Putting God's Word into Practice…

Luke 18:18-43 Notes on Spiritual Blindness

  • In verse 19 Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.”  Spiritually blind people think that everyone is good except murderers and rapists.  And spiritually blind people question the goodness of God.
  • Spiritually blind people see earthly treasures as more valuable than following Jesus. (vs. 22-23)
  • Spiritually blind people don’t recognize the God can accomplish the impossible. (vs. 27)
  • Spiritually blind people don’t see that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled everything the prophets said about the Messiah. (vs. 33-34)
  • People who recognize their blindness call out to Jesus for mercy.
  • People who recognize their blindness want their eyes opened to truth.
  • Jesus hears their cry and opens their eyes because of their faith.
  • Jesus gives them new life and new sight.
  • People with new sight can see to follow Jesus…they aren’t groping in the dark or stumbling on a wrong path.  Those who are blinded by their earthly possessions can’t see to follow Jesus…too much in the way.
  • People who have new sight glorify God.
  • When others see the transforming power of God to open blind eyes, they praise God too.
Lord, if anything is clouding my vision from being able to follow you and glorify you, in your great mercy,  open my eyes to see it.  I want to follow you with a pure heart, be my treasure, my great reward!  
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Luke 18:9-14 Mercy

Let’s just say, I really needed these verses today.

Holy Father, forgive me for trusting in myself and for setting myself apart from others.  Forgive my critical spirit and pride.  Forgive my sense of entitlement and my selfishness.  I’m humbled before You this morning.  Please justify me and show me your mercy, for I am a great sinner. I come before you like a child, needing Your touch, wholly dependent on You for my very life. In Jesus’ holy name I ask for help, Amen.

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Luke 18:1-9 How Much Faith Do You Have?

Jesus told a parable to teach the lesson that we “ought ALWAYS to pray and not lose heart.”  This is an expression of great faith.  In verse 7 Jesus painted a more detailed picture of what that looks like–crying out to God day and night.  I’ve heard the term “laboring in prayer” used before, and that is the image that comes to mind.  So often I’m quick to give up or just make unemotional, non-specific requests.  Where there is need and total dependence on God, there ought to be persistent petition at His throne.  At the end of verse 9 Jesus questioned, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  When Jesus returns will He find people of heartfelt, unrelenting prayer?  How would your life–prayer life–answer that question?

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Luke 17:20-37 Dream Boards

In this set of verses Jesus talked about His upcoming suffering and rejection and His future return.  We will not be able to mistake His return.  The sky will declare it (25)!  Think about His first coming to earth–the special star led the wise men to Him and the angels lit up the sky for the shepherds to find Him.

Jesus gives two examples of what it will be like when He returns–Noah’s day and Lot’s day.  People were generally living life day-to-day with no thought of God and His plans.  Then–whammo–judgment came first through flood and then through fire.

What we fix our eyes on is what we treasure.  Have you heard of dream boards?  I remember a lady who sold Mary Kay when I was younger.  She had a dream board in a prominent place where she could see it every day.  It had a picture of Hawaii, a pink cadillac, a swimming pool, etc…on it that were meant to motivate her to reach her goals.  That is what the realization of Christ’s return should do for us–only much more so!  We need to fix our eyes on Him and not look back.

Verse 32 is made up of three little words, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  In Genesis 19 you can read what Jesus referenced here, but here’s the paraphrased version. In the Lord’s kindness, mercy and commitment to His plan, Lot and his family had an angelic escort out of Sodom with one command, “Do not look back.”  With longing for the things of this world, and a heart set on earthly things; Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.

  • Is Christ more precious to me than anything this world offers?
  • Does the reality of His return motivate me to live for Him?
  • Do I live like He could return at any moment?
  • Is the sky my “dream board?”
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:33
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Luke 17:1-10 ~A Few Things I Skipped

I decided to backtrack this morning, because I wasn’t sure yesterday what to do with verses 1-10. It was easy to think through the lesson with the lepers and skip over the first part of the chapter.  But I don’t want to “skip over” anything in God’s Word, knowing that each word is inspired by Him and has a purpose.  I did consult my trusty resources of the ESV study Bible and soniclight.com to help me understand better.

17:1-4 The word “and” that starts off the chapter ties it back to Jesus’ teaching on the love of money and the importance of being eternal minded.  Jesus promised that temptation to sin is sure to come.  This brings more clarity to why He included the request to, “lead me not into temptation,” in the Lord’s prayer.  In every temptation, there is the tempted and the tempter.  Jesus said, “Woe” to the tempter.  Woe to those who tempt the young in faith to sin.  Lord, I ask not only lead me not into temptation, but also let me not be used as a tool to tempt others to sin.  We also see a call to rebuke those caught in sin and to forgive the penitent–over and over and over and over and over and over–well you get the idea!  The amazing thing to me is that God would NOT call us to do something that He doesn’t have the power to do through me and for me.  “Countless second chances we’ve been given at the cross…A second chance is heaven’s heart.” (Rend Collective)

17:5-6.  The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith.  Jesus’ response seems to say even a tiny bit of faith in God is powerful to do the impossible and to change circumstances.

