Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How we look at people

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. (Luke 7:1-3 ESV)
As Luke sets the stage for this next event, the focus is on thes centurion. Stereotyped as cruel, cold and heartless, this one breaks all the rules. He cares about his servant. He is humble - asking and not demanding. He is willing to depend on others. Why not go himself to ask? Maybe he was even helping to care for his servant, as well as another reason we will see later. Do we care about people? Are we demanding or interceding? Do the multitide of our prayers go for others or ourselves?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lots of listening going on...

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49 ESV)
Never in history have we been able to listen so much - radio, tv, web, ebooks, and never have their been so many collapsed lives. Why? We listen and listen and listen, and do no obey. It really is like building a house - one block of obedience at a time to build a strong foundation for a life characterized by obedience. How many of us, how often, should be listening to hear the question that begins this passage?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another point for self-examination...

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.(Luke 6:43-45 ESV)
Leaving no room to squirm away, Jesus turns from addressing our judgmental spirit and lack of forgiveness to looking at our speech. If we were to catch our words, even for a day, what would we be holding? What comes out at others? Does it resemble the character of God?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

As we go to church...

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, 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.(Luke 6:39-42 ESV)
We need to see ourselves as blind, unable to see, or hear the truth, until the Master cleans out our eyes. We will know that has happened today when God's truth makes us think about ourselves, not someone else.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Giving Forgiveness

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”(Luke 6:37-38 ESV)
We would rather judge and condemn than pardon. Like everything else Jesus is saying in this chapter, we are to act and react contrary to our sinful nature. We want to make others look bad so we look good. How do we show we have moved from judgment and condemnation to forgiveness? When we give.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Best Reward...

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.(Luke 6:32-36 ESV)
A reward is something you get back for something you do... or... for someone you are. Even as followers of Christ we can sometimes fall into doing good for what we will get back - thinking that if we do good now, God will pay us off later. What is the big payoff we are to seek? Being like our Father in heaven, who is merciful and loving.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Be non-natural...

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6:27-31 ESV)
The natural response we have to attack by others is revenge. This is not the way of Christ. On our own, we can react in no other way. In Him we can respond in His love, mercy and grace. It is a radical change indeed - not natural, but supernatural, from above, and not from ourselves. May He work His changing ways within us today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Flip side...

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.(Luke 6:24-26 ESV)
We all love blessing, but Jesus goes right into the flip side. Of course we understand that He is not talking about those rich people, but all of us who trust in our stuff, all of us who are sufficiently stuffed in a starving world, all of us so committed to the pursuit of our own happiness that we are oblivious to those around us; all of more concerned about popularity over principle. Reality check!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Short version...

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.(Luke 6:20-23 ESV)
Luke gives us here in the "sermon on the plain" the shorter version of "the sermon on the mount," including the Beatitudes. He did this here by way of contrast - it is an either or choice - the old way of the Pharisees, or the new way of Christ. Trusting in Self or trusting in the Savior; reacting against His call or responding to it. May we choose wisely.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hearing the Healer...

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.(Luke 6:17-19 ESV)
Jesus has just chosen his 12 apostles, the closest of His disciples, and there is a great crowd of disciples following Him, and then an even bigger circle around them who have come from all over Israel to see Him. How close would you be? Luke puts the emphasis where he has all along - they came to hear Him first, then to be healed. They longed to touch Him. May we want to be that close...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sidenote on spirituality 3....

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV)
Some believers never seem to grow up. They know the basics of the faith; they have the Holy Spirit within, but they refuse to grow, and it shows. This, indeed is the preacher's saddest remorse - to see someone with great spiritual potential not feed the Spirit with the Word of God and grow, choosing to remain immature, self-centered and complacent in the faith. This is not God's will for us in Christ Jesus. May we be truly spiritual followers of Christ.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sidenote on Spirituality 2...

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)
Why don't they get it? Do you find yourself asking that question a lot? Why don't people see the truth and get the picture about why they, and the world around us is such a mess? Because they cannot see; they do not have the spiritual eyes; they do not have the mind of Christ. So where does that leave us? Making sure we act like upon what we know - what they can see is us - Christ in us, as we act with the mind of Christ. Then, as we share the truth, and the Spirit works with what they can see and do hear, He can change their hearts and lives. We have the responsibility, because we have the mind of Christ.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sidenote on Spirituality 1

...these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13 ESV)
Do we know the mind of God? At first that may sound like a presumptuous question, but Paul indicates we can... and should. As those who have received the Spirit of God at salvation, we can, and should know the Mind of God by the Spirit of God, as we study His Word given to us with the interpretive help of the Spirit. Are we spiritual? Not only should we not be afraid to be, we should long to be so.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Emotions too...

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6 ESV)
No, I am not repeating myself. As we compare Mark's account to what we have seen in Luke, we get a better sense of the emotional intensity Jesus showed on this occasion. His words indicate that He saw the Pharisees inaction not merely as a "sin of omission", but as killing. And He was Angry, and grieved over their hard-hearted self-righteousness - angry that they had no compassion; grieved that they were so arrogantly stuck on being right that they could not see Him as the truth, or the truth about themselves. How would Jesus respond to my heart, my motives, my words, today?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Doing good? or doing nothing???

And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.(Luke 6:9-11 ESV)
Jesus is now ready to respond to the criticism of the Pharisees for how He conducts business. But before He does anything, He asks one of those piercing questions to jerk our nerves: Is the Sabbath for doing nothing, or for doing good? Which shows more appreciation to our Savior and Creator? The Pharisees were content with doing nothing, rather than take a chance on doing the wrogn thing - which in the end is doing evil, because it shows no appreciation to God or compassion for the man. Jesus has now shown His character is good, and much better than theirs, and none of us can stand that. We want to look good, by doing nothing. It just doesn't work that way.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How do you view those in need?

