How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:5-13

Jesus is not giving us and open account to ask for anything our heart desire. Many people take verses such as today’s to mean all we need do is ask and God will provide. Riches, health children or a spouse all one need do is ask and God will give it to us. But a careful reading of today’s verses show that Jesus is not talking about earthly things but heavenly things.

I think the key sentence is the last one, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Jesus is not talking about what God can give us to make life more comfortable or easier. Jesus is talking about God sending the Holy Sprite to start the process of changing us from worldly to godly. In the first part of today’s verses Jesus is not talking about luxuries but a necessity, bread. The when He changes to a son and father Jesus is still taking about food. Just as bread was considered a necessity in the Jewish culture during Jesus’ ministry so too is the Holy Spirit a necessity to our salvation.

Jesus also tells us something else in today’s verses, the son asks for the fish and the egg. So to must we ask God to send the Holy Spirit to us. God our father in heaven will give us what we ask for but what we ask for needs to be in accordance with God’s will and plan. He may give us riches and more than we need but what He wants us to ask for is a relationship with Him. That relationship is worth more than all the bread, fish and eggs in the world.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Forgive us our sins

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11:1-4

Prayer is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. And the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most used in Christianity. Oh we may add some words and maybe change them a bit but it is instantly recognizable. We are told to be in constant prayer. When we pray we are not telling God anything new or something He is unaware of but we are having a conversation with God. This is something that pleases God. As Jesus pointed out in today’s verses we need to always ask God to forgive our sins.

It would be wonderful if once we accepted Jesus as Lord that we would stop sinning. Unfortunately that is not the case. We are still in our sinful bodies and as long as we are we will continue to sin. Now as God works on us through the Holt Sprit we should see that we are sinning less and less but the only way we will be sin free is when we are in our resurrected bodies. Also, remember that the Holy Spirit works on us only as long as we allow Him to work. God will never force us. He wants willing followers not robots.

Something else I see in today’s verses is when Jesus tells us to ask God to forgive our sins just as we forgive those who have wronged us. When we sin it is not against someone else even if they may be hurt by our sins. No, when we sin it is against God. We are asking God to forgive our affront to Him. Then Jesus gives us another of His hard sayings. We are to forgive those who have wronged us just as God forgives us. That is tough. Forgiveness is often hard to achieve. We dwell on the wrong done to us and think the other person should pay for their actions. Good thing God doesn’t treat us the way we often treat each other.

God chose not to make us pay for our wrongs. He provided a way and another to pay the price of our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was so great that He paid for all the sins we have committed, all the sins we are committing and all the sins we ever will commit. We will commit more sins. None of us are sin free. Even though some think they are.

This past weekend my wife and I visited our son for homecoming weekend at East Texas Baptist University. He related a story his pastor had told him about a woman who came to the pastor with an issue she wanted resolved and resolved in her way. The reason she told the pastor he should do what she wanted was because she had not sinned in thirty years. To which the pastor replied that she had just ended her sinless streak. I am not sure that was the best way to respond to the woman but it was true. The problem is there are too many Christians like this woman who truly believe they no longer sin and that all the sinning in the world is done by others. As for me, I hope I can get dressed in the morning without sinning. I am pretty positive that not a day goes by that I do not commit one sin or another and most likely multiple sins. Although some may be duplicates. So I for one need to ask God to forgive my sins and thank God that even though I am a sinner He loved me so much that He provided a way back to Him. That way is Jesus and He is waiting for each of us to accept the free gift of salvation.

Have a blessed day,

David

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One thing is necessary

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

At women’s retreats the women are often asked if they are a Mary or a Martha. But this distinction does not only apply to women. Men too can act as a Mary or a Martha. In the Jewish culture at the time the woman’s job was to keep the house and serve the guests. Martha was being a good Jewish woman by serving Jesus and His disciples. Mary however was sitting at Jesus feet listening to what Jesus was teaching. This made Martha mad. So mad that she confronted Jesus and asked Him “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Martha was so busy doing things that she was missing the message Jesus was relating. Sometimes we can get so busy doing things in and around the church that we miss the message. We get so busy we do not have time for God. I have been a Martha myself. Something needed to get done at church and I was asked so I volunteered. They needed more men in the choir so I joined. They needed adult Sunday school teachers so I volunteered. They need someone to lead a group of ushers and I was there. Then they needed someone to run the games for our AWANAs program and I said yes.

I found myself running from one place to another trying to be on time for everything. Worrying about ending the lesson on time and who could I get to fill in as an usher at the last minute. Making sure everyone was seated on my Sunday and then rushing to take my place in the choir. I was busy and these things needed to be done but I was also so wrapped up in making sure my tasks were done that I missed what was going on. Then someone told me that BUSY was just an acronym for being under Satan’s yoke. That can be so true. We are so busy doing that we do not take time out to check with God to see if that is what He wants us to be doing.

Jesus rightly told Martha that Mary had chosen the “good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Martha was busy doing the things she was supposed to do but Mary was doing the thing that God wanted her to do. Martha was doing things that could have waited or been done before hand. She was being busy and in being busy she was missing Jesus teaching. Martha or Mary, which one are you?

Have a blessed day,

David

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Who is my neighbor?

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37

I have heard the Parable of the Good Samaritan since I was a child in Sunday school and it has always been one of my favorites. I think because it is straight and to the point. We don’t need to parse the words to see what Jesus really meant and there is really no need for clarification. The Samaritans and Jews had no love for each other. Both peoples believed theirs was the true religion of God and that the other had fallen away from the true faith. Jesus is trying to show the young lawyer that one’s brother has nothing to do with family or religion or ethnic group. In God’s eyes we are all each other’s brothers and sisters.

