Day 89 – John 11

Good and Angry.

John 11

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up withing him, and he was deeply troubled. – John 11:33 NLT

Chapter 11 of the Book of John contains the well-known and often recounted story of Jesus’ miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead. This was  a watershed moment in the life of Jesus and was going to set up a dramatic shift in emphasis for His ministry. The end was drawing near. Jesus knows that He is entering the last part of His mission as God’s servant. He has one last thing to do before that mission is accomplished and it will require Him to go to Jerusalem one last time. It there that He will be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, be beaten, mocked, unjustly tried, and undeservedly crucified. The event recorded by John will help set up all that is to come in the days ahead. It will help explain much of what we see happen as Jesus enters into Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. But we must look closely if we want to see some of more hidden or difficult messages contained in this story. While the raising of Lazarus from the dead is spectacular and worthy of our wonder and attention, there is so much more going on that is often overlooked.

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. They were friends of Jesus and He had been in their home on other occasions (Luke 10:38). They lived in the village of Bethany, which was about two miles outside the city Gates of Jerusalem. This village and, more than likely, their home, would become Jesus’ base of operations during the final week of His life. During the Festival of Passover, which was coming up in just a few days, Jesus would return to Bethany each evening after having visited in Jerusalem all day. The path from Jerusalem to Bethany would have taken He and His disciples through the Mount of Olives on the east side of the city. This would become an important venue in the days ahead.

Jesus received an urgent message from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was sick. They begged Jesus to come to His aid, believing that if He came, Lazarus could be healed by Jesus. But interestingly, upon hearing the news, Jesus delayed His departure for an additional two days. Then He informed His disciples that it was time to return to the region of Judea. Jesus and the disciples had been ministering in the region east of Judea called Perea. When they heard Jesus say it was time to return to Judea, they tried to talk Him out of it, because just days earlier the people of Judea were ready to stone Jesus to death. But Jesus waves off their concern, knowing it is necessary for Him to go. He also had a reason for His delay. Jesus knew full well that Lazarus would have died by the time they arrived. He even told the disciples so. “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him” (John 11:14-15 NLT).

When they arrived, they found the entire village in a state of mourning. Mary and Martha were beside themselves with sadness and could not process why Jesus had not come sooner. He could have saved their brother, but now it was too late. While they believed in Jesus’ power, they didn’t think He could do anything about their brother’s death. What happens next is significant. I’m not referring to the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It was what John tells us just before that miraculous moment. Jesus saw the tears and agony of Mary, and looked at the other people sadly mourning the death of their friend Lazarus, and “a deep anger welled up within him” (John 11:33 NLT). While some translations simply say that Jesus “groaned in His spirit” and was “deeply troubled,” I think there is far more going on here. The New Living Translation gives what I believe to be a far better feel for what is really going on. Jesus wasn’t just troubled, He was angry. The word used here in the Greek is from a root word that means to “snort with anger.” Jesus is not just sad, He is angry. Why? Jesus knew that Lazarus would be dead, so I don’t think He is upset about that. His anger seems to be related to the tears, agony, sorrow and sadness He sees displayed before Him. Death has brought that about. And death is the direct result of sin. Jesus is having to watch the byproduct of the very thing He came to eliminate and eradicate: Sin and its residual effects. I believe Jesus is angry at the devastating impact sin brought on the world that He Himself had created. Jesus is watching people who have had to live with the reality and permanency of death all their lives. But He had come to change all that. Which is what He told Mary when He arrived on the scene. “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25-26 NLT).

Jesus wept when He arrived at the tomb. But why? He knew He was going to raise Lazarus to life again, so why would He be crying? Was it simply out of sympathy for the people? I don’t think so. He knew their sadness would be turned to joy in just a matter of minutes. Once again, I believe Jesus is angry and upset because of the dominion death had over the lives of those He came to save. He knew that in that crowd that day were countless people who would never believe in Him and as a result, would never receive everlasting life. Death would end in their eternal separation from God the Father. John says that Jesus was still angry when he arrived at the tomb. He was good and angry. He was going to give Satan and death a small glimpse of what was about to come in the days ahead. He would raise Lazarus to life. But in just a short period of time, God the Father would raise Jesus to new life, conquering sin and death once and for all. Paul reminds us of what Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NLT). This moment at the graveside of Lazarus was a galvanizing moment for Jesus – not that He needed anything to encourage His obedience to the will of His Father. But He would leave the town of Bethany more focused than ever at the task at hand. News of this event would spread like wildfire. Many people believed in Jesus because of what they witnessed. But when the leading priests and Pharisees caught wind of what happened, they began to plot Jesus’ death more vigorously than ever.

Jesus’ anger at sin and death would soon culminate with His own death on the cross. He would defeat sin and death by taking all the sins of mankind on Himself and dying a sacrificial death on the cross – once for all. Jesus was good and angry, and it would result in good news for mankind.

Jesus, You had a right to be angry that day. You were watching the devastating effects of sin on the very ones You had created. You were having to watch what sin had done to those whom You loved. But You did something about it. You dealt with it. You conquered sin and defeated death once and for all. And I think You that I am the beneficiary of Your righteous anger.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Advertisements

Day 88 – Luke 17:1-10

When It Comes to Faith – A Little Goes a Long Way.

