Theology

Dreams vs. Reality

Each miracle that Jesus performs is simply amazing. From healing the blind man, to feeding 5,000 with just a few loaves and fishes, the miracles of Christ not only amaze us, but demonstrate His compassion upon those who are helpless and hopeless. Furthermore, each miracle has both the physical, and Spiritual application.

Such is the case with the miraculous catch in Luke 5:1-11. In it, Jesus demonstrates His power in a way that catches Simon Peter’s full attention. He makes Peter’s wildest dreams come true, but does so in a way that makes Peter leave them behind to follow the Lord.

Peter was a fisherman. He made his living dragging nets along the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, hoping to gather enough fish to be able to feed his family and make a living in the market place. History records that during the time of Christ, the fishing industry along Galilee was struggling.

If that were the case, the Peter, Zebedee, James and John were likely in need of a great catch. Such a catch had proven elusive, however, as when we find Jesus teaching along the shore of Galilee, the four fishermen were washing their nets after an unsuccessful night.

In reading this passage, we are reminded of the struggle of mankind. Man’s curse, brought on by Adam’s sin in the garden, is that work would be hard, and would pay off only after maximum efforts had been expended. As God told Adam in Genesis 3, “In the sweat of your face will you eat bread.”

The Lord sees this struggle. It’s real. And He’s sympathetic. It’s worth pointing out in Matthew 6:31-33 that Jesus promises to meet those needs for His followers.

After concluding His teaching, Jesus told Peter to take the boat out into the deep, and to cast the net one more time. When Peter did so, he pulled up a net so full of fish, that it filled both boats to the point that they began to sink.

If you read too quickly, you’ll miss what this really meant.

Everyone who goes into business does so with the dream that they will be wildly successful. What generally happens, however, is that the businessman struggles to make ends meet, and constantly has to worry about the consequences of a bad month.

Peter was in business as a fisherman. When Christ provided the miraculous catch, He made Peter’s wildest dream come true, and He placed that dream right in front of Peter.

At this point, Peter has a choice. Stay and count the fish and work out the logistics of getting them to market, or follow Christ. Peter chose the latter.

Peter was a skilled fisherman who built a business and supported a family. However, his purpose in life was not to be a great fisherman. It was to follow Jesus and become the lead apostle.

Dreams are good, and we never fault anyone for pursuing them. However, the lesson we learn from Peter is that our purpose is not always tied to our dreams. However, when we find the path of our purpose diverging from our dreams, what God has for us down the road of purpose will bring us greater fulfillment than our dreams ever could.

This passage gives us an opportunity to reflect on our priorities and make sure they are in line with God’s.

The Incomparable Christ II

Continuing our thought process on the Incomparability of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Luke continues to show His divine grace, wisdom and power through His actions. In the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, we see how Christ responds to prayer. In the healing of the masses, we see how Christ responds to all who come to Him. In His preaching in Judea, we see that Christ’s mission is the spread of the Gospel.

In Luke 4:38-44, Jesus visits Simon’s (Peter’s) house. There, he finds Peter’s mother-in-law sick of a fever. In ancient times, fever was a dire situation. They had few medical options, and the best they could do was offer rest, water, nutrition, and trust God for the best.

When Jesus arrived, they appealed to Him. In essence, you could say they prayed for her. While there is a lot to be said for prayer, what we see in this passage is how Christ responded to their pleas. He responded to their appeals by healing Peter’s mother-in-law. The Lord brings healing.

As the sun set, those in the village who had sick relatives brought them to Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. This shows us that Christ will turn no one away who repents and turns to Him for salvation.

Finally, Jesus said that He was sent to preach the Gospel to all the cities of Israel. This shows us that the mission of Christ is to spread the Gospel throughout the whole world.

Check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message posted above, and see how the attributes of Christ make Him incomparable to anyone else, ever.

The Incomparable Christ (Luke 4:31-37)

In his book, The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders explored the life, character and divinity of Jesus Christ in a way that left the reader in awe after every chapter. It’s definitely a book that should be on every Christian’s reading list.

In the same way, Luke captures the essence of Christ by recording His acts, teachings, and the teachings about Him. In Luke 4:31-37, several amazing attributes of Christ are on full display as He heals a demon possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum. The three most prominent are the power (authority) of Christ, the vision of Christ, and the compassion of Christ.

