We, as a church family, are reading the Gospel of Luke beginning with Chapter 1 on December 1st. D.J. Mathews is heading this up and has furnished some important information and insight into the writings.
Luke 1 to be read on December 1st:
Today is December 1st, and if you are joining our reading of the Gospel of Luke, we are reading chapter 1 today. Here are a few interesting items of note for your own study:
Luke is a Gentile and both the author of his gospel and the book of Acts. In fact, Luke actually wrote most of the New Testament. Paul wrote more letters, but the combination of Luke and Acts makes Luke one of the biggest NT contributors. He is a physician and a friend of Paul. He writes both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts to the "most excellent Theophilus." This is fascinating because the name "Theophilus" simply means "lover of God" or "God-lover." It indicates being a friend of God and loved by God. There is great debate as to who this is though many agree that he was likely a Roman official given his title. We may not know for sure the identity of the initial recipient of this letter; nevertheless, it is fitting that it be written to those who are loved by God and lovers of God (us 🙂 ) .
Luke is a researcher, not an eyewitness to the life of Christ. His goal is the truth. He writes for the express purpose of documenting the truth of Jesus Christ. He begins by revealing how the birth of John the Baptist was foretold by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah. After giving revelation to Zechariah, the angel Gabriel goes to Mary to bring forth the good news of Jesus' birth. By the end of the chapter, John the Baptist is born and Zechariah delivers a prophetic song (when he can speak again), and it is quite amazing. Zechariah knew his Old Testament; that's for sure.
I hope you are encouraged by Luke chapter 1. It is a long chapter with so much more to say than can be put into a single email. Trust me that you will be blessed by chapter 1, and maybe it'll even spark further personal study on your own. For example, why is Zechariah made mute when he questions Gabriel (vv.18-20) when Mary also asked Gabriel a somewhat similar question (v. 34)?
Happy reading and studying! For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37)! I wonder Who may have taught Gabriel that? (Matthew 19:26).
Luke 2 to be read on December 2nd:
Today we read Luke chapter 2. John the Baptist is born (hooray!) but there is One who is infinitely greater than John yet to be born. Luke is now ready to give us details on Jesus' birth and childhood (HOORAY!). Luke's narrative of the birth of Jesus shows just how God can use anyone, even Caesar Augustus, to fulfill His perfect prophecy.
It was important that Joseph was of the lineage of David. In chapter 1 verses 32-33 the angel Gabriel said that Jesus would be given the throne of David. The Old Testament speaks of the Messiah coming thru David's line (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Jeremiah 23:5-6). You might recall that David was from Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16, 1 Samuel 17:12-16). The prophet Micah also declared that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2. So as the decree goes out, Rome is actually serving the greater Sovereign indeed.
Luke also has a focus on obedience in chapter 2. He clearly presents Jesus' family as obedient to God:
They obeyed by circumcising Jesus on the 8th day (Genesis 17:9-14 and Leviticus 12:3)
They obeyed by giving the child the name Jesus mandated by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31)
They obeyed the law of purity following childbirth (Leviticus 12)
The obeyed the law of offering the sacrifice for Mary's purification (Leviticus 12:8)
Verse 39 sums it up, "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth." Obedience is important!
I hope you enjoy reading Luke chapter 2. There is so much more to say (we didn't even touch on the significance of what Simeon and Anna have to say) . You'll have to read and study it on your own. Until tomorrow,
Luke 3 to be read on December 3rd:
Today we read Luke chapter 3. We read about the ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus' baptism, and then a genealogy that traces the line of Jesus all the way back to Adam and ultimately to God. In the New Testament there are two genealogies of Jesus. The other is found in Matthew. Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus to Abraham which served a specific purpose in his gospel.
John the Baptist said difficult things. He wasn't afraid to tell the truth and let it stand. The overall ministry of John the Baptist can be an interesting example of the ministry of Jesus and even the church in Acts. John has a public ministry, it attracts opposition, it leads to imprisonment and eventual death, but the continuation of God's purpose marches on. So too with Jesus, He begins a public ministry, attracts opposition, is taken into custody and crucified, but God's purposes continue. You can look at the first century church in Acts. Ministry begins, opposition comes, imprisonment and martyrdom result, yet God's purposes continue to move forward. Perhaps when you are ministering you've felt the same way. The fact we can rest upon is that God is having His way and His purposes continue on. That is truth we can rest in.
Luke also provides a genealogy of Jesus. Genealogies may seem redundant and not all that interesting. However, I want to share something with you about genealogies. The first genealogy in Scripture is found in Genesis 5. It's been a few years, but we learned something in Sunday School all the way back on 08/15/2018 which came with a handout (thanks Kenny) and it was this. The genealogy from Adam to Noah found in Genesis 5 is the gospel message. How so?
Names are significant in Scripture and have meaning. Genesis 5 looks like this:
Adam = Man
Seth = Appointed
Enosh = Mortal
Kenan = Sorrow
Mahalalel = The Blessed God
Jared = Shall Come Down
Enoch = Teaching
Methusaleh = His Death Shall Bring
Lamech = Despairing
Noah = Comfort and Rest
To put it in sentence format, what you have is this: Man, appointed, mortal, sorrowful, the Blessed God shall come down teaching. His death shall bring (the) despairing comfort and rest.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus today. Mankind is mortal and sorrowful. Sin abounds. Praise God for sending His one and only Son who taught us, died for us, and brought to our despairing souls comfort and rest in Him.
Luke 4 to be read on December 4th:
Today we're reading Luke chapter 4. After His baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. You may have noticed that Jesus quotes Scripture each time Satan tempts Him. In fact, each quotation is from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:17 that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. As a believer in Christ, you are actively involved in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). It is vital we fight this battle with the Word of God. That will empower us in the Spirit. Satan tempts Jesus by piggy backing on basic human needs. He tempted Jesus with food when He was hungry. He tempted Jesus with worldly possessions if only He would redirect His worship. He then tempted Jesus to take matters into His own hands apart from the Father by misquoting Scripture, Psalm 91:11-12.
