Monday, April 30, 2012

More special people...

 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (Luke 10:1-3 ESV)
Two things stick out in this brief introduction. First, Luke says "the Lord" appointed the 72.  There is a new realization as to who Jesus us, probably directly related to the Transfiguration. Secondly, He tells them to pray AND go, not pray OR go.  We are all called on to go out into our world, and pray for more to go and tell as well.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pretty clear...

 "... But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60 ESV)
Jesus made it pretty clear what He left us here to do...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Foxes, Funerals and Farewells...

 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”(Luke 9:57-62 ESV)
If you're playing Tribond, and these three things come up, what is the common theme? Counting the cost in following Jesus.  There are many distractions and diversions to get us off the path - pleasures we have become too comfortable with, relationships that hold us closer than to Him, fears that run us off the path of faith.   Jesus is not trying to scare us away, but to get us to seriously consider our response when He says: "choose Me." 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Still not listening...

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56 ESV)
One of the many lessons to be learned from this paragraph can only be understood in the flow of things Luke has recorded for us.  Less than a chapter ago, Jesus had taught his disciples how to deal with those who would not receive them.  Dust off their feet and move on.  Yet now, his disciples want to go further than He commanded.  They were obviously frustrated: they had not been able to heal the demon-possessed boy without Jesus around; others could do things they could; now, they can throw their weight around because Jesus was there, and He says "NO."  How prone we are to go beyond what Jesus has told us, to think we understand the "spirit" of what He says, and add our two cents worth. How much we want to prove we are more "special" compared to others, ignoring the fact that He has already shown us how special we are.  Let's really listen to Him.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not so hot...

 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”(Luke 9:49-50 ESV)
In the flow of things here the apostles have been all over the place emotionally. They had the thrill of going out and preaching and healing and seeing Christ's power work through them. They had a front row seat at the Grand Buffet, and then John had the privilege of viewing the transfiguration. But now, he and the others were not able to drive out the demon from a boy, while others were. The disciples are now feeling not so hot - nothing special.  And how else would we feel special, but than to tear someone else down.  Compare, compare, compare.  Instead, Christ calls on us to be comrades in HIS work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

True greatness...

 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”(Luke 9:46-48 ESV)
Jesus is so patient with us.  Rather than yelling at the disciples for their arrogant arguing, He shows them the problem - they are focusing too much on themselves and not on others, like these children who are watching their bickering.  In short, the greatest in HIS kingdom is the one who is most like Him.  There is nothing else to discuss.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Message in the Middle of the Miracle...

 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
 But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
(Luke 9:41-45 ESV)
When Jesus was rebuking them for their lack of faith, He slid in this question: "How long am I to be with you and bear with you?"  The wonder of the miracle overshadowed that question, but He would not let it go unnoticed: "Let it sink in: I won't be her much longer."  There was enough lack of detail to make them want to ask for more, but sadly, they were afraid to.  May we not be afraid to ask. He has much He wants to tell us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Off the mountain...

 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”(Luke 9:37-41 ESV)
The three apostles who witnessed the transfiguration were still in awe coming down from that mountaintop experience.  They must have felt on top of the world spiritually.  But here was one whom they had not been able to heal.  How piercing those words were and are: "but they could not..."  What a challenge to our faith.  What do we fail to do because our picture of Christ is too small?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (Luke 9:32-36 ESV)
During their times with Jesus, they had heard Him teach so many truths over and over again. Often, they would mumble in the background about what He said. Sometimes, they (especially Peter) would erupt with some bold statemet - be it correct or not.  Having just proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, he does not realize the depth of His statement, until He sees it: Christ alone is to be revered and followed. This leaves even Peter speechless.  May we be in such awe of Christ today as we worship Him.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ask the experts...

