Vs. 1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” We continue to see Jesus interacting with those around him and teaching in parables. Yesterday, I talked about exercising our faith. Question: Have you ever felt like you just wanted to give up? In the persistent widow, we see how important it is to keep our faith when we pray to God (vs. 1-8). Continuing the prayer theme, Jesus gives us a contrasting scene of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector (vs. 9-14). There are many lessons to prayer, but the one I see here is the importance of humility before God. We can never stand before God with justifiable reasons; it’s only the grace of God. We are once again reminded of how important children are to Jesus (vs. 15-17). This morning, our church invited the Youth group to come to the adult early morning service. We had an opportunity to really pray for the youth and remind ourselves that they are the future church! In the rich young ruler, we are reminded from two chapters ago about the love of money (vs. 19-29). How sad that the man realized the truth, yet chose riches. Thankfully, another person in the blind beggar, would respond with joy (vs. 35-43).
Regarding application…Obedience in Trials. Vs. 32, “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.” May we never forget the obedience to death, even death on a cross that Jesus would do for us. Jesus knew it beforehand, yet was obedient. Christians with faith when life is good, they come a dime a dozen. What separates the sheep from the goat is having faith even in the storms and trials of life. Question: How do you respond? Over the years of ministry, I’ve seen many respond in different ways. Some use trials as a reason to blame God or the church. Others use it to feel sorry for themselves. Still others choose to not give up and are faithful. Question: Which one are you?
Vs. 5, “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Question: What helps us be able to call out to God? Faith. Yes, this very elusive word that has confounded many throughout generations. The author of Hebrews gives us probably the best understanding of it, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) It is faith that helps us to forgive each other (vs. 1-4). It is faith that we obey God in all that we do (vs. 6-10). It is faith that heals us physically, emotionally, and spiritually (vs. 11-19). It is faith that gives us the hope that one day Jesus will indeed return (vs. 20-37)…and no, Dec. 21st, 2012 is not that day!
Regarding application…Exercise Your Faith. Vs. 6, “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Question: How do you exercise your faith? I worked for Nike in Beaverton, OR for a few years and their slogan back in the day was, “Just do it”. Essentially, that is what Jesus is telling us to do. The disciples wanted more faith as most of us do too. But Jesus would make it simple for us. We can’t just sit on our rear ends and expect to be strong physically? Likewise, the same principle lies with our faith. Thankfully, it is not an unattainable faith that Jesus is demanding of us…it’s faith as small as a mustard seed. Question: Isn’t that incredible? Make today a day where you exercise your faith. Perhaps you need to forgive someone. Perhaps you need to be healed of a sickness (physical, emotional, spiritual). Perhaps you need hope. Turn to the Lord today and seek Him! He lift your burdens and give you the spiritual food to have a day that is blessed for He has made it!
Vs. 1, “Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.” The rock band ACDC coined the phrase, “Money talks”. Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic? Scholars break it down to 1/6 of the time! Having worked in the banking world for many years, I concur that money has been a very hot topic. Having just finished the story of the prodigal son wasting away his father’s inheritance, we see Jesus give another parable on money (vs. 1-15). Why would Jesus comment a dishonest money man? Because this man realized the prospect of a bad future and acted shrewdly (wisely) to ensure he would be treated fairly later on. If Christians would do likewise with our faith, we would be better of as well. We then move on to the Rich man and Lazarus (notice how Luke did not address this as an actual parable). When death came knocking at the rich man’s door, it was then that he realized the folly of his ways (vs. 19-31).
Regarding application…What Do You Value? Vs. 15, “He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Question: What was it that is detestable in God’s sight? The love of money. We cannot love both God and money. Yet, many foolishly think both can be achieved in this life. I confess, there was a time that the allurement of financial success fell upon my heart. I was working at a bank and moving up in the ranks. I owned my own house and could see a very comfortable life. I justified the success with the fact that I was still serving God in the local church in part-time ministry. However, God knew my heart and by His grace he drew back to Him. Perhaps my heart was a bit like Jonah’s who wanted to flee from obeying God’s will in my life. It’s always a wise think to ask ourselves what do we value in this life? Because as Jesus so aptly told us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.
Vs. 2, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” What the Pharisee’s didn’t realize is that they were the “sinners”. Jesus goes on to share with us three very powerful parables about the lost. People have different views on how God approaches His relationship with His creation. In the examples of the sheep and coin, we see God making the assertive effort to find the lost. In the prodigal son, we see the son making the effort to turn back to the Father. It is important to note that in all three: sheep, coin, son…we understand how valuable they are to God. Each of us have high value when it comes to how God sees us!