Did you know that Satan knows Scripture? He and his demons know exactly who Jesus is (James 2:19, Mark 3:11, Acts 19:15, Luke 4:33-34). They know Jesus as the Holy One of God! In fact, atheism is a belief system that not even Satan and his demons are willing to entertain. It is vital we know the truth of God's Word because Satan will twist even the smallest of details. Can you find the detail Satan left out in Luke 4:10-11 when he was quoting Psalm 91:11-12? It is significant!
After His temptation, Jesus goes into the synagogue at Nazareth and reads from the prophet Isaiah. He tells them that very day is the fulfillment of that Scripture. They were witnessing prophecy fulfillment before their very eyes. But they questioned, "Is not this Joseph's son?" They don't quite believe Him. At this question Jesus proceeds to allude to the story of the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian, both gentile people. These are recorded in Luke alone. After Jesus says these things, Luke records that, “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath” (Luke 4:28). Ultimately those Jews in the synagogue were rejecting Jesus’ claim to being the One Isaiah prophesied about and became enraged at Jesus’ declaration. A key verse for the gentile reader is Jesus’ statement, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown” (Luke 4:24). Luke is asserting to Theophilus (and us) that although the Jews in the synagogue did not discern the truth, there are examples in the Old Testament of gentiles who did discern truth and experienced the grace of God. Luke is painting a picture through the words of Jesus; despite Jewish disbelief, Jesus is still the redeemer of the gentiles!
Luke 5 to be read on December 5th:
Today we are reading Luke 5. We are going to meet 4 disciples in this chapter and also be introduced to a few parables.
Verse 1 opens with a simple truth that I believe is true in our world today. The people pressed upon Jesus and for what reason? To hear the word of God. The Word of God is powerful. I believe personally that people have a hunger and desire to hear it. It is the sharp sword as opposed to the dull butterknife of the word of man. Romans 10:17 reminds us that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It's simply profound and profoundly simple. Jesus taught the word of God. He set the example for us not only at this point in His ministry but after His resurrection too. Christmas Eve we will read about a couple disciples who were taught the word of God by the risen Saviour Himself beginning with Moses and all the prophets!
Notice what Peter says in verse 5. Jesus just told Peter to let down his nets for a catch. Peter answered, "Master, we toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at THY WORD I will let down the net." The very words of Jesus were so powerful that the slightest hint of obedience to it resulted in a huge catch of fish so great the nets broke. The words of Jesus were important to Peter and they ought to be for us. Listen to and heed the Word. The word of God strengthens, guides, teaches, and encourages. Later Peter will deny Jesus three times. During the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter was under a strong attack and made some bold, brave statements. Peter says that he will never leave Jesus or fall away even if everyone else would. In Luke 22 Peter is asked if he knew Christ and three times he denied knowing Jesus. The cock crowed after the third time. Jesus turns and looks at Peter (can you imagine?). But it says something powerful in Luke 22:61, "And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.'"
He remembered the word of the Lord. There was more to the word of the Lord though that Peter remembered. Of course Peter went out and wept bitterly he had just denied the Lord Jesus. Of course he would remember that the Lord predicted his denial. But Peter, brother Peter, don't forget the rest of the word of the Lord! And I don't think he did. The rest of the word of the Lord to Peter is in Luke 22:31-34. Before Jesus predicts Peter's denial, He says this "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen the brethren."
And that is just what Peter will do in the book of Acts. Strengthen the brethren. The same Peter that denied Christ will boldly stand for Him and preach about Him to all. Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Look to Jesus today, remember the word of the Lord. Be in the word of God. That is where you will find strength to get through your own trials and strengthen other brothers and sisters in Christ. Hope to see you at church today!
Luke 6 to be read on December 6th:
Today we read Luke chapter 6. Jesus teaches us about a proper understanding of the Sabbath, chooses the 12 disciples, as well as gives His sermon on the plain, which is a parallel to the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:1-7:29.
In the first portion on the issue of the Sabbath, the disciples were picking heads of grain which is permissible in the law (Deuteronomy 23:24-25). The issue was that it was on the Sabbath day. But next we read that the disciples also rubbed them in their hands and ate the kernels. This makes it clear what's going on. The disciples are not picking grain just because. They were picking grain because they were hungry. This is why Jesus reaches back to David and his men who went into the house of God and ate of the showbread which wasn't lawful to do. But the key was what? That David and his men were hungry. This story is from 1 Samuel 21. What is interesting is this. There is no mention that what David did took place on the Sabbath. The issue wasn't so much the day, the issue was Jesus' authority, which extends over even the Sabbath. If David was free of the restraints of the law on that particular occasion (due to hunger), how much more is the Son of Man!
In Mark 2:27 Jesus says this, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." Jesus is Lord of the sabbath. He has authority over it. It isn't to be worshipped. All worship goes to the Lord of the sabbath, not the sabbath itself. Luke emphasizes this with the next story by healing on the sabbath. Jesus put people and their hunger or their health needs over rules and regulations. What was the alternative if the showbread were denied to David and his men who are hungry? Watch them die for the sake of the rules? Jesus is Lord of the sabbath! The sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath.
I like how Jesus models ministry. He goes out and ministers and then retreats to a mountaintop to pray. It is a perfect blend of time out with the people ministering, teaching, and healing combined with alone time communing with the Father. May we be those who spend time feeding and being fed.
Finally, Jesus makes some powerful statements in Luke's account of this sermon. Much can be said of this sermon. This email could go on forever about it. I'll focus on one aspect. In verse 41 Jesus says, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" A good reminder for all of us. This statement is somewhat linked to what Jesus said previously when He asked the question, "Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?" Even if you're not medically blind, if you have a beam in your eye you might have trouble helping another correct their faults because you yourself can't see correctly. Correcting another with a beam in your own eye is like the blind leading the blind. However, helping a brother or sister isn't impossible. Jesus simply says in verse 42, "...first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye." The point is being able to see clearly before helping another. The blind can't lead the blind, neither can one who isn't blind but has a beam in his eye can lead another with a speck in his eye. Neither of these work. It is the one who has taken the log out of his own and who can see clearly that can help another. How do we do this? Jesus goes on to say "And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to Me and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like..." Build your foundation on Christ the solid rock. Come to Him. Hear from Him. Do what He tells you to do!
