25 Weeks – 4/25/2016 to 10/14/2016
Overview – William Barclay of Scotland wrote that “a minister sees people at their best; a lawyer sees people at their worst; and a doctor sees people as they are.” The writer of the gospel of Luke was a doctor. Perhaps he saw people as they are and realized they needed the Christ he wrote about in his gospel. Luke’s gospel is “simple”, meaning not complex or complicated. He wrote what many think is the most beautiful of the four Gospel accounts. He tells the story of Jesus in an unadorned, unembellished way. It’s the longest series that I’ve ever preached and will ever preach. Let the simple Gospel touch your life!
When an American asked a British theologian by the last name of Denny if he could recommend a good account of the life of Christ, Denny responded, “Have you ever read the Gospel of Luke?” I pose he same question to you! Let it speak to you through the text and these messages.
Week 25 – 10/10/2016
In the Midst of the Storm
This Week – Weather is certainly a big part of our lives. Ask anyone who has gone through a major storm on land or sea, or even during a flight. In the passage of Luke we study this week, Jesus is with the disciples in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. But most storms in your life and mine are of the emotional kind. A storm is anything in your life and mine that produces emotional distress. Sound familiar?
Monday (10/10) – We begin with a piece of writing that describes standing on the shore of an ocean and watching the beauty of the water rising to meet the sky. Then the author tells about being out in that same water during a storm and how everything changes! So it is with storms in our lives. A storm is anything in your life that produces emotional distress. Sound familiar?
Tuesday (10/11) – The calming of the storm on the Sea of Galilee by Jesus is one of the “famous” stories of the New Testament. Have you ever thought about Satan’s involvement in that storm? We share the “5 works of Satan”, one of the most popular pieces I have given in over 30-plus years on the radio! If you only listen to one segment this week, this is the one!
Wednesday (10/12) – The disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm developed that threatened their very lives. Jesus was actually asleep on the boat as the storm began. They wake Him in a panic and He rebukes the storm and calm takes over. We talk about Jesus being in the “boat of our lives”. We tell the story of a man who discovered that in a childhood that he described as being “raised in hell”. It just may speak to your life.
Thursday (10/13) – You have got to believe in 2016 that the Lord is “in the boat” of your life. We tell the story of Senator John McCain when he was a prisoner in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. He was hog-tied each night as a form of torture. What one of the guards did each night to McCain was unbelievable in a positive way. It’s a great illustration of the Lord being “in the boat”.
Friday (10/14) – I share an extremely personal story regarding a man in Columbus who heard me share this passage as the last message he heard before his sudden death that week. He was probably the greatest source of encouragement to me in ministry. I don’t think of this story from Luke without thinking about him. The Christ who is in the boat is in your life, your death, and your eternity!
Week 24 – 10/03/2016
Children of the Resurrection
This Week – We pull away from the Luke series for one week to share the Easter message that came in the middle of the current series. It’s also from the book of Luke where Jesus is presented with what was thought to be a “trick question” by one of the Sadducees, a Jewish sect that didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. The surprise turned out to be for the Sadducees, who had no idea of how Jesus would answer their question. His answer is one of the most important statements in the ministry of Jesus about life after death!
Monday (10/3) – We begin by talking about people’s view of heaven. For most people, their view of heaven is really just an extension of the “good life” here on earth. We use both humorous and serious examples of this. Whatever we think is “great” on earth, we just extend to heaven in a more glorious or eternal way. In reality, Jesus offers the expert opinion of what heaven is all about.
Tuesday (10/4) – Jesus describes heaven inhabited by what He called, “the children of the resurrection”. He further states that God is not the God of the dead; He is the God of the living, for to Him all are alive! That’s significant to you and me for one main reason: we are going to die someday! We refer to family members as being “deceased”. To the Lord, all are alive!
Wednesday (10/5) – We reference a movie starring actress, Drew Barrymore to illustrate how we have been “rescued” from death by what Jesus accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection. Whatever you need to be rescued from in this life, nothing approaches the “rescue” we received from the Christ of Easter! The rescue comes from believing in Christ as the Lord of the living!
Thursday (10/6) – We have a limited view of heaven because of our limited perspective on a number of issues. If you could somehow talk to a baby inside the womb of the mother, you would have difficulty telling that baby what life on the “outside” looked like. Why? The baby would have nothing in the way of “perspective” for someone to refer to. Heaven is beyond our wildest imagination!
Friday (10/7) – We are either alive in Christ or dead in our sin! That’s a blunt statement, but according to Jesus Himself, it’s true! Because of our daughter living with her family in Stuttgart, Germany, I’ve studied what happened in that city during World War two. There were 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble after the allied bombings. They created a mountain out of the rubble and placed a large cross on the summit. What a lesson for life! The cross of Christ towers over the “wrecks of time” according to a hymn. The empty cross says it all!
Week 23 – 9/26/2016
Four Kinds of Hearers
This Week – Most people know that a parable is an “earthly story with a spiritual meaning”. However, most people don’t realize that there is only one parable where Jesus tells us exactly what the parable means or represents. It’s the parable that we study this week on “CrossHope”. He tells of four kinds of soil that the farmer faces in his work; Jesus says they represent four kinds of hearers or listeners to the Word of God. Which one are you?
Monday (9/26) – Listening not only happens in the mind via the ear; listening happens in the heart. This week we study what is called the “Parable of the Sower”, where Jesus describes four types of hearers using the analogy of 4 types of soil. Luke introduces us to women who were involved in the ministry of Christ; there were many who helped in the work of Christ.
