Luke chapter 21

Wow! This was a heavy one.

As I read through this chapter, I have to admit that I had a strong urge to reach up to the shelf in my office and crack open a trusty commentary on Luke in order to gain some insight into the meaning behind this passage. Because what Jesus had to say here had my head spinning.

But then I thought about the poor disciples. Can you imagine how much their heads were spinning as they listed to these words of Jesus? I don’t think they had a clue as to what he was talking about. Sure, they got all the references to earthquakes, famines, conflicts, persecution, and betrayal, but they had no way of knowing when all these things were going to take place. I just picture them standing there, jaws slack, eyes wide open, inwardly panicking about all they are taking in. “Is this what we signed up for?” they ask themselves.

So as I read this passage again, I began to look for words of comfort to go along with the words of conflict, confusion, and chaos. And there they were. Strategically placed throughout Jesus’ discourse are some helpful reminders from the lips of the Savior to help His disciples survive and thrive during difficult times. And they still apply today.

Use every opportunity to share – In verse 13, Jesus tells the disciples that even though they are going to be arrested, put on trial, and persecuted for His names sake, they need to see it as an opportunity to tell others about Him. Don’t try and protect yourself, make the most of the situation and share about the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.

Rely on the Lord – Verses 14-15 remind us that God will give us everything we need to endure everything that comes our way. We don’t have to worry about having enough strength to face the difficult days ahead, because we have God on our side.

Remember that you will endure – Verse 19 reminds us that no matter what we face in the future, we WILL endure. Saving faith doesn’t fall apart or fade away – it endures. To cease to trust Jesus is to never have trusted Him. Your ability to endure persecution and pain is proof of the faith within you.

Watch and wait expectantly – Verses 27-28 remind us to have an eternal perspective – to live in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Don’t wallow in the despair of the day, but lift up your heads and keep your eyes open for the ultimate answer to all of life’s problems” The redemption of this world that will come with the return of the Lord.

Trust God’s Word – Verse 33 puts it all in perspective. While the entire creation could evaporate tomorrow, the word of God is lasting, permanent, and trustworthy. This world and everything in it is impermanent and untrustworthy, but you can count on God’s word.

Guard your heart – Tough times can be tough on our hearts, causing us to worry, weighing us down with doubt and despair. We can take our eyes off the hope of the Lord’s return and focus in on the circumstances around us. In verse 34, Jesus tells us not to let that happen.

Stay alert and pray for strength – The opposite of a life filled with worry and despair is a life of complacency and carelessness. Jesus encourages us to be alert, to have our eyes open to all that is going on around us. In other words, be realistic. This stuff is real and it calls for prayer. We need endurance. We need strength. We need wisdom. And these things only come from one place: God.

So, what are you going to do in the difficult days in which you live? There are signs of despair everywhere. People are suffering. The news is not good. But are we supposed to panic? Not according to Jesus. We live in a fallen world in need of a risen Savior. Let’s turn to Him – even when we don’t understand all that is going on around us.

Father, help me to be a glass-half-full Christian who sees Light in the midst of darkness. Who sees Hope in the midst of despair. Who looks up when the temptation is to be down. Give me an eternal perspective. Help me keep my eyes focused on  You! Help to me to trust that you have the details of my life and this world all worked out and Your plan is perfect.  So I have no reason to worry. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 20

“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Vs 25

I know it’s only the end of January, but it’s hard not to think about tax season. Before we know it, April 15 will be here and all of us will be rushing to “render unto Caesar.” In fact, the ads and commercials for tax preparation services have already started. Most try and take a humorous approach, but for some reason I find it very difficult to see paying your taxes as a laughing matter. Especially in the midst of economic hard times.

But I digress. As I look at Jesus’ response to a trick question posed to him by the Jewish religious leaders who were obsessed with finding some charge they could level at Him and get Him out of the way, I am convicted. Not about paying my taxes, but about false worship.

