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.

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.

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 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.

Luke 10

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

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“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out…” (v 2-3 NIV)

In this setting with Your early disciples, Lord, You grouped them into 36 teams of two then You chatted with them a bit.  You told them of the NEED.  You called them to PRAY for workers to meet the need.  Then, immediately You told them to GO meet that need, including Your own guidelines for HOW to meet that need.

Before us continues to lie a ripe harvest field.  Send out workers, Lord, so that the lives that are ready to say “yes” to You will have that opportunity.  As You lead, I’m willing to go forth as one of those workers, looking to You for the words, means, and strength.  Daily open my eyes to see the harvest work to be done THAT day and prompt me to do it.

“…See what I’ve given you?  Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy.  No one can put a hand on you.  All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you–that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” (v 19-20 MSG)  (“snakes & scorpions” as metaphors describing evil spirits)

Any power or authority that I would have is directly linked to You.  In reality, it’s like I’m simply a conduit for Your power through me.  Praise You, Lord, my omnipotent God, the Master of the Universe and Sovereign over all creation, both the physical realm and the spiritual realm.  Thank You for the victory over sin, death and evil which You make possible in my life.

“…love the Lord your God with all your PASSION and PRAYER and MUSCLE and INTELLIGENCE — and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” (v 27 MSG)

“…Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said …only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (v 39, 42 NIV)

No matter what four words are used (or even only three in some passages: Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:33), the whole point of what You’re expressing is that You desire my total devotion, Lord.  You want all of me — no keeping a part of me for me and no giving a part of me to some other god.

Draw me continually to Your feet and let me listen to You.  Help me to love You with all the passion of my heart … the prayer of my soul … the strength of my muscles … and the intelligence of my mind.  That “one thing” that’s needed: guide me in pursuing it as You make me just like Jesus.  Amen.