Putting God's Word into Practice…

Luke 7:36-50 ~ Faith and Forgiveness

In these verses a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus over to his house for a meal.  During the meal a sinful woman from the town came to see Jesus.  She wept all over His feet and wiped her tears with her hair, kissed His feet and anointed them with ointment.

Simon thought to himself, if Jesus were a prophet he would have known how nasty this woman was.   Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  I don’t know about you, but I would be quaking in my sandals at that point!

Jesus went on to teach a lesson about forgiveness and love.  Those who are forgiven more, love more.  Faith is demonstrated by love.  Love was shown to Jesus by this woman in several ways: 1. She allowed herself to look foolish to the world to look precious to Christ. 2. She took a lowly, humble position before Christ. 3. She personally invested in Christ through the ointment offering. 4. She emotionally invested in Christ with her tears. 5. She boldly approached Jesus in an awkward social situation.  For all these reasons, Jesus recognized her great faith and forgave her many sins.

Remember when you first came to Christ?  The years and weight of sinful living fell away in an instant and were replaced with love, joy, zeal and freedom.  Over time we seem to get accustomed to our sin again, we don’t see our sins as grievous to God and we begin to devalue the forgiveness of Jesus and our love for Him wanes.

When was the last time sin in my life put a heavy weight on my heart?  When was the last time I valued forgiveness as a great gift instead of an entitlement–or worse thought my sin was so trivial I didn’t even ask for forgiveness.  If I’m not feeling that grateful, humble adoration toward God for His mercy, maybe I haven’t been putting a high enough worth on forgiveness.

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Luke 7:1-35 ~ Faith, Fear, Fulfillment

Faith (verses 1-10).  What causes Jesus to marvel–to be amazed?  Great faith!  Faith in this context is believing that God will speak and act in power in spite of our unworthiness; believing that just a word from Him can change anything.

Fear (verses 11-17).  Jesus, moved with compassion as he approached a funeral procession, walked up to the dead only son of a widow and gave him the gift of life.  (I love the fact that it says “only son.”  It could be a foreshadowing of God giving life back to His “only Son.”)  When the people saw this, “fear seized them all, and they glorified God.” (vs. 16)  Fear that points us to God’s greatness is healthy fear!

Fulfillment (verses 18-35).  John the Baptist sent some followers to ask Jesus directly if He is the Messiah they have been waiting for.  Jesus did not get angry about this encounter. He proceeded to demonstrate by a massive healing campaign that He was fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies of bringing good news to the poor (Isaiah 61:1) and healing the blind, deaf, lame and mute (Isaiah 35:5-6).  Whenever we have doubts–and we do have them–take them directly to Jesus.  He will always display the truth that we need to dispel our doubts.

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Luke 6:46-49–Oxymoron!

Little Giants!  That was my high school mascot.  We were an oxymoron–a figure of speech that uses contradictory terms. And that is precisely what Jesus is getting at in these verses.  I wanted to write about them yesterday (to stay on schedule) but I couldn’t because I was an oxymoron yesterday.  God took me to school, and I can’t write about something until the lesson is over.

Verses 46-49.  “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?  Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

To call Jesus “Lord” is one thing, but to call Him “Lord, Lord” strengthens the meaning.  Repetition in the Jewish culture was their way of adding emphasis.  There are two different kinds of people that call Jesus, Lord (Messiah, Sovereign, Ruler):  1. Those who obey His Word and 2. Those who disobey His Word.  

The first are those that come and hear and do!  “Doing” is what demonstrates that Jesus is Lord in my life.  When God’s Word says, “Don’t be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6)” and I respond with prayer and trust; I am being obedient.  When God says, “In your anger, do not sin (Ephesians 4:26)” and I choose to submit my anger to Him and forgive; I am being obedient.  When God tells me to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)” and I believe He will make my paths straight; I am being obedient. When the requirement is to “Love the Lord with all my heart and love others as myself (Mark 12:30-31)” and I choose to worship and be selfless; I am being obedient.  The list could go on and on…these are just some areas that I struggle with.  Hearing and living in obedience to God’s Word is digging deep and laying a foundation on the Rock.  Yes, storms will come, but I will not be shaken!

The second kind of people hears God’s Word and thinks, “That’s nice, but I’d rather do it my way.”  I can tell you firsthand from my own disobedience, doing things my own way results in great ruin and destruction.  If you are feeling destroyed and ruined, it’s probably because you made a choice that was in direct opposition to God’s perfect Word.

We cannot call Jesus “Lord, Lord” and not do what He says–it is a grave oxymoron!

