Tag Archives: Luke

Through the Bible, August 31

Reading: Acts 1:4-5, 7-8; 9:4-6, 11-12, 15-16; 18:9-10; 20:35; 23:11; 26:14-18

Summary: When we think of Jesus’ words and where to find them in the New Testament, it is obviously to the Gospels that we turn.  But we do find several instances of Jesus’ words being quoted and even statements from Jesus after He had left earth.  Consequently, several quotes from Jesus are found in the pages of Acts.  So our reading today—the last of two months of readings about the life and ministry of Jesus—is a collection of His own statements recorded in Acts.

Devotional Thought:

A Valuable Lesson

Have you ever had a life-changing day?  A day that, based on its events, would leave your life forever different?  Maybe the day you met your spouse or got married or your first child was born.  Maybe the day you made a decision or had an accident or someone died or were introduced to Jesus or whatever.

Let’s go with that last one for a moment.  That was the day Saul of Tarsus had.  The day he met Jesus radically and permanently changed him and everything about his life.  Given who he was, what he had become, and what he was doing—especially the to the degree and intensity—his conversion is rightly seen as a primary evidence, second only to Jesus’ resurrection, for the validity of Christianity.

With all of that in mind, consider two of the great lessons learned that day by Saul.  First, the fervor and passion with which we believe we serve God is no verification of God’s acceptance of what we’re doing.  Unquestionably Saul exceeded all others in his zeal to fight these followers of Jesus whom he believed opposed God (see Gal. 1:13; Acts 9:21; 26:10-11; 1 Tim. 1:13).  Also unquestionable is that Saul was absolutely wrong about this.

Second, Saul learned that how one treats God’s people, the church, is how they treat Him.  The question that stopped Saul in his tracks on the Damascus road was, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).  What Saul was doing to Christians he was doing to Jesus.  We would do well to remember this in our dealings with brethren.

What we learn from our encounters with Jesus should, as with Paul, change us forever.

Through the Bible, August 30

Reading: Luke 23-24

Summary: Luke, like all of the Gospels, conveys the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in brief fashion.  How much more could be said about the murder of God’s sinless Son.  Luke is the one responsible for relating the conversation between Jesus and one of the thieves crucified with Him.  It’s also Luke who tells the poignant story of the two disciples traveling to Emmaus and who unknowingly converse with the resurrected Son of God.  Luke also records briefly here, but more fully in Acts 1, an account of Jesus’ ascension.

Devotional Thought:

Would You Like to See Him?

Put Herod in the very long line of people who wanted to see Jesus.  There were lots of them weren’t there?  Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2-3), Nicodemus (John 3:1-2), the sinful woman (Luke 7:37), Jairus (Mark 5:22), Greeks (John 12:21), many, many others, as well as the ever-present multitudes.

Herod was not alone.  Lot’s of people, even today, would like to see Jesus; and I’m one of them.

Not everyone wanted—or wants—to see Him for the same reason.  Herod’s motivation was curiosity; “he was hoping to see some sign done by him.”  Needless to say, Jesus wasn’t very accommodating.  Though Herod asked lots of questions, Jesus said nothing.

I’m sure it’s no different today.  People are still curious.  They’d like to see the man who has had a greater impact on humanity and human history than any other person.  They’d like to see the one who is the focal point of the greatest, best selling, most translated and widely distributed book of all time.  Who wouldn’t want to look upon the one who reportedly raised the dead, walked on water, and calmed the storm?

But why?

Is it because He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68)?  Is it because those who labor and are heavy laden seek from Him rest (Matt. 11:28)?  Is it because those stumbling in darkness are looking for light (John 8:12)?  Is it because the harassed and helpless desperately want a shepherd (Matt. 9:36)? Is it because the thirsty and hungry want the living water and bread of life (John 4:10; 6:35)?  Is it because the lost desire to be found and the dead want life (Luke 15:32)?

Do you seek Jesus?  Why?

Through the Bible, August 29

Reading: Luke 22

Summary: The plans of the religious authorities to eliminate Jesus finally come to fruition, thanks in large part to the cooperation of Judas.  Knowing full well what was about to transpire, Jesus went about His business of making His own final preparations, speaking plainly to the apostles about matters He felt critical at this late hour.

After being betrayed, arrested, and denied, His trial begins.

Devotional Thought:

What is Jesus to You?

