Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At His Word...

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Luke 5:4-7ESV
Sometimes Christ calls on us to do things that just don't make sense. As a seasoned fisherman, Simon must have struggled with how irrational this seemed, and how crazy it would look to his family and friends. After all, everyone was watching him, because Jesus was on board. But Simon chose the wiser course and did what Jesus said; he trusted Him. And he was able to sing: "I;m so glad I learned to trust Him, blessed Jesus..." May we sing that, and live that, today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Out of a boat...

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.(Luke 5:1-3 ESV)
Jesus was one creative Guy - making a pulpit out of a boat. But then again, He was a carpenter, but even more so, He was the Creator of all. He can take dust and make man, a boat and make a pulpit, and a rough fisherman like Peter and use him for His glory, using Him as His servant and spokesman. Think what He can do with you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sticking with the purpose...

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:42-44 ESV)
Temptation, which was intense at the beginning of this chapter has not stopped here at the end. How tempting it must have been for Jesus to settle in and get comfy in Capernaum. After the rejection at Nazareth, this overwhelming approval must have been invigorating. But that was not His purpose, or ours. He was sent to share the good news. So are we. So Jesus pulled himself away, to spend time with the Father, keep His focus, and obey His will . May we do that today.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let it out!

And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.(Luke 4:41 ESV)
This reaction to Christ and His message is recorded on more than one occasion in the Gospels. He doesn't have to do anything - just be there and speak, and the demons react. Usually, it says something like Jesus rebuked the demons, telling them to be silent, "for His time had not yet come." But the man delivered from the demons in Mark 5 was different - Jesus told him to stay and tell his countrymen. The same is true of us - Let others know He is the Son of God.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Touched by Truth...

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.(Luke 4:40 ESV)
As John tells us, when Jesus came, He came "full of grace and truth." He indeed was truth in the flesh. His truth overwhelmed those who heard Him and overcame the demons in His presence. Now, moved with compassion, Truth touched those brought to Him. His grace overflowed with compassion as the poor, the captive, the oppressed came to Him. The same is true today: if we will only come and let Him touch us.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prayer 101

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.(Luke 4:38-39 ESV)
These people had just witnessed Jesus, the One who wows with words, speak and drive a demon out from someone they knew. They automatically apply what they knew to be true to a concern heavy on their hearts: Ask... Appeal... Request... Pray. Do we transfer what we learn about God in worship to every day life?
Secondly, it doesn't take some wow actions - simply His word. Do we look at life's challenges, then to His Wordsfor power and solutions?
Thirdly, when He answers, what does that move us to do? Focus on ourselves, or serve others?
Two short verses; lots of applications and challenges.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Amazing authority...

35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out (NASB)
In context, the word that sticks out is authority. Before this, it was the authority of His words that caught their hearts and minds. It is the same authority here - what He says, what He commands; His deeds confirm His words. We just need to make sure we always come back to what He says, and trust and obey them. If the demons obey... what does that mean for us?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In church???

And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Luke 4:33-34 ESV)
What immediately sticks out is that this man was "in the synagogue." He was in the worship service - not out wandering in the wilderness, when God's conviction comes. But isn't that the way it should be? God's people celebrating His presence, and those without it convicted?
The second thing that causes us to contemplate is how clearly those in the unseen realm see and confess to who Jesus is - something that did not come out at at the synagogue in Nazareth, where he had been right under their noses for 30 years, immediately surfaces here. What are we missing, which God has put right before our eyes?

Monday, January 23, 2012

How do we view God's Word?

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.(Luke 4:31-32 ESV)
Like at Nazareth, the people at Capernaum were astonished at Jesus' teaching, and joined in the general concensus that it was like no other. But in contast to the former group, those in Capernaum saw that His word possessed authority. They really trusted and received it, unlike those in His hometown who resisted it so strongly. As we will see, it makes a world of difference in our lives how we view His Word. Do we give it the right (and therefore Him the right) to tell us how to live?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

He's in control.

