Friday, August 31, 2012

Not a conversation

 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ (Luke 18:10-12 ESV)
This statement by the Pharisee is not true prayer. He stands away, drawing attention to himself, and shows how stuck up he is by being stuck on all he does.  He "thanks" God for what he himself has done, and makes himself feel good by comparing to others.  He never asks for God's perspective, provision, protection, or guidance.  He is really talking to Himself.  Who are you talking to today?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are we they?

 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:(Luke 18:9 ESV)
Luke's transition to this next parable is interesting. Notice he does not say Jesus addressed the Pharisees, which he often did.  He does not want to leave out any of us who are not technically "Pharisees", but to whom this may apply.  Do I trust in myself, and therefore not pray continually?  Do I treat others as "less" spiritually, and pray as if they are the problem, not me?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why to pray...

 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”(Luke 18:6-8 ESV)
Why take the time to pray to God?  Simply because He is God.  It is His character. Not only will he answer and give justice like the urighteous judge, He will do it because He is listening for his children to call out to Him; He gives good things to us: He is just and loving and merciful. If we truly believe all those things about Him, we will pray.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Keep knocking...

 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” (Luke 18:2-5 ESV)
In the picture Jesus uses here, this woman keeps knocking at the judge's door over and over again, asking for justice.  She has a just cause; she is going through the right channels; she just isn't getting any action; she is doing the right thing.  That's what we need to do; keep knocking on the door, pleading our case before God.  This unjust judge finally gives in, lest she knock the door down, and literally, "give him a black eye" or knock him upside his head.  Much of Jewish thinking of the time was to pray no more than three times a day; Jesus challenges that mindset. God wants to be bothered.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not losing heart...

 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.(Luke 18:1 ESV)
This statement follows on the heels of some hard words Jesus had spoken about those who would be unprepared for His coming because they refused to hear God's words of warning.  But rather than be discouraged, we must keep on praying, keep on calling out to the God Who hears and cares. We must not give into the same "of-this-world thinking" that keeps them from seeing the eternal, and cling to the promise Paul did:  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Look for vultures...

 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37 ESV)
Jesus has just described the great separation - the taking away of people who refuse to enter His kingdom, who reject Him.  The disciples now ask Him where they go.  As He often does He uses a graphic picture to describe Death. It's where the corpses are; you will see the vultures flying around there.  That is where a rejection of the King, a refusal to enter the kingdom will get you - Death.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17:33-35 ESV)
There Jesus goes again, telling His disciples, and us "I tell you."  Listen up. When judgment comes, it will be no respecter of persons; it will divide through beds, workplaces and wherever you may be.  The dividing line is in the preceeding statement: Are you looking out only for yourself, what you want, or, are you giving your life over to Him?  Who are you living for?

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Turning Back...

 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife.(Luke 17:31-32 ESV)
What will you be remembered for?  In the case of Lot's wife, turning back.  She was on the brink of being delivered from destruction when the things of this world lured her back. She was this close, and lost it.  Being ready for His coming means leaving it all behind, for Him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just like that...

 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30 ESV)
As Jesus tells them what it will be like, "just like that" describes it well. First, It will be just like it was in the days of Noah and Lot, when God judged wickedness before.  But notice Jesus does not even mention their evil deeds (partially because everyone knew...), but instead it was that they were going about life as normal, ignoring God.  That was their greatest sin - living as if God did not exist.  Secondly, judgment came and will come "just like that" - suddenly, without warning, fire and rain - leaving those who ignored God unprepared.  Don't be the same.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lightning or darkness???

 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.(Luke 17:24-25 ESV)
Some of the vivid lightning storms we have had lately bring this passage to life. Everywhere we looked we could see lightning in the sky - far more reaching than any fireworks display. So will the coming of the Son of Man be- everyone will see it and know He has come.  When He first came, as John put it, "we have seen His glory" - He shone brightly, yet many rejected the Light; they prefered the darkness to the Light.  Lightning does two things: It brightens up the sky, but it also warns of the storm to come.  The coming of the Son will either be a welcome light or a scary sight, depending on whether we have received or rejected Him. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Every new thing...

 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.(Luke 17:22-23 ESV)
Some things never change, like those who are constantly looking for the next new thing.  In the pursuit to see what God is doing, they miss Him.  God does not want us running around to California or Florida or to some distant place looking for what we are missing. He wants us to look to Him and His Word.  He is here and has something to say, and simply wants us to trust and obey.  Follow Him.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Look here... not there...

 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21 ESV)
We are fixated on the external, the visible, the now.  We obsess with it so much that we cannot see what is happening within us and the lives of others.  Even our "religious practice" can become so external (and Pharisee-like) that we ignore the rule and reign of Christ in our lives.  He has come to change us from the inside out. May He reign.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Go with confidence...