You see, Jesus tells them to “render” or literally “discharge what is due” to the government of their day. That just happened to be the Romans. They had a civic duty and responsibility to pay their taxes. Even if those taxes were unjust and exorbitant (which they were). But the thing that hit me is that I tend to give the government more than it deserves or even demands. I render unto government what really belongs to God:

My trust, confidence, hope, dependence, expectation, desire for protection, need for stability. In short, I end up worshipping government instead of God. This morning the news agencies are all talking about the House having passed President Obama’s $819 billion stimulus package. Many Americans are placing their hope and confidence in this bill being our way out of the financial crisis this country is in. There are even a lot of believers who are hoping someone, anyone in government will come up with a solution.

But is government where my hope should lie? Are politicians the ones in whom I should place my confidence? Is Washington or Rome where I should turn for solutions to the difficulties of life?

I am to render unto God what is rightfully His and His alone. My confidence, my trust, my hope, my allegiance, my dependence, my obedience, my life. So this April 15 I will render unto Caesar what is rightfully his. But beginning today I will attempt to give God what only He deserves. Care to join me?

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24

Father, these are difficult days, but you are a powerful God. Help me to remember that you alone are worthy of my trust, allegiance, confidence, hope, and love. Give me a confidence to face each day with peace, hope, and joy. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 19

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Vs 10
If the Lord ever needed a purpose statement, this would have been it. In one short sentence we read the real reason behind His birth, His life, and His death. He came to seek and to save the lost. Which included me! And some vertically challenged Hebrew tax collector named Zaccheus.

I love this story. I can’t read it without thinking about the little Sunday School song I learned growing up as a child.

Zaccheus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed him by, He looked up in the tree,
And he said, “Zaccheus, you come down from there;
For I’m going to your house today, for I’m going to your house today”

Zaccheus came down from that tree, as happy as he could be,
He gave his money to the poor, and said: “What a better man I’ll be.”

But while this clever little ditty covers the “chance” encounter Zaccheus had with Jesus and the subsequent life change that resulted, there’s something missing, and it’s the statement recorded in verse 10. What happened to Zaccheus is a picture of what Jesus came to do for every man, woman and child: To save them from their lostness. You see, Zaccheus was a “wee little man” in more than just height. He was lacking in more than physical stature. He had come up short on the righteousness index and was going to find himself standing at the gate of heaven unable to meet the mandatory holiness height requirement to enter.

He was LOST. A sheep without a shepherd doomed to get as much out of his earthly life as he possibly could because his hopes of heaven were blocked by an insurmountable wall of righteous standards he could never get over. Especially at his size!

But something remarkable happened. Jesus enters the scene. Zaccheus is up in a tree, attempting to overcome his height disadvantage and catch a glimpse of Jesus. But Jesus found him and said, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Wow! Jesus was offering this sinful man an opportunity to have his home, and subsequently his heart, occupied by the Son of God. You can tell by the reaction of the crowds that Zaccheus was far from deserving. He was a known sinner. By his own admission he had become rich through fraud and corruption. Yet Jesus chose him over over all the others in the crowd that day.

You see, Zaccheus is me. I was once the same spiritually stunted sinner in search of a savior. I couldn’t measure up. I consistently came up short on the righteousness requirement. I was lost. But Jesus was seeking for me and He found me. And like Zaccheus, my life has never been the same. Salvation came to my house.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Thank you Father for sending Your Son to seek me. Thank you Jesus for finding me. Let me never forget that like Zaccheus, I was undeserving of your grace and mercy. I didn’t measure up. I was a “wee little man” unable to reach You, so you reached out to me. And I am eternally grateful. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 18

Could you use a little justice?

As I read through Luke 18 this morning, one verse jumped out at me, and it happened to be the very first one.

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and noe to lose heart.”

Have you ever prayed and lost heart? Have you ever prayed and felt like God was wasn’t answering or that He didn’t even hear your request in the first place? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had this feeling more times than you would like to remember. So this passage really struck a chord with me. You see, I thought I knew this passage pretty well. But in doing my devotional this morning I tried to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. In the last I had always seen the first parable as a lesson in persistent prayer. After all, it’s a story about a widow who kept “continually coming” to the unjust judge and ultimately wore him down. But is persistence the real point here? If so, then we run the risk of turning this parable into a license for asking for and getting whatever we want from God. Just ask loud enough, long enough, and persistently enough, and God will eventually have to give in to your request.

