The Cure

Today’s reading is Luke 20.

As I read the Bible I’d like to be able to compare myself and say I’m like some of the heroes of the Bible such as Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Paul, or even some of those in the New Testament who by faith believed that just by touching Jesus’ cloak or by Him saying the words they, or a member of their family, would be healed. Unfortunately, I find I’m much more like those in Luke 20 who try to challenge and question Jesus and have selfish, impure motives. Here in this chapter we have the chief priests and scribes who question Jesus’ authority to which Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants and later says is Luke 20:45-47 that they exalt themselves and take advantage of others. We also have in this chapter spies sent by the chief priests and scribes who try to test Jesus and ask if they should pay taxes or not, and we have the Sadducees asking Him an irrelevant question about whose wife someone will be in the afterlife.

Instead of just trusting in Him and having peace in the fact that he defeated Satan and sin through his resurrection and will permanently defeat Satan and sin through His second coming foretold in the book of Revelation, I find myself trying to figure out at times why God is letting certain things happen in my life and in the lives of others around me and why He lets the terrible things we see on the news in the world around us happen. This questioning of Him and asking why is clearly Satan impeding and getting us to focus on the problem, not the solution…Jesus!

In his book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson discusses how miracles are happening all around us, but we don’t focus on them, we focus on problems. He discusses that we may feel like we are sitting still right now but the Earth is spinning on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour and the Earth is hurtling through space at 67,108 miles per hour which is not only faster than a speeding bullet but is 87 times faster than the speed of sound. He jokes that even if you didn’t feel like you did much today you traveled 1,599,794 miles through space! He asks, when is the last time we thanked God for keeping us in orbit or said to God, “Lord, I wasn’t sure we would make the full rotation today, but You did it again!” He talks about how the biggest miracle we see daily is really our own life. There are chemical interactions that must take place perfectly in our body every moment for us to be alive and that our brain is performing 10 quadrillion (I didn’t even know that was a number!) calculations per second. We aren’t just surrounded by miracles each day he says, we are one. Just look in the mirror.

This helps us clearly see that when we lose sight of God in our lives, we focus on all the bad things happening and ask why. We focus on the irrelevant like those in Luke 20, as opposed to looking at the miracles he’s performing this very second. And most importantly, this keeps us from focusing on being thankful for the greatest miracle He performed which was sending His perfect Son to die on the cross and to be raised to life to permanently defeat Satan and our sin bringing us back together with Him and giving us eternal life which He didn’t have to do.

Help us focus on You. Jesus…you are the Cure!

Zacchaeus

My last post covered the entire chapter focusing on the “A” words.  When I first read Luke 19, the first story about Zacchaeus made me sing “Oh, Zaachaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he!  He climbed up in a Sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see!  For the Lord he wanted to see.”  I remember this much of the song from my early VBS days.  My focus today will just be on Zaachaeus.

All we are told in Luke was that he was small in a stature and a tax collector.  Researching “who was Zacchaeus” shows that he was more than a tax collector.  He was the chief tax collector in Jericho, a major city on the West bank of the Jordan River.  Zacchaeus, which means “pure”, was a descendant of Abraham yet he was not well liked due to his profession.  Most tax collectors were viewed as thieves or cheats, and Zacchaeus was no different as all accounts state he was a rich man.  The region was rich with a product known as “balsam” (sap to us) used for medicinal purposes.  With the balsam production, the tax collected was higher than in other nearby regions.

We read in our text, And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.   Zacchaeus must have heard about Jesus and wanted to see who he was.  I am assuming given his stature, he must have climbed trees before to get a better view.  We know he climbs this Sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus.  Little did he know what would happen next!

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.”

No preparation.  No warning.  No way to expect this turn of events!  Zacchaeus seemed to be prepared to host his guest.  Grumbling, moaning, disbelief from the crowd ensued.  How could Jesus leave with a “sinner’?  What was Jesus thinking going to Zacchaeus’ home?  Yet off these two men went.  I wonder what Zacchaeus was thinking?  “Oh no, now I’m in trouble!”  Or was he thinking “maybe this is my way to salvation?”  Who knows.  He was overjoyed to have this guest in his home!