But passing through their midst, he went away. (Luke 4:30 ESV)

Jesus had chosen to come home to Nazareth, to attend the Sabbath service at the synagogue, to stand up and share from God's work, and to speak the truth. The response of the crowd was all over the place - from agreement, to wonder, to doubt, and ultimately, out-of-control anger. Through it all, Jesus remained in control, so when they arrive at the edge of the cliff, they are empty-handed, empty-headed, and hard-hearted. Even when we get out of control, He is still in control. There is no better Solid Rock.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kill the messenger...

And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (Luke 4:29-30 ESV)
Kill the messenger was one of the favorite sports of these people; they had done so repeatedly with the prophets, and now they were doing it with the son of God. Like us, they like the wow of great teaching and the wonders of miracles - just don't apply conviction too close to my heart. This was more than "just go away;" this was "go away and never come back." A closed door. May we listen as He speaks, especially when we don't like what He has to say.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why the wrath?

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. (Luke 4:24-28 ESV)

Everyone has thought the words of Jesus are wonderful, until now. These "sore Spots" in Israel's history have been picked upon. God had chosen to bless someone else instead of us. Why ? Because we would not listen to our own prophets, our hometown boys. They were doing it again. How often do we presume that God owes us, and when someone else, one of "them" gets a blessing, we take offense? Why the wrath? Our own self-righteous pride and refusal to listen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

But can He do it???

And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”(Luke 4:22-23 ESV)

Jesus has just announced that He is the long-awaited Messiah who has come to deliver the poor, the captive, the oppressed. He had a great reputation - "everyone spoke well of Him", and He amazed people with His teaching, BUT people's words revealed their doubt and lack of faith - "Is this not Joseph's son?" Is He not JUST a carpenter-in-training? He can handle wood, but can He handle hearts? Can He handle sin? Can He handle OUR problems? They wanted more than words. He knew their hearts; they wanted a sign. But people who have to have a sign are not satisfied with that. Seeing is not believing. Can you believe in Him for Who He is and what He says?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Everything you ever needed...

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”(Luke 4:20-21 ESV)

As Jesus spoke to His neighbors in his own town, in less than ten words he said something most amazing - we can be free, whole, and filled, in Him. He is everything we ever hoped for and needed. Here he was, under their noses for thirty years, and now sitting before them, ready to answer any question or meet any need. How will they respond? How will we respond?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We can all use some of this...

“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)

As Jesus stood and read these words in the synagogue, there is something for everyone. Who is not poor in some sense of the word. That covers us all. For those of us who need further explanation, He goes into detail - captives... blind... oppressed - those who feel helpless, like a victim. That truly is what we are when it comes to sin on our own. We cannot deal with it. Just as we needed Christ to face temptation in our place (vss. 1-13), we needed Him to battle sin itself for us - to free us, restore us, to impart to us God's favor and blessing. Christ does it all. It begins when we admit we are the poor, blind captives who need Him as deliverer, and it continues on day to day trusting in Him, not ourselves, to have victory over sin.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Home can be the hardest sell

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.(Luke 4:16 ESV)

Keeping in mind that everything Christ did, He did in our place, this event is significant. Having won the long drawn out temptation battle with Satan, and then winning over the crowds in Galilee, Jesus comes to His home town of Nazareth, where, as we'll see, the crowd was much less accomodating, and the applause much more subdued. Knowing that things would be this way, Jesus still did it. He acted consistently. He obeyed the Law and kept the Sabbath. He humbly worshipped the Father, though He Himself was worthy of worship. He kept turning to the Word of God, not just in the face of temptation, but for direction, even thought He Himself was The Word. And He came home, often the hardest place to convince people that God has called us to do something. He was not afraid to do these things, because He was sure - even after the lows of temptation, and the highs of approving crowds, where He stood with God the Father.
Since He did it, we can too. We can and should "go home" and tell people about our relationship with God. We are called to tell them what God is doing in our lives, and let Him handle the response. We need to be at home everything we seek to be in public. We need to be more like Jesus: consistent, humble, and unafraid of rejection by men.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taking Notes...