The power of Christ is on full display as the demon has to obey the Lord’s command to come out of the man. Christ is so powerful that even His spiritual opponents must obey Him. He has power over all creation, yet He uses that power on behalf of His people.

The vision of Christ is such that He not only sees us at face value, but He sees our hearts, our inner-most emotional workings, our trauma and sin nature, and He sees what we could be if healed. That brings up the third attribute on display, His compassion.

The compassion of Christ is such that, not only does He see our hurts and scars, but He heals them. Physical, Spiritual and emotional healing are available to any who will believe.

Christ really is incomparable. For more, check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message on The Incomparable Christ.

Introducing the Christ

In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus returns home to Nazareth, where He visits the local synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61. His visit came after having spent time preaching and teaching along the shores of Galilee, near Capernaum. Those who had heard Him preach glorified Him, and He had apparently performed some miracles along the way.

The passage He read at the Nazareth synagogue was a Messianic prophecy concerning the healing and restoration that Messiah would bring, a reference to the power of the Gospel. The people, however, were unimpressed, wishing that He would rather perform some of the same miracles He did in Capernaum. When Jesus confronted their hardness of heart, they tried to kill Him, but He passed through them and escaped.

In reading the opening of Isaiah 61, we are reminded of the power of the Gospel. It is the Gospel that brings healing and eternal salvation. We are also reminded of Who Jesus really is, and why we should place our faith in Him. Ultimately, we are reminded of the hope that our faith brings.

The Tragedy of Balaam’s “Star” Prophecy

Numbers 24:17 is often cited as the verse the Wise Men found that led them to seek out the newborn Christ. While scripture does not confirm that, it is still a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ.

The tragedy of Numbers 24:17 is not in the prophecy itself, but who gave the prophecy. Balaam was not a Godly man, nor was he a man of faith. When he prophesied of the coming Messiah, and the glory of Christ, he did so as an outsider, one who would never experience the blessing of that glory.

How tragic it is to see the glory of Christ, and the blessing of life, and never receive that blessing yourself. It’s like being stuck in a dark place that is surrounded by light.

People, Get Ready (Luke 3)

The ministry of John the Baptist is a key component of the Gospel story, hence it is included in all four accounts of the Gospel. The ministry of John the Baptist is one more fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and John’s ministry demonstrates the divinity of Jesus Christ.

However, if we only make a theological point about John’s ministry, and miss his words, we’ve missed the point altogether. John’s preaching in Luke 3 teaches us three key things. (1) Judgment day is upon us, (2) The way of repentance, and (3) the power of Christ.

John the Baptist said, “The axe is laid to the root of the trees.” In that statement, he warned that Christ was coming, and so the people would need to make a decision regarding their faith. The proper choice, of course, is to repent and believe.

In discussing repentance, John gave clear teachings on what it meant to repent, and what true repentance looks like. The word repent means to turn and never return. It’s very similar to the word “forsake,” which means to turn away and never return.

While the repentant sinner may stumble and fall in the sin again, his life and desires are no longer consumed by the sin. Along those lines, John gave some guidelines by which to evaluate your life.

He said, “Let those who have two coats give to the one who has none. Let the tax collectors collect no more than is due. Let the soldiers no longer extort the civilians.” At the root of these statements are an evaluation. Are we covetous, are we content, are we prideful?

Had John been preaching today, he may have said, “Let the porn addict log off his computer, let the drug addict put down the pipe, and let the thief earn his way.”

The fact is that we often self-medicate with sin. If we are self-medicating, have we repented? And if we are self-medicating, are we really trusting God for healing and salvation?

John’s ministry also points out the power of Christ, who will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The Holy Spirit indwells us at the point of salvation, giving us the power to overcome sin and heal. The fire is the adversity God uses to transform and purify us. Our job in life is to trust that process.

Judgment day is closer now than it has ever been, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that business as usual can no longer be trusted. Let us all repent and trust the Lord as we move into 2021.

We Three Kings

One of the more fascinating stories in the Bible is the story of the wise men who came to visit Jesus when He was born. With little more than a bright star that lit the night sky as a guide, the wise men traveled a far distance to worship the newborn Messiah. What motivated their journey? How did they know of Christ?

