19 Weeks – 4/24/2017 to 9/1/2017
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.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#69 – Aired Week of 8/28/2017
Opening of the Mind
This Week – For over a year, we have been studying the book of Luke in a series called, “Simple Gospel”. This week is the last message in the series, and focuses on Jesus “opening up the minds” of His disciples, so they could understand the scriptures. I really believe that is what the Lord can and does do with us! What do you think? Have you seen the Lord at work in your life in this way?
Monday (8/28) – We begin with an illustration of a teacher who opened my mind to the process of “diagramming sentences” in English class. I didn’t understand at all, and she went over and over the process until the light came on and I understood. This teacher “opened up my mind” in a very real sense to understand something that was incomprehensible to me earlier. I believe the Lord did the same thing with His disciples; He does the same with us.
Tuesday (8/29) – Luke says the disciples worshiped Christ after He ascended into heaven. Worship is simply coming into the presence of the One we love. When you and I really love the Lord, the most natural thing in the world is to desire to be in His presence. We share a touching story about a toddler who simply wanted to be in the presence of her mom and dad to illustrate the lesson.
Wednesday (8/30) – One of Jesus’ last statements on earth is this, “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name”. Isn’t it interesting that those two topics are regularly neglected by preachers today? Repentance is considered politically incorrect to talk about in 2017. Forgiveness implies that we may have done something sinful, another cultural taboo. Is it possible we should be talking about those issues today?
Thursday (8/31) – We explain the meaning of the Greek word that Luke uses to describes Jesus opening up the minds of the disciples so that they understood scripture. It’s really a graphic word, one that is used to describe a woman’s womb being opened to have her first baby! It means to open something in a way that has never happened before; only God can really open our minds in that way!
Friday (9/1) – We close this message and series with a story from the Wall Street Journal that powerfully illustrates the power of Christ to change a man or woman’s life. A man who had everything but a relationship with Christ discovered he needed something more! He said his life was going nowhere. Where is your life going? Is Jesus Christ a apart of your story? He wants to be! It involves two things: repentance and forgiveness.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#68 – Aired Week of 8/21/2017
Failure and Recovery
Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
This Week – In nearly 35 years of broadcasting my messages on radio, I’ve only done what I’m doing this week two or three times! We’re going to read part or all of the text every day this week. Why? It’s that paramount as a scripture, you and I need to hear it each day, not just on Monday. It’s the passage where the Apostle Peter denies that he even knows Jesus, three times in the same day! Have you every pretended “not to know” Jesus? Maybe we all have at one time or another.
Monday (8/21) – Have you ever said or done something that you vowed you would never say or never do? We all have! The Apostle Peter said he was willing to even go to prison with Jesus and even die for Him. And yet the same day, he denied three times that he even knew the Lord. You can relate to this incident more than you are willing to admit. So can I!
Tuesday (8/22) – Have you ever done something or even simply said something that you wish you could “edit” out of your life? Yes and so have I. Peter must have wanted to clear this event out the record of his life. It’s the account of his denial of Jesus in a public way. Denying Christ means to pretend that we don’t know Him. Can you remember the last time that happened in your life?
Wednesday (8/23) – Has anyone pretended not to know you? It’s happened to every minister many times. How did you feel when it happened? Did you feel a warm and fuzzy feeling? Hardly, it can be a painful experience, depending upon who is doing the pretending. Imagine the heart of Jesus when Peter denied knowing the One who would give everything for him.
Thursday (8/24) – Peter wept bitterly when he realized his failure to acknowledge Jesus for who He was and is. We talk about failure in our lives and how God can use the one thing we can’t brag about or take pride in as the one thing to use for His glory! Listen to a powerful story today of how God used Chuck Colson’s greatest failure as a tool for reaching people for Christ! God can do that in your life and mine!
Friday (8/25) – Are you willing to let God use the failures in your life for His glory? He can and He will! In our success obsessed culture, we tend to think that God can only use our “successes” to demonstrate His strength. God says that He loves to use our “weakness” to demonstrate His strength! What could God use in your life to demonstrate His power and strength?
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#67 – Aired Week of 8/14/2017
Prayer of Surrender
This Week – Most people don’t associate the word “surrender” with prayer, but perhaps they should. Other than what is called the “Lord’s Prayer”, the prayer we study this week is the second most famous prayer of Jesus. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane. He asks His Father to “remove the cup” He faces, His death on the cross. And yet humbly He prays, “Not my will, but yours be done”. God the Son surrendered to God the Father in that prayer. What about you and me in terms of our prayers? Do we demand, or do we surrender?
Monday (8/14) – Most people surrender to someone or something. We can surrender to the culture, to peer pressure, to temptation, to bitterness, or anger! Have you ever faced that in your life? We share the text of this famous prayer of Jesus. Prayer is the most neglected spiritual element in your life and mine! When we understand what Jesus was saying and doing in this prayer, prayer takes on a whole new meaning!