I’d like to close with some verses that tell us about the rock we are to dig deep and lay our foundation on…

  • 1 Samuel 2:2 There is none holy like the LORD: there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God!
  • 2 Samuel 22:47 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.
  • Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 62:2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
  • Isaiah 44:8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?  And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me?  There is no other Rock; I know not any.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:4b For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

It’s time to get out the shovels and start digging–the Rock is closer than you think!

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Luke 6:43-45 Tying On Figs

Verses 43-44. For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is know by its own fruit.  For figs are not gathered form thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  “Known by” signifies our reputation.  What we have to ask is, “Am I a thornbush disguised as a fig tree or a fig tree enshrouded in thorny weeds?”  

On any given day, you could ask my children if I am a thornbush or a fig tree and they could answer “thornbush.”  After a phone conversation with my grandmother on that same day, when asked she would say, “fig tree.”  This is possible for one of two reasons.  First, because of the exhausting work of tying on fig fruits to a thornbush.  We have been duped into thinking it is easier to cover up and fake people out than to let God put a fig tree that naturally produces figs in our heart.  We are not alone!  This has been going on since the beginning of time.  In Genesis 3:7-8 it says, “Then the eyes of both (Adam and Eve) were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths…and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God…”  

The good news is that God is in the business of making new creations!  He can and did gladly replace the thornbush of my heart with a real fig tree!  But sometimes I can be defined as having thorns because I have allowed nettles to grow up around my fruitful fig.

Verse 45.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. What do I have an abundance of in my heart?–jealousy, bitterness, anger, critical spirit, anxiety, discontentment, fear, love, joy, peace, mercy, grace, kindness, wisdom, compassion, etc…

There are two ways to amass treasure: 1.  Store it up yourself 2. Discover a hidden treasure.  By our choices we store up treasure in our hearts–how we respond, what emotions we feed, what entertainment we allow into our eyes/ears/mouth, where we seek wisdom.  As a followers of Jesus Christ we have a hidden treasure too–the Holy Spirit.  When we live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit and let our hearts be filled with the Spirit, we are storing up and able to produce good fruit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  If I don’t like the fruit I’m seeing in my life, then I need to yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him abundantly fill my heart with His fruit.  And I also need to pay attention to what I’m allowing into my heart–am I taking in things that nourish and water the plant or am I taking in toxins, bugs, and disease or allowing weeds to take root.

Heavenly Father, thank you for putting the good treasure of Your Holy Spirit in  my life.  Please help me to yield to Him, so I can yield a bumper crop of healthy, beautiful fruit.  Thank You that you have made me new.  Thank You that I don’t have to do the work of tying figs on my branches to cover up my thorns, but that You allowed Your Son to wear my thorns so that I could be presentable to You.  Help me to stop living like I’m still a thornbush! In Jesus’ name I ask, amen.

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Luke 6:37-42 “I” Exam

Yesterday, I read the command in verse 36 that says, “Be merciful EVEN AS your Father is merciful.”  Next Luke pens specific instructions on what that looks like summarized from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
  • Judge not: Don’t form an opinion or conclusion about someone else
  • Condemn not:  Don’t try to prove or show the guilt of; don’t declare to be unfit for use; don’t express public disapproval of
  • Forgive:  Stop feeling angry or resentful toward an offense, flaw or mistake
  • Give:  Freely offer something; to bestow

These are imperative commands.  We must treat each other in this way.  When we are obedient in the area of pardoning others, God promises to richly bless us.

So, how do we live and relate to others according to these commands?

  1. Realize that we are not the Judge–we are not above Jesus (40).
  2. Give ourselves an eye exam–where are we falling short, can we see clearly? (42)

Christians will be a lot less hypocritical, condemning and judgmental, more forgiving and generous if we let Christ be in charge of others and we focus on seeing Him with clarity.

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Luke 6:20-36 What Do You Love? Who Do You Love?

What Do You Love?

Verses 20-26.  Blessed are those who realize true satisfaction and fulfillment cannot be found in earthly possessions, relationships and reputation.  Blessed are those who fully depend on the Lord.  True joy comes by way of laying up heavenly reward.

Woe to those who think this world is all there is; who find their satisfaction and contentment in what they acquire for themselves; who care most about what people think of them.  The eternal joy, blessing and reward will far outweigh the temporary contentment that ends in eternal emptiness.

Who Do You Love?

Verses 27-36.  We are called to love our enemies and those who cannot or will not love us back.  Why would God call us to this kind of living?  Because it’s how He loves!  When we love the unloveable and the unlovely; not only are we promised a reward, but we are called children of the Most High God…FOR HE IS KIND TO THE UNGRATEFUL AND THE EVIL.  When’s the last time I selflessly and sacrificially loved someone who was evil or ungrateful without feeling slighted???  We are called in verse 36, to be merciful, even as our Father is merciful.  EVEN AS!  All that mercy that I don’t deserve but I want for myself, I need to be intentional about freely giving it to others.