Tuesday (9/27) – When Jesus identifies four types of soil, He then explains how the word of God (seed) is applied to the ground, and there are four types of responses. You can’t read this parable without seeing yourself in it! Be honest, which soil represents the “soil” of your heart? Is your heart hardened or rocky? Is it “thorny” meaning choked by the cares of this world? Or is it receptive to the seed?
Wednesday (9/28) – We share a story about Carl Sagan, famous astronomer of recent years, now deceased. He didn’t believe in life after death because he wanted “evidence” to prove it. We talk about the greatest evidence for life after death is in the One who claimed to be the resurrection and the life. He is the proof! Listen to the story that may speak to your doubts and reservations about Christ.
Thursday (9/29) – Worries, riches, and pleasures are the three things that Jesus identifies as the things that will “choke” out the word of God in my life. Isn’t that amazingly applicable to your life and mine in 2016? How does that speak to you? Which one of the three can be pegged as the “choker” of spiritual life in your soul?
Friday (9/30) – We close with telling about the most interesting phone call I have ever received from a radio listener. It came in Atlanta from a woman who introduced herself as being Jewish, and yet a regular listener to our program. I asked how she handled the statements about Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God etc. I honestly was perplexed. You need to hear her answer! It will surprise you!
Week 22 – 9/19/2016
Much Love, Much Forgiveness
This Week – Do you feel a closer bond with the people that have truly forgiven you of some offense? You probably do. If not, you should. Why? There can be a link between love and forgiveness. All this week, we study a woman forgiven by God for “much” sin in her life. Jesus said that because she was forgiven much, she loved the Lord even more. This is a passage that you and I can connect with. Why? Because we are sinners!
Monday (9/19) – We begin by talking about a DNA test my oldest son took to prove his background, genetically to a girlfriend. He was sure he was “German”. His DNA showed he was of English and Irish descent. Our “spiritual DNA” has got to include the word forgiveness! Why? There is nothing you will ever say or do to manifest Christ being in your life than when you forgive someone in the name of Christ. Absolutely nothing!
Tuesday (9/20) – A woman comes to Jesus with a “past”. News flash: we all have a past! All she does is stand in the presence of Jesus and starts to weep. Pay attention to what brings emotion to your being. The host of the dinner party confesses the sins of the woman in his heart. Be careful when you find yourself confessing the sins of others. Does anyone do that to you, confess your sins? How do you feel at those moments?
Wednesday (9/21) – We tell a story by Charles Allen that is not only moving; it could be life altering for you! It’s about the most important word in the English language: forgiveness. He uses an analogy of forgiveness of a man who owes 500 days income to a moneylender; another owes 50 days of income. Both debts are forgiven. He asks, “Which debtor would be most appreciative?” Your answer?
Thursday (9/22) – An illustration today from the television show, “60 Minutes” about forgiveness is the crux of today’s program. Many people are moved to tears when they hear this story. A young man with serious mental handicaps knows that you can’t talk about love, without talking about the grace of God. Do you and I have that kind of insight?
Friday (9/23) – “Forgiveness” is not just an issue in your life; it is THE issue of your life. Forgiveness is to your life what the rudder is to a great ship. Nothing matters on the ship without the rudder working properly. Everything positive in your life, your marriage, and your family flows out of and from forgiveness you have received and have given! If you haven’t discovered that yet, you will!
Week 21 – 9/12/2016
Offended by Christ?
This Week – In our politically correct culture of 2016, we worry personally and culturally about offending people. It seems today that the ultimate “sin” is offending someone or some group of people. And yet Jesus Himself said that people would take offense at what He said and did. In the passage we study today in Luke, Jesus says that people would “fall away” (NIV translation) because of Him! It’s the same today!
Monday (9/12) – We begin with the story of a former professor at Emory University, who tells of his father who was offended by Christians at the local church his mother and siblings attended. It sets up the text today where Jesus said that there would be people who took offense at Him and would “fall away”. It’s a strong passage that speaks honestly to our culture in 2016.
Tuesday (9/13) – We speak to the issue of hypocrisy in our culture today. There are hypocrites in your family, where you work, and where you socialize. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something or someone they’re not. No one can accuse Jesus of being a hypocrite. We can all be guilty of hypocrisy.
Wednesday (9/14) – When people say that they have intellectual doubts about Christianity, I have found that sometimes they are suffering from discouragement (depression) or guilt. When John the Baptist’s disciples were questioning if Jesus was really the “One”, Jesus told them to look at what He was doing and decide for themselves. He said “the blind are seeing, the deaf can hear, and the dead are raised.” What more could you ask for?
Thursday (9/15) – We tell a true story of a man who hated his father. What magnified the problem was that his father was dead. His minister gave some of the best advice I have ever heard in my life regarding the issue of hatred. Someone reading this right now needs to hear that advice. His advice is something I’ve never heard given in my life, and yet is really quite radical.
Friday (9/16) – We close with a story about comedian Robin Williams and a movie role he had in a serious film years ago. He played the part of Dr. Oliver Sacks, who worked with 80 patients who had a disease that turned them into figurative “zombies”. What he did for those patients was the most significant thing he did in his life. Yet, it’s nothing to what Jesus Christ does in the lives of people like you and me!
Week 20 – 9/5/2016
Compassion like None Other
This Week – There are only 3 times in the gospels where Jesus raised a dead person from death. This is one of them. Jesus is approaching a town called, “Nain” when He encounters a funeral procession. The deceased is a young man described as the only son of his mother, and “she was a widow.” That says it all regarding the sadness and pathos of this story. If you ever wondered if Jesus really cares, you need to hear this message! You really do!
Monday – It is said often on this program, but what you believe about resurrection impacts and colors everything you believe about your marriage, your family, even your career! This story not only tells of the power of Jesus over death, it tells of His compassion and concern for the grief of people like you and me. This passage tells about how much Jesus cares about your grief and sorrow.