Luke 17:1-10

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!” – Luke 17:6 NLT

Once again, we have a very difficult passage this morning. There are two seemingly disconnected messages that have nothing to do with one another. What is it that Jesus is trying to tell His disciples and, by extension, us? The first message has to do with temptation. It is similar to a teaching Jesus gave that was recorded by Matthew. Jesus tells His disciples that there will always be temptations to sin. It is part of living life in a fallen world. But His real point seems to be that you don’t want to be someone who tempts or leads another person into sin. Because Luke has included this teaching of Jesus in this section of messages, I believe he is purposely connecting it to Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees and religious leaders. One of His greatest frustrations with these so-called religious leaders was that, through their actions and attitudes, they were causing others to reject His message. They were preventing others from accepting the Good News that Jesus came to bring. Later on in His ministry, Jesus would make this point painfully clear: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either” (Matthew 23:13 NLT). So I believe Luke is including these two teachings of Jesus in this section because he viewed them as having something to do with Jesus’ views regarding the religious leaders of the day.

The last thing we should want to do as believers is to cause someone to sin. Instead, we should be calling one another to repentance. If it is necessary, we should even be willing to rebuke them in order to get them to repent. As representatives of Jesus, our job is to encourage one another away from sin, not toward it. Rather than encourage rebellion against God, we should motivate one another toward repentance to God. And when they do repent, we should be ready to forgive them – even if their sin was toward us. Over in the Matthew passage, Jesus takes this message a step further, saying, “So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut of off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Matthew 18:8-9 NLT). That seems pretty drastic, doesn’t it? But Jesus is trying to get us to recognize the seriousness of sin, both in our individual life and within the body of Christ. We are not to tolerate sin. We are not to become comfortable with sin – in our own lives or within the church. When Paul found out that there was a situation going on in the church at Corinth that involved a man having sex with his step-mother, he addressed it quickly and powerfully. He said, “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you” (1 Corinthians 5:1 NLT). Evidently, the church had decided to simply tolerate this situation rather than deal with it. But Paul told them to remove this man from their fellowship. He said, “you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns” (1 Corinthians 5:5 NLT). Then Paul gives them the reason behind his harsh recommendation. “Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7 NLT). Deal with it. Remove it. Take it seriously. Or it will spread and infect the whole congregation.

Back to Luke’s account. Jesus would love to see the religious leaders repent of their sins. He would love to see them recognize their sinfulness, turn to Him as their Messiah, and receive forgiveness. And even though their sins were directed against Him, He would have forgiven them. But until they did repent, Jesus would continue to point out their sins and rebuke them for their hard hearts and hypocrisy. We must understand the power and pervasiveness of sin. We cannot afford to make light of it. As Jesus said, it is like yeast, and will spread uncontrolled through our lives and through the church if left unchecked.

The second part of this passage appears to be a total detour. The disciples ask Jesus to show them how to increase their faith. It sounds like a legitimate request. But what are they really asking? Because of the manner in which Jesus answers them, it would appear that their request had an ulterior motive that was less than innocent. Their request for increased faith seems to be so that they could do bigger and better things. They wanted to do miracles like Jesus. They wanted to cast out demons like Jesus. They had gotten a little taste of what this was like when Jesus sent them out two by two with the power and authority to heal and cast our demons. They came back pumped. They liked what they had experienced. They were wanting more of the same. So Jesus tells them that it wasn’t a matter of the QUANTITY of their faith, but the QUALITY of it. He tells them that with just a small amount of faith, they could tell a tree to be uprooted from the ground and be thrown into the sea, and it would happen. Now, you have to stop and think about this statement. What is Jesus really teaching us? Is He saying that if we believe hard enough, we can literally uproot trees with a word from our mouths? The point seems to be the contrast between the size of the faith compared to the difficulty of the task. A little faith can do a lot. Jesus seems to be telling the disciples that they don’t need MORE faith, they need the right KIND of faith. Jesus uses a real-life illustration to make His point. If a master has a servant who has been plowing in the master’s field or caring for the master’s sheep, and that servant comes in to the house, does the master invite his servant to sit down and eat with him? Certainly not. He tells the servant to serve him first. And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was supposed to do? No. Then Jesus makes it personal. “In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty’” (Luke 17:10 NLT). Faith must be God-directed. The disciples wanted more faith so they could do more things for their own glory and benefit. They wanted to accomplish more, but they wanted to do it on their own terms. Jesus is telling them that they simply need to do what He wants them to do. They needed to be faithful first. They needed to trust Jesus and listen to what He was saying. Again, I think Jesus is also sending a message regarding the religious leaders. They refused to listen to God. They refused to obey God. They were rejecting the very Son of God. Rather than view themselves as servants of God, they had tried to turn the tables and almost demanded that God serve them. After all, in their minds, they deserved it. They were descendants of Abraham and faithful servants of God. But they were neglecting their duty to God.

Jesus wants the disciples to know that their faith must not be based in their ability to accomplish great things for God. It must be focused on God Himself. Our faith, even in small quantities, will accomplish incredible things, as long as we are leaning on and listening to God. If God demands that we uproot a mulberry tree, we will have all the power to do it, because we are doing His will. And He will get the glory, not us. Like the servant in Jesus’ example, we need to be willing to do our duty, faithfully. We need to be willing to focus on God and His desires. Then when He commands us to do something, we will have our faith in the right place and He will provide the power to produce the right outcome. We don’t need more faith, we just need to focus what little faith we have on the right thing – serving God.

