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 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.

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.

Luke 7:36-50

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

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“…a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at His feet, weeping, raining tears on His feet.  Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume.” (v 37-38 MSG)

The Pharisee host couldn’t believe You’d let this woman touch You, Lord.  Yet, You took this opportunity to again contrast the attitude of the Pharisees with “sinners.”  In reality, both Simon and the woman were sinners.  The point You were highlighting to Simon was that the woman had realized it.  She was stricken by the raw awareness of her sin and the value of Your mercy, forgiveness, and love.  She was so moved by this recognition that her response was extravagant adoration of You, the one by whom she received such phenomenal gifts.

WASHED IN SERVICE

“…she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (v 44 NIV)

This woman came into a room, though uninvited, found You there, as she’d hoped, and stood behind You.  (The custom of the day was for guests to recline at the meal table, so Your feet would’ve been behind You, and she could’ve easily slipped in without disrupting the table guests.)  When she arrived at her target destination, all she could do was weep.  No doubt, You felt each tear drop onto Your feet.  I wonder how many tears fell before she noticed their landing spot …before she knelt and more tears gushed forth … until she let down her hair and used it as a towel to dry Your feet…

Father, may my heart be so aware of the fathomless pit out of which You’ve brought me by Your gift of salvation that my foremost act in Your presence is serving You.  Let me not grow so proud as Simon, who didn’t even carry out a simple social custom of providing water for Your dusty feet as You entered his home.  Oh, make me like this woman — aware of my sin, aware of my salvation, and deeply, visibly grateful for the great chasm between the two!

KISSED IN AFFECTION

“…this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet” (v 45 NIV)

Simon had not even offered You a customary kiss of greeting; yet, here again, the woman, who was looked down upon by the religious leader, becomes a model to which You call attention.  Realizing the depths of Your forgiveness, her heart bursts with love and adoration for You, Jesus.

When I embrace the thought of this woman’s actions, I can feel it, yet putting it into words is difficult.  I remember the time when my acknowledgment of my sin used to be more like Simon’s.  I went about my faith walk not conceding too often that, though I’d been a good person as I grew up, I was a sinner like any person whose sins were visible, public, and atrocious.  A reality had to hit me: My sin put You on the cross too.  I recall the change inside when I was vividly aware that I had always been and will always be at YOUR mercy, dependent on Your grace.  Even now, I weep tears of gratitude as I consider how You love me … and I can barely release the words from my quivering lips … “I love You, Jesus.”

ANOINTED IN HONOR

“…she has poured perfume on My feet” (v 47 NIV)

She had carried in a carved, expensive and beautiful jar of perfume, no doubt costing her a great amount.  How had she earned the money to purchase such a treasure?  Was it a family heirloom that she’d manage to hang onto?  Had someone given it to her as payment for her services?  The origin of her gift is not known, except that it was hers, and she chose to use it to honor the One who set her free.

Lord, may I follow this woman’s example of taking whatever I value in this life and using it to bring honor to You.  Let me be extravagant in glorifying You, because like her, I KNOW that it is only YOU who could and have set me free!

SERVICE, LOVE, and HONOR…these three were the responses of a woman who acknowledged the depths of her sin and the price of her salvation.  You didn’t forgive her, save her, or free her because of these good acts.  You did all those things because You came to serve, to show Your love, and to restore honor to us fallen ones.

This woman had You in person; she could convey her gratitude directly to You.  Today, though, Lord, for me, You tell me that I am serving You when I serve others (Matthew 25:31-40) …that I am loving You when I love others (1 John 3:11-18; 4:7-12) …that I am honoring You when I honor others (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3-5ff).  Help me to live in an attitude of gratitude, cognizant of all You’ve done for me, and humbly expressing what that means to me.  You’ve brought me so far, Father.  Continue to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Luke 2:8-20

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

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“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (v 8 NIV)

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29 NIV)

“I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … I know My sheep and My sheep know Me … and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14-15 NIV).

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne … ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'” (Rev 5:6, 12 NIV)

“We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth, He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6-7 NIV)

People had been waiting for centuries for the coming of the Messiah.  When, finally, You brought this highly acclaimed deliverer, You chose to reveal the news to some ordinary shepherds.  Everything about Jesus was not always what people expected, but always what You had promised.

How fitting for shepherds to be the first to hear this wondrous news!  For Your Son, Jesus, would Himself be both the Good Shepherd and the Lamb of God.  You were sending Him into this world to lead, guard, and care for us as a shepherd would each sheep (Psalm 23).  He also came to become the sacrificial lamb, which would be slaughtered once for all the sins of all people for all time (Heb 9:26-28; 10:10).

If Your purpose had been different, Lord, You might have announced this birth night to someone else.  If Your intention would’ve been to send Jesus merely to over throw Roman rule, You might have startled soldiers not shepherds.  If Your aim would’ve been to send Him to heal all our physical ailments, You might have aroused a bunch of doctors.  Yet You had different plans.

