Persistence In Prayer

Jeremiah 31:27-34 • Psalm 119:97-104 • 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 • Luke 18:1-8

18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Luke 18:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

Today we continue to walk our way through the gospel of Luke. Jesus tells his disciples about the importance of persistence in prayer. He does it as he usually does in the form of a parable.

There are times when we feel our prayers aren’t being heard – that our prayers are only going as far as the ceiling. Perhaps we have been praying for something so long that we think it is not worth it. Jesus reminds us that we need to be persistent in prayer, just like the widow in this story. She kept on asking the unjust judge to grant her justice. Because she was so persistent, finally the judge relented.

The same needs to be true in our prayer life. We need to be persistent. At the same time, we need to be careful that our prayers are centered on God’s justice – not our own version of God’s justice. In his letters, the disciple John writes this:

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

1 John 5:14-15

It is important that our prayers align with God’s will and what pleases him. God will not grant answers to prayer that aren’t in keeping with his commandments.

The important thing to remember is that if we ask for those things that please him and are persistent in our prayers, God will answer.


Your Faith Has Healed You

18th Sunday After Pentecost | October 12, 2019

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 • Psalm 66:1-12 • 2 Timothy 2:8-15 • Luke 17:11-19

11 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Luke 17:11-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

As we continue our walk through Luke we come upon the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. We know that lepers from the Jewish law that lepers had to keep their distance. Instead of crying “unclean, unclean” (as required by the law) they cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us!”

Luke then tells us that Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests – which was required to determine whether or not they were healed. We are not told if there is any argument from the lepers but that they go and they are healed on their way.

You may remember that last week, we looked at the importance of obedience in following Jesus. You may remember that I said that obedience is the bare minimum in following Jesus – that you won’t get an “atta boy” or a pat on the back, simply for obeying – because obedience is required in following Jesus. Over the week, God clarified and challenged me with this: Obedience is the first mile – what does the second mile look like in your life?

While at Chick-fil-A, it was always reinforced that we make each guest’s visit remarkable – for the opposite is unremarkable. We never wanted a guest to leave having an unremarkable experience. For much of the quick-service restaurant industry, the purpose is to sell food quick. My boss was famous for saying, “it’s more than chicken and waffle fries.” Selling food and serving our guests was the first mile. What could we do to go the second mile?

Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Perhaps, that second mile is what working our our salvation with fear and trembling means.

So let’s get back to our story. The ten lepers were indeed healed, but one of them – seeing he was healed – went back to thank Jesus and give God all the glory. The man fell at Jesus feet.

The last paragraph is interesting. Jesus says to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.” The only one who came back to praise God was a foreigner – he wasn’t even Jewish and to add insult to injury, he was a Samaritan – a race that was hated by the Jews.

Perhaps he came back, realizing the great gift he received from Jesus. Perhaps he came back realizing that he had to go the second mile to make his healing complete. In praising God, he was recognized as having great faith, much like Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.

I challenge you this week to bring healing to others by going the second mile – whether you are thanked or not – whether you are called names or not – reach out to the disenfranchised – reach out to the least of these – go the second mile with them.

If Christ has worked in your life – be sure to praise him for what he has done – that would be going the second mile.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 • Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 • 1 Timothy 6:6-19 • Luke 16:19-31

16th Sunday after Pentecost | September 29, 2019

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:19-31

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16:19-31 New Living Translation (NLT)

In this week’s scripture, Luke continues to record Jesus’ teaching about possessions and our stewardship of them. We have the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

It is a story of two men – one man had everything – the other man, Lazarus, had nothing. The one who had everything lived in luxury. Lazarus lived outside the gate, covered in sores and longed even for the scraps from the table of the rich man. It is interesting the Jesus leaves the rich man nameless, while giving the poor man a name which gives him an identity.

Lazarus sits by the gate everyday and the dogs come by and lick his sore. He is miserable.

The time comes when both men die. We get a sense of the Jewish belief in the afterlife. Lazarus goes to a place of comfort, while the rich man goes to a place of torment. Apparently – at least in Jesus’ story – they could see each other. The tables have now been turned.