Father, show me how to serve You more and me less. Help me make it less and less about me and more and more about You. If You are the focus, faith will never be a problem. If I realize that You don’t need me to do anything, but that You want to reveal Your power in me and through me, then I don’t need more faith. I have You.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 87 – Luke 16:19-31

An Unexpected Twist.

Luke 16:19-31

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:31 NLT

Jesus had a unique way of turning things on their ear, upsetting the apple cart, and disrupting the status quo. He was always shaking up the comfortable conclusions people had reached and making them reassess their preconceived ideas of how things worked in God’s Kingdom. He used His stories or parables as a way to hook people in, peaking their interest, while at the same time rocking their world. In considering His story of the rich man and the poor man, it is important to remember the context. It goes all the way back to the opening of chapter 15, where the Pharisees and religious leaders confronted Jesus about His questionable choice of friends. It seems that they were offended that this so-called Messiah was fond of hanging out with sinners. He even ate with them. Something these self-righteous men would never do. It was that encounter with the religious leaders that began Jesus’ string of stories. He then launched into the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the unfaithful manager, and now, the rich man and the poor man. But if you remember to consider what prompted Jesus to tell these stories, it might be better to rename them “The Parable of the Abandoned Sheep,” “The Parable of the Overlooked Coins,” The Parable of the Self-Righteous Son,” The Parable of the Remorseful Servant, and “The Parable of Unbelieving Rich Man.”

If we remember the context, we can’t overlook the fact that Jesus is dealing with the attitude of the Pharisees and the religious leaders. In the middle of His story about the unfaithful manager, Luke records the statement, “The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him” (Luke 16:14 NLT). Whether they got that the story was about them, they certainly didn’t agree with what Jesus was saying. They didn’t like His conclusions. These were men who enjoyed a rich and satisfying life. They viewed wealth as a sign of the blessing of God. They were rich because they were righteous – or so they thought. Unlike the manager in the story, they didn’t see themselves as unfaithful stewards of God. They had been faithful and their wealth was a sign that God was pleased with them. Which led Jesus to tell the story of the rich man and the poor man. This is a story designed to juxtapose two extreme conditions, and to destroy the faulty thinking that plagued the people of Israel concerning the blessings of God. The rich man “was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen.” He lived a life of luxury. Jesus’ audience would have naturally concluded that this man was righteous because of His wealth. Then Jesus described a second man, who was a poor beggar, relegated to begging for food. Not only that, he was inflicted with sores. Again, Jesus’ audience would have naturally concluded that this man was a wicked sinner who was simply being punished by God for his sins.

Both men die. But this is where the story begins to take an unexpected turn for the audience. Things do not turn out they way they would have imagined. Shockingly, in Jesus’ story, the rich man ends up in hell and the poor man ends up in heaven, with Abraham and all the faithful patriarchs. This would have been a shock to all those listening to Jesus speak that day. Why? Because they believed the one man’s wealth was a sign of God’s blessing and, therefore, a guarantee of his future in heaven. The poor man should have been the one to end up in hell, because he obviously had lived a wicked life on earth. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been destined to a life of begging and misery. But Jesus’ story is designed to explode these myths regarding righteousness and reward in God’s Kingdom. The poor man was not being rewarded with heaven because he was poor and the rich man was not being punished with hell because he was wealthy. This was all about the condition of the hearts of the two men. Just a few moments before, Jesus had told the Pharisees, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15 NLT). In the story, Jesus says that the rich man called out to Abraham for relief. He was in anguish and he asked Abraham to send the poor man to cool his parched tongue with just a dip of water from his fingertip. Interestingly, Jesus reveals that the rich man, while in hell and under torment, still views the poor man as his servant. Abraham breaks the news to this man that what he is asking is impossible. So the rich man begs Abraham to send the poor to warn his family so that they won’t end up like he did. He wants Lazarus, the poor man, to rise from the dead and tell his rich brothers that they can’t depend on their wealth as a sign of God’s blessing and an assurance of their future place in God’s Kingdom. And this is where Jesus makes His final and most important point. The rich man says, “But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God” (Luke 16:30 NLT). Interestingly, Jesus wove the great patriarch and icon of the Jewish people, Abraham, into this story. It is he who is speaking, when Jesus relates the following message: “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31 NLT). The rich man in the story was an unbeliever. He had placed all his faith and hope in his wealth and riches. The Pharisees standing before Jesus as He told this story were also unbelievers. They refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. And even when Jesus was put to death by them and rose again from the grave, they would still refuse to believe that He was who He said He was. They put their faith in their own self-righteousness. They believed that they were blessed by God because they were descendants of Abraham. Which is why Jesus chose to have Abraham deliver the bad news in His story. God does not reward men based on their affluence, influence, religiosity, piety, power, prestige, position, Bible knowledge, status in the religious community, good works, or any other man-established criteria. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God. He looks at the heart. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. He knew why they refused to believe in Him. And He knew that they would continue to refuse to believe Him even after He rose from the dead. They had placed their faith elsewhere. And the results for them were going to be unexpected and highly unwelcome.

