Luke 14

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 of the banquet, we see guests who were already invited give excuses for why they couldn’t come.  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).

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?  Career, family, the world?  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 prayerful consider what Jesus expects in an area of your life.

Luke 13

Vs. 5, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  In the first part of our section (vs. 1-9), the people come to Jesus inquiring if the tragic events of the past (Galilean massacre and Tower of Siloam) were examples of God’s just punishment upon sinners.  Jesus aptly answers with a parable illustrating the fact that all of us have sin in our lives.  The bigger issue asks this question, “What are doing about your sin?”  Repent or perish.  Luke shares a miracle only recorded in his Gospel about a woman crippled for eighteen years and healed on the Sabbath (vs. 10-17).  This transpired while Jesus was teaching in one of the Jewish Synagogues.  Both legalism and having a hard heart are addressed in this healing.  Jesus goes on to give two powerful short parables of the mustard seed and yeast (vs. 18-21) that both illustrate the growing kingdom of God!  An interesting question comes up from someone in the crowd inquiring if only a few will be saved (vs. 23).  Jesus uses this question to address the stark reality of people’s response to turning to the Lord (vs. 22-30).  And lastly, we see Jesus address threats from Herod (vs. 31-33) and lament over Jerusalem (vs. 34-35).

Regarding application…Only A Few.  Vs. 23, “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  At first glance, this question may surprise us.  However, the writing has been on the wall.  Recent church surveys (churchleaders.com) show that only 17% of the population in America is attending church on given Sunday.  We live in a time where the culture is embracing this concept that there are many ways to God.  The road to the cross and the door to open is available to all.  But few go that route.  Question: Why is it important to know this?  This knowledge should not deter us from our task to live the Great Commission (Matthew 28).  For me, it reminds me not to get too discouraged when the progress or lack thereof does not show success from a worldly point of view.   Let’s continue to fight the good fight and do our part to share the love of Christ!

Luke 12

Vs. 1, “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  Jesus’ popularity is booming!  However, there is a danger in this.  Jesus turn to His disciples to warn them of not falling into the practice of hypocrisy (vs. 1-12).  Jesus shares the Parable of the Rich Fool (vs. 13-21) as a response to the greed of life.  In light of financial worries, Jesus transits to sharing to His disciples why they should not worry about such things (vs. 22-33).  It’s a good contrast, for the disciples did not have an issue with having too much, rather not enough.  However, these worries are nothing compared to being ready about a real future (vs. 35-48).  There is a danger to grow complacent about getting our lives on track because we don’t really believe Jesus will return during our present life.  We see Jesus give us another perspective about peace (vs. 49-53).  He is not contradicting Himself (Luke 2:14), for He does bring peace to believers.  However, when we choose to follow Jesus, this can be a declaration of war to an unbelieving people, even family.  We are warned to be discerning of the spiritual things, just as we are the weather (vs. 54-57).  And lastly, we are reminded of understanding the ramifications of the coming judgment (vs. 58-59).  If we knew we might be taken to court, we would find a lawyer.  If we knew we might be taking eternal hell, we would find a savior.

Regarding application…What is Valuable to You?  Vs. 15, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  You might have heard the saying, “The one with the most toys wins.”  In the countries of abundance, this is a huge danger for many.  Question: Are you being a rich fool (vs. 13-21)?  Life is certainly less stressful when we have insurance and a nice savings.  These things are not inherently bad.  It’s when we covet and put our faith in such things (vs. 21) that endangers our spiritual life.  I suppose this comes down to be selfish or selfless.  I want valuable things in my life, but the things of value for the believer are often of no value to the world.  Question: What is valuable to you?  Take time to consider where your perspective is.