As the story unfolds, Zacchaeus immediately repents and seeks salvation.  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Another story of Jesus’ power, influence and healing over this “sinner”.  If the Lord appeared and wanted to come to your house, would you be prepared?  What would you say?  What would you do to receive salvation?

A less complicated Faith

Luke 18 recounts three parables – The parable of the Persistent Widow, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, and the Rich Ruler. When I read through this chapter, each parable illustrates a different lesson to me and has applications that could easily be a separate post for each parable.

In addition to the parables, this chapter has two separate accounts of Jesus interacting with people who were coming to him. The first is found in verses 15-17: “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him saying, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 

At the end of the chapter, in verses 35-43, Jesus heals a blind man. “As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight, your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God.”

These two accounts really struck me today. Jesus, in rebuking his disciples for trying to keep the children away, says that the kingdom of God belongs to such as them. I think of my little guys, aged 5 and 3, and the conversations we have about Jesus. Their faith is not hindered or limited in any way by the kind of boundaries that grown-ups are. When they pray they are not concerned with using the right words – they just talk to God like they would talk to anyone else. My son Samuel told me he doesn’t want to wait until he’s “really old and dead” to see Jesus, he wants to go be with him in heaven now! Obviously, I don’t want Samuel to meet Jesus yet. But I love that in his heart right now he is so excited and passionate about being with someone simply because loves him.

When the blind beggar shouts to be heard above the crowd surrounding Jesus, he begs for mercy. I noticed that his request was not specific. Jesus asked him what he wanted to be done for him, and he simply requests to be able to see. Jesus immediately grants the request, telling him “your faith has made you well.” We don’t know much more than that the man was blind and that he was begging. The disciples tried to keep him away from Jesus, I assume believing him to be a hassle. What Jesus saw was his faith.

I have this hang-up about approaching God in prayer. It’s so hard for me to go to him and ask for things knowing that he knows my sin. Some irrational part of me thinks I need to make myself “worthy” of his attention. But Jesus doesn’t measure worth the same way I do. He doesn’t require me to act a certain way, use a required formula of words + actions before he’ll listen to me, or even wait to be heard. The children simply wanted the touch of Jesus. They couldn’t have had any great theological understanding of anything. They just wanted to be in his presence. The blind man wasn’t hampered by his status in society from requesting mercy – he believed Jesus could heal him and so he asked for healing.

Do you approach the Lord like a child? I don’t, at least not often. I think about the words I use when I pray, I feel guilty if my requests seem frivolous, I compare my situation with those in worse situations, and question whether my petitions are worthy of even being heard.

My prayer today is for my faith to be more like a child’s. To strip away all of the baggage that I carry around in my mind and heart, and just be with him in conversation, feeling the comfort of his touch.

 

Living in Abundance

Image result for abundance

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 17

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 17:28-30

 Hello, it’s another Monday! I seriously love writing to you on Monday’s. I imagine you at home with your morning coffee and toast or at the office getting your week started in the Word. As I was preparing to write to you this week I sort of had things all lined up, but then this morning I had a bit of a game changer. I went out for a run and randomly selected an episode of a podcast I’ve been listening to. The topic was generally related to living an abundant life with less. What I heard changed my view on today’s scripture and I want to share that with you!

So, Luke chapter 17 highlighted by Jesus telling us about forgiveness and faith. In the first few verses we hear about forgiveness of sin. Jesus talks to us about being accountable for our own sin and also the sin of others. The next part is about Jesus healing ten men with leprosy. Jesus sent the ten lepers to a priest before they were healed and they all responded in faith and agreed to go. Jesus healed them on the way because they demonstrated faith. Only one of the ten men came to thank Jesus and only he had the opportunity to learn that it was his faith that led to healing. Then Jesus teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God. He warns us against the false security of materialism. This is where it got real for me! Jesus is warning us that we will have to separate ourselves from the attachments of this world in order to be ready for Christ’s return. He mentions eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. He’s essentially saying that it doesn’t matter if we are living in the days of Lot or the days of a-whole-lot, our human sinful nature draws us to these selfish values. My NIV study bible breaks it down like this:

Those who live for themselves display these common attitudes:

  • Materialism-I want it and work hard to get it. All that I see is real. Unseen things are merely ideas and dreams.
  • Individualism-I work hard for me, and you work hard for you. I may make it; and you may not. That’s your problem, not mine.
  • Skepticism-Anything I’m not convinced about can’t be important. Everything important to know I can figure out.

