Archive for the ‘Luke’ Tag

Whoever Has Been Forgiven Much, Loves Much!

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:

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Main Bible Verses: Luke 7: 36-50 Acts 2: 36-41


The Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-God revealed in Jesus Christ is the God of Love and is therefore a forgiving God! In the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus we see God at work to forgive and overcome sin, sending it away and reconciling all to himself. In the way Jesus lived, the things he said, and the way he thought and spoke we understand what forgiveness really is and means for human beings.

Theological Theme:

We are each and all called to participate in receiving God’s gift of forgiveness, and participate with Jesus in being reconciled back to his Father and our neighbors! This proclaims to us the Good News that forgiveness is first something God gives to us a gift which enables us to repent and then share his forgiveness with others. So, we don’t have to repent in order to be forgiven, rather we are forgiven and enabled to repent!

Christ Connection:

Jesus is the True and Fully Human Being. When we want to see and know most clearly what God’s love really looks like in a human being and what his purpose and plan is for us we look to Jesus Christ! WE LOVE because HE first LOVED US. WE FORGIVE BECAUSE HE HAS FORGIVEN US. What Jesus gave us was not only himself as an individual but, in and through the Holy Spirit, he gives us the opportunity to participate with him in his human nature.

“We put our trust in God because of who Jesus Christ is. And he himself is the grace of God towards us. He is the Gospel. He himself is our salvation. And we receive all the benefits of who he is as we trust in him and cast aside (repent of) all other rival objects of trust. We then enjoy our union and communion with him as our Lord and God. Our lives are united to Christ and we share in his life, we participate with him in all he is doing and will do in and through our relationship of trust or faith.” – Dr Gary Deddo

Jesus Christ took on our broken humanity, healed it and raised it up NEW so that he shared in his renewing humanity. He performed a great exchange. He shared in OUR POORNESS so that we could share in HIS RICHNESS! He shared in OUR BROKENNESS so that so that we could share in HIS HEALED HUMAN NATURE! He shared in the temptation of our unforgiving nature and, resisting it with his forgiving love, gives us the same opportunity to resist our unforgiving nature through receiving his forgiving love.

Missional Application:

We are called as Jesus’ disciples to encourage God’s children tore forgiven in order that they, too, might REPENT because of the forgiveness of their sins by God the Father and receive the Holy Spirit. They will then not only be saved FROM their sins but also be saved FOR God and sharing God and his characteristics with their neighbor.


Overflowing love and forgiveness toward others is the natural response to God’s forgiveness of us and the appropriate consequence of faith in him. However, only those who realize the depth of their sin can appreciate the complete forgiveness that God offers them and the share that with others. Having received this forgiveness we believers seek to share it freely with others because, in Jesus Christ, God has forgiven and rescued the sinful human nature of all people, whether those people are extremely wicked or conventionally good, even as we were!

Do you appreciate the wideness of God’s mercy? Are you grateful for his forgiveness?  Are you grateful for God’s forgiveness given to us in Jesus Christ?” If so, you will become more and more forgiving of others. Having received this forgiving love of Jesus we are now being compelled as ambassadors who are appealing to others (as if Christ was appealing through us!) to “Be reconciled to God”. “Receive his forgiveness!” The compulsion to appeal to others in love “to repent, turn to Christ and be reconciled” should outmatch any anxious cry and plea to “turn before you burn” because God’s grace is greater than our sin! Although God’s grace through faith is what saves us, and NOT our good works toward our neighbors, our good works demonstrate faith in Christ and are honored by Christ, and actually come from Christ, and therefore can bear fruit in the lives of our neighbors as we participate in them!

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The Pharisee and the Tax Collector!


Part 1a: 29min


Part 1b: 29min


Full Message: 


Main Passage: Luke 18:9-14

“In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, we see the danger of self-righteousness, our human need for mercy, and what it means to be justified by faith. God calls us to recognize our sinfulness and our need for His mercy and in humility to proclaim the gospel of grace to those who trust in themselves. “-The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, exalts the humble and humbles the exalted.

Christ Connection:

The tax collector’s cry was for God to turn away His wrath from a sinner. Through His life and sacrificial death as our substitute, Jesus was the Wrath of God that our sins deserved. Like the tax collector, we too can cry out to God to have mercy on us! We can receive Jesus as the Wrath of God Who absorbed and put our sin to death in his suffering and death! We can also receive the forgiveness he grants full and free in his abundant grace!

Missional Application:

God, through His Holy Spirit, calls us not to look down on others but to look up to Him for salvation so that our participation with Him in humility and grace would be attractive to those who are still trusting in themselves.

“All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, of hatred…A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.” –C. S. Lewis 


“Self-righteousness wears many disguises. The scary thing about self-righteousness is that we usually don’t recognize it in ourselves. We think because of our religious practices that we are okay with God. We think because of how we pray that we are trusting in Him, not in ourselves. We think because of how we live that we are doing better than the people around us. Self-righteousness stinks; unfortunately, we are the last to smell it on ourselves….

