Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual growth’

Luke 22

Luke 22 has the religious leaders stirred up and ready to take Jesus us.  “The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people”.  He’s disrupted things enough, and they are ready to end it.  This happens at the same time as the Passover, when Jesus is going to Jerusalem to be with His disciples.  He sends some on ahead to prepare a place, and then “when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him”.  Jesus spends one last evening with the Twelve, and as He does, He tells them that someone in the room would betray Him.

They began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this”.  It doesn’t seem possible, that one of the 12 that has lived with Christ the last three years would now betray Him.  So they argued about it for a bit but quickly lost themselves in a discussion about who was most important.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly we get fcosued on self rather than the things that matter.  “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest”.  The disciples were worried about positioning themselves, not serving their Master.

Jesus uses the time to talk about what it means to truly be a leader.  “The leader as one who serves….I am among you as the one who serves”.  Servant leadership isn’t a discovery of the 20th or 21st century – Jesus painted that picture over 2000 years ago.  Real leadership is about serving those who are with you.  Jesus not only taught that lesson, He modeled what it looked like.  He washed the feet of His disciples and served them the bread and the cup.  Are you a servant leader?  You don’t need any more than a Bible and Jesus to find out what that truly means.

Jesus prays to God about what lies ahead.  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”.  He didn’t have to go to the cross.  He could have told God no.  But Jesus was tuned in to the Father.  He wants to do the Father’s will.  Jesus chose to go willingly to the Cross to pay the price for your sin and mine.  Peter had told Jesus there was no way he would deny his Lord.  But when he was sitting in the area where Jesus had been taken, three times he was confronted about being a Christ Follower.  Three times he denied it, and after the third time the rooster crowed exactly as Jesus had said.  Our faith in Christ will be challenged.  We have to be prepared to stand firm.

Luke 21

Luke 21 has Jesus continuing to teach.  He tells a parable about seeing“a poor widow put in two small copper coins” into the offering.  It wasn’t much at all compared to the rich, who put in large sums.  But Jesus said “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them”.  It isn’t the size of the contribution that Jesus cared about.  It was the heart behind the giving.  Jesus teaches us that “they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on”.  We mistake the external with the heart.  God cares about our heart.  It’s not what we do, as much as how and why we do it that matters.

Jesus goes on to share about the things that will happen before the end of the world.  He warns His followers that “before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake”.  There will be a price for being a Christ Follower as we approach the end times.  Jesus has warned about this throughout His teaching, but it gets pretty clear and real here.  That day continues to come ever closer, and He tells us what to do in order to be ready.

”This will be your opportunity to bear witness”.  We’ll be placed in front of authorities and will have a chance to talk about the Christ that we follow.  So how should we prepare?  “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and  wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict”.  He tells us to settle our relationship with Him in our hearts – know who He is and how we are connected to Him – and then trust Him to provide the words when we need them.  We don’t have to spend our life preparing for the inquiry.  He’ll give us the words when we need them.  We merely need to have the relationship solid and in place.

There will be much chaos as that day approaches.  Jesus tells us that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.  But in the midst of the chaos, there is one thing we can cling to – His Word.  That means we need to be in the Word daily, studying and learning it, because it will be the rock to which we can cling as the world around us begins to fall apart.  Jesus tells us to “stay awake at all times, praying that you may  have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”.  We aren’t to bury our head in the sand and ignore what’s going on around us.  We need to stay diligent and focused on walking with Him and watching what is happening around us!

Luke 20

Luke 20 has Jesus dealing with the religious leaders who are out to try and destroy Him.  Jesus uses a parable to illustrate their attack.  It was about a vineyard owner who sent servants to deal with those who were tending the vineyard for him.  In each case, these tenants beat the servant and sent him back to the owner empty handed.  So the owner decides to take a different approach – “? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him”.  Of course, this is a reference to God sending Jesus to us here on earth after the way His prophets had been treated for generations.

