Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made millions of dollars from inventing and selling dynamite. One day in 1888, he was shocked to open the newspaper and see this headline: “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” It was his obituary! The newspaper had confused him with his brother Ludvig who had in fact died in France. The article remembered Alfred as a person who had gotten rich by helping people kill each other.
After reading his own obituary, Alfred Nobel realized that the legacy of his life was not what he had hoped. He set out to make a change becoming a generous person who shared his resources to make a positive difference in the world. You probably recognize the name from the Nobel Prizes (like the Nobel Peace Prize), which Nobel created with a $9 million investment to honor individuals of many professions whose work and efforts have benefited humanity. The Merchant of Death, Alfred Nobel, learned what it meant to become a generous person.
God blesses you and me so that we can be a blessing to others. He desires us to be generous people, and when we are, our joy and happiness overflows. Jesus said in Luke 6:36: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” There is a spiritual principle here: When you give, you will be blessed! When you give, God will grant you not only what you need, but it will overflow.
You and I have been blessed with time, talents, and treasure. We have been blessed with freedom, education, intellectual abilities, friendships, material possessions, skills, and wisdom. The mistake we often make is when we use these things just for ourselves. God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. When we hoard it all to ourselves, we miss the blessing. The gift actually becomes a burden! Rather than experiencing joy and happiness by giving, too many of us become stressed out by debt and the care of “our” material possessions.
Learn to give. Learn to become a generous person. For then you will see that the real gift from God to us is NOT the gift, but what happens when we give the gift. Generosity: it’s the true gift from God.
Introduction from “Jesus the Divider”: While Jesus does bring us “Peace”, Jesus tells us that His ways are not always our ways; and Jesus does not always bring us “Peace”. In the world, we have tribulation; but Jesus has overcome the world. In Jesus, we do have “Peace”; but when we do stand with and for Jesus, “division” and conflict are created. In this passage from Luke 12, Jesus wants His followers to know that following Him will have a cost in terms of conflict and worldly tribulation. Many in and of the world will not tolerate our communication of the Gospel. Jesus is not saying that “division” is good. Rather, Jesus, in John 17:22-23, expresses His desire, to the Father, for His followers to all be at one with Him and the Father. However, Jesus is warning us that “division” is inevitable because we are human and sinners.
Jesus ends His message to those assembled, in Luke 12:54-56, with: “He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?’". In this passage, Jesus was pointing toward His purpose on earth and the cross; but no one understood His message at the time period of His teaching in Luke – they could not read God’s signs. Do we see and follow God’s signs, or do we miss them and become party to creating “divisions”?
Today’s Message -- Jesus the Narrow Door: In our Gospel focus from Luke 13:22-30, Jesus was pointing His earthly ministry toward Jerusalem, the Cross, Resurrection, and His Ascension. Jesus was asked, in Luke 13:23-25, a pivotal question; and He responded: “And someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’”". It’s not that Jesus doesn’t want all to be saved, it’s just that the “gate”, to our Salvation, is “narrow” and difficult to enter. As Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, that Jesus wants all people to be saved: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.". However, all people will not be saved because some will not come to Jesus – they don’t want to be saved.
In Luke 13:26-30, those rejected by the master of the house argue for admission: “” Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you; I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”".
Jesus is the “narrow door” and the “gate” by which we enter the Kingdom of God and our Salvation. Jesus Himself tells us in John 10:9-10: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”. We have been given the job, by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, to help others find the “narrow door”.
As believers in the Gospel and followers of Jesus, we are invited, in Revelation 19:9-10, to the “Marriage Super of the Lamb”: ““And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’ For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”". Is your focus on Jesus, the ”Narrow Door”, that is the only way to the Kingdom of God and your Eternal Life?
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM A CHILD OF GOD. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12f).
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Luke 12:49-56; John 16:36; John 17:22-23; John 14:27; Luke 13:22-30; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Matthew 7:13-14; Hebrews 11:1-40; John 10:9-10; Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 19:9-10; Psalms 33a:1-11.
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