You Have What It Takes

There is a misconception that is prevailing in the church. The dangerous and misleading belief is that you just need to say a prayer of salvation, and you’re good. You’ve got a ticket to heaven, and all will be well. Why it’s misleading is because you can receive the mercy and grace of God by just asking. But once you have moved from the children of darkness into the children of light, there is something for you to do. And what he calls us to do has great consequence for us and the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 25:14-30 tells us the parable of the talents. Verse 14 begins like this. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.” In this parable, the man is dealing with his own servants. He isn’t talking about strangers or outsiders. He is talking about those are his. He then gives one servant five talents, one servant two talents, and the last servant one talent. He gave each according to their ability, so nothing was required of them that they could not handle.

Heaven operates this way. We’re given what we have the capacity to increase. There are no excuses. We should be doing something to grow what we have been given. To bury it is to bury your future and, ultimately, your eternity. It is that drastic!
The servant given five talents made five more, and he heard the words in verse 21, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

Likewise, in verse 23, the second servant was given two talents and heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

However, in verses 24-25, the third servant who was given one talent made excuses while placing blame on his lord and said, “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.”

But look what his lord said to him in response. “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming, I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This parable closely resembles another parable Jesus gave of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. Someone comes into the wedding without the proper garments on, and the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into out darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

I know this can sound hard but hear me out. You won’t be required to do what you aren’t capable of doing. However, sometimes you’re called to do what you think you can’t do. Moses thought the people wouldn’t listen to him and that he was insignificant and asked the Lord how. The Lord asked him a question in response. “What do you have in your hand?” He then successfully led millions of people to freedom with the rod that was in his hand. And God will do the same with you. You do have what it takes. There are no excuses. God has given you everything you need to be fruitful in this life and the next.

Don’t worry about the one with five talents or the one who has two. Just do what you’re called to do with what you have, which will produce an increase. And when you do, what a reward you will receive when you hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” What a day that will be! So go for it. Do something with what you have and watch God do the impossible through you.

Jaime Luce

Help For Carrying Heavy Burdens

In Matthew 16:21-25, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection and rebukes Peter for not being mindful of the things of God. The things of God, meaning the cost of actually following Him. He says in verses 24-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” In His teaching, he unfolds that He will deny His own life and carry a cross that leads to losing it, as well as telling them that anyone who wishes to follow Him will have to do the same.

This saying is not a contradiction to Jesus being our burden bearer. This same Jesus said, “come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28 Jesus indeed carried the weight of our sin and punishment so that we could be free. But being a disciple and following Jesus means living as He lived. He carried a heavy cross. In fact, the cross was so heavy, and Jesus so weak, that He fell under its weight and needed someone else to carry it for him. (Luke 23:26)

Think about that for a minute. The burden that Jesus was carrying was so heavy that He fell under its weight and needed someone else to come and carry it for Him. God wasn’t angry that Jesus collapsed under its weight, and He isn’t angry with you when you do. Matthew 12:20 says, “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” Instead, He sends someone to help you along the journey, someone who will pick up that cross for you and help you walk your difficult road.

In Exodus 17, Moses led the children of Israel out to the battle. They won as long as he held up his arms. But if he began to put his arms down, they began to lose. The weight of millions of people rested on Moses’ ability to hold up his arms. In his natural strength, he couldn’t do it. So, Aaron and Hur came beside him, and each held up an arm. Because they were willing to help bear his burden, the children of Israel won that battle.

We may not be able to take each other’s problems or issues away, but we can help bear one another’s burdens by prayer and compassion. We can walk the walk together. Jesus couldn’t do it alone, and neither can we. We need one another. Instead of judging one another when we fall, let’s help each other back up. Maybe their cross was too heavy. Even on the cross, Jesus believed the best in those who were the reason He was carrying a cross. He said, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

1 Corinthians 12:23-26 (NLT) says, “And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”

We are the body of Christ. If one hurts, we all hurt. Galatians 6:2 (NLT) “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Today, we can be the encouragement someone desperately needs. How about it. Let’s show the world how it’s done. Let’s be disciples.

Jaime Luce

Just Pray

Prayer. Such a small but powerful word. And to access its power, you simply must do it. You want to do it. You know you need to do it. Your own spirit calls to you, asking you to do it. And it’s the one thing that can actually change you and your situation. It is the one thing that can bring peace into your chaos. But it won’t happen by itself. You must do it. Just as keys are only useful when you use them, so is prayer.

Prayer is the ability to talk face to face with the one who created the galaxies. The one who formed the heavens and the earth with just a word. The one who owns it all and desires to share it. The one who imagined you and dreamed a good plan for you and knows how to bring it to pass. The one who loves you so personally that He gave His life just for you so that you could live that life He planned in grand fashion.

In Ephesians 6:18 (NIV), Paul says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” That covers it all. He tells us to pray about everything, anything, all things, and keep praying.

He also tells us how to do it. By the Spirit. Why is that important? Because in Romans 8:26 (NKJV), we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” That is so comforting. Even when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit does. If we will open our mouths and allow Him to pray through us, even when it only sounds like groans, God hears me and knows what I need.