Unfortunately, the guys working the vineyard didn’t respond the way the owner had hoped.  “This is the heir.  Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours”.  Very flawed logic, but it’s exactly what happened to Jesus some 2000 years ago.  The owners response was predictable – “He will  come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others”.  We’re faced with the same question yet today.  God sent His Son to provide a way to overcome our sin – but we have to respond to Him.  What will you do with Jesus.

In that day, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. That cornerstone still stands and we have to respond to it yet today.  Of course, “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people”.  The religious leaders of the day were not happy with Jesus.  He was challenging their system and disrupting their world.  They want Him dead, but they are afraid of the fallout.

Jesus becomes more vocal in warning the people about the status quo.  “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation”.  It isn’t our place in society that matters.  It is how we live based on what we have been entrusted with.  These religious leaders used their power and position for their own gain.  Jesus says those who have been granted more will be held to a higher account.  God expects us to live in a way that aligns with Him.  If we have been entrusted with much, much is expected!

Luke 19

Luke 19 has Jesus coming across a short guy named Zacchaeus, who wanted to see Jesus so “he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way”.  This tax collector knew he needed a Savior, and he did what he had to in order to be able to see Him.  “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today”.  Jesus invites himself to go and have a meal with this man, even though he was not highly thought of at all.

Of course, the religious leaders had a different view and “when they saw it, they all grumbled”.  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would associate with a sinner like Zacchaeus, who cheated people and took their money wrongfully.  But he repented and offered to give half what he had to the poor and repay those he had taken advantage of.  In that day, a tax collector had much power and could charge people whatever he wanted for the most part.  Zacchaeus knew he was wrong, and so did Jesus.  But the Savior, when challenged by the religious leaders, said “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”.  Jesus came to save those who need a Savior.

He goes on to tell a parable about ten servants who were each given a mina.  Then the owner leaves, and when he returns his servants come and share what they have done with his money.  One made 10X, one 5X, and one just hid it returning it as it was given.  Jesus makes it clear that the servants who took the money and turned it into more were the ones who did what was expected.  He said “Well done, good servant! Because you have been  faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities”.  Not only did they make a return, they were rewarded with the opportunity to take care of much more.  God wants us to use all that He entrusts to us to maximize the impact.

Jesus comes to the temple and finds that they are selling all sorts of things there.  So “he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers”.  Jesus knows the scripture and He holds those accountable who were violating it.  Of course, this upsets the religious leaders as their source of funding was being threatened.  “The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words”.  But with each of the confrontations He has with these leaders, they become more determined to take Him out.

Luke 18

In Luke 18, Jesus shares some parables and lessons. His first is around how we “ought always to pray and not lose heart”.  One part of prayer is persistence.  Jesus tells the story of a widow who kept coming over and over to the judge seeking justice.  God wants us to persevere in prayer.  When we do, Jesus says “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”.  Jesus makes it clear that we need to continue to pray and not give up.  Throughout scripture, we’re told that God listens and answers.  We merely need to keep asking.

The question comes to Jesus about how we should prayer.  He gives two examples – one on how not to pray – on on how to do it:

  • “The PhariseeGod, I thank you that I am not like other men
  • the tax collectorbe merciful to me, a sinner”!

Jesus makes it clear that it is the tax collector who will be saved – “this man went down to his house justified”.  It wasn’t the religious leader that He was speaking about.  It was the tax collector who humbly prayed to God as a sinner who needed mercy, not a prideful religious leader that feels like he is good enough on his own.

Jesus is among the people and parents are bringing their kids to Him.  “When the disciples saw it, they rebuked them”.  Jesus was too busy to spend time with kids.  He had more important things to do.  But Jesus has a different plan.  “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.  Jesus was not only blessing the children but goes on to say “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”.  These little kids were the example of the kind of faith that is needed to gain eternal life.  True, complete faith.