But even when our self-righteousness is cloaked in words of gratitude or manifested in actions that, on the surface, appear to be done out of a desire for God’s glory, self-righteousness is still self-justification. It is misplaced trust that leads to misplaced judgment. As it has been said, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” We judge people around us more harshly than we would dare judge ourselves….

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector gives us a vivid portrait of pride versus humility, of justification by works versus justification by faith. As Darrell Bock comments:

Pride preaches merit; humility pleads for compassion. Pride negotiates as an equal; humility approaches in need. Pride separates by putting down others; humility identifies with others, recognizing we all have the same need. Pride destroys through its alienating self-service; humility opens doors with its power to sympathize with the struggle we share. Pride turns up its nose; humility offers an open and lifted-up hand.

According to the gospel, we are to trust in God alone for our salvation, and we trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” the old hymn goes. The gospel cuts to the heart of our tendency to trust in ourselves and in our own righteousness. The gospel also shatters the sense of superiority we may feel toward others. As long as you are looking up to God for salvation, you can’t look down on anyone else. Once you know how much you need the mercy of God, how in the world can you look down your nose on someone else in need of the same mercy?” -The Gospel Project

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The Father Of Two Lost Sons!


Part 1a: 23 min


Part 1b: 18 min


Full Message:


Main Passage: Luke 15:11-32

“Jesus told a famous parable of a loving father with two lost sons. In the characters’ attitudes and actions, we see a picture of human sinfulness, the grace-filled posture of God, and the deadliness of self-righteousness. Like the original listeners of this parable, we are called not to resent God’s grace but to celebrate God’s goodness in embracing any sinner who repents. ” – The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

God- Father, Son, and Spirit, rejoices whenever a sinner returns to Him in repentance.

Christ Connection:

The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for His practice of welcoming and dining with sinners. The stories He told in response to their criticism focused on God’s joy over sinners coming to repentance. The God who seeks and saves the lost is Jesus, the Savior whose search-and-rescue mission is accomplished at great personal cost to Himself.

Missional Application:

God, through His Holy Spirit, calls us not to resent His grace toward others but to celebrate the Father’s goodness in welcoming any repentant sinner home.

“A banquet of great joy is provided by this waiting [Father], who is none other than the waiting, running, embracing, partying, and kissing God. The parable describes God’s goodness, grace, boundless mercy and abundant love.”  –Paul John Isaak

“Whoever departs from the Word of God hungers… Whoever leaves treasure lacks. Whoever departs from wisdom is stupefied. Whoever departs from virtue is destroyed. It was fitting that he begin to be in need, because he abandoned the treasures of wisdom and the knowledge of God.” –Ambrose (circa 339-397)

Photo Compliments: Yesterday’s Prophecy, Today’s News 

What God Becoming Human Means For Us!


Part 1a: 31min


Part 1b: 33min″

Full Message:


Main Passages: Luke 2:1-20 Matthew 2:1-12

“The birth of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew. Here we see the beautiful event in which God takes on human flesh and enters our world as a baby. In Luke’s telling of the story, we see that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, where the news of His birth was then announced to the marginalized of society. In Matthew’s account, we see how the arrival of the wise men demonstrates the plan of God for the gospel to go out to all the nations. As followers of Christ, we are to resemble the shepherds and the wise men—responding to Christ’s birth with extravagant praise and public testimony.” The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

Christ’s humble birth demonstrates the nature and extent of The kingdom of God [Father, Son, and Spirit]

Christ Connection:

The birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of multiple Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. The promised Messiah was born in obscurity, but after His death and resurrection, He was exalted as King of the world. In the humble circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, we see God’s love for all people in every nation.

Missional Application:

Like the shepherds and wise men, we should respond to Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, with extravagant praise and public testimony of His grace.

“We have not properly engaged with the nativity of Jesus until we find ourselves standing in the shoes of the shepherds and the magi. We are reminded once again that the rabbis said you have not walked long enough with someone until you realize that you are on the same journey. That journey from the obscurity of the sheep pens to that place beside the manger is a journey we must make as well. Like the shepherds, we must be drawn out of the daily drudgery of our lives and realize that the good news has been revealed even to people like you and me. At the same time, we are men and women who are unimaginably rich in contrast to the rest of the world. We have been gifted with an education that most of the people in the rest of the world could hardly dream of. Yet with all our possessions and education, we must acknowledge along with the wise men that something vital is missing. That “something” can be found nowhere else except at the feet of Jesus.” – The Gospel Project

“The global purpose of God is the glad praise of Christ among the peoples of the world.”  –David Platt


The Parable of the Fig Tree

The Parable of the Fig Tree, in Luke 13:1-9, is sometimes hard to preach about. Ted Johnston, over at the surprising God blog, brought it up a couple of days ago and invited comments on it. I posted my thoughts in the comments section of Ted’s post and I thought I’d reprint them here for those of you who may not have seen them there:

I think the vineyard owner is the Father, the gardener is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the fertilizer. The fig tree is humanity.

