Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Luke’

forwardYet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62 ESV)

One of the greatest challenges for every Christian is to follow Jesus and pursue His purpose for our lives without looking back.  Imagine trying to drive a car on the highway while looking the whole time in the rearview mirror; you’d be challenged to stay in your lane and avoid a collision.  Jesus’ illustration of plowing a field would have made perfect sense to his listeners living in an agricultural context.  If a farmer did not focus on what is ahead but was distracted by what was behind or on the periphery, it would be impossible to plow in a straight line.  The ox and plow would certainly veer off course.

Both positive and negative aspects of our lives have the potential to become distractions:

  • Past successes.
  • Past failures.
  • Internal insecurities.
  • External circumstances.
  • Comfort & security.
  • Even meaningful relationships.

It’s interesting that the man who wants to follow Jesus is distracted by something that we would consider a positive: his home and family.  Jesus is letting us know that even something that’s a huge blessing in our lives can become a distraction if it becomes more important than pursuing Jesus and His purpose. As we continue to seek Jesus, we must constantly be aware of the potential distractions in our rear view mirror of life. There can often be a tendency to look back and remember the good, instead of the great in front of you with Jesus.

How can you look ahead and refocus on Jesus and His purpose for you?

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall awayLuke 8:13

In Luke 8, Jesus relates the parable of the sower. A man goes out to sow seed on his land. The seed falls on different kinds of ground and so varies in its success.

Interestingly, the seed that falls on stony ground at first springs up and looks productive. However, because it has no real root structure, it withers in the heat of the day.

Jesus, in interpreting the parable for his disciples, observes that the seed stands for the Word of God and the various grounds represent the different ones who hear the Word. The stony-ground audience, he says, receives the Word initially with joy, but then melts in the moment of trial or temptation. In other words, they fall away when real life hits them.

What is the lesson? Jesus says, “Take heed [be careful] therefore how you hear” (18). It is not the seed, but the ground, which needs to change!

How do you receive God’s Word? Is it to you just an encouraging story, or a façade you put on for others? Or do you receive it deeply, nourishingly into your soul and let it guide your every decision, emotion, and action?

Enjoying the message is not the same thing, Jesus says, as obeying the message. Those who bear much and lasting fruit are those who hear the Word and keep it and live it out with patient endurance (15).

May you face the trials and temptations of today with a deeply-rooted faith in the Word of God.

It is Monday morning and the weekend is over. So many people from time to time in their lives, get caught up in a rebellious lifestyle that leaves us empty, hurting, and knowing what we should do . . . but not doing it. It would have been so much easier if God would have just not given us “free will” to make our own decisions.

That way everything we did would be in accordance with His will and plan for our lives but the fact is He did give us the ability to make our own choices, and in so doing, has given us the ability to live, at times, in total rebellion to what we know in our hearts, is how He wants us to live.

Many people are very uncomfortable reading this devotional this morning because it is bringing automatic conviction to them since this is where they are in their life today. God loves you. He cares about you. He only wants the best for your life. That is why He is trying to get your attention before it gets any worse.

You see, sin is like quicksand. The longer we are in it, the deeper we get, and the harder it is to get out. Many people were not in church Sunday because the things in their lives have separated them from God to the point that they can’t even be in His presence. They are like Adam after his sin in the garden-you are trying to hide from God.

Life is not easy and I am not here to judge you. I am here to encourage you. God has made a way back to Him for you today. If you are tired, can’t deal with the pressure any longer, and sick of the direction that your life has taken, the Lord is speaking to you this morning . . . “Come Home.” Much like the prodigal son, who was at the very lowest depths of despair, somehow heard the voice that told him to “go home.”

When he arrived, he found his father, not ready to punish him, but love him. Not ready to chastise him, but restore him. Your Father is waiting for you, today, with outstretched arms of love, simply saying to you this day . . . “Come Home.”

I love you and care about you so much. I pray for you today especially those caught up in things that you shouldn’t be. You know it isn’t working your way. You know that your life is a mess. You are tired of running, tired of hurting, and tired of being tired. There is an answer. There is a way.