A ruler came and asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life”?  Jesus gives him the first bar – “You know the commandments”.  The first thing is to obey what God has told us in His Word.  And when the ruler said he was good on that, Jesus gives him the second requirement.  “ One thing you still lack.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor”.  Obedience is one thing, but a willingness to give up control to all we have is another.  We have to put our faith and trust in Christ.  Unfortunately, “when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich”.  He wasn’t willing to let go of his ‘stuff’ and follow Jesus completely.

There is a cost to being a Christ Follower.  In fact, it costs us everything.  But Jesus makes it clear that “there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life”.  Following Jesus will cost you everything, but it will return even more.  We have to let go to be able to receive all.  It’s a difficult thing to do, but the rewards are beyond anything we can imagine!

Luke 17

Luke 17 has Jesus teaching His disciples about sin.  He says “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come”! How we live matters.  Temptation is a reality of life.  We face a very real enemy that seeks to kill, steal and destroy, and temptation is part of his strategy to pull us away from living God’s way.  But Jesus makes it clear that we should not be part of the tempting.  And He goes on to tell us that when sin happens, we need to forgive.  “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”.

Forgiveness is a difficult choice.  It is a choice, not a feeling.  Jesus teaches us over and over that forgiveness is a way of living that we need to embrace and choose.  People will fail us.  We need to set them free through forgiveness.  Jesus goes on to talk about the power of faith.  “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”.  We have so much power available to us through faith.  But we have to truly believe, and live based on that faith.  We can do great and amazing things through Christ, but not based on our own ability or power.

Jesus tells the story of the ten lepers who he met on the road.  They asked for healing, and Jesus granted it.  But notice how He does it. Scripture tells us “as they went they were cleansed”.  It didn’t happen while they were speaking to Him.  It happened as they believed it and were heading toward the priests where they could be declared clean.  Healing came as they believed and had faith in what Jesus had told them.  All ten were healed, yet only one came back to tell Jesus thank you.  When we experience the power of God’s hand, we need to be sure we’re like the one who returned to say thanks.

Jesus ends talking about eternity and the end times.  He makes it clear that no one will know when that time will come.  It will happen like it did in the days of Noah or Lot – people were living life and then it happened as God moved.  The lesson is we need to be prepared and ready, and when we see it move toward God.  We must not turn back or try to preserve life as we know it.  “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it”. It is through letting go and trusting God that we’ll experience life in its fulness!

Luke 16

In Luke 16 Jesus teaches His disciples about money.  He tells a story of the rich manager who was being fired from his job, and decides to call all the debtors to the business he was managing and offer them a reduced level of debt.  His logic was that it would build good will, and once he was fired and on the street it would provide him some friends and places to go.  The truth of the matter is that you can’t buy friendship.  But Jesus’ lesson was about much more – the importance of integrity and honesty.

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”?  Jesus makes it clear that we are to be honest in all things we do.  And when we are not, there is a price to pay.  Our character matters and will cause issues if we don’t live it well.

He goes on to share an important principle.  “You cannot serve God and money”. He doesn’t say that money is evil.  But He does make it clear that it competes for our heart and can get in the way of our serving God.  The reality is that money can cause us to prioritize the wrong things, and put stuff ahead of God and people.  We can only have one Master in our life.  We can’t have split allegiance.  God doesn’t share that spot well, actually not at all.  He insists on being Lord, the King of Kings, and that means money has to serve Him, and what matters to Him.

Jesus finishes the teaching by telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, a poor man who suffered much on this earth but ended up sitting next to God.  The rich man could see him across the chasm from hell, and asks God to allow Lazarus to give him some relief from the very uncomfortable place he was.  God says no, and we need to heed the reality that there is a big difference in eternity between heaven and hell.  The rich man then asks that someone be sent to warn his family.  Jesus says “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”.  We all face a very real judgment.  We’ll stand before God one day.  We need to listen and heed the truth that the Bible contains.  Sin is a real problem that will cause eternal separation from God.  We can avoid that, but we have to take action while we are living.  Are you ready?

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