What is your favorite title/name/designation for Jesus?  There are so many in Scripture: Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Savior, Good Shepherd, Great Physician, King, Bridegroom, Bread of Life, Light of the World, Lamb of God, etc.  Some are more prevalent than others, but it certainly isn’t that one is more important, necessarily.  They all go together to help round out and complete our understanding of who Jesus is.

An interesting one is found in Jesus’ instructions to the disciples whom He sent into Jerusalem to make preparations for the Passover meal they would eat together.  He told them to look for a particular man and tell him, “The Teacher says to you…” (Luke 22:11).  There it is, “The Teacher.”  That sufficiently identified Jesus to this person.  It’s also how He was also designated on other occasions (see Luke 8:49; John 11:28; 13:14).

Perhaps this is best understood in connection with a disciple.  We’re familiar with that designation of followers of Jesus.  Literally, disciple means “learner”.  A learner needs a teacher. For all of Jesus’ disciples, He was “the Teacher”.

Is He for me?  Am I actually instructed and guided and informed by Him?  Is my thinking shaped by what He says?  Or is Jesus “only” a loving, caring, compassionate, and, yes, powerful personality in my life?  If I’m a disciple I must be a learner.  If I’m a learner, I must have a teacher, that being Jesus.

Does calling Jesus “the Teacher” have any real meaning for me?

Through the Bible, August 28

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflections: Today is the final “catch up” day for August if you have fallen behind in your reading. Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this week’s readings.

  1. Two of Jesus’ best-loved parables were covered in this week’s reading; the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Surely these are so well-loved because we can relate so well to them. Whether it as one who may have received kindness and goodness from an unexpected source (as with the Good Samaritan) or who have experienced the sheer joy of restored relationships and much need forgiveness, these stories show Jesus’ masterful use of parables.
  2. One of the truly beautiful features of Luke’s Gospel is the character studies we find in His encounters with people. Think about the Savior’s interaction with Mary and Martha, the rich young ruler, and Zacchaeus.  Not to mention the personalities in His parables; the prodigal, father and elder brother, the rich man and Lazarus, the praying Pharisee and tax collector.  the persistent widow, and so on. It is difficult to not find ourselves many places in the experiences and teaching of Jesus.
  3. Jesus’ parables of the lost coin, lost sheep, and prodigal son (or lost boy) were all given in response to the grumbling of the Pharisees and Scribes to Jesus’ association with “tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 15:1). Their accusation was that Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them.”  In our own efforts to exercise care in keeping ourselves “unstained from the world” (Jas. 1:27), we must not so isolate ourselves that we have no association and interaction with those like whom Jesus associated.  We may all too easily become more like Jesus’ accusers and not like Him.

Devotional Thought:

Reason to Rejoice

Wouldn’t being an apostle have been marvelous?  To live and travel with Jesus day in and day out?  To listen to Him teach, to watch Him interact with people, to witness His great miracles, to see massive crowds follow Him everywhere, to just be in His presence?

And what about being endued with power from Him?  That would have been remarkable!

I think it would have been challenging to not have become spiritually smug in this position.  No one was at greater advantage.  No one had more opportunity.  No one could claim greater closeness.  No one was nearer to the great creative and sustaining power of the universe.  No one.

The excitement of the seventy whom Jesus sent out to preach and two whom He gave authority “over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19) is not in the least surprising.  (It is true that these seventy were not all apostles, but some were).  Can’t you just hear it? “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).

Jesus, though, provided perspective.  He knew the danger present for one who possessed power and authority and abilities that others did not.  “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this…but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

The greatest reason to rejoice is not the exclusive opportunity of the select few, but blessed privilege—potentially—of everyone.  My name written in heaven is far greater than any talent, ability, opportunity, association or knowledge I may otherwise possess.

Through the Bible, August 27

Reading: Luke 20-21

Summary: As in the other Gospels Luke tells of the same events during this “Passion Week.”  There are the challenges to His authority, questioning from religious opponents, teaching the crowds and foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem

Devotional Thought:

Jesus’ Accounting Method

The saying is common and memorable because it sounds nonsensical; less is more.  But more is also more, too, isn’t it?

When Jesus sat and watched people in the temple place their monetary offerings into the receptacles of the treasury designed for such, he drew attention to the person who contributed the smallest amount of money.  That, of course, was the poor widow and her two small copper coins—“mites” the KJV calls them (Luke 21:1-4).