It is interesting to note that at least for the purposes of this story, faith doesn’t enter into the equation. I am not saying that it didn’t, but we have no indication of that. We simply have one who had everything and didn’t do anything to help the poor and suffering and one who had nothing and lived his earthly life in torment.

In this story, their place in eternity was based simply on what they did with what God had given them. Again it is a matter of stewardship. Jesus is warning us once again that we must be good stewards with what God has entrusted us. The rich man ignored the poor and his reward was eternal torment.

The rich man even sees if he can do something about it retroactively, but no. Then he asks if his brothers can be warned – again the answer is no. The man pleads to Father Abraham that he send someone to warn them. Father Abraham replies, “Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.”

The rich man is not persuaded…he says, “no, that is not enough, they need someone who has crossed back over from the dead.” Abraham again says, “No, if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen to someone who has come back from the dead either.”

How we handle what God has given us is a matter of the heart. Here we have an indication that they way they were handling money was a sin. But even more there was a heart attitude that was against God – the God of their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We are reminded of the importance of repenting of our sin and turning back to God – whatever that sin might be – in this case it was their handing of possessions. What are you doing with what God has entrusted you?

Prayer for the Week

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Good Steward?

Photo by Alexander Mils on

15th Sunday after Pentecost | September 22, 2019

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 • Psalm 79:1-9 • 1 Timothy 2:1-7 • Luke 16:1-13

16 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

Luke 16:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at several of Jesus parables. This particular parable or story is unique – it looks like Jesus is celebrating deception. Here’s what I want us to focus on this morning. In verse 8 Jesus states, “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd…” He then states the point of the lesson for us as children of the heavenly Father.

“Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.”

I truly believe that God owns everything. However, there are things that He entrusts to us. It’s funny that we call them our possessions, when in reality we are simply stewards of what is already God’s. Those “possessions” are what Jesus calls worldly resources. What is the purpose of our possessions? Their purpose is to benefit others. We aren’t supposed to hoard the resources that God has made us stewards of for our own use. Those resources are for the benefit of others.

Jesus reminds us that if we are faithful in the little things, we will be faithful in the bigger things. Jesus really gets to the crux here. If we can’t be trusted with the resources that He has given us here on this earth – the resources that we can see, how can we be trusted with the heavenly resources that we can’t see – the resources that Jesus calls the true riches of heaven? Jesus takes it one step further and asks if we can’t be faithful with other people’s things, then why should God trust us with stuff of our own?

It seems hard to believe that it has been over 3 years since I worked at Chick-fil-A. The mission statement of the organization is:

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

This is really the mission of the children of the heavenly Father – to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. In the book of James we are told, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17). We are simply stewards of what God has entrusted with us and we are to take what God has entrusted us and use it to benefit others.

As this story finishes Jesus reminds us that God and money (or things) are two different masters and you can’t serve to masters. One or the other will be the master of you. So let me challenge you to be a good steward of what God has entrusted you.

The Lost is Found

14th Sunday after Pentecost | September 15, 2019

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 • Psalm 14 • 1 Timothy 1:12-17 • Luke 15:1-10

15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Luke 15:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

As we near the 3/4 mark of the gospel of Luke, Jesus is beginning to irritate the Pharisees and the other teachers of the religious law. These guys had wonderful knowledge of the Jewish scriptures and yet struggled with compassion. The Pharisees were upset that Jesus was spending way too much time with who they considered sinners – not worthy of the grace of God.

Jesus tells two stories, one of a shepherd who has 100 sheep. In the culture, owning 100 sheep would make you a rich man. In counting the sheep for the night, the man discovers just one sheep is missing. He leaves the 99 safe sheep and goes to search for the one lost sheep. The man uses all his resources to find the one lost sheep. When he finds the sheep, he tells all his neighbors that he has found the lost sheep.

In the second story, Jesus tells of a woman who has 10 coins and loses one. She searches the whole house and leaves no corner or mattress unturned and finally finds the coin. She also calls all her friends and family and tells them she has found the coin.

Jesus reminds us that the same thing happens when one who is lost spiritually is found. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We are reminded that the well don’t need a doctor, but it is the sick. Jesus calls us to go to where the lost are – to seek them out – so they can be found – and when they are found the whole of heaven can rejoice.