Christmas in Luke (Day 16)

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

From the moment Jesus stepped onto the scene over 2000 years ago the division between light and darkness was very apparent. Truth became known. Lies were exposed.

In today’s reading Jesus tells two parables. Both magnifying the consequences of our earthly choices.

One tells of the dangers of giving our lives only in pursuit of worldly wealth and power. Our allegiance must be to our Heavenly Father and giving our all to Him as we go through our daily lives, not in pursuit of worldly wealth alone or man’s approval.

The second tells of two men who stepped into eternity, who had died. One was a poor man who was a beggar in this life, but he was rich towards God. He died and was “carried to Abraham’s side.” The second was a rich man who had not been rich towards God. He died and went to hell. Where he begged to have a drop of water to be brought to his tongue to alleviate a tiny portion of his torment. Once again the division of light and darkness was defined.

Years before Jesus spoke the words of these parables, the old prophet Simeon held the baby Jesus at the time of His dedication and spoke these words to Mary: “…This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭34‬-‭35‬ ‭NIV‬‬
In the past few days we have looked for Christmas in each chapter of Luke. This day is no exception. The first Christmas, the arrival of Christ was beautiful. But it also marks a moment of choice for all who encountered it then and who gaze upon it intently now. Jesus came to break the power of darkness in our world and in our lives, but we must chose.

We cannot serve two masters. We cannot appreciate the tenderness of Christmas night over 2000 years ago fully until we have decided we no longer want to follow after other masters- the love of money, the desire for power, our own way, our own sins. The Baby born was born a King. The King who came to deliver us from not only our own personal hell we have created for ourselves through our bad choices and sinful desires here on earth, but from an eternal and literal hell far away from all the goodness and joy of the heavenly home Jesus has went to prepare for us. He came to reveal to us our hearts, so a choice could be made.

May we choose King Jesus, our Salvation, as King/ Lord over our lives!

Christmas in Luke (Day 15)

Today’s reading is Luke 15.

Jesus drew crowds of people. The Pharisees watched Him closely looking for a reason to accuse Him. They did not like the people’s response to Jesus, and they especially disliked Jesus’ response to the people. They did not want Jesus to “welcome sinners and eat with them.” (Verse 2)

So Jesus told these parables, recorded in this chapter, to give them a glimpse of the loving heart of God: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Jesus cared about those lost and in the dangerous grip of Satan. Like the shepherd of the lost sheep, He would go out of His way to bring them back to safety.

Jesus values us so much in our lost condition. Like the woman searching her house diligently for the one lost coin rejoicing when she found it, He pursues us. He rejoices greatly when we are found and safe in relationship with Him.

Our Heavenly Father is much like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal son. The son willfully, with no regard for the broken heart of His father, chose to rebel. He chose to leave the safety and provision of his father’s house. He chose to make bad decision after bad decision, partying and squandering his inheritance. He reaped the consequences of all the wrong he had done living lost, alone, hungry and eating pig slop. Then the thought enters his mind to go back to his dad in hopes of mercy, possibly being accepted back as hired hand. This father, however, welcomed him back as a son. He threw a feast. He rejoiced because his son he thought was dead, was alive.

This is God’s heart towards us! This is the heart behind Christmas! I have been the lost sheep, alone and scared. I have been the lost coin, searched for and pursued by my loving God. I have most definitely been the prodigal son. I have made bad choice after bad choice. Only to find myself far from my Heavenly Father, eating pig slop, the fruit of my choices, trying to survive. But God set into motion, long before all the bad choices I have made, a plan. On Christmas night the plan arrived. He worked through the ages to bring the arrival of Jesus into our world. He went to great lengths to come to us so we could come to Him. He desired to “Welcome sinners and eat with them.” Jesus is still desiring to welcome and to eat with sinners today.

In Revelations 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” May we open the door of our hearts and let Him come in! There is no better time to do this than Christmas when we celebrate our God who came to us so we could come to Him!

Christmas in Luke (Day14)

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

The setting in today’s chapter is a meal at the house of a prominent Pharisee, a religious leader of Jesus time. Jesus sat and watched as the guest came in looking for seating in prominent places. They wanted recognition and positions of power with the affluent in the room. It is at this point Jesus tells a parable about a “Great Feast, “ a feast much like the kingdom of God.