And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51 ESV)
I'm sure at the time Nathaniel thought "Huh? What do you mean?" And over the course of the next few years, this may have faded in his memory. But the Apostles did get to see this great affirmation that this Jesus is the Son come down, that His words were confirmed, and the offer of salvation He gave was very real, and very needed, even for one "in whom there is no deceit!”(John 1:47 ESV) May we tuck away the special messages God sends our way, writing them down and taking note, so that later on we can look back and say: "Oh, yeah, God told me that."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SomeOne is watching us...

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”(John 1:47-48 ESV)

This is yet another of the great questions asked in this chapter: "How do you know me?" The answers to that question are many: because He made us, because He has known us since we were in the womb, because He is the eternal, omniscient, omnipresent one, etc. But those kind of thoughts are often too lofty for us. He sees and knows us right now, where we are. And He knows what we need to know about Him, and is ready and waiting to reveal it to us, as He did here: Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”(John 1:49 ESV) And once we hear from Him, we cannot stop listening! Jesus goes on: “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”(John 1:50 ESV) Let's keep listening, knowing He's watching!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Questions are good...

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”(John 1:43-46 ESV)

In this series of scenes in John 1, there have been a lot of questions: "Who are you?... Why are you baptizing?... What do you seek?... Where are you staying?" Even this one, very possibly asked with a hint of sarcasm, is this: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" After all, the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem. The answer is always similar: "Come." Come and see, come, follow me." The open invitation, still available for us today, to come to Christ and see.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"I know you... Do you know me?"

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). (John 1:40-42 ESV)

So many thoughts (and songs) come to mind in this little paragraph. Like the song that says repeatedly "But You love me anyway..." Christ knows who we are, and who we are going to be, and He loves us still. No wonder Peter stuck so close to His side (well, MOST of the time.)

The second song that comes back is Love Song's "Two Hands", with a similar tag line: "With one hand reach out to Jesus, and with the other... bring a friend." What a natural, and supernatural, response to being introduced to Christ - introduce Him to someone else.

Two songs to take me through the day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What are you seeking?

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. (John 1:38-39 ESV)

After these two disicples left John the Baptist to follow Jesus, he asks them this question. At first glance, it may seem like a very dumb answer: "Where are you staying?" We would expect them to say "eternal life" or "forgiveness" or "truth" or "The Messiah" - something much more "spiritual" than Jesus' housing arrangements. But as things unfold, they stick with Him, and it becomes evident they are saying "We want to be with you, where you are, to hear you speak and see you live." In return for responding to Jesus' call to follow and see, they will receive the answers to all these other issues, but first, they, and we, must be willing to be with Him."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Five words Foster Following

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.(John 1:35-37 ESV)

With five simple words, John looses two faithful followers to Jesus. That's the way it was to be. John had faithfully fulfilled His calling as forerunner so that without hesitation these two gravitated toward the Messiah. This was not a short-lived change in direction. They spent the day, then the night, which turned into a few years, and ultimately a lifetime following Jesus.

Praise God for those who have lead us to truth to follow Him. And what a challenge to us: to share enough truth with others so they come to recognize Christ as Savior, then follow Him one day at a time, for a lifetime, and an eternity.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who are you???

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”(John 1:19-20 ESV)

While Luke and Matthew go from the baptism of Jesus to the Temptation, then on to Nazareth, John chooses to focus on a different series of events, beginning with the Jewish leaders who came out to check on John the Baptist. He includes many of the same baptism details as the other Gospel writers , but points out this specific audience for what John said:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’(John 1:29-30 ESV)

Notice that John points back to his answer given the day before to the Jewish leaders. They were still there. In between, John had baptized Jesus and seen the Spirit descend upon Him. He is now able to tell them: And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”(John 1:34 ESV)

What a bonus for those who came asking - they got more than they asked for. God often offers the same to us - more than we asked for, IF we are willing to stay awhile longer and listen.