Tuesday – We began yesterday with a man weeping on an airplane, grieving over the death of his father. Many people don’t know what to do with the grief they see in others. Fortunately, Jesus does! We tell the story of a minster friend of mine who lost his wife. He shares how that nothing he had done in the ministry prepared him for his loss. Maybe his story will speak to you.
Wednesday – Jesus had authority even over death itself. Why do you and I need to know that? We are going to die, that’s why! He also has authority over our grief. He will use even strangers to share that comfort. He may even use you to help comfort someone else. If you don’t believe that, listen to the story we tell today by Sue Monk Kidd.
Thursday – We share a story of meeting a woman on a flight that was reading a book about grief. Obviously, she had lost someone she loved. The woman had lost her 22 year old son to cancer and wanted to share his (and her) story. What she said about the experience will speak to you about loss, comfort, and what really matters.
Friday – It’s somewhat embarrassing, but I share a statement that I would make years ago at funeral homes where people were sharing in a tragic death. Then, I thought it was profound; now I think it was foolish! Listen today and decide for yourself. Remember the lessons of this text about resurrection and grief. Jesus speaks to both. He has authority and power over both!
Week 19 – 8/29/2016
This Week – Has God ever used an unlikely person or situation in your life to bless you or convey something of Himself to you? If you’re honest, He probably has. All this week, we study an unlikely example for the Kingdom of God, a man who served the occupational forces of Rome as an officer. And yet Jesus would point to him as an example for others to follow! Let’s find out why.
Monday – We begin with a story of my daughter as a college student in Germany being led to a church by a carpet dealer who was a Muslim. His wife was a Christian who became one of my daughter’s best friends, even today. God used an unlikely person in my daughter’s life. We share the text from Luke about the Centurion who believed in Jesus. What a story!
Tuesday – The centurion not only was familiar with the ministry of Jesus, He was a believer in the true God. Luke says he loved God’s people and single handedly paid for the building of the local synagogue! He had a servant, seriously ill and approached Jesus to heal him. Jesus was touched by his faith and humility.
Wednesday – Jesus says of the centurion, “I haven’t seen such faith in all of Israel!” An unlikely man was a model of faith to everyone in the whole nation! Have you ever met an unlikely man or woman who was an example to you of the Lord being in their life? I certainly have! If you look hard enough and you will see it.
Thursday – We complete a story begun yesterday about a young man with Cerebral Palsy who was mocked by others his age at a church camp. And yet God used him to witness in the lives of his contemporaries who would come to Christ because of what he said and did. Don’t miss this story of God using unlikely people to carry His message.
Friday – Something happened in the service this message was given that was totally unplanned and unexpected. It involved a small baby with major health problems that was brought forward at the end of the service for prayer by the parents. Fifty to sixty other parents surrounded this family in prayer on the baby’s behalf. It was a holy moment and a fitting close to this message.
Week 18 – 8/22/2016
The Most Embarrassing Question
Luke 6:46-49 Matthew 7:21-23
This Week – In a world of phoniness and pretense, we study the last passage out of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6. Jesus asks the most embarrassing question of life: “Why do you call me Lord, and then don’t do what I ask you to do?” What’s your answer to that embarrassing question?
Monday – According to one psychologist, we are a nation of “pretenders”. We pretend to care when we don’t. We pretend to work when we don’t. We even pretend to love, when in truth we don’t. The list goes on. Does that perhaps describe you or me? Jesus talks about those who pretend that Jesus is the Lord of their lives, when He isn’t!
Tuesday – We quote a man who served as an “advance man” for President Kennedy. He would travel ahead of the President to set up his speaking engagement. He believed if you acted like you knew what you were doing and talked like you know what you doing, people would actually think that you DO know what you are doing. No one does that with the Lord God almighty!
Wednesday – We quote a business consultant who believed that there were “six types of difficult people” where you work. The 6th type is the “yes person”, the person who promises any deadline, any result, and any achievement. The only problem is that they rarely deliver. The Kingdom of God has little room for “yes people”.
Thursday – What is the will of God for your life or mine that we’re not doing? What is it that we have said “yes” to, but in reality live a life of saying “no”, in terms of obedience? Emanating from the life of every believer is ether obedience to the Lord or disobedience. What emanates or “comes forth” from your life?
Friday – We close with an emotional thing that happened when I spoke at a church in southern California. I knew no one other that the minister and his wife. A story I told of a man writing farewell letters to his family was all too real for a man in the audience. He had done the same thing that week! I had no idea. What would your letter say to your spouse or children? Would your letter speak of your obedience to the Lord, or would it speak of something less?
Week 17 – 8/15/2016
The Real Test: Words!
Luke 6:43-45, Matthew 12:36-37
This Week – Words have power in people’s lives. If you don’t believe that, think about the words said to you that have hurt you or blessed you! Words have the power to create reality in many areas of life. What Jesus said about our words will both convict you and uplift you. This is the 4th of five messages from what is called the “Sermon on the Mount”.
Monday – Reach back into your memory and you can remember with total recall some hateful or hurtful things said to you by a parent or friend. And yet we have total amnesia when it comes to remembering the things we have said to others. What we have forgotten, there are those who recall with clarity what we have said to them.
Tuesday – We talk about the “Ten Most Expressive Words” in the English language, according to a dictionary editor. What are the words in your vocabulary that would reflect your personality and temperament? We share two stories about words having lifetime impact on two young boys. What words have had lifetime impact on you?
Wednesday – We share a true story of a young woman telling her younger brother in anger, “I wish you were dead”. Thirty minutes later, he was. What kind of lifetime impact did those words have on the sister? Her life was dramatically affected by what she had said in haste, without thought.
