Kinship…

Luke 8:19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd.  And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.”  But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

 Are we His kin?  Are we hearing the Word of God and doing it?  Kinship with the Son of God requires action following the receiving.  Are we faithful?  Are we practicing what the Word of God tells us?

 Jesus puts a spiritual perspective on living; he moves from the physical to the spiritual, the temporal to the eternal.  Relationships that last into eternity are those built around the Word of God.  Conditions exist for this relationship, this kinship with Christ.  Action must follow hearing.  This close family relationship with Christ is two-fold.  It involves hearing; being exposed to the Word of God.  It also involves doing; putting what is heard into practice.  This type of hearing is intentional and intense.  It is focused and ready to receive. The action that follows gives evidence of the genuine intent behind the receiving.  We read and then we ask; what can we do for you? How does this apply to us?

 Do we hear Him?  Is it seen in our living practice?

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Can we hear Him now?…

Luke 8:16-18

 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

 Somber words!  Take care how we hear.  We become responsible once we hear and understand.  We become responsible to share…be a light so that any who cross our path receive the light we have.  It is not ours to keep to ourselves, silent and hidden.  Jesus says all will be made known, nothing kept secret.  We will be held accountable for what we do with what we are given.  Sharing it allows us to gain more understanding.  Keeping it means we will lose what we have.  Which position do we want to be in?

 Can we see the importance of sharing what we receive?  The obligation is only to share – let  the light shine.  It is not to grant others any understanding; that belongs to the Spirit.  Ours is only to share.  Are we sharing? We lose nothing in the sharing of that which we receive; Christ says we can only gain or benefit from it. 

 Let our lights shine!! The world needs our light…

What kind of soil are we?

Luke 8:4-8

 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable:“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.  And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.  And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 Can we see him trying to get their attention, their undivided attention.  Can we hear Him?  Are we receiving the seed on the pathway, or receiving the seed on the rock?  Are we receiving the seed among thorns, or are we receiving the seed that fell into good soil and now we are bearing fruit? The explanation of the significance of each seed’s placement and its destiny is given next:

  And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. 

How fortunate we are to be given the explanation.  Are we listening?  Do we have the understanding?  Is it making a difference in our life and the lives of those who cross our path?  Or, are we like the others: ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Let us be the ones who: hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 Are we allowing not just the duties of life, daily obligations, work and family, but also the material possessions we accumulate and the pleasures of life, recreational time to interfere with the growth of the seed of the word in our lives?  We talk much about the work and family distractions, little about the possession of goods and the recreation in our lives that would hinder us from maturing in the Word.  In fact, Jesus says they choke the Word out of our lives.

 Or, are we hearing the Word whether by listening or reading; retaining it, would imply memorizing and applying to our thoughts and actions; and persevering, going through the times when we are tested to see how genuine we are?  In this place we mature and bear fruit for the kingdom.

Where are we?  Only we ourselves can determine that.  Along with that question is this: Where do we want to be?

First responders…

Luke 5:27-32

 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

And leaving everything,…Jesus called; Levi responded, completely.  When we hear the call how do we react?  Do we have things to fix first, things to complete and put in order?  Or are we able to drop what we thought we were going to do to follow His call? 

 First responders hear the call to service and drop what they are doing to go.  They go to those in need of their assistance.  The call comes from the unhealthy who are in need of someone to  help them move toward health.  We, like Jesus, our first responder, can be ready to drop what we are doing to respond to the call for help.  Are we in a place where we can hear the call?  Are we willing to respond?  Have we been willing to sit at His feet and learn from His Word?  Are we equipped to do the task?  Are we found faithful?

Resistance…

Mark 14:43-52

And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders.  The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.”  As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.  But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.  One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him,  he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

 Just as he said, they all fled.  Just as he said, he was taken.  Just as he said, they slept and did not watch.  They could not stand.

 “Am I leading a rebellion?”  “Am I some dangerous revolutionary?” Those resistant to change came with force to take one who was gentle, peaceful, meek but spoke words of change. The change is what raises the objection and gives the reason to quiet him.  A change that is inward with outward expression.  A change that does not use force but creates a world different enough to be seen as a threat to the present way of life.

 Two forces are in conflict and the agent of change is words.  Words that are heard and create change.  “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”They have ears but cannot hear.”  How shall they hear unless someone tell them.”  Are we listening?  Are we speaking His Word?  We need the power the knowledge brings to stand when the change within brings conflict.  We need to be in the Word, praying if change is to come.  2 Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves  and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

 We will read His Word, we will listen to what He says, we will humble ourselves and pray, we will show evidence of change.  He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land.  This is a Word that is active and alive!

Listen to him…

Mark 9:2-13

 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them.  Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials  —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.

 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”

 Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes? ”

 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt?  But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

 Six days after Jesus tells them about his coming death and resurrection, six days after a strong rebuke of Peter, he takes Peter with him for this experience.  This event provides confirmation for the disciples of who he is and what he must do.  They react as we all do when faced with what we don’t understand and don’t want; they react with denial–this can’t be, what does ‘rising from the dead’ mean?   When you learn from someone, bond with that one, love deeply, you do not want to hear about possible harm coming to them, or that they will be facing rejection.  The mind does not want to accept what might be right in front of them. 

“Listen to him.”  Affirming Jesus’ authority, existence and a command to hear him out.  Listen to him.  It applies today.  Are we listening to him?  Or do we question like a child, object, move into denial?  Are we listening to all that he says not just what we want to hear? 

He knew who he was, and we know who he is.  He knew what he must and could do, and we know what he did.  He teaches us who we are and what we can do.  Are we listening? Is there evidence that His Word is alive and active in us?

 Listen to him…

The second touch…

Mark 8:22-26

 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him.  Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”

 “Do you see anything?”  Partial sight is sometimes what we have concerning our relationship with Christ.  Seeing darkly as Paul put it, we don’t see clearly, we see men as trees walking. 

Don’t give up.  The second touch brought clear sight.  Yesterday we were left with the question: “Don’t you understand?”  Today we hear “Do you see anything?”

 Sometimes it isn’t enough to just read the Word, sometimes we need the second touch to see clearly.  Pray to understand;  God’s Word states in Proverbs :  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. 2:3-5 In Revelation it states seven (7) times that … “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. 2:29  David prayed to understand…Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. Psalm 119:27

With understanding, the Word of God comes alive and active to us and within us.  Let us seek the second touch!!