Tuesday (8/15) – Verse 39 says, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives to pray”. What do you and I do “as usual”? What do people in your family associate in your life with the words, “as usual”? Twice in this passage, Jesus says, “Pray that you don’t fall into temptation”. Does Jesus know something about us that perhaps we don’t even know? Pay attention when the Lord mentions something twice!
Wednesday (8/16) – What are you tempted with regularly in life? Most people think of the word temptation in their lives with things like immorality or drunkenness. It certainly can be, but what about the temptation to hate someone, to hold a grudge, or to resent someone. Those may actually be more common than the others. Most of the problems in your life and mine have a name attached to them.
Thursday (8/17) – We recall the story you read in high school, “Robinson Crusoe”. In the story, our hero says he was afraid to go beyond the outer limits of the firelight of his fire on the beach. The fire represented security; going beyond the light represented danger. You may be at a place in your life that seems “beyond the light”. We talk about that as we begin a story about people who have had heart transplants.
Friday (8/18) – We tell the story of a man who had a heart transplant who had a personality change. A doctor by the name of Paul Pearsall says that when you get a “new heart”, something happens in a person’s life that doesn’t happen with a kidney, liver, or lung transplant! Maybe to be a person of prayer, we need to have a new heart! Doesn’t that make sense? Have you ever asked God to give you a “new” heart? He will, He really will!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#66 – Aired Week of 8/7/2017
Servant or Master?
This Week – If you were given the choice of being a “master” or a “servant”, most people would opt for master. There are certainly more perks to being a master. Some would say, “It’s more fun to the master of people, rather than to be a servant!” And yet Jesus would challenge His disciples to be servants rather than a master. Does He know something that we don’t? Yes, He sure does! Listen to this counter-intuitive passage in Luke this week.
Monday (8/7) – We begin with a true story of a family arguing over their nearly dead father at the hospital. I couldn’t believe that the family was doing that. And yet, you might have trouble believing that the disciples would be arguing among themselves about who would be the greatest at the Last Supper! Jesus was talking about His death; they were talking about their “Facebook” presence! Well, not exactly, but you get the point!
Tuesday (8/8) – We talk about the betrayal of Judas. Betrayal is worse the closer the bond is between people. Perhaps you know betrayal first hand. We then talk about the disciples actually arguing about “who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. The desire for prominence is in all organizations, families, companies, schools, and even churches. We talk about that issue!
Wednesday (8/9) – We define the term “control freak” according to a psychologist of the day. Ironically, his definition of what a control freak is matches the definition of the Biblical term “Lording it over others”! Jesus said to His disciples, “You are not to be like that!” If we are not to be like that (this is brilliant), we are not to be like that! What are you and I like in that area?
Thursday (8/10) – I share a very sensitive story about a minister I knew years ago who bragged about his power and authority over his congregation of thousands of people. When I heard his comments years ago, I thought, “What power and leadership”. Now I say something totally antithetical to that observation. I almost didn’t include this story in the message until people thought that I should! What do you think?
Friday (8/11) – We share about the famous psychiatrist, Abraham Maslow. In his day many believed that the way one studied psychology was to study the mentally ill and those who were deranged. Maslow determined we need to study mentally healthy people to learn about psychology. He came to the conclusion that mentally healthy people were those who were interested in the well-being of other people and were interested in something greater than oneself! Sound familiar? It should, that’s what the Lord Jesus taught!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#65 – Aired Week of 7/31/2017
God’s Benefit Package!
Psalm 103:1-5, 8-14
This Week – The Luke series time frame included Thanksgiving, so we include a message from that weekend about the “benefit package” that comes from believing and serving the Lord God Almighty. The Lord doesn’t hesitate to tell us what He has done for us and what He will do for us in the future. He claims responsibility for the most important blessings in your life and mine.
Monday (7/31) – Regardless of the benefit package your employer offers you, it is nothing compared to the benefits that the Lord offers to those who love Him. Verse one of Psalm 103 says that we are to praise the Lord with our “inmost being”. It’s referring to the deepest part of your being reaching out in praise to everything you know of the Lord. It is no small thing; it’s the most profound thing you do this week.
Tuesday (8/1) – We talk about the blessings (verse 17) that comes to your grandchildren because you are a believer in the Lord! We hear about generational “curses” and abuse; there are generational blessings because of Christ. The first benefit: He forgives our sins. Your greatest need is not to be happy but to be forgiven. The second benefit is healing. Did you know that God claims credit for ALL healing?
Wednesday (8/2) – We share about a church in San Diego, California that doesn’t hesitate to pray for healing for people. They also don’t hesitate to ask people if there is any “unconfessed sin” in their lives before they pray for them! Is there anyone you need to forgive before we pray for you? Wow, could you and I answer those questions? The third benefit is that He redeems our live from the pit. We explain what that means today in 2017! The fourth benefit is that “He crowns us with love and compassion”!