But the real point seems to be about the content of the woman’s request, not her methodology. Yes, she ultimately got what she was asking for, but what was it that she was requesting? According to Jesus, it was justice. She had asked this judge for legal protection from her opponent. In verses 7-8, Jesus says, “…will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and wil He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.” This woman was in need of justice. So she turned to the only source she knew coudl deliver it, and she asked for it consitently and persistently until she received it. Why? Because she was helpless and hopeless to do anything about it herself. This earthly judge was her only hope — for justice.

So what’s the point? I need to pray for justice to be done. I need to believe that justice will be done. But when will it happen? According to Jesus, it will come “when the Son of Man comes.” Ultimate justice on this earth will only come when the Lord returns and makes everything wrong right. But when He returns will He find His people praying faithfully and expectantly for justice to be done or will He find that we have long since given up and given in? The real message in this passage for me is about praying for the return of the Savior. It is about allowing the injustices I see in this world to remind me that the only solution is His return. When I see someone suffering from a potentially life-threatening disease, I am not only to pray for their healing, but to pray that justice be done. That this wrong be made right. When I encounter yet another marriage disentegrating before my eyes, I am not only to pray for restoration, but to allow it to remind me that the ultimage, long-term sotution is His return.  Seeing and experiencing injustice in this world should cause us to pray for His return. I should long for His return more than anything else. To pray for anything less is to expect too little and to settle for far less than true justice.

Do you long for His return? Are you eager to see justice done? I am. And what a joy it is to know that that day is coming. His second coming will bring justice on the earth once and for all.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Hiimself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” –– Revelation 21:1-5a

Father, may I continue to grow in my understanding of and desire for justice, which is available only through Your Son and will ultimately come when He returns. Help me long for and pray persistently for  that day more than anything else. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 17

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” – Vs 5

The thing that struck me the most out of this chapter was the request of the disciples for “more faith.” At first blush, this would seem to be a noble request. They appear to be asking the Master to increase their faith. But what they failed to recognize was that it is not a matter of the amount of faith we possess, but its presence. They were apparently wanting MORE faith so they could do MORE with it. Just take a look back at chapter 9. These guys had been sent out by Jesus and were given “power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.”

My take is that the disciples’ request for more faith was a not-so-subtle request for more power. They wanted more so they could do more. But Jesus’ response was that if they only had a little, they could do much.

It is interesting that Jesus then goes on to tell a parable about the slave owner and his slave in verses 7-10. If we keep the parable within the context, it would seem that Jesus is teaching them that their faith will be increased at the proper time. Right now it was all about Jesus and His ministry. The disciples, like the slave in the parable, were to serve Jesus and His needs. They needed to see themselves as “unworthy slaves” who were to simply do what they ought to do: faithfully serve the one who has called me.

I sometimes ask God for more, of even good things like faith, as a reward for my obedience and service. But instead, I need to do my job as an “unworthy slave” and faithfully serve, leaving any reward up to God.

Father, help me to be recognize my position. Forgive me for always wanting more, when you have already given me so much, including Your Son. I want to serve you faithfully, not for the recognition or reward, but out of gratitude for all you have done for me. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 16

Know your audience

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the people of light.– Luke 16:8 NET

I spend 29 years of my life in the advertising business as a creative director. It was my job to come up with ads and marketing campaigns to help my clients successively sell their products and services to their customer base. To do so required more than creativity, it demanded that I know both the product and the potential purchaser of that product. I had to get into the head of the consumer and understand how they think. I had to learn their likes and dislikes. I had to understand what motivated them. I was spending my client’s money in an attempt to garner customers for their products. This was all about wise stewardship. But it was sometimes easy to see my job as just a place where I got to be creative and produce clever radio or TV commercials, or produce eye-catching magazine ads that displayed my creative skills. In other words, I could easily get wrapped up in producing ads that made me look good and not my customer. In fact, I produced more than my fair share of ads over the years that won me creative accolades but didn’t produce much in the way of revenue for my clients.