Stay in God's Word and humble yourself before Him. Be submitted to Him. We're not perfect that's for sure. But allow God to grow you and teach you and show you that which you need to get rid of then go help others!
Luke 7 - to be read on December 7th:
Today we are reading Luke 7. There's a lot going on in this chapter for sure. Jesus heals a centurion's servant, He brought a dead widow's son back to life, He reassures John the Baptist, and He tells another parable.
Like Peter, the centurion was also impacted by the word of the Lord. The centurion sends a message to Jesus saying, "...say in a word, and my servant shall be healed." The centurion recognized that all Jesus needed to say was a single word. A single word from the Lord spoken at a distance could heal his servant. In this first section, Luke documents this incident with the centurion using what is called an "a fortiori" argument. What exactly is "a fortiori?" Simply put, its a "how much more" argument. If the centurion with his authority could simply order certain things done, how much more (a fortiori) could Jesus as Lord do the same. This form of rhetoric is seen in parables as well. This centurion is a model of great faith for you and I!
Moving to the next miracle, Jesus healed a dead widow's son. Technically, touching a dead body made one ceremonially unclean according to Numbers 19:11,16. But hey, when Jesus touches him he is brought to life. Jesus wasn't concerned about this. His life-giving touch brings life and healing. Don't you just love Jesus!
Luke 7:27 is a partial quote of Malachi 3:1 which shows us that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1. John is the messenger preceding the Messiah Jesus Christ. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. After that, there is approximately 400 years of silence until the voice crying in the wilderness (John the Baptist) cries prepare the way of the Lord!
Verse 32 is fascinating. What does it mean when Jesus says, "They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep"? If you and your family are looking for a good Christian movie to watch there is one called, "Play the Flute." Highly recommend.
This chapter ends with Jesus telling a parable of two debtors. We have been forgiven so much church family. We really have. I am so thankful for my salvation. Praise God! In Jesus' name,
Luke 8 - to be read on December 8th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 8. The parable of the sower and the soils is a great parable with a lot of truth. I think we would all do well to consider what kind of soil we are. The seed is the word of God (verse 11). The soils represent different responses of those who hear or receive God's Word (12-15). I think we would do well to reflect upon the soil of our own lives.
It is my prayer that none of us reading this email are those who receive the word of God as "beside the road" soil. Hearers of the word but the devil comes and takes it away so that you will not believe and be saved. Satan hates God's Word and will do anything he can do to destroy it, twist it, and make it ineffective in our lives. Please don't be "beside the road" soil!
But another question to reflect on is this: Are we rocky soil? Are we those who hear the word of God and initially receive it with joy but have no firm root? In time of temptation, do we fall away? Please brothers and sisters, be rooted and grounded in the word of God. Colossians 2:6-7 says this, "Therefore as you have received Chris Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." Be rooted in Christ!
Or perhaps we're not rocky soil but maybe we're thorny soil. Are we choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life? And because we're choked out are we lacking fruit to maturity? Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-13 regarding the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that God has given them for a reason. That reason is this, "For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Don't be distracted by worries, by riches, or by the pleasures of this life! Grow in Christ!
Let us all be good soil. Soil that hears the word of God in an honest and good heart. Soil that holds fast to that word. Soil that bears fruit! Paul wrote to Titus concerning elders he was to appoint in Crete that one of the qualifications was that they were those, "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." Holding fast to the faithful word is so important not just for elders but for all of us. It is great advice from our brother Paul!
What soil are you? Truly, what soil are we when we hear God's word being preached? Are we distracted with the world? Do we have no root? Or are we growing to maturity in Christ and holding fast to the faithful word? Something to consider. A few verses later Jesus will say, "So take care how you listen..."
What I find interesting also is this. Right after the verses in Ephesians 4:11-13 about being mature in Christ, Paul goes on to say, "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming." What happens shortly after Jesus gives us this teaching in Luke 8 on the parable of the soils? Jesus says in verse 22, "...Let us go over to the other side of the lake." When Jesus says let's go to the other side of the lake, you're going to make it to the other side of the lake! But a windstorm came and put them in danger (being tossed to and fro by waves so to speak 😀). And what do the disciples do? They worried! They thought they were perishing! They were being tossed to and fro by waves and carried about by a wind of false doctrine that said they weren't going to make it. Perhaps they forgot the word of the Lord or just didn't believe it but Jesus said they're going to the other side. So there is no question they're making it to the other side. Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves and they stopped. And Jesus poses the question, "Where is your faith?"
Where is your faith today? Are you being tossed to and fro or are you rooted in God's Word? Are you keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith? Let's be good soil as we read and hear God's Word each day.
As always, there is much more to say about chapter 8. I encourage you to spend time studying God's Word today and let it take root.
Luke 9 - to be read on December 9th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 9. There's quite a bit going on in this chapter. The disciples are sometimes referred to as the "apostles." Verse 2 gives us insight as to where this word comes from. The verb in verse 2 where it says Jesus "sent them out" is the word "apostello" in the Greek. An apostle is one who is "sent out" and that is where we get the word apostle from.
In this chapter, Jesus shares with us the cost of discipleship. He says in verse 23-25, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" This is a sobering truth Jesus shares not only with His disciples but with us too.
Jesus shares three conditions of discipleship. First, there is a need to deny oneself. This is an all out rejection of self-righteousness and self-centeredness. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will and teachings of Jesus Christ, not his own.
Next, one must "take up his cross daily." Taking up your cross speaks of having a commitment unto death. There is a willingness to suffer for Christ if necessary. Taking up the cross in Roman context would have referred literally to the victim's carrying the crossbeam of the cross from the site of sentencing to the place of crucifixion. Luke uses this picture and adds that it is to be done "daily." This speaks of the fact that everyday we are to live as though we are dead to the world and alive in Christ. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). Christ suffered for us, are we willing to suffer for Him? Disciples are called to identify with Christ's suffering.
Finally, disciples must follow Jesus. This verb is a present imperative, which means that following Jesus must be continual. It is vital to persistently follow Jesus. It isn't something you decide to do one day then abandon the next. It is continuous. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "Twice the call went out to Peter: Follow Me! It was Jesus' first and last word to His disciple (Mark 1:17; John 21:22)."