Thursday (8/3) – God “satisfies my life with good things” is the fifth benefit. We explain how that happens in your life and mine. It’s not the things that satisfy; it’s actually the GIVER that satisfies. That’s not just a play on words, it happens to be the truth! We tell about a man who died with 2&1/2 billion dollars and yet was described as most miserable! Find out why that happened to cause that.
Friday (8/4) – We close with a story about a professor of theology in Canada who regularly witnessed to a young clerk at a drug store. She would tell him that she wasn’t quite ready to commit her life to Christ. After an extended absence, he noticed that her countenance had changed. She told him she had indeed accepted Christ into her life. You will be blessed when you hear how that happened. It may describe your situation in life!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#64 – Air Date Week of 7/24/2017
Don’t Be Conned!
Luke 21:8-11, 25-28, 34-37 (Matthew 24:36)
This Week – I have no idea what you believe or don’t believe about the “second coming of Christ.” Jesus spoke of His return at the end of time. But He also said there would be false prophets not only claiming to know exactly when that would happen; they would claim to be Jesus Himself in the flesh! The problem with that is Jesus said that not even the angels in heaven know that date! This is a message about the second coming not from MY perspective, but by using the words of Jesus alone.
Monday (7/24) – Have you ever been scammed by a con-artist? I have, numerous times over the years. As a teenager, a man conned me out of $20.00 when I worked at the typical gas station. Worse than that, there are people who deceive people over the return of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Does that happen? Yes it does! We read the text that explains how.
Tuesday (7/25) – All the points of this message are simply 5 word- for- word statements from Jesus in these verses. The first is this: “Watch out, don’t be deceived!” That tells me I have the capacity to be deceived, and so do you! I tell the story of a young couple with a baby who deceived me into giving them money. I found out that they were car thieves on the run from the police in Tennessee!
Wednesday (7/26) – The second admonition of Jesus is “don’t follow those people who claim special revelation.” We tell of a Taiwanese cult in 1998 in Garland, Texas that claimed special information from the Lord that Jesus would return on a certain day that year. The third warning, “don’t be afraid!” People are either slaves to fear, or they are slaves to hedonism (pleasure). The fourth is, “don’t be weighed down with bad habits and anxiety!” Does that describe our culture in 2017? You bet it does!
Thursday (7/27) – The fifth admonition from Christ is, “watch and pray!” Our job is not to figure out dates, but to be ready for Christ to return. Our job is to help others to be ready. We tell of a psychiatrist who was a prisoner in a concentration camp during WWII. His observations have application to our anticipation of the return of Christ. It has amazing application to our lives today!
Friday (7/28) – In my opinion, this story is the most powerful ever told by Ravi Zacharias, an apologist for the faith on college/university campuses all over the world. It’s a story of parents who lost a son in an accident and accidentally discovered a cassette tape in his room that spoke of his conversion to Christ just weeks before his death. You won’t be able to listen to this story with a dry eye.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#63 – Aired Week of 7/17/2017
The Greatest Gift?
This Week – We introduce a very famous story out of the gospels. It’s the story of the widow who came into the temple area with her offering for the Lord. It was simply two coins, probably worth less than a penny today. Jesus would stand up before the crowd and said, “I tell you, this woman has given more that all the others!” How could Jesus say that? The others gave out of their wealth; she gave in humility out of her poverty. What do you and I give out of?
Monday (7/17) – We begin with a story of a missionary that spoke in my home church when I was growing up. His father spent 8 months in a prison cell the size of a refrigerator box! His crime that he committed? Preaching the Gospel of Christ! We tell of a missionary family who received unbelievably “cheap” gifts from Christians in the US. Frankly, you won’t believe what they received in a “care package”. We then read the text from Luke 20 and 21.
Tuesday (7/18) – Sometimes deeply religious or hyper- spiritual people can be offensive to the Lord! Jesus talks about the teachers of the Law who would walk in their flowing robes and teach people how “they” should live. Jesus said some of them would be punished for their hypocrisy. In the King James Version, it says they will receive the “greater damnation”. That is no small thing when the Lord is speaking!
Wednesday (7/19) – We illustrate people giving out of abundance and those who give out of their poverty. We tell about a family who gave up their summer vacation to Disney World in order to give the money to help a family with major medical bills. Their gift was a sacrifice, to put it mildly. My gift that I gave wasn’t! Their gift was costly, especially to two children who were looking forward to their 2 weeks in Florida. You really need to hear this story.
Thursday (7/20) – The Lord looks at the heart when you and I give. Have you ever reicved a gift that you thought was giving to you begrudgingly? How did you feel? How do you think the Lord feels when He receives gifts from people who resent giving to the Lord? What accompanies your gifts to the Lord? What spirit is behind your gifts and mine?