God is calling you right now, to simply, “Come home to Him.” The problems won’t magically go away and the consequences of your actions won’t magically disappear but by coming home, you become restored into fellowship with the God who loves you. He will give you the courage and strength each day to fight your problems and get victory over them. You will slowly see the joy and the peace and the happiness return to your life.

Trust GOD, today, and “Go Home!!!” Take a moment right now and pray. Ask God to forgive you for your sins. Read 1 John 1:9. THAT VERSE IS FOR YOU TODAY!!! I will be praying for you!!!

Luke 15:18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

scroogeThere are many warnings in the Bible about giving in to greed and longing for riches. Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal… You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19 and 24). Did Jesus pursue the acquisition of money? No. On the contrary, He became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9) and had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). The only disciple concerned with wealth was the embezzler Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Greed and a desire for riches are traps that bring ruin and destruction. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” and Christians are warned, “Do not put your trust in wealth” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-18). Covetousness, or wanting more than we have, is idolatry. “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). The principle to remember is contained in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

It is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of worshipping God. Jesus said it was very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 10:17-31). By instructing him to give up his money, Jesus pointed out the young man’s main problem: greed. The man could not follow Christ because he was following money. His love of this world interfered with his love for God.

People are more likely to cry out to God when they are in need than when they have plenty. Too often, the wealthy become complacent and self-satisfied and ascribe their riches to their own efforts instead of acknowledging that every good gift comes from God. The easier our lives become, the more enjoyment we derive from our wealth, the greater the temptation to store up treasures on earth, instead of in heaven. If we focus on earthly things like material wealth and possessions, then we fail to give God the glory and worship He deserves. We are to serve God, not waste our time trying to become rich (Proverbs 23:4). Our heart’s desire should be to store up riches in heaven and not worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25-34).

This article is from gotquestions.org, and I highly recommend it. Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-greed.html#ixzz2gZJqnrGl

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come.Give us each day our daily bread,and forgive us our sins,for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.And lead us not into temptation.”(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Notice that Jesus’ instruction on prayer does not end with “lead us not into sin” but instead “lead us not into temptation.”  You may wonder, what’s the difference?

Many times we like to approach sin as an imaginary line.  As long as we stay on the right side of the line we’re OK.  But, as soon as we cross to the wrong side of the line we’re sinning.  The result of this mentality is that we often attempt to get as close to this imaginary line as possible without crossing or sinning. Most of us eventually learn that if we keep walking up to the edge of this line, we’ll eventually cross it.

The motivation of this prayer is not merely trying not to cross an imaginary line or  avoiding sin, but avoiding anything that would draw us away from pursuing God.  In other words the motivation in avoiding temptation is to have one’s heart, mind, and entire life fully focused on living for God.  As the Apostle Paul challenged the young man Timothy, whom he was mentoring: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

What are some specific areas where you need to ask God to enable you to avoid temptation so that you can better pursue Him?

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus clearly identifies His mission by quoting from Isaiah 61.  This is a theme He returns to over and over again with statements such as:

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

If you scan the gospels, it’s not difficult to see how Jesus prioritized His life and ministry:

  • The sinful over the righteous.
  • The sick over the well.
  • The least over the greatest.
  • The lost over the found.

Simply put: Seek the lost. Serve the least.

Does this describe the priorities of your life and ministry?
Why or Why not?

Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”—Luke 10:41-42

You have to love Martha, don’t you? She was much like us—distracted by many things!

Martha had many mouths to feed, and she wanted to be the best possible host to her guests. No wonder she was “dragged all around.” That’s what the word for “distracted” literally means. Because of her insistence that everything needed to be just right, she was pulled in every direction till she was nearly coming apart at the seams! Finally, in desperation, she asked Jesus to tell Mary to pitch in: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

What made Martha so driven? Did she somehow need to feel important? Was she driven by a desire to live up to the expectations of others? Or was she simply unwilling to come to terms with her own limitations?

In Jesus’ response we hear his tenderness and care for her: “Martha, Martha … you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Yet we also hear a gentle rebuke. Martha had chosen what was second best. Mary, on the other hand, had chosen well. She had put Jesus in first place, and as a result, she was able to set aside busyness for a while to soak up the joy of being with her Lord.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, there is so much to do! We find it hard to simply “stop” to listen and learn from you. Teach us how to gather at your feet, ready to honor you and take your words into our hearts. Amen.