17:7-10.  Some people fall into the trap of saying they are servants of God but really thinking that God is indebted to them for their work.  “I’ve done all this, when will you help me.”  A real servant of God acknowledges that He owes me nothing, and I owe Him everything…that I should be thanking Him for letting me be His servant.  Thankfully, God is a good and kind Master!  He generously rewards His servants, but not because we deserve it–because of who He is!

Lord, help me to have the heart of a grateful servant.  May I echo verse 10–I am an unworthy servant, I have only done what was my duty.  And please give me the grace to do my duty with joy and a humble heart in response to all You have done in and for me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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Luke 17:1-20 Importance of Being Thankful

I really focused in specifically on verses 11-19 about the 10 lepers Jesus cleansed or healed.

Lepers were considered unclean and separated from society.   This specific group of 10 met Jesus at the edge of town, but remained “at a distance.”  They lifted up their voices to get noticed; they appealed to Jesus’ mercy (13); they were obedient to His directions (14). Ten were healed, but one one was saved.

Ungrateful people get what they want from God and keep moving forward in their selfishness.  Grateful people get what they ask from God and draw near to Him in praise, worship, humility and thanksgiving.

Although these men could not heal and cleanse themselves, only one man acknowledged with thankfulness that Jesus was the only way that he was in his current condition.  Gratitude gave evidence to an internal change.  Gratitude displays saving faith that our healing is only through Jesus’ power.

There is no such thing as an ungrateful Christian.  Be thankful today for: God’s mercy in your life, that He has made you clean and acceptable so you can draw near to Him, and that He is the only God worthy of praise.

Lord, I remember when I was “at a distance” from You; unclean and unhealthy.  Thank You for giving me the grace to recognize Jesus as the one who could heal and restore me.  Thank You that when I called out; Jesus showed me mercy and healed me.  Thank You for giving me saving faith.  Let me “rejoice in my salvation” today–near to You, at Your feet, with praise and thanks for Your goodness to me.”

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Luke 16 ~ Lessons on Loot!

I struggled with understanding Luke 16:1-9.  After prayer and looking up soniclight.com and Matthew Henry’s commentary, God showed me how it fits in with the rest of the chapter and what the overarching emphasis is:  God cares about how we feel about and use the money that He entrusts to us.  Jesus called the Pharisees “lovers of money” in verse 14–a description that fits many in our generation too.  Jesus pointed out in the first parable (vs. 1-9) that it is easy to become trapped in a lifestyle of selfish stewardship–using what is God’s for me!  God wants us to be perceptive and wise in our financial dealings. He delights in faithful, honest and trustworthy caretakers of His gifts.  We will all be called to account and there will be no wiggle room, no arguing, no justifying.  When we invest His gifts into the advancement of others for His kingdom, they will welcome us into Heaven with joy.

You might say, like I have felt in the past, “I don’t love money; I don’t have any to love!”  We can be lovers of money without having much of it…does it dominate your thinking, your activities, your desires, your dreams, your anxieties?  Do you manipulate figures and try to find the best ways to make money work for your personal gain?  Are you consistently spending time thinking of ways to get more of it?  Do you fantasize about what it would be like to have “enough?”  Don’t be like “those who justify yourselves before men.”  God knows your heart!  “What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (16:15)

In Luke 16:19-31 we see again God’s heart toward those who store up earthly wealth and don’t share what He’s entrusted them with in helping others.  Those who live their lives with “enough” personal wealth on earth, who find their contentment in it, and who don’t recognize it as a gift from God will spend an eternity in anguish and torment.  Those who live on earth uncared for by those God has enabled to care for them will one day live in eternal comfort!  Oh that our generation would see that this life is not all there is!  There is an eternity that is coming in a blink of the eye–an eternity of either comfort or anguish!  Unfortunately we cannot make anyone see it–unbelief is rampant in our culture.  Whatever God has given you, use it for His glory to help His people and your eternal reward will far surpass anything that you could hoard temporarily here.

***Unpopular truth***

Luke 16:18 For some reason, Jesus decided to use divorce right in the middle of all this talk about stewardship.  The following words are straight from the mouth of Jesus.  This is, has always been and always will be His heart on marriage and divorce and remarriage.  Man’s opinion, popularity, prevalence, and acceptance doesn’t change the eternal Word.  “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Divorce and remarriage is the scourge of our society.  Its effects are painful and far-reaching not just relationally, but also to the beautiful picture that God intended to display His faithful, covenant love for His people.  

God’s plan for marriage is good.  God’s plan to use His people to invest His resources in others is good.  But we have tainted His good plan with our selfishness, unfaithfulness, dishonesty, and self-justification.  We have committed adultery on God by divorcing Him and marrying money!

