let the reader understand

I preached this past Sunday on Jesus’ temptations from Luke 4. You can hear the sermon here.

Jesus is tempted three different times by the devil.

  • The first temptation is for Jesus to turn a stone into food. Jesus responds by saying “It is written, ‘Man shall not live bread alone.'”  Jesus was referring to the Old Testament. Moses wrote that in Deuteronomy 8:3.
  • The second temptation is for Jesus to worship Satan and receive the authority and glory of the kingdoms of the world. Jesus responds by saying “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Jesus was referring to the Old Testament again. Moses wrote that in Deuteronomy 6:13.
  • The third temptation is for Jesus to test God by throwing himself off of a very high place. Jesus responds with “It is said ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Jesus was referring to the Old Testament yet again. Moses wrote that in Deuteronomy 6:16.

Very impressive! Jesus practices what he preaches. He walks what he talks. Did you see that? Jesus’ first response to Satan was that even though he was very hungry (40 days without eating) he still found obedience to God better than sin. He says his sustenance is not food so much as it is God. Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.

Here is my point. Jesus then proceeds to counter every temptation with a passage of Scripture. It is as if Satan is trying to get Jesus to give in and sin, but Jesus replies all three times by saying “But God’s Word says this…”.

Wow. What a commitment to the Bible! It really is alive and powerful. Let the reader of Luke understand that Jesus found the Word of God to be so very valuable to his life in the midst of the temptations of the devil.

what is that you “do”

What is that you do? We all do something? Many people have a very specific skill set or giftedness and they use it well. Like an athlete or a public speaker. But I am talking about something a little bit different.

I am talking about whatever it is that you do.

For instance, just recently while doing the graveside service for a funeral, an older gentleman who has been in the funeral business for many years introduced me to one of the best grave diggers around. This older fella was bundled up in coveralls and his health is beginning to fade, but he has dug thousands of graves over the past 50 years. Thats what he does. He may not be able to do much more. He may do so much more. I honestly have no idea. But he does know how to dig graves.

Another example is a lady I remember from high school who is a teacher. She is such a good true and faithful teacher. She cares about the kids. She knows her subjects. She is very professional. She does teaching well. Thats what she does. She teaches.

Another example is my father. My dad has been in the box-making-business since he graduated high school. He is about to turn 60. He began at age 18. He is going on 42 years of making corrugated board. Thats what he does. Now I know my dad well, and I know that he can do many things well. But I also know that he would never ever like public-speaking. He would never ever like shopping or being into fashion. He would never like to be a teacher. There are many things he does not do. But when it comes to making boxes, boy can he do it. Everything there is to know or do about corrugated board, my dad can do it and do it well. Thats what he does.

What is that you do? Do you even do anything?

Here is the point I want to make: I am learning more and more that often life and faith is not so much about what we are doing but instead how we are doing it.

What is that you do? Whatever that is… maybe you are a dentist, a janitor, a coach, a carpenter, a mentor, a weightlifter, a receptionist, an accountant, a stay-at-home-mom or dad, a lawyer, a teacher, a student, or maybe you are even unemployed, or whatever is that you are doing…

DO IT WELL! DO IT WITH ALL YOUR HEART! AND DO IT FOR GOD’S GLORY!

That is so essential life. I know a grave digger who does it well. I know a teacher who does it well. I know a box-maker who does it well.  So think about this…. What do you do? But more than that… Do you do that thing well?

“Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with your might” Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Whatever you do… do it all to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whatever you do, work heartily” Colossians 3:23

I am thankful for a mom and dad who taught me to never do anything half-way or half-heartedly (you may have heard folks say another half-____). And now that I am follower of Jesus, I am thankful that God tells me the same. Whatever it is that I do, do it with all I got.

prioritizing & Proverbs 1:7

Like many people, prioritizing comes as a challenge to me.  Or maybe it is just laziness. I am not sure. Or maybe laziness is the reason I do not prioritize.

Here is what I mean, I can go days or weeks without straightening, cleaning, or organizing the things that I need to. And then whenever I finally get around to it, I go overboard. I spend too much time on it. I stay up too late, and I neglect other responsibilities. I should have just straightened sooner.

Or like with March Madness. This coming Thursday there will be 32 two-hour basketball games on TV. I will watch so many of them. As a husband and father, if I watch that much b-ball then I will probably be neglecting some things and then my priorities are out of focus.

I know what I want to prioritize, and I long to get better at it.

One of my top priorities is good, focused, quality, nothing-gets-in-the-way time with my boys. Like this weekend when the weather was great, I took JJ and Eli for a walk. We stopped by the creek. They asked if we could get close. So we did. I assured them it was too cold still to get in. JJ and I went swimming in the creek a lot last year. Eli was too small. So time at the creek is new to Eli. They love skipping rocks. So we did that for a while. Then we left and kept walking to the gas station. They wanted cookies and M&Ms. I bought both. They had eaten all the cookies and most of the M&Ms by the time I had paid.