Father, Your ways are not our ways. You don’t do things the way we expect. You are not impressed by what impresses us. You don’t reward the way we do. You see what we can’t see – the hearts of men. You reward based on faith and faith alone. Those who humble themselves and recognize their own sinfulness and their need for a Savior, and place their faith in the gift of Your Son are saved. Rich, poor, slave, free, educated, uneducated, young, old, male, female, religious, irreligious, impressive, unimpressive. It has nothing to do with our value and what we have done, but only with what Jesus Christ has done for us. Thank You!  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 86 – Luke 16:1-18

Spiritual Stewardship.

Luke 16:1-18

“And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” – Luke 16:11-12 NLT

This is a difficult passage, and if we’re not careful, we could draw all kinds of faulty conclusions Jesus never intended when He spoke these words. As always, it helps if we consider the context. The passage right before this has Jesus addressing the Pharisees and the teachers of religious law because of their complaining about His association with sinners. Jesus used three parables or stories to make a very powerful point about their mistaken view that they were NOT sinners. These men viewed themselves as righteous because of their positions and because of their heritage as descendants of Abraham. They did not consider themselves “lost” and so, therefore, they had no need to be “found” by Jesus. In the stories Jesus told, these men represent the 99 sheep who get left in the wilderness by their owner so he can go search for the ONE lost sheep. They are the nine coins that get ignored while the woman searches every nook and cranny of her house to find the ONE coin that was truly lost. And they are the older brother in the story who thought he deserved the party and the presents more than his younger brother, because he had worked like a slave and done everything his father had told him to do. But he ended up on the outside of the party looking in – just as the Pharisees would.

Luke continues his account by sharing a story that Jesus told to His disciples. This one involved a rich man who had a dishonest steward or manager who worked for him. He managed his household and his personal finances. It was a position of power, authority and great responsibility. But it seems this man had been wasting the rich man’s money. The term in the original language paints the picture that he had been throwing it into the wind, squandering it needlessly and wastefully. When the rich man found out, he fired him. But before his termination took place, the dishonest steward came up with an ingenious, if not self-serving, plan. He was not only dishonest, he was lazy. He didn’t want to have to do any kind of manual labor to survive, because he had gotten used to the easy life of a manager. He also was admittedly too proud to beg. So he devised a plan to win over all those who owed money to his boss. He called them in one at a time and asked them what they owed. He then renegotiated their debt, lowering it to a more manageable level – much to their delight and gratitude. This man used his boss’s resources to secure his future. He knew that when he lost his job these people would be so grateful for what he had done, that they would take care of him in his need. He may have been dishonest, but he was shrewd. Even his former boss admired what he had done.

Now, Jesus is NOT encouraging His followers to do as this man did. We are not to emulate this man’s dishonest actions. But we should take careful note of what he did. I can’t help but think that Jesus has the Jewish religious leaders in mind. This is a story about them. They were the dishonest steward who had been trusted by his employer with all that he had. These men had been entrusted by God to care for the Word of God and the people of God. But they had been wasteful and careless with God’s possessions. And like the steward in the story, their Master was calling them to account. Which is what Jesus had been doing since He started His earthly ministry. He had been blasting the Pharisees and other religious leaders for their hypocrisy, lack of spiritual leadership, poor care for the sheep of God, and stubborn refusal to recognize Him as the Son of God. Jesus seems to be telling the religious leaders that they must recognize the precarious nature of their position and their future, and consider what it is they must do. The man in the story took steps to secure his future. He did so by caring about others. This part is hard to see at first. It appears at first blush that he is simply being self-serving, but if you look closer, he goes to the very people who had owed his master all along and begins to collect the debts they owed. This is probably one of the ways in which he had been slack and wasteful. He was not collecting what was owed. He was letting his master’s creditors get away without paying what they owed. And it may have been that they were unable to pay. So he renegotiates their debts, accomplishing several things at once. He makes their debt more manageable. He collects the past-due accounts owed to his master. And he secures the gratitude of these individuals. It is as if Jesus is encouraging the religious leaders to look at what the man in the story did and wake up to the reality that they are going to have to answer to God for their actions here on earth. Jesus says, “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:11 NLT). Right in the middle of this little discourse by Jesus, Luke places the statement, “The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money heard all this and scoffed at him” (Luke 16:14 NLT). This is there for a reason. It is still all about the Pharisees. They loved their money and their positions. They put more value on those things than on doing the will of God, their ultimate Master. And they would one day have to answer to God. Jesus condemns them for their outward displays of righteousness. He warns them that God knows their hearts and detests the very things they love.

The real point seems to be that the man in the story recognized what he had done, and shrewdly did what he had to do to secure his future. Jesus is encouraging these men to do the same. They can’t serve two masters. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t love money more than God. They can’t serve the things of this world and God at the same time. They needed to get their eyes off of themselves and start caring about the needs of others. They needed to care about what the Master cared about. The man in the story wasn’t trying to get money. He was simply trying to secure his future. Jesus is encouraging the religious leaders to do the same. I really don’t think this is a story about money or stewardship. It is about eternal life.