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Luke 15:11-32 ~Two Lost Sons

The story of the prodigal son is a widely read, written about and taught on passage of Scripture.  The first half is my testimony, and I can barely read about the Father’s response at the son’s return in verse 20 without crying still.  The second half was brought more clearly into focus for me through two books that I recommend:  Prodigal God by Tim Keller and Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

I always pray that when I read familiar passages that God will give me fresh insight, and today He answered that prayer in a way that changed my heart and hopefully will help anyone who reads this.  

  1. Pride that leads to humility ends in celebration, satisfaction and great joy.
  2. Pride that consumes leads to bitterness, discontentment and separation from God.

The first son got to the end of himself, realized that he had nothing and nothing to offer.  He humbly returned to the Father willing to settle in as a servant.  “But! while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”  He treated the son like royalty and invited everyone to celebrate with food, music and dancing.

When the older son heard this and found out what it was about, he became angry.  He refused to go in to the party so his Father came out and pleaded with him to come in. (That’s compassion!) The son responded in selfishness saying, “I, I, me, I, my” in verse 29. All I hear is, “Wa, wa, waaa!”

Pride, discontentment and self-righteousness creep in when we don’t regard the blessings we have in God and start to think what we have in Him is not enough–it happened to Lucifer, to Adam and Eve and Satan has used it to trap billions of people since.  Jesus didn’t fall for it, and we don’t have to either.  In verse 31 the Father said, “Son, you are ALWAYS with me, and ALL that is mine is yours.”  

God is good!  He wants us in on the celebration–when we don’t humble ourselves, He pleads with us to change our minds and receive His goodness.  Will we enter into His joy or hang on to our bitterness and refuse to enter?  The only cover charge to the party is a humble heart!  

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Luke 15:1-10 Cause for Joy

15:1 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him.”  What was it about Jesus that made “tax collectors and sinners” draw near to Him?  He didn’t judge them (John 3:17), yet they did not leave His presence content to continue in their sin.  Many Biblical accounts show men and women left His presence changed (Levi, Zacchaeus, adulteress woman, etc…)  Lord, please show me how to minister like Jesus with compassion and effectiveness.

Parable of the Lost Sheep  One sinner repenting brings more joy in heaven than over “righteous” people who need not repent.  I’ve been a Christ-follower now for over 12 years, and it becomes so easy to think I’m morally good–barely have anything to repent of.  The sins I do just need a little apologizing.  Apart from true repentance there is no change–there is no joy!  Lord, make the weight of my sinful choices in action, word, thought and motive drive me to true repentance.  I want to make heaven rejoice!  I don’t want to keep saying “I’m sorry,” for the same sins over and over.  I want true repentance–turning away from sin and being changed!  Wherever God finds us, we need to humble ourselves and let Him carry us (15:5)!

Parable of the Lost Coin.  Jesus went on to tell a second story with the same idea to really press it home.  This one was addressed to a woman who had lost a coin.  I find it very interesting that He told a story to the men about livelihood and meat, then addressed the one about money to women.  I believe our Creator knows that our anxieties are gender-specific!

God values your life–He knows if you are lost!  He will look for you, pursue you, stopping at nothing.  When He finds you, how will you respond–in joy-inducing humility and repentance or will you refuse the Lord and run to hide again?

It’s fun to think that someone is repenting somewhere on this earth every second of every day 24/7/365–there is a continual party in heaven!!!

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Luke 14 *Count the Cost*

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, say ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Verses 28-29)

Several words stand out to me in this reading and make me think of Jesus’ own example.  Jesus counted the cost of coming to earth and laying a foundation of salvation–He gave up unity with His Father, His glory, His home and His life for us.  He bore His own cross.  Although hanging on that cross it looked to others like He laid a foundation and was leaving it unfinished.  Although He was mocked by all who looked on; He had counted the cost, He had paid the full price and was able to shout at the end, “It is finished!”

Unless we are willing to count the cost and pay any price to follow Him, we’re not worthy to be His disciples.  A “Christ-follower” who has more concern about personal life and comfort, makes excuses and does not go the distance with Christ, is like salt without taste and is rendered worthless (vs. 34-35).

Even though the cost is great, the call is worth it.  Jesus gives a great illustration in verses 12-24 of a wonderful banquet that He is hosting.  He has filled the table with all good things.  God is calling you to “come.”  Will you make excuses and cling to your life or will you lay it all down and come?  I’m compelling you to come–choose to follow. He is worth it!

One of my new favorite songs is by the REND Collective and the lyrics are as follows:

I’m saying yes to You, and no to my desires. I’ll leave myself behind and follow You. I’ll walk the Narrow Road, cause it leads me to You. I’ll fall but grace will pick me up again. I’ve counted up the cost. Oh I’ve counted up the cost. Yes I’ve counted up the cost, and you are worth it. I do not need safety as much as I need You. You’re dangerous, but Lord You’re beautiful. I’ll chase You through the pain. I’ll carry my cross, cause real love is not afraid to bleed. Jesus take my all; take my everything. I’ve counted up the cost, and You’re worth everything!

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