In the first part of chapter 16 Luke records the parable of the shrewd manager. It is a difficult parable that Jesus doesn’t bother to explain for us. But the basic idea seems to be that of stewardship. You’ve got a manager who loses his job because he squandered his master’s possessions. We don’t know exactly what he did, but he was dishonest and it cost him his job. So it seems that he was told to clear up all his accounts before his final day on the payroll. There is debate as to what exactly happens next, but the best bet is that this manager went to all of his master’s debtors and gave them a chance to clear up their debt by paying a reduced settlement. Many commentators believe he was able to lower their debt by eliminating what would have been his own commission. He is praised by the very man who had just fired him for his wise actions. He satisfied his former boss and his customers. Jesus also praises this man’s actions by recognizing that he knew exactly how to handle those with whom he worked and lived. He was a product of this age and he understood how to make the most of his interactions with others of this age.

So what’s the point of this parable? It seems that Jesus is saying that the people of this world actually think about how they use their resources. Whether they belong to them or someone else. Even if they misuse them, they still give it some thought. This man wisely used his position to come up with a workable, long-term solution to his problem and that of his master. He gained favor with his customers and a praise from his former boss. Jesus seems to be saying that we, as believers, must live in this world with a sense of responsibility for what we have been entrusted. We need to have an other-oriented mentality. Rather than obsess about us, we need to think about others – especially the lost. It may require that we sacrifice short-term rewards for long-term benefits. This man was going to lose his commissions, but he was gaining long-term favor with every one of those people he had helped. When he was out looking for work, he was going to have a great network of people who were favorable disposed to him. Jesus says that when we live in this world with a sensitivity to those around us and wisely steward the resources God has given us, we win over the lost. We make friends of those who have typically been burned by the self-centered, self-seeking mentality of this world. We can use money and possessions in such a way that we gain favor with men. We show them that our possessions do not possess us. The manager in the story knew how to use money to influence others. As Christians, we need to learn how to use the resources of this world, entrusted to us by God, in such a way that the lost see that there is something different about us. We are to live as those who worship one master, and it isn’t money!

Father, I want to be wise with what You have given me. Yet, I know that I have often misused Your resources and been unfaithful. I have not had an other-mentality, but a me-focus. I have used what you have given me to reward myself rather than to reach the lost. Give me a wisdom that sees and understands how the people of this world think. Let me show them, using the resources of this world, that I serve You as my master and nothing else. Money is not my god, You are. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 15


“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.– Luke 15:7 NASB

Who in the world wouldn’t need repentance? Is there really anybody out there who is so righteous that they don’t need to turn from their sin and be rescued? Well, in Jesus’ day there was a group of religious leaders who truly believed they were beyond the need for repentance. They viewed themselves as righteous and certainly in no need of a Savior. The Pharisees were a group of self-righteous, pride-filled individuals who saw no need for repenting because they did not view themselves as sinners. They were taking care of their own sin by living in obedience to the law. They were their own saviors. Their righteousness was self-produced.

But sadly, they were delusional. They only thought they were righteous. There would be no celebrating in heaven over their pitiful attempts at redeeming themselves. In fact, Jesus said, “Count on it–there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue” (Luke 15:7 MSG). These guys had no need of rescue. In their minds they weren’t drowning. They saw all those around them as the ones who were in trouble. They despised their own people and viewed them as little more than dogs. They viewed themselves as the healthy ones and everyone else as sinners who were holding back the kingdom of God. That’s why they had such a hard time with Jesus and his association with the common people of His day. On one occasion, they confronted Jesus about his poor choice of dinner guests. “But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor––sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.'” (Mark 2:16-17 NLT).

One of the first things we have to do before coming to Christ is to acknowledge that we are sinners in need of a Savior. But if we can somehow justify ourselves before God and earn his favor by our own efforts, then we eliminate the need for the cross. We also devalue Christ’s death on the cross. He died in vain. What He did was unnecessary if we could save ourselves. Self-righteousness turns grace on its head because it views the sinner as somehow capable of earning God’s grace through human effort. It is no longer a gift, but a payment for our performance.