Regarding application…When God Ran. Vs. 20, “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Phillips, Craig & Dean wrote and sang this very powerful song called “When God Ran”! This story of the prodigal son cuts deep into my heart. In a time where families all over the world struggle with relationships and absent Fathers, we are poignantly reminded of the Father’s love. There are lessons to be learned in the response of the younger son and the older son, but the parable really is about the Father. Question: Are you lost? Do you feel like you have been playing hide & seek with God? As we round the last corner of 2011, let us be found by God and let Him use us powerfully as the New Year begins.
Vs. 27, “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable.” I love how we are given this description of Jesus taking notice. In this chapter we see Jesus invited to a banquet (vs. 1-14), so it’s no coincidence that Jesus shares a parable about a banquet (vs. 15-24). To this day, sharing a meal together brings us closer, but the enemy was still trying to find ways to trap Jesus on the Sabbath. Jesus would not be deterred. He healed the man and then shared with them how their pride affected who should sit where during the meal (vs. 7-11). In the parable Jesus shares, we see guests who were already invited give excuses for why they couldn’t come. How sad. And lastly, we see Jesus expounding on this desire for all to come to the banquet, but making very clear the expectation (vs. 25-35). Question: What is this expectation? See the application below…
Regarding application… Jesus’ Expectation. Vs. 26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Question: Is Jesus saying we must hate our family over Him? No, but in comparison to the love and priority of God, it should be a no-brainer. God must come first. Did you get that? God must come first! Jesus gives us the opportunity to consider and count the cost. Who are you following? Parents, family, even your own desire? Is it worth giving up all you want for Jesus? While Jesus wants all to be saved, He also wants us to know that there is an expectation of commitment. A commitment not out of legalism, but out of the goodness of our heart towards Jesus. Trust in the Lord and commit not just today, but your life in all ways to Him!
Vs. 2, “Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” First off…Merry Christmas!!!!! It’s only natural for us to look around at the injustices in the world and ask, “Why God?” (vs. 1-5). Instead of focusing on those who died, Jesus zeros in on those who are alive (vs. 6-9). The crippled woman is a perfect example of someone who could have easily blamed God in her circumstances, but she still faithfully went to the temple (vs. 10-17). Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed and yeast to address the fact that the church is growing and will continue (vs. 18-21). Though it’s growing, we are also reminded that many will choose to reject the message of the cross (vs. 22-30). And lastly, we see Jesus not allowing others to threaten or bully him (vs. 31-35).
Regarding application… Caring for Others. Vs. 14, “Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” I would like to think this doesn’t apply to me. I think it’s more common than we realize in the church. I recall reading about how a Pastor decided to not take a shower all week, lived like a homeless person, and then proceeded to go to his church the following Sunday. The church was going to have his associate preach that day. So, he carefully planned on checking the pulse of his church by how they responded to him. He laid out by the church building, all dirty and smelly. He wore a hoodie and let his beard grow, so no one recognized him. He noticed how church members either purposely avoided him or heard voices speaking harshly about him. He sauntered in during the service and sat in the back, he noticed no one greeted him. He proceeded to walk up the aisle allowing the stench to spread as people were dreading the thought of him sitting next to them. To their astonishment he started towards the pulpit. Voices were audibly heard as people started muttering who does this guy think he is, interrupting our church service? To their shock and shame, he took off his hoodie and overcoat to reveal his true identity. Needless to say, they were ashamed of how they treated him and he preached that day on loving others!
Vs. 2, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” The Pharisee’s and teachers of the law intended to hide the truth, but Jesus would ensure that their lies would be made known (vs. 1-12). Is it coincidence that we are reading how Jesus addresses possessions on the most commercial time of the year (vs. 13-21)? Christmas is about giving, let’s ensure that we are valuing the most important gift in Christ! If God can take care of birds, He will take so much more care for us (vs. 22-34). We are called to remember to be servants and Jesus points us to remember that things are developing that are pointing towards Jesus second return (vs. 35-59).
