Fishing for compliments. We draw attention to whatever it is we want complimented. We complain about how aweful we felt about our performance in an effort for people to disagree. A meme defines Awkward as “that moment when you’re fishing for complements by speaking badly of yourself and nobody disagrees.” At times we crave attention, want to be noticed, want to be affirmed.
Several people pointed out in the scripture from the past two weeks Luke 17:1 the text says Jesus is talking to his disciples. That is likely a large group of committed followers… Contrast Luke 17:5 it says specifically the “apostles” say to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” This is likely the 12 who were set apart by Jesus. It appears they want to be elevated even above the other “common” disciples: Lord, set us apart, give us greater responsibilities… They are fishing for affirmation, fishing to be elevated…
“Increase our faith” isn’t even a question, it’s a demand: “Lord, you have to do this.” Once in a while I run into somebody that demands I as a pastor have to help them with money, because it is the church’s duty.” If you want to see a stubborn Carl go ahead and tell me I have to give you money. “Increase our faith.” Set us apart, elevate us, make us awesome super apostles so we can bless you even more with our wonderfulness.
There is a great need in today’s world for more people to make a commitment to follow Jesus /become active disciples/committed to learning, growing, loving, living for Him!
Jesus is speaking to the disciples. Luke 17:1 says, “Jesus said to his disciples…” The disciples are the insiders to Jesus teaching… Jesus is challenging the disciples to grow, to put into practice what it means to be a follower. BELIEVE IT and LIVE IT. Jesus was speaking to the first disciples ~~ he is also talking to His followers today.
Who is the insider today? Anybody who wants to make a commitment. (e.g. The Druze) The invitation to follow Jesus Christ is open. To make a commitment to Jesus is to say, “Lord change me. I want to be a different person, I want to be who you want me to be. This truth is captured in the first three words of Luke 17:3: “So watch yourselves.”
In Luke, especially in the last few chapters we have been reading, we see Jesus’ addressing 3 different groups of people:
In the first verse of our text today Luke tells us, “Jesus said to his disciples.” When Luke says, “Jesus said to his disciples…” I think it has two meanings.
First, Luke is relaying an eyewitness account of an event that happened. Jesus did say these words or he was remembered as saying these words to some of his original disciples, but Luke also uses the phrase “Jesus said to his disciples” to get the attention of his contemporary readers who claimed to be Jesus’ disciples.
When Jesus addresses the crowds or the Pharisees or the religious leaders, it might have been easy for contemporary disciples to ignore what Jesus had to say, or to think what he had to say didn’t have anything to do with them…
I’m in the minority when it comes to making sense of this story told by Jesus. I am amazed how many preachers/commentators say it is a true story to be taken literally. Really? It’s a parable/story used by Jesus to make a larger point. If it is a literal story we need to accept the whole, including the “fact” there is a telephone between heaven and hell: “So [the rich man] called [Father Abraham]…” (Luke 19:24) If the story is literally true, who is Father Abraham? How does Father Abraham fit into our ideas of heaven?
Those that take this story literally point out no other parable gives characters a name ~~ Lazarus. So what! Many healing miracles of Jesus have unique elements different from any other healing miracle like the time he used his spit to make mud and put on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus taught in many ways, wisdom sayings, hard sayings like it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man making it to heaven. This story adds to the depth of Jesus method of teaching. Jesus is using known fictional characters everyone understood. In our culture, if I tell a story about Robin Hood, you now it is a fictional story with a true to life message: a man striving for justice by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The characters in today’s parable:
Years ago I happen to show up at a party around a campfire. My friend was drunk. I’d known him years. It was disappointing but in keeping with his patterns. Sometimes you gotta laugh. My friend was so snockered he had fallen onto his back, holding his beer, and squirming like a beetle on its back unable to turn over. All you can do at that point is smile because what else do you got? I helped him up. Then came the surprise. My friend figured out who had just got him up, and through his slurred words, he proceeded to ask my opinion on one of the Psalms that he had been studying for his devotions that morning. That incident changed my view of the world when it comes to people that don’t have it all together. The lesson: messy people have something to offer.
I recently became reacquainted with a thirty something year old man that I knew in his late teens and into his 20’s. I was disheartened when I was told about the time a few years ago his children were taken away, and the chatter among some of the case workers was that “people like him don’t have feelings.” This man has issues, and he has feelings. He was hurt. I told him I’d be proud for him to sit by me in church should he ever find the courage to attend. We tend to write off people we don’t understand.
The Lord gives you choice in how you respond to the stuff of life! I have no idea how some folks navigate without faith in Jesus.
How you respond is everything. silly memes: Several of you posted on FB: “Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions.” “Never laugh at your wife’s choices, you are one of them.” “I wish there was an autocorrect function for life’s choices.” “Some people don’t wanna be fixed because being broken gets them attention!” Choices.
I learned an early lesson from my father about not playing the victim. (I’ve used it before.) I was 7-8 years old playing with my best friend Keith on the roof of the CRC parsonage when we decided to jump off the roof. I sprained my ankle ~ oh the pain. I did the only reasonable thing ~~ I pretended I fell because I figured it was in my best interest for people to feel sorry for me. My mother felt sorry for me…. The Peterson’s felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me. The whole world felt sorry for me, that is… until my father walked into the living room with me groaning on the couch./// My father laughed….
