When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
 
During this account in the gospel of Luke we are given some very important information about Zaccheus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was a man who valued money above all else and most likely cheated those he collected taxes from. Tax collectors were the most hated in Israel. Taxes were collected for the Roman empire and it was Jews taken advantage of other Jews.
 
Zaccheus was a short man and needed to climb a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus passing through the crowd. A sycamore tree can grow to be between 75 to 100 feet and be 10 feet in diameter. It is a very large tree. As Jesus walked by He stated to Zaccheus that He desired to have dinner with him.
 
The people grumbled because they didn’t understand how Jesus could spend time with such a man as this. But Jesus looked beyond the surface. Jesus looked into the heart. In Zaccheus He saw a man who was hungry for truth and it was the Holy Spirit who drew Zaccheus. When Jesus stated to Zaccheus that He desired to eat dinner with Him Zaccheus responded without hesitation.
 
Zaccheus demonstrates through his actions the faith he has in Jesus. He states to the Lord that he was willing to give half of all he had to the poor and to repay four times anyone he had wronged. The heart of Zaccheus had been impacted by the Living Christ. This is a contrast to the rich young ruler who when Jesus spoke to him about his wealth was not willing to depart with it and walked away from Jesus.
 
Jesus statement that He came to seek and save those who were lost sums up His mission. He came to earth to give His life so that anyone who would place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would be saved. It is because of what Jesus has done alone that we have salvation.
 
Authentic saving faith impacts the way we live our lives. It affects every decision we make on a daily basis. It is impossible to claim that we are truly saved and not be transformed into the character and nature of Jesus Christ.
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But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  Luke 6:27-28

In this life there will be those who hate us because we follow Jesus Christ.  As we can see from news reports around the world that IsIs and other Islamic Terrorist groups are dead set on trying to rid the world of Christianity.  But the question is how are we to respond?  Are we to respond with weapons and violence?  The answer is no.  We are to respond the same why our Lord and Savior did.

Those who persecute and hate us are blinded by the lies and deception of Satan.  Satan has so blinded the hearts of those who are lost in this world.  We are to respond in love and we are to pray for those who persecute us.  We are to pray that their eyes would be open to the truth.  We are to love them with the love of Christ and we are to extend the grace and mercy of God toward them.

When we come to Christ our lives are no longer our own.  So if we are injured because of the name of Jesus we should see it as a very high honor.  There is no greater honor on this earth than to suffer for the name of Jesus.  It is not comfortable or even enjoyable, but it is the Lord who gives us the strength and power to endure everything we will face upon this earth.

When we abide in Him and spend time daily in God’s word and prayer our hearts and minds become one with His.  As our lives are transformed and our hearts are changed we began to see things around us as the Lord sees things.  We begin to react and make decisions as the Lord would make decisions.  When people rise up against us desiring to injure us or even end our lives, we don’t fight back, we love them as the Lord would love them.

This is not something that is accomplished in our own strength.  It is accomplished in the might and power of the Holy Spirit.  But it requires that we seek the Lord daily and spend time in His presence.  It requires that we draw near and make seeking the Lord the priority of our lives.  As we grow more in Him, we decrease as He increases.  This walk with Jesus is about being transformed.  The more we draw near to Him, the more our lives are transformed.

Pardon, and you will be pardoned

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; [c]pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will [d]pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”  Luke 6:37-38

We are called to be a people filled with God’s love, grace, and mercy.  What we sow into the lives of others we will reap into our own lives.  This doesn’t mean we compromise the truth of God’s word because it may offend someone or hurt their feelings.  We are called to speak the truth in love but we are called to hold fast to the truth of God’s word.

We live in a culture and day in which people claim that when you speak the truth of God’s word that you are either using hate speech or you are judging people.  We are responsible to proclaim and declare the truth no matter what.  We are not called to conform to the culture of the day.

The culture we live in uses political correctness to try to silence the truth.  But when you see the scheme and device of the enemy behind you it understand that political correctness is simply a deception of Satan.  We are never to be afraid to call sin sin. Homosexuality is sin.  Having sex before marriage and outside of marriage covenant is sin.  Marriage defined in God’s word is between a man and a woman.  When the world claims that same sex marriage is marriage, it is not, it is sin.

The culture we live in is ruled by the lies and deceptions of Satan.  Every lie and deception of Satan appeals to the sinful nature and therefore those who are lost without Christ embrace it.  They simply see Christians as hate mongers who are infringing on their rights when in fact it is the message of the gospel that will actually set people free from the darkness of our day.

Yes we are called to be a people of love, grace, and mercy.  But that doesn’t mean we compromise or soften the truth.  Even more than any time in history we must stand fast upon the truth of God’s word and call sin what it is.  Unless people understand that they are sinners and in need of a savior they will never draw near or desire Jesus Christ.  The truth of God’s word must be declared without compromise and in its purity.

Luke 11:9-13: It will be given to you

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:9-13.

We are called to ask, seek, and knock.  When we examine this the Lord is calling us to continually come before the throne of God and never relent until we see what we are praying for manifest before us.  Prayer is not a one time event and everything we pray must align with God’s will.  The Lord will not move contrary to His will, so we must pray all things in accordance with His will and this only happens as we develop deep intimacy with the Lord.

His desire is that we would move beyond a very superficial relationship with Him and that we would simply seek Him with our whole heart.  He desires to move in our day and He desires to move in our midst, but He is waiting for those who will be found faithful to simply cry out to Him.

We can never relent in the place of prayer due to discouragement or doubt.  Of course the enemy will come to us and lie to us and tell us that nothing is happening, that God is not listening.  But the truth is that our Father in Heaven not only hears us but moves mightily at the prayers of His people.  Not only that but Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father living to intercede.  When we become people of diligent prayer we reflect the character and nature of Jesus in the greatest way.  The one word that could describe Jesus when He walked the earth was intercessor.  Everything He did was built in the place of prayer and was manifested in the natural.  Let us never relent, let us never give up, but let us go boldly and with confidence and fill the throne of Heaven with prayers that touch the heart of our Heavenly Father.