Luke 11

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.”  What an encouraging sign to see the disciples wanting to grow!  Jesus uses this request to teach them about prayer (vs. 1-13).  If we give to a neighbor in need or a child who is hungry, how much more will God the Father give to us?  We begin to see more tension rising up against Jesus from the Pharisees and teachers of the law as the rest of our chapter unfolds.  After exorcising a demon from a mute man, Jesus is accused of being Beelzebub (name for Satan).  However, Jesus aptly points out that He fixes what Satan tries to destroy.  The vivid example of a demon who returns with seven more (vs. 24-26) is a stark reminder of how important a response is when God intervenes in our life.  As the crowds increase, Jesus rebukes the crowd for their lack of repentance and juxtaposes them with the Queen of the South (Sheba) and the Ninevites who responded better to Solomon and Jonah (vs. 29-32).  Jesus teaches us that lamp of our life is through our eyes (vs. 33-36), so we must be careful what we allow into our lives.  And lastly, Jesus pulls no punches when it came to chastising the legalistic Pharisees and teachers of the law (vs. 37-54).  Jesus’ rebuke addresses legalism, pride, and hypocrisy that had infiltrated their hearts.

Regarding application…What Are You Looking At?  Vs. 34, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.”  There is the saying, “You are what you eat.”  Likewise, what we look at and focus on is going to affect the way we live this life.  If we are looking at beauty, accomplishments, and money this will often steer us the wrong way.  When I was 16 years old, I was more than happy to drive an old junky car.  But as the years progressed, I began looking at what everyone else was driving.  Eventually, I bought a brand new Mazda 3 and loved driving that car.  But after a year, I sold it.  I realized that having a brand new fancy car (at least for me) wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be.  A car may be a trivial thing, but there are certainly things we tend to focus on that can adversely affect our lives.  Take time today to consider what you are looking at and turn your gaze to what God is looking at!

Luke 10

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.”  The sending of the seventy-two (vs. 1-24) reminds us that God is continuing to raise up more disciples to share the Good News of the coming (present too) kingdom.  Jesus reminds us doing the Lord’s work is actually quite dangerous (vs. 3).  The mission is quite focused as Jesus explicitly instructs them to have a sense of urgency.  Normal affairs of life must take a backseat to getting the Gospel to all the towns in time (vs. 4b).  Jesus doesn’t pull any punches as He strictly warns the outcome of any city and people who would reject such grace (vs. 13-16).  The disciples return joyously as they were able to even defeat the evil spirits, but Jesus is quick to give them a proper perspective.  The parable of the Good Samaritan (vs. 25-37) is a vivid response from Jesus from a question about who is my neighbor.  Jesus had to deal often with those that came to debate and challenge.  Certainly the parable reveals our neighbor is not just the select few we choose and that we are to be like the Samaritan.  And lastly, Luke shares an event only in his Gospel concerning Martha and Mary (vs. 38-42).  Martha was not wrong in what she was doing, but there are times when we must relax and sit at the foot of Jesus.

Regarding application…What Impresses You?  Vs. 20, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  For the seventy-two, they were rightfully rejoicing and impressed that what they once feared (demons), they were now easily defeating.  But Jesus is quick to remind them that this is nothing compared to eternity in heaven.  Even in a jaded and cynical world, we are still impressed by people, achievements or things in life.  I remember how I idolized Michael Jordan when I was in junior high.  I tried to mimic his every moves.  Sadly, I never quite had the skills and even got cut in the 7th grade basketball tryouts.  But impressions still affect me today.  I recall hearing one of my college friends giving a message in Indinaa at a youth lock-in and just dumbfounded how talented he was (He was also an amazing praise leader).  He is now pastoring one of the quickest growing churches in So. Cal.  But, the glory in all situations must be given over to the Lord.  This life is but a vapor in the wind compared to eternity.  Let’s have an eternal perspective as we live this life!

Luke 9

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.”  Certainly, Jesus’ reminder of daily taking up the cross is one of the inspirations behind this blog.  Being a disciple is following the Lord wherever He asks you to go (vs. 1-6).  As Jesus’ ministry grew, the word spread all the way to Herod who was quite curious as to Jesus’ identity (vs. 7-9).  The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels (vs. 10-17).  Peter’s confession of Jesus (vs. 18-22) was a show of faith, though Peter himself had no idea the road of glory would involve so much suffering (vs. 23-27).  Luke records some interesting insight to the discussion that Moses and Elijah had with Jesus (vs. 30-31) at the Transfiguration (vs. 28-36).  The healing of the boy with an evil spirit (vs. 37-45) reminds not to get too prideful about our abilities the Lord gives us.  That’s a perfect segue into their argument about who was the greatest amongst them (vs. 46-48).  I preached from the Gospel of Matthew on the equivalent passage today!  Jesus would not only face opposition from the Jews, but also from the Samaritans (vs. 51-56).  And lastly, we close our chapter with the true cost of being a disciple (vs. 57-62).  Following Jesus is a costly thing, for rejection from the world is not easy to swallow.