Or like when I woke up the other morning and those two were shooting basketball in their bedroom.  As I went to see them, JJ asked “Do you want to play basketball with us?” Thats a dream come true to me. I dropped my Bible Studying immediately and went to shoot ball with them.

Or like Sunday afternoon when they wanted to play in the yard. I was teaching JJ to hit a pitch and Eli to hit off the Tee. The ground was wet from all the rain recently. When Eli would fall, it surprised him because it was the first time he ever had wet, dirty, grass on his hands. What a moment!

Or like the walk back from the store when I am teaching the boys one of my favorite Bible verses: Proverbs 1:7.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

JJ and I have been working on memorizing that one. They are kinda some bigger words for JJ, but he is slowly getting it.

My priority is for my sons to know how much I love God and them. I pray that they would really believe Proverbs 1:7. But also I pray that they would really see and understand that I really believe Proverbs 1:7.

May God continue to mold me into a Dad who fears the Lord, possesses knowledge, and does not despise instruction. And may I more and more prioritize my sons.

book review, 2 quotes

Kevin DeYoung’s review of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins came out yesterday. You can read it here.

While many men and women have countless opinions on countless subjects, God has already spoken. God speaks for himself. His Word is true. And I believe that. I form my views, opinions, and beliefs based on what I read from God in the Bible. Here are two quotes I like from DeYoung’s review.

“The good news is that in love God sent his Son to live for our lives and die for our deaths, suffering the God-forsakenness we deserved so that we might call God our God and we who trust in Christ might be his children.”

“Look at God’s people in the garden, then kicked out of the garden; God’s people in the promised land, then booted out of the promised land; God’s people in the New Jerusalem, then the wicked and unbelieving locked outside the New Jerusalem. Trace this story from tabernacle to temple through the incarnation and Pentecost and the coming down of the new heaven and new earth and you will see that the Bible’s story is about how a holy God can possibly dwell among an unholy people. The good news of this story is not that God loves everybody everywhere and you just need to find Christ in the rocks all around you. The good news is that God over and over makes a way for his unholy people to dwell in his holy presence, and that all these ways were pointing to the one Way, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

adam was the first man ever

In Luke chapter 3 when Luke is giving us the genealogy of Jesus, we see something very interesting.

Luke’s genealogy goes backward from Jesus all the way to Adam. At the very end, here is what Luke writes:

“the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

Luke could have just ended with Adam, but for some added emphasis Luke states that Adam came from God. God made Adam. He was the first man ever.

what a perspective!

Yesterday’s sermon was on our perspective of Jesus. It needs to be a proper and healthy perspective. You can hear the sermon here.

Well let me show you the Awesome perspective that John the baptist had. This is great.

In Luke 7:28 Jesus says this about John,

“I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.”

To repeat, Jesus says that John is the greatest person ever born.

Well check this out now. Watch what John says in Luke 3:16 about himself in comparison to Jesus,

“he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

WHAT A PERSPECTIVE! The Bible is so helpful for us people. The greatest man to ever be born is nowhere near as great as Jesus. He himself says he is not even worthy enough to undo his shoes. In comparison to Jesus, John is so lowly and unworthy.

I have several great American people in mind: Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, and so on. They are great in different ways. I wonder what their perspective is on Jesus.

How about you? What is your level of greatness? And moreover, what is your perspective on Jesus’ level of greatness?

what is repentance?

This an outstanding quote from D.L. Moody about repentance. I used it in last week’s Sunday Morning sermon. You can listen to that sermon here. The sermon was on repentance and preached from Luke 3.

Here is the quote (taken from Daily Grace for Teens):

“Let me say what it is not. Repentance is not fear. Many think they have to be alarmed and terrified, and in order to repent, they are waiting for some kind of fear to come down upon them.

Repentance is not feeling. I find a great many people are waiting to to turn to God, but think they cannot do it until this feeling comes.

Repentance is not fasting and afflicting the body. A person may fast for weeks and months and years, yet not repent of one sin.

Neither is it remorse. Judas had terrible remorse, but that was not repentance.

Repentance is not conviction of sin. I have seen people under such deep conviction of sin that they could not sleep at night or enjoy a single meal, and yet, they did not truly repent.

Neither is praying repentance. Many people say, “I will pray and read the Bible,” and yet never repent.

It is not quitting one single sin. Forsaking one vice is like breaking off one limb of a tree when the whole tree has to come down.

What is repentance? It is “Right About Face!” It implies that a person walking in one direction has not only faced about, but is actually walking in an exactly contrary direction.”