RSS

Category Archives: Luke

Luke 19:41-44

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Luke 19:41-44

Dear God, it’s interesting that Jesus wasn’t pitying Jerusalem because of any great sin. He wasn’t pitying them for debauchery or anything like that. He was pitying them because they didn’t recognize you when he came. And who was it who didn’t recognize him? Was it the godless? No, it was the religious leaders.

I’m going to a ministerial association meeting later this morning. There are some really good people in there. And I don’t want to cast any stones because I am chief among sinners. What does concern me, however, are the leaders who have mixed political concerns (not even power, but just anger over the decisions politicians are making) with theology. It feels like we are just getting all of this mixed up when Jesus didn’t seem to care at all about what Rome was up to. Unfair taxes? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Cruel executions through crucifixion? Crucify me too. Centurions who are slave owners? Help them out and heal their slave. And those are just the examples off of the top of my head.

However, there was plenty of venom in Jesus for the religious leaders, and the foremost sin that seemed to disgust him was hypocrisy. Do what I say and not what I do. Love others while I ignore others. Live up to the letter of the law while I disobey the spirit of the law. The fact that they judged others so harshly really, really bothered him.

I’ll admit that it is hard for me to know where to draw the line. I mentioned a couple of days ago a conversation I recently had with a man. He is a good man who is trying to be moral, but he has a venom towards Christianity. But I don’t think it is the Christianity that is about Jesus. I don’t think he is talking about being angry with Jesus. I think, when it comes down to it, he is probably as angry with the church as Jesus was. I wonder how angry you are with the American Christian church now. If you were dictating Revelation to John today, what would you have to say about the church in America?

Father, I admit that I get too easily distracted from really worshiping you by other things. Frankly, the fall can be hard for me because, for whatever reason, I really enjoy college football, and it can really take a lot of my time and energy. But I want to be found faithful. I want you to live through me. I want to be in relationship with you and worship you. I want you to be my God. Thank you for loving me so much.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 12:49-52

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three.”

Luke 12:49-52

Dear God, it’s funny how one can read this passage 2,000 years later and be like the disciples at the last supper when he predicts Judas’s betrayal: “Surely it isn’t I, Lord.” But I’m not exempt from this either. Division from children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.

I’ll admit that I don’t understand this passage and that Jesus’s words are confusing here. I saw a mock trial at a church one time where they were sentencing Jesus as a capital punishment candidate because he was dangerous to society. Before the mock trial he had already been found guilty. The question for the audience as the jury is whether or not he deserved to die because he was that dangerous. The mock prosecutor used passages like this to show that Jesus did deserve to die. I have to hand it to the writers like Luke here. They didn’t whitewash the more challenging things Jesus said.

Of course, Jesus had experienced this within his own earthly family. His brothers and even Mary had gotten crossways with him. And he also knew that Satan would attack us through disunity and our weaknesses. He would use the sin and insecurities and addictions in our lives to drive us apart. Then there is the thorn in his flesh to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 12. I suppose that if my life were exactly idyllic then I would have the gift of pain I talked about last week to mold me. Like a leper, the lack of pain would cause my life and soul to wither.

Father, I don’t know where all of this is going or how it all works out. Lead me to a peace that passes understanding. And keep me humble and willing to examine my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and repent when necessary.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2021 in Luke

 

Like 12:42

And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.”
Luke 12:42

Dear God, I guess my simple prayer would be that you find me faithful. Find me faithful as I husband my wife. Find me faithful as I strive to love my adult children and offer them whatever it is you need them to have from me. Find me faithful in my relationships with family and friends. Find me faithful in serving you in my community and world. And I regret not listing this first because it should have been first: Find me faithful in worshipping you and growing in you. It is only through my relationship with you that I stand a chance at being faithful in these other areas of life.