A man sent out invitations to a great feast he was giving, but everyone he asked had excuses for why they could not come. So the man told his servant to go and invite the “rejects”, “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (Verse 21) He also instructs the servant to go “to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in…” (verse 23) The man throwing the feast wanted his house to be full.
Our loving Heavenly Father is like this man. The invitation to His Heavenly banquet was sent years ago, on a dark night, in a Bethlehem Stable. Jesus came inviting the ones rejected- the poor in spirit; those crippled by fear and pain; those blinded by sin; those lame, unable to stand in His presence. He calls to the “roads and country lanes” ,the out of the way, lonely places, “Come!” He longs for His house to be full!

For this I am so grateful. I am all of the people Jesus invited- I am the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. I am the one who could not come to the banquet had it not been for Jesus inviting sinners to come!

The first Christmas shows us a glimpse of the God who would go to great lengths to see His house full of guests delighted and fulfilled at His banquet. Our God came to be His invitation, with us- Emmanuel. He prepared the way for us to the banquet by His sacrificially dying on the cross, and victoriously rising from the grave. May we hear the invitation declared to us so many years ago at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14.
His favor is upon us! His invitation has been sent! May we drop any excuse for not attending His feast and RSVP with Him replying “Yes! I come!”

Christmas in Luke (Day 13)

Today’s reading is Luke 13.

As we have seen, Jesus often spoke in parables. Todays reading has a parable that describes God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus compares it to a mustard seed that is planted in a garden. It grew and grew to be a tree. The birds even found a place to rest in it. (verses 18-20)

God’s Kingdom had what seemed to be a tiny beginning. How could a baby born to a poor couple in an insignificant town two thousand years ago be a King? Not just a king, but THE King of Kings! What are the odds of such a small beginning becoming such a large influence on the world? Pretty slim. Consider the likelihood of the message the King proclaimed throughout His life being proclaimed through centuries. It was not a message of political dominance of His kingdom, or a powerful rebellion to the oppressive Roman government of His time, but a message of spiritual freedom instead, freedom within.

Jesus was right to compare the mustard seed and the tree it produced to His Kingdom and it’s influence. What started in a manger in Bethlehem with His birth, endured a burial (much like a seed) in a borrowed tomb, followed by a resurrection. The plant had come up from the ground. Then 50 days later during the feast of Pentecost the tree’s size multiplied greatly with the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and fill us to overflowing! (The church was born). That “mustard seed plant” GREW! Now centuries later it still stands growing larger and larger! Against all worldly odds the Kingdom grew and it remains!

But let’s take this down to a smaller scale. Jesus’ Kingdom planted within our hearts can grow and grow as well. Influencing every area of our lives. It brings freedom, joy, peace, hope, and love! The same small “seed” that as a Baby born in Bethlehem has changed our world, can be planted in our hearts changing our lives! May we let the “mustard seed” of the Kingdom be deeply planted within us, and may it grow!

Christmas in Luke (Day 12)

Today’s reading is Luke 12.

Today’s chapter is a record of Jesus speaking to His disciples and the crowds around Him. He explained the importance of finding God as the treasure of our lives and acknowledging- admitting we belong to Him- before others. He also warned of the dangers of disowning Him, not remaining faithful to Him when the pressure of this world or the outright attacks of the enemy, Satan, occur.

Jesus values us. He treasures us. He knows how important it is that we are connected to Him, not having sin separating us from Himself. He knows we NEED to be totally submitted to His Kingship over our lives, totally obedient to His commands, and totally dependent on His provision in our daily lives. Simply put, He knows we cannot make it without Him. Without Him, our lives are destined for the death, darkness, and destruction of the enemy. That is why he speaks of having Him as our treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Verse 34). He knows our hearts need to be His in order for our lives to prosper and go well.

In the midst of His warnings, He once again points to the tender heartedness of God towards us. He speaks of how God treasures us. He values us. He knows intimate details about our lives. (Verses 6-7).
He ends up saying that God is pleased to give us the kingdom- His rule and reign in our lives. (Verse 32). This is the very Kingdom that the Angel spoke to Mary about all those years before when the Angel told her she would give birth to Jesus, the King of Kings. His Kingdom “will never end.” (Luke 1:33)

The same Jesus who was the Newborn King of Christmas, longs to be the newly born King within our hearts! May we accept the invitation He has given to us to be a part of His everlasting Kingdom!