Father, this is a hard one. Jesus doesn’t take us aside and explain it as He has done in so many other cases. But I pray that we can learn from the man in the story and the lives of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. We all must answer to You some day as our Master. We have been given a stewardship of all that we have, because it all ultimately belongs to You. We need to manage it well, not for our own benefit, but for Your glory. It isn’t about us. It is always about You. It isn’t about our petty little kingdoms, but about Your eternal one. Never let us lose sight of that fact.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 85 – Luke 15

Sinners and the Self-Righteous.

Luke 15

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’” – Luke 15:28-30 NLT

Jesus associated with sinners – regularly and gladly. It was for the sake of sinners that He came to live and die. And the reality is that He came for every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. He came for every person alive on the planet when He walked the roads, paths, and streets of Israel. Because “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). Jesus came to save sinners. So what’s the point of this chapter? It’s made clear by the way Luke introduces it. “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” (Luke 15:1-2 NLT). This sets up the series of parables told by Jesus to all those within ear shot. And He makes a very damning point, aimed directly at the Pharisees and teachers of religious law – the spiritual elite of the day. These men were the poster boys of piety. They were looked up to and envied for their spiritual depth and religious zeal. They were biblically knowledgeable and the icons of religious virtue. But Jesus knew better. He understood that they were also sinners in God’s eyes, but they simply refused to admit their sin. They had covered over their sinfulness with self-righteousness and religious activity. But as Jesus had once described them, they were like whitewashed tombs – clean and pristine on the outside, but full of death and decay on the inside. Earlier in his gospel, Luke had recorded a statement from Jesus that expressed His sentiments regarding these so-called religious leaders. “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32 NLT). These men considered themselves righteous and right before God because of all their efforts done on God’s behalf. They somehow thought they had scored brownie points with God because of all the spiritual exercises and religious activities in which they engaged. The issue wasn’t whether they were sinners or not – it was that they refused to admit that they were and repent.

So Jesus told them three simple stories, and each makes the same painful point. In the first one, a man has a hundred sheep and loses one. “What will he do?” Jesus asked them. The answer isn’t quite so obvious as we might think. Jesus says that the right thing to do would be for the man to leave the ninety-nine other sheep alone and defenseless in the wilderness and go after the one lost sheep. In other words, Jesus suggests that the one has more value to the man than the ninety-nine others who he abandons in the wilderness as he searches for the lost sheep. And when he finds that one lost sheep, he puts it on his shoulders and joyfully carries it home. Mission accomplished! Jesus says that “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!” (Luke 15:7 NLT). This sounds like a direct reference on Jesus’ part to Isaiah 53:6. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” Nine of the “sheep” in Jesus’ story are the self-righteous who smugly believe they are safe and sound, when in reality, they are just as lost. Their problem is that they refuse to acknowledge their lostness. It’s interesting that in the story, the man took the found sheep home and hosted a party with his friends. He left the other sheep in the wilderness. There is no more reference made of them.

In the second parable, a woman has ten coins and loses one. Jesus asks the obvious question as to whether or not this woman wouldn’t ransack her house in order to find the ONE coin that was lost and then rejoice over it when she did. As in the first story, when the woman finds the one lost coin, she calls in all her friends and neighbors and and rejoices with them. I would have to think that her friends and neighbors would have thought the celebration a bit much over one found coin. But Jesus says, “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10 NLT).

Finally, Jesus told them a parable regarding two sons and their father. This one is the more familiar story to most of us. We typically refer to it as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We have made the younger son the hero or focus of the story. But based on the context, the real focal point of Jesus’ story is the older son. The younger son in the story demands that his father give him his inheritance early. Upon receiving it, he promptly takes a journey to a distant country where he blows it all in record time, living the high life. He ends up in poverty and recognizes that his only hope is to return home and beg his father for forgiveness and place himself at his mercy. Which he does. And the amazing thing is that the young man’s father receives him back joyfully, graciously, and extravagantly. He throws a party and showers him with gifts. This is where the older brother comes in. Rather than rejoice at the return of his younger brother, this guy becomes sullen and angry, because he has remained at home, working diligently, serving his father faithfully. He became angry and refused to take part in the festivities. He tells his father, “I have slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to” (Luke 15:29 NLT). He believed all his effort and hard work should have earned him a party, not the rebellious younger brother. Like the Pharisees standing in front of Jesus that day, this older brother felt like he was the one who should have been the center of attention. He had earned it. He deserved it. But the story reveals something about this man. He didn’t serve his father out of love, but out of a sense of duty. He didn’t serve his father joyfully or willingly, he did it as if he was a slave. It was all a burden to him. He did it expecting to receive something in return for all his effort. But that’s not how things work in the Kingdom of God. Effort doesn’t earn us anything. It is a grace-based economy. Paul reminds us, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:9 NLT). Jesus came to save the lost. But it’s hard to save someone who doesn’t THINK they’re lost. It’s hard to rescue someone who doesn’t THINK he needs rescuing. The religious leaders were just as sinful and in need of salvation as the tax collectors and other sinners of their day, but they refused to admit it and repent of it. And they would be left defenseless in the wilderness, sitting ignored on the counter in the house, and outside the party looking in.

Father, while I can have a lot of the attributes of the Pharisee in my life, I thank You that one day You opened my eyes and helped me to see my sinfulness. You searched for me and found me – lost and with no hope of ever being found. You rejoiced over my salvation, because You are the one who made it happen. It was not something I did. I didn’t earn it or deserve it. It was all You. And I am grateful. Thank You for sending Your Son to die on my behalf – a sinner condemned and unclean.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 84 – Luke 14:25-34

Costly, But Well Worth It.