(NIV Study Bible, Zondervan)

How hard was that to read? I see a little bit of myself in all three of those descriptions. When I considered those three attitudes, what I found to be at the center of it all is power and privilege. When I think about the challenge of materialism, I think about money. Money gives us the power to either provide for ourselves or provide for others. Jesus tells us that when he returns, it will happen suddenly and that we must abandon our attachments to the world if we want to live eternally with Him. As I listened to my podcast this morning I was challenged to consider money and possessions as a circumstance. Regardless of our current circumstance, our thoughts and feelings about money are what impact our life more than the actual circumstance. In other words, if our thoughts and feelings are directed toward living a Christ centered life than we will truly experience abundance. When we are so focused on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building we are unable to truly have gratitude for the abundance we are experiencing right this minute. No matter what level of wealth and accumulation of things we achieve, our brain looks ahead to the next bit that we can have. What if we stopped and just sat quietly in the blessing and richness that Jesus has provided for us right now. What if we reflected back to a time when we imagined what it would feel like to be a first time home owner, have a newborn baby, or land that dream job. When we imagined achieving those successes or acquiring that new thing, we imagined a feeling of contentment. Jesus is encouraging us today to let go of materialism, individualism and skepticism in order to prepare ourselves for his return. He is asking us to stay engaged in relationship with Him. At the end of my podcast today the narrator asked this question:

“What is the very most happy and most peaceful you can allow yourself to feel with less?”

Isn’t that a startling question? What is the very most happy and peaceful we can allow ourselvesbe with less money, less stuff, less screen time, just less things but more Jesus. Keeping our commitment to Christ means we’ll be ready when he returns. I hope you’ll take time to think about what I the most peaceful and happy you can allow yourself feel in the love and connection to Jesus Christ. Have a great week!

~J

 

 

 

God Won’t Contradict Himself

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you a specific direction or sign?

Or maybe deep down you knew what the right decision was, but you were hoping and praying God would show you a different (easier) way? I mean, maybe God will just give you a “feeling” to go off script for a bit. Or maybe we just want Him to tell us (again) what He’s already told us.

I find myself praying for wisdom and direction A LOT. And then I find myself praying for wisdom on when I need to pray more, or when I need to move forward with what I know from the Word or what the Holy Spirit is pressing upon me.

Here’s something cool about God: He doesn’t contradict Himself. He’s not trying to confuse us, or make His will a mystery. Salvation isn’t some puzzle or choose-your-own-adventure book. God desires us to know Him – all of Him. The more we know Him, the more we will understand His ways and the best path.

Knowing Him includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all acting as one. And John 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. So the Word (the Scriptures in the Bible) is in lockstep with God.

My third grader has been studying math properties the past few weeks. You know, commutative, distributive, associative, etc. 2×3=3×2, (2×3)x4 = 2x(3×4), and 2x(3+4)=(2×3)+(2×4).

I don’t know what this property would be called, but here goes:

God = Word (from John 1)

God = Jesus = Holy Spirit (from the trinity, 1 John 5:8)

Holy Spirit = Word

So what does this mean? This means that God doesn’t contradict Himself. And the Holy Spirit will not direct us in a way that is contrary to what the Bible says. He doesn’t go “off script”.

The Holy Spirit won’t give you a peace to continue in sin. The world tries to manufacture peace in all sorts of ways – but true peace only comes from God.

As we pray for direction, approval, wisdom for an area of our life, let’s also simultaneously seek the Word. Let’s pray for God to direct us to scripture to help us find the answer. Let’s pray for understanding of the Word. Let’s pray for boldness and obedience to follow the Word, without looking for an excuse or contrary direction.

In the second half of Luke 16, Jesus shares the story of The Rich Man & Lazarus with his disciples and the Pharisees. There are so many fascinating pieces to this story, and the very end is what challenged me to leverage the Living Word for direction in a bigger way. Don’t wait for some sign or God to send someone to me from Heaven… but use the Living Word today.