 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.(Luke 9:28-31 ESV)
Having come to the point of believing Jesus was the Christ, these key three disciples now are given the privilege of seeing the kingdom, and observing this discussion on the "departure", the exodus, the great event in God's plan - the cross.  Moses and Elijah are called in as two experts in the field.  When Moses went up into the mountain and never came down, the people of Israel could go into the promised land.  When Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha led the people into a new era.  Together they represented the Law and the Prophets and the leadership of the Old Testament people of God.  They knew a lot, but they are just there to point to The One.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paradox Resolved...

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ... For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23, 26, 2727 ESV)
Fulfillment through sacrifice? Gain through loss? Yes, that is the bottom line. We will see in the end that losing ourselves in Him brings eternal reward - that we will not be disappointed or ashamed, but rejoicing that we made the best investment decision ever.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The paradox, part 2...

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ... For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23,25 ESV)
Continuing the paradox, Christ asks one of the most resounding questions of human history: What good is it if you have every earthly experience and possession, but lose your soul. This physical world is not all there is, and not the most important there is. There is an unseen kingdom of far greater value; there are relationships far more important that we need to invest our time and passion into. So many of us know this verse from memory. Do we live by it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Paradox, part 1

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)
One of the most interesting things about the Kingdom of God is paradox. Here is one of the core ones: we get real life, abundant and eternal life, when we are willing to live it for Him and not for ourselves. That is living by faith: it's not about me; it's about Him, and I can entrust my life, and my eternity to Him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't tell...

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:21-22 ESV)
Our job as followers of Christ includes telling others all about Him. Yet, on a number of occasions, He pointedly told them to not tell others - yet. Why not? When an answer was given, it was always that His time had not yet come. The elders, scribes and Pharisees were already eager to get rid of Him. But if they knew that His suffering and death would help accomplish what He came to do, would they have assisted Him by demanding for it?

Monday, April 16, 2012

More than a mouthful...

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20 ESV)
In context, this is not a question out of nowhere. These were the opinions floating around when the disciples had gone out on their own - all insufficient of who Christ was. One big event has taken place since - the feeding of the 5000 (and others in the other Gospels). The bottom line is - truth is not determined by public opinion (not even in the good ole USA). The truth is Peter got it right. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, the way, the truth and the life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lovin' the leftovers...

For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:14-17 ESV)
A universal truth: when Christ is there, there is more than enough. Having made the mistake of questioning His instructions(and we all have done the same...) His disciples were able to see right before their eyes the results of following Him - there are always leftovers - more than enough than we need, to provide for us, and to share with others. Let us learn the lesson of the loaves - to trust Him more.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's not what we have... It's Who

Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” (Luke 9:12-13 ESV)
This is a big "AHH" moment for the apostles. In context, they have just returned from a tour of preaching and healing in Jesus' name. They were ready to tell HIM all THEY had done on their trip. But they were stuck on themselves and what THEY did not have. They forgot they had HIM, the One through Whom they had done all those things. It wasn't WHAT they had or who THEY were, but Who He is. We are so prone to the same forgetfulness.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The ministry of interruptions...

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:10-11 ESV)
When the apostles returned from their fast-paced tour of ministry, they were ready to share with Jesus all that happened. To facilitate that, Jesus took them on a retreat. But the crowds had something else in mind. Jesus was not irritated by the interruption. But then again, He lived expecting interruptions - several of His healings and some of His sermons were interrupted by others needing healing. He set His apostles up to see the same thing - when we really care about serving the Lord, and want to reach to others for Him, it is often a ministry of interruptions...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guilt and fear...

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him. (Luke 9:7-9 ESV)
All that was happening... What was that? In context, Jesus' disciples were going around preaching and healing in His name. So, not only was Herod afraid of the possibility of John the Baptist being raised - if it was not him, there were 12 of them running around. His problems had multiplied. He had a guilty conscious because he had had John beheaded, and he was living in fear not only of the consequences, but of his uncertain future. How much of what we do in our relationship with God is motivated by fear and guilt, and not faith?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Go and do...

And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.(Luke 9:6 ESV)
Jesus had called His disciples together and instructed them with His plan, giving them His power and promising His provision. The question is: would they listen? Will we listen? He repeated His plan in fuller form in the Great Commission before He ascended: Go and tell. Do it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When God calls, He provides...