Jesus said she “put in more than all of them.”  The “them” were the rich, who, according to Mark’s account, gave “large sums.”  On what planet are two small copper coins more than large sums?  It’s all a matter of how one measures the amount.  The most obvious way is based on the face value to the money.  That’s simple enough.  In that instance, more is more.

That’s not the accounting method Jesus used.  He wasn’t keeping books; He was measuring hearts.  The measure taken wasn’t the face value of what was given, but amount that one kept back.  The widow held back nothing.  She gave it all to the Lord.  The “worth” of it is immaterial.  The value of it is measured by the generosity of the giver.  Though the amount was less by comparison, the gift was far greater. Her “less” was much more.

Through the Bible, August 26

Reading: Luke 18-19

Summary: Jesus’ parables continue in today’s reading with that of the persistent widow, the Pharisee and tax collector, and the ten minas.  This reading also includes some interesting interactions between Jesus and the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus, and a blind beggar.  Jesus also enters Jerusalem, weeps over the city and cleanses the temple.

Devotional Thought:

Self Image is Everything

How we see ourselves is important; critically important.  But it’s a balancing act.  We can easily get off track on either side.

On the one hand we should see ourselves as the objects of God’s love and affection.  The incidence of people seeing themselves as useless, worthless people is too frequent.  Seeing oneself as no good is contrary to God’s view.  He sees in us value and enough so that He willingly gave His Son on our behalf.  Remember, God so loved the world, and that includes me.  God sees value in us, we should too.

On the other hand, we are warned to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Rom. 12:3).  Frequent are the Bible’s warnings against pride and self-exaltation along with corresponding encouragements to humility (Luke 14:11; James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5).

Jesus showcases the value and importance of appropriate self-evaluation in his parable of the two men who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14).  The one saw his righteousness on the basis of his good deeds, particularly in comparison to others.  The other saw himself humbly as one in need of God’s mercy.  Only one was justified

How we see ourselves—our self image—determines how God not only sees us, but treats us–exaltation or humiliation.

Through the Bible, August 25

Reading: Luke 16-17

Summary: Like the last two days, this reading is also dominated by Jesus’ teaching with the exception of a single miracle; that being healing ten lepers.  The teaching includes parables of the dishonest manager, the rich man, and Lazarus (though many do not consider this to be parable as such), and the unworthy servant.  He also addresses the relationship of the Law and the kingdom,  divorce, temptation, and the coming kingdom.

Devotional Thought:

Danger: What Men Love

Currents are quite powerful.  Every year people drown because of the strong water currents in oceans and rivers.  People have literally been swept away by them, helpless against these powerful forces of nature.  Currents must be taken quite seriously.

Culture has currents too.  They, like their counterparts in nature, are quite powerful.  People get caught up in trends and fads every day.  Suddenly some product, idea, service, fashion or personality becomes all the rage and seemingly everyone is onboard.  So many of these things are quite inane and harmless; they’re gone as quickly as they came.  But do not take these “currents” lightly.

Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).   That should cause us to take sober and thoughtful pause.  It’s not that every thing man likes, God hates.  But the things that men tend to value and place priority on in all likelihood does not bear the same weight with God, and it may actually be detestable to Him.

It’s all a part of living in this world and guarding against being infatuated with it.  To befriend or love this world is the quickest path to opposition with God (Jas. 4:4; 1 John 2:15).  Its currents and trends can easily sweep us away. But we’re not powerless.  We are responsible.  We must know the threat and danger these cultural currents pose.

Through the Bible, August 24

Reading: Luke 14-15

Summary: Chapters 14 and 15, after telling of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath, constitute another lengthy section of teaching.  It includes parables of the wedding feast, the great banquet, along with the trio of parables on the lost coin, sheep, and boy (prodigal son).  In addition is Jesus’ instruction on the cost of discipleship.

Devotional Thought:

When Doing Good Isn’t Good Enough

It is said that a good measure of character is how a person treats someone who can do nothing for them.  That’s a fine thing.  We may encounter folks like that all through the course of our day.  Being courteous and kind and thoughtful, even to strangers, is good.  This would insure that I treat well the people I happen to encounter.  But that’s not quite up to Jesus’ standards.  He took that a step further.  He doesn’t want us to wait for a happenstance meeting.  He wants us to initiate it.

“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” (Luke 14:13).

