Evening Devotional 

Catching People with the Gospel 

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

[Luke 5:10]

When you have a real experience with God, you realize it’s not about you; it’s about Him. You realize how unholy you are in the face of the One who is absolute holiness.

Isn’t that exactly the experience Job had? When Job had an experience with God, he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Remember, Job wasn’t a murderer, an adulterer, or a drug dealer. He was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). Yet when he had a face-to-face confrontation with God, Job repented of his sin. When you come into the presence of God, you realize that there is a great chasm between God and you.

That was Peter’s experience in Luke 5:8. And how did the Lord respond? “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men” (v. 10). In other words, “Peter, no matter what you were doing, you have a new beginning. You were catching fish, but now you are going to catch men.” That Greek verb used for “catching” in this verse means “to catch people alive.” This Greek verb is used only one other time in the New Testament, in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” The only time this Greek verb is used in the Bible, other than in Luke, is in reference to Satan, who catches people alive.

We are born not as moral free agents but as prisoners of Satan. We are held captive by sin and by Satan. Remember this: Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life. And when you are born into this world, you are in his domain whether you realize it or not. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can set us free from the domain of Satan and deliver us into the kingdom of God. Jesus was saying to Peter, “I invite you to join Me on this search-and-rescue mission, to help catch people alive, to deliver them from the grip that Satan has on their lives and to deliver them into the presence of God.” By the way, that is exactly the same mission that God has given you and me: “Come and join Me in catching people alive with the gospel.”

What was the disciples’ response? Luke 5:11 says, “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” When they realized who Jesus was, they left their boats–their means of livelihood. And apparently they also left behind the fish that they had been so excited about a few moments earlier. They left everything in order to follow Jesus.

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~

Jesus Ministered With Supernatural Power

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

[James 4:7]

Jesus’s ministry was marked by supernatural power. When He taught, He not only stirred up the people, but He also stirred up the demonic world. Luke 4:33-35 tells us, “In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.” The Bible has a lot to say about demons. I will point out three truths about demons and then relate them to our purpose in life.

First, demons are real. Some people say, “Demons were just a primitive attempt to explain mental illness.” Well, if that’s true, then Jesus ought to be put in a straitjacket because He conversed with these demons. If demons are not real, then why was Jesus talking to them? Demons are real. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Demons are angels who followed Lucifer in his revolt against God and were cast into the world and into the underworld. They are Satan’s assistants to carry out his plan.

Second, demons can control people. I believe many of the horrendous, unspeakably evil acts that people commit against other human beings are caused by demonic activity. Make no mistake about it: demons can control and influence people. Now, can a Christian be possessed by a demon? It depends what you mean by “possessed.” If you mean, “Can a person be owned by a demon?” then the answer is no. Ephesians 1:13 says that when we became Christians we were sealed with the Holy Spirit, so we are God’s possessions. However, Christians can be influenced by demons. How does that happen? Any part of your life that is not controlled by the Holy Spirit is opened to be controlled by demons.

Third, demons are under Christ’s authority. These demons were obviously fearful of Jesus. The demon said to Jesus, “I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” Demons believe every word of the Bible. They believe the right things intellectually about Jesus. They know He is the Son of God. These demons recognized the authority of Jesus.

How do we make sure that we are not under the control of Satan or demons? Remember what James said: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). If you are a Christian, you have the same supernatural power Jesus had to rid yourself of any demonic influence and cause Satan and his demons to run from you. That’s the power that we have today.

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~

Evening Devotional 

Jesus Taught with Authority 

They were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.

[Luke 4:32]

This week we are learning how to live our life’s purpose by looking at the example of Jesus. In Luke 4:31, we see that Jesus’s life was marked by authoritative teaching. After Jesus left Nazareth, “He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath.” Jesus taught people on the Sabbath. The verb tense in Greek indicates that this was something He did regularly.

The power to transform people’s lives does not come from your words; it comes from God’s Word. If you are going to have a life that really counts, then you will instill God’s Word into the lives of others.

Luke 4:32 says, “They were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.” What is it that gave Jesus’s message authority? It wasn’t His natural charisma. It wasn’t His booming voice. That’s not what gave His words authority. As I look at this passage of Scripture, I find three characteristics of Jesus’s teaching that gave Him true authority.

Number one: Jesus’s teaching was rooted in God’s Word. Mark’s account says, “He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). When the scribes taught in the synagogue, they just quoted one expert after another, one opinion after another, and one tradition after another. But Jesus spoke with the authority of God Himself.

Number two: Jesus’s teaching was filled with application. In far too many churches today, the teacher unloads knowledge without any application–and the people go away unchanged. God gave us His Word not to make us smarter sinners but to make us obedient followers of Christ. Any teaching or preaching that lacks application isn’t from God. Look at what Jesus did: whether He was teaching through the Sermon on the Mount or through parables or through His discourse on the end times, He always included what we are supposed to do in light of that truth.