Luke 14:25-34

“So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.– Luke 14:33 NLT

The cost of following Jesus. That’s not a particularly popular topic today. Partly because we live in a society that has been saturated and soaked in an atmosphere of ease and comfort. We have been trained to expect everything instantaneously and relatively easily. Even the old slogan, “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” seems to have fallen out of popularity. In its place we find a plethora of options that require little or no pain, but seemingly with all the gain. Weight loss pills, potions and even surgeries, have taken the pain out of looking good. Promises of virtually instant weight loss, quick investment returns, easy money, fast food, ready-t0-go meals, and while-you-wait credit approval have made us lazy and adverse to anything that requires effort on our part. So the idea of discipleship to Christ being costly is not exactly a popular topic these days. There are many pastors and teachers who, while knowing what the Bible says about the subject, choose to downplay it because they fear the reaction it might bring.

But if there was ever a time when the message of costly discipleship was needed, it is now. It is the message Jesus unapologetically preached. He minced no words and left no one with the impression that following Him was going to be easy going and trouble free. He made it painfully clear that becoming His disciple was going to be costly and would require tremendous commitment. No half-hearted, weak-willed individuals need sign up. Listen to what He said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hatehis own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life,he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 NET). That’s pretty costly. Of course, we tend to soften it up by qualifying that Jesus was not telling us to actually hate our fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers and sisters. He was just saying that, in comparison to our love for Him, our love for them would be like hate. But I think what Jesus is warning us is that following Him was going to cost a lot of people their families. They would lose the love of their own fathers and mothers by choosing to follow Him. They would face rejection and ridicule by their own families, and they needed to be okay with it. Those family members would beg them to give up Jesus and come home. But Jesus is warning them that to be His follower, they would have to reject their own families – an action that would be viewed as hate by those closest to them. And Jesus also warns them that they must hate their own lives – the lives they had come to know and love. Their way of living was going be replaced with the way of Jesus. They couldn’t keep looking back and longing for the “good old days” when things were easier or seemingly better. Once they chose to follow after Jesus, that old way of life was to be dead to them.

One of the most famous proponents of the cost of discipleship was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who lived during the rise of the Third Reich. He would stand against Hitler and his propaganda machine, ending up in prison, where he would die. He wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship and in it he writes, “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.” Dietrich knew from experience just how true this statement was. He suffered greatly under the oppressive regime of Hitler. But he spoke boldly, calling believers to stand up against the lies of the enemy. He called them to wake up out of their stupor and complacency and stand for the cause of Christ. His efforts met with deaf ears and resulted in his imprisonment. He goes on to write, “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Following after Jesus is costly. It cost God His own Son. It cost Jesus His own life. It costs us our pride. It demands of us our lives, passions, worldly affections, idols, wills, agendas, friendships, family affiliations, dreams, desires, and so much more. But in return, we receive eternal life, forgiveness of sin, salvation, a restored relationship with God, a new family, the indwelling Holy Spirit, peace, power, hope, joy, direction, protection, assurance of salvation, and so much more. Yes, following Jesus is costly, but it is also well worth any pain it my require on our part. The gain far outweighs the pain. Paul put it this way: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8:18 NLT).

Father, make us aware of just how costly following Your Son really is. Don’t let us settle for something cheap and imitation. Don’t allow us to diminish the value of the gift by demanding that it require nothing from us of of us. Following Your will required Jesus to give up His life. Following Your Son requires us to do the same – no more, no less. But thank You that our gain far outweighs any pain we may suffer on Your behalf. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 83 – Luke 14:1-24

The Attitude of Jesus.

Luke 14:1-24

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.– Luke 14:11 NLT

One of the amazing things about Jesus was that His message and His lifestyle were never out of step. He lived what He taught. It is easy to say one thing and do another, which is one of the primary characteristics of hypocrisy. But hypocrisy was never something with which Jesus wrestled. He was not someone who sought out the places of honor. He was not one who craved recognition or sought the affirmation of men. Yes, He longed for men to recognize His status as the Son of God, but not for selfish reasons. He simply wanted them to see Him for who He was in order that they might experience all that He came to offer. No, Jesus was anything but selfish and self-centered. So when He spoke about humility, He knew what He was talking about. He lived it. The apostle Paul reminds us, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:5-7 NLT). Jesus didn’t pridefully hold onto His well-deserved place as the Son of God, and refuse to lower Himself to human standards. No, He willfully walked away from His position of privilege and power, and took on the lowly character of a man – a baby in fact. All so that He could serve mankind by giving His life in our place.

So when Jesus gives the people at this dinner who are jockeying for positions of prominence a piece of advice, He speaks from experience. He tells them, “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!” (Luke 14:8-9 NLT). Instead, Jesus recommends that they take the lowest seat at the foot of the table. Practice a little self-humility. Rather than risk being humiliated, humble yourself. Of course, Jesus is talking about much more than just an earthly wedding feast. He is talking about the Kingdom of God. Those who enter into God’s Kingdom will be characterized by the nature of Jesus Himself. They will be humble, not prideful. They will have spent their lives seeking first the Kingdom of God and leaving issues of honor, recognition, and reward up to Him.