And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:3-5 ESV)
God calls on us to go and tell. That can be scary - first of all, because we wonder how we will be received and how we will be supported. Will we be on our own? He reminds us here that He will provide WHAT we need and WHO we need. How do we know that? He will be there too.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sent Out Prepared

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:1-2 ESV)
The 12 had seen and heard enough to go out on their own. Scary to be sure. How did they know who to heal? Were they ready to face demons like Jesus had just done in the last chapter? He has called us to go out and proclaim the kingdom of God, and He has told us all we need to know to share - who Jesus is and what He has done for me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Only Believe

While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.(Luke 8:49-56 ESV)
Today is the great day - the Resurrection. For each of us it is a watershed day - a day of hope, or a day of hopelessness. Is Jesus the real deal? HE IS RISEN INDEED! He has the power of life. He is life. Like Jairus and the first followers, there is hope for today, tomorrow, and the life to come, because Jesus has the power of resurrection. Do not fear; only believe.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Get real, Jesus!"

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:42-48 ESV)
"You've got to be kidding!" You can almost hear it in Peter's voice- how could anyone know who had touched Jesus? Jesus did. He knows every life touched by Him, including you and me. What He wnats is for us to recognize it, and to share it with others. That is the method He has put in place - for us to reach out to Him, allow Him to change us, and share it with others, so they can be changed by Him too. Will we reach out, receive what He has, and relate that to others?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Never too tired...

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. (Luke 8:40-42 ESV)
Though Jesus was fully human and became tired, He was never too tired to answer a request. He had just returned from dealing with demons, and there was the crowd waiting for Him. Once again the spotlight goes onto one - this man with a dying daughter. We will see that He was willing even to interrupt this journey to minister to someone in need. He is never too busy for you or for me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A whole lot of tellin...

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:34-39 ESV)
Everyone was talking about Jesus - the herdsman, the witnesses at the harbor, the townsfolk - all were talking of the facts, what Jesus had done. Their response? Get out of here. Except this man who had been possessed. When you have truly been delivered from the kingdom of darkness, when you are freed from bondage to sin - you can't help but want to follow Jesus. He knew what he had been delivered from; the others were still stuck in darkness, refusing to accept the way out. They talked about Him, but did not trust Him. Are you just talking, or trusting?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Politely powerful...

Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.(Luke 8:30-33 ESV)
From what we find in the three first gospels, Jesus had commanded the demons to come out of the man, and they in turn drove the man to come bow before Him and beg to come out. We now have a "civil" discussion, if you will between Him and them. Here is power under control. They recognized His ultimate power; do we? They begged Him to be merciful in His power: do we? Or do we complain to Him and whine to try to get our own way? Are we less civil than demons?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spirits coming to the surface...

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) (Luke 8:26-29 ESV)
This passage is very intriguing because it is one of the most detailed about an encounter between Jesus and demons. The power and influence of these demons is unnerving. At first this man had bouts of oppression - "for many a time it had seized him." Men had tried to control demonic activity, but could not. Eventually, they took over his house(body) and drove him out of his own. But when Jesus comes, it is almost like the demons are helplessly drawn to His presence. Total fear is confronted by Christ, and responds with total fear of Him. If Jesus can handle that kind of fear power, imagine what He can do in our lives today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do we want Him to do something or not?

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”(Luke 8:22-25 ESV)
On this occasion, the disciples came to Jesus doubting that He knew or cared about their predicament. Their waking him up and stating their concern was like a prayer. Yet, when He did answer, thier response was to not talk to Him, but to each other, and express their doubts about His person and power. So often we are like that: we run to Him and complain, then when He answers, we stop talking to Him, when we should be praising Him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

As we worship today...

"... hear the word of God and do it.”(Luke 8:21 ESV)
As we hear and study God's Word today, may we come with soft soil - a heart ready to receive whatever God has to say to us, and with a desire to grow and let the Light shine through. To be doers of the word, and not hearers only.