Regarding application…Least Among You.  Vs. 48, “Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”  Question: What determines the greatness of a person?  Our achievements in this life do not determine the value that we bring.  The “least among you” is Jesus pointing to the humility of a child.  They are in complete dependence to their parent.  Greatness is determined by our weakness and vulnerability.  I encourage you to take time to consider where your current pursuits are.  Don’t allow the pride of life to cloud our hearts.  If you have time, listen to the audio message from today.  It addresses this application for today!

Luke 8

Vs. 1, “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him.”  Jesus continues His ministry with the twelve, but we are also reminded by Luke that women were also traveling with them to help support them (vs. 2-3).  Luke then gives his version of the Parable of the Sower (vs. 4-15) that gives us this picture of the Sower (Lord) and His message falling upon the different soils.  The soils represent the contrast between the different ways a person responds to the Gospel.  The Lamp on a Stand (vs. 16-18) and Jesus’ mother and brothers (vs. 19-21) help to illustrate the nature of God’s kingdom.  Jesus sheds light to a dark world and we cannot hide our sins forever.  When we believe, we all become part of God’s family.  Luke shares the calming of the storm (vs. 22-25) to help support the real nature of who Jesus is.  The exorcism of a legion of demons (vs. 26-39) is a reality check to remind us that our true warfare is a spiritual one.   And lastly, Jesus heals both disease and death (vs. 40-56) as these last two miracle healings are recorded in all four Gospels.  Once again, we see Jesus reaching out to both high and low society.  Both of these miracles remind us how important faith is.

Regarding application…Practice Makes Perfect.  Vs. 21, “He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Certainly, we will not reach perfection until the other side of heaven.  But, this idea of putting into practice God’s word reminds me of my athletic sports when I was young.  My main sport was wrestling and it involved literally three to four hours a day of practice.  We would run, workout and practice the same moves day in and day out.  My coach always taught us to make perfect the three basic moves in wrestling: takedown, escape and pinning.  There are several move to perform each of these three basic moves, but my coach emphasized us to focus on perfecting at least one per move.  It’s interesting, because at wrestling meets, you will wrestle three rounds of two minutes each.  And often, wrestling matches would end earlier with a pin.  Question: Why did we have to practice so much?  Of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to honor the sport.  You can’t call yourself a wrestler if you don’t practice and know your sport.  Likewise, we can’t really call ourselves children of God if we have no intention of practicing God’s word.  Being a Christian is much more than just showing up on Sunday’s.  We must practice and exercise our faith and knowledge in the Lord!  It’s important to remember that this process of turning to God begins in our hearts (vs. 4-15).

Luke 7

Vs. 2, “There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.”  There are a few notable things regarding the healing of the centurion’s servant (vs. 1-10): the centurion soldier was a Gentile, he was respected in the Jewish community, and he had incredible faith mixed with humility.  The Gospel is offered to all; Jews, Gentile, poor and rich.  The raising of the widow’s son (vs. 11-17) is one of three accounts in which Jesus raises the dead.  This reminded the crowds of the OT ministries of Elijah and Elisha.  Our next section (vs. 18-35) deals with John the Baptists question and Jesus’ response.  Even though John baptized Jesus at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, there were many questions and opinions about Jesus’ true identity. In fact, Jesus not only responds to John’s question, but also comments on John’s identity as a great prophet.  Both Jesus and John bring a message to God’s people and Jesus challenges us about our response.  In the last section of our chapter (vs. 36-50), we are given a beautiful picture of responding to God’s forgiveness.