Christmas in Luke (Day 11)

Today’s reading is Luke 11.
Jesus loved to pray. It was his regular practice to go to a secluded place and spend time with His Heavenly Father. The ones closest to Jesus had seen Him take time to do this often.

Could you imagine being there when Jesus spoke to His Heavenly Father? Hearing Him talk to God, not in a formal religious formula, but in a close and intimate conversation? Watching Jesus and His time of communion with God the Father was enough to spark curiosity within one of the disciples, probably more than just curiosity, a hunger. “Lord, teach us to pray…” (verse 1). Jesus then gave His disciples the model prayer, what we often call, “The Lord’s Prayer” or some call, “The Our Father.” This prayer was meant to be an outline of prayer for His disciples to follow: worship, prayer for needs, repentance and forgiveness, prayers for guidance, etc.

Today what is highlighted to me in our reading is the section of verses following it. Jesus told another parable- a short story with a spiritual point or application. This story tells of the interaction of a man in need and his friend who was reluctant to help. This “friend” did not want to be bothered with the needs of his friend who came to him at midnight needing three loaves of bread to feed his surprise visitor. But the friend with the need persists. He keeps knocking and asking until the man in bed gets up and gives the man in need the bread he needed. Jesus goes on to talk about a son asking his dad for a fish to eat. Would the dad give him a snake to eat? Or instead of an egg, a scorpion? (Verses 11-12). Then Jesus says something profound, ““If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Verse 13)

How often the disciples had watched the religious leaders of their time approach God with rigidness! God was spoken to with formula prayers and He was viewed as unapproachable, perhaps even, aggravated, as the man in the parable was , that the people had come. But Jesus told His disciples, His Father was not that way! He longed to give “good gifts.” And the most precious gift of all the gift of the Holy Spirit living within them! All that was required of them was to come and to ask!

Our God is the same today, yesterday, and forever! He isn’t a God hidden from us, only accessible through formula prayers and religious rituals. He isn’t irritated when we come to Him with our needs. He so desires us to come! He desires to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit living within us. He eagerly waits for us to do just what Jesus modeled in this chapter, spend time with Him in prayer. He longs for us to come to Him and to ask!

God displayed the lengths He would go to be a part of our lives so we would “come.”The Christmas story displays this all so well. God broke the silence when He sent an Angel to Mary to tell her she would conceive and give birth, by the Holy Spirit, God’s Son, God with us!

Once again God longs to break the silence in our lives! He longs to give us another gift just as He did at the first Christmas, the Holy Spirit- God living within us! May we come to Him and ask!

Christmas in Luke (Day 10)

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

In this chapter, Jesus sends out 72 messengers. The commission He gives them is much like the one He gave in chapter 9 to the twelve He sent out, “heal the sick who are there and tell them,’the Kingdom of God has come near’”(verse 9). These disciples came back rejoicing with excitement because of all the wonders and miracles they saw. Jesus speaks to these disciples about how God has chosen to reveal Himself to them because it pleased Him. God wanted His people to know Him.

All these years they had only known “about” God. They knew He was powerful, they knew He was to be obeyed. They knew He was to be worshipped. But they did not “Know” Him, Not in an intimate way. They could not.
Jesus speaks of the prophets and kings of history that longed to “see and hear “ what the people of His time were seeing and hearing, but they did not.(vrs 24)
Old Simeon, the prophet summed up the longing that these prophets and kings had desired in Luke 2 during all the events of the first Christmas. Simeon held the eight day old Jesus, as Mary and Joseph had brought Baby Jesus to be dedicated at the temple. Simeon, a man who was longing to see the Messiah, declared, ““Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”” (Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭29‬-‭32‬)
Salvation had come! The Kingdom of God, His rule and reign in our hearts, that had come through Jesus our Savior had come! We no long are bound to the death, darkness, and destruction of the kingdom of satan. Jesus came to provide the way for us to step into the Kingdom of light, the Kingdom of God!
We do not have to “dream and long” to see and hear of the goodness of God and His presence in our lives, we can KNOW it, intimately, it can be born within us! Just as Jesus was born into our world as a baby all those years ago, He can be born into our hearts today! We are truly “Blessed!”