Thursday – Our words reveal a lot about us. We share three things about us that are revealed by our words. Words reveal our character, our commitments, and our convictions. People don’t have to be around us too long, before they see those three things revealed by our words! What have you revealed lately about your life, just with your words?
Friday – We close with the dramatic story of a young man who couldn’t speak for 18 years due to a paralyzed larynx. From age 16 to 34, he could only make “crowing sounds”. Then on one dramatic day, he said, “Good Morning”. It was seemingly a miracle! And yet the greatest miracle of words is when a man or woman says, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” That’s a miracle!
Week 16 – 8/08/2016
Criticism, Judgment, and Condemnation
This Week – We have all been impacted by the criticism, judgement, and the condemnation of others. And yet to be fair, there are other people who have been on the receiving end of our criticism, judgment, and condemnation. We have negatively impacted others in the same way we have been! All this week, we share a message from the Sermon on the Mount on this very subject. Let it speak to you as you open up your heart to these words of Jesus.
Monday – We begin with a great quote of football coach, Lou Holtz regarding men judging, criticizing and even condemning their wives. Constant criticism is debilitating in a relationship. It destroys marriages, and parent- child relationships. What Jesus says about these issues may surprise you. It definitely will convict you!.
Tuesday – The most frightening thing said by Jesus in this passage is this: the measure of judgment and criticism that you and I use with others is the very measure that will be used with us! For some people, that statement is not just frightening, it’s terrifying. Just think about the words of judgment and condemnation you have used in the last month!
Wednesday – Today we tell one of most powerful stories on the subject of forgiveness that I have ever told. People were visibly moved when I told this in three morning services. It is a story that illustrates the forgiveness of Christ in a way that will move you, especially if there is something in your past that you’ve never shared with anyone. Come to think of it, doesn’t that describe all of us?
Thursday – A spirit of judgment and criticism can destroy a church, according to an author that we quote. He describes the image of people who carry with them a “folding judgement seat” from which they pronounce judgement on people anytime, anywhere. Have you ever met anyone like that? We all have!
Friday – We conclude this message with the moving story of a prisoner of war camp in Asia during World War two. To experience forgiveness, we need to show it. To experience grace, we need to demonstrate it. I’m not asking you to forgive a captor in a prison camp; can you forgive a family member for a slight or an offense? Some people would say, “Never!”
Week 15 – 8/01/2016
The Ultimate Choice
This Week – Have you ever thought of a passage of scripture being unpopular with people? The passage we study this week wins the award for possibly being the least popular of any text in the Bible! Jesus teaches something in this text that is counter-intuitive to the average person. It’s definitely counter cultural. “Loving your enemies, and blessing those who curse you” doesn’t even make sense to most people!
Monday – The ultimate choice in life is the choice to love, rather than to hate. It’s the choice to bless rather than to curse. It’s the choice to care about the people that don’t care for you. You don’t believe that? Then listen to the verses we read and study all this week on CrossHope.
Tuesday – If the words spiteful, vengeful and retaliatory describe you in any way, you’re going to have a problem with the words of Jesus in this passage. The first word has to do with attitude. The second word has to do with intent; the third word has to do with actions and behavior.
Wednesday – There is nothing you will do to reach people for Christ that has greater impact than loving people who are unlovable. If you don’t believe that, try it! The ultimate choice we make in life is to love or to hate. That’s true in a family, a marriage, a church…..anywhere! Love is a choice; so is hatred.
Thursday – Do you know what happens when we hate someone we are supposed to love? We get sick! We get sick emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We tell a powerful story of a woman who thought she might lose her life on the mission field. She found out her greatest danger was losing her “heart” because of her hatred for another missionary! It’s really a powerful story!
Friday – Choosing to hate, according to the Apostle John is a choice to die! We tell the true story of a man who was baptized into Christ by one of the men who had murdered his father years earlier! If you’ve never heard about this incident, you are going to hear a story that will challenge your thinking in a profound way. Hating is a decision, so is loving! What’s your choice?
Week 14 – 7/25/2016
The Most Famous Sermon!
This Week – Is there one sermon that you’ve heard that you remember more than any other? There is for me. I was “frozen” in my seat after hearing a sermon in Columbus, Ohio years ago. Others around me were standing for the closing prayer, I couldn’t get up. That’s how powerful that sermon was for me! This week we begin a series within a series in Luke, looking at what is called the “Sermon on the Mount”. Truly, it is the most famous sermon ever given, because of the One who delivered it.
Monday – We tell of a preacher from the African country of Kenya who shares of his visit to the United States and American churches in particular. He compares the American churches to decaffeinated coffee that we drink. Decaffeinated coffee looks like real coffee, tastes and smells like real coffee; there is only one problem. There is no “power”!
Tuesday – A veteran psychiatrist makes a statement about mental health and says the Sermon on the Mount just may say more about mental and spiritual health than any other document! That is really a powerful statement. If that’s true, is the sermon on the mount a part of your life and worldview? Many Christians can’t even quote a complete thought from it!
Wednesday – Dr. Charles Allen from Houston, Texas would say years ago that Americans have the “most” of everything in our world today, yet are miserable. We lead the world in divorce, suicide, crime, and mental illness. Is it possible that the spiritual foundation in Christ is simply not there in people’s lives? I think so. Think about your own family or circle of influence.
Thursday – Perhaps the biggest problem in people’s lives is this: we don’t hunger after a relationship with the living God! We hunger after money, things, better food, power, and influence. And yet we hunger little for the Lord. One of the most profound thoughts anyone ever shared with me is this: the desire for righteousness (a right relationship with God) IS righteousness!