It’s like the “Golden Rule” of Matthew 7:12. There are similar teachings to it from outside the Bible—by which some people have tried to discount Jesus’ teaching.  But there’s a difference.  Those other rules, as one person has observed, may keep me from pulling up the roses my neighbor’s yard, but only Jesus’ teaching prompts me to plant roses there.

Jesus teaches a love that is active; love that not only kicks in when the opportunity arises but love that also creates the opportunity.  Give a feast and invite the ones who are powerless to join you.

Through the Bible, August 23

Reading: Luke 12-13

Summary: These two chapters record a very lengthy section of teaching by Jesus.  It’s is interrupted by the record of a single miracle, the healing of woman bent over double for 18 years.  The teaching includes warnings against the leaven of the Pharisees, parable of the rich fool, barren fig tree, mustard seed, and leaven; also parallels to the Sermon on the Mount in regard to anxiety and the narrow door.  It concludes with Jesus’ touching lament over the city of Jerusalem.

Devotional Thought:

Ready to Share the Wealth?

Attitudes toward the wealthy tend to run on the caustic side.  Those who don’t have can easily become jealous and bitter toward those who do have.  We hear a lot of talk in our country about “sharing the wealth”.  I’m afraid much of that rhetoric is motivated by those baser emotions.

What a bunch of hypocrites.  Yes, and I stick with it.  If you have running water and electricity in your home it’s said that by itself places you within the wealthiest 5% of people in the world.  We (Americans in particular) tend to think of others being wealthy when the truth is, compared to the rest of the world we are all filthy rich.  So let’s talk about “sharing the wealth” from a biblical perspective.

Jesus warned, “Take care and be on you guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

It is God’s intention that those who have to share with those who do not.  The Bible teaches that if one can work and earn a living they should do so.  If they are able and unwilling, then they forfeit their right to eat (2 Thess. 3:10).

The ability to work isn’t just to have and accumulate more, but also to share with those in need (Eph. 4:28).  It’s not the government’s job to somehow regulate and force that situation, it the presence of Christ’s love in our heart that compels us.

The poverty and want we see in our country is still within a context of prosperity.  In other places, it exists in a context of more poverty and want–and hopelessness and misery.  And when we wonder why God allows poverty and hunger in our world, we seem to forget that He’s made provisions to address that—us and the wealth with which He’s blessed us.

So instead of getting mad about the wealth someone else has, we must carefully guard against our own covetousness and use our wealth to share with others.

Through the Bible, August 22

Reading: Luke 10-11

Summary: Jesus sends out the largest contingency of preachers we know of when the 72 are sent.  Thirty-six pairs of preachers go out and return rejoicing over the authority exercised in Jesus’ name.

Today’s reading also includes the famous parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke’s version of “the Lord’s Prayer” as well as Jesus’ woes pronounced on Pharisees and lawyers.

Devotional Thought:

Is The Bible to be Trusted?

It’s incidental, really.  A small thing but its implications are great. It’s certainly worth knowing about and thinking about.

Here it is.  In Jesus’ instructions given to the seventy whom He sent out to preach, He says, “for the laborer deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7).  Later, in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he quotes this statement of Jesus from Luke (1 Tim. 5:18).  That’s not unusual at all, but notice this; he says, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and ‘ The labor deserves his wages.”  Paul calls what is recorded in Luke, “Scripture” and places it on par with a quotation from the Law of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 25:4).

For Bible believing folks that may seem to be no big deal, but it is big—it’s huge.  We know that in the first century the Jews and the Christians recognized the Hebrew Bible—what we call the Old Testament—as Scripture; that is, the very word of God, authoritative and binding.   Now here, Paul, even before the New Testament has been completed is acknowledging the existence of additional Scripture, in this instance the Gospel of Luke.

The reason this matters is because of a predominant and popular theory about the formation of the Bible, especially the New Testament. The idea is that the contents of the New Testament were decided upon by a council of men in the fourth century A.D. who voted, and what’s more, did so with very political and self-serving motives in mind.  This is why it’s not uncommon to hear about “lost” books of the Bible or other “Gospels” that were excluded in that process.  Don’t you believe it!

The reality is that as the New Testament documents were first circulated they began to gain recognition as being of divine origin, they were genuinely Scripture!  And, in the same process, others were rejected as Scripture.  What is more, this started before the end of the first century and prior to the last New Testament books being written.

The bottom line here is that we have every reason to have full confidence that not only is the Bible God’s word, authoritative and binding but that its contents are complete.  Nothing is lacking.