)
1   Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!
2   Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile!
3   While I held my tongue, my bones withered away, because of my groaning all day long.
4   For your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.
5   Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not conceal my guilt.
6   I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.
7   Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble; when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.
8   You are my hiding-place; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

Second Reading
from the Epistles

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 1:11-12, NRSV)

This is the Word of the Lord

The Holy Gospel
according to St Luke, the 19th Chapter

Glory to You, O Lord

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." (Luke 19:1-10, NRSV)

This is the Gospel of the Lord

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

A Little Man Meets a Big God - The Sunday Sermon for October 30, 2016 - 24rd Sunday after Pentecost

Zacchaeus by Niels Larsen Stevns. Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from his height in the tree.

"A Little Man Meets a Big God"

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." (Luke 19:1-10, NRSV)

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen


There’s a story about a local fitness center, which was offering $1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate that they were stronger than the owner of the place. Here’s how it worked. This muscle man would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and then hand the lemon to the next challenger. Anyone who could squeeze just one more drop of juice out would win the money.

Many people tried over time, ­ other weightlifters, construction workers, even professional wrestlers, but nobody could do it.

One day a short and skinny guy came in and signed up for the contest. After the laughter died down, the owner grabbed a lemon and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains to the little man.

The crowd’s laughter turned to silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the manager paid out the winning prize and asked the short guy what he did for a living. “Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?”

The man replied, “I work for the IRS.”

Have you filed your taxes yet? I guess we still have a few months so you don’t have to worry yet. I have a buddy who always starts his taxes on April 14 every year and stays up all night to get them finished. I think he likes the adrenaline rush!

It’s tough to be honest during tax time isn’t it? Here’s an actual letter that was received by the IRS a few years ago:

“Enclosed you will find a check for $150. I cheated on my income tax return last year and have not been able to sleep ever since. If I still have trouble sleeping I will send you the rest.”

This morning we’re focusing on a high-ranking IRS man who cheated not on his return, but on everyone else’s. He had figured out a way to skim some money off the top and squeeze the last drop from people’s wallets.

Now, as we look at Luke 19:1, we see that Jesus is passing through Jericho on his final trip to Jerusalem, and comes in contact with Zacchaeus, a very wealthy government man from the top rung of the economic ladder.

I want to use a very simple outline this morning:

I. The Searching Sinner (19:2-4) A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.

II. The Seeking Savior (19:5) When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”

III. The Spectacular Salvation (19:6-10) So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

The Searching Sinner

In verse two, we see that Zacchaeus was a man of some prominence. His name in Hebrew means, “pure and righteous,” but he was not thought of as being anywhere close to righteous because of the job he had. As a tax collector, he worked for Rome and was considered a traitor by the Jewish people. The fact that he worked for the Roman IRS indicated to others that he was more interested in money than anything else.

Zack was more than just an IRS agent, however. He was a “chief” tax collector. He was in charge of all the agents and was able to take a “cut” of commission from those who collected taxes for him. He stood on top of the collection pyramid, stuffing his pockets with shekels before he sent the required taxes to Rome. If Rome charged a 5% tax, Zack may have collected 10% from the people.

Jericho was a great place to be for Zacchaeus because there were a lot of people coming in and out of the city on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jericho was considered the “tax capital” of Palestine, the center of a vast trade network that extended from Damascus to Egypt. Zack was in charge of one of the three tax offices in the entire country, and may have had the best job of them all. Not surprisingly, the last part of verse 2 tells us that he was wealthy.

But he was a renegade in the eyes of the religious people. He would have been thought of as fondly as a high-level drug dealer is today. In fact, in the minds of people, tax collectors were often linked with murderers, adulterers, robbers, and other “sinners.”

Tax collectors were not new to Jesus. Early on in His ministry, Jesus had attracted, and worse yet (in the eyes of the Pharisees), received them warmly. In Luke 5:30, Jesus was accused by the religious leaders for eating and drinking with “tax collectors and sinners.” These two terms were almost synonymous to the Pharisees. There was hardly a life form more offensive than these traitors.

In verse 3 we notice that while Zack is very wealthy and successful by the world’s standards, he knew something was missing. Even people today, if they are honest, will eventually admit that there’s more to life than just trying to make money and obtain possessions.

Notice that it doesn’t say that Zack just wanted to see Jesus. No. He wanted to see who Jesus was. He wanted to figure out what it was that made Jesus different from everyone else. He was drawn to this man who had just given sight to the blind beggar on the outskirts of Jericho. Now this healer was walking through his town. He may not have fully understood what was going on in his heart, but Zack had a desperate need to get to Jesus. He probably couldn’t even explain what drew him to see who Jesus was.

Perhaps that’s how some of you are feeling this morning. You’re drawn to Jesus. You’re intrigued by who He is and you want to get to know more about Him. I can remember that happening to me shortly before I became a Christian. I was curious about Jesus and loved to hear about the stories that we’re focusing on in this series.