Friday – The Sermon on the Mount was meant to have an impact on your life, not just your mind! What Jesus taught interfaces with every part of your existence, it really does. When you recognize that, the Sermon on the Mount ceases to be a collection of quaint sayings, but becomes a force for good in your marriage, your family, and your job!
Week 13 – 7/18/2016
Needs, Problems, and More!
This Week – Have you ever noted the recurring issues in your life? Perhaps they are medical issues, family issues, and financial issues. The list goes on. We all have needs, problems, and more, don’t we? Jesus spoke to crowds of people who had a myriad of needs and problems, just like today. He spoke to people who were disciples; others were “seekers” to use a contemporary phrase. He spoke to those with physical problems, and yet there were those with spiritual struggles with nothing less than the demonic. Just like today!
Monday – We begin with a story of a good friend who has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. His story may speak to you on different levels. It has an obvious physical component to the story; more than that it has a spiritual aspect that speaks to all. Jesus spoke to two different crowds; so do we. He spoke to people who came for two different reasons; so do we. Jesus spoke to two kinds of problems; so do we.
Tuesday – Jesus talked to disciples or followers. But Luke says He also spoke to the curious “others”. Luke says there were those who came simply to hear Him. Yet there were others who came to be “healed”. People came to Him who were helpless and had nowhere else to go! We have both groups today! There are people who need to be healed of emotional and spiritual problems today that have little to do with the physical.
Wednesday – We talk about the phase, “those troubled by evil spirits were cured”. We discuss the many terms used in the Bible to describe the spirits people are troubled with even today! What about a “bitter” spirit or “angry” spirit. Does that sound familiar? The Bible talks about people with an “injurious” spirit. What is that? It’s a spirit that causes people to be desirous of hurting people. Have you ever known someone in your family that seems to enjoy hurting others?
Thursday – There is a multitude of “troubling spirits” in the lives of people in 2016! Look around you! We see the fallout of those spirits in families, or at work, and in our culture in general. If Jesus has all authority over disease, death, and the demonic, why would you want to be connected to anything or anyone else than Jesus?
Friday – We close with a true story about a young couple who were lost in the mountains of northern California in a blizzard. An aerospace engineer who tells this story makes application to people today who are lost in the mountains of secularism, skepticism, and narcissism. (I would add the mountains of materialism and hedonism in 2016.) He talks about Christians are in the business of rescue and recovery spiritually!
Week 12 – 7/11/2016
Praying All Night?
This Week – Have you ever prayed all night for someone or something? Luke tells us that Jesus did exactly that, the night before He made the decision of His choice for the 12 Apostles! We would be surprised by finding out that many, if not most people don’t pray any length of time about some of the most important decisions of life. This is a message on prayer from Luke 6 and from 3 verses that admittedly we take out of context! But what those verses tell us just maybe what you need to hear in praying for yourself, your spouse or one of your children!
Monday – We begin with the story of a woman named Romy, from Fairfield, Connecticut. She admits that one night she prayed all night to a God she didn’t believe in! Psychologists would call that “cognitive dissonance”, where a person entertains two conflicting ideas at the same time. What would or could happen if you and I prayed for 15 minutes to a God we DO believe in?
Tuesday – The first verse we consider is from the book of Jeremiah 42, verse 3: “Pray that the Lord will tell us where we should go, and what we should do.” If you’re a parent, would it be safe to say that two of the major concerns you have for your children is where they go and what they do? Absolutely! The second verse is from the book of Jonah, the 2nd chapter where it says, “From inside the fish, I called out in my distress to the Lord”. Your children will never be “swallowed by a fish”, but they’ll find out what it means to be swallowed up by guilt and a host of other emotions!
Wednesday – The third verse is from Romans 15:30, where the Apostle Paul says, “I urge you to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” When you pray for another person, do you realize that you join in their “struggle”? When is the last time that you joined in the struggle of your spouse, your child, or your brother or sister by simply lifting them up in prayer? Why not?
Thursday – We share the true story of Joe Reagan, who describes a family crisis where he was driven to total dependence upon the Lord and other believers by the sickness of his wife and a total lack of money! His story produced more response than many that I tell on CrossHope. People shared this story at work in staff meetings that week! Maybe you will share it where you work or with someone who needs to hear it.
Friday – There is a moment of freedom that comes into a person’s life when they realize that the Lord is ultimately the Provider of everything in my life, not just most things. Praying for yourself, your family, and your world is an example of that fleshed out in real life. When you pray about anything, you are sharing a concern with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! He’s the Creator, the Redeemer, and sustainer of all life! That’s no small thing!
Week 11 – 7/04/2016
This Week – A “defining moment” in your life is when the course of your life is altered in some way by something you say, do, or decide. You may have had such a moment in recent weeks or even days. Such a moment can also be when the course of your life is altered by something you don’t say, do, or decide. Some commentators think that the event in the life of Jesus we study this week was a defining moment in his early ministry!
Monday – The most sacred institution in the life of the Jew in New Testament times was the Sabbath. (The Sabbath was the formal day of rest or Saturday. All kinds of laws and regulations were connected with that day.) Jesus claims to be the “Lord” of the Sabbath. Not only that He healed a man on the Sabbath; that act was considered “work”.
Tuesday – The restrictions on what you could or could not do on the Sabbath was not only amazing, but very definitive. It ruled people’s lives and actions. A Jew could not even defend his life on the Sabbath, because it was considered work! When Jesus claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath, He was actually claiming to be God! People were not just offended, they were enraged.
Wednesday – When Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath; Luke says Jesus had the man stand in front of people. It was a deliberate act. The Lord knew what people were thinking in their hearts. Instead of rejoicing over a man healed of disuse atrophy, they were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus of violating Old Testament law.