Friday (7/21) – We close with a touching story of a girl from a wealthy family whose room was full of dolls. Some of them were costly. Her mother encouraged to give one of her dolls to a girl from a poor family who walked by the house each day. Would you believe the girl struggled with giving up any of her dolls! You need to hear what she did, and what the girl from poverty did with the doll that was given to her! The story ends in an unexpected way!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#62 – Aired Week of 7/10/2017
Whose Life Is It, Anyway?
Luke 20:20-26, I Corinthians 3:18-20
This Week – Have you ever met someone who spoke of being their own man or own woman? Have you ever said that? What is meant by that remark is “I’m in control of my life, and I direct what happens”. Is that really true? According to the Lord, He owns my life and my destiny. According to the Word, “We have been bought by the Lord for a price!” We are His in every way, even when we don’t acknowledge that!
Monday (7/10) – In the passage we study this week, we read of people who come to Jesus with questions. Describing them as spies, Luke says that they” pretended to be honest”. That’s an interesting description of people that you may know as well. You have been asked questions by people who were pretending to be honest with you, but were not. The answer Jesus gives baffled them! His answer speaks to your life in 2017!
Tuesday (7/11) – The questions that people asked Jesus were posed to entrap Him. The thought was, however He answers will be wrong! Yet it backfired on them with His answer about paying taxes to the government of the day. Listening to what Jesus says in response just maybe an important answer to questions in your life and mine. Not questions just about taxes, but questions about your life.
Wednesday (7/12) – We tell a story about an airline pilot from Dallas, Texas who was a believer in Christ who was absolutely miserable! Yes, you read that correctly. His story will probably speak to many today. His life was impacted by the advice of a comedian from Philadelphia who advised him to operate out of the gifts God had given to him. His advice is also intended for someone reading this or listening today.
Thursday (7/13) – What you do with a gift God has given to you is give it back to Him. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. When you and I give back to the Lord what He’s given us, He gives us more! We tell a true and humorous story about three boys attending a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball game with two “old ladies”. What happens to them is really quite amazing!
Friday (7/14) – The theme of this passage is to give what belongs to “Caesar” (the government) back to Caesar. But then Jesus says, “Give back to God what belongs to Him.” That may sound simplistic, but it happens to be true. We close with two dramatic stories about coming to the end of your life and what happens when we are not prepared for that day.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#61 – Aired Week of 7/3/2017
Whose House Is It, Anyway?
Luke 19:45-46, I Corinthians 3:16-17
This Week – Did Jesus ever manifest anger or even rage? Yes, He did! The only time in the gospels where Jesus acted in anger or what is referred to as “righteous indignation “was when He came into the temple courtyard in Jerusalem and found that it had been turned into what we would call a “flea market”! He drove out the merchants and the vendors. What would He drive out of your life and mine?
Monday (7/3) – We begin by describing the source of anger in our lives. According to a psychologist/author, most of the anger in our lives is self-centered or ego-centric. We didn’t get what we wanted, people didn’t jump when we said to jump, the plan didn’t go the way we planned it. What’s the result? We get angry. Jesus was angry on behalf of His father in heaven!
Tuesday (7/4) – When Jesus saw the selling and money-exchanging going on in the temple area, He literally over turned tables and drove out the merchants. It was not a “Kodak” moment! His authority claimed in this case was Isaiah 56:7 where God says, “My house will be called a house of prayer”. Jesus said the merchants had transformed it into a “den of robbers and thieves”.
Wednesday (7/5) – The apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 3:16-17 that we are now the temple of God! What would the Lord want to drive out of your life that has turned it into something corrupt and ungodly? Most people can instantly think of what God would drive out of our lives. It doesn’t have to be something immoral or illegal; it can be an attitude of your heart and spirit!
Thursday (7/6) – We talk about what we used to be horrified at on television or in movies may be something now that we smirk or laugh at. We laugh at things in the media that would cause us to weep if it involved someone in our own family. Sin loses its sense of humor when it involves someone we love. We share an illustration about the phrase, “nursing a grudge”. It will either connect with you or someone you know!
Friday (7/7) – One of the secondary meanings of the phrase, “the Holy Spirit lives in you” is similar to the word we use in our culture today: cohabit. We all know what that means! It implies a level of intimacy that is beyond friendship. Having the Holy Spirit in your life and mine is no small thing! What competes with Him in your life or mine? That’s what the Lord wants to cast out of our lives.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#60 – Aired Week of 6/26/2017
This Week – Believe or not, you won’t find a definition on your iPhone or computer if you have the application known as “dictionary dot com.” It’s simply not there! You won’t find the term in the vocabulary of a lot of husbands, wives, and single people, as well. And yet, being a servant is one of the most influential things you and I do in the lives of people. This was a message given to a Methodist Church in Dayton, Ohio recently. The Apostle Paul eloquently describes the servant nature of Christ in eleven verses in Philippians.