Regarding application…Are You The One?  Vs. 19, “he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  John’s question isn’t so much a lack of faith, as it is a need for reassurance.  There were tons of different opinions being thrown around about Jesus.  We should also note, that John was now in prison and his life was looking bleak.  Yet, John is not afraid to ask the tough questions.  In some ways, I believe all of us have struggled with this question to.  Perhaps not from a salvation perspective, but in other areas of our faith.  When the times get tough, do we let Jesus be the one to comfort?  Some of us will turn to relationships, alcohol, drugs, media (movies and t.v.), etc. to fill the void to the emptiness of our lives.  But, Jesus is the only one who can provide all the things we need (church, family, friends, etc.)   Question: Is Jesus the Lord of your life?  Is Jesus the one?

Luke 6

Vs. 9, “Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”  The Sabbath was intended to give God’s people rest (vs. 1-11).  However, the Jews turned a wonderful day of rest, to a day of burden and rules.  The laws of God were never intended to supersede loving and caring for His people.  When Jesus selected the twelve apostles (vs. 12-16), we are given a beautiful example of how important prayer is as Jesus stays up all night praying (vs. 12)!  The selection of fisherman, a tax collector and four other unnamed ones is a reminder that God chose very ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  The next section of our chapter (vs. 17-49) is Luke’s version of Matthew Sermon on the Mount, but this time to a Gentile audience. The blessings and woes are straightforward reminders of following God vs. turning from God (vs. 17-26).  The next section is a poignant reminder of what love in action should look like (vs. 27-36).  And lastly, we are reminded to not be so quick to judge the actions of another person if we ourselves are not living a Godly life (vs. 37-42).  And lastly, Jesus closes out this chapter with two examples of producing fruit (43-45) and being a wise builder (46-49).  It’s not enough to know what Jesus says, we must do it and show it in our lives!

Regarding application…Super Love.  Vs. 32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”  I’m reminded of the recent Superman movie that is out right now.  As super as Superman can be, his love for saving humans in distress is nothing like Jesus’ love.   But this love that Jesus describes through verses (27-36) deserves the word “super.”  There is no way we can love this way on our own.  Question: Are we as a church loving with Superlove?  One person can make a difference.  You don’t have to be a missionary or evangelist to love others powerfully.  Think about people in your life that are starving for a love that fills their hearts.  Take time this week to pray and reach out to someone in your life!

Luke 5

Vs. 11, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”  When Jesus called Peter and the others, He would use an opportune moment to borrow their boat for one true purpose: To be fishers of men (vs. 1-11).  Jesus has already met them earlier, but some biblical scholars point out that this was a more permanent calling of life devotion and giving up their fishing trade.  The healing of the man with leprosy (vs. 12-16) stands out because Jesus would have him adhere to the Jewish customers as a testimony to them.  This man took a huge risk by approaching Jesus even in his leprous condition.  It is a beautiful example of God’s grace to the sinner.  The healing of the paralytic man and his four friends (vs. 17-20) not only reveals Jesus’ miraculous power, but the power of what friends can do.  They had the faith to bring this man to Jesus and take risks that others wouldn’t.  The Pharisee’s and teachers of the law would have been quite surprised that Jesus knew their thoughts concerning His ability to forgive sins (vs. 21-26).  Luke shares Levi’s (Matthew’s) calling to shed light on Jesus’ purpose of coming: to save the sinner (vs. 27-29).  The Pharisee’s accused Jesus and His disciples of not fasting, but Jesus would assure all of us that when the church age begins, fasting will be appropriate again (vs. 33-35).  The garment and wineskin parable (vs. 36-39) illustrates the importance of not holding onto our old sinful way of life before we became a new creation (Romans 8:1).

Regarding application…Will You Pray?  Vs. 16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Question: What gave Jesus the strength to continue healing and loving so many?  Prayer.  There isn’t any believer that can deny the power of prayer.  However, there are many that just won’t carve out the time for prayer.  My church is in the midst of their VBS, and our theme for today is standing strong in prayer.  I’m teaching the bible station again this year and I’m always humbled by the response of many of the children.  Their hearts are so precious.  Their natural response to pray and look at it as a privilege is so refreshing.  Question: How is your prayer life?  Jesus had a relationship with the Father and He kept that alive by finding times to withdraw to pray.  Take time today and pray.