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Category Archives: Luke

Mark 6:53-56

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Mark 6:53-56

Dear God, for whatever reason the word “ran” caught my attention this morning. The first version of this story I read used the word “scurried.” These are words that apply to humans and not you. Whether it’s the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, the image of any type of franticness just doesn’t fit—except for one example.

When I was in college there was a song by Benny Hester called “When God Ran.” The only time we get an image of you running is in the Prodigal Son story. The second part of Luke 15:20:

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.

To quote “When God Ran”: The only time I ever saw him run is when he ran to me, took me in his arms, held my head to his chest, said, “My son’s come home again!” lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes, with forgiveness in his voice he said, “Son, do you know I still love you?” It took me by surprise when God ran.

Father, as a dad—as a dad who has been left by a child—I can see at least a little of this in me. It’s interesting because it really hasn’t left me angry at this child. I can see myself responding exactly how Jesus describes you in this parable. I heard a podcast last week who where a mom and dad were missing an adult daughter who had left. When she finally answered the phone one day, His first words were, “Please don’t hang up. We don’t care what you’ve done. We love you.”

Father, help me to live my life in such a way that franticness is not a part of it. Give me peace. Help me to exude you. And I pray that you will one day give me the opportunity to run to my child.

I pray this all under your authority, trusting in you no matter what.

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2023 in Luke, Mark

 

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“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Dear God, I just watched a news story about Ukraine and I thought about those poor people. I just got an email from a friend at another nonprofit who is trying to help a woman not in her right mind. I could just sit here and list person after person who needs you. Needs your peace. The poor people in Ukraine. It’s Christmas Eve afternoon there right now and they have little chance for peace tonight. They are cold, hungry, and in constant danger. Can your favor rest on them? Can you give them peace?

By some freak of luck, I was born into a powerful country. I was born into Rome. While my life might always be in a low-grade danger from a fellow citizen, there is not much another country can do to me in this moment to hurt me. I didn’t earn this “peace,” but it is afforded to me by the luck of the draw.

Father, I’m not even sure what I’m praying for this morning except to say that my heart hurts for those who are suffering. Show me what to do. Show me how to do it. And please move through your people to bring peace to those on whom your favor rests. Give them your peace. And bring glory to you in the highest heaven.

I pray all of this in your name, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2022 in Luke

 

Luke 1:38-40

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.
Luke 1:38-40

Dear God, we all need support. In this case, it’s obvious Mary needed some. In this case, there were only two people in the world who could relate to what she was going through: Elizabeth and Zechariah. And she needed them. It’s a double blessing that you used a family member (one married to a priest, no less) to be her support.

Family can be such a tricky thing. Someone was telling me recently that they had had it with some family members and they were just going to move on without them and focus on their friends who didn’t give them so much grief. I reminded the person that friends don’t have the opportunity to hurt us like family members do, and it is easier to cut loose friends when they do hurt us. But there are also times when family is all we have.

I was talking with a woman yesterday about a friend she is trying to help. The person’s friend is seemingly an alcoholic and unable to care for herself. She’s divorced. I asked if she has children. Apparently, she has three, only one of which is talking to her and all of which are exhausted by her. She needs them to step up now.

Father, I do not claim to have done this right. I’ve made my share of mistakes in family relationships. I’ve been hurt by family. I’ve been blessed by family. Help me to be exactly who you need me to be for my family—as a father, husband, son, brother, and uncle. Make me who you need me to be.

I pray all of this by you Holy Name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2022 in Luke

 

Luke 20:27-40

27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. 28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. 31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. 32 Finally, the woman also died. 33 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”

34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. 35 But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.

37 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”

39 “Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. 40 And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Luke 20:27-40

Dear God, I’ve come across this passage several times over the last few weeks. Are you trying to tell me something? I talk a lot about idols and trying to identify the idols in my life. How much is my wife an idol for me? How much do I look to her to provide what the Holy Spirit should be providing in my life? How much do I get my sense of worth from her instead of you.

I heard someone recently describe the relationship we will have with our spouse in the next life as a “special relationship.” Much like we will know our children, parents, and other special people there, we will know our spouse. But what Jesus is saying is that we will have moved beyond the human needs that are met through marriage and into a new angel-like existence That exists around you. I have to tell you, the idea of existing on that reality plain is very appealing to me. I’m good here. I’m happy to live the life you’ve given me here on earth. Frankly, mine is very easy compared to most of the world. I’m happy to try to hear what you’ve called me to do and then follow your calling. But I also have a great hope that this is nothing compared to a pure existence in the timeless reality of your presence.

It makes me think of a Rich Mullins song called “Land Of My Sojourn.” There’s a line in the song that says, “So I’ll call you my country, but I’ll be lonely for my home.” Yeah. I’m happy to be an American, but I don’t find my peace in that. I’m happy to live in my community. I’m happy to be the husband you need me to be for my wife. I’m happy to do whatever it takes to be the father you need me to be for my children (although it feels like I’ve been a failure on many levels there). I’m happy to serve my community. But it feels like the closer I get to you the more loosely I hold onto all of it.

Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus, show me even more today what it means to call you my God. Show me how to be my wife’s husband. Show me how to find my love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness faithfulness, kindness, self-control, etc. in you and not look to her to give me those things. Sharpen me through her. Make me into the man you need me to be through her and the other relationships in my life. Be glorified in all of this.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2022 in Luke

 

Luke 21:9-18

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Luke 21:9-18

Dear God, I was listening to the Bible in a Year podcast from Ascension Press this morning, and this was part of the reading. The part that caught my ear was verses 14 and 15: “So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand.”

I have a meeting later today that concerns me. I’m not entering it with any malice in my heart, but I am afraid that others might be coming with malice. I just want to help. I want to help people in our community. I want to bring your light and hope into the world, but from the ground up, not the top down. Hearts need to be changed. People are walking in a fog. Parents are overwhelmed. Teachers and school personnel are, for lack of a better phrase, charging hell with a water pistol. I want to be your presence in that room today. I want to show others how much you love them. I want to show others what the fruits of the Spirit look like by first attaching my branch to your vine as securely as I am capable and then allowing your Holy Spirit to do the rest.

Father, make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And my the prayer of my heart always be, “Make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.”

I pray this through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, which allows me to come to you in prayer,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in Luke

 

Luke 7:18-20

18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

Luke 7:18-20

Dear God, I think we tend to read over this passage too much, but there’s a reason Luke tells this story. John was probably getting a lot of questions about Jesus, and he was apparently starting to doubt. Everyone was looking for victory over Rome. Everyone was looking for the glory of Israel’s height under David and Solomon. Everyone wanted to have agency over their own lives again. They wanted to feel important again. They wanted to have power and influence. They wanted to restore the world to the way it “should be.”

Here is what Jesus wanted: So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. (Luke 7:22-23) Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

I wonder how John interpreted this response. There’s nothing in here about revolution. The Messiah is apparently about nurturing the individual, not managing society. What is the “good news” he’s proclaiming to the poor? I think it’s that you love them too. Their lives matter to you. He’s going to them individually and bringing you to them. They have been put upon by society. They have been enslaved to pay debts. The have been shamed. Jesus’s words to them are, “No, you matter to the Father. And I am here to reconcile you to Him.”

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I want to be part of giving this message to the world as well. First, thank you for reconciling me to you. Thank you that I am a Gentile, and yet an heir to your realm. You accept me, even with my sin. I am…well, there is no way I can ever be grateful enough. Next, help me to be Jesus-like in my interactions with others. Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth through my life and the lives of your church. Be glorified so that others might find their peace and hope in you.

I pray this through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2022 in Luke

 

Judas

Dear God, I was listening to the Catholic Bible in a Year podcast from Ascension Press by Father Mike Schmitz recently when he was reading from 1 Maccabees. As a Protestant Christian, it was my first time to hear any of the stories. While I was listening, something occurred to me. Judas Maccabeus was a Jewish military hero less than 200 years before Jesus was born. There were two of Jesus’s 12 disciples who were named Judas. I don’t remember reading the name Judas in the Old Testament other than Judas Maccabeus. Is it possible that Judas was a common name to give boys during this era in Israel? Finally–and this one is a big leap–could Judas Iscariot have been wanting to live up to his namesake and frustrated by this fact even more that Jesus didn’t seem to care about Rome’s rule over Israel?

After that, I decided to see who else in the New Testament was named Judas. Just how common was this?

  • Judas Iscariot (we all know him)
  • Judas (not Iscariot): John 14:22
  • Judas, Jesus’s brother: Mark 6:3
  • Judas, called Barsabbas: Acts 15:22 [I wonder if he changed his name because of Judas Iscariot]
  • Jude (author of Jude)–some debate if this might be a duplicate–Jesus’s brother
  • Judas of Galilee: Acts 5:37–rebel leader

Yeah, I think this naming your kid Judas might have been a thing at the time. Of course, that went away over time. Judas Iscariot has become as abhorrent in Christian circles as Benedict Arnold or Adolf Hitler have become in our modern times. I don’t know how many people in Germany currently name their son Adolf, but I would be surprised if it was many.

Father, I don’t know what is in this story for me, but it’s interesting to stop and think about how little decisions, like what to name our child, might impact their lives. I have a few things happening today. Help me as I prepare to go through this day. Let your Holy Spirit go with me. Go with me to work. Let there be healing. Go with me to Rotary. Go with me to San Antonio tonight. Go with me as we strive to bring you glory for all that you do in our lives. Help me to be part of you bringing your kingdom and will being done into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2022 in Acts, John, Jude, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Uncategorized

 

Luke 13:22-30

22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. 29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. 30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”

Luke 13:22-30

Dear God, Jesus represents this as being a much more stringent process than I would. You’re talking about locked doors and people pleading for it to be opened. In this case, he’s also talking in verse 27 about those who thought they were yours and yet still do evil.