Then the promise is that He not only hears us, but He answers us. 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

We are instructed to pray. It’s like Naaman, the leper, in 2 Kings 5. When the Prophet told him what he needed to do to be healed, he didn’t want to do it. His servant reasoned with him and said to him that he would have done it if the Prophet had told him to do a hard thing. Why not do the simple thing he instructed? So Naaman realized he was wrong, did what he was told to do, and received his miracle.

God is your Father, and He is a good father. The closeness and nearness we desire from Him are found in prayer. You can’t have a relationship where there is no talking. It’s not a hard thing we are called to do. The answers you desire are found in Him. The help you need is found in Him. The breakthrough you are fighting for is found in Him. Everything you could ever need or want is found in Him. The key to accessing it all is prayer.

If you want this year to be different, become a person of prayer. It’s very simple, yet so many miss it. Don’t be one of them. Let the Lord begin to direct your life in the plan He designed just for you. You can start right now, right where you are. All you have to do is pray. Your answers are waiting.

Jaime Luce

 

 

Is Fasting Really Necessary?

A brand new year often brings a desire for consecration for the Christian. We sense that we need to draw closer to the Lord or, in essence, rededicate ourselves to Him. We recognize the need for more of Him. For many, that consecration means fasting. Fasting literally means not eating food. I know it has become common practice to go easy on ourselves and say that we are fasting television or social media for a time. Though those things are good to do, they aren’t fasting. Fasting means food.

But is it necessary? There are objections to fasting found both outside and inside the church. If the objection comes from the outside, it is usually coupled with comments like, “That’s a little fanatical” or “isn’t that a bit extreme?” If it comes from within the church, it is from those who desire to argue over particular scriptural references that suit their opinions.

First, let me be clear, you don’t have to fast to get saved. However, when Jesus behaves in a particular manner, it would seem a behavior we ought to emulate. John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” So Jesus emulates the Father, and we emulate Jesus.

It would seem that the Son of God would not need to fast. But we see that in Matthew 4:1-11, he clearly did. Why was it necessary? Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he was led up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus knew what was ahead. He knew the enemy would be coming to tempt him. With that knowledge, Jesus chose to prepare. His preparation was that of fasting. He humbled his flesh to allow no hindrance for His Spirit to rule.

The purpose should be the same for us. We don’t fast because we think it is a magic wand that can make God answer our prayers. Instead, we humble ourselves and our flesh so that our spirits draw closer to God. We desire His strength and power instead of the fleeting power of natural food. We understand that fasting doesn’t change God. It changes us, and that is where we need the help.

To live a surrendered life for Christ in this new year will take our participation and preparation. If you live to advance of the Kingdom of God and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, It will take your participation. You may need to put away the former things and put on His righteousness. You may need to die to the flesh so you can live to the Spirit. To do this, it may take humbling yourself and acknowledging your dependence on the Lord. If we recognize that we need Him today and every day, we will do whatever it takes to remain close to His heart.

Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world, so we know we will face difficult circumstances and temptations like Him. But He also said, be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. He showed us a remedy. He showed us what He did. He fasted.
I think it’s that simple. If Jesus needed to do it, I think it is fair to say that we do too. If you feel that there is too much space between you and your Savior, if you just need more this year, if life is overwhelming, or you simply want to rededicate yourself to the Lord and His purposes, consider a time of fasting.

Happy New Year!

Jaime Luce

 

 

Press On!

Phillippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Are you pressing? Though the road has been challenging, are you pressing forward? Though all may have forsaken you, are you pressing? Even though you have a past, are you pressing? Even though you’ve had some successes, are you pressing?

Paul had experienced it all. He began with a past that left him feeling he was the least. A worm at best. He had been blind, beaten, shipwrecked, bitten by a snake, and abandoned, to name just a few. He knew failure in ministry and relationships. He wrestled with his flesh, saying he didn’t do the things he wanted to, and he did the things he didn’t want to do.

On the other hand, he was rocking the world by bringing the gospel to the gentiles. He had brought the baptism of the Holy Spirit to those who hadn’t so much as heard that there was a Holy Spirit. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He mentored and fathered new Christians to lead, and he mended and reunited relationships with those once torn. He authored thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament and finished his race well.

With a new year upon us, let us remember what Paul taught. Forget what is behind. There is a prize to win that God has called us to win. The enemy would love to keep us locked up in the things we can’t relive. It isn’t an easy thing, of course. Paul said he strained forward. The original Greek for that word means to exert oneself to the uttermost. It’s hard work. It’s a stretching, and stretching is painful. But like a rubber band, once it has been stretched, it will never be a small as it once was. It has grown.

We, like Paul, must press on. That word press means to move rapidly and decisively toward. To hasten and to run. Before we know it, 2023 will be at the door, and what will we have done? Let’s press on. Let’s leave the past in the past and stretch toward the prize. To look back is not to press but to regress. It’s time to advance with precision. We’ve got a race to win, and 2022 is just the year to do it. Press on saints. Let’s win the prize!

Jaime Luce