Number three: Jesus’s teaching was lived out in integrity. The word “integrity” means “undivided” or “whole.” A person who has integrity is a person whose life is in balance. There is no dichotomy between what he says and how he lives. However, that wasn’t true of the Pharisees. People knew the Pharisees weren’t living out what they professed to be true. If you are a teacher of God’s Word and you are not living out what you proclaim, then you have no authority. But Jesus lived out His message with integrity.

That’s why when Jesus taught, people sensed something was different. His teaching was rooted in the authority of God’s Word, He used practical application, and He lived it out in integrity.

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~

The Temptation to Question God’s Care

The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

[Luke 4:3-4]

The temptation of Jesus in Luke 4 teaches us about the nature of temptation. We see that Satan tempted Jesus by questioning God’s care. In Luke 4:3, “The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Satan knew who Jesus was. At this time Jesus had gone 40 days without eating. Most of us get faint if we go four hours without eating. But Jesus had fasted for 40 days. He was hungry. Satan said, “Look, if You are God’s Son, then You shouldn’t have to be hungry. God gave You the desire to eat, so just go ahead and turn these stones into a nice, warm loaf of bread. There’s nothing wrong with that. God wouldn’t want you to suffer need.” Satan was tempting Jesus to compartmentalize His faith.

How often do we hear that today? People say that how you behave in certain areas of your life doesn’t matter; it has no effect on your relationship with God. They say you can compartmentalize your faith; you can have a great relationship with God and do these things because it doesn’t matter. Not long ago I watched a movie called “The Fighting Temptations.” It’s a story about a guy who finds out that his aunt left him a lot of money, but there’s one stipulation in the will–he has to go to her small Baptist church and take over the church choir in order to receive his inheritance. It’s a funny, cute movie. But there is a scene in which a young single mother who is a member of the choir, in order to sustain herself and her son, sings in a local bar. And in her job she wears inappropriate clothing and sings sultry songs. An older choir member is very judgmental and says to the young mother, “How can you call yourself a Christian and dress the way you do and work in a bar and sing suggestive songs?” The young mother responds, “How I dress, what I sing, and where I work has nothing to do with me being a good Christian.” Everybody applauds. You can almost hear all of America applauding and agreeing: “That’s right. How I dress and what I do has no effect on me being a good Christian.”

Let me ask you a question: If your faith has no impact on how you dress, on what you do, or on what you say, then what effect does it have on your life? What part does Christianity play in your life if it has nothing to do with your everyday existence? You see, that is a temptation we have today. We are tempted to compartmentalize and say, “I can have a relationship with God, but it doesn’t have to affect my everyday life. I can be a good Christian and do all of those things.”

We are tempted to compartmentalize our lives when we question God’s care. Look how Jesus responded: “Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone”’” (Luke 4:4). Jesus was saying, “Look, I am both body and spirit. What I believe has to impact how I live. My relationship with God does impact the rest of My life.”

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~

The Source of Temptation

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

~ James 1:13 ~

As we look at Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness we learn about the source of temptation. Who was responsible for Jesus’s temptation? Luke 4:1 says Jesus was tempted by the devil, but it was the Holy Spirit who led Him into the wilderness in order to be tempted. Now, here is a key insight about difficult experiences. Difficulties that come into our lives can be both a test by God and a temptation by Satan.

God tests us in order to strengthen us, and Satan tempts us in order to destroy us. James explains the difference between a test and a temptation: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). Whenever God brings a difficult experience into your life, or even when He allows Satan to bring difficulty into your life, you can rejoice knowing that God is using those difficult times to strengthen you. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The picture is of somebody who is being tempted and he says, “I might as well give in. God brought this temptation into my life.” And James says, “No! God is not trying to lead you into evil.” God may test us to strengthen us, but He never tempts us to destroy us. That is Satan’s business. A difficult experience that comes into your life can be either a test or a temptation, depending on your response to that difficult situation.

Let’s say, for example, God brings financial difficulty into your life or allows Satan to bring financial difficulty in your life. Is that a test or temptation? Well, if you use that experience to cause you to trust God more, then that was a good experience. It’s a test. It strengthened you. But if that financial pressure caused you to steal or to cheat on your taxes, then it became a temptation for you. God was hoping that pressure would strengthen you. God designed it as a test. Satan was hoping it would destroy you. He used it as a temptation.

Was Jesus’s experience in the wilderness a test or a temptation? It was both. God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for a good purpose. He wanted to show the world that Jesus was the authentic Son of God. Not only that, but the fact that Jesus was tempted also means He can be our sympathetic High Priest who was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Satan, on the other hand, tempted Jesus to destroy Him. If he could get Jesus to sin, then Jesus would no longer be able to die for our sins; He would have to die for His own sins. So it was both a test by God and a temptation by Satan. These were very real temptations for Jesus. Even though they were at a higher level than our temptations, they still fall within the same general areas that our temptations come in.

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~