So why didn’t I go to you first in that list above? What is it about me that first sees my earthly duties instead of looking at the source from which all of my life comes? As I sit here and think about it, I am reminded of a table from Ruby Payne describing different economic classes and how they view acceptance. In poverty, it’s about being liked and being fun. In wealth it’s about maintaining your connections and relationships. But in middle class, it’s about performance and achievement. I think I tend to live out of that performance and achievement model. I want to perform for you. When I think about you coming back and finding me faithful, I think about it in terms of my achievements and my work. I think what I should really be thinking about is whether or not you will find me in right relationship with you.

Father, I appreciate the responsibilities with which you have entrusted me, but I know I cannot do it without the Holy Spirit guiding me through every step. And if I am going to hear the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice then I must submit to you completely. Help me to be all yours. Help me to worship you well. Do it all for your glory through my life.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 12:1

Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy.
Luke 12:1

Dear God, hypocrisy is such a fascinating thing. But let me start with yeast. Jesus uses yeast as his metaphor here. If he had been speaking to us today, I wonder if a more meaningful metaphor to us would be cancer. Beware of the cancer of the Pharisees. Cancer destroys while it grows unchecked. Jesus saw the disconnect between the Pharisees’ words and theology and their actions and actual lives as something that would spread like yeast through dough or cancer through the body.

How many times have I heard people say they don’t go to church anymore because of the hypocrites there? Never mind that, to some extent, we are all hypocrites—even the person complaining. But there are different levels, I suppose. I worked once for a CEO who was a level 9 hypocrite. What I mean by that is he was a completely different person at church than anywhere else. Surprisingly, he would hire people from church (I would have thought he would want to keep his duplicity on the down low) and they would be shocked at the difference between the man for whom they worked and the man with whom they worshipped. Mean, stealing and immoral by week, and talking a good game on Sunday. And I don’t think he recognized his hypocrisy.

So is there anything I can learn from him? Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he couldn’t see his hypocrisy or that it didn’t bother him, what can I do differently to help me see my own?

Of course, it starts with working with the Holy Spirit to inventory my own sins and repenting of them—on a regular basis. Not just saying, “God, forgive me,” but really repenting and turning from my sin. And then turning again when I do the inventory and realize I’ve done it again. Eventually, I will see myself doing it in real time, and then I will eventually stop doing it in real time.

The next step moves into getting closer and close to you so that more and more of my sin is revealed to me. I’m sure I’ve done three things today (at least) that were sins that I don’t even realize, and it’s not even 8:00 a.m. I’ve become aware of things over time. prejudices. Errant beliefs. Selfishness. Judging of others. It’s all there. It’s not just the obvious things in the 10 Commandments like lying and murder, but also the subtle things like making idols to replace you, not observing the Sabbath and coveting what others have.

Father, purify my heart. Make it right before you, and create a pure spirit within me. Let your Holy Spirit move throughout my entire being so that I might see what you need me to see, repent of my mistakes and hypocrisies, and worship you and you alone. And do it all for your glory. So that my life might be used by you for your purposes.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 16, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 11:37-41

As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
Luke 11:37-41

Dear God, this was a pretty audacious thing to say inside a Pharisee’s home and to his face. It almost makes me wonder of Jesus accepted the invitation in the first place so he could challenge this man.

When read in context, this entire chapter shows Jesus being very confrontational with everyone. With the crowd. With the Pharisees and other teachers of the law. No one is spared from rebuke. And I would love to sit here and think about how he might rebuke different churches for their different rules and legalistic theologies today, but it’s probably better if I deal with the log in my own eye as opposed to the speck in anyone else’s.

I talked about this last night, but the truth is I’m still pretty guarded in how I expose myself to others and their needs. It makes me think of an old Steve Camp song called “Living Dangerously in the Hands of God.” I used to listen to that song a lot, but I suppose it is one of those songs that’s easier to sing bravely than live out in actuality.