Over in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made some significant statements regarding rewards and recognition. He said, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get” (Matthew 6:1-2 NLT). In other words, their reward will be the recognition they get on this earth. It won’t last long. But if you give in secret, not worrying about what men think, God will see it and reward you richly in His Kingdom. Jesus also said, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get” (Matthew 6:5 NLT). The praise of man is the only reward they will get. But those who pray to God in private, so that no one can see them or pat them on the back for their spirituality, will be rewarded by God Himself.

It is so easy to seek recognition and to crave reward for our service in this lifetime. But it doesn’t last. It is fleeting, fickle and short-lived. If we seek the praise of men, we are missing the point. Jesus didn’t come to receive praise. He didn’t come to receive honor. He came to humble Himself and serve. He came to give His life as a ransom for the sins of men. He came to die on a cross so that we might live. He healed the lame, the blind, and the sick, knowing that He would receive ridicule and not reward. He spoke the truth of God, knowing that most would reject it angrily, not receive it gladly. He came to hang on a cross, not sit on a throne. He came to wear a crown of thorns, not one made of gold. He came to die a criminal’s death, not live a king’s life. And yet, Paul reminds us that God saw the actions and attitude of His Son and rewarded Him accordingly. “When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:7-11 NLT). The attitude of Jesus should be the standard for every believer. An attitude marked by service and humility, obedient to the will of God and focused on the Kingdom of God to come.

Father, help me to seek the attitude of Jesus. Open my eyes and help me see the pride that permeates my life. It is so easy to become a seeker of rewards in this lifetime. I find it so easy to want my rewards now, rather than later. The praise and recognition of men can be an alluring thing. But it breeds hypocrisy and feeds the dragon of pride in my life. Yet You reward the humble. You exalt the lowly. You oppose the proud and favor the humble. Never let me forget that. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 82 – Luke 13:22-35

Narrow, But Necessary.

Luke 13:22-35

Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.– Luke 13:24 NLT

There’s only one way and it’s not the popular or politically correct way. It’s exclusive, intolerant, seemingly discriminatory, restrictive, repressive and narrow-minded. At least from man’s limited perspective. Somehow we want to believe that heaven has an open-door policy with a sign over the doorway that says, “Welcome! Any and all who wish to, many enter here.” No standards. No requirements. No problem. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed they each had a “Golden Ticket” because they were considered God’s chosen people. Their heritage as descendants of Abraham guaranteed them entry into God’s Kingdom. But Jesus rocked their world by informing them that they would be “thrown out” of the Kingdom. The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be there, along with the prophets, but not them. They would each be persona non grata – unwelcome and unable to stay. Jesus told them that they would “stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’” (Luke 13:25 NLT). But Jesus will reply, “I don’t know you or where you come from” (Luke 13:25 NLT). At that time, they will be hoping that their having been in close proximity with Jesus will be enough to save them. But it will prove insufficient. What they’ll be missing will be a relationship with Jesus. They will have never have expressed faith in Jesus. While there will be people from all over the known world – from every nation, tribe and tongue –  entering into the Kingdom of God, a vast number of Jews would be standing on the outside looking in. And some of the most self-righteous, self-important people in Jesus’ day – the religious leaders – will find that their high place of honor carries no credibility in God’s Kingdom.

Because they have refused to believe in Jesus, they will be refused entrance into His Kingdom. It all boils down to belief. It all rests on faith. It has nothing to do with human effort, achievement, honor, or religious affiliation. The requirement for entrance into the Kingdom of God remains the same for every man, woman and child who has ever lived: Faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only way to have a restored relationship with God the Father. That’s a very narrow door. It is very exclusive. It is highly restrictive. And it is extremely intolerant of any other way. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT). He is the access point. He provides the path by which we enter into heaven. Any attempt to find any other way will fail. But those who place their faith in Him alone will discover that He really is the way, the truth and the life.

Father, thank You for providing a way – the way. Yes, it is exclusive, but it is effective. It works. Jesus Christ really does provide a way for men to be made right with You. Nothing else works. Nothing else compares. Nothing else matters. The way may be narrow, but the destination is broad, beautiful and unrestricted in any sense of the word. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 81 – John 10:22-42

Guilty of Being God.

John 10:22-42

Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?– John 10:31-32 NLT

The people wanted a Messiah. They had been looking for him to come for generations. Now they had to confront the rumors of whether or not Jesus was the one for whom they had been waiting. But so much didn’t seem to make sense. Yes, He did miraculous works. He did inexplicable wonders right before their eyes. He healed the lame, the blind, and the mute. He even raised the dead. But something wasn’t right. Maybe it was because He didn’t look the part. After all, He was just a common-looking peasant from the backwater town of Nazareth. He had no known pedigree. They would have had no clue that He was David’s rightful heir to the throne. They simply saw Jesus as a virtual nobody who burst on the scene unexpectedly and who was stirring up excitement among the people and anxiety among the religious leadership. For many of them, Jesus had become more of a sideshow than a potential savior. He was a welcome distraction from the day-to-day misery of life under Roman rule.

