Wish Come True

wishing

Luke 22:5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.

The 1946 Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is unarguably one of the best Christmas classics of all time. Spiritual overtones are unmistakable throughout this drama following the life of fictional character, George Bailey. Early on, college-bound George attends a high school dance and re-acquaints himself with graduating senior, Mary Hatch (whom he later marries). In the middle of the music and the commotion on the high school gym floor, they appear love-struck. A different young man who had also taken an interest in Mary is jealous and that’s when the devil pops on the screen.

Well, not with horns and a forked tail. But certainly, Frank Capra had the devil in mind. An unknown character with no other part in the movie appears suddenly beside the sulking young man who, from a distance, watches George and Mary hit it off. Capra’s devil then does two things that typify Satan:

He makes a suggestion and then he makes an offer.

This unknown character suggests that the young man take revenge and then he offers him a key that will open the gym floor to a pool below. It just so happens that George and Mary are dancing right over the crack where the floor begins to separate.

http://youtu.be/WTctqB-co4k

Capra nailed it. This is exactly how it works almost all the time. The devil suggests and then makes an offer. Consider, however, an important ingredient to the recipe of moral failure that was mixed into the bowl of this scene before the devil ever showed up.

The boy was wishing.

Wishing what? Wishing that he had a way to satisfy his jealousy.

No, the devil didn’t plant this jealousy or the angry thoughts that were obviously brewing as the young man watched George and Mary dance the night away.  That was his own doing. It was his own wishing. The devil just took advantage of it by making a suggestion and then making an offer.

The process so artistically laid out in this scene of Capra’s film is the same one laid out in Luke 22.

The Pharisees are envious and fearing loss of power at the hands of Jesus’ followers (v.2) and they’re wishing to kill Him;

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.” (v.3)

The sin of Judas’ betrayal to come in the garden of Gethsemane may be history’s most grievous. How did it go down? Satan “conferred” with the chief priests. He made a suggestion and then an offer.

But it first started with their wishing.

In cellular biology, I learned that cells express themselves by embedding proteins called antigens on the outside of their cell wall surface. Simply put, these antigens are recognized by certain destroyer cells as good or bad. If something is wrong with the cell, bad antigens are expressed on the exterior of the cell and it will be attacked and killed. If the antigens are good, the destroyer cells leave it be.

To some extent, what we wish for is expressed from us like antigens are from a cell. If what we wish are ungodly desires, they attract the destroyer Satan who then latches on to make a suggestion and then an offer. The offer is always intended to do two things; make our wish come true and his, too.

What are you wishing?

To work less?

To become rich?

To get justice for yourself?

For someone who’s caused you harm to fall?

Be careful what you’re wishing. He’s got a suggestion and an offer. The combination of all three is the definition of temptation.  But it starts with you.

James 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.

The word “desires” is ἐπιθυμία epithumía; from epi (in) and thumos (mind).

That’s where it starts.

It’s where it started in exacting revenge against George and Mary. It’s where it started in exacting the betrayal of Jesus. And it’s where sin starts for you and me.

Don’t give the devil such a blatant opportunity to make a suggestion and an offer.

Instead, think on what’s honorable; desire what’s pure; hope for moral excellence; and wish for His will in all things.

 

What’s Your Input?

input

Luke 21:3 “I assure you,” he said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.”

 

I knew a lady who wandered the streets of our city for three years. She pushed a grocery cart everywhere she went and always slept sitting up in a trolley depot. Any passerby likely counted her a true “charity case” worthy of alms. It’s too easy to see the poor as readied recipients rather than potential contributors. But If we understood what moves God to do great things, we might see, in a new light, the magnificence of what the poor have to offer.

It’s true that input drives output. But is it about quantity or quality?

In any organization, there are calculations associated with input and output. A businessman monitors the quantity of input versus quantity of output. It’s a comparison of dollars invested to potential revenue; dollars received.  Quality is also important. The quality of input-material determines the quality of the output-product. In short, greater quantity yields greater quantity and better quality yields better quality.

Although this is how manufacturing works, it’s not how life works. You’d probably agree that the greatest output in life is the accomplishment of God’s will and that God’s will is, of course, accomplished by God.

So what’s your part? If output is His, our part must be on the input side.

Is it like manufacturing? The more input you contribute, the more of His output you will see? Sounds like an assembly line! What about quality? Surely the quality of God’s output is not dependent on the quality of your input. If it were, then His ability and quality would be limited by our imperfections!

