Luke 17

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

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“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (v 3-4 NIV)

FORGIVE          (Proverbs 19:11)

Oh, Father, how do You do it?!  How do You keep on forgiving me time after time when I sin against You, recognize my sin, and turn to You seeking forgiveness?  What is it in You that keeps Your forgiveness flowing?  Whatever that is, would You make that flourish within me?  Would You help me to forgive like You do?  No matter how many times I must forgive the same person … even when he/she hasn’t even sought pardon, even then, help me to set them free by letting go of what they did … freeing myself as well from all that comes with holding onto the hurt that can come packaged in the blow of another’s sin.

“He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.'” (v 6 NIV)

FAITH   (Proverbs 18:10)

Lord, I choose to believe in what You have in store for me in the days ahead, the times before me.  You have said that YOU know the plans You have for me (Jeremiah 29:11-13).  Because I know You, I choose to believe in Your plans, to put my faith in what is yet unseen, believing it to be what is for my very best.

Over and over, I’ve held to my faith in You to provide for even my basic needs.  You’ve shown me Your faithfulness and Your perfect timing.  I choose to continue to entrust myself to YOUR care and not my own.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” (v 10 NIV)

FOLLOW          (Proverbs 18:16)

You call me to obey Your will.  It’s a privilege to serve You.  When I obey, I’m simply doing what I’ve been told to do by the One whom I’ve named my Lord and Master.  Obedience is not always pleasant, but it’s always right.  Just like Jesus: He died on the cross because it was Your plan, Father.  And since I want to be like Him, I accept Your plan, Your sovereignty in my life.  Amen.

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Luke 16

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

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“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? … God knows your hearts.  What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (v 10-12, 15 NIV)

Everything that I have belongs to You, Lord.  You’ve supplied all my possessions and money.  You’ve allowed me to have them for use in this world as I follow You.  You’re interested in my attitude toward the things and money You’ve entrusted to me.  Will I be like the rich man who was too selfish to help the begging man? (v 19-21).  Will I be like the other rich man’s manager who was dishonest in his dealings and was accused of wasting his master’s possessions? (v 1-2).

My use of money is a great test of Your lordship in my life — how well do I place YOU as Lord over my life?  Or, am I a slave to money?  You pointed out the following note in the NIV Life Application Bible:

“Money has the power to take God’s place in your life.  It can become your master.  How can you tell if you are a slave to Money? (1) Do you think and worry a bout it frequently?  (2) Do You give up doing what you should do or would like to do in order to make more money?  (3) Do you spend a great deal of your time caring for your possessions?  (4) Is it hard for you to give money away?  (5) Are you in debt?” [see Prov. 22:7] (NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1839.)

Father, teach me how to trust YOU completely for everything.  Center my trust on Your providence not on my own abilities.  My ability to meet my needs can’t compete to the vastness of Your supply and generosity.  Help me to stop trying to figure out how to manage and instead help me to rely on YOUR management of all that pertains to me.  As I step toward a more complete surrender to You, keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Luke 15

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

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“…He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends” (v 2 MSG)

What an example You are, Jesus, of loving all people, even those whom society tries to set aside.  You embrace them.  You consider them friends… Actually, we ALL fall under that noun of “sinners,” even those of us who belong to You.  Still, no matter what we do, You keep on loving us.

This chapter, though, Father, points out Your compelling passion for the wandering sinner, for the person who has been in Your fold, has been a part of Your possession, has been in Your household, yet became lost.  I can see in each parable a character who resembles You, whose actions reflect Your actions when it comes to Your desire for everyone to be Yours.

You’re like the shepherd.  He is continually alert to all his sheep, noticing even the absence of one amidst so many.  The one is as valuable as all the rest and like the sheep who was lost, if I’d been the only lost sinner, You’d have still done all that You did through Jesus to bring me back.  When Your sheep wander away, You persist in seeking them out.  When You do find each one, You are so full of joy that all of heaven parties!

You are like the woman.  She loses one coin, which is just as valuable to her as the other nine.  She does everything it takes to search for that coin, determined to find it.  You never give up on Your children, no matter how far away we roam or try to hide ourselves.  When You find one, You are extraordinarily ecstatic!

You are like the father.  Even though You know what’s the very best for Your child, You still allow for free will and personal choice.  The way this father could see his returning son “while he was still a long way off” (v 20 NIV), causes me to wondered how often that father peered down the same road … hoping, wondering, longing, waiting.  At the first sight of Your returning child, Your compassion wells up.  Here in this passage is the only biblical inference to You as running.  You saw Your lost child who’d chosen to return home and Your feet couldn’t carry You quickly enough to be with him.  You ran to him, scooped him into Your arms, and called for a party in his honor!

Father, instill in me that same passion, diligence, patience, and that same party attitude when it comes to those who’ve wandered from You.  Protect me always from the temptation to be like that disgruntled older brother.  I want to be like You, Father.  Thanks for Your work in me continually to bring that about within me.  Amen.