But twice in this passage, Jesus says, “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10 NLT). Repentance is an acknowledgment of our sin and our awareness of our need for a Savior. But not just at salvation. The truth is, many of us as believers still rely on our self-righteous activities to somehow earn us favor with God. We try to keep Him pleased with us by doing things for Him. In his book, The Practice of Godliness, Jerry Bridges says, “So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do.” This is, in essence, nothing more than an attempt at self-righteousness. We don’t really need the Savior or a deepening relationship with Him. We think we can somehow develop Christ-like character on our own. This is exactly what the Pharisees were guilty of. That’s why Jesus told His disciples, “that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 5:20 NASB). Where do we get that kind of righteousness from? The Savior Himself. So every day I am to repent of my own self-righteousness and embrace the fact that I stand as righteous before God because of what Jesus Christ has done for me on the cross. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior – as much today as ever. I still have need of Christ’s power, forgiveness, grace and mercy. I can’t live this life without Him. I try, but I always fail. I can’t sanctify myself any more than I could have saved myself. Your Son and the indwelling Holy Spirit make it possible. Never let me forget that. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 14

Count the cost!

“Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.– Luke 14:27 MSG

Discipleship. It isn’t a word we use a lot any more. And even when we do it carries a lot of baggage with it. When we say discipleship we tend to think of scripture memory, Bible studies, class room environments, and a small group of Christians who are really serious about their faith. Discipleship is for those who want to be students of the Word. They are wired differently than the rest of us. They have a special capacity for learning deep doctrinal truth and a desire to spend countless hours alone, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture. They are just not like the rest of us. They’re a super-spiritual breed who are set apart from the rest. The are the few, the proud, the Marines. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Yet, when you read the words of Jesus you can’t help but realize that to a certain degree, disciples really are a breed apart. They are special. But it is NOT a classification of people within the Christian community who just happen to take spiritual matters a little more seriously. If you are a follower of Christ, you are a disciple. In fact, Jesus made it quite clear that you had to be willing to shoulder your own cross before you could follow Him. You couldn’t be His disciple without it.

There is a cost to discipleship. There is a cost to following Christ. It was never intended to be easy. John MacArthur has this to say about the cost of discipleship: “Discipleship…more than just being a learner, being an intimate follower, having an intimate relationship, following to the point where you would go as far as death out of love. There’s no question about the fact that the only message Jesus ever proclaimed was a message of discipleship. The call that Jesus gave was a call to follow Him, a call to submission, a call to obedience. It was never a plea to make some kind of momentary decision to acquire forgiveness and peace and heaven and then go on living anyway you wanted. The invitations of Jesus to the lost were always direct calls to a costly commitment.”

There is a cost to following Jesus. But that is not a popular message. It never has been. It wasn’t popular when Jesus communicated it more than 2,000 years ago. His followers didn’t want to hear Him say, “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple” (Luke 14:33 MSG). This sounds harsh and demanding. But it is really the message of discipleship. Dallas Willard describes it as the life of an apprentice to Jesus. “Being his apprentice is, therefore, not a matter of special ‘religious’ activities, but an orientation and quality of my entire existence. This is what is meant by Jesus when he says that those who do not forsake all cannot be his disciple. (Luke 14:26, 33) The emphasis is upon the all. There must be nothing held of greater value than Jesus and his kingdom. He must be clearly seen as the most important thing in human life, and being his apprentice as the greatest opportunity any human being ever has” (Dallas Willard, How Does The Disciple Live).

Discipleship has a cost. So did our salvation. It cost Jesus His life. When I follow Him, He asks me to count the cost and determine whether I am willing to make His kingdom the most important thing in my life. Will I allow it to replace anything and anyone else? Will I, like Paul, count everything else as loss compared to knowing and following Jesus Christ as His disciple? (Philippians3:8).

Father, I want to be a disciple of Your Son who is willing to consider anything and anyone else as expendable compared to the joy of following Him. Anything it costs me is well worth it compared to all that I receive in return. Help me grow in my appreciation of the gift I have received and make Your Son and His kingdom the highest priority in my life. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 13

I don’t know you!

“And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you. Go away, all you who do evil.’– Luke 13:27 NLT

Over in Matthew chapter seven, we have the companion passage to this lesson taught by Jesus. In both cases, you have people who, at the time of judgment, will come forward claiming that they had done all kinds of things for God. In the Matthew passage they say, “Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name” (Matthew 7:22 NLT). In the Luke passage they say, “We ate and drank in Your presence , and You taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26 NASB). In one case, they seem to be depending on their good deeds to save them. In the other, they are putting their hope and trust in the fact that they have some kind of a relationship with Jesus. But in both cases, it doesn’t work out too well for them. Jesus basically tells them, “I don’t even know you!”

