A Tale Of Two Sinners: Sermon Notes From Ash Wednesday

tale of two sinners

Luke 18:9-14

9And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:

 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

 11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

 12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

 14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Self-examination

11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

Things to take away:

Being religious doesn’t make you right with God.

Not being like others doesn’t make you like God/Jesus.

Questions:

Are you self-righteous?

Do you compare yourself to others or to Christ?

Where do you stand when you pray? Do you ever kneel?

Self-denial

12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

Things to take away:

Doing the minimum is not a sacrifice.

Giving and giving up should be an act of love not duty

Questions:

Do you keep track to be impressive or justified?

Do you ever do more than is required or asked?

What do you do out of love?

God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.
Augustine

Spirit-controlled

 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

Things to take away:

God invites the humble in and up close.

God is merciful to those who admit they are sinful

Questions:

Do you feel distanced from God?

Have you confessed your sin to God lately?

Are you willing to humble yourself before God and man?

The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.
Augustine

God became like me so that I might become like Him.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections On 3 John 7

Quiet Time

. . . they went forth for His name’s sake . . . —3 John 7

As I prepare to leave the country today for travel to Nicaragua and El Salvador, this is a great reminder of why I am going: to advance the kingdom of God in Jesus’ name. Missionaries serving the King seek to build the King’s kingdom, not their own. I am to be about the Lord’s business and not my own endeavors. The goal is to build God’s people and encourage them in the faith.

Even though Peter had denied Christ three times, Jesus reinstated Peter and asked him of his love for Christ. And of course, Peter said yes, he did love Christ. With each confession, the Lord gave Peter some instruction, that being “feed my lambs”, “tend to my sheep” and “feed my sheep” (John 21:, 15-17). Jesus entrusted caring for people to Peter. He told him that the expression of his love for Christ was to be demonstrated in his love and care for God’s people. Peter’s assignment wasn’t to build/rebuild his reputation but to make the name of Christ greater in his own life evidenced through showering the same love and forgiveness he had received onto others.

The Lord has a plans to be sure. This plan includes using me as conduit of His love. I must stay connected to the Lord and stay in tune with His leading. I have to be “detached” from things of this world and “attached” to the things of Heaven (Colossians 3:1-3). In this way, Heaven flows to earth and it happens through me via the Holy Spirit. My devotion to the Lord must be unquestionable and unstoppable. I have to be unwavering and unflappable in the midst of circumstances that seem unexplainable. God is in control and He is sending me forth in His name and it is my privilege to call on His name in prayer for guidance all along the way.

George Lockhart

 

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections On Prayer And John 14:12

Quiet Time

. . . I say to you, he who believes in Me, . . . greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father —John 14:12

Why is prayer so difficult for me as a follower of Jesus? Because I have become accustomed to life in an instant society. Prayer as a discipline does not yield instant results. Much like general exercise or even intense workouts, the body is pained, energy expended and the results require weeks before the transformation may be noticed. But be assured with the practice of such discipline, there are results!
Prayer is difficult for many of us because it requires much initially, leaving a sense of void or even emptiness. In many regards prayer is “work”. Yet it is the work that yields great results in time and moreover in eternity. It is through prayer that I connect with God, tapping into His power and presence so that I may understand His heartbeat and desires. True prayer is actually communion with Christ and in those transactions of petition and requests, I become transformed because I gain understanding of His will. In prayer I am taught as a child, hearing His Father’s voice of instruction and direction.

Make no mistake though as prayer is also a battlefield in which territory is gained or lost. The man who doesn’t pray, seeking God’s face has already lost. Prayer is a daily defense against the sinful desires and devilish attacks we face. Wherever I am, I can employ this silent weapon of force and overcome the onslaught. But I must pray!

Paul tells us to pray regardless of our situation (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In all things, I can pray and encounter Christ through the Holy Spirit and walk in communion with God. This means that I have to look at where I am as a holy place and time to encounter God. Wherever I am is a place where God can use me to be a laborer in His field if I am a pray-er. God is not surprised by my location, circumstances or issues. In His sovereignty, He is waiting on me to seek Him prayerfully and to become open as an agent of transformation.

God has great ideas and dreams for me which can only be discovered through prayer. Seeking Him continually and laboring in prayer will allow those dreams to come to fruition. Taking sincere time to pray in not just an investment in my future but an investment in eternity for all those that God wants to affect through my life. There is no greater power than God’s Spirit moving through the humble prayers of God’s people.If I want God’s work to be accomplished in me and through me, I have to spend more time in prayer…it’s that simple.