Take a moment and read through this chapter – the Rich Man finds himself miserable in hell (his Jewish lineage didn’t save him) and begs for Lazarus (in heaven) to raise from the dead and be sent to go warn his family that hell is real and to repent of their sin.  Jesus tells them that the answer is no – his family has Moses + the Prophets (representing the Word of God) and that should be more convincing than a dead man telling them or giving them a sign. They’re either going to read the true Word and follow God, or they’re not.

OUCH – that was a zinger for me and really made me look back and wonder how often I ask God for a sign or direction on something He has already told me in His Living Word. Or maybe a time I was hoping for a looser interpretation or a loophole to something in the Bible. God’s just got to be up there laughing at me! “Ummm… Holly-Rae, quit asking me for directions when they’re sitting on that shelf five feet from you!”

What a waste when I:

  • Pray for direction that isn’t aligned with the Word
  • Look for a sign when I have the red letters in front of my face

Jesus tells us very clearly in this text that no sign (dead man – back to life – warning) will be given. We have the Living Word! Let’s use it, learn it, and allow it to guide us. The Holy Spirit is here to help us and aligns with the Word – let’s not confuse His voice for any other voices in the world!

Up next – Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally – KIDDING

Lost and not yet found

I’ve loved bicycles ever since I was a kid. They’re fun, low maintenance, they serve a purpose, and there’s a bicycle for every terrain and season. I used to beg my parents to take me to the bike store just to take a look (and of course the looking always turned to wanting a new bike). After 40+ years, the desire to visit bike shops remains.

Early this spring I purchased a fitness/hybrid bicycle that would be practical for city living as well as getting some exercise. It had a cool paint job and was built to withstand the elements of daily commutes. The best part: airless tires made of solid yet cushy rubber that couldn’t get a flat. No air pump necessary. Shattered glass or nails on your path? No problem.

The bike performed as expected and I loved exploring the city, commuting, and exercising with this new toy until one very sad evening… Upon returning from a nice meal with a good friend, my new two-wheeler that was previously secured was gone. All that was left was a cut lock.

It was at the train station, in a bike parking area, right out in the open, lots of people, and a lock. How? I was devastated.

Everywhere I go in the city, every bike rack, every bike passing by, my eyes are searching. Even after many weeks I keep thinking it will turn up, just keep looking.

After several emails and phone calls to various shops seeking a replacement, there are none available. There are similar versions but the more I think about it, the more I just want my bike back. I don’t really want a new bike, I want that one.

These thoughts lead me to the various parables of lost and found, and how God so badly wants us, our hearts, individually to turn to him or turn back to him. He longs for us to return, he gives us each day to make the choice. Like Jennifer said yesterday, God wants us… “That is why he made us in the first place.

Today’s reading in Luke 15 has “lost and found” parables. Each one I believe describes God’s characteristics relating to the way he seeks us and rejoices when we repent, and return to him:

  • Lost sheep: Even though there are 100, he still seeks the single sheep who is lost and rejoices upon the return.  “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (Luke 15:5)
  • Lost coin: Seeking relentlessly until it is found and then rejoicing (Luke 15:8-10)
  • Prodigal son:
    • The father noticed him from a long way off (reflecting God’s anticipation). The father felt compassion and embraced him. (Luke 15:20)
    • Upon confession, the father did not punish him (mercy), and more, the father gave him the best robe, a ring and shoes… gifts the son did not deserve (grace). (v22)
    • And of course celebration in verse 23. God makes it loud and clear that he celebrates when we return to him!
    • Promises of his goodness, now and forever: And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luke 15:31)

God’s welcoming arms are ready waiting for us to repent. Let us take this moment right now to confess what he already knows to be true. I usually start by asking God to show me how I’ve been selfish. Selfishness for me is the gateway to all sin as it puts us before God and others. Selfishness sometimes feeds earthly desires but only for a moment, and earthly pleasures cannot satisfy the continuous thirst that we have for something greater, the thirst that can only be quenched by Jesus Christ.

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

I wish I could tell our readers that my bike was found. In the end I wonder if God allowed this event to happen in order to give me a glimpse into his kingdom. My want for the bike and for the other things of this world will never go away until being satisfied by the living water of Jesus. Are you thirsty?