Self-effort can never earn us favor with God. Self-righteousness can’t produce true righteousness. The Pharisees had been trying it for years and they still stood before God as sinners, condemned, unclean. But if you try to rely on just a surface relationship with Jesus, you will also be sorely disappointed. Many claim to know Christ, but have not placed their faith in Him. They have a knowledge of Him, but not a relationship with Him. He doesn’t know them because they are not really His. I love the way the New Living Translation puts it: “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 NLT). Religion and rule-keeping are not enough. Doing things for God is not enough. Knowing about Jesus is not enough. God is looking for a relationship based on faith in His Son’s atoning death on the cross. That requires us to give up our quest for spiritual perfection on our own. It requires that we give up relying on some surface, skin-deep understanding of who Jesus is. In other words, it requires surrender to God’s only plan for salvation. Faith in His Son as my sin substitute. It is NOT what I can do for God that matters. It is what Jesus Christ has already done for me on the cross. It is not knowing about Jesus that matters. It is knowing that He lives within me. “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).

Father, I know I can’t earn favor with You by doing more for You. You have already shown me Your favor by sending Your Son to die on the cross in my place. I know I can’t rely on a surface knowledge of Christ, but must constantly remember that He lives within me. It is His presence in me that transforms me and makes me Your child. You know me because I am known by Him. You see me as righteous because You see me through Him. And for that I am grateful. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Luke chapter 12

Rich with God

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.– Luke 12:21 NLT

This is an interesting passage. Typically we use it when we want to talk about giving. Which seems to make sense. But when you look closer at the context of the passage, it seems that giving is not really the point Jesus is trying to make. Jesus is using a comparison to the man in the parable He has just told. This man, who was a wealthy land-owner, was suffering from a eye problem. Actually it was an I problem. He was obsessed with himself. Just look at verses 17-19. In just three short verses he uses the personal pronouns I or my at least 11 times. It is all about him. His crops. His barns. His grain. His soul. He is large and in charge. He mistakenly believes that he is in control of his wealth and his destiny. Nowhere does he factor in God. His decisions are all up to him. His future is all up to him. After all, his abundance had been all up to him!

But God had other plans. God calls the man a fool. Because all the while he has been planning his future – filled with eating, drinking and good times – God had another plan and another schedule. That very night he would lose his life. All his plans would evaporate and all his efforts to store up for himself treasures here on this earth for future enjoyment would disappear. That is when Jesus turns to His disciples and says, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and in not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21 NASB). You see, because of the way this verse is typically translated, we think that it is telling us to be rich toward God. We are supposed to generous with our resources and give them to God. Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of verses that support tithing and giving, but I just don’t think this is one of them. I think this verse carries an even more important point. We are not being told to make God rich, but to be rich with God. We are NOT to fill our lives with stuff and set our hopes for the future on material things. No, we are to fill our lives with God – fully realizing that our present as well as our future are in His hands. We are to abound in His riches.

Jesus goes on to say, “He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Luke 12:31 NLT). This isn’t about us giving to God, but about Him giving to us. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NLT). The problem with the man in the parable is that he didn’t need God. He had riches to spare and was putting all his hope for the future in them. But those kinds of riches can only deliver temporal satisfaction. They are unreliable for anything but short-term satisfaction. God has riches beyond anything we could ever imagine, and He wants to share them with us. His riches are eternal and everlasting. His treasure is in heaven, and is not of this earth. He makes that clear in verses 33-34. “Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe––no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be” (Luke 12:32-33 NLT). The Message paraphrases that last verse this way: “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

This isn’t a parable about giving. It is a parable about receiving. Receiving riches from God and a treasure stored up for us in heaven that we can never lose. Are you rich with God today? Are you abounding in His riches today? Are you relying on His wealth of resources or are you counting on your own riches to bring your joy, contentment, happiness, and fulfillment?

Father, thank You that I don’t have to depend on my riches. First of all, I don’t have much. And what I do have is not going to last. It can’t even satisfy me right now, let alone in the future. But the riches that you offer are eternal. I want to be abounding in your riches. The riches of your grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. I want my heart to treasure what you have provided for me, not what I can provide for myself. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men