This is crucial for discipleship. The alternative is a scary situation to be in. Jesus then says in verse 26, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." The person and message of Jesus cannot be separated. Consider what Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." The gospel is the message and the One we believe in is Jesus Christ.
The question is, are we ashamed of the gospel? Are we ashamed of Jesus Christ and His words? Jesus expects to be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes (verse 22), but a disciple of His is a stark contrast to that rejection. A disciple will accept and follow Jesus and His words. May we be those who deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus! No need to worry about what others think about us. Jesus was mocked at His crucifixion, don't you think you might be as you carry your cross too? Disciples stand out from the world. They don't fit in with the world. Sometimes they are martyred by the world. Jesus said it Himself that if we try to save our lives we'll lose it, but if we lose our lives for His sake we will save it. Will we stand for Christ regardless of who's watching us or what is going on around us?
Luke 10 - to be read on December 10th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 10. I hope you are enjoying our journey to the cross and to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus talks a lot in this chapter so we should definitely pay attention.
When Jesus sent the 70 to minister to different cities they came back to Him quite impressed and joyful (verse 17). They said, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." That prompts Jesus to say what He says in verses 18-20. Jesus says, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." This is a reflection back to Isaiah 14:12. Their casting out demons demonstrated the defeat of Satan. The idea that Satan fell as lightning speaks of the suddenness and quickness of his fall when he sinned.
Then Jesus says, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Serpents and scorpions were well-known symbols of evil. Again, the allusion is to the fact that the enemy is defeated. Satan is completely subject to God (Refer to the Book of Job!). As awesome as it is to know that Satan is defeated, it gets even better.
Jesus finally says, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because our names are written in heaven." Their joy shouldn't come from their accomplishments, but rather their eternal salvation, which is all from God. 1 John 3:8 reminds us that "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." Satan is a defeated foe. Death has no victory or sting (1 Corinthians 15:55). We can rejoice in the fact that we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and our names are written in heaven.
The parable of the good Samaritan is a powerful one. The impact would be far greater than we in 21st century America might realize. The Jewish people hated Samaritans. There was history there that I won't go into but suffice it to say, Jesus chose a Samaritan to be the "good" guy in the parable for a reason.
One final thought on Mary and Martha. Verses 38-42 show a clear emphasis on the importance of hearing Jesus' word. The one thing needed above all else is hearing God's Word and the proclamation of the gospel. It is what generates faith (Romans 10:17). To listen to Jesus as Mary did is the best thing we can do. We just learned in Luke 8 that worries choke out the word of God (Luke 8:14). Martha is worried, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things" (verse 41).
Jesus isn't condoning a lifestyle of sitting around doing nothing. He does call us to get up and go (Matthew 28:18-20). He calls us to service for Him and the Kingdom for sure. The key was that Jesus was teaching and sharing His word so pausing to listen to that was the better part, the good part, which will not be taken away from her. Let's take time today to pause, sit at the feet of Jesus, and listen to His word today.
Luke 11 - to be read December 11th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 11. Obviously there is much to glean from in this chapter. I encourage you to take the time to study these things through when you can. I just want to focus on one thought.
This is the second time Jesus has mentioned not hiding or covering a lighted candle. Jesus mentioned it in Luke 8:16, "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light." Then in our chapter today, Jesus says, "No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light." Today I just want to shed some light on light 😀 Here are a few verses on light:
Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Psalm 119:130, "The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple."
Psalm 18:28, "For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness."
Psalm 27:1, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?"
John 9:5, "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."
Revelation 21:3, "And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb."
Perhaps you're starting to see a trend here! John 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The word is the light and the Word is the Light!
The word of God, Scripture, is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It gives light and understanding. It illumines your darkness.
Additionally, the LORD is light. Jesus Himself is the Light of the world. The Lamb is the lamp! What am I trying to say? Jesus said in our chapter 11 verse 28, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." And we know, from other Scripture (John 5:39), that Scripture testifies about Jesus. If you want light in your darkness, you need to be in the light of God's word and in the Light of the world Jesus Christ. The light of God's word speaks of the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to allow the word of God to be light in your life. We are blessed if we hear His word and keep it. And remember, in your study of God's word, to remember that it points to the Word, Jesus Christ.
Luke 12 - to be read December 12th:
Hope to see you at church this morning! Today we're reading Luke chapter 12 and it is full of Jesus' teachings and worth much study. I want to focus on verses 8-9, "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God." Jesus didn't hesitate to tell the truth and to tell His disciples what they needed to hear. Verse 1 reminds us Jesus is talking to the disciples about this.
Jesus tells the disciples this after first warning them about the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. The Pharisees were criticized because their inner selves did not correspond to their outer profession. The disciples were to be a stark contrast to the Pharisees. The disciples are to confess (some translations have it as "acknowledge") Jesus before men and He will acknowledge them before the angels of God. They are to publicly confess Jesus Christ and if it gets them into trouble, rely on the Holy Spirit to teach them what to say. The outer, public confession is to be accompanied by a life of obedience to God's commandments (John 14:15). In contrast to the Pharisees, believers in Jesus Christ are not just believers outwardly, but also inwardly. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:10, "For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Both the inward heart and outward mouth are involved.
Let's go confess Jesus Christ together at church this morning. Not only that, let's follow Him and walk with Him throughout the day, each day, not just on Sunday! Hope to see you at church soon.
Luke 13 - to be read December 13th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 13 and Jesus continues to do a whole lot of teaching! Jesus had taught previously on the Sabbath which was a big issue in the day. He taught about the Sabbath in chapter 6 and here He continues to teach on it. I want to take a moment to focus on Jesus' teaching here in chapter 13 regarding the Sabbath. In verses 10-17 Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath while He was teaching in the synagogue. The ruler of the synagogue was not too happy with Jesus doing that (verse 14). This ruler says, "There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, not on the sabbath day."
Again, as we've seen before, Jesus tells it like it is. He didn't hold back or hesitate to tell them what they needed to hear, which was the truth (verse 15). Jesus' denunciation was addressed not only to the ruler of the synagogue but to all who would agree or think like the ruler. Jesus' rebuke is to all who put their religious traditions before mercy and compassion. Again Jesus uses a figure of speech we've looked at before called "a fortiori." A "how much more" sort of way to make a point, in this case it's what Jesus used to point out their hypocrisy.