Thursday – The Lord “restored” the man, meaning He “reconstituted” the shriveled arm. The Lord restores us spiritually. We tell the story of a teenage girl who was a habitual arsonist. She would have to decide about letting a fire burn or extinguishing it within a 30-second window. Many of us have “defining moments” that take place in a 30-second window. They are decisions that have impacted us morally, physically, and spiritually.
Friday – We close with the true story of the conversion of Charles Colson, who was the attorney for President Richard Nixon. His coming to Christ was the ultimate defining moment in his life. So it is with you or me. Coming to believe in Christ is not just an intellectual decision alone; it is the moment that changes everything in our lives.
Week 10 – 6/27/2016
This Week – Even people that are not very familiar with the New Testament have heard of the story of Jesus healing a paralytic who was let down by ropes through a tile roof. The house was so crowded, the man’s friends thought their only option was to go up on the roof and literally let him down in the middle of the room where Jesus was. It worked! Jesus not only heals the man, He forgives him of his sins.
Monday – We tell the story of a minister friend named Dr. Bruce Smith and his wife Brenda had a severely handicapped son named Taylor. What they experienced as parents sets the tone for this message about Jesus doing “remarkable things” as were described in Luke 5. It is truly one of the most “famous” of all the miracles that Jesus performed.
Tuesday – Have you ever offended someone by doing a “good” thing? We all have. Jesus offended people because He said a man who needed healing was forgiven of his sins as well. The Pharisees said, “Who has the authority to forgive sins but God alone?” They were absolutely right. Jesus was making a claim to deity when He said those words!
Wednesday – The friends of the crippled man had to do something “physical” in order for something “spiritual” to happen. In this case, they had to physically get up on a roof, remove roof tiles, and lower the man by ropes. We share two instances of people who had something to do physically in order for something spiritual to happen. Perhaps it will speak to you in your life right now!
Thursday – Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, former president of Asbury College in Kentucky, tells the story of a remarkable conversion of a young wife and mother in Florida. There’s no way to paraphrase the story, so we just read it to you in its entirety. It just may be story that remarkably connects with you and your life! It truly is a life changing story!
Friday – I close with a statement that raised a few eyebrows when I said it in this message. Maybe it will give you pause. Maybe it will speak to what needs to happen in your life and mine. I pray that it will! God can do remarkable things, not just 2,000 years ago, but today as well!
Week 9 – 6/20/2016
This Week – Have you ever wondered about the illustrations or analogies that Jesus used in His teaching? All this week, we look at the passage in Luke where Jesus uses a wedding custom of the day to talk about Himself and the Kingdom of God! It may surprise you to hear this.
Monday – We begin by looking at wedding customs of the current day. Jesus references the wedding custom of the day where people would come to the home of the newlyweds and stay for perhaps a week! He makes application to Himself as the “bridegroom”, with people celebrating at the wedding. Anywhere Jesus is, there is joy!
Tuesday – Christianity is about radical life change! It’s not about self-improvement or enhancement. It’s about raising the dead or having a heart transplant spiritually. He’s not interested in taking “good people” and making them nicer. He’s into total transformation of a person’s life.
Wednesday – We tell the story of a woman from Cleveland, Tennessee who tells a story of a dramatic and rather depressing childhood. It actually will stun you when you hear it! And yet, the Lord changed her life by the power of His spirit. The same God can change your life and mine!
Thursday – Years ago, I spoke at a men’s retreat is West Texas that greatly impacted my life. And I was the speaker! The worship band at this retreat was made up of professional musicians who told of the Lord changing their lives. What they told me had a profound impression on me. It really did. When you hear their story, it will likely impact your life as well.
Friday – Mary Ann Byrd was an author born with a cleft palate and misshapen face. She only felt that the people who could possibly love her were just immediate family members. What a school teacher whispered to her during a “hearing test” changed her life. Listen today to her story; part of it just may be your story!
Week 8 – 6/13/2016
This Week – If you or I were choosing candidates for the office of Apostle, Matthew or Levi the tax collector would not be a likely choice. Tax collectors of the day were hated by the people of Israel. They were considered traitors and despicable. And yet, one such person was chosen by Jesus to serve as one of the 12 apostles. Jesus saw something in him that we don’t.
Monday – We begin with a true story out of New York City regarding health inspectors who took bribes from restaurant owners who would rather give them an envelope full of cash rather than be closed down for three days. It’s a way of introducing the text out of Luke 5, regarding the unpopular tax collectors of the culture.
Tuesday – We quote a Dr. Leroy Lawson of Phoenix, AZ who says that tax collectors of New Testament times were considered “scum”, by the people of Israel. That’s why we’re even amazed that Jesus would choose such a person to be one of the 12! The Lord sees something in people that we never could.
Wednesday – Jesus accepts an invitation to have dinner with Matthew. We explain how that having dinner with a person was no small thing. It meant acceptance of the person doing the inviting. People were actually offended by Jesus saying “yes” to be invited to the home of Matthew.
Thursday – We tell a simple story of a three-year-old boy and his parents traveling by car at night. What this boy said at a stoplight will challenge your thinking about the sin in your life and mine! It really will! Sometimes the Lord can use a child to speak truth into your life and mine.
Friday – We close with the story of a retired school teacher in California traveling north on Interstate 5 in a pickup truck and a fifth wheel. When she breaks down on the freeway, she prays for God to send an “angel” to help her in her distress. What happens next will perhaps surprise you and be the lesson for us about judging people by their “outward appearance” instead of their hearts!
Week 7 – 6/6/2016
Rebuking a Fever!