 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”  (Luke 17:19 ESV)
To this one out of ten who returned to praise and thank Him, Jesus gave the assurance that all was well - not only had he been healed physically, which was obvious, but spiritually.  This Samaritan was welcomed in the family of faith, the Kingdom of God.  All was well. He could go in confidence that He could stand clean before God and man, cleansed and forgiven.  Christ offers us all that confidence through faith in Him.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

obedient, but not thankful...

 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”(Luke 17:17-18 ESV)
These verses rush my mind to Romans 1 and 2, where in evaluating the world, God sees our disobedience, and our ingratitude.  Here all ten obey Christ's command to go tot he priest, but only one turns back to give praise and thanks to God, revealing the depths of his heart.  He wants and deserves not only outward obedience, but sincere thanks and praise.  Are we just "doing the right thing", or lovingly serving and submitting to Him?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Redefining who we are..

and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
(Luke 17:16 ESV)
Luke has brought us far in his Gospel: When we see this short statement that the only one who stopped and turned back to thank and worship Jesus was a Samaritan, it's an expected surprise. Of course, he is!  Jesus has redefined how we view Samaritans; the stigma is gone; we are no better than they, in fact, they often act better than we do.  Jesus can do the same with the sin and stigma that defines our lives too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is this disobedience???

 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.(Luke 17:15-16 ESV)
When the one leper realized he had been healed, he returned to worship and thank Jesus.  The others kept on going.  Is this one disobeying what Jesus had told Him to do? No, as we will see He later on continues what he was doing (going to the priest).  Like the one who is giving his offerning and realizes he is not right with his brother, He is to leave that act and go do something more pressing, more important - give thanks.  How often we put that on the back burner and hope to get back to it. Jesus is on the move. By the time they would get back to town He would be gone, and the opportunity to express thanks gone as well.  Let us never miss the opportunity to praise, worship and thank Him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quick response...

 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.(Luke 17:14 ESV)
As soon as Jesus saw the 10 lepers, he responded; he acted.  Then, as soon as He spoke, they responded - they acted in obedience to His instructions, and the Old Testament Law.  And they were healed. They did not ask questions or make excuses or check to see if they were clean; they went.  What would they have missed out on if they had not gone immediately?  How much do we miss out on because we do not immediately respond and obey when the Lord speaks to us?  Do we miss out because we hang around and do nothing?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Contrast in compassion...

 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 
(Luke 17:11-13 ESV)
As these lepers call out to Jesus, they demonstrate a few things: They knew His name - they had heard of Him; they knew He had authority - not only as a teacher, but as a worker of wonders; and they knew He was compassionate - He was characterized as merciful.  What a sharp contrast this is to the rich man in chapter 16, and the Pharisees he represented.  They were teachers; they had a certain amount of authority, but they had no compassion.  As Christians, we can know a lot - enough to teach others; we can "rise in the ranks" of church leadership; but do we have the compassion of Christ to tie it together?

Monday, August 13, 2012

They are everywhere...

 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance (Luke 17:11-12 ESV)
As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, He had moved off the route through Samaria, the land of rejects, and was taking the road more traveled.  But even there, he was confronted with more of the outcasts of society - lepers.  There is just no escaping needy people. They are everywhere, if WE are just willing to open our eyes and see them.  We are not to be like the rich man who had Lazarus on his doorstep, but was totally oblivious to him and his needs.  Who will we trip over today, right under our noses, whom God has placed there to get our attention, yet we go on as if they did not exist?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Humble service - nothing more... nothing less...

 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10 ESV)
Christ calls us to follow Him.  To give up everything to follow Him.  And when we do, we are not to be applauded or demand our "payment."  We will receive eternal blessings.  We will experience what we were created for.  Nothing else will matter than the pleased look on His face, in His presence.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Need for a standing ovation...

 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? (Luke 17:9 ESV)
The implied answer here is an obvious "no". The motive of the servant is to be to please His master, not have constant affirmation.  As we follow Christ, "live for the Lord," seek and obey His will for our lives, we will find purpose, meaning and fulfillment.  We will not always be able to hear approving words from Him or anyone else, and that is where we often seek it - someone else to tell us how great a job we are doing serving the Lord. The true, humble servant makes it his/her job to know the Master's will and finds his/her true satisfaction knowing the Master well enough that what they are doing is the right thing and it's pleasing to Him.  No need for a standing ovation.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What kind of waiter are you?