Anyone have problems with your memory?
An 80 year old couple was having problems remembering things, so they went to the doctor and explained about the problems with remembering stuff. After examining them, the doctor says they are physically good but suggests writing things down to help them remember. That night while watching TV, the old man got up and his wife asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the kitchen."
"Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?"
"Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember?"
"No, I can remember that."
"I also would like strawberries. You had better write that down cuz I know you'll forget that."
"I can remember that, you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries."
"I also would like whip cream on top. I know you will forget that so write it down."
"I don't need to write that down, I can remember." He then stomps off into the kitchen. After 20 minutes he returns with a plate of bacon & eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment and says, "You forgot my toast."
The key to this message today is to remember, to remember the things of God, to remember what he has done, to bring to mind the way he has rescued his people, provided for His people, the way he has saved His people.
Ryan Boon shared during the worship service on Aug. 27 about his upcoming 3 month mission trip to Lebanon with the organization, Kids Alive. Enjoy the interview. SACC is pleased to make a contribution to help support him as he serves God across the world.
We serve a crazy God, a God that makes the weak strong, a God that tells those who are small and overwhelmed to get ready for victory! Al Carlson told me a story this week. (I told him I might use this story and he did not object.) I’m titling the story, “When a nickel is worth more than a dime.” Al’s story is a great example of how something of less value can be made to be more valuable, God’s way. God never gives up on us!
Al said when he was about 4 years old, a couple of adult relatives were visiting for a time and they used to put a dime and a nickel on the table and tell Al he could choose either one to keep. At four years old, to him, the nickel made the most sense because it was the biggest. The guys laughed at him for being such a dummy not knowing a dime is actually worth more than a nickel. This happened a couple of times, and the old guys laughed and laughed. It was at that time Al’s older brother, with all the wisdom of a six year old, took Al aside and said to him, “Just keep taking the nickel. As soon as you take the dime, they’ll quit playing the game.” Al says he made about 40¢ off of his uncles. God uses what is less and makes it more. God uses the weak to accomplish his purposes. God uses the broken to create wholeness. It’s the way of God. In God’s world, a nickel may be more valuable than a dime. The weak may have more strength than you realize. God promises peace to those that are overwhelmed.
I want to begin today by going back… Back to the setting of the book Micah. What do I mean by setting? Whenever we are trying to understand the Bible we must begin with the setting or context of the book. To begin that we must ask the who, when, where, why questions. Who wrote micah? When did they write it? Where is it taking place? Why was it written? All of these questions help us to better understand what is going on in the book. To begin today I want to try and answer the question… what was life like for the average Judean during the time of Micah, not the wealthy or powerful, but the average person living in Judea at the time.
Micah gives us the historical setting. In chapter 1 we are told that “the word of the Lord came to Micah in the days of Judah’s Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezakiah… That is, we are to understand the words recorded in the book of Micah as being said by the prophet sometime during the reigns of 3 kings of Judah, that is the Southern half of the kingdom of Israel, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah…
God needs leaders with integrity, people filled with the Spirit, people with confidence who speak truth in His name, people who believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation, people who seek to influence others with the message of hope and love of our Lord. God is calling you to live for Him and be available to impact others in His name! True prophets and leaders of God will be used to turn the world upside down!
In the old Advent Christian Church in Seattle there used to hang an abstract painting donated by one of the members. After it was hung up on the wall, the artist saw his painting and was surprised because it was upside down. He was even more surprised because he liked it better.
In today’s Bible lesson, the people of God are shocked when Micah turns the world upside down. Everything they thought important, the life they have come to love and cherish, is turn around (READ Mic. 3:12). When God upends life, it may be hard at the moment, but the truth leads to the fullness of life.
When your world is dark, the promise of God enables you to confidently look forward with a fresh revelation from God that he will restore you to new life. AMEN
Phil Dufrene is a missionary we support as a church based in Sumas, a chaplaincy ministry to the crews of Cargo ships... I read a devotional from Phil this week ~ he structured his thoughts around an intriguing google entry he stumbled across: “Sad Quotes.” I share only a few sad quotes because they are so sad… people are living in darkness. I wish I could skip the sadness and jump to God’s promises, but because of the ugly reality of the darkness, God’s promises shine brightly. This week we’ve been transfixed by the blood red sun/moon caused by the smoke from the BC wildfires,. It is hazy, but the sun is still shining! Hundreds and hundreds of sad quotes:
On and on it goes…In his devotional Phil said he spent an afternoon listening for the sad quotes of the crew on the ship. The first greeting to the crew, “how are you?” with the typical response, “I’m fine” but as the afternoon went on, he heard the discouragement of being away from their families, the loneliness, justifications for decisions but sadness of the reality of life on the seas… He was listening for sad quotes. I scrolled through my FB feed, so many sad quotes: “Nobody gives a _____ about me so why do I even ______ing try.” Sadness. Darkness. Depression. Hopelessness. “The walls we build around ourselves to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”
Carl Crouse, Pastor
At SACC we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Every Sunday the worship service includes a message from the Bible. My words are an attempt to understand and apply the Bible to our daily living. I post weekly sermons and other biblical messages on this page. May you find meaning and hope as you read through each message and seek to hear God's voice. Leave a comment to ask questions or inspire others with your insights.