This Week – Jesus not only taught us the “model prayer”, He was the model prayer! He prayed with people with disease; He prayed with people with spiritual problems, including demon possession! We certainly learn about prayer from listening to His prayers, just like your children learn about praying by listening to your prayers.
Monday – We tell of a priest from Mexico who chose to pray with over 100 people, not as a group, but individually. Why individually, instead of collectively? It was because of the passage that we read today where Jesus prayed for people one at a time, when they came to Him with their problems. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from that example!
Tuesday – Some people are “known” as a person of anger, bitterness, and resentment. They may not even know it, but that’s how people look at them. We can be known as a person of prayer as well! Do people look at you and me as people of prayer? If not, why not? Jesus was and is the ultimate example of a “person of prayer”.
Wednesday – Jesus took authority over disease, the demonic, and even death itself! Why would we want to connected to anyone else but Him? We want our children to be connected to the “right people” in our world, yet most parents have little or no concern about their children being connected to the One with ultimate authority and power. That’s not only sad, it’s tragic!
Thursday – We share a story from Max Lucado’s childhood that just may speak to you in a powerful way. Max tells of a Bible School teacher that had a profound influence in his life, just by one exercise she did every Sunday in class. What if you and I had that kind of influence in our lives into the lives of others? She radiated Christ in a way that still impacts his life years later! Perhaps we can impact other people for Christ like she did.
Friday – We close with a “different” kind of story from the conflict in Iraq. A small group of American soldiers started firing into the area around their outpost. Ironically, no one was there! They were simply firing at their fears; they were shooting at what they thought they saw. We all have fears in our lives, both real and imagined. The Lord God Almighty wants to help us to deal with both! His authority and power covers it all in your life and mine!
Week 6 – 5/30/2016
A Demon in Church?
This Week – When you mention “demon possession” in the Bible, most people visualize a dark and evil place where that kind of thing happens. Luke the doctor tells in his gospel account that Jesus confronted demons in synagogue, of all places. It’s one of the most dramatic stories in Luke, and our text for this week on CrossHope. Jesus not only claimed authority over the demonic, He demonstrated His power over them as well!
Monday – Randall Wallace wrote the screenplay for a number of Hollywood films, including “Braveheart” with Mel Gibson. In a book about the making of the movie, Wallace tells of the breathtaking moment when the character Gibson portrayed, William Wallace rode into a scene with 2,000 extras looking on. It is the most dramatic scene in the movie in the minds of many. This week we discuss a scene in the life of Jesus where He confronts demons in a place of worship, a synagogue! Talk about dramatic!
Tuesday – We read the text from Luke 4, where Jesus is confronted by demonic presence in the life of a man in the synagogue. The demons demand that Jesus leave them alone. They begin with the plural pronoun “us”, and then transition to the singular “I” pronoun. Meaning what? Meaning there were more than one demonic spirit in the man, but one demon acted as “spokesman”. Jesus took authority over them all!
Wednesday – One of the manifestations of demonic possession in the New Testament was the physical impact of the demon on a person. It was never pleasant. Like Satan’s goal in every life: destruction and death are the two menu choices. In another account of demon possession in the Gospels, a man who was possessed not only lived in a cemetery; he practiced self-mutilation with stones. We discuss his “influence” in lives today.
Thursday – We begin one of the most powerful stories I’ve heard in a long time. It’s about a woman from a Hindu background from India who comes to Christ. She describes her conversion to Christ as a college student, and her baptism into Christ. She describes her baptism in a way I’ve never heard before! It’s worth listening to the story for that alone!
Friday – We conclude the story of this woman from India with the “backstory” of her coming to know Christ. A substitute guide at a world famous museum in St. Petersburg, Russia confronts her with the decision she needs to make when it comes to Jesus Christ. What this stranger said to a woman from India in Russia, just may be what you need to hear in your life and mine in 2016! The Christ who took authority over the demonic wants to impact your life and mine.
Week 5 – 5/23/2016
This Week – One of the most common questions I have been asked in my years in the ministry is, “why was Jesus baptized?” Why was the perfect sinless Son of God willing to do that? This week we give three reasons why Jesus submitted to John the Baptist for baptism.
Monday – A man who has counseled many people believes that every adult is either benefiting from the influence of their parents, or they’re in recovery from their childhood. We talk about parental influence in this message in a powerful way, discussing the baptism of Jesus. In your life, are you benefiting from your upbringing, or are you in recovery?
Tuesday – Jesus probably walked 60 miles to be baptized by John. One commentator pointed out that some people refuse to be baptized because it’s too inconvenient! Really? The first reason we share why Jesus was baptized was that it was an act of identification with those He came to save! Who would that be? You and me!
Wednesday – Nothing illustrates “finality” like the physical burial of a person at a cemetery. Our “burial” in baptism represents a finality to the old life and beginning of the new life in Christ. The second reason for Jesus’ baptism was a “declaration” of who He is. Luke says a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased!”
Thursday – The third reason for the baptism of Jesus was for our example. The Apostle Peter says in his letter that “everything Jesus did was for our example!” Have we followed His example in this area of life? If not, why not? We share one of the most powerful stories you have ever heard about the examples in your life, represented by the “voices” you have heard in your past.
Friday – We go back to the opening illustration of this message. Are your children living in benefit from their upbringing by you, or will they need to go into recovery because of their upbringing? That’s a sobering question for all of us. What example have you set personally and spiritually for their lives?
Week 4 – 5/16/2016
A Most Neglected Word
This Week – One of the most neglected words in preaching today in 2016 is the word “repentance”. Even in conservative, Bible believing churches you will rarely hear the word mentioned. And yet Jesus said to us all, “unless you and I repent, we too will perish!” Nothing minor about that! We talk about the most neglected message in preaching today.
