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

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

Sermon

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.

The Daily Meditation for October 30, 2016

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Scott B. Hayashi

Luke 19:5-7 (NRSV) 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.”

Is Zacchaeus a sinner? Do the people in his community ever give him a chance to be a nice guy, or do they hate him simply because he is a tax collector?

We may not know all their motivations, but we do know that Zacchaeus is ostracized from his community. They do not trust anyone who works for the Romans. Zacchaeus, as far as his community is concerned, is guilty of collaborating with the enemy and benefitting from Roman occupation and oppression.

Jesus, in one of his most radical acts of hospitality, chooses to be with Zacchaeus and recognizes him as a member of God’s family. Do you think that the people in Zacchaeus’s life welcomed him after Jesus chose to spend time with such a notorious sinner? Would you have invited him to your house?

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Our Daily Bread - Hearing God


Read: 1 Samuel 3:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 20–21; 2 Timothy 4

Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

I felt like I was underwater, sounds muffled and muted by a cold and allergies. For weeks I struggled to hear clearly. My condition made me realize how much I take my hearing for granted.

Young Samuel in the temple must have wondered what he was hearing as he struggled out of sleep at the summons of his name (1 Sam. 3:4). Three times he presented himself before Eli, the high priest. Only the third time did Eli realize it was the Lord speaking to Samuel. The word of the Lord had been rare at that time (v. 1), and the people were not in tune with His voice. But Eli instructed Samuel how to respond (v. 9).

The Lord speaks much more now than in the days of Samuel. The letter to the Hebrews tells us, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets . . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:1–2). And in Acts 2 we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (vv. 1–4), who guides us in the things Christ taught us (John 16:13). But we need to learn to hear His voice and respond in obedience. Like me with my cold, we may hear as if underwater. We need to test what we think is the Lord’s guidance with the Bible and with other mature Christians. As God’s beloved children, we do hear His voice. He loves to speak life into us.

Open our eyes, Lord, that we might see You. Open our ears, that we may hear You. Open our mouths, that we might speak Your praise.

The Lord speaks to His children, but we need to discern His voice.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Unser Täglich Brot - Gott hören


Lesen: 1.Samuel 3,1-10 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Jeremia 20–21; 2.Timotheus 4

Samuel sprach: Rede, denn dein Knecht hört. 1.Samuel 3,10

Ich kam mir vor, als wäre ich unter Wasser. Durch eine Erkältung und Allergien drangen Geräusche nur gedämpft an mein Ohr. Wochenlang konnte ich nicht deutlich hören. Dabei wurde mir klar, für wie selbstverständlich ich mein Gehör bislang genommen hatte.

Der junge Samuel im Tempel hat sich bestimmt gewundert, als er wach wurde, weil jemand seinen Namen rief (1.Sam. 3,4). Drei Mal lief er zu Eli, dem Hohepriester. Erst beim dritten Mal erkannte der, dass der Herr zu Samuel sprach. Das Wort des Herrn hörte man damals nur selten (V.1), und die Menschen waren nicht an Gottes Stimme gewöhnt. Aber Eli erklärte Samuel, wie er reagieren sollte (V.9).

Der Herr spricht heute viel öfter als zu Samuels Zeit. Im Brief an die Hebräer heißt es: „Nachdem Gott vorzeiten . . . geredet hat zu den Vätern durch die Propheten, hat er in diesen letzten Tagen geredet durch seinen Sohn“ (1,1-2). Und in Apostelgeschichte 2 lesen wir vom Kommen des Heiligen Geistes an Pfingsten (V.1-4), der uns erklärt, was Jesus gesagt hat (Joh. 16,13). Aber wir müssen lernen, seine Stimme zu hören und ihr zu gehorchen. Wie ich mit meiner Erkältung hören wir vielleicht nur verschwommen. Wir müssen anhand der Bibel und mit der Hilfe anderer Christen prüfen, was wir für Gottes Führung halten. Als Gottes geliebte Kinder hören wir seine Stimme, denn er redet gern mit uns.

Herr, öffne uns die Augen, damit wir dich sehen. Öffne uns die Ohren, damit wir dich hören. Und öffne unseren Mund, damit wir dich loben.