Christmas in Luke (Day 9)

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

The accounts written about in today chapter seem to be the height of the wonders Jesus did while walking with His disciples. He continued to do miracle after miracle and speak truth that was irresistible to listen to. He then invited His disciples to participate with Him in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Still there was something coming He wanted to prepare His closest friends, the disciples for, His death.

Jesus knew He would suffer. He knew He would be separated from them. He knew how hard it would be. But verse 51 says He “resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” He headed to the place He would die with a fixed purpose. But this was not the first time Jesus “resolutely set out” for the place He would suffer. Jesus left the splendors of Heaven, with a fixed purpose. He willingly submitted Himself fully as God to become fully man. With resolve, He came to us! He knew before He ever entered our world on that Christmas night that He would live, laugh, and love with us. He knew He would experience pain, sadness, and sorrows. Yet He came. He never wavered in His fixed purpose! He had come to love, to provide the way, for our own good, to be with Him.

The things to come in the chapters of Luke we have not yet read this month of December, Jesus knew would come about. The betrayal, the trial, the beatings, the execution, the death… Jesus knew it would come. For the King of born in Bethlehem at Christmas was born to die. This death had a fixed purpose as well. Without His sacrifice, there would be no cure for the sin of our stony, hard, and darkened hearts.

As we celebrate His birth, let us not forget His death! He had come to give His life so we could be united with Him again, free from our sins!

Christmas in Luke (Day 8)

Today’s reading is Luke chapter 8.

This chapter is packed full of some of my favorite accounts of the miracles of Jesus. But in thinking about Christmas and the book of Luke, what sticks out the most to me in this chapter is Jesus’ parable of the seeds and the soil. (Vrs. 4-14)

The Christmas account of Jesus coming to us so we could come to God is like a seed. Our hearts are much like soil. Some hear the Christmas story only to think, “That’s nice…” never letting its true meaning into their heart.

Some receive with much gladness the Good News first proclaimed by Angels, “…a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) But never allowing the true meaning of Christmas to really take root and grow within their hearts. When hard times come they run to other sources for help, neglecting to look to the God who came to Help us.

Then there are those who embrace “God with us- Emmanuel”, but only for awhile. They know He is real but they allow all the worries of their lives, or riches, or pleasures to slowly squeeze out believing in God. Their belief is “choked out.”

Yet there are some who have heard the announcement, seen the light of His star and take it in, letting the seed of Jesus grow within. That kind of encounter with the Jesus of Christmas, the God who not only came to us but came to dwell within changes us! His Hope and Love pours out of us to all those around making known the true meaning of this Christmas season- Jesus came to our broken world, Jesus died for our sins, and Jesus lives victoriously in our lives- every day of the year. Let us give our hearts wholly to Him as good soil ready to receive Him gladly into every area of our lives this Christmas season and beyond.

Christmas in Luke (Day7)

Today’s reading is Luke 7.
The people of Jesus time are much like the people of our time. The more they heard about Jesus and saw His mighty deeds, the more hungry they became. They wanted to experience more. Large crowds surrounded Him. Who would not want to be there to see all the wonders He was doing? Verse 21 says Jesus had “cured many diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to the blind.” I imagine it would have been incredible to watch Him, even if only from a distance. Then Jesus did what was impossible, He raised the son of a widow from the dead. Verse 16 says, “They were filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us…God has come to help his people.””

The crowds did not get who Jesus was, “God with Us!” But they did know He was like no other. “God had truly came to help his people!”

Around 30 years before, when Jesus was just a baby in Mary’s womb, John the Baptist’s Dad, Zechariah declared similar words of prophecy about Jesus “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us…salvation from our enemies…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”(Luke 1: 68-75)

“God had come to help His people” this is the whole point of Christmas. Jesus came to help us, because we CANNOT help ourselves! Our enemies, whether they be sins, addictions, hurts, wounds, etc. are much bigger than our ability to save ourselves. We need a Savior! Jesus had come to help His people. And He still comes to us in our point of need to help His people today! He longs for us to surrender to Him, and to no longer follow Him from a distance only observing His awesome power. He came so we could know Him and the power of His resurrection! That is the whole point of His life here on earth! From a manger in Bethlehem, to a cross on Golgotha’s Hill, to an empty borrowed tomb, Our God, Jesus has come to “help His people!” And Praise God, we can know this help He brings into our lives!