Putting God's Word into Practice…

Luke 24 Jesus Encounters

Verses 1-12.  Tragic, sad circumstances sometimes blind us from the truth.  We need someone to say to us, like the angels said to the women in verse 6, “Remember.”  Remember Jesus’ words?  Remember God’s perfect plan?

After the women saw the empty tomb and the angels, they ran back and told the apostles.  The apostles did not believe, “BUT PETER.”  When no one else believed, Peter the denier of Christ, ran to the tomb, looked in, and marveled.

Verses 13-35.  As two people were walking and talking about events surrounding Jesus’ death and the empty tomb, “Jesus himself drew near.”  What a beautiful sentence!!  Jesus drew near and taught them, ate with them and opened their eyes to who He was.  They returned the 7 miles to Jerusalem to meet back up with the disciples and share their experience with Christ.

Verses 36-49.  “Jesus himself stood among them.”  He greeted them.  He perceived the doubt in their hearts, so He offered up His scarred hands and feet as proof, allowing them to look closely and touch Him!  What a personal, wonderful Savior!  Then after a fish dinner, He went on to teach them and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  That is what I pray for each time I open up His precious Word.

In 46-47 Jesus taught them that repentance and forgiveness only come from Him and that His followers purpose and mission is to get that message out in His power.

Verses 50-53.   “And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” An encounter with the living Jesus resulted in worship and joy, desire for fellowship with other believers and a hunger for learning more of His Word.

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Luke 23 The Trial and Death of Jesus

The whole council took Jesus before Pilate and brought Him up on three charges, one being an outright lie.

  1. Jesus was misleading the nation
  2. Forbidding tribute to Caesar (Luke 20:25 shows this to be a false accusation.)
  3. Jesus was claiming to be king-with a little “k.”

Three times Pilate declares Jesus innocent of the charges (verses 4, 14, 22).  However, the people’s voices prevailed, and Pilate delivered Jesus over to their will.  Although it seems Pilate cared more about pleasing the people and letting them have their way, God is sovereign and He was concerned for His people and giving them what they needed.  It was His will that was prevailing!

Pilate even sent Jesus to Herod.  Herod was glad of this because he “long desired to see Jesus” hoping to “see” some sign.   Hoping to see is not the same as seeking.  God promised those who seek Jesus will find Him, there are no such promises who want to “see” a sign.

Barabbas was an insurrectionist–one who rises up against the Roman Empire.  That is exactly the charges the Jewish leaders were bringing Christ up on falsely.  Jesus took the punishment for the false accusations of being an insurrectionist while the convicted insurrectionist was set free.  That, my friends, is the good news of Jesus.  He didn’t just die in Barabbas’ place; He died in ours.  How many of us were/are insurrectionists against the Kingdom of God.  He took the punishment, and I am free.

There were two responses to the final breath of Jesus:

  1. The Centurion–guard with authority over 100 men–praised God saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.”
  2. The people went home beating their breasts.  The ESV study Bible said beating breasts is a sign of grief and repentance in their culture.

How do we respond to the good news of Jesus’ dying in our place?

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Luke 22 ~ Prayer for Peter

Luke 22:31-34.  Satan demanded to be allowed to sift Peter like wheat (reminds me of Job 1:6-12).  Apparently the answer from heaven to Satan was “yes.”  Jesus prayed two things for Peter:  1) That his faith may not fail and 2) that when he turned again he would strengthen his brothers.

How did the Father answer the first request?  He let Peter’s faith fail.  Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times out of fear and selfishness.  How often do we deny Jesus by choosing to do what keeps us safe and happy?

How did the Father answer the second request from His Son?  We know from other passages that after Peter’s failure, he did return to faith and he definitely did strengthen the brothers.  Failure can bring about humility, greater faith, and powerful commitment.

But something happened between failure and faith–that was repentance!  After Peter’s denial of Jesus and the crowing of the rooster, in verses 61-62 it says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.  And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”

If when I failed spiritually, I saw Jesus turn and look at me, how much more quickly brokenness and repentance would happen in my life.  Give me a tender heart to see the pain my sin causes you, my Lord.

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Luke 21 ~ Hope in Jesus

Hope in Jesus’ intimate knowledge of you. Luke 21:1-9:  When Jesus saw the people giving their offerings at the temple, He knew who was giving out of their abundance and who was giving out of their poverty.  The actual offerings and the earthly things they buy and the buildings they help beautify will all be destroyed someday.  The heart of the giver is what is important to Jesus.  God knows not only what we give, but the circumstances out of which we give.

