Luke 24

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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Your followers were facing one of the most perplexing times of their lives, Lord.  Having given up everything to follow You for three years, suddenly You were gone.  Their leader had been taken from them and they couldn’t fathom what had just taken place.

I’ve been there, too, Lord … following Your lead, walking through doors You’ve opened, listening for Your guidance.  Then, suddenly the way ahead seems unclear, unmarked, uncertain.  All that I have to go on are Your last words of direction, so I can only keep on following those.

“AS THEY TALKED AND DISCUSSED THESE THINGS WITH EACH OTHER, JESUS HIMSELF CAME UP AND WALKED WITH THEM; BUT THEY WERE KEPT FROM RECOGNIZING HIM.” (v 15-16 NIV)

For Your early followers, You did just what YOU knew they needed in order to comprehend Your plan.  You came alongside them, even though it wasn’t evident to them that it was You.  You spoke to them from what had been written about You in Your Word, bringing to the forefront of their minds the Scriptures they’d learned before.  You fellowshipped with them at different levels, until, at one point, the light came on and they recognized You.  Their reflection on what You’d been trying to say to them became richer.  Later, You continued to open “their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (v 45 NIV).  THEN, You gave them directions and assurance for the times ahead.

That’s the part I’m looking forward to, Lord — the directions and assurance.  Actually, I’m assured and convinced of Your presence, I’d just be glad to have the directions.  Yet, I know YOU and I’m sure that in YOUR time, I’ll recognize Your plan.  Until then, I’ll wait as You keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

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Luke 23

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“… FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.”

You knew ahead of time ALL that would be done to You, Jesus.  That’s what may have moved You somewhat to plead with Your Father for a less-painful way to do what must be done (Luke 22:42).  You knew how You’d be treated by the very humans You came to save and set free.

That day so long again held the most horrible physical pain for You.  You let Yourself be nailed to that cross because You chose to be the sacrifice for all sin for all time — including mine.  Oh, Jesus, thank You!  Thank You for dying for me.  Thank You for saving me.  Thank You for loving me … all the way to the cross!  Amen.

Luke 22

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“…the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves … I am among you as one who serves.” (v 26-27 NIV)

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, SERVING as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be … eager to SERVE; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock … All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another … Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:2-3, 5-6 NIV)

Whether my role, position, or vocation is actually designated as “leader” doesn’t matter.  In Your kingdom, Lord, You have equipped me for leadership; You call me to lead by example as I follow the example of Christ.  Help me to do so each day, Lord, including today.

Make me like Jesus, the kind of leader or Shepherd that He was (is).  Cause my eyes to see YOUR flock as You see them.  Place in me a never-swerving heart of a servant, intent on serving others, placing others first. Cover me with a genuine blanket of humility toward others.  Let me not be afraid of what will happen to me by being humble; rather, strengthen me to entrust myself to You through all things.  It’s the You in me that I long for others to see and experience.  Amen.

Luke 21

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today.  All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave EXTRAVAGANTLY what she couldn’t afford — she gave her all!” (v 4 MSG)

“…she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (v 4 NIV)

“…a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.  She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.  Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume?’ … And they rebuked her harshly …

“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus.  ‘Why are you bothering her?  She has done a beautiful thing … she did what she could …'” (Mark 14:3-8 NIV)

Move me to extravagance, Father, when it comes to expressing my love for You!  I don’t have You here in physical form to show You directly; so I must go indirectly.  My giving to Your work–even when it hurts–is part of loving You.  My treatment of others is definitely a means of loving You (Matthew 25:31-46).  Help me to be extravagant EVEN WHEN the recipients “don’t deserve it” (in my own eyes).

Make me just like Jesus, who gave all of Himself in all ways for all people, so that all who would believe in Him might gain all that You offer and have in store for us One Day.  Amen.

Luke 19

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“YOU WILL SEEK ME & FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART” (Jer 29:13 NIV)

Here’s Zacchaeus, a man whose vocation was as a tax collector and whose stature was shorter than most in the crowd.  He had become quite wealthy in his work, possibly not all through ways of integrity.  He hears that Jesus was in town and, wanting to see Him, found himself what he felt was HIS best seat around.  He sought out the Lord he’d heard about.

You saw him, Jesus.  You knew how he was seeking You.  And, just like Your Word says, those who seek You really do find You.  You didn’t just acknowledge his presence, You extended genuine interest in spending time with him, getting to know him in his home even.

You want to know each one of us, Lord, and I’m glad that includes me.  Thank You for letting me know You.  Thank You for wanting to know me.  Thank You for making Your home inside of me, as You move in, redecorate, and work to make me just like Jesus each day.  Amen.

Luke 1 – 19 Leading toward Easter: The Determination of Jesus

Based on Luke 1-19

While looking through the first nineteen chapters of the gospel of Luke, I recorded that which stood out …

We see Jesus announced (Lk 1:26-56); born (2:1-20); dedicated, and blessed (2:21-39); growing up (2:40-52); heralded (3:1-20); baptized (3:21-22); tempted yet victorious (4:1-13); ministering (3:23; 4:14ff);  teaching, rejected, driving out evil spirits, healing, calling followers, praying (with others and alone), blessing and cursing (6:17-26); exhorting, encouraging, loving, anointed, supported by some, sleeping during a storm, silencing a storm, deploying apostles, meeting physical needs, and then . . .

The Twelve returned from their trip of preaching and healing–expecting to rest, recuperate and fill Jesus in on the experience.  This seemed like Jesus’ intentions too; however, the crowds found Him and them.  Jesus welcomed them, spoke to them, healed them and then miraculously fed them. Then, they all finally got their leisure time.