George Lockhart

 

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections on Prayer And Matthew 9:38

Quiet Time

 

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest —Matthew 9:38

Everything with God’s work begins and ends with prayer. Why, you ask? Because I must be reminded that it is God’s work and Him working and not me, myself. Prayer is the key that opens the door for God to be active in the world around me. As mundane as it may seem, prayer is the powerful tool God uses to change the world. Through it, God changes me that I might be an agent of change for His name and glory.

Prayer may seem senseless and a waste of time, however, it is the best investment the time I have. When I pray I am investing in something eternal instead of ephemeral. Prayer brings heaven to earth. When I take the time to pray, I am aligning my thoughts with God’s thoughts and thus I am able to see things much differently as I get His mindset on life.

In prayer I am enabled to see the world as Christ sees it, with compassion. Payer doesn’t focus me as much on the needs around me as much as the singular need of each person who needs Christ. Prayer is truly about Jesus being realized as each person’s greatest need.

When Jesus told His disciples to pray that the laborers be sent out, His focus was on the prayer and not the work. When the harvest is ripe, the work is easy. The most special work I can do in the name of Christ is prayer, humble, unseen prayer. The Lord is the One who does the supernatural work in a heart. He is the One who prepares the seed, water the seed brings forth the fruit. I am to simply that God would send out workers to gather it up.

As I pray, God will do His marvelous work and bring His workers to collect His harvest. I have to place a greater focus on prayer as it is the greater work for me to be committed. It’s not about flitting around with much activity but rather being still and letting God be God (Psalm 46). When I am still in prayer, I can easily see the harvest God is sending me into and how I am to reap what field I am in.

George Lockhart

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections 1 John 2:2

Quiet Time

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world —1 John 2:2

Jesus being my “propitiation” means that His sacrifice of Himself satisfied God’s anger and wrath of sin, thus opening the door for all to walk through into a relationship with God by faith in Christ alone.
As a missionary for Christ, this is to be the message preached, that the world can be saved through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ because He alone is what satisfies God’s wrath of sin. This gift of grace extends to all who believe. There is no limitation to whom can be saved because of what Christ has already done.

Jesus is not caught up in some battle for a nationalistic belief, personal preference, or racist bias. However, He is seeking that all would acknowledge Him in unwavering allegiance as the Lord of all because He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins, not just of my own, or a city, or nation but of the entire world. A missionary committed to the Lord is one who is devoted to that message being preached throughout the world.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I cannot take on my own persuasion as to where to to whom the gospel is preached. Much like Jonah, some may have a tendency to hold onto prejudices and want to let people die apart from God’s love. Yet God sent His son to die and be the propitiation for the WHOLE world. It’s not about me preaching what I like or want to share. I must share TRUTH and the TRUTH is that God sent His son for everyone, not just the people I like.

George Lockhart

 

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ’All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .’ —Matthew 28:18-19

The goal for anyone serving with a missionary mindset is the authority of Jesus Christ.  As Jesus departs, leaving His disciples with a powerful word, He says “Go”. But He doesn’t just say “Go” but “Make” also. Further He says “Teach” and the “Baptize”.  These elements demonstrate God’s rule in a person’s life. Are you going? Making disciples? Teaching? Baptizing? All of these things flow from a life that has Christ as the Authority.

This does’t mean that if you have never been out of the country that you are failing, however. What it means is that from where you are, you are living with this kind of philosophy. Jesus’ disciples never traveled to vast or various countries. But they did affect them all by the way they lived their lives!

When we spent time with Jesus Christ, we are changed and that change affects everything around us and everyone we encounter. When we bear the name of Christ, sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings, others easily see who the Authority in our lives is.

Going and making disciples of all nations doesn’t require us to go very far in our day and age. We have people coming from all nations to live among us. We have the access to all nations through the means of the Internet and Social Media. Making disciples is really about making ourselves available to God to be used in such a way.

God may select some to go far while others may go near. God is the one who orchestrates our comings and goings. God is not so much hung up on “where” we are as much as what we are doing wherever we are. Abiding in Christ is the way we discern and determine the direction Christ desires for us to travel and live. Walking with Jesus on a daily basis is the best way to ensure you end up going right where He wants you.

George Lockhart