Zack had at least two problems that day. The first was that he was a short man. I picture him bouncing up and down on his toes, like tigger, trying to see above the taller guys in front of him. With all the crowds pressing in, there was no way for him to get close enough to Jesus. In a large crowd like this I wonder if some unhappy taxpayers took out their frustrations with Zack by giving him an accidental elbow or a shove from the back.

His second problem was spiritual ­ his sins were keeping him from Jesus. Isaiah 59:2 say that “our iniquities have separated us from God.” Not only was Zack of short stature, he, like us, was not able to measure up to God’s standards. He came up far short in a spiritual sense of ever entering into a relationship with God. He was short on integrity and tall on sin.

I love verse 4: “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.” This guy was resourceful. It reminds me of something a friend of mine used to say when I’d play basketball with him. His name was Curt and he was even shorter than I am. He was always grinning and would say this: “I may be short…but I’m slow.”

Zack was short, but he wasn’t slow! He ran ahead of the crowd, looking for a way that he could see Jesus. This picture is a bit amusing, isn’t it? First of all, it would have been considered undignified for a rich man to run. Secondly, I don’t know about you, but it seems funny to me that this wealthy man would shimmy up a tree to see Jesus. Sycamore trees often grew by the side of the road and had branches that grew out horizontally from the trunk, which would give him a good view of Jesus. He probably snagged his cloak on some branches but it didn’t slow him down. Maybe he fell a couple times. He was determined to see Jesus and frankly didn’t care what others thought of his sprinting or his climbing.

Zack did not allow anything, not the crowd or his condition, to stand between him and his desire to see the Lord Jesus. What about you? Do you care enough about the condition of your soul to pay whatever price is necessary to be right with God? Are you willing to turn from that little pet sin? Are you ready to walk away from the crowd in order to see Jesus? Are you ready to run to Him?

The Seeking Savior

In verse 5 we see that while Zacchaeus may have been searching, it was really Jesus who was seeking him: “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Jesus took note of Zacchaeus, although we are not told why. He stopped, looked up, called him by name, and told him that He must come to His house. Again we see that while Jesus has set his face toward the Cross, he stops and ministers to a searching sinner. He knew right where Zack was because He knew all about him ­ and He was filled with compassion toward him.

This is how it always happens. Jesus makes the first move by coming to the dead sinner and offering life through Himself. We would never be able to come to Jesus unless He came to us first.

He then gives Zack a two-fold command: “Come down immediately.” Get out of the tree, Zack. Right now. There’s always a sense of urgency about following Christ. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “…Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” Can you imagine what must have been going through the minds of those who were walking with Jesus that day? How did Jesus know his name? Why did Jesus stop under that particular tree? Why did Jesus want this sinner to come down right away?

And then Jesus gives the second part of the command: “I must stay at your house today.” Why did Jesus express the necessity of going to the house of Zacchaeus? Why the “must”? The Pharisees and religious leaders would say that because Zack was a chief tax collector he was a “sinner.” Such a person should never be invited to your home. One should certainly not enter their home as a guest, and you were especially forbidden to eat their food. Notice here that Jesus invited Himself to dinner! This is the only instance in the 4 Gospels where we read of Jesus inviting Himself to someone’s home for a meal. Jesus must stay at his house because it pictures what His ministry is all about. He came to save sinners from their sins.

The Spectacular Salvation

Zacchaeus didn’t waste any time getting out of the tree. Verse 6 tells us, “So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.” Jesus said, “jump” and Zack jumped. He came down right away and welcomed Jesus joyfully and with great excitement. He got way more than he asked for. He just wanted to get a closer look at the Savior but now He was coming over for dinner! He was overwhelmed with joy! The word “gladly” carries with it the idea of “jubilant exultation.”

This is similar to the response of Bart in Luke 18:43 when it says that he praised God. Here we see that the disciples break out into joyful praise when Jesus enters Jerusalem (Luke 19:37). Joy is one of the key themes found in Luke’s gospel, being mentioned over 20 times in one form or another. I wonder what it will take for us to become more filled with glad and joyful praise? With all that God has done for us, we should be exuberant with joy! Yet too often our faces are fallen, our hearts are heavy, and our minds are muddled with cares and concerns. Friends, let’s learn from this example ­ when people encountered Jesus, they broke out into joyful praise! That should be reflected in our daily lives and when we gather together for corporate worship.

Now, in contrast to Zack’s joy, we see in verse 7 that the entire crowd began to mutter. If the crowd was confused about why Jesus was even talking to Zack, they now go ballistic when they figure out that Jesus has invited himself to dinner at Zack’s place. Notice that it wasn’t just some of the crowd. The text says that it was all the people. It may have even included the disciples. The word itself means a low grumble, and indicates that they were complaining and finding fault with what Jesus was going to do. This root word is also used to describe what the Israelites did in the desert when they complained and grumbled to the Lord.

We might want to get down on the crowd for their response but I wonder how many times we respond in a similar way? Let’s admit it. We have categories in our minds of people who are really “bad.” We might be upset if Jesus were to drop in on them for a meal as well. It’s so easy for us to think that we’re better than others ­ that our sin somehow smells better than other people’s.