Cost/Benefit Analysis

Today’s reading:  Luke 14

More than once over the past couple of years I’ve told you I am an accounting dork.  I naturally count and/or reconcile almost everything.  It’s just how my mind works.  I think this is why I like to go to the grocery store and figure out whether two 13 ounce boxes of Life Cereal at a 3/$5 price point is better than one 24.8 ounce box of Life Cereal for $4.29.  In case you were wondering, this is a good value and is why you’ll often find multiple small boxes, instead of a few large boxes, of cereal in my pantry.

It should be no surprise to you that my focus for today is on the last section of our text in Luke 14 – “The Cost of Being a Disciple”.  In verses 25-27, Jesus told the crowd that anyone who wanted to be his disciple had to be willing to hate his father, mother, wife, children, siblings and even hate himself.  This sounds pretty harsh, and seems a little contradictory to be honest.  If God is love, and he commands us to love others, it doesn’t really make sense that we are required to hate our loved ones to be his disciples.

As you know, Jesus wasn’t speaking in literal terms here.  His message was all about priority.  Let’s go back to the Old Testament where we find the same message.  The first commandment God gave to Moses was, “You shall have no other God’s before me” (Exodus 20:3).  God desires our first and our best.  To say it another way, God doesn’t really want our time or our money, he wants us.  That is why he made us in the first place.  God desires for our hearts to be truly devoted to him.  How we spend our time and how we spend our money then, are simply a natural reflection of what is in our hearts/what we value.

Now, will following Jesus cost us?  Yes.  Following Jesus requires us to give up control, it means that we submit to his will over our own.  It may result in loss of social status or wealth.  It may mean separation from family, persecution or even death.  As you know, following Jesus is not the recipe for a trouble-free life.  However, God never asks us to suffer just for the sake of suffering.  He never asks us to give up something good unless he plans to replace it with something even better.  He truly has our best interest in mind.  I assure you, the benefit of an all-powerful God guiding your way, watching over you and offering you a place in eternity with him is definitely worth the cost!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

TODAYS READING : Luke13

There is a LOT of great stuff in Luke 13:  Jesus calls people to repent, Jesus heals the crippled woman, Jesus grieves over Jerusalem.  However, I’m convicted tonight to say that there is nothing like:  Jesus teaches about entering the kingdom.  I encourage all of you to read the entire chapter, but really give verse 28 some time.  “And there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets within the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.”

I thought I had some great losses in high school and college when I may have been rejected by others…or lost a big game.  When we lost to Peoria Manual in 1987, I thought that was the lowest moment of my life.  Now, in my “mid-years”, I thought I may have experienced the most weeping I could have by losing my best friend of over 30 years and losing my mom.  However, when you give it some thought, there will be nothing worse than losing a loved one for eternity…when we have the capacity to realize at the time it is happening that people we know and love are being cast into the depths for eternity.  In this day and age, it is easy to think:  “There will be another chance…there will be a do-over.”  NO!!!  No there won’t.  When the roll is called up yonder, you’ll be there…or you won’t.  There is no second chance…there is no do-over…there is no last minute pleading with loved ones that haven’t said Jesus is who He says he is.  I recall someone saying about my best friend:  “He was such a nice person, he has to be in heaven.”  I didn’t say it at the time…as it didn’t seem like the time and place, although I wish I had…that is not why he is in heaven.  I asked him if he believed in Jesus…that is why he’s in heaven.  John 14:6…”I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me.”

MT

Continual Prayer

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Today’s Reading: Luke 12

Our last few posts have included the importance of prayer.  How have these chapters engaged and enhanced your focus on prayer? While I have reflected on prayer, I think about how my daily prayers can include praying for growing in a relationship with our Lord personally, for family, friends, and those still lost.  Many times these prayers can have a focus on current circumstances I’m going through or ones that have been shared.  One of my continual prayers is found at the beginning of todays reading. Speaking to me, really, convicting me, is the first couple verses of Luke. Enjoy reading through Luke 12 as it is filled with so many warnings and encouragements.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

We have written on hypocrisy many times throughout bible journal the last few years. If you would like to read some more look up hypocrisy in the search box. One of the last ones I wrote about I reflected on was, ” Do as I say, not as I do. “

