If You’re Looking For A Party

Posted in Love, witnessing by PCraig on July 31, 2014

Today, I want to focus on the final installment of the “trifecta” stories Jesus told that are recorded in Luke 15.  Let me remind you that this is the only time Jesus tells three stories in succession that all have to do with the same topic.  I’m just thinking, that must mean something!

Here are the common threads:  all three focus on something being lost, the search and the reaction when found.  In the final story, it changes from an animal or object to a human.  Specifically, this is about a lost son who wants to sow some wild oats with his inheritance money.  He doesn’t want to wait until his father dies to collect, so this sensitive son goes and asks his father for the money now.  The father goes ahead and gives him what he asks for and the son takes off to party.

The party scene might have been fun for awhile, but it all ends when the money runs out.  He winds up in need, working under poor conditions and longing for home.  It’s at this point that Jesus says, “He came to his senses.”  But this time, he’s been humbled by his foolish choices and wants to come home as a servant.

Here’s what’s amazing, the father is already looking for the son to return.  He won’t allow him to return as a servant.  He calls for him to be completely restored to his former status, and throws a party to celebrate.

A few highlights:

  • We humans can make some dumb choices that lead to great pain
  • We need to own up to our failures and seek forgiveness
  • The Father (God) is watching for us to return to Him and runs to meet him
  • The Father is not out to punish us, but has a goal to restore us
  • Nothing causes God to party like someone being restored

What’s this mean for you and I?  If you want God to party along with all of heaven, then bring people to the Father.  True love runs with compassion.  It’s not looking for an opportunity to rub in the pain of the past, but to rub it out.  Our hearts should have the same sense of urgency, compassion and resolve to see people restored as God does.  What lost sons (or daughters) can you help come home to the Father?  God’s looking for a reason to party!

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Ever Lost Your Cell Phone?

Posted in Evangelism, Joy, Perspective, Salvation, Used of God, witnessing by PCraig on July 24, 2014

Have you ever lost anything of value (cell phone) and turned the house upside down to find it?  My wife may or may not have recently lost her cell phone and thought she might have left it somewhere.  It was like it disappeared.  We looked everywhere in the house for it, called it (of course it was on silent) and searched anywhere we thought it could be all to no avail.  Ultimately we discovered the phone was in the garbage in our garage!  By the way, if you think I’m telling on my wife, let me say that at least she has never driven off with her phone on the roof of the car like someone else may have done once in their lives.  (That story didn’t end well)

Here’s my point, when you have something of value that is lost you will do whatever it takes, spending time and energy to find it.  Jesus told a story about this that involved a woman who lost             one of her ten silver coins.  He said she will do whatever it takes until she finds it.  The story is found in Luke 15:8-10 and once again illustrates the principle of seeking after lost people.

In this second of three successive stories of Jesus, there are a few things I would like to highlight:

  • She searches “carefully” until she finds it, which implies she is deliberate in the pursuit.
  • She also is very diligent in the hunt and will not rest until the coin is found.

These imply to us:

  • The value of one lost person.  Everyone matters to God.
  • Love will search carefully, not casually for the lost.
  • Love cannot sit still while there is still a chance of find those who are lost.

Lastly, as in the prior story, Jesus says there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  So, if you want to get heaven excited, find one more lost person.

We’re challenging our church family to reach out to one person each week and invite them to church on August 17.  On that date, we are having an “everyone bring one” Sunday with former American Idol finalist, Phil Stacey as our guest.  But, you don’t have to wait another moment when the stakes are as high as eternal life.  For whom do you need to search carefully, locate for God and then celebrate?  I think the angels are ready!

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True Love Leaves

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Love, witnessing by PCraig on July 17, 2014

Yesterday I was reading the account in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories in succession that all have pretty much the same theme.  What’s remarkable about this is that this is the only time Jesus does that.  If Jesus takes three different approaches to teach a central theme, then I just think we better pay careful attention to it.  Therefore, over the next three blogs, I want to take each of these stories and share some gleanings.

The first story is to ponder, “What is you were a shepherd and had a hundred sheep and lost one, what would you do?”  Jesus says, that a shepherd would leave the 99 and “go after the lost sheep until he finds it.”

Our first principle is that Christ followers are to GO AFTER the lost.  Believers are not supposed to wait inside the church for non-believers to show up.  There must be a sense of duty and responsibility felt by the Christian to  “go after” lost people.  Let me say it this way, love leaves and goes.  True Christ-like love cannot stay and be content while bunches of people are lost without God.

What’s this look like for you?

  • Look around and notice that there are lost people who need to know God
  • Let a sense of duty & responsibility for them grip your soul
  • Go find them and bring them back to God where they belong

Finally, the story ends with Jesus explaining “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over ONE sinner who repents than over 99 righteous person who do not need to repent.”  In other words, whatever gets heaven excited ought to excite us!  If you want to get God and the rest of heaven happy, then go out and bring a lost person back to God.

This gets heaven more excited than healings, gifts, and choirs.  And, I just think whatever heaven celebrates; we should be celebrating as well.

Who can you reach out to today?  Is there someone you could invite to church this weekend?  True love cannot stay – it must go.

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Repost: Depression Freedom

Posted in Attitude, Deliverance, Victorious Living, Worry by PCraig on July 4, 2014

Originally posted: 12/16/11

Songs talk about this being the most wonderful time of the year and yet it can be a source of depression for many.  Some feel the loss of loved ones greater at the holidays; some aren’t close to family and feel isolated, while others might have financial pressures that make it stressful.  There are countless reasons to get depressed, but how can you avoid it?

Last weekend we looked at this topic in depth and here are the main things discovered:

  • Stop Hiding It.  Until you admit your depressed no one can help you.
  • Ask For Help.  This may mean joining a Life Group, go to counseling, or visit a doctor.
  • Take Action Today.  Delay keeps us down.  Quit postponing & procrastinating.  You know what you need to do, now go do it!  Make the phone call or set up the appointment.
  • Seek The Healer.  Jesus wants to help you more than you know.  Don’t doubt Him, attempt to hide from Him or run from Him.  Instead, we need to run to Him.  (Ps. 147:3; Isaiah 61:1-3)

Satan will try to get you to focus on what’s wrong with your life, on things you don’t have, and the hardships of life.  Instead of biting his bait, fix your eyes, mind and senses on what you do have and the promise of God to never leave you or abandon you.  It may look dark at the moment, but hope and help is on the way and God can turn things around for you.  Don’t give up, instead take action and I believe you’ll begin to come out from under the dark clouds of despair into a new day full of God’s sunshine.

One of the things that lifts me is positive, uplifting music.  What works for you?  Whatever it is, take time to activate it in your life today.

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