Father, show me what it looks like to live dangerously today. Holy Spirit, guide me and counsel me. Do it all for your glory and so that your kingdom will come and your will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Luke 11:27-28

Dear God, what an interesting scene from Jesus’s life for Like to capture. Traditionally, Luke got at least some of his material from Mary (Jesus’s mother) herself. If that’s true and if she was the source for this story (two pretty big ifs) it’s an interesting thing for her to have pointed out about herself and Jesus’s attitude towards her vs. the message he came to deliver and work he came to do.

I would imagine that, if not at the time of this story then by the time she was telling Luke about this story, Mary had reached that ultimate level of faith where we realize that our lives are about you and your purposes and not us and our glory. It’s something that you don’t see tons of biblical characters achieve although it seems to be what you are trying to teach all of us. I guess it goes back to that same temptation that Satan used on Adam and Eve: to be like you and replace you with ourselves.

I go to a Catholic Church with my wife, and while I’ve observed that the do not worship Mary, they do certainly revere her. This passage in the context I’ve proposed above makes me wonder now, for the first time, what would Mary have to say about her role in the church and how does she feel about all of the acclamation. I’m thinking she would likely reject it.

Father, help me to reject any acclamation I might receive as well. I get too much credit and I tend to crave too much love. But it’s all about the message I have from you for others: “There is a hope. There is a peace that will make this life complete. Repent and humble yourself before God. Pursue him in discipleship and you will experience life in the most fulfilling way.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 9, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 7:1-10

1When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”

So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” 10 And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.

Luke 7:1-10

Dear God, I was at a church yesterday that emphasized the inerrancy of scripture. And while I do believe that you speak to me through every passage of scripture and that you inspired it and provided it to us, the word inerrancy can have a lot of meanings.

For example, which version of scripture is inerrant? Which translation? Does it have to be in the original tongue of Hebrew or Greek (depending on the book) to be inerrant? If English translations are allowed, does it have to be King James, NIV, or NASB (1995 or the updated one)? Does The Message count?

Another example is passages like this. It can be inferred from this passage that Jesus sanctions slavery because he seemingly did not do anything to rebuke this centurion for having a slave. In fact, he complimented him and rewarded him. Now, I don’t believe that Jesus supported or continues to support slavery, but it is interesting that he seemingly chose to ignore the practice and didn’t make it part of his agenda.

Another example is biblical characters seemingly doing the wrong thing, but never being corrected on it. So does that make their behavior acceptable? I’m thinking about Samson. You used him when there was seemingly nothing redeemable about his behavior. Jacob was a scoundrel and much of his behavior was never addressed. Peter spearheaded naming Mathias an apostle when it was Paul you appear to have designated as Judas’s replacement.

No, I think we back ourselves into a narrow-minded corner if we insist that each word is absolutely inerrant. However, I do think you speak to me through each and every story. Each and every prophecy–whether I understand it or not. I know I’m in theologically dicey territory here, and I probably don’t have enough theological education to credibly make these arguments, but I cannot help but think that clinging to a concept like inerrancy of scripture is an intellectually lazy thing to do. And I feel like I can say that because I used to hold to that concept, although I had never bothered to define it. But studying scripture and thinking and praying through these things with you does mold me into the man you are continuously transforming me into being.

Father, Rich Mullins once said, “I don’t read scripture to know truth. I read it to know God.” You have given us the most peculiar of manuals by which we are to learn about you and live our lives. It is full of stories–mainly stories–mixed in with a few directives here at there. And I think the stories are great at teaching me. But I do need your Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps. And in terms of this story, I need you to show me what it is you have for me to focus on. Jesus wasn’t here to address slavery, but you’ve put it on others to address it over the millennia. Going back to Nehemiah, you didn’t put it on anyone else’s heart to rebuild Jerusalem, but you inspired a man who was in a unique position to address it. So help me to know, today, what you would have me do to 1.) refine myself into being the man you need me to be, and 2.) do what you need me to do so that your kingdom might come and your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 13, 2021 in Luke