The first argument Jesus makes is this: If it is permissible to show mercy to animals on the sabbath, how much more should mercy be shown to one of God's covenant people (a daughter of Abraham). A second argument is also present: If bound animals are loosed and led to water on the sabbath, how much more should this woman bound by Satan be loosed to experience healing.
Hosea 6:6 says, "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." In Matthew's gospel, Jesus says this in Matthew 9:12-13, "...Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
So what exactly does that mean? What does it mean that the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice? Do we ever get caught up in the same way of thinking that the Pharisee's found themselves in? Bound to legalism and missing the point completely... It is something for us to think about. We too can benefit from going and learning what this means!
Luke 14 - to be read December 14th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 14, and yet again Jesus stirs controversy about the sabbath. We've discussed the sabbath in previous emails, so I'll focus on something else. However, it is interesting the length at which Luke is going to share with us about what Jesus taught and did regarding this issue of the sabbath. After this brief sabbath situation, Jesus moves on to teach on pride and humility as well as the cost of discipleship.
In verses 7-14, Luke shares a parable from Jesus that hits home on pride and humility. Pride and arrogance are abominations before God. Proverbs 16:5 says, "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, He will not go unpunished." Also, Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." James 4:6 agrees, "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Needless to say, there is no room for human pride when you are faced with a holy, righteous, and awesome God.
Then toward the end of the chapter Jesus says, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." This verse has caused issues with people, perhaps you had a double take on it as you read it. Obviously Jesus also confirmed that loving God was the greatest commandment and that loving our neighbor is the second (Matthew 22:37-39) and that all the law and prophets hang on these two. So how do we reconcile wanting to be a disciple of Christ and needing to hate our father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, even ourselves with the fact that we are supposed to love God and our neighbor? The confusion in this verse lies in the use of an idiom where "hating" our loved ones is in comparison to the love we have for God. Perhaps Matthew's gospel can help us out. The parallel passage for this is Matthew 10:37, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Jesus' demand is for His followers to love Him more than anyone else, even their own families.
Being a disciple of Christ requires primary and full allegiance to Him. No one or no thing can usurp God's supreme position in our lives. If anyone or anything comes between you and God it is out of order and needs to be dealt with. Being a follower of Christ does come at a cost. Not a cost meaning that you somehow bought salvation; that's not it at all. That is a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Rather, it may cost you family members for example. Family members you would otherwise have a positive relationship with, but when it comes to Jesus, there is division. If a spouse, brother, sister, father or mother or any friend or any person ever comes to us and says, "It's either Jesus or me, take your pick." Well, the answer is Jesus every time, regardless of the cost. That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Family is one example. For others it may cost their very lives. I am reminded of the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church (which, by the way, we ought to continue praying for). For some, being a follower of Christ means martyrdom.
That is why Jesus goes on to tell us to count the cost. Your salvation cost Jesus His holy, righteous, perfect Life as He was obedient to death, even death on a cross. It cost everything. Stands to reason the response that enables us to receive that grace is likewise, everything. We are crucified with Christ!
Luke 15 - to be read December 15th:
Good morning and happy Wednesday,
Today we are reading Luke chapter 15. Jesus meets us with three parables to learn from. These are all spoken to murmuring Pharisees and scribes who are accusing Jesus of receiving sinners and eating with them. Aren't you glad Jesus receives you and I as sinners? There is a theme throughout this chapter which could be summed up as "rejoicing when the lost are found." Later in the gospel of Luke chapter 19 Jesus says, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." In this chapter we will read that heaven rejoices over repentant sinners. Thank God that Jesus sought us and saved us!
Another theme of these parables is repentance. The first two (the lost sheep and the lost coin) don't literally repent for they are sheep and coins. They are examples used by Jesus to teach on the lost being found, but since sheep and coins don't repent, He adds at the end of each parable, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance," (verse 7) and, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (verse 10). Then Jesus shares the parable of the prodigal (or lost) son. Herein is repentance exemplified. Jesus doesn't add the same ending to this parable. He simply ends by saying, "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found" (verse 32).
What's interesting is that being lost is linked to being dead ("thy brother was dead...and was lost"), and being alive and being found are linked to each other ("is alive again...and is found"). Ephesians 2 has always been a great passage I keep in memory. It has the great "But God" moment. Paul writes that we were dead in trespasses and sin. Not dying or almost dead, but simply and completely dead. But that's not the end of the story, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" Ephesians 2:4-5. You and I were dead lost. Completely unable to save ourselves or find the way. Jesus is the Way. He is the Life. He makes us alive. He shows us the Way. May we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus Christ today and every day.
Luke 16 - to be read December 16th:
Good morning church family and happy Thursday,
Today we are reading Luke chapter 16. Jesus is speaking pretty much the entire chapter, so it is important that we listen!
What I want to focus on in this email is the law and the prophets. Jesus says in verses 16-17, "The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail." In the KJV verse 17 reads, "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail." This word "tittle" has that meaning; basically one stroke of a letter or the least stroke of a pen.
Matthew 5:18 says, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." What exactly does this mean? It is quite an amazing thought especially for a reader in the original languages. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, a "tittle" is the minute point or stroke added to some letters of the Hebrew alphabet to distinguish them from others which they resemble. It might be similar to the dot above the ' i ' in our English language. Without the dot it may look like an ' l ' but with it is an "i." A "jot" or an "iota" is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. What Jesus is saying is that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one of those little dots in the Law to fail. It is easier for God's creation to pass away than for His word not to be fulfilled.
The Law and the Prophets come up again toward the end of the chapter in the incident with the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man cried out to Abraham to have mercy on him and to send Lazarus back from the dead to his brothers to warn them not to go to the place of torment that the rich man was in. Abraham's response is, "...They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." To say "Moses" and the Prophets is similar to saying the "Law" and the Prophets because Moses wrote the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy), otherwise known as the Pentateuch. The Law and the Prophets speak of Jesus Christ. When we get to chapter 24 we will read that the risen Jesus taught the Old Testament Scriptures to disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24:27 says, "Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." In John 5:39 Jesus also said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me."
