When the woman came to the tomb of Jesus bringing spices to anoint His body they were greeted by an angel who said, “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee” (Luke 24:6). In the battle of faith, when doubts and confusion tries to come in, we must be determined to “remember;” we need to remember what God’s word says and what He has spoken to us. Later, Jesus would appear to two disciples in another form. Because they didn’t believe the woman who said Jesus was risen, He responded to them by saying, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25). Let’s not be “slow” but quick to believe and live by God’s word. Thomas said he refused to believe until he saw and touched Jesus for himself. When Jesus encountered him he said, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). We are blessed when we trust Him before we see it with our eyes. He is worthy of our trust and commitment to Him; He is faithful and good! John wrote these words at the end of his gospel: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
As Jesus was on the cross, He prayed in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Obviously He is the perfect example for us to follow in love and forgiveness. When things are spoken and done against us in life we must be watchful that we don’t take anything “personal;” we don’t fight against flesh and blood. Jesus Christ prayed for the very ones that put Him on the cross, making it obvious He wants to extend mercy and forgiveness to everyone. Let’s not feel that we need to protect ourselves, our reputation, and our own happiness; let’s let God do that so we can freely forgive like Jesus.
Jesus continues to extend grace and mercy to a man who taking his last breaths next Him on a cross. First the man says to Jesus in Luke 23:42, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Jesus came to save sinners and in His darkest hour He didn’t give up His focus of doing so. Don’t let injustices and wrongs done to you and others stop you from loving and doing what matters. If Jesus could continue to intercede and win the lost while nailed to a cross, certainly we can do it in any of our life crises.
Peter had a confidence that He would stand up for Jesus Christ regardless of the price, but his confidence was mostly rooted in himself. Peter says in Luke 22:33,"Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Just previous to this, the Lord Jesus said to him in Luke 22:31-32, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Satan wanted to use the pride of Peter to be able to completely sift him away from Jesus, but the Lord prayed for Peter so that he would “return.” Peter ended up denying Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted, but because of his repentance, he was restored. After he was restored, he was in a position to “strengthen” his brothers. We can despise someone who fails, but don’t write them off; God wants to bring restoration to them and use them to help others where they failed.
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." It’s our willingness to put others above ourselves and serve them that reveals that we have truly learned the ways of Jesus Christ. Jesus preached, taught and did miracles, and we should too, but what really shows we are His disciples is our love.
Luke 21:34 is a verse that stuck out to me today. Jesus says, "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” When we let the pursuit of temporal desires and the “cares of this life” fill our heart, our heart will be “weighted down.” In other words, we won’t be able to perceive the reality of the day; we will have a misconstrued perception of reality and we won't see what Jesus is doing. The picture that Jesus gives us in this verse is of a person who is drunk, hung over, and not aware of what is going on, so is overtaken by the destruction that a sober person could see coming. Let’s look at the same verse in two other translations:
Jesus tells us what to do instead in Mark 13:33, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus but couldn't because of his short stature. The truth is: we all “come up short” in life somewhere. Zacchaeus’ short stature and his desire caused him to go the extra mile; he climbed into a tree, setting aside his dignity. We will always have opportunity to focus on where we are lacking, or we can just focus on Jesus and do whatever it takes to go after Him. Zacchaeus choose to focus on Jesus that day and not on what he was lacking. You may have problems and things you are trying be free from; if you do what you can, Jesus will "come into your house." Like Jesus spoke to the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), He knocks on the door of our heart and will come in when we acknowledge our need for Him.
Verses 12-27 contain a parable spoken by Jesus to help his disciples understand that they needed to be patient because there would be some time before the kingdom of God would fully manifest in the earth. They needed to work for what was coming and not just respond to what they saw with their eyes. Verse 21 says the man who wasn't faithful to his lord “feared.” We need to believe the Lord Jesus, not fearing to lay down our life to His will. We will miss out in some things in this short age to be faithful to Him, but He will reward us greatly.