Monday – We begin by talking about the scandal associated with Bill Cosby. We don’t dwell on any details, but focus on the term, “statute of limitations”. Sadly, some crimes aren’t prosecuted because of a time lapse. There is no statute of limitations in regards to sin. God doesn’t overlook sin in my life due to the calendar.
Tuesday – We read the text where Luke said that to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. We need to “prepare the way for Christ” in our lives by repenting of the sin in our lives! Repentance means to “turn 180 degrees” morally and spiritually. It’s not a suggestion, but a command!
Wednesday – If you ever feel convicted by something you read or hear spoken from the word of God, does that mean anything? Yes, it probably means that God is speaking to you! Luke quotes John the Baptist telling his audience what they should do to “show” repentance in their lives. They were all practical, real life ways. What would God ask you and me to do to show repentance?
Thursday – We tell the story of a wounded Marine in the Iraq war having to be carried over the shoulder of a fellow soldier. He had to accept someone doing for him what he could not do for himself! So it is with the sin in your life and mine. We accept the forgiveness of Christ that we can’t provide for ourselves. Humbling? Yes, it certainly is.
Friday – We close with a powerful story of Dr. John MacArthur visiting a young man in hospital who was dying. What John told this young man is a message for you and for me. All of us need to respond to the word of Jesus who said, “Unless you repent, you too will perish”. The choice is really simple: repent or perish!
Week 3 – 5/9/2016
This Week – Have you ever felt “invisible” in life? You felt that no one even noticed your existence. You may feel invisible where you work or go to school. If you grew up in a large family, you may have felt that you were the invisible child. It’s actually not that uncommon. The arrival of Jesus on this earth was very much an invisible arrival. Born in a barn, among the livestock, placed in a feeding trough, Jesus birth was rather invisible. Ironically, He was and is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!
Monday – We begin by reading the most famous of all the texts read at Christmas: Luke 2. The birth of Jesus was beyond humble, humiliating is a more appropriate word. The lowest of homes in the United States in 2016 would not dare place a newborn baby in an animal feeding trough! His arrival on this earth was barely noticed until the announcement made to the shepherds, by none other than an angel of the Lord God Almighty!
Tuesday – Because of the Christmas card industry in our country, we have romanticized and idealized the birth of Christ. We have taken the “ugliness “out of the story. There was nothing “greeting card like” about the birth of Christ. We share some thoughts you may have never heard before about a familiar story: the birth of Christ!
Wednesday – Of all the details Luke could tell us about the birth of Christ, the most telling is that Jesus was placed in a cradle that was a feeding trough. We call it a manger. We quote an author by the name of Joseph Bailey who lost three sons. When he speaks of the birth of Christ, I listen. A man who has lost three sons has some inherent authority to speak to me about life and death. Listen today to what he says about the birth of Christ.
Thursday – I begin a “two-day” illustration from the most depressing book I have ever read in my life. It’s the story of the United States impacted by an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. The country is immediately thrown back into the 1800’s. My purpose is not to make you depressed by the story, but to share with you what readers have actually done after reading this book, a book of fiction! What if we responded to the Word of God like that?
Friday – Make sure you have the Christ of Christmas in your life. Why? If He really is who He claimed to be, there is nothing, absolutely nothing more important in your life that knowing Him. Christianity is not about “conflict resolution”, it’s about reconciliation! We are “reconciled to God” through our acceptance of the Christ of the manger who became the Christ of the Cross! Don’t ever forget that!
Week 2 – 5/2/2016
Worship? Yes, Worship!
This Week – Dr. John MacArthur of Panorama City, California discusses the most common phase used both in Christian and secular circles to use to describe the spirit of Christmas. To some, Christmas is about spending money, to others, it’s the sending of cards and greetings, to still others it’s imbibing in what people would call the “spirits of Christmas”, alcoholic beverages. John says the one word that should describe the spirit of Christmas is this: worship! He’s right, that’s what we look at all this week in the second message of “Simple Gospel”.
Monday – We introduce some truth about Christmas that you rarely hear ministers talk about. For instance, Christmas can intensify the feelings of grief, guilt, resentment, and even bitterness. Some families have the experience of the Christmas season being a time that people actually dread! Why? Because of negative experiences that have happened in the past, for one thing. We introduce the text from Luke 1:39-56 where Mary visits the home of her cousin Elizabeth. The passage may actually surprise you!
Tuesday – We discuss the power of “hearing”. Hearing both good and bad news can have physiological effects on our mind and bodies. When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, Luke says that the baby Elizabeth was carrying (John the Baptist) “leaped” in her womb. Hearing has power spiritually. Is it any wonder that the Apostle Paul would say, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!”
Wednesday – I have been impacted spiritually by something that I “heard” in a message. So have you! People make life changing decisions based on something that they have heard. People repent of sin in their lives because of something that they heard. People realign priorities in their lives because of something that they hear! What has changed in your life because of something that you heard from the word of God?
Thursday – Mary talks about how God humbles the proud, even rulers on earth! He “scatters the thoughts of the proud”. Proud people are never wrong, in their minds. Proud people always think of themselves as wise, and yet God scatters the thoughts of the proud. Meaning their very thinking becomes “scattered”, reminding them of their need for humility and their need for the Lord.
Friday – We close with a story of a woman in her eighties who tells a dramatic story of her childhood. At the age of seven, she was caught in a North Dakota blizzard. She learned a valuable lesson about her earthly father and her Heavenly Father. What she learned speaks to us about the God we worship at Christmas or at any time of the year. Remember, the operative word for the spirit of Christmas is worship! It always has been, and always will!
Week 1 – 4/25/2016