There are a lot of good theories and stories out there, but since none are backed by scripture, we may never really know. The good news is that their motivation is not key to the message of the scriptures.

Matthew wrote His Gospel to record the life of Jesus, to record His teachings, to demonstrate the redemption He purchased on the cross, and to prove that He is the Christ based on how He fulfilled Old Testament scripture.

With that context, the message of the wise men takes shape. From this passage, we learn that Jesus Christ is real, that He redeemed us from sin, and that He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy foretelling His birth in Bethlehem.

These lessons should make Christ more real and tangible to us, and should teach us to rest in His grace and salvation.

Light for a Dark World

Isaiah 9:2-7 is one of the more famous Old Testament passages foretelling the birth of Jesus, as that is the passage that contains the words, “Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.”

Isaiah prophesied in a time when the nation of Israel (both northern and southern kingdoms) was in great decline. The kingdom was constantly losing territory and cities to neighboring invaders, the economy was crashing, and the nation was in a state of moral and spiritual decline.

All of this could be traced back to the inception of idolatry in Israel, and the nation’s drift toward sin and worshipping idols.

As a result, the nation declined, and God warned of a coming captivity which would correct their sin.

Israel was in a dark place. Times would get darker. Yet, on the other side of the darkness was light, prosperity and joy. In this lesson, Pastor Leland Acker discusses how God takes us through the darkness and into the Light, and how all blessings come through Christ.

The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:41-52)

The Gospel of Luke teaches us Who Jesus is by telling us everything we need to know about Christ. Jesus is identified as the Christ by His identity, teaching, and mission.

In Luke 2:41-52, we are given a peek into the childhood of Jesus Christ. This is the only look, aside from His birth, that we are given into the life of Jesus before He became an adult. What we see in this snapshot of Jesus’ childhood is a boy that is already empowered by the Holy Spirit. He is already God in flesh, and this makes sense, as the angels who heralded His birth didn’t say, “Come see the future Christ,” but rather announced, “Come see Christ the Lord.”

This passage puts to rest the notion that Jesus wasn’t born Christ, but rather became Christ. Had Jesus not been the Christ prior to this passage, He would not have had the wisdom to be able to confound the doctors of the Law in the Temple. His wisdom and teaching in this moment can only be explained by His divinity.

In this passage, we see the divinity of Christ, the wisdom of Christ, and the mission of Christ. The divinity is shown when Christ declares that He is in His Father’s house, the Temple. The wisdom is shown in his interaction with the doctors and lawyers. His mission is shown in the words He spoke, translated by the KJV as “I must be about My Father’s business.”

Check out the video above to see Pastor Leland Acker demonstrate Who Christ is from this passage of scripture.

What Child is This? (Luke 2:22-40)

Simeon was a man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the day that Christ would arrive. Think about how amazing that must have been?

How would you feel if you knew that scripture would be fulfilled in your lifetime? How would you feel knowing that you would live to see the second coming of Christ, and the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth?

How would you be impacted if that which you believed in your entire life was suddenly real, tangible, and right in front of you?

All of these were realities to Simeon, who in Luke 2:22-40, was overcome with his excitement and lifted up his praises toward God. In his and Anna’s praise, three observations are made:

  1. Jesus is the Christ.
  2. Jesus is Salvation.
  3. Jesus is Redemption.

The Christ is the Anointed One, the Chosen One, the Messiah. In scripture, God made multiple promises to Israel, and He made many promises to us. Each and everyone of those promises would be fulfilled by the Christ. Simeon identifies the Christ as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus is Salvation. It’s His very nature, and it’s even in His name. The name “Jesus” literally means “The Lord is Salvation.” Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins, from darkness, from hopelessness, and to bring in everlasting life, and eternal reward.

Jesus is redemption. Redemption means to be liberated from bondage by the payment of an outstanding debt. We were in bondage to sin and condemnation, but Jesus liberated us by paying our sin-debt, that we may go free.

Simeon’s words are deep and profound. Check out Life Point’s worship service, posted above, and learn more through Pastor Leland Acker’s message on “What Child is This?”