Der Herr spricht zu seinen Kindern, aber wir müssen lernen, seine Stimme zu erkennen.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Слышать Бога


Читать сейчас: 1 Царств 3:1-10 | Библия за год: Иеремия 20-21; Колоссянам 1

И сказал Самуил: «Говори, Господи, ибо слышит раб Твой». — 1 Царств 3:10

Мне казалось, что я под водой: звуки звучали глухо и отдаленно. Несколько недель я страдала от озноба и других аллергических реакций. Но такое состояние помогло мне осознать, что раньше я принимала способность хорошо слышать как должное и мало ценила то, что имела.

Юный Самуил, должно быть, немало удивился, услышав спросонок, что кто-то зовет его в храме (1 Цар. 3:4). Три раза он приходил к первосвященнику Илию. Только на третий раз Илий осознал, что к отроку обращается Сам Бог. Слово Господне в те дни звучало редко (1 Цар. 3:1), народ отвык от небесного голоса. Но Илий дал мудрый совет Самуилу, как отвечать Зовущему (1 Цар. 3:9).

В наши дни Господь говорит намного больше, чем во времена Самуила. В Послании к евреям сказано: «Бог, многократно и многообразно говоривший издревле отцам в пророках, в последние дни эти говорил нам в Сыне» (Евр. 1:1-2). А в главе 2 книги Деяния апостолов рассказывается о сошествии Святого Духа (Деян. 2:1-4), наставляющего церковь во всем, чему учил Христос (Ин. 16:13). Но нам нужно научиться слушать Его голос и повиноваться. Как при моей болезни, мы можем слышать духовные звуки словно под водой. Поэтому нужно сверять то, что кажется Господним водительством, с Библией и мнением других, зрелых христиан. Как Божьи возлюбленные дети, мы можем слышать Его голос, говорящий слова жизни.

Открой нам глаза, Господи, чтобы видеть Тебя. Открой уши, чтобы слышать Твой голос. Открой уста, чтобы возносить Тебе хвалу.

Господь обращается к Своим детям, но нужно различать Его голос.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Entendre Dieu


Lisez : 1 Samuel 3.1‑10 | La Bible en un an : Jérémie 20 – 21 et 2 Timothée 4

Et Samuel répondit : Parle, car ton serviteur écoute. (1 Samuel 3.10)

J’avais l’impression d’être sous l’eau, car mon rhume et mes allergies étouffaient les sons. M’efforcer de bien entendre pendant des semaines m’a fait comprendre combien je tiens mon ouïe pour acquise.

Le jeune Samuel a dû se demander dans le Temple ce qu’il entendait, en sortant difficilement du sommeil au son de son nom (1 S 3.4). Trois fois, il s’est présenté devant le souverain sacrificateur Éli. Et ce n’est qu’à la troisième occasion qu’Éli a compris que c’était Dieu qui s’adressait à Samuel. La Parole du Seigneur se faisait rarement entendre à l’époque (V. 1) et le peuple n’avait pas pour habitude de lui tendre l’oreille. Reste qu’Éli a montré à Samuel comment répondre à Dieu (V. 9).

Le Seigneur parle beaucoup plus de nos jours que du temps de Samuel. L’épître aux Hébreux nous dit : « Après avoir autrefois, à plusieurs reprises et de plusieurs manières, parlé à nos pères par les prophètes, Dieu dans ces derniers temps, nous a parlé par le Fils » (1.1,2). Dans Actes 2, nous lisons au sujet de la venue du Saint‑Esprit à la Pentecôte (V. 1‑4) qu’il nous guide au fil des enseignements de Christ (JN 16.13). Nous devons toutefois apprendre à entendre sa voix et à lui obéir. Comme lorsque j’étais enrhumée, nous l’entendons peut‑être avec l’impression d’être sous l’eau. Il nous faut examiner tout ce que nous croyons recevoir de Dieu à la lumière de la Bible et des conseils de chrétiens mûrs. Par amour pour ses enfants, Dieu se plaît à insuffler la vie en eux.

Le Seigneur parle à ses enfants, mais ils doivent discerner sa voix.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