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there.(Luke 6:6-8 ESV)
To the self-righteous Pharisees, this man was something to use - a test case, an object, a trap. Jesus knew that, as Luke has shown us, He knows it all - our thoughts and motives. So, as he stood this man before the crowd, He was asking them all (and us all), as well as the Pharisees, "How do you see this man?" As a test case? A Project? A Problem? Or as someone worthy of the compassion of God and His people? How do you?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let the facts get in the way...

And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”(Luke 6:3-5 ESV)
In His response to the party-pooping Pharisees, Jesus used multiple responses. In Mark's gospel, we are also told He made His famous "sabbath for man, not man for sabbath" statement. Here he uses biblical historical example and the ultimate fact: as Lord of the Sabbath He could do whatever He wanted. But He was not breaking His own rules. The Sabbath is not just a do nothing day - it is a day to celebrate and give thanks for all God has created and provided, even, and maybe even especially, in unorthodox ways, Don't look for inconsistency in what God does and how He does it; look for creativity. That is what He's like.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Setting ourselves up...

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” (Luke 6:1-2 ESV)
Once again, the Pharisees are trying to set Jesus up, to catch Him in some disobedience to God. Not going to happen. As we'll see tomorrow, He has great answers. We often do the same thing: We question that He knows what He is doing, and if what He is doing is right. Rather than setting Him up, we set ourselves up for some correction we well deserve. Now, if we will only listen and respond to His correcting love...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Too comfy with those old jeans...

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (Luke 5:36-39 ESV)
After twice being criticized for His new friends and enjoying life, Jesus uses back-to-back illustrations to show that maybe His critics needed a new perspective. Has "being religious"
become a boring rut in which you are stuck? Are you focusing on what you cannot do? Or are you living the new life in Christ, full of new-found friends who love Him just like you do?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Fast when you should feast???

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”(Luke 5:33-35 ESV)
Having been party poopers at Levi's, the Pharisees continued with the same attitude. Why did Jesus and His disciples not fast twice a week like they did. Were they less spiritual. Even more of a pointed contrast was the one with John the Baptist and his followers. Compare, compare, compare. Trying to feel superior, and therefore vindicated, while not repenting of their sin. It is so easy for us to fall in the same trap - turning any spiritual discipline - church attendance, devotions, memory verses, or fasting, into a false sense of spiritual superiority, while ignoring the core issues of the heart.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Party Poopers...

And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”(Luke 5:30-32 ESV)
Levi was giving a wonderful party to share with his friends his newfound relationship with Jesus. It was well-attended and going well, when these Pharisees and scribes complained about Jesus' choice of company. They couldn't say they had not been invited, because Jesus had called on them to repent. They were upset because His being there demolished their own view of being right with God. Their self-righteousness was insulted, and they wanted everyone else to be as miserable as they were.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Party Time!!!

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.(Luke 5:27-29 ESV)
How excited are you to know Jesus? Besides giving up a cushy government job to follow Jesus, Levi, aka Matthew, went all out in throwing a big party in his honor. That surfaces some soul-searching: "How well do I follow Jesus? Am I so excitied about my relationship with Him that I want to throw a party to introduce my friends to Him? Do I look at my family and friends with an eye and a heart that says: "I need to tell them about Jesus!" Challenging, indeed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

He's got it all...

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.(Luke 5:21-25 ESV)
Jesus faced questions like this often - questions of authority - Why was He allowed to heal on the sabbath? Why was He allowed to cleanse the temple? Why was He allowed to eat with sinners? Why was He allowed to tell people their sins were forgiven? Why should I listen to what He tells me to do? Because He has all authority - to heal, to forgive to tell us what to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is Jesus listening??? Stay tuned...

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:17-20 ESV)
This is one of those occasions where we look and listen and wonder if Jesus is really paying attention to us. These men obviously brought their friend to be healed, yet Jesus chooses to give him forgiveness. Is He ignoring us? Don't we often feel that way? Yet He is obviously NOT ignoring, not not listening. He sees deeper; He has better plans for us; He knows what we need and when we need it. We need to stay tuned... and see... and hear... the rest of the story.

Friday, February 3, 2012


But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.(Luke 5:15-16 ESV)
As Jesus spoke and people responded, He responded back - by humbly resisting the temptation to bask in the glory of popularity, and withdrawing to the presence of the Father, to stay in tune with His will. What an example for us to follow as we seek to serve Him. We also see the priority of the people - they came first of all to hear, and secondly, to be healed. They knew that what He did was based upon Who He was and what He said. Another example for our own priorities.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Luke 5:12-14 ESV)
When this leper came to Jesus, he came convinced both that Jesus could heal him, and that He would have the heart to. Like with His other healings, Jesus did not make a spectical: He spoke, and it happened. Maybe not so apparent is how He is consistently obedient. Luke began this gospel showing how Christ was obedient to the Father and his earthly parents. Here again, He shows regard for the Old Testament law on being declared clean from leprosy. He is in every way consistent: consistently powerful, compassionate, obedient, and speaking truth and grace to all who will hear and believe.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How fish bring conviction...

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:8-11 ESV)
One would think that Peter might have responded with something like: "You are mighty and powerful, unlike any other," but it goes deeper. Like Isaiah he recognizes he is in the presence of a great One, but also that he himself was needy and had failed to trust in Jesus; he is a sinner. It's more than recognizing the power of God; it is realizing that we were made to trust Him. This step of faith is demonstrated in following Him.