From what we see later in this Gospel, those who came seeking did not do what they should have with the answers they received. May we be willing to receive what God tells us, and even a little bit more than we asked for.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One worth .listening to...

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.(Luke 4:14-15 ESV)

At the conclusion of forty days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus began His ministry. He had no gimmicks, and to this point there are no recorded miracles. He taught, and people listened. He knew what He was talking about. Why? The Spirit was upon Him, and he had faced temptation and won. If we want people to listen to us, the same should be true of us. And we need to keep listening to Him.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Victorious Christ

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.(Luke 4:13 ESV)

At first glace, one might ask: "Who is in charge here?" Has Satan thrown Jesus around like a wet noodle and decided to back off for awhile? Again, comparison and context say otherwise:

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.(Matthew 4:10-11 ESV)

Jesus was in full control of this tempation wrestling match. And he was not alone. He is the victor. The context in both Gospels tells us Jesus then proceeds to a very productive ministry. Once again- how much we need Christ and His ability for victory over every temptation.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Temptation - Round 3

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Luke 4:9-13 ESV)
Satan is one sly guy. He makes sin look so right. Here is the opportunity for Jesus to quickly present to the crowds and religious leader that He is the long-awaited Messiah. Isn't that the reason He came? The problem: It's not the Father's way to get to that goal, and that is not the whole goal. Again, the context of Jesus' quoatation is important: God wants us to TRUST and OBEY Him, NOT TEST Him, to really believe and respond to life as if He is our loving Father who really knows what is best for us and really cares what happens to us. Do we believe that?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Temptation - Round 2

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”(Luke 4:5-8 ESV)
The obvious temptation here is for power and glory - to make sure Jesus gets the prestige He deserves. But Jesus' quotation of Deuteronomy 6 takes us even futher to the core of the issue:
then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—(Deuteronomy 6:12-14 ESV)
Satan wanted Jesus (and wants us), to detract from the worship of God by serving other "gods". For Satan, it was arrogant self-worship, and for us, it often ends up being the same. He wants us to do what he did - demand more than we deserve. So often we fall for this one.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Temptation - Round 1

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”(Luke 4:3-4 ESV)

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4:3-4 ESV)

As we look at this passage, like any, it's always good to look at any parallel passages and compare details, as well as look at the context of those passages. Matthew has a little more detail, including a longer quote from the Deuteronomy passage. Satan was trying to get Jesus to doubt what His Father had said - just like he did with Adam and Eve in the garden, and does with us. When we do so, disobedience, the core issue in Deuteronomy 8, is not far behind. Let us be aware of how Satan works, and ready with God's Word to withstand him.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Taking on Temptation...

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry... And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:1-2,13 ESV)
So often we look at this passage and it looks so easy - the Son of God taking on temptation by Satan and defeating it with three easy blows. Not so fast. First, HE was tempted during the 40 days, not just after it. Secondly, Satan would come back for more (at some "opportune time"). And thirdly, maybe even more, He did it for us all. Whatever the Incarnate Christ did, He did it as Substitute, in our place, on our behalf, the one for the many. Since He did that for me, I better take more seriously how I take on temptation, and call on Him for help.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pleasing God...

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22 ESV)
Luke tells us a lot about Who Jesus was, why He came, and How I should respond. Jesus Christ was God the Son, who came to live a life of obedience to His Father. Everything He did, He did for those of us who would follow Him by faith, including His baptism. He had no need of repentance, symbolized by baptism; his baptism identified Him with us, as our substitute. As His followers our goal should be the same as His - to please the Father - to live life for Him - by faith, in His service.