Monday (6/26) – We begin with an illustration of a “lexicographer”, a person who compiles dictionaries. They are the people who decide what goes into a new dictionary. Many people struggle with the word servant or servanthood in their own lives. It’s not only a word that is not in their vocabulary, it’s not in their behavior. The highest office in the body of Christ is… servant!
Tuesday (6/27) – We share an unbelievable story of a couple who embodied servanthood in their marriage, their family, and in their lives in general. The author of the story said that that couple not only changed who she was, they changed who she wanted to become! Do you and I have the kind of effect on other people? Why not?
Wednesday (6/28) – We give four things that you and I can physically do in order to serve people. They’re four things that you and I would never have thought of as suggestions. We talk about a concept that many people, including Christians have never heard of! What is it? God blesses the blessers in life! When we intentionally bless the lives of others, God blesses us.
Thursday (6/29) – We talk about being willing to say “Jesus Christ is Lord”. There’s a spiritual reason for the need to do that; there’s also a psychological one. When you come to know Jesus and who He is, you can’t help but call Him Lord. We talk about that today. This just maybe the most important part of this week’s message.
Friday (6/30) – When you and I become servants, the Lord may prompt you to do something that you wouldn’t normally do. I share a personal story about conducting a funeral with only one person in attendance: the five year- old grandson of the deceased (with his grandfather standing close by). I hope this piques your curiosity enough to listen! It may speak to you in a powerful way.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#59 – Aired Week of 6/19/2017
This Week – We begin talking about the word illusion. An illusion is anything that deceives me through false impressions. So many things in our lives are really illusions: emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. One great illusion in history is where people thought Jesus came to overthrow Roman government control of Israel and to set up an earthly kingdom. That is not why He came. He said, My Kingdom is not of this world!” The passage is often read on what we call Palm Sunday.
Monday (6/19) – What are the illusions in your life, where something is deceiving you through false impressions? We quote a nationally known dermatologist who talks about his patients who live with the “illusion of invulnerability”. Dr. Scott Peck talks about some illusions of child rearing. We open by reading this dramatic passage from Luke.
Tuesday (6/20) – A week before the crucifixion of Jesus, there were people in Jerusalem who screamed openly, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” One week later, many of those same people were yelling, “Crucify Him!” How do you and I explain that? Part of the explanation centers around the word “illusion”. What illusions impact your life in 2017?
Wednesday (6/21) – We talk about the first of three illusions that people operate under in our culture today in 2017. People operate under the illusion of “self- confidence”. Somewhere in your journey, people taught you to be self-confident. Did you know that the Bible says, “The man or woman who trusts in himself or herself is a fool?” We tell a powerful story of a high school graduate in Haiti who was put in the position of having to deliver a baby! Her story will touch you about trusting in the Lord instead yourself! She discovered Christ confidence!
Thursday (6/22) – The second illusion we talk about is the illusion of “casual Christianity” We live in the generation of “casual Christians” when the Bible tells us to have fervor and energy in serving the Lord. What is fervor? Have you ever gone to a soccer game? Have you ever gone to a basketball or football game? What did you see? Fervor and energy! We weren’t called to be lukewarm believers!
Friday (6/23) – The third illusion that people operate under is that we have plenty of time. We don’t. We close with a powerful story out of the life of Ravi Zacharias and his daughter’s surgery. There was a risk of her face drooping to one side after the surgery in paralysis. You need to hear what Ravi told her daughter after her surgery that literally spoke life-changing truth into her life. Speaking truth to an illusion is the way you deal with the illusion!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#58 – Aired Week of 6/12/2017
When Everything Changes!
This Week – What has happened in your life that you consider “life changing”? Perhaps you had a career change, a geographical move, a new baby, the loss of a parent that you felt was life changing. Those things can be indeed life changing. But the greatest change for many people is when Jesus Christ becomes the Lord of their lives. We study one of the most famous stories in the Gospels: the story of a short man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector. He climbed into a tree just to see Jesus pass by in a crowd! You may remember the chorus children sing about Zacchaeus.
Monday (6/12) – We begin with a story out of the life of a man from England who actually grew up in the United States. Stuart Briscoe wanted to join the Marines at the age of 18. His driving reason to do so was this: he wanted the uniform. He wanted the uniform without the change in his life. It’s a great introduction to this story of Jesus’ encounter with a little man who had cheated people out of much money in his career. What he offered to do after coming to Christ just may shock you!
Tuesday (6/13) – This is the only place in the New Testament where a man was designated as a “chief tax collector” and wealthy. He was hated because tax collectors could arbitrarily set the amount of money you needed to pay the Roman government. Jesus sees him in a tree and tells him, “Zacchaeus, come down from the tree, for I must come to your house today!” People were shocked that Jesus would actually go to the home of someone universally hated by people! He wants to come to your house and mine, by the way!