Hope in Jesus’ wisdom. Luke 21:10-19.  Verse 14 starts with, “Settle it therefore in your minds,” not to do it your way!  I love that.  We have to decide before situations even arise that we will do things God’s way and we will trust Him to do what is best for His Name.  Jesus promised His disciples that when they were on the defensive about Him that He would give them a mouth and wisdom which none of their adversaries would be able to withstand or contradict.  After all that took place in chapter 20, how could you not want to claim that promise?  But as we know with Jesus; speaking in wisdom and silencing enemies came with a price.  People hated Him and His followers and will hate us when we allow the Holy Spirit to speak wisdom that silences.  Verse 19 is the link between persecution/suffering for Jesus and preparing to see Him in His glory.  It says, “By your ENDURANCE, you will gain your lives.”  

Hope in Jesus’ return. Luke 21:20-32, 34-38.  Jesus is coming back “with power and great glory.”  Jesus said, “Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  He’s saying remain hopeful and confident.  In verses 34-36 He instructed, “Watch yourselves,” “Don’t let your hearts be weighed down with…the cares of this life,” and “Stay awake at all times, praying…”  Will you be ready when Jesus comes in power and glory?  Are you watching for Him?  Do you live like He is coming back any moment?  Those are the questions I’m asking myself today.

Hope in Jesus’ words.  Luke 21:33 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”  Jesus’ words remain forever.  They are the best words to place our hope in, the best words to live according to, and the best words to share with others.  But we have to know them!  That’s why getting into God’s Word, meditating on it, studying it, living it, and memorizing it are so important.

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Luke 19-20–Playing Catch-Up

My blogging has been sporadic at best, but thankfully God has allowed me to be faithful in reading His Word each day.  God really used Luke 18:9-14 last week and kept working it over in my heart until He humbled me.  So in the next few paragraphs, I’d just like to quickly catch up on the  things that God has pointed out to my heart in chapters 19-20.  Then hopefully, I’ll return to blogging with more consistency.

Luke 19:1-10:  Zacchaeus was “seeking” to see Jesus.  That reminds me of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Zacchaeus worked to see Jesus–he ran ahead of the people and climbed a tree.  When he saw Jesus and Jesus spoke to him, Zacchaeus “received Him joyfully.”  Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life–a sure sign of true salvation.  And that, my friends, is why Jesus came.

Luke 19:11-27:  Verse 14 says it all: “But his citizens hated him…saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”  That seems to be the most common response to Jesus.  We want all the benefits and blessings of living in His world without recognizing His authority.

Luke 19:28-48:  Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem was concluding, and the people were all so excited.  They were praising and rejoicing and blessing Him.  They called Him King.  They thought that He was ready to usher in political freedom.  That’s why their praise broke His heart.  They were praising Him for something other than His purpose for coming to Jerusalem–spiritual peace.  In verse 41 it says when Jesus saw the city, “He wept over it.”  That’s the heart of a Savior!  Do we spend enough time weeping over our cities and the people who have a mixed up message and don’t see what kind of a Savior they need?

Luke 20:1-44:  In these verses there seems to be a game of “question catch” going on.  The chief priests, scribes and elders questioned Jesus about where His authority came from.  He questioned them about where John the Baptist’s authority came from.  The religious leaders dropped the ball.  Next Jesus told a parable and questioned them at the end about what the owner of the vineyard would do to the ones who killed His Son.  Jesus answered His own question, and they refuted His answer.  He questioned them with Scripture, and they did not respond.  Then the religious leaders questioned Jesus about the lawfulness of Jewish people paying Roman taxes.  Jesus “perceived their craftiness” and answered wisely.  Again, they were silenced and marveled at His response.  Then the Sadducees (Again, they didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were “sad you see.”) questioned Jesus about marriage after the resurrection, “There couldn’t possibly be a resurrection or who would someone be married to in the afterlife if they had more than one wife on earth?”  Jesus answered them thoroughly, and they “no longer dared to ask him any questions.”  The final toss came from Jesus questioning them about His Lordship as a descendant of King David.  Game over!

Luke 20:45-47:  This is funny to me; Jesus talked to His disciples loud so that all the people around could hear when He warned them about the condition of the religious leaders of their time.  It reminds me of when my boys are playing with other kids and they are misbehaving.  I don’t want to yell at the other kids so I speak firmly and loudly with mine so that the other ones can hear it; hoping they learn from it too.  No matter how “good” we think we are or we pretend to be, when we are measured against the perfect and holy Christ; we are found lacking.  We can admit it and let Him cover us in His perfection, or we can reject it and find ourselves condemned.

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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 18:1-9 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 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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