Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 17, 2018

Luke — Great Words!

Day 3110: Let us all worship and bow down . . .

Scripture:  Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very soul? Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them . . .”  Luke 9:23-26a

Thoughts/questions:  According to C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory, “The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ.”

Notice we are to experience self-denial, not to deny ourselves of whatever. We die to self and let Jesus live His life through us! When we get self out of the way and let God do His thing through us, life as we know it changes!

Other quick points in these great words of Jesus: Logic would dictate that if we wanted to save our lives, we should do whatever it took to do so. Jesus says to lose our life for Him to save it – Wow.

Many would love to have extensive material gain, but Jesus re-prioritizes us and reminds us that our souls are most important. Also, Jesus requires a bit – NOT to be ashamed of Him – ever!

Suggested Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to have Your words become my life . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 16, 2018

God’s Faithfulness — Quite an Example!

Day 3109:  May the God of hope truly fill you with His hope!  MMM!!! (This man’s life changed mine!)

Scripture:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  Philippians 4:13 

Thoughts/questions:  Born in Rumania in 1907 of Jewish parents, Richard Wurmbrand’s early life and even after his marriage was one without God, pursuing women, chasing pleasure, lying, cheating, hurting others, and then becoming afflicted with tuberculosis at age 27. Assigned to a sanatorium, he was given a Bible and met Christ there. His wife, however, was distressed to the point of suicidal thoughts because her partner in pleasure was now a devout believer who wanted to become a pastor! Soon his life impacted her and she was baptized as well!

He became a Lutheran pastor as Communism strengthened its grip on Eastern Europe. When faced with the opportunity to stand up for Christ against Stalin, he hesitated and told his wife that she would lose her husband if he spoke the truth. Her response – “I don’t need a coward. Go and do it!” He then began to lead the Christian Underground and was harassed and jailed many times until February 29, 1948, the Communist Secret Police arrested him.

He was released in 1956, warned not to preach, kept preaching, and was arrested again in 1959 and sentenced for 25 years. He spent three years in solitary confinement in a cell 12 feet underground with no light or windows or sound as even the guards wore felt on the soles of their shoes. As an example of physical torture, the soles of his feet were beaten until the flesh was torn off, then the next day beaten again to the bone.

He was then assigned to Room Four, the ‘death room’ which no one had ever survived. Here, even though racked by tuberculosis, he helped dying patients while being whipped and kicked on a regular basis. His trials were unspeakable, but God was faithful and he was eventually released to a wife he thought was dead, and she had been told the same thing about him. The Stalinist regime prompted much of what he went through and yet God’s faithfulness resulted in the only daughter of the greatest mass-murderer of Christians becoming a Christian!

Please read his full story in his book – In God’s Underground. It will change your life!   

Suggested Prayer:  Lord, help those who are persecuted for Your name’s sake . . .   

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 14, 2018

Luke — Time to Withdraw???

Day 3108: Have a glorious summer’s weekend!

Scripture:  When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Luke 9:10,11

Thoughts/questions: We are a busy people in a busy society within a busy culture – places to go and people to see. Jesus experienced the same but had the wisdom to withdraw and be with His disciples alone.

It didn’t last long, but the principle is still the same – there are times when we need to get away; withdraw from the crazy pace of life; and refocus on what’s important. This doesn’t have to be a week’s vacation in an island paradise, although that would be nice. It could merely be an afternoon or evening or solitude or a special time with special people.

But it HAS to happen periodically! If it IS time for you to get away, DON’T put it off. Withdraw, rest, and be more at peace. Some things/people are really important – refocus on them as well! May God grant you the time to withdraw!

Suggested Prayer: Father God, I know I can’t just go, go, go. I need to rest and fall into Your loving arms. Help me to do just that . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 13, 2018

Personal Sharing — Truly Awesome!

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 12, 2018

Luke — He Touched Me!

Day 3106: Headed to the wife’s little family reunion in the top western corner of CA!

Scripture: As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched Me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me.” Luke 8:42b-46

Thoughts/questions: This account reminds me of the opposite of Jesus and this woman. I remember going through a time when I was 19 that I had kind of had it regarding going to church and God, but then Jesus reached out and ‘touched’ me during a Sunday evening service! I realized the truth of that old song, He Touched Me, as I personally experienced, ‘Then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same!’

I trust you remember well when Jesus touched you – take some time to think about and treasure that special time you had with Jesus! And if that has not been your experience, kneel down and seek your special touch from Jesus. Ask Him to touch your mind, heart, and soul, so that His power goes from Him to you!!!!!!

Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your touch upon my life. My life truly has never been the same!

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 11, 2018

Luke — The Impact of Jesus!

Day 3105: Played softball again last night and I’m actually walking normally after the game!!! Thankful and smarter!

Scripture: When Jesus stepped ashore, He was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at His feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. 

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and He gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So He got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with Him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.  Excerpts from Luke 8:26-39

Thoughts/questions: May we do as this man did!

Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus, You have also done so much for me. Help me to tell others what You’ve done . . . 

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 10, 2018

Luke — The Enemy’s Parable

Day 3104: Exercise your wisdom today!

Scripture:  (Jesus speaking) “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  Luke 8:11-15

Thoughts/questions: Most of us are pretty familiar with this parable, but what about the parallel parable of the devil’s making? He/It too knows that it is imperative for information to have its desired impact; hence the need for good soil.

He utilizes that knowledge and his specific knowledge of us to tempt us in an area of fertile soil in our spirit. A temptation of lust may have little impact on one, while it may be very challenging for another. Therefore, his tempting of us is usually in that area in which we have provided fertile ground for that temptation to grow.

2 things: 1) Try to eliminate ANY fertile temptation soil in your heart and mind! 2) When attacked through temptation, know that they will be difficult to resist when they have found fertile soil to grow in. Once grown, they are hard to uproot, but uproot them you must!

Suggested Prayer: Father God, help me to never let the devil get a foothold in my life . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 9, 2018

Luke — Faith, Love, and Works!

Day 3103: Mondays – Make those Mondays Matter! MMM

Scripture: Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give Me any water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Excerpts from Luke 7:44-50

Thoughts/questions: This woman, whom some consider to be Mary, displayed pretty much the whole gamut of salvation. She was purposeful and intentional regarding what she was doing; she loved Who Jesus was; she demonstrated her love through the work of anointing His feet with expensive oil; and Jesus acknowledge that all of the above was an illustration of her faith, which resulted in her salvation!

So let’s compare our spiritual journey with hers? When you came to Jesus, was it on a whim or something everyone else was doing, or was it fully intentional? Were you or have you fallen in love with Jesus? Has your life demonstrated that love in some way? Are you a person of faith or do you just go there when logic or personal control falls short?

This woman had it all! May we be sure to have experienced the same! And may we go in peace!

Suggested Prayer: Lord Jesus, may my love for You always be on display . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 7, 2018

Luke — Forgiven How Much?

Day 3102: Tis hot here in CA this weekend . . . Part of summer!

Scripture:  Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  Luke 7:40-43

Thoughts/questions: I often get to interact with those who attend Teen Challenge and am always impacted by the level of joy, praise, and thanksgiving in their speaking and especially in their singing. And I’ll admit, I used to get envious of them.

Jesus understood how we work as illustrated in this analogy to Peter. And when I compare my testimony to theirs, I used to think that it is no wonder they are so exuberant in their response to what the Lord has done for them, while I was more subdued.

Then the light came on! My sins were JUST as bad as theirs. I was in darkness. I was separated from God’s love. My love, praise, thankfulness and joy should be equal to theirs. I have NO excuse for not having the same attitude those in Teen Challenge display! I deserved nothing; Jesus gave me everything!

Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to fully understand the depth of my sin and the magnitude of what You’ve done for ME . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 6, 2018

Luke — Pick a Side Carefully!

Day 3101: TGIF!!! Thank God I‘m Forgiven!

Scripture: For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”  Luke 7:33-35

Thoughts/questions: To clarify information, I often use the 0-10 scale. For example – I’d ask, How are you?; they would answer, Fine!; I then would say, What is ‘fine’ on a 0-10? The answers I received ranged from a 2 to an 8, but I never let anyone choose ‘5’ as they had to choose one side or the other.

Jesus wants us to do the same. Pick a side and be consistent with what side you choose. I’m sure John’s behavior appeared as if he were possessed, and Jesus’ lifestyle wasn’t exactly like the superficial purity of other religious leaders. So these opinions had some merit.

However, Jesus taught that wisdom would lead one to avoid making judgments based on the casual observations of the superficial behavior of others. Especially if you had something bad to say about anyone who moved from the norm.

So for us, let wisdom guide our tongues and as Proverbs 15:2 states, “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable.” Know before you speak; use wisdom when you do speak; and avoid negatively speaking about your brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t do things ‘just’ the way you do!

Suggested Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to follow Your ways and speak with wisdom . . .

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