Interrupted by Opportunity

January 19, 2018: SOAP #2969:  Genesis 47-48; Psalm 10; Luke 19

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man, he could not, because of the crowd.4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Observation:   Jesus had no plans to spend time in Jericho; He was just passing through on His way to Jerusalem.   But His life was not His own; He was living as a man led by the Holy Spirit.  His journey that day was interrupted by opportunity.

That interruption brought Zacchaeus into the kingdom, restored overcharged tax money, and became a part of the eternal scriptures!   It was a very important interruption!

Application:  I need to be open to interruptions.  Those interruptions may become the most important part of my day!  Before pushing them aside, I need to see if the Holy Spirit is preparing to do something special.

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, forgive me for thinking I am too busy doing important things to be bothered by interruptions.  Forgive me for thinking that I alone know how to best plan my day.  Bring this scripture to my mind the next time I am interrupted by an opportunity to bless someone for the glory of Jesus.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Sold or Sent

January 18, 2018: SOAP #2968:  Genesis 44-46; Luke 18

Scripture:  Genesis (NIV) 45:4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!
5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

Observation:   Joseph’s brothers had sold him as a slave to traders who sold him as a slave in Egypt.  But now Joseph had a different perspective.  Yes, they had “sold” him, but God had “sent” him!

Application:   The owners of the town house we were renting, in the 1970’s, turned it over to property managers who immediately raised our rent.  Six months later they raised it again with a notice that it would be raised even more in another six months!!!  I was angry.  We were forced to look for housing with a mortgage that would not keep increasing.  God miraculously helped us buy a beautiful town house with a mortgage that stretched us, but would not increase.  Then a year later, God moved us from Hawaii to Kansas.  We sold the town house at good profit to the first people to look at it.  We made four times what we had invested which enabled us to afford a mortgage on a house in Kansas where we now live.  Now in retirement, we live in a home without a mortgage!

Am I still angry?  No way!  God, knowing the future, used that to force us to do something that is a great blessing to us now.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, how often you have used things that I did not like to force me to do what later would be a blessing to me and make me a blessing to others.  It is wise to trust you with things I do not understand.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Walking in Faith

January 17, 2018: SOAP #2967:  Genesis 42-43; Psalm 5; Luke 17

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 17:12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. …  19 “…your faith has made you well.”

Observation:   There are times in the Bible when people were healed instantly.  Jesus spoke the word and they were well.  But there are also times (Old Testament and New Testament) in which the person needing the miracle had to express their faith by some action.  Their action became an expression of their faith.  “…as they went, they were cleansed.”

Application:  Faith enables me to move ahead into the unknown.  I move in obedience and assurance that God is with me and has given me His word to obey.   I move in assurance that He is going before me and will provide the healing, the resources, the finances, the understanding, the support needed for me to complete His will.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, I move out in obedience knowing you are more than capable of providing whatever is needed.  What an adventure to walk in faith. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Heavenly Greeters

January 16, 2018: SOAP #2966:  Genesis 39-41; Luke 16

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

Observation:   First; Nothing will be more important in heaven than seeing Jesus, the One who died for our sins.  Second: songs have been written about seeing some of the Old Testament and New Testament heroes of the faith.  Third: and others we will want to see—those who had a part in bringing us to Jesus.  We will have opportunity to thank some very special people.

But the emphasis in the verse above is not seeing those who were instrumental in bringing us to the Lord, but being greeted by those for whom we had a part in bringing to Jesus!   We invested our finances and resources in a way that resulted in their hearing the gospel.

Application:   Financial counselors will advise me on how to make sure I have enough money to take care of my final years on earth and leave some for those who continue living on earth once I am gone.  In the above verse, I am told to use my money to ensure there will be people to greet me when I enter heaven.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, thank you for the finances you have entrusted to my care.  Keep reminding me that they all belong to you.  It is not how much of your money I give, but how much I keep for myself.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Possession, Pain, and Joy

January 15, 2018: SOAP #2965:  Genesis 37-38; Psalm 7; Luke 15

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

Observation:  In this chapter we have a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Several things can be seen in the owners:

First:  They each saw what was lost as belonging to them.  “…my lost sheep.”  “…my lost coin.”  “…this son of mine…”
Second:  The loss caused the owners personal pain.
Third:  The restoration caused the owners much personal joy, and each wanted to share their joy with others.

It is only in dealing with fallen man that we see how God loves.  His love can cause Him pain; His love can cause Him much joy.  People are His creation, created with purpose, created to receive God’s love, created to return God’s love.

Application:   One indication of how much I love God is how much I hate that which causes Him pain—sin.  Taking sin as a matter of little importance is proof that I do not understand the nature of sin, nor the nature of my holy Heavenly Father.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, my sin has caused you much pain.  Forgive me for thinking that I can sin, and it does not bother you.  I want to bring you joy and not pain.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Something to Consider

January 14, 2018: SOAP #2964:  Genesis 34-36; Luke 14

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

Observation:   Jesus was speaking what should have been common sense to those listening.  But He was not speaking about building a tower, or going to war.   In the two verses prior to these (26 & 27) and in the verse immediately following (33) Jesus is speaking about the cost of being His disciple.

Application:  It is not a simple thing to be a disciple of Jesus.  Although there is great joy and peace, there is also great cost.  Although there is great satisfaction in knowing one’s life has meaning, there can be refusing what pleases self to do what pleases God.  Although there are great future rewards, the present may not seem as pleasant as it could be.

Like the verses above counsel me, I must consider if what I gain is worth what I may lose.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, I have counted the cost and determined that what I gain far surpasses what I may lose!  There is really no comparison.    Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Teaching…and more

January 13, 2018: SOAP #2963:  Genesis 31-33; Luke 13

Scripture:  Luke (NIV) 13:10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues,

Observation:   When the Word was being taught and Jesus was present it was not uncommon for something out of the ordinary to happen.  In fact, what was out of the ordinary became common when Jesus was present.

While teaching in the synagogue (Luke 13), Jesus noticed a woman present who needed healing.  Without reading on, we all know that something special happened.

Application:  When I gather with others to hear the Word and the Holy Spirit makes me aware of the presence of Jesus, I should expect something special, something unique, something only God can do.  I should never settle for anything less.

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, build in me an expectation to see manifestations of your presence.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!