Lord, please make me more kind, more loving and more merciful!

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Luke 6:1-19 ~ Be Faithful

Today, is one of those days that I feel melancholy.  They don’t happen very often, but generally stem from a deep-seated fear that I’m not changing fast enough and that the sum total of my days are not going to amount to much.  That’s where I found myself when I opened up my Bible this morning.  Specifically the list of the 12 closest followers of Jesus.

Jesus spent all night praying (wouldn’t that be awesome!) before He called from the many disciples 12 who would be His closest companions and with whom He would entrust the progression of the gospel after His return to Heaven.  Did you know that out of those 12 only three wrote books and most are mentioned less than a handful of times.  Does that mean they were insignificant to the work and advancement of the good news?  By no means!  Few disciples minister to great multitudes, few write books, few will ever hear their name mentioned on TV or radio or in blogs/magazine articles. But many are faithfully serving, following and contending for the gospel.  In a world where we are seeing more and more “celebrity pastors,” God is looking for more and more faithful, humble servants who’s lives and decisions will be led by prayer, and who will care more about His Great Name than their own glory.

God, by Your grace, may I press on to be a faithful servant…less of me and more of You!


Luke 5:17-39 ~ A Good Friend

Although I finished the chapter this morning, my heart is pierced by verses 17-26.  These verses tell about the time when the men carried their friend on the mat, removed ceiling tiles, and lowered the mat down to Jesus. It says in verse 20, “And when He saw their faith, he said, ‘Man your sins are forgiven you’.”  After a brief dispute with the religious leaders, Jesus went on to heal the man’s physical disabilities as well.

As a friend, the best thing we can do is get people to Jesus!  We demonstrate a lack of faith when we try to be our friend’s “savior” by trying to fix their problems in our own wisdom, understanding and strength. Only Jesus can forgive sins and truly heal our simple or desperate situations.  We need to take our friends to Jesus–work hard, carry them when we have to, clear away any obstacles to get them to Him.  If they are unwilling to get “on the mat,” take them to Jesus in prayer.  Never give up.  Jesus sees and rewards faith (Hebrews 11:6).

The healing is not the only outcome we see in these verses.  Verse 26 says, “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe…”  When we go in faith to Jesus and He takes action, everyone watching is amazed by Him and God gets glory!  I want to be part of that!!

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Luke 5:1-16-Abundant Prayer=Abundant Results

The crowds were pressing in on Jesus; so he jumped into a boat, asked to be rowed out a little farther, and taught from the boat.  Afterward, Jesus asked the boat worker Simon Peter to drop the nets.  What happened next was an astounding physical picture of what life is like when Christ is involved. Verses 5-7 say, “And Simon Peter answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!  But at your word I will let down the nets.”  And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

  1. What we do in our own strength can be discouraging and unproductive–we toil!  I don’t even like the sound of that word.
  2. Jesus’ word leads to results.
  3. Not just any results, but results too big to be measured.

In verses 8 we see Simon Peter’s response to this event, “He fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  Jesus comforts with, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (10b-11)

  1. The results Jesus gives should cause us to worship and glorify Him.
  2. They should also cause us to confess our own sinful unbelief and striving.
  3. Jesus showed kindness and gave a mission after his confession.
  4. Jesus is worth leaving everything behind and following.

In the next section (12-16) we see the mounting ministry pressures that Jesus is facing, and we also see the key to His faithful, compassionate ministry.  Verse 16 says, “But he would withdraw to desolate places AND pray.”  He didn’t strategize, go to the spa, hit up the local coffee shop, or go out for cold ones with the guys–sitting around rehashing his tough day, busy schedule, complaining about people.  HE PRAYED!  Prayer gives power to ministry because it displays our dependence on the source of the power–Almighty God!  Mostly when I am overwhelmed, I withdraw but I neglect praying–praying for guidance, more love, strength and protection from discouragement.

That’s what I’m going to do right now…

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Luke 4:31-44 ~ Personal Touch

I want to focus on the character of Jesus Christ.  All the love languages belong to Him, but here we see quality time and personal touch elevated.  

Verses 40-42.  Now when the sun was setting all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.  And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place.  And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them…

Jesus is all-powerful.  He could have said one prayer of healing over the masses, but instead, He took each person individually and put His hands on them and healed them.  And he did this all night!  When morning came, he tried to get a little break, but the people were so hungry for His personal touch and power that they wouldn’t leave Him alone. 

Lord, let me serve like that–selfless and personal.

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