Wednesday (6/14) – We talk about how the people talked openly about the “sins” of Zacchaeus to one another. It’s easy for you and me to “confess the sins” of other people. It’s certainly easier than confessing our own sins! I tell a powerful story out of my family where someone did that. You need to hear how my dad responded to the confession. It was so moving, I’ve never forgotten it, even though it was said decades ago! If anyone has ever confessed one of your sins, you need to hear this story!
Thursday (6/15) – The proof of “change” in Zacchaeus’ life was what he told Jesus he would do with the people he had cheated in the tax business. He said, “If I have cheated anyone, I will pay them back 4 times or 400 %!” (Old Testament law required that he pay back only 120 %.) This was really an amazing thing he did! Jesus may make changes in your life that may surprise you, your spouse, your children, or your parents. What might they be?
Friday (6/16) – The Lord changes the lives of people who are “open” to the Lord working in their lives. You know that you are when you are willing to “climb trees” in order to see Jesus. We tell the powerful story of Deborah Kiley who was floating in a lifeboat in the Atlantic after a 58 foot-yacht sank in a storm. Her story may be the impetus for you to “open your life” to the power of Christ. She realized she needed more than a “vague Sunday School kind of faith” to survive life. So do you, and so do I! We need the radical life change that happened to a professional cheater named Zacchaeus.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#57 – Aired Week of 6/5/2017
Light and Sight for the Blind!
This Week – Blindness is one of the most frightening of all handicaps. It was also one of the most common ailments that Jesus probably healed during His ministry on earth. This week, we study the story of one of the great miracles of Jesus: healing a blind man that Mark identifies by the name of Bartimeas. He cries out to the Lord to show mercy to him; the Lord does and heals him! Jesus heals spiritual blindness in people like you and me!
Monday (6/5) – We begin with the story of a corporate “headhunter”, trying to lure people to leave their current job and go to another company. He was skilled at what he did. And yet he had the experience of an interview with a person who left him speechless with his answer to a question. We read the text from Luke of a blind man who calls out to Jesus to give him sight. Jesus is in the business of making blind people see spiritually. Maybe that happened to you!
Tuesday (6/6) – Blindness was not considered a handicap in Biblical times; it was considered a curse. People actually believed that it was the result of sin in the person’s life or even in the life of the blind person! Many suffer from blindness to the sin in their own life. People can’t see how they have hurt other people in their lives. People are blind to their prejudice and hostility. What are you possibly blind to in your life?
Wednesday (6/7) – The blind man calls out to Jesus while He is passing by on the road. We talk about how Jesus “passes by” in our lives through tragedy, through crisis, and through every day experiences. What event can you think of right now, where it’s possible that Jesus passed by your life in those moments? We talk about different examples of that happening in the real life experiences of our lives. We talk about a funeral where a young man said that’s when he accepted Christ!
Thursday (6/8) – Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Isn’t it obvious? Maybe it is not. We can become comfortable in our problems and our foibles. We can become comfortable in our anger and hostility. We share a piece of writing about anger that illustrates that point. (The author says that of all the deadly sins, anger is the most fun!) In fact, when you hear this piece, you may want to listen to it twice!
Friday (6/9) – The most exciting words that a blind person could hear would be the words of Jesus, “Receive you sight!” He says that to every man or woman listening to this message. He wants us to see the sin in our lives and our need for forgiveness. Has the Lord enabled you to see both? He can today. Ask Him and watch Him work in your life and mine. We close by quoting a passage that talks about the Lord working in our lives because of His mercy, not because of our past!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#56 – Aired Week of 5/29/2017
Rich, Young, and Lost!
This Week – One of the most famous stories that Jesus told is referred to as the “Rich Young Ruler.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include this story in their gospel accounts. It’s a story that is actually the story of many Americans today in 2017. This man needed to change gods, not just what he believed. He thought of himself highly; Jesus reminded him of His need for the Lord in his life. We explain how that is your need and mine!
Monday (5/29) – We begin by talking about how men do not do as well as women in many areas of life. Men are more likely to end up in prison, in addiction, or in depression than women according to an expert we quote. We then introduce the “rich young ruler” described in Luke 18 who was saddened greatly by what Jesus told him that he needed to do to inherit eternal life. We need to read and study this story today! It just may be the message that you need in this point of your life.
Tuesday (5/30) – This passage is actually a conversation between Jesus and a young man with wealth and power. His first question to Jesus was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus quotes to him some of the 10 commandments, he tells Jesus that he had followed those since childhood! He honestly believed that and probably said it sincerely. We all have our “list” of why we should go to heaven. (Even Christian people have their list, by the way!)