In the beginning of the chapter Jesus told a parable to show that faith in prayer is exemplified by praying “night and day” and not losing heart. If we believe God hears and will answer, we will be engaged in prayer and we won’t give up.
Then Jesus told a parable in verses 9-14 to hopefully help the listeners get rid of their self righteous arrogant attitudes. The Lord can deal with the sinner who has a repentant heart; He can’t accept the one who looks to any of their own works for their righteousness.
The main point of the parable in the beginning of Luke 16 and the story of the rich man and Lazarus is this: the age to come is infinitely more important and true faith will cause us to use our resources for eternal purposes. Verses 10-12 let us know that proper stewardship of our natural resources (money) is the proving ground to be given a greater, spiritual and eternal stewardship by God.
Jesus tells us the power of having faith in Luke 17:6: "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.” In verse 7–10 He gives a short parable to explain how we operate in this kind of faith... When we learn to simply obey God in faith, we will understand how things will obey us through faith. When we are truly submitted to His Word, His Word spoken through us will cause things to submit to us.
Only the one foreigner of the ten lepers came back to thank Jesus Christ for his healing (Luke 17:12-19). Let’s never take for granted what the Lord does for us. Whether small or big in our eyes, it’s all His grace; let’s use it as an opportunity to give Him praise and thanks!
Jesus councils us to “invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” (see Luke 14:13) when we invite people to the "feast" of the Kingdom of God; then we will be rewarded in the age to come since they can’t reward us in this age. After this, Jesus tells a parable of how a man gave a great supper and sent his servant out and invited many (See verse 16), but they all began to make excuses of why they couldn't make it (See verses 18-20). Verse 21 says, “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.'” In the parable “the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind” are invited since the others can’t get their priorities straight. What does this all mean for the church? We are not supposed to focus our attention on the outward appearances of people’s lives; neither should we look at what a person has to give with their talents or resources. We are to focus on those that are willing to come and make Jesus first in their life regardless of how messy their life is right now. In the parable, the servant tells the man that he has already invited the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind, and there is still room. The man’s solution is to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus would call His people to bring the Gospel to the heathen nations of the world to fill up His kingdom. These people were spiritually poor, maimed and blind but many of them would repent and put Jesus Christ first in their life. This is still true today. We must be willing to go to hurting, messed up people and “invite them to the feast” the Lord has prepared for them. Let’s make sure our priorities are right and our reward will come; not mostly in this age, but it will come.
Human nature is to fear what people think of them, and to worry about not having their needs met. Jesus councils the people in chapter 12 to only have fear of God, our eternal Judge. Why would we fear man? The worst thing they can do is kill the body; our eternal destiny isn't in any man's hands. Why would we fear going without our daily needs? As we seek God and His will for our life, He is sure to take care of us from the abundance of His kingdom for He loves to do so. In verses 56-59, Jesus tells them to leave their hypocrisy behind and confess their sins and faults (in repentance) instead of hiding behind the cloak of religion and good works. He lets them know if they wait till they stand before the Judge (God) it will be too late to find mercy.
Jesus said about the cities that reject the Gospel after they have clearly heard it with signs following in Luke 10:12: “I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.” A statement like this may be hard to swallow, but we must. I know He is love, but I must also know His leadership is just and perfect; what He does is right.
Martha got “distracted with much serving” because she was “worried and troubled about many things.” The enemy desires to distract and keep distracted every child of God. How did it happen with Martha? She got worried and concerned with temporal side issues. When we stop focusing on the main things of God’s kingdom, unimportant temporal issues will begin to look important. Its been said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Mary kept the main thing the main thing; she sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. If doing what Mary did isn’t at the top of our priorities, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we really accomplishing?” We can’t do anything without abiding in Him, and we abide in Him by abiding in His Word. Let’s take stock of our priorities and make sure they are in order today.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan
Wednesdays - Bible Study - 7-8:15 pm
Sundays - Prayer - 6 pm (7 pm on Dec. 10)
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