After the meal and conversation with Jesus, we see in verse 8 that Zacchaeus was greatly impacted by the call on his life. Because of what he is about to say, I think we can safely conclude that Zack was converted during the meal. He knew he was a sinner and had come to the Savior for salvation. His conversion is clear because of the life-change we see.

Zack pushes himself away from the table and says to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

The phrase, “here and now” indicates that Zack was not waiting to negotiate a contract with Jesus or just trying to slide by. He was fully sold out to Christ. Jesus had changed his heart and now he wanted to demonstrate that change through his actions. His decision was voluntary and flowed out of a heart of gratitude for what Christ had done for him. Whenever Jesus meets someone there is change. If you’ve never changed, it may be because you haven’t truly been saved.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, understood the importance of asking God to change him. I came across one of his prayers: “Lord, I give you everything there is in this man, William Booth. Do with me what you will.” God loves to hear prayers like this because it shows a willingness to change.

Zack’s public confession shows the sincerity of his repentance and was his way of living out Romans 10:10: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

As part of his repentance, Zack wants to right his wrongs. Biblical repentance always goes hand-in-hand with restitution because conversion is a radical life-changing event. He’s now a different man so he declares that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and will make restitution at four times the amount he swindled. The man who had felt small his whole life, and had treated others as if they were small, suddenly becomes a “big” man.

Both of these responses stand out in light of cultural and religious expectations. It was considered extremely generous to give 20% of your money away ­ he gave 50%! When he made restitution of four times he was following the standard required in the Jewish law when a sheep had been stolen, and a man was convicted of the theft at a trial (see Exodus 22:1).

If he “confessed” it himself, without being found out, he was only required to restore what was stolen, and add 20% (see Numbers 5:6-7). Zack’s repentance is obvious in that he was willing to respond as if it had been proved against him in a court of law. He knows that his behavior was of the worst kind and was eager to make things right no matter the cost.

We sometimes think we’re generous if we give God 10% of our income. The mark of Zack’s transformation and conversion was his staggering generosity. He learned the truth quickly that it is impossible to serve both God and money. Before he met Jesus his money was everything to him. After his conversion, it took a back seat and became something to be given away. It was Albert Schweitzer who said, “If you own something that you cannot give away, then you don’t own it, it owns you.”

Now we come to verse 10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” The mission of Jesus is very clear: He came to seek and save what was lost. Jesus is still on a search and save mission. He is seeking out people who need to be saved. If you’ve never been saved from your sins, you need to know that Jesus is pursuing you even if you are not pursuing Him. He wants to have a vibrant relationship with you. Right now, He’s outside the door of your life knocking. Can you hear Him? He knocks and then he waits for you to open the door. Revelation 3:20 says that, “…If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

When he knocks he speaks your name out loud. He knows everything about you and has been pursuing a relationship with you for a long time. He knows your pain, your dreams, and all the details of your life. He knows your failures and your sins. He has seen and felt them all. And, He’s been trying to get your attention. You may be hearing His voice right now in your heart. Just as He called out to Zacchaeus so too he is calling out to you: “Come to me right now, for I must come into your life.”

4 Stages

I see four stages that Zack went through, which have direct application to our lives today.

-Curious. He wanted to get to know who Jesus was.

-Considered. He investigated the claims of Christ.

-Converted. The searching Savior saved him and forgave his sins.

-Changed. His life was radically redirected after his conversion.

As I look back on the process that God had me go through, I see all four of these stages. When I was 19 and observing how my college roommate was living, I became very curious about Jesus. Then, when he was out of the room, I started to read his Bible. In my desire to consider the claims of Christ I asked a lot of questions and went to a Bible study in my dorm. That then led me to the realization that I was not a Christian and that I needed to be saved from my sins. I was converted by the grace of God as I prayed to open the door to my heart and receive the free gift of eternal life. The last thing I prayed that night was for Jesus to change me. I asked him to get rid of anything in my life that he did not like. Thankfully, some changes were immediate ­ like taking away my desire for alcohol ­ other changes are still in process today.

What stage are you at this morning? Are you curious about who Jesus is? If so, don’t stop there. Investigate. Check Him out up close by reading the Bible. Consider His claims. Keep coming to church. As you do, your next step is to be converted. That’s why Jesus came. He came to convert you, He seeks to save you, and He longs to show you His love. And then, He will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine.

And so, the call has gone out. Is Jesus living within you or do you just let Him visit once in awhile? If He has taken up residence, have you been denying Him access to some of the rooms in your life?

Jesus is calling your name right now. Will you respond? Will you abandon it all for the sake of the call?

Friend, are you too deeply embedded in the world to change course? Zacchaeus was locked into a way of life that was pretty comfortable and yet Jesus changed him. And he can do the same for you.

Are you ready to respond to Jesus right now by opening the door to your life?

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Zacchaeus' sycamore fig in Jericho

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted. Sermon shared by Brian Bill.