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The next time you see a child that has been adopted into a family and loved, remember that every Christian is like that. God is a Father, the Church is a family, and each Christian has been in a very real spiritual sense been adopted by the Father into the family. Adopting grace results in God becoming our spiritual Father and including us as members of his family, the church. Ephesians 1:4–6 says, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Adopting grace completely transforms our motive for holy living. With God as our loving and perfect Father and the church as our helpful brothers and sisters, we seek to live good lives and do good works because that is what our family does; we don’t do them in order to be part of the family. This means that rather than adopting grace serving as a license for sin, it makes us part of a people who are so loved and served by their Father that the last thing they would want to do is bring disrepute to his name or harm to their loving family. After all, we have such a great Father who has loved us so well that we want to be with Him and be like Him by the grace of the Holy Spirit. What do you think about when you consider that God is a Father who has adopted you along with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for...

The resurrected Jesus teaches and commissions his disciples before he returns to heaven. Because Jesus is alive, because the Bible is true, and because we believe the gospel—the good news that Jesus died for sin and rose for salvation, and that no one comes to the Father but by him—we should witness (preaching repentance and forgiveness to everyone by the power of the Holy Spirit) and worship. Luke’s great biography of Jesus’ life closes with Jesus’ people worshiping him—literally kissing his nail-scarred feet.

Zacchaeus was not just a wee little man, he was a man idolizing money and power and taking advantage of his neighbors. But when Jesus calls out to Zacchaeus, his life is changed forever. Zacchaeus immediately repents and offers restitution to anyone he’s wronged, which results in much rejoicing.

In this parable, a nobleman gives ten of his servants one mina each to engage in business with while he goes away to receive a kingdom. Those who steward their mina well are entrusted with cities to oversee; those who don’t have theirs taken away. Similarly, Jesus is a King with a kingdom, and we have the opportunity to be faithful servants of Jesus’ kingdom while we await his second coming.

A blind beggar cries out to Jesus from the side of the road, calling him the Son of David. We are the blind man, and sin is our blindness. Jesus gives us sight, but we first have faith. Faith is an internal conviction that leads to external actions of worshiping, witnessing, and walking with Jesus. Do you have faith in Jesus? If not, the power of the Holy Spirit is not unleashed in your life.

The Pharisees use fear of man to bully the multitudes and keep them from Jesus, and they try to bully Jesus too. Is Jesus or someone else sitting on the throne over your life? Fear of man is when someone other than Jesus sits on that throne. You want to please them, which ultimately is worship and results in anxiety. Jesus teaches that we can overcome fear of man by living for the final judgment day, by being willing to suffer, by remembering the love of God for us, and by replacing fear of man with fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.

Jesus is the perfect storyteller. A parable is a small story that teaches a big idea in order to get our heart and expose our sin. The parable of the barren fig tree teaches that God cares about fruitfulness. We’re not saved by our fruit, but we’re saved to good fruit. Even when we’ve been fruitless, God’s heart is not to cut us down and throw us in the fire. God’s heart is to give us more time for him to work on us. By the grace of God, we can be fruitful. Pastor Mark gives some principles for being fruitful: (1) cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit; (2) repent of sins; (3) count your figs; (4) measure fruitfulness, not busyness; (5) learn from fruitful people; (6) be an activist, not a fatalist; (7) turn your pains into plans; and (8) use your manure.

Jesus heals a demonized woman who has suffered physical pain for eighteen years and she glorifies God. But, rather than rejoicing, the pastor criticizes Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Jesus is tender with the woman and tough with the religious man. He rebukes the pastor publicly for treating livestock better than this woman. He then tells two parables to show that the kingdom of God starts small and grows big. How do you avoid religiosity? Remember the King and his kingdom.

“Fear not” is the most frequent command—or loving invitation—in the Bible. Fear in the mind leads to anxiety in the body, which reduces the quality and duration of life. Unlike other religions’ gods, our God is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because he’s been here. Our God is a good Dad who knows we have needs. He’ll take care of us. If you truly believe that he is a generous king, give. So much of your stress is connected to your stuff that as you give your stuff to others, you’re giving your stress to him. The joy of giving reorients our hearts away from ourselves and to God and others.

When it comes to wealth, Jesus looks at the heart—there are righteous and unrighteous rich, and righteous and unrighteous poor. In this parable, Jesus describes an unrighteous rich man, whom he calls a fool. The rich fool’s sin was not that he became wealthy, but that he worshiped his wealth instead of worshiping God with his wealth. If you aren’t content, you’ll covet, which is idol worship. You don’t need more wealth; you need more wisdom. Will you be foolish or faithful with what God gives you? Will you be rich toward God and others, or only think of yourself?

Jesus’ disciples saw his greatness, and it inspired in them a longing for greatness. Jesus did not rebuke them, but told them how they could be great. Rather than receiving worldly, godless greatness (that is, narcissism), or rejecting greatness altogether (in the false name of humility), Jesus shows them how to redeem greatness. True greatness means having a godly, redeemed ambition to live for the glory of God and the good of others by the grace of God. Then you can rejoice in others’ greatness wherever the kingdom of God is advancing.