 

Luke 12:4-7

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Luke 12:4-7

Dear God, I spent some time studying about and thinking about Naomi yesterday. As I now sit here and think about this verse I can only imagine how these words might have hit her early in Ruth chapter 1. She had the world collapsing around her. No husband. No sons. Two daughters-in-law who didn’t have much more agency, if any, than she did. The combination of mourning the loss of her husband and sons and fear of what happens next must have been overwhelming. I cannot imagine the grief that would come with losing my wife and two children. Adding insecurity over my fiscal survival to the equation might push me to the edge.

But your words through everything are to trust in you. Even regarding death. If my path is to walk into death, I can do it peacefully because the end here on earth is not the end. Yes, it is easier to say these things in a peaceful moment than live them in the midst of trials, but the only way I have a shot at living this out in a trial is if I do my best to learn the concept now.

Father, I don’t know what is next for me. I don’t know the path my children are walking or what is in store for them. Nor do I know what is ahead for my wife and me. Thank you for reminding me this morning that was don’t need to fear. Thank you that you care more about me. Thank you for Jesus saying and Luke recording that I have nothing to fear but you, and you love me immeasurably.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2021 in Luke

 

Psalm 111

Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people.

How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them.

Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.

He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord!

He gives food to those who fear him; he always remembers his covenant.

He has shown his great power to his people by giving them the lands of other nations.

All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy.

They are forever true, to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.

He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

Praise him forever!
Psalm 111

Dear God, this is just a nice psalm of worship. No asking for curses on my enemies. No laments or self pity. Just worship. Just acknowledging who you are and how you are faithful and true. It seems appropriate for a Sunday morning and at the end of a week that actually saw some nice outcomes for things I brought to you in prayer. I’ve said thank you to you a few times silently in my heart, but let me say here, thank you for everything you did this week, both the things I recognized and the things you did in the background and I had now clue (and will likely never have a clue).

I couldn’t help but see some similarities in Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55) when she is pregnant and greeted by Elizabeth with an affirmation of what was happening to her instead of judgment and condemnation for being pregnant before marriage. She must have been nervous about how Zechariah and Elizabeth would respond to her, but as soon as she walked in the room you gave her affirmation from a third party that flooded her with relief. All she could do was spontaneously praise you right then and there. Knowing this psalm might have even influenced her words. It’s all just so great!

Father, thank you. There is still a lot that concerns me, but, at least in this moment, my joy, hope, and peace are in you. I love you. I worship you. I thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 8, 2021 in Luke, Psalms

 

Tags: ,

Luke 9:21-27

Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:21-27

Dear God, how much of my life do I still try to hold on to each day? As a percentage, I mean. I’d like to say it’s as low as 25%, but reality tells me it’s probably as high as 75%. I still like an awful lot of what I like and I can be very selfish.

What does a life completely surrendered to you look like? Have I ever seen it? In my American life, I haven’t seen many. Perhaps Jimmy Dorrell. He and his wife are incredibly sacrificial people. They gave up comfort and safety and moved to a very poor, dangerous part of their city to love people. They have sacrificed much more than I ever have. They have given of themselves. They sacrificed what they would give to their children. Yes, Jimmy is probably I’ve known personally who comes the closest this kind of sacrifice. Mother Theresa would be another, but I didn’t know her. My point is, they are truly few and far between—especially in America.

So what am I to do? What am I not doing that you would call me to do? Is there anything? Is there anything else you want me to sacrifice? My car? My nice home? My safe job? How about simpler things like the time I spend watching videos? The time I spend reading about sports? The time I exercise? If I were to truly put everything on the table, what would you have me give, and what would you allow me to keep?

Father, I don’t want to pray this next thing, but help me to see what it means to “give up [my] own way, take up [my] cross, and follow [you].” Reveal to me what you need me to see.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 12, 2021 in Luke