RENTERS Luke 20: 9-19

When renting apartments, I always felt that the monthly payment was tossed down the storm drain or worse.  Wasted money.  No equity builds up except for the apartment owner.  As a financial planner, I decide early on to do something about rubbish rent.  Every month I would deposit the same dollar figure into my own investment account.  Why?  To build equity.  When Sue and I marry, I have enough to buy our first home.  No debt.

So what does this have to do with the Jesus’ last recorded parable in Luke’s Gospel?  Good question!  Let’s look at Luke 20: 9–‘…A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.’  The vineyard farmers give back some of their harvest to the landowner as rent payment.  Jesus says–‘At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard (v.10).’

But these ingrates refuse to cough up even a small portion of the rent they owe.  They want it all for themselves.  Violent promise breakers, losers weepers.

After sending a servant or two to collect the rent, neither of which return alive, the owner decides to send his son.  You know what happens.  ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours’ (v.14).

They hanker for the whole schmear, kit and caboodle.  Give back nothing.  Kill if necessary.

As a believer, I know that God has given me much.  Not to hold onto tightly.  More like we’re renting our time here, during which we willingly and joyfully give the Lord His due.  Turning ears to Him.  Listening.  And eyes.  Looking.  Reading His Word daily.  Applying what He says, knowing that forgiveness is but a prayer away.  He’s well aware that we’re made of clay and dust.  Oh, how He knows!

While renting here, also build up equity in heaven.  How?  Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full on His wonderful face.  Love Him. Talk with Him.  Relish His lavish grace and mercy.  Share Him.  Spiritual equity builds and multiplies.

Jesus has a home for us with Him.  No rent.  Equity has been sent ahead, invested in God’s Kingdom.

Renters?  Here, yes.  But there, a paid-for home awaits those who wait upon Jesus!


Thank you, Lord, for a mansion over the hilltop.  Because of Jesus.  Amen.


Contracting polio at the age of two casts a long shadow over my life.  My parents, seeking a better life in the suburbs after World War II, buy a home about 20 miles away.  Unfortunately, I catch the polio virus a day or two before the move out of Jersey City.  When the worst gets confirmed, I’m transported back to be quarantined in the Sister Kenny Polio Center at Jersey City’s Margaret Hague Hospital.

Shadows make their first appearance in that move from my earliest home.  Then immediately finding myself in a frightening institution.  My parents decide to visit me from behind closed curtains as they don’t want me to see them, crying and reaching out to them, who are utterly helpless to hold and comfort me.  All my family– gone?  Dead?  Abandons me?  Who knows what goes through a 2-year old’s mind?

Isolated yet trapped by hot packs, boiling water, bossy nurses, endless exercises, other screaming children who I don’t know, dark nights accompanied by ceaseless tears and sobs.  When the lights go out, the fears do not.  Shadows rarely dissipate.

Best news happens at age 16, listening to my radio on a Sunday evening, I hear about God’s love through Jesus.  His offer is given.  I gladly accept.

After a university and Bible school education, a seminary advanced degree, ordination, serving four churches, hosting a local evangelistic TV show, authoring two devotional books, I still feel like I have to earn God’s love.  Keep doing more to warrant His acceptance.  But it’s never enough, is it?  ‘Lord, please don’t abandon me.  I’ll be good.’  Shadows again.

Just when I need a booster shot of reassurance, certain Bible stories enter my system.  Like this week, reading Luke 12.  The parable of the master who returns from a wedding feast, with his servants prepared, waiting and ready.  Verse 37–‘It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.  I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.’

Did you get it?  Took me a couple of times, but then it hits home.  The master serves his servants.  Jesus waits on me!  It’s not my good works that matter, but His.  Nothing about my achievements, even those for His glory.  Just get ready and watch… and be waited upon by Jesus!

As He did in washing His disciple’s feet (John 13).  And when God sings precious songs over His own, as found in Zephaniah 3:16-17.  God takes the first step.  He initiates.  ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19).  His love… first and foremost.

He loves me and will never, ever forsake me…or you!  Chew on that for awhile.  I am.  Little by little, that message sinks in.  That’s something.  Shadows recede a bit, surprising even me.  We’re His work in progress!  Mainly we’re His.


Lord Jesus, thank you for always being there for us.  Amen.