Wednesday (5/31) – I try to never tell a person sitting next to me on an airplane that I’m a minister. If I do, one of two things happens. They both clam up and don’t say much after that or they give me their list. They really do. They rehearse the good things they have done or are doing. Sometimes their list is long. I always shock them with my response to their list. Listen today to hear what I tell them!
Thursday (6/1) – This is not a message about “giving”; it’s a message about “living”. We either live with the god of money and things ruling our life, just as this young, rich ruler did or we live with the living Lord in our lives. We use a powerful story out of a James Michener novel that tells of a man “worshiping his pagan god” with sexual immorality. His wife says, “If my husband had only had a different god, he might have been a different man!” Wow, isn’t that true in our current day?
Friday (6/2) – Tell me your god, and I’ll tell you what kind of man or woman you are! We become like that which we worship. Money can create a false independence in my life or yours! Money can “shackle us to this earth”. Money and things can make it difficult to die. What do you have in your life (physically) that is making it difficult for you to die? Money can make you more self-centered than you already are! We’re all self-centered to one degree or another! We are either money centered or Christ-centered!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#55 – Aired Week of 5/22/2017
Body Language, Heart Language
This Week – We all communicate with what’s called, “body language”. They are non-verbal cues that can communicate things like surprise, disappointment, anger, forgetfulness, and even intimacy. In the passage we study today, body language was used to convey pride and humility. “Heart language” is something that can convey pride and humility as well. We talk about both languages!
Monday (5/22) – Jesus tells us about two men who went to the temple of God to pray. Their body language spoke volumes about the attitude of their hearts! One man (the Pharisee) communicated a spirit of pride and arrogance. The second man (the tax collector) communicated a spirit of humility and even humiliation, just in the physical way he prayed! Pride and humility are not only communicated by body language, but by heart language. What do we communicate in this way?
Tuesday (5/23) – We quote Proverbs 6:16-19 that talks about the 7 things that God hates. Do you know what is listed first? It’s called, “haughty eyes”, eyes that are lifted up in order to look down on people. You know the look; you’ve given it or have received it. We continue with the first principal of this message: “There are people who are confident of their position, and look down on everyone else”. Sound familiar?
Wednesday (5/24) – We see this arrogant attitude in education, in athletics, at the work place, in our extended families, and even in the church. The religious sect known as the Pharisees saw themselves as the best of the best! And yet, God will do more with a humble man or woman than He will with the proud person. Our second principal is that “prayer is not a recital of what we’ve done for the Lord, but rather a rehearsal of what He has done for us!”
Thursday (5/25) – The third principal we share is this: “The most spiritual moment in our lives is when we acknowledge that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.” We tell the story of the former governor of Texas, Anne Richards who would introduce herself to recovery groups in Texas in this way: “I’m Anne Richards, and I’m an alcoholic.” That had power! There’s power in acknowledgement of sin in your life and mine!
Friday (5/26) – The fourth principle is this: “The paradox of this scripture is this: when we exalt ourselves, we are humbled. When we humble ourselves, we will be exalted!” We close with the story of a church that had the round stain-glassed window behind the pulpit destroyed by a hurricane. An artist took the broken pieces of glass and fashioned them into a more beautiful window than before! It’s a parable of what th Lord can do with a broken life like yours and mine!
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#54 – Aired Week of 5/15/2017
Persistence in Prayer
This Week – The message this week opens with prayer for forgiveness in our lives, in our families, in our churches, and in our nation. We can’t really pray for forgiveness for any of those areas, and then refuse to do that for us, personally. Prayer for forgiveness is always personal! That’s true for you; that’s true for me. Why not join in that prayer today!
Monday (5/15) – I’ve never been one for “written prayers”, but we begin with one written by country western singer, Garth Brooks. He talks about a topic regarding prayer that is rarely discussed: unanswered prayer. We talk this week about persistence in prayer where Jesus talks in Luke 18 about not giving up in prayer. That’s your temptation; that’s my temptation if we’re honest!
Tuesday (5/16) – We tell of a Newsweek magazine cover story from years ago that said, “The Mystery of Prayer”. Whatever mystery there may be in prayer for any of us, there is no mystery to what Jesus said about prayer in Luke 18: “Don’t every give up in prayer.” Jesus says that God hears us day or night. What’s mysterious about that?
Wednesday (5/17) – There are two people in this passage: an unjust judge and a widow. The judge is described as a man who “didn’t fear God, and did not care about people.” Not a good combination if you are looking for a potential mate. People marry a man or woman like that often! The widow represents the weakest member of the culture of the day. We talk about both.
Thursday (5/18) – We share one the most dramatic prayer stories in the whole Bible. It’s the one about the three men with funny names who are about to be thrown into the “fiery furnace”. They tell the King that they believe their God will deliver them out of the fire! But one of them says, “But even if He doesn’t, we’ll still believe in our God.” Their faith was not in their request being answered, but in the Lord Himself. Do you get that? Do I?