Once, Jesus asked the disciples who they believed He was.  When Peter proclaimed, “The Christ of God,” Jesus dropped “the bomb” that He must suffer much and be killed.  Then He pointed out the cost of choosing to follow Him: The degree of difficulty of following Christ depends on how closely one wants to follow.

Eight days later, Jesus headed up a mountain to pray.  He took Peter, James, and John.  Something spectacular happened up there which conveyed the glory of Jesus ever so brightly.  His Father, himself spoke, identifying Jesus as His Son, who was to be listened to.

The next day it was business-as-usual:  crowds coming up; people being healed and freed from demons; Jesus teaching; people being amazed–and then Jesus states that someone’s going to betray Him. But His followers didn’t understand. Instead, “the boys” argued about who’s the greatest and who can and can’t drive out demons.

Meanwhile, Jesus knew the time was drawing close.  He knew the day was coming when He’d be taken up to heaven, yet He also knew that He must suffer tremendously before that day arrived.  So, He mustered up the “guts” of His humanity and His intense, undying love as deity, and it is stated, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (9:51).

For Him, there was no turning back.  He made up His mind and set His life’s direction toward Jerusalem.  It wasn’t a popular destination for His followers and He knew what awaited Him if He went.  But greater than that expectation, He knew what awaited all of God’s children if He did not go.  His love for us was the deciding factor and the determining glue which fixed His mind on reaching Jerusalem.

Jesus set His course and continued His ministry “as He made His way to Jerusalem” (13:22).  He held much compassion and sorrow for that city.  He knew of the treatment given prophets and others sent to her.  He had longed to draw her near to His heart, but she was unwilling.

Some Pharisees (not the typical self-righteous, plotting ones of that time it seems) came to warn Jesus that King Herod wanted Him dead.  They strongly suggested He leave and go somewhere else.  But Jesus had a plan and a goal to reach, and He was intent on reaching it.  He kept on going.  He told them that the next time they saw Him they’d be saying blessings to Him (13:35).

Jesus continued on with His traveling as well as teaching, healing, and encouraging. He taught and taught, just like a man who knows He’s going to die and still has much to say. All the while, the self-righteous Pharisees were muttering about Him and sneering at Him.

“On His way to Jerusalem” (17:11), He continued His ministry.  Over and over He did what He came to do among people, as He kept His focus on what He primarily came to do for people.  He mentioned the rewards and celebration for those who follow in His footsteps:  “many times as much” as what one surrenders “in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life” (18:29-30).

He pulled the Twelve aside to restate the plan, “We are going up to Jerusalem” (18:31).  He told of the fulfillment of prophecy that would take place there.  He told of His betrayal, the mocking, insulting, spitting and flogging He must face.  He told them of His death and He gave a burst of hope in saying He would not remain dead, but would rise from the dead on the third day after they kill Him!  All this news and the disciples still didn’t understand.  At least they’d heard it all.

While in Jericho, He healed a blind man’s eyes.  He changed a tax collector’s heart.  He cleared up some misconceptions about the kingdom of God.  (“He was near Jerusalem” at this point –19:11.)

Moving closer, “going up to Jerusalem” (19:28), He paused at the Mount of Olives to have the disciples go acquire some transportation.  They brought a colt to Jesus.  He mounted it and rode into Jerusalem with “the whole crowd of disciples joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  `Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord'” (19:37-38).

As Jesus “approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it” (19:41).  If only she’d known what would bring the time of God’s coming to her. And so, Jesus began the last week of His life, having met His goal of going to Jerusalem.

He arrived seated on a colt;

He’d depart nailed to a cross —

all because of His deep and undying love

for you and me!

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®.  Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Luke 18

Father, thank You for Jesus and the life I have in Him!

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“…always pray and not give up …And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? …He will see that they get justice, and quickly…” (v 1, 7-8 NIV)

You want to hear from me, Father.  This “not giving up” isn’t about repeatedly pleading with You for something.  It’s about continually choosing to seek You, to look to YOU for what I need.

HUMILITY

“…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v 14 NIV)

You said in Your first sermon, as You sat on a mountain, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3).  When I recognize my spiritual bankruptcy, THEN I am blessed.  When I acknowledge that I am no one, can do nothing without YOU, it’s then I am blessed by You.  When I’m empty of me, there’s much more room for lots of You!

CHILDLIKENESS

“…anyone then who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (v 17 NIV)

Breed in me an eagerness to be in Your presence, a bright hope for each new day, a willingness to accept people, a playful energy for life, a simple trust in You, my huge God!

SURRENDER

“…Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then, come follow Me” (v 22 NIV)

The things in my hands are what You ask for, Lord.  That which I could call mine in this world is what You call me to surrender to You.  When I am not tied to things, I am free to follow You.  Those “things” could be objects, possessions, or people, relationships, and so on.  The bottom line is my letting go.  The common gesture for “surrender” is to lift both hands above the head with palms forward and fingers outstretched.  This would make it extremely difficult to still be holding onto something.

FAITH

“What is impossible with men is possible with God” (v 27 NIV)

When I step forward in faith, I never walk alone. You take each step with me, Lord.  You make a way where there seems to be no way.

ABANDON

“…no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come eternal life.” (v 29-30 NIV; Mk 10:29-30)

When I let go of what I have and plunge into all that You are, Lord, You are more faithful than I could imagine!  You accept my offering of me, then You place me on Your potter’s wheel, so that You can shape me by Your design, for Your purposes.

PERSPECTIVE

“…Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’

“‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight your faith has healed you.’  Immediately he received his sight …” (v 40-43 NIV)

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  Allow me to see through Your lenses, Your perspective, as I gaze upon this world.

Shape in me persistence, humility, and a childlikeness as I surrender to You in faith and with abandon, allowing Your perspective to be mine as You make me just like Jesus.  Amen.