FOR THE BIRDS Genesis 15

Genesis 15 tells the story of God making a pact, a covenant with Abram.  A mutual promise which God initiates, requiring belief on Abram’s part.  A pledge of countless offspring for Abram and Sarai, a barren old couple.  What good can come from God’s promises without even one heir?  Abram wonders if maybe his foreign servant will be the one to inherit.  Eliezer of Damascus.  Him?  Some promise.

Ever feel like your living with God’s left-overs?  Not quite what you expected?  Second-best?  Passed by and overlooked?

Abram exhibits faith in God (v.6).  However, he begs for reassurance–‘O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?’ (Gen. 15:8).  Abram has tiny, mustard-seed faith.  But it’s enough for now.  So God tells him to gather some animals for a ceremony.  Abram collects them.

Before God puts him into a deep sleep, Abram is ‘bewitched, bothered, and bewildered’ by nasty birds of prey.  Possessing keen eyesight, they grasp and kill their prey for a meal.  My wife and I were walking in a lovely state park, when a bald eagle swoops down quite close to us grabbing a frog, swallowing it whole.  Yuck!  So much for the romance of seeing bald eagles.  Predators!  I hardly overate at dinner that evening!

When Abram has everything in place, then come those pesky birds to steal and kill and destroy (Gen. 15:11).  Does that phrase sound familiar?  Check out John 10:10.  Satan and his rotten forces love to mess up our joy both in life and in the Lord.  Ever notice that?  Of course you have.

Don’t be surprised or caught off guard.  Get ready.  James has the right idea–‘Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7).  As Abram did in his day–‘Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away’ (Gen. 15:11).

Do your best to shoo them far off.  Stop your ears to their doubting whispers.  Walk away from temptations you know are eating away at you.  Resist.  Drive them away.  Odious birds of prey.  Shoo.

And then get closer to Jesus.  Keep a short account of sins needing His forgiveness.  Go to Him as soon as possible.  Give no room for Satan, who can’t wait to barge in as the crook, terminator, blaggard and braggart he truly is.

Cuddle up a little closer…to the Lord your God where you’ll find there’s no room for the enemy.  None.  With Jesus you’re safe, free and peaceful!


Thank you, Jesus, for giving us life in its fullness.  Keep Satan far away from us.  In your name.  Amen.



WHEN JESUS SAYS ‘NO’ Luke 8: 26-39

Isn’t it the pits when your prayer receives ‘no’ for its answer?  After all, you’re so sincere and needy.  Maybe it’s concern for someone else that brings you to Jesus in prayer.  Would He deny us anything?  Can’t imagine that.  But He does.  Though we know His will is best, yet we bristle and gripe at the seeming insensitivity.

Spending time in Luke 8, we discover a man in distress.  He’s possessed with many evil maladies.  Disturbed being an understatement.  Rips off his clothes, breaks the chains that bind him while he roams around in caves and tombs.  A desperate character.

As Jesus walks by, this troubled man shouts out– ‘…Jesus, Son of the Most High God’ (Luke 8: 28).  You know what happens.  Jesus casts out those legion demons into hillside pigs, who stampede down a steep bank into a lake, drowning all.

People come running to see what’s happened.  Oh, no!  Cash crops float away.  Livelihoods destroyed.  Fear engulfs the populace.  Their world crumbles.  So they tell Jesus and His cohorts to ‘get out of Dodge’ before they ‘tar and feather’ them!

But before they sail away, this newly restored man begs Jesus to allow him to tag along.  Why wouldn’t he?  After all, everyone who knows him probably will still make fun of him and always see him as he used to be.  Plus, blaming him for the economic mess they now find themselves in.  He’s trouble before and no better after.  No wonder he wants to flee.

But Jesus says ‘no’.  Of course, He wants this man to experience fullness of life (John 10:10).  Yet, Jesus also knows that no better work can be done for God’s Kingdom than for this man to go back home, tough it out, stand his ground, sound of mind and body, and tell others about Jesus’ healing him, seeing his own family, friends and neighbors come to know the Healer and Savior for themselves!

When Jesus says ‘no’ to our prayers, know that following Him will not always be easy.  We don’t invariably get our way, even though we accept that His ways are best.  Whether I can see it or not.  Like it or not.  Or if it makes any sense to my ‘pea brain’ or anyone else’s.

Trust Jesus.  Repeat that phrase as often as it takes.  Trust…Jesus.  Make yours a ‘no matter what’, ‘nevertheless’ faith!  I’m not there yet.  Not by a long-stretch.  But He’s not done with me…or you.  Hang on!  Hold on!  Trust…Jesus!


Lord, thank you that we can always trust you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.