So when Jesus showed up at the Temple during the Festival of Dedication, or Hanukkah, a crowd surrounded Him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (John 10:24 NLT). They wanted Him to come right out and declare His intentions to establish His rule and reign and begin His plan for saving the people of Israel from their oppressors. They were ready for Jesus to start acting like the kind of Messiah they had been waiting for. But the kind of salvation came to bring had nothing to do with the tyranny of Rome. It had nothing to do with earthly thrones or kingdoms. At least, not yet. Jesus came to offer freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. And all the miracles He had done in their sight were more than proof enough that He was exactly who He had been rumored to be. “The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name,” he told them. Jesus tried to get them to understand that the miracles He performed were evidence that He had been sent by and worked for God. But the majority of the people in the crowd that day were looking for more. Miracles were not enough. But their skepticism had to do more with blindness than anything else. Jesus told them, “you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me. For my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (John 10:26-30 NLT).

Jesus knew that there would be those who never believed in Him. They would reject both His message and His miracles. Not because His messages and miracles were unimpressive, but because they were spiritually blind to the truth. Jesus told them point-blank, “You are not my sheep.” They didn’t belong to Him. God had not opened their eyes to the reality of Jesus’ mission and message. They were still spiritually dead and incapable of recognizing the Messiah who stood right before their eyes. And evidence of their spiritual blindness was their reaction to Jesus’ statement, “The Father and I are one.” They immediately picked up stones to kill Him. They saw Jesus as a mere man, not God. He was guilty of blasphemy and deserved to be stoned to death. But the real reason they wanted to kill Jesus was because He was exactly who He claimed to be: The Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of the Jews. He was God, and for that they wanted to kill Him. It would be the same thing that would lead to Jesus’ conviction and crucifixion at the end of His life. His crime, as proclaimed on a wooden sign hung above His head on the cross, was “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Jesus died for being who He claimed to be. He was guilty for being God and He died because of it. All along the way, Jesus had been doing the work of His Father. He had given ample evidence of His deity. And He told the people that day in the Temple courtyard, “Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s word. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe in me” (John 10:37-38 NLT). Look at the evidence. Recognize that it is of God, not man. But their eyes remained closed and their hearts remained hardened. But many believed in Jesus that day. There were some sheep among the goats, some believers among the doubters, some converts among the crowd.

Father, there is so much evidence surrounding Your Son that validates His claims. And yet millions still reject Him even today. Their eyes are blinded and their hearts are hardened. And unless You open their eyes and soften their hearts, all the evidence in the world will never win them over. Salvation is an act of God, not man. It is completely up to You, not us. Thank You for opening my eyes and softening my heart so that I could see clearly for the first time and recognize the truth of Jesus’ claims and accept the free gift of eternal life He offered. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Day 80 – Luke 10:17-41

Look at me, God!

Luke 10:17-41

“All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you–that’s the agenda for rejoicing.– Luke 10:20 MSG

I love this story. It is so typical of how we respond to God as we “perform” for Him. We get so proud of our efforts on His behalf. Like the disciples, we come back all excited about the power we have demonstrated. “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (Luke 10:17 NLT). The disciples are pumped. No longer relegated to the role of spectators in Jesus’ earthly ministry, they are now the stars. So they come back excited and proud, “Look at us go! Aren’t we doing some really fantastic things for you God? Aren’t You proud of us? What would you do without us?”

Yet Jesus responds to them in a very interesting way. He says, “don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” (Luke 10:20 NLT). This all had very little to with what the disciples had just done, but it had everything to do with what Jesus was going to accomplish not too long into the future. We have a tendency to believe our own press clippings, and to begin to think that we are far more important to this endeavor than we really are. In fact, we tend to want to make ourselves the stars of God’s redemptive story. But there is only one star and that is Jesus Himself. He is far less interested in what we can do for Him than what we think about what He has already done for us.

In his classic devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”

We should rejoice that what Jesus has done makes it possible for our names to be written in heaven. We have permanent, irrevocable reservations there. Not because of anything we have done or will do, but because of what He has done on our behalf. You see this illustrated so clearly in Jesus encounter with the two sisters later on in this same chapter. He arrives in Bethany, a small village just about two miles outside the city gates of Jerusalem. He is welcomed into the home of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, the man Jesus will raise from dead later on in His ministry. As Jesus and His disciples rest in their home, Martha busies herself with preparations for a big dinner on their behalf. Meanwhile, Mary, her sister sat quietly at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him teach. Martha, all hot and bothered by the inequity of it all, complains to Jesus about her sister’s laziness and demands that Jesus tell her to get to work. But again, Jesus’ response is unexpected and surprising. He simply says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worthy being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41 NLT). In all her efforts to do something for Jesus, Martha was missing the opportunity to be ministered to by Jesus. It had become about her. Her efforts. Her meal. Her housekeeping. Her culinary skills. Her hospitality. And there is nothing wrong with any of that. But she was missing the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, was in her home.

Listen again to what Oswald Chambers said: “The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.” Don’t let your efforts for Jesus rob you of the joy of knowing Him. Don’t let yourself be deceived into thinking what you do in His name is somehow more important that what He has done on Your behalf. Time spent with Jesus must always take precedence over work done for Jesus. Otherwise we risk doing our work in our own strength and for our own glory.

Father, thank You that my name is written in heaven. And it is not because of anything I have done or will do. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be there at all. It is simply because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross as my sin substitute. Forgive for the many times I put far too much value in my accomplishments for You. Forgive me for trying to serve You more than worship You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org