You knew our deeper need and had been planning since creation for meeting that need.  Through the Levitical priesthood, You established the practice of sacrificing a lamb as a means of atoning for sin.  You knew that our deepest need was not political freedom, physical healing, or the like.  Rather, You knew that we most needed to be freed from the clutches of sin, forgiven for our wrongs against You, and found to belong to You.

Thank You, Jesus, for being my Shepherd and for being that Lamb who died for me.  Amen.

Mark 11

Show me Jesus, Father, and show others the Jesus in me.

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“Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to find out if it had any fruit.  When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then He said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And His disciples heard Him say it.” (v 13-14 NIV)

FAKE FAITH (v 12-17)

In the growth cycle of a fig tree, seeing leaves should mean finding figs.  Yet when You approached this fig tree, no figs were found.  Right after this, Lord, You entered a place that appeared from the outside as a place of worship, yet when You reached it, no fruit of worship was found (v 15-17).  As the tree was barren of nourishing fruit though appearing fruitful, so Your temple was barren of true worship, though structurally appearing to be a place where such activity were taking place.

Lots of pretending going on, lots of fake faith — yet You’ve said elsewhere “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  When my focus becomes set on myself or this world, what comes forth from my life is not the kind of fruit You expect to find in a life that belongs to You.

REAL FAITH (v 20-25)

“…Embrace this God-life.  Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you.  This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’ … and it’s as good as done.  That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large.  Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything.  And when You assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all ASKING.  If you have anything against someone, FORGIVE — only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins” (v 22-25 MSG).

Teach me to pray, Lord, with a heart that earnestly seeks Your kingdom, that longs to see Your name glorified and Your people sanctified.  Shape my prayers into ones which are full of faith — not faith in the object of my prayers, or that which I pray for — rather, faith in You, the One who hears and responds to my prayers.  Keep my prayers from being motivated by my own interests and desires.  Instead, keep me desiring YOUR will above my own, as You continue to make me just like Jesus. Amen.

John 19:17-42

Father, every bit of the person You’d have me to be, I long to be.

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“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’

With that, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.” (v 30)

“Accomplished,” “fulfilled,” or “paid in full” — Your death, Lord, took care of all sin for all time all at once at just the right time.  HOW I THANK YOU!!

You suffered so much for me … for each person in Your creation.  Your sacrifice covered my most visible sins and my hidden sins, my sins I commit and my sins of obedience I omit.

All glory and honor to You, Jesus.  My heart leaps with joyful gratitude at the thought of the freedom from sin You have given me.  Thank You, Lord, thank You!!

John 8:1-11

Father, every bit of the person You’d have me to be, I long to be.

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“… they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest.  The woman was left alone.  Jesus stood up and spoke to her.

‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’

‘No one, Master.’           

‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way.  From now on, don’t sin.'” (v 9-11 MSG)

As You confronted her sin, Jesus, You poured out compassion as well.  You let this woman know that she was of greater importance than anything she had done wrong (adapted from Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 169).  You both forgave her and challenged her to change.

Thank You for Your grace and mercy, Lord.  You offer them anew with each blanket of morning dew or frost.  You cover my sin, free me from its grip, and call me to again set my aim on following Your example of living a life free of sin’s power.  You remind me of Your sacrifice for me, so that I might remain free.  You call me to seek to obey You above all else, including my own desires.  You welcome me into Your presence because I am covered by the blood of Your Lamb.

Thank You for loving me.  Thank You for forgiving me.  Thank You for cleansing me.  Take my heart and make it set on following You, on being just like Jesus.  Amen.

John 1:19-34

Jesus, be Lord over ALL my life

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“Here He is, God’s Passover lamb!  He forgives the sins of the world!  … There’s no question about it: this is the Son of God.” (v. 29, 34 MSG)

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth to be like me so that I could be like You.  Thank You for allowing Your body to be sacrificed in my place. Thank You for forgiving my sins. Thank You for making a way for me to know Your Father, God.  Thanks for making it possible for me to call Him “Papa” (Abba, in Your words) too.

You, Jesus, came here as “the God-Revealer” (v 31 MSG); so that those who know God might meet God in You.  You revealed His character, His will, His desires, His plan and His ways to us.  When You called me to follow You and I accepted and began that journey, You began to personally reveal our Father to me.  Thank You for each passing year as He and I become better and better acquainted.

Still, You don’t stop there!  You are continually shaping me so that I too am a “God-revealer” as I go, wherever I go.  May I please You each step of the way.  May others see in me the You who loves them so, the You who died so they could know freedom from sin, true peace within, and to one day see our Father’s smile.

Thank You, Jesus, for all that Your coming, dying, and rising make possible.  For as many days as You allow me to walk this earth, keep transforming me to become just like You and using me to help others know You. Amen.