I was telling someone earlier today that whenever there are people with whom I disagree it almost never happens that one side knows they are wrong or acting out of any negative or evil ambitions. Both sides think they are on the side of right. Now, there are exceptions to this rule, but I’m sure that even in the Ukraine/Russia situation, Russia feels totally justified in its actions which those of us on the other side see as reprehensible.

There is currently conflict in our community, and I am in it to some extent. In fact, today I am taking a pretty public stand through something I wrote that will probably be in the local newspaper. It did my best to make my opinion clear, delineate it from the opinions of others, but not assign motives to the other side’s actions. While I am not a fan of what they are doing or what they even believe, there is not a part of me that doubts why they are doing what they are doing. They think they are protecting others. They think they are defenders of the weak. I disagree with their conclusions as to what is right and wrong and how they are going about making their opinions known and trying to influence local policy, but I do not doubt their desire to do what they see as good.

So that brings me back to Jesus’s words here about not knowing people who thought they were known. I almost feel like one of the disciples sitting around the table at the Last Supper after Jesus said someone there would betray him. “Is it me, Lord?” “Surely it isn’t me.”

Father, help me to examine my heart. Help those with whom I disagree to examine their hearts. Help us to see where we are wrong. Where we are not loving you with all our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to see how we have assigned bad motives to actions with which we disagree and simply respond to the actions themselves. Help us to treat each other with as much love as possible. Fill me with your peace. Make me an instrument of your peace. Do it all for your glory. Help me to decrease so you can increase.

I pray this through the right Jesus’s life, death and resurrection gives me to come to you,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2022 in Luke

 

Lectionary Readings for October 23, 2022

Dear God, I was attending the Catholic church this morning and some of the verses really struck me. As a Protestant, I have not been exposed to the Apocrypha much, but I’m really coming to appreciate it’s role in the Christian faith.

Old Testament Reading

I mention that because the Old Testament reading this morning was from Sirach 35. Verses 14-16 caught my ear this morning:

1Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it;
15     and do not rely on a dishonest sacrifice;
for the Lord is the judge,
    and with him there is no partiality.
16 He will not show partiality to the poor;
    but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.

I’m not sure which translation the church uses in its missal, but the way the missal translated the part about the poor was, “The LORD is God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.” I like that you love the poor and you will listen to the prayer of the weak, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will show partiality. There is fairness. There is justice. Just because I happen to be poor does not give me license to steal or abuse others. At the same time, you are there to love and comfort them. You are there to help provide through your own means and through your church. Help us to know what that means and looks like.

Psalm

Ironically, the Psalm was parts of Psalm 34. The repeated refrain was “The LORD hears the cry of the poor.” The last verses used in the psalm say, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.” I know some people whose spirits have been crushed. You know who is on my heart right now. Hear their cry. Hear my cry for them. Holy Spirit, give them comfort. Show those of us who know them how to love them. Let your light shine on them through us. And help us to be their defenders on your behalf.

New Testament Reading

The reading is from Paul’s second letter to Timothy. I don’t know why they selectively chose just verse 6-8 and 16-18, but the words in 16-18 struck me:

16 At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

There are some people I know right now who are worthy of defending. I’ve prayed a lot about them over the last few days. Raise up defenders in your church for them. Love them. Encourage them. Use their persecution to draw them closer to yourself. Use it to draw all of us closer to you.

Gospel Reading

Finally, there is the one I was wanting to get to. In Luke 18:9-14, Luke prefaced Jesus’s parable about the two men who went to the temple to pray by saying, “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” Man, do those words ring true right now in our current society. People are claiming the high ground and righteousness in your name and using that as justification to abuse others, discount others, and, frankly, bully others.

Holy Spirit, show me the areas in my life where I am that arrogant person who needs to repent and not despise. Help me to be part of offering your comfort to the oppressed. Help me to be part of your solution in working with the disenfranchised and suffering. I have prayed a lot this morning for particular people. Hear my prayer, Oh, God!

I pray this through Jesus my Lord,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2022 in 2 Timothy, Luke, Psalms, Sirach

 

Luke 12:49-52

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
Luke 12:49-52

Dear God, my first thought when I read this passage this morning was, “Mission accomplished!” It feels like it’s all burning right now. It feels like the division has happened.

I’ve always seen this as you/Jesus being the one to instigate the division. You were the provocateur. But I wonder if it isn’t the world that gets so frustrated with your disciples that they are the provocateurs and the disciples are simply living their lives in peace. It can be very frustrating for a person who is not at peace to encounter someone who is at peace. It’s as if they are asking, “Why are you not as bothered as I am?” “Why are you not as scared as I am?” “Why are you not as insecure as I am?” As a disciple, the trick is to keep my branch truly connected to you and be close enough to your Holy Spirit so that the moment I start to slip into a worldly perspective I can recognize it and cling to you even harder.

Holy Spirit, please be with me. Guide me. Comfort me. Counsel me. Teach me. Convict me. Live through me so that others will be drawn to you. Do it all for your glory so that I am giving my utmost to you for your highest.

I pray this through Jesus, my Lord,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2022 in Luke