Today, my heart reminded me of the Pharisees, wanting to appear to look good on the outside, yet on the inside their hearts were far from God.  Their selfishness was growing like yeast.  It’s scary when I think how selfish I can be at times, the continual private prayer I have is to have this awareness when my selfishness can creep in and avoid the temptation.  So when I looked back at one of my study bibles on this topic it reminded me about these possible signs to avoid.  Hypocrisy is knowing the truth but not obeying it.  People can say they follow Him, yet not obey.  My simple prayer is to obey.  Hypocrisy can include a self-serving life.  Leading should be not about control or position, but serving others. Hypocrisy can include an outward conformity without an inner reality.  Saying one thing…and doing another.  Honestly, I’ve fallen short many times. It’s hard to admit.  Thankfully Romans 5:8 reminds me that Jesus loved us so much, that he died for us, while we were still sinners.  That daily we can ask God to search us, see if there is anything offensive in us, and lead us closer to Him. Psalm 139:24.

Dear God,

I pray to help us live rightly.  To simply obey. Lord help us to be aware of all the ways the world can pull us away from you. Help us to focus on your words of truth that can will keep our paths straight, in your light, and away from hypocrisy.  God we know that there is nothing we do or say that you don’t already know or see. Help us to take up our cross daily and submit to you.  We love you Lord and thank you for your words today that will be implanted in our hearts and minds today.  Amen

 

Pray, Prepare & Plan, and Participate

Today’s Reading: Luke 11

The purpose of Chapter 11 of Luke is to give us a blueprint or outline of our daily work and spiritual growth.  In the days of Christ and in our society, we are all seeking ways to better our mind, body, and spirit.  The same questions that the early church dealt with are seen in our lives.  We are confronted with how to pray, how to worship, how to sing and praise, what to wear, how to live for God?   But in this passage of scriptures we can find some solace in Christ’s words.  The outline that I find here is: Pray, Prepare and Plan, and Participate.

PRAY:

As Stephanie stated in the previous section, we must pray often and daily.

Luke 11: 1- 4

Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

 Jesus has given us the most powerful prayer that can be prayed.  This is the purest connection that the Father and Son had and it was given openly and graciously to us to have an inherited connection with the Father. This prayer contains all the essentials that God requires of us.  We can come into true relationship with Him with this prayer.  Jesus uses the relational language to create peace and reverence to reconcile us with God.  This prayer creates the aim and focus for our lives and daily living.

PREPARE AND PLAN:

Luke 11: 24-26

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Throughout my life, my father has always had a saying that means more as I grow into a young man and father: Focus and Plan.  Even as a child I had this printed and framed in my room.  The meaning behind this statement is: You must FOCUS on the goal or the dream and then you must PLAN how to achieve it.  In Luke 11, Christ teaches about not only do you need to PRAY, but also you must PREPARE & PLAN your life to be for God and live for him daily.   In this passage Jesus performs several miracles that are questioned by the Pharisees thereby questions his authority.  Christ expels an unclean spirit from a man and then proceeds to give a parable about how to maintain the new Christ-filled life.  Jesus states it s not only a one-time process of cleaning, but it must be a continual and daily process.  Sometimes, when we commit to Christ, we have the newbie excitement and then it fades and we may find ourselves back where we were before or even in worst places.  Christ relaying this information, with a warning to allow him to clean us up and then we need to continue to seek him and make him a part of our house.  When He is the Lord of the house, not only the cleaner, we will be made whole.  This will allow his light to shine through us and bring others to Him.

PARTICIPATE

Luke 11:39-44

And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

Jesus has had many interactions with people of all backgrounds and is genuinely truthful in all aspects.  I love the way that he goes to the dinners he is invited and then challenges each person. In the passage, Jesus is sitting and enjoying food with the Pharisees and lawyers and then gives them and us great advice.  We can be blinded by the “proper and correct” manner of living and neglect justice and the love of God.  How many times do we turn a blind eye to the injustices that happen in our daily lives? How often do we see our brothers or sisters in need and turn the other way?  Sometimes this is easy to see, but there are some instances that we don’t see or choose not acknowledge.  We must become better participants in God’s plan and continually ask Him for guidance and direction to show His Love.

This outline is one that will allow us to be ambassadors to the kingdom of God.  Praying, Preparing& Planning, and Participating are the essential parts to allow Our Father to create his Kingdom to Come. Are we following the blueprint? How can we change to become more aligned with his vision and purpose? Be Blessed.