Friday (5/19) – We close with the story of a professional swimmer who gave up swimming from Catalina Island to the California coast 25 away. She quit because she couldn’t’ see the shoreline. Isn’t’ that interesting? She needed to able to see the shore to continue. We share the application to our giving up in prayer because we can’t see the “end from the beginning”. Can anyone relate to that?
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#53 – Aired Week of 5/8/2017
Does God Owe Me?
This Week – Would you believe that several times over my years in the ministry, people have told me that they believed “God owed them!” They not only were serious, I think they were sincere. The passage we study this week actually addresses that question in a powerful way. Ironically, it’s a passage that some commentaries totally ignore, or just given token coverage to.
Monday (5/8) – Jesus tells a parable about a servant and a master. Note that the system of the day was people owned other people. The owner had total power and authority over their servants. We point out that Jesus doesn’t endorse or “bless” the system; He uses it as an illustration of our relationship with the Lord God Almighty. In my opinion, when this message is over, you’ll never say “God owes me!” He owes me nothing; yet He has given us everything!
Tuesday (5/9) – There are three areas in which people actually believe that God owes them. The first one is that God owes me because of my faithful church attendance. Really? What if a teenage son or daughter came to you saying that you owed them because they never missed a meal at your table! How would you react or verbally respond? Secondly, people have told me that God owes them because of their sacrifice and service they have manifested.
Wednesday (5/10) – David Livingston served as a missionary in Africa. He gave so much of his life to the work in Africa, that his heart is actually buried there! And yet, he would say “what some call sacrifice, I call privilege!” When we compare our sacrifice to the cross of Christ, it somehow pales in comparison. We tell a humorous story to illustrate that point! You and I are simply the “cups” that holds the message; the Lord is able to get another cup! You are replaceable; so am I!
Thursday (5/11) – We tell a true story talking about a board meeting at an unnamed church. It’s a story that illustrates the third point that some people believe that God owes them because of monies given to the church and church related ministries. You may be surprised at the ending of this story! We then pose a hypothetical situation of someone using your Visa card to buy you gifts, without your knowledge. It’s funny, but makes a powerful point.
Friday (5/12) – We close with one of the most powerful stories about sacrifice that I’ve ever told. It’s connected to a street inside Stone Mountain Park in the Atlanta area named John B. Gordon Avenue. This man was shot five times in one battle during the Civil War. What happened to him after the war will speak to you ultimately about the sacrifice of Christ. Listen to this story! Again, God owes me nothing; yet He has given us everything.
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#52 – Aired Week of 5/1/2017
This Week – We are all “offended offenders”. Meaning we are repeat offenders in terms of our doing offensive things to others and even to the Lord. But, we all have been on the receiving end of being offended. If you have been married for any length of time, you know what it’s like to experience both sides of that equation! The operative word in this message is forgiveness. Jesus has some of the most important things He ever said, speak to this issue!
Monday (5/1) – It won’t take you long to think of offenses done against you in the past week, month, or year. Some people have “total recall” for years in this area of life. That may describe you. But it may take you and me a little longer to think of offenses we have committed against others. Jesus speaks to both issues in your life and mine. This passage is and can be a life changer for us both!
Tuesday (5/2) – We talk about “trigger points” in our physical bodies. They are defined as places that originate pain or neuralgia on our bodies. Most people have them. We also have “trigger points” spiritually; things that cause or lead us into sin. We also have triggered sin in someone else! Jesus has some of the strongest things He ever said just about that issue. It really is sobering to read what He says.
Wednesday (5/3) – What about causing other people to sin by asking them to be bitter or angry at a third person that we have bitterness toward? Some people would never think of causing someone else to drink, gamble, or use drugs. But that same person thinks nothing of encouraging another person to join them in hating another person! That’s causing someone else to sin. Really? Yes, it is!
Thursday (5/4) – Jesus talks about “rebuking” other people who have sinned against you. We define the word rebuke; it’s something done privately and in love. Verse 4 is one of the most troubling verses in all of the New Testament. Jesus says we are to forgive repeatedly. The emphasis is not the number seven that Jesus uses; it’s about having a spirit of forgiveness or a spirit of refusing to forgive.
Friday (5/5) – We close by talking about one of the most “misused” verses in the entire Bible! It’s a verse in the text that says, “If we have faith as small as a mustard seed”, things happen. Most speakers use that verse in terms of getting something: a new car, a new house, a new anything. But the context of the verse has to do with forgiveness. If that’s the context; that’s probably how Jesus meant it! Right?
SIMPLE GOSPEL SERIES
#51 – Aired Week of 4/24/2017
Becoming Kingdom People
Luke 13:18-21, 17:20-21, and 18:15-17