As I wrote yesterday it is likely that this lawyer went away and never looked back. Jesus had given him the answer to what we have to do to have eternal life. Of course that is impossible without Jesus. Jesus’ teachings however gave the people around Him who really would give them eternal life. Most people want a do it yourself plan to salvation. We want to earn our salvation and have a suspicion that anything free must be worth the cost.

I think the lawyer’s problem is the same problem that plagues most unbelievers; they just do not want to believe. What I have found when answering questions from unbelievers is they ignore what does not fit their world view, say whatever proof they are given is not strong enough or set up a straw man to counter. Basically they just do not want to believe and no matter how much evidence they are given it will never be enough. Still we must keep trying to reach them.

Love toward God and love toward each other is what is required. We will always fall short of God’s ideal. Fortunately we are not alone in our struggle. God have provided a way and that way is Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Do this, and you will live

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

In today’s verses Jesus is asked what one needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers this way “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” To which the lawyer responds “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Then Jesus tells the lawyer , “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

So all one has to do is love God and one’s neighbor and eternal life is there for the taking. The problem is that none of us is capable of doing so. If we could then Jesus would not have had to die on a cross. In fact if we could always “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” then Jesus would not have had to come to earth at all. The simple fact is we do not do as God commands all the time. I do not know anyone who has never gotten mad at God or their neighbors.

Before you say not me think a bit. Have you ever gotten mad when someone cut you off on the freeway? Have you ever used God’s or Jesus’ name in vain? Have you ever taken anything that was not yours, a pen, pencil or maybe extra change at the store? Ever lied? Of course you have, we all have. I hit my thumb with a hammer and before I can stop myself I have blurted out God or Jesus followed by an assortment of other words. I tell a little white lie in order not to hurt someone but it is still a lie. I get too much change and head out of the store without a second thought, Oh, maybe I tell myself that this makes up for the times they gave me back less change than they should have. Not only are these unloving to our neighbor but they are all unloving to God.

The simple fact is that no one has ever gone through life without sinning. For me, I cannot get through a day without sinning. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you can go a day, a week or even years without sinning but you have sinned and will do so again. We just cannot help ourselves. From Adam and Eve down to us we are poor retched sinners. The good news is that even while we are still in our sins God loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son to live the sinless life we could not and then become the perfect sacrifice needs to atone for all the sins of the world. All we have to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice and place our faith in Him and His works.

I don’t know if the lawyer accepted Jesus as Lord, I guess from this passage in Luke that he did not. What Jesus told him was a hard thing to do. It was an impossible thing to do and the lawyer might have realized the hopefulness of this command. What he missed was God’s way out of the mess we have created, Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

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No one knows who the Son is except the Father

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Luke 10:21-24

Who in your life knows you the best? Your spouse? Maybe your parents? Possibly your children or maybe your best friend. How about yourself? Surely we know ourselves. Actually I don’t think anyone including ourselves really knows us. There is always a part of us that we keep hidden from everyone else. But do we really know ourselves? I find that at times I do something and I have no earthly idea why I did what I just did. It just happened. So how can any of us claim to really know Jesus?

We can know Him from what has been revealed to us in God’s Word and those who lived during Jesus’ ministry knew Him on a face to face basis but can anyone really know Jesus? In today’s verses Luke tells us the answer is no. Only God the Father know God the Son. The reason is that God is one essence with three distinct personalities. God is so awesome, so powerful so good and so all knowing that we cannot grasp who He really is. We can know God only in part because our finite brains cannot comprehend the infinite being that is God. Are we doomed because of our lack of understanding? No we are not.

We do not have to completely understand God because God has revealed enough of Himself through Jesus. While we cannot completely know Jesus we can know what He has chosen to reveal to us and that is enough. God knows out limitations and He provided a way for us to reach Him in spite of these limitations.

Jesus’ disciples were specially blessed as they got to see Jesus in the flesh. They were taught by Him and interacted with Jesus on a daily basis. Jesus said of them “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” From the time of Abraham through all the kings on down the Jewish people were constantly waiting to see the Messiah. Then for a short 33 years people in and around Jerusalem got to be eyewitnesses to Jesus and His deed and teachings.

Today we look back on that time and I imaging most Christians wish they had been able to see, hear and touch Jesus. But just like Abraham we too must accept on faith what God revealed to us. This is not a faith devoid of reality but a faith based on reality. The evidence for our faith is all around. From the complexity of life to the glories that are the universe to the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His life all show the Christian faith to be based on reason and reality.

The disciples were blessed for what the witnessed. We are blessed because though we did not see we still believe.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Ben Witherington and Darrell Bock on the Rapture

dwwork:

Follow up on Veracity’s previous post. While there is disagreement on what and when of the Second Coming what is important to note is agreement that Jesus will return. Have a blessed day, David

Originally posted on Veracity:

If you were a bit intimidated by my last (lengthy) post regarding the Book of Revelation, including its connection to the Rapture, you might be more interested in the following less-than-seven minute video by Ben Witherington, New Testament scholar at Asbury Seminary. Witherington, who was highlighted before here on Veracity, gets to the rub of the history behind the Rapture.

Witherington, as you will see, concludes with a negative assessment of “Rapture Theology.” Contrast this with Dallas Theological Seminary’s Darrell Bock who accepts the “Rapture Theology.” For those of you not accustomed to big words like eschatology, you can think of it in this context as someone’s understanding or theology of the “End Times.” Bock, also a New Testament scholar and a favorite here on Veracity, follows his brief assessment with a very helpful, three-minute way of evaluating how Christians should handle important issues in the…

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