The fig tree exists to bear fruit but it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Humanity exists to participate in the Triune Life as the children of the Father (Eph. 1:5) but we also are not living up to our purpose. If something isn’t achieving its purpose it might as well not exist, that’s why the vineyard owner says that he might as well destroy the tree. Not because he hates the tree but because he recognizes the pointlessness of having a tree that doesn’t bear fruit and his desire is to see it achieve it’s purpose.

At this point in reading the parable I think we all, because of our fallen nature, make two false assumptions:

First, we think that the fig tree can make a conscious decision to change itself and begin to bear fruit. We forget that trees do not think and have no choice. They bear fruit based on the soil, rain, sun, and other conditions around them. So, Jesus says our failure to live up to our purpose is like something (a fig tree) which has no conscious control over its own destiny. Because we all fell in Adam it is no more possible for a human being to suddenly, on his own, say “oh! I’m not being who I’m suppose to be, I need to get busy” than it is for a tree to say “oh! I’m not bearing fruit, I better get busy.” The only way we’re going to achieve the purpose for which we were created is if the Good Gardener (Jesus) creates the conditions for us to naturally grow up to be what we were created to be.

Secondly, we assume that the gardener is not a very good gardener. The gardener says to the vineyard owner “let me work on the tree and we’ll see if it bears fruit” and we – in our fallenness – automatically assume that it is going to be a dangerously close thing. We think, “oh no! what if the gardener fails? what if he can’t do it? the tree will be destroyed!” But how do we know that this gardener isn’t the very best gardener the world has ever seen? Maybe he’s so good there’s no danger at all of failure on his part.

So, I would say this is the moral of the parable: the Father created us to live as his children, but we’re not doing a very good job of it. If we aren’t going to live as the children we were created to be then there’s no point in our existence. As human beings we even sense this ourselves as we struggle with depression, despair, and suicidal thoughts. Because of our fallenness we, like a fig tree, are incapable of fixing ourselves. So, the Father sends the Son – the greatest Master Gardener of all time – to heal us, make us whole, and enable us to grow up to be the children of the Father that we were created to be. It is his work, he is doing it, and what we need to do is repent of our false belief that he is not The Master Gardener and believe the truth that he knows how to make us healthy enough to fulfill our purpose. And how does the Gardener make us healthy? By nourishing our lives in his Holy Spirit – the fertilizer that brings the fruit of the Triune Life.

Once we see the fig tree in this way we can see how this parable further explains Jesus’ comments about the people who died tragically at Pilate’s hands and in the natural disaster. The thing about all agriculture, including the tending of fig trees, is that it is very easy to look at a barren tree and assume that nothing is happening. The natural process of health and maturation takes time and patience – and it is not visible to us. We look at people around us, friends and family, and when we don’t immediately see the fruit of the Spirit in their lives we assume the Master Gardener is not at work in their lives and the Vineyard Owner is ready to destroy them. In fact, we can become so blind in our judgmentalism that when bad things happen to these “fruitless” people we assume that we are witnessing the Vineyard Owner’s destruction of them for their failure to be what they were created to be.

But here’s the thing about the destruction of the fig tree: it never happens! The parable ends with the Master Gardener saying “don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” So why are we all so worried? We don’t trust the Master Gardener will take care of it. And that is what it means, in the light of the gospel, to “perish.” To perish is to experience all the fear, anger, and grief that comes from not trusting that the Master Gardener will be successful. When we don’t trust that he will succeed we try to make ourselves fruitful, or trying to harangue and cajole our friends and family into being fruitful, and that is the living death that comes from believing that we’re our own saviors instead of believing that Jesus is the Savior and that he has saved us.

~ Jonathan Stepp


God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not interested in controlling you.

I made this comment in passing in a post a couple of weeks ago and in the comments Greg said I ought to talk a little more about this.

Religion, for lack of a better word, is about control.

Religion imagines a God (or gods) who is all about trying to manipulate and control people through rules, rewards, and punishments. It also imagines a God (or gods) who can be controlled by our beliefs, words, and actions.

For example: God is mad that you haven’t kept his rules and he wants to torture you to death. But if you say you believe that Jesus really exists then you can control God and make him stop punishing you: now that’s the old time religion!

In contrast to this dysfunctional life of two beings (God and you) trying to manipulate and control each other, Jesus presents the good news of himself, his Father, and their Spirit.

These three are perfectly free to be and do anythying they want to do and in that freedom they are always  choosing (eternally, without beginning or end) to live in faithful, covenant commitment to each other with mutual love and acceptance. And, in Jesus, they have chosen to live forever in faithful, convenant commitment to humanity.

Jesus illustrates this freedom in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32.)

In the parable the Father never seeks to control his kids. When the prodigal wants to rebel, run away, and waste his inheritance, the Father lets him. He lets him learn about who he really is (his Father’s child) the hard away. And when the older son wants to rebel and refuse to join in the family celebration the Father lets him. He lets him learn about who he really is (his Father’s child) the hard way.

That’s the good news Jesus brings to us about our Father in heaven. He’s not out to control us. His goal was to adopt us as his children and he has accomplished this goal in Jesus (Eph. 1:5). And now he loves us through the Holy Spirit and invites us to believe the truth that we are his children in Jesus and to freely – of our own choice – join in the family celebration.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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