This is yet another reason we do not disregard the Old Testament as is unfortunately done in many Christian circles today. Those Scriptures that we just learned will not fail even down to the minutest jot and tittle all speak of Jesus Christ. Like Abraham said, we have Moses and the Prophets; in fact, we have the New Testament Scriptures also. The same is true; they all speak of Jesus Christ. May we be those who search the Scriptures, not just to have head knowledge of them and what they say, but to see Jesus Christ in them because that is where eternal life is found. In Jesus Christ.
Luke 17 - to be read December 17th:
Good morning church family and happy Friday,
Today we are reading Luke chapter 17 where Jesus shifts His focus to His disciples (v.1) whereas in chapter 16 He was talking to the Pharisees (16:14). As always, there is a lot to learn and chew on in this chapter. I encourage you to take the time to study a little deeper when you can. My focus in chapter 17 will be verses 7-10. This is a powerful section on what it means to be a disciple of Christ and serve Him. Jesus draws on a well-known reality regarding slavery to teach about faithfulness and obedience.
Your Bible might translate verse 7, "Suppose one of you has a servant..." This word servant is interesting. It is the word doulos in the Greek and it literally means "slave." A friend of mine shared a story with me about how he was talking to someone about being a slave to Christ. This person did not welcome that terminology and was somewhat offended by it. But the fact of the matter is, we are slaves of Jesus Christ. Some translations say, "Which of you, having a slave..." That is what the word means. One thing you can count on is that Jesus will tell it like it is. He doesn't sugarcoat or tell you things to make you feel good. He tells you the truth and that is exactly what we need.
Jesus poses the question "Which of you, having a slave, plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'?" There is an implied answer when Jesus says "which of you." The implication is negative, none of them would. Then Jesus follows it up with "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink'?" When Jesus says, "but will he not say..." implies a positive, it means that they would say that to a slave or servant if they had one.
Then Jesus gives the punch line, "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?" Again the implied answer is no. Which makes Jesus' point. "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'" There is no place for boasting among believers in Jesus Christ. At our very best, we are just forgiven sinners. Sometimes Christians get the roles reversed wanting God to be their servant. We must remember that we are His servants, we are His slaves, we serve Him.
Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. "
1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God."
2 Corinthians 10:17, "But he who boasts is to boast in the LORD."
Galatians 6:14, "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, though which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
It's not about you and it's not about me. It's all about Jesus! No flesh will glory in His presence. God is not a debtor to any man (Romans 11:35). It's not about getting accolades for everything we've done. It is about obedience to the Lord not so we get recognition or honor ourselves, but because He is so good, loving, and gracious in providing salvation to us. Obedience is a response to God's goodness toward us. We are simply doing what we're supposed to do, obeying Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if you're Moses serving the LORD for 40 years or the thief on the cross who dies shortly after believing in Jesus, no one can glory in what they've done. Our best is obedience.
Luke 18 - to be read December 18th:
Good morning church family and happy Saturday,
Today we read Luke chapter 18 which is full of good insight for us. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to be mocked, mistreated, spit upon, scourged, then killed. But that's not the end of the story, He will rise again! (vv. 31-33). This morning I will focus on verses 9-14 which teach us about prayer.
Verses 9-14 are connected to verses 1-8 with its reference to prayer. Jesus closes verse 8 with, "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" If you have a Bible that has headings in certain places they are meant to help you understand the context. Sometimes, however, they cause us to think that the texts are separate. It can be beneficial to read the text apart from the headings or breaks because it helps us see the flow and context. Jesus follows this question in verse 8 with a parable of the Pharisee and a tax collector. In fact, we have three follow-up stories to that question in the Pharisee/tax collector, the rich young ruler's lack of faith, and the faith of the blind man Bartimaeus. The focus in this email is on the Pharisee/tax collector.
We are encountered with a Pharisee who trusts in himself for his righteousness and despises others. He is a self-righteous Pharisee who prays in the temple a self-glorifying eulogy as one commentator notes. Thanking God he was not like others, he goes on to list his personal achievements which go above and beyond the law (note all the I's). I caution you when you encounter someone who claims to be a teacher or follower of Christ but spends his time talking about himself and his achievements rather than God and His Word. This Pharisee even fasts twice a week and needs only to pray thanks to God, but there is no need for this Pharisee to ask God to have mercy on him. He doesn't need forgiveness so he doesn't ask for it because he's so awesome. There is no sense of being an unworthy servant/slave, which we discussed yesterday. Basically, from his point of view, God is sure lucky to have a guy like him!
Contrast that attitude with the tax collector's. He stands at a distance, won't look up to heaven, beats his breast, and says, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" Even apart from his prayer there is a sense of humility. Yet he does pray, and it is much simpler, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." That's it. The result would be shocking to the hearers in that day. The tax collector went home justified rather than the Pharisee. Those who exalt themselves are humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted and justified by God.
The question is, who are you? I ask myself the same, who am I? Am I the self-righteous Pharisee? Or am I the tax collector seeking mercy and forgiveness to God acknowledging my unworthiness and humbling myself before God? Something to think about. It is something to consider daily because Satan attacks us with pride. Satan would have us think we're all that and a bag of chips. Satan will have us trust in anything other than trusting in God! Trust yourself (man you're awesome and thank God you're not that bad), trust that you can do you and your truth is your truth and everyone else can have their truth and we'll all live happily ever after... that's from Satan. Jesus Christ is the Truth and we can only come to Him on His terms which is by faith. We are saved by grace through faith, not of ourselves.
1 John 2:16 says, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." May God rid us of our lusts of the flesh, our lusts of the eyes, and our pride of life. And may God fill us with the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Luke 19 - to be read December 19th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 19 as we walk with Jesus to the cross and to His resurrection! Along the way there is much to learn and take in. Today I want to focus on Zacchaeus' story. It fits perfectly with what we just read in chapter 18. In chapter 18 we read of a widow, a tax collector, children, and a blind beggar, all of whom were persons of low social status in those days. Zacchaeus, being a chief tax collector, would place him right in the same place as universally despised among the people. Being a "chief" tax collector meant he likely had subordinates he ruled over. We also learn that Zacchaeus was rich. We just read a sad account of the rich young ruler in chapter 18. Both are rich and both are rulers. But there are vast differences as well.