 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? (Luke 17:8 ESV)
As Jesus further elaborates on what servants do and do not do, we find things to take not of: Are we doing what we are supposed to be doing? Preparing to for Him, waiting on Him? Secondly, Are we dressed properly to serve Him?  Obviously Jesus isn't talking three piece suits or dresses below the knees, but, as Paul puts it: Are we clothed in Christ? Do people look at us and see a servant of Jesus? Finally, Are we attending to His will? Are we in His presence listening to what He wants, responding to His will?  Are we putting Him before ourselves?  What kind of waiter are you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012


 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? (Luke 17:7 ESV)
My initial response is "Who has a servant?"  But many of Jesus' hearers would be familiar with the picture from one side or the other.  They knew a servant is supposed to serve - that it is a position in life in which one should not expect role-reversal.  Somehow in our society, we are always looking for others to serve us: going out to a restaurant to have someone else wait on us; getting someone to change the oil in our car, and so forth.  Are we forgetting what it means to be a servant?  Do we feel that we deserve to have someone else serve the Lord for us?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Plant a seed, uproot a tree.

 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.(Luke 17:5-6 ESV)
Having been told how forgiving they need to be as His followers, the twelve come to Jesus and ask for more faith - to be able to trust Him enough to forgive others and know they won't get burned.  But it's not like going to the gas station for a fill-up or put in a few gallons.  When faith is there, it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God.  It's not that we need "more faith," but that we need to know more intimately the One in Whom we put our faith.  As the old saying goes, we dont' need great faith in God; we need faith in our great God. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Focus on yourself... and forgive...

 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”(Luke 17:3-4 ESV)
Jesus is still talking to us about making sure WE are not the ones to cause others to stumble spiritually. We need to have such a servant's heart, and a forgiving heart, that we pursue repentance.  It is such a frame of mind we ahve that we see it as a "must" and such a burden of heart, that we want to see others in a state of forgiveness.  But it begins by focusing on ourselves, and our actions and reactions, not looking to find sin in others.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Check your neck...

 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2 ESV)
Jesus is going back and forth with His statements between the disciples and the Pharisees.  He has just given the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as a response to the Pharisees' self-justification.  He now turns back to His disciples and warns them about the responsibilities of influence. Jesus was not just upset with the Pharisees' rejection of the Kingdom; He was even more upset with the way they influenced others to reject it.  Because of their facade of righteousness, others could not see what real faith was like.  They were like light-darkening shades on a window.  In what ways do I keep the light from shining through? Am I, like the Pharisees, by any form of self-righteousness, by any pursuit of the things of this world above God, or by any complacency with sin, being a temptation for them to sin?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Enough Evidence...

 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”(Luke 16:27-31 ESV)
Jesus had been teaching about the Kingdom of God and demonstrated His absolute authority in every area, yet many refused to believe.  Just as they had refused to believe the prophets.  Things would not change after the resurrection.  Anything that calls for us to change meets resistance.  It's not a matter of evidence; it's a matter of motive.  Do I want to rule and reign my life for my own good pleasure, or will I submit my life to the One who made me, knows me better than I do, and has the perfect plan for my life?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The great divide...

 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’(Luke 16:25-26 ESV)
There is a great divide that separates the child of faith from the child of the world.  Like a great moat around the Kingdom of God, no on outside of it is able to enter it.  We dig that great divide in this life, by refusing to stop worshipping ourselves, and put our faith in Christ.  This rich man had lived life to bring pleasure to himself, and had built a great divide between himself and Lazarus and others in need. He spent his life digging the great divide, rather than a relationship with God and others that is eternal.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Role Reversal...

 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
(Luke 16:19-24 ESV)
What a contrast - two men, one covered with designer clothes, the other covered with sores; one who ate whatever he wanted, having a banquet every day; the other never having enough to eat; the one being oblivious to the other's need; the other imagining what he could never see.  Then it happened: they died. The first could find no satisfaction, no quenching of his thirst, and had to see what he was missing out on; the other was healed, at rest, and satisfied.  You would think by now he would see that he had been oblivious to all those around him in need, but he was not.  He still saw them as less than he, good only to fulfill his own desires.  Are we aware how selfish we are?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Greed in our hearts...

 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:14-18 ESV)
As Jesus confronts us about our self-centered living, our defense mechanisms kick in.  We can try to fool man, but we cannot fool God.  When we look for loopholes in how we use our resources, He doesn't need to look far for all sorts of holes in our lifestyle - other sins we seek to justify. Finances are just a symptom of a deeper cause - our desire to live selfishly, breaking from from God's laws.  As much as we like to beat up on the Pharisees and point fingers at their hypocrisy, that is not Jesus' intent. He wants us to look at our own hearts for greed, selfishness and rebellion, allow Him to come in and clean it up, and to rule and reign as King.  We need to give up self and stuff for the Savior.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Examine your spending habits...

 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:10-13 ESV)
This chapter is full of lessons on handling, or mishandling, money.  How we do so reveals much about who we serve.  A radical commitment to Christ has a dramatic impact on whether we spend or save, squander or share, serve or steward our resouces.  Being a follower of Christ, a Kingdom citizen demands that we stop seeing money as the avenue to success, purpose and fulfillment, and use it rather as a way to share Christ, minister to others, and live responsibly.  What does your money-handling reveal about you?