Luke 14

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

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“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (v 11 NIV)

“What I’m saying is, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face.  But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (v 11 MSG)

Father, it takes humility on my part to be open to receive Your holiness.  Holiness is what You work in me (Heb. 10:9-10, 12-14; 12:10, 14) as I set myself aside and let You have full say in my heart, my mind, my ways.

Your examples in this passage reflect the servant heart of Jesus.  You call me to honor others above myself.  You call me to reach out to, invite and welcome others who are less able than me financially, physically, and perhaps, socially or in other ways.

Give me Your eyes, Lord.  Let me look through them as I gaze upon the faces around me.  Let my heart beat with Your compassion.

“… Anyone who comes to Me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters — yes, even one’s own self! — can’t be My disciple.  Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind Me can’t be My disciple… Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be My disciple.” (v 26-27, 33 MSG)

NOTHING can be more important to me than You, Jesus, if I say that I’m Your follower.  You desire FIRST place in my heart, my allegiance, my attention, my plans, my affection, my investment of me.

Guide me in evaluating the place I truly give You in my life.  When I’ve held too dearly to earthly things, people and plans, forgive me and free me.  Give me an outlook like what Amy Carmichael once expressed, “Nothing human suffices.”  Help me to wholeheartedly sing from the hymn “I Have Decided” the stanza below:

“I have decided to follow Jesus

… the world behind me

the cross before me (3x)

No turning back, no turning back … ”

Make me just like You, Lord Jesus, no matter what it takes.  Amen.

Luke 13

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

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A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”

He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business.  PUT YOUR MIND ON YOUR LIFE WITH GOD.  THE WAY TO LIFE — TO GOD! — IS VIGOROUS AND REQUIRES YOUR TOTAL ATTENTION.  A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives.  Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’

“You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing.  You don’t know the first thing about Me.’

“That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace …” (v 23-28 MSG)

Father, may my total attention be focused on serving and honoring You.  In my day-to-day activities, help me to seek Your face, Your strength, and Your honor.  Keep my mind centered on You, on my life in You, whether that’s an easy task, when things go well, or a tough one full of trials.  Keep my heart open to Your Spirit within me as You daily fashion me to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

Luke 12

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

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“… Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtime or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion.  There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body …walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers.  They don’t fuss with their appearance–but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? …If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?” (v 22-28 MSG)

Father, thank You for always taking such good care of me, even when I don’t notice or acknowledge Your handiwork.  Your eyes are always upon me; your eyes never close in sleep.  Your attention is always directed to the very details of my life.

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with GETTING so you can respond to God’s GIVING.  People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works.  STEEP YOURSELF IN GOD-REALITY, GOD-INITIATIVE, GOD-PROVISIONS.  YOU’LL FIND ALL YOUR EVERYDAY HUMAN CONCERNS WILL BE MET.  Don’t be afraid of missing out.  You’re My dearest friends!  The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.  Be generous… The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (v 29-34 MSG)

You know my EVERY need — even the needs I don’t know I have.  You have the power and the means to meet every need.  I choose to look to YOU, Father God.  I release from my hands the things I’ve been trying to gather in order to meet my needs.  I stand before You with open hands and outstretched arms, looking to You …like a child waiting for her Daddy to pick her up and hold her.  YOU are my Provider.  I will rest in You.

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when He comes.  I tell you the truth, He will DRESS HIMSELF TO SERVE, will HAVE THEM RECLINE AT THE TABLE, and will SOME AND WAIT ON THEM.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready …” (v 37-38 NIV)

Keep me alert and ready for Your return, Lord.  May I continually be about Your work and by Your grace, be effective in doing so.

Thank You for the invitation to and anticipation of that great Day when we’ll feast together one day!  Until then, here’s my heart.  Keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Luke 11

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

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Father, I pray right along with that model prayer Jesus shared with His disciples … but in this paraphrase that’s quite different from what many quote: “Reveal who You are.  Set the world right.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil” (v 2-4 MSG).  “You’re in charge!  You can do anything You want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes. Yes. Yes” (Matthew 6:9-13 MSG).

Thank You for letting me know You.  Praise to You for Your Sovereign control over all creation.  Thank You for Your provision for all my needs.  Thank You for Your forgiveness to me.  Thank You for prompting, guiding and strengthening me to forgive others.  Thank You for Your protection and the security that comes from being with You.

“See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” (v 35-36 NIV)

Father, make me full of light, the kind that comes directly from You, my “Father of lights” (James 1:17).  This jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7) often has cracks in it, through which my weaknesses and shortcomings can be seen.  When Your light is within me, it can shine through those cracks to light the way for others to see Your face.  Hold me out, Lord, like a beacon of hope in this world.  Use me to point each person I encounter to You.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.  You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (v 42 NIV)

Keep me faithful in giving of my resources, Lord.  Also, help me to remain steadfast in the way I relate to others.  Loving You means loving others.  Loving other requires forgetting self.  I need Your strength and help to do both as You continue to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.