The rich young ruler, according to his own self-evaluation, had kept all the commandments and, therefore, didn't perceive himself to be a sinner.
Zacchaeus was declared to be a sinner by popular opinion (verse 7).
The rich young ruler was told by Jesus to sell what he has and give to the poor.
Zacchaeus sells half his goods and gives it to the poor.
The rich young ruler is invited by Jesus to come, follow Him.
Zacchaeus was invited by Jesus to come down the tree and make haste so that Jesus could come abide at his house.
The rich young ruler refused to follow Jesus and was sorrowful.
Zacchaeus got down that tree in haste and received Jesus joyfully.
In the case of the rich young ruler they asked, "Who then can be saved?" However, Jesus taught that with God all things are possible.
In the case of Zacchaeus we see that possibility come to fruition and a rich man is saved. Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham."
Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus and who He was. But in the end, who is really seeking whom? Jesus ends His conversation with Zacchaeus by saying, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
The question is: Do we seek to know who Jesus is as urgently or as passionately as Zacchaeus did? He wasn't concerned about what anyone else thought of him except what Jesus thought of him. Today is Sunday. The perfect day to seek to know more about Jesus. Hope to see you at church later!
Luke 20 - to be read December 20th:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 20 where Jesus' authority will be questioned. You might see a trend in this chapter where the chief priests, scribes, elders, and Sadducees all come at Jesus with different questions trying to find fault with Him and turn Him over to the governor. I find this portion of Scripture absolutely fascinating leading up to Jesus going to the cross. There is an examination of our Passover Lamb going on.
In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul says, "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed." Interesting how Paul starts that verse "clean out the old leaven" after what we just read Jesus did in the last chapter cleaning out the temple. Then Paul proceeds to call Christ our Passover. Christ our Passover Lamb cleaned the temple out! Then if you go to 1 Peter 1:18-19, Peter says, "Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." If you were to go back to Exodus 12 and read about the Passover, you would read in Exodus 12:5 that the lamb was to be "without blemish." The lamb was to be a spotless lamb, without blemish. When John the Baptist saw Jesus in John chapter 1 he said, "...Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the perfect, spotless lamb. In this portion of Scripture we see Jesus being confronted by Jewish leaders trying to find a blemish in Him. Trying to point out a spot on Him that makes Him imperfect. Can they find fault in Him? Can they trip Him up on something that shows He isn't perfect?
As you read this chapter I encourage you to keep in mind Jesus as the perfect, spotless Lamb of God. He's in Jerusalem teaching constantly (chapter 19 verse 47 said He was teaching daily) and Jewish authorities are solely focused on finding fault with Him. Jesus is under a microscope and all they want to do is get rid of Him. Will they find fault with Him? Hint: The answer is found in Luke 23:4 and 14 if you want to peek ahead! There is so much more to this chapter to study through and I encourage you to in your own quiet time with the Lord. I personally enjoy the end of the chapter where once they're finally done asking Him questions (verse 40), Jesus turns to them and asks them a question Himself! And Jesus wasn't afraid to tell the truth regardless of who was around. Verse 45 says, "Then in the audience of all the people, he said unto his disciples." In the audience of all the people Jesus told them to "beware of the scribes." Right in front of the scribes He says beware of the scribes. Jesus is awesome.
Luke 21 - to be read December 21st:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 21 where Jesus gives what is often referred to as the Olivet Discourse which is quite the undertaking for in-depth study to say the least. In the beginning of the chapter we read about a poor widow who gives two mites, or two small copper coins. Jesus' assessment is that the poor widow had put in more than everyone else. The reason for this is she had given out of her poverty though others had given out of their wealth. What exactly is Jesus saying?
I read an interesting thought on this passage that said, "The widow's gift and Jesus' comment on it shows us that the value of a gift is determined by what it costs the giver." The value wasn't in the dollar amount. According to calculations, these coins, which are called "lepton," were the one of the smallest coins in use at the time and the amount she put in was about 1% of a day's wage. Humanly speaking, clearly others were giving more (in dollar amount) than her. However, as is the case in many circumstances, God's economy has something different to say about how much the poor widow gave. The widow gave sacrificially. It came at a cost.
In 2 Samuel 24:24 we read this, "However, the king said to Araunah, 'No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing." What was going on in that portion of Scripture? The king is David. David had sinned against the LORD after he had commanded that a census be taken of Israel and Judah. Well the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad who told David to choose his punishment. You can read the details but ultimately three days of pestilence came upon Israel and 70,000 people died. Gad then came back to David and told him to erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David obediently goes to Araunah and Araunah meets with David. David tells Araunah he is there to buy the threshing floor from him in order to build an altar to the LORD. Arauna is kind enough to simply give it to David but David refuses to take it for free. This is where verse 24 comes in where David insists on purchasing the threshing floor and refuses to make an offering to God that costs him nothing. Amen to that.
David didn't look for the cheapest way to please God. Neither did the widow. Her offering might've been considered "cheap" by rich men or onlookers in her day, but in reality it was costly to her and Jesus points that out in no uncertain terms. The question for us is this: Do we look for the cheapest way to try to please God? Do we serve Him only when it is convenient to what we have planned for the day?
It's been said before in our church and I think it ought to be said again. God doesn't need your money. If He did, then the dollar amount would matter. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we learn something about God. God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. God looks at the heart of the giver, not the dollar amount of the giver. God sees what it costs. Jesus also said in Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Where is your treasure today? May we be those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and allow Him to add all the other things we may need as He sees fit.
Luke 22 - to be read December 22nd:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 22 and it is quite the chapter to take in. There is betrayal, communion, prayer, arrest, mockery, beating and the beginning of Jesus' trial. There is so much to study I encourage you to take it a step deeper in your own time with the Lord. One thing I learned was the extent of Peter's denial. It goes further than simply his denial of Jesus Christ though that is what it is primarily. In seeing this, I then understood the grace of our Lord and Savior all the more.