What we learn in this one verse about the poor widow who gives only 2 coins, but “gave more than all the rest” is that the quality of our input is related to the quantity of God’s output. Her input wasn’t an issue of quantity, but quality. She gave her all. That’s qualitative. It has no exact number that can be assigned. In this story, we’re given the quantity only so that we understand God can take a little and do a lot with it. Jesus said she put in more than all the rest. This means that whatever activity God wanted done with the money in the treasury that day, more of it was accomplished because of the widow’s contribution than anyone else’s.  He isn’t interested in the quantity of your input. He’s interested in the quality because He is the only one who performs the miracle of translating input quality to output quantity.

A few fish and loaves fed a multitude. A seed of faith can move a mountain. Fervent, effectual prayer accomplishes much. The Bible is populated with examples that teach us this one lesson: The quality of our input is what counts.

It may seem strange, but I think God wants us to look, with faith, at the little we have and consider ourselves rich with potential. Concerning the poor, we should consider no less. It doesn’t matter if we’re rich, poor or even how much we accomplish or how frequently we fall short. What matters is the true heart behind the effort of the offering. He’ll accomplish the rest.

Stand Strong

 

stand strong

Have you ever noticed the frequency of triads in life? Earth wind and fire. Sun, moon and stars. Even a molecule of water is made of three atoms oriented perfectly in a way that causes them to hang together. And depending on the temperature, that water can be found in one of the three forms of matter; liquid, solid or gas. Of course, the Trinity is one of the first examples that come to mind.

Here’s another you might not have thought of but is vitally important for healthy life: Authority, Loyalty and Theology. Not only are these three connected, but they’re interdependent like three legs of a stool that are joined by tie-rods creating a firm foundation for you and me.

In chapter 20, Luke records Jesus’ enemies trying to knock each of those legs out from under Him, one at a time.

  • Authority: (Identity, Belonging, Sonship)

In verse 2, they challenge His authority: “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” They were really challenging His identity, from Whom He had come and to Whom He belonged, the Source of His authority.

Has your authority or identity in Christ been challenged? Has anyone ever accused you “That’s not very Christian” or “Jesus wouldn’t do that?” More obtusely, isn’t the Christian identity challenged daily by cultural norms? How do you respond? Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you from where my authority comes.” He felt no demand to play into the trap of this challenge. Why? Because stating who He was wouldn’t change who He was. That’s an important lesson. For you and me, rebutting our accuser doesn’t change who we are in Him. Most often, in those situations, a quiet response is the more appropriate one.

  • Loyalty: (Faithfulness, Devotion, Allegiance)

In Luke 20:20-26, Jesus’ loyalty is challenged as the leaders lay out a choice between Caesar and God. They believed Roman rule was antithetical to their faith and so there existed a nasty tension in paying taxes to the emperor versus worshiping Jehovah. They presented the option to Christ, “Pay Caesar or not?” Jesus puts it all in right perspective readjusting the scales of importance between earthly rule and heavenly rule. He looks at Caesar’s face on the coin and says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The options weren’t even on the same playing field. Jesus’ loyalty, His focus, His energy was on the Kingdom. We must ask the personal question, “Where is my loyalty?” Consider where you invest your time and resource and then be resolved. If it has the face of the world on it, don’t stress for it.  Give it to the world and pledge your allegiance to God instead.

  • Theology (Doctrine, Knowledge, Revelation)

In Luke 20:27-40, the Saducees challenge Jesus’ theology. (Bad idea). After concocting the impossibility of a woman who marries one brother at a time until all seven are dead, they ask to whom will she belong in heaven. Read Jesus’ response. Although He addresses marriage in heaven, He devotes most of his answer addressing the truth of resurrection. Why? Because He understood the motive of the heart behind the question. The Sadducees didn’t believe in resurrection of the dead. We are wise to do as Christ when our theology is challenged. Don’t argue the point. Address the motive.

 

Identity, Loyalty and Theology. The enemies of His day went after each of these legs that provide stability. Today, it is still the way the enemy works to topple the Christian.

Lastly, consider that three individual legs provide no stability unless they’re tied together solidly. Each of the three support each other in one way or another. Take a close look at the diagram and read each connection as a sentence to get a better understanding of God’s intended interconnectedness between these three pillars that form a tripod for healthy and stable life.

tripod for life