Regarding application… Are You Ready? Vs. 35, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.” Question: Are you ready? This Christmas is flying by this year and I can’t believe it is tomorrow! The first Christmas, not everyone was ready to receive Jesus. And when Jesus returns again, not everyone will be ready. As Christians, we realize that there is nothing in this world that is worth filling our hearts with. That is why we watch and keep our lamps burning. We realize there is a better place and a better hope. Have a very blessed Christmas Eve and keep the light in your hearts always on as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Vs. 1, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Prayer. It is perhaps one of the most underutilized powers we as Christians possess. Jesus gives us an example through the Lord’s Prayer which is used for us not to recite necessarily, but to pattern our prayer with it (vs. 2-4). Additionally, the example of someone knocking on the door at midnight gives us the reality that we must be persistent in our prayers (vs. 5-13). When Jesus drove out the demon, he had people accuse him of being Satan himself (vs. 14-28). We must not forget there is a spiritual war, but thankfully God is far more powerful than Satan. Jesus would use Jonah as the one sign to point to His own resurrection (vs. 29-32). And lastly, we see Jesus address the hypocrisy of the Pharisee’s (vs. 37-54). They had distorted the truth of God and made their religion into a set of rules. I am so thankful that Jesus did not hold back His tongue when it came to this.
Regarding application…Persistent Prayer. Vs. 9, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Ask, Seek, Knock…Question: Why must we pray so persistently? Is God just waiting to see how faithful we are going to be? First of all, prayer is communication with God. It’s spending time acknowledging Him in our lives and showing our dependence. Because we are a fickle people, we don’t always know what is right. But through prayer and spending time in the Word, we begin to know God more. And this type of prayer actually begins to change our own desires and help us unleash the power of God in our lives. To give an analogy, though not perfect. Prayer is like Apple’s iPad. We lived our whole lives without it and were fine. But the moment we had it, we realized how convenient it made life. Now, I love using the iPad. Prayer is sort of like that. We begin to pray honestly and now learn that we can’t live without it.
Vs. 2, “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” In our previous chapter, sending out the twelve was not enough. Jesus needed more, so we see that seventy-two (or seventy) will help spread the Gospel (vs. 1-24). It’s important to note a couple of things going on here; there is danger in ministry, that’s why we should not do it alone. And also, they were not just planting the seed of truth, they were to literally reap of the harvest (salvation)! The more I read Jesus’ ministry, I realize how he ensured that all were reached out to both the poor and educated. The Parable of the Good Samaritan was a response from an educated teacher of the law with a salvation question (vs. 25-37). But Jesus uses this a reminder to all that we are to love others as God loved us. Simple, huh? And lastly, we come to our dear Martha and Mary account of beings so worried about serving Jesus that we forget to spend time with him (vs. 38-42).
Regarding application…Being with Jesus. Vs. 39, “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Question: What was Martha doing? She was very busy doing all the work to prepare for the Lord. Question: Are you busy in your life these days? The Holiday seasons always seem to be synonymous with busyness. Yet, we have a beautiful picture of what it is all about. Martha was not wrong, there is a time to prepare. But she was so busy worrying about that, she didn’t have time to just sit and be with Jesus like Mary. For myself, I find I like to do tangible things to help the Lord. Like a good solider, I’m ready for battle, just tell me what you want me to do! Yet, my leader just wants to spend time with me? Dearest brothers & sisters…Jesus is our commander and chief, but more importantly, He loves us so much that he actually wants to spend time with you. That’s what this QT blog is all about, reminding us of the importance of being with Jesus!
Vs. 6, “So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” For a specific purpose and time, Jesus would send out the twelve apostles to go and make disciples (vs. 1-6). Naturally, as the Gospel was being spread, more and more rumors started to circulate on just who this Jesus was. Question: Who is this Jesus? Herod was asking (vs. 7-9) and even Jesus’ own disciples were wondering (vs. 18-27). Fortunately, we are not left hanging on too long to this question for Jesus would answer it and proceed to show His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (vs. 28-36). Yet, ministry and life did not afford Jesus and the disciples any breaks. Healings, more questions, oppositions and teachings would continue (vs. 37-62).
Regarding application…The Daily QT Vs. 23, “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This verse is one of my inspirations on why I do QT (Quiet Times) daily. Jesus chose on His own free will to take up the cross. He showed us the importance of daily walking with the Father and a prayer relationship. Now, we are exhorted to “daily” walk, take the cross and follow Jesus. Question: What is the cross? Thankfully, it is not the literal cross, but it does denote a choice to go down a life that hearkens, “Not my will, but yours be done.” There are a plethora of life decisions we could selfishly do and attain. But taking that cross is sacrificing all of that for the sake of the Gospel. This is really about be willing to let go of the life we want and following Jesus daily. It’s not an easy road, but the joys that come from it last a lifetime and will continue through eternity!