Jesus had predicted Peter's three denials in verse 34 and in verses 54-60 Peter fulfills Jesus' prophecy. There is a subtle escalation in Peter's three denials. First, Peter simply denies being "with Him too" (verse 56) when accused by the servant-girl. Peter's initial denial is being with Jesus Christ. Second, a little while later, Peter then denied being "one of them too" (verse 58). Who are "them"? Ultimately, Peter was also denying his relationship with his fellow disciples which marks a denial of knowing Jesus because he was denying fellowship with Jesus' followers. Third, after about an hour (which gives Peter time to think about his first two denials), Peter denies being with Him for the third time. This time, the accuser brought up the fact that Peter was a Galilean (verse 59). The mention of Peter's Galilean origins recalls Peter's first encounter with Jesus on the shore of the sea of Galilee. This was a significant event in Peter's life. This is where Peter left everything to follow Jesus, where he received his name Peter, and his participation with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry in Galilee. Everything central to Peter's new identity in Christ since he started following Jesus was wrapped up in that third denial. Thankfully, that's not the end of the story for Peter.
In John chapter 21, Jesus restores Peter back into ministry. In fact, Jesus follows up restoring Peter by also telling Peter how he is going to die. Peter was a changed man. The same Peter who denied Christ three times is the same Peter who boldly preaches Christ in the second book of Luke which is Acts. Jesus met Peter and ministered to him after he had experienced what I believe was one of, if not, the lowest point in his life. I can attest to the fact that God will often minister to us at our worst and use that to embolden us not in our own strength, but in His. All of a sudden nothing else matters but how great Jesus is and it changes you completely. That is how amazing God's grace is. When Peter not only denied being with Jesus but also denied fellowship with the other disciples as well as any association with everything central to his identity in Christ, Jesus was right there ready to restore and prepare Peter for the works of ministry He had prepared for him. That is grace!
Consider your own life. Consider how God has shown Himself faithful in the midst of your failure. It is all by the grace of God that we are even alive let alone being used by Him for His purposes. Tomorrow we will be at the foot of the cross as our Lord and Savior sheds His blood for us. See you there,
Luke 23 - to be read December 23rd:
Today we are reading Luke chapter 23 where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is crucified on the cross at Calvary shedding His blood for our sins. Paul reminds us that Jesus going to the cross was an act of obedience, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). It is important to remember, at least for me, that Jesus' life was not taken from Him when He went to the cross. Jesus laid down His life on His own accord. John 10:17-18 says, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." Jesus gave up His life, it wasn't taken from Him.
The first accusations are simply false and set the tone for the trial of Jesus. They accuse Jesus of subverting the nation and refusing to pay taxes to Caesar. If you've been reading Luke with us recently you might recall what we read a few days ago in chapter 20. Jesus said, "...Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Luke 20:25). This accusation is a completely false one with absolutely no evidence. The next accusation, however, is an interesting one. They accuse Him of being the King of the Jews. Jesus simply replies, "It is as you say" or "You have said so" as some translations have it. Jesus' answer to this question is similar in all four gospels. In fact, in John 18:37, Jesus replies to Pilate's statement, "You are a king, then!" with "You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me." Jesus wasn't put to death for being an insurrectionist or some sort of rebel against Rome. Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty of that and even skipped over those accusations and went straight to asking Jesus if He was indeed the King of the Jews. Jesus was sentenced to death as an innocent Man, in whom no fault was found. Luke goes to great extent to ensure his readers know Jesus is innocent. As far as Rome was concerned, Jesus was crucified on political grounds for acknowledging being King of the Jews and Pilate gave in to their cries. But there was far more going on than simply Rome exercising capital punishment on a Man just because He made claims that were unwelcomed by the chief priests.
Fulfillment of prophecy was going on. Jesus dying between two criminals fulfilled Isaiah 53:12. His garments were divided by lot which is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. He was mocked, which is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:7. Most importantly, Jesus' death provided our salvation. One criminal told Jesus to save Himself. He said, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" The truth of the matter is, if Jesus saved Himself and came off the cross you and I would be in serious trouble when we move into eternity. But the other criminal said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus told this criminal that he would be in Paradise with Him that day. The reality check is that the criminal that was saved was only able to be saved because Jesus didn't save Himself. Jesus was obedient to death for the salvation of you and I. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.
Luke 24 - to be read December 24th:
Today we are finishing the Gospel of Luke and reading chapter 24. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." Praise God chapter 23 was not the end of the story. Christ is risen from the grave and ascended into heaven!
When the women came to the tomb early Sunday morning they met two angels who asked them the question, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee." Then the angels immediately quote Jesus' prophetic words, "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." If you've been reading Luke with us those words might sound familiar. The following passages are all wrapped up in their words to the women: Luke 9:22, Luke 9:44, and Luke 18:32-33. Jesus spoke plainly about what would happen to Him and yet they were still perplexed by the thought that He wasn't in that tomb. For the angels this was obvious! Christ said He would die and rise again so why seek the living among the dead! Amen to that.
This chapter also contains my personal motivating verse for ministry. Luke 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." The Old Testament points forward to Jesus and the New Testament points back (and forward in Revelation) to Jesus. It is all about Jesus. And the Scriptures we study are how we learn more about Him. Towards the end of the chapter Luke reiterates and shares Jesus' words again, "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled'" (verse 44). Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom. also He made the world." God spoke to us in the Old Testament, and He spoke to us through the person of Jesus Christ. Sometimes you hear people say God doesn't speak to them. Perhaps they seek an audible voice of some kind but to say God doesn't speak is in error. He has spoken! It is written in His Word for us.
After sharing His Word with those disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus broke bread with them. The result? Their eyes were opened! Their hearts burned within them as He opened up the Scriptures to them. It is so important that we are in His Word and that we fellowship and commune with the Lord. The first century disciples set the example for us. In Acts 2:42 we read, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." What exactly is the apostle's teaching? Peter shared from the prophet Joel and Psalms, Stephen masterfully summarized Old Testament Scriptures before he was martyred, Philip explained Isaiah, and Paul said in Acts 20:27 that he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. Acts 6:7 tells us, "The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith." That'll make disciples! Just spread the word of God with those around you!
I encourage you this Christmas to be in the word of God daily, to break bread and commune with the Lord, to fellowship with other believers, and to pray. Merry Christmas!