Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 24- Luke

Read Luke 24.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 1-12.

In today's passage, there are many different reactions to the news of Jesus' resurrection. 

First the women faithfully go to the tomb to anoint the body with spices but upon arrival they find an empty tomb.  Their confusion is soon diverted by the angels' message that Jesus had risen- what He told them has now happened.  Verse 8 says "the women remembered his words".

Second the women go to the disciples, who are hiding, to tell them the news of Jesus' resurrection.  They did not believe the women- they thought their words were nonsense.  Though Peter chose to go to see for himself- went to the tomb and inspected the strips of linen.  Peter left the tomb "wondering what had happened".

Remembering and wondering are two ways that God ministers to our heart and grows our faith. 

When we remember the things that God has done for us or spoke to us through His word, then our faith strengths and grows.  Remembering helps to develop a trusting relationship with our Father God. 

Wondering works out our spiritual muscles as well.  God knows that we are not puppets- He has given us free will so there will be times in our walks that we wonder and question what God is doing or where God is taking us.  The key to the wondering stages of our walk is to not let doubt and discouragement lead us away from God but remember all He has done in the past and press into His promises for our future. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 23- Luke

Read Luke 23.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 23:1-25.

by Jenny Gemmill

Sitting in a damp dark cell, waiting.  Waiting to receive the punishment that I deserve.  My name is Barabbas.  I am a protester, fighter, murderer...  deserving the death I have been assigned.  So I am waiting for the guards to come to take me to my death- my cross.

The crowds outside sound so loud and angry.  So much yelling and shouting.  Wait...  I think I hear my name.  Why are they shouting my name?  All I ever wanted was to fight for Jewish freedom from Roman oppression. So what if someone died- sometimes a few need to die for a good cause.

But why are they shouting my name?  I hear "crucify Him, crucify Him" shouted over and over. 
I know, I know I deserve to die- I am a killer, liar, chaos maker.  I hear the guards coming- I am ready- oh God I don't want to die.

They throw someone into my cell- a man- He looks familiar but hardly recognizable.  I hear a guard laugh and call Him "King of the Jews".  This man, He too wants the Jews to be free but He fights with His words and His truth- He isn't like me- murderer, fighter, sinner.

"Barabbas, you are free"- Who me?  Free- I look at the open door; I can leave a free man. 

"Why", I ask quietly as I walked thru the door. 

"He is going to take your place"- I look back and the guard is pointing at that man- the one they call Jesus the Christ. 

"Taking my place?"  I quickly run out the door.

Hours later I hear that they are crucifying that man called Jesus the Christ.  He will carry the cross meant for me.  He will take the punishment meant for me, He will die the death meant for me.

Oh God, I deserve that cross, I deserve that punishment, I deserve that death.  But "I am free- He is taking my place".

All of the sudden the earth shakes so violently- I am flatten to the ground.

Later I hear that the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, the dead have risen and the man on my cross has died.

Who was that man that beared my cross?  Who was that man that took my place?  Who was that man that died my death?  It should have been me but because of Him I am free.

Day 22- Luke

Read Luke 22.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 22:24.

Jesus had been talking to the disciples about His suffering, His betrayal and His death.  The Passover meal had just been concluded and the talk shifted to "which of them was considered the greatest".  You would think after all this that their hearts would be in a good place BUT they weren't. 

Without God taking out our heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), we can not understand the things God has for us.  Remember this the next time you get frustrated with that loved one who just doesn't get "it"- the disciples spent three intimate years with Jesus and weren't able to fully get "it" until after receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). 

Sadly even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we continue to place ourselves on a pedestal, wondering who is the greatest.  In God's economy, it is the least of these.

Help me, Lord, to place you first this season.  Help me to think of others and their needs as my priority and put self aside to serve them.  Amen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21- Luke

Read Luke 21.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 21:5-38.

Ironically today's reading is about end times.  Today is 12-21-12 which is "suppose" to be the end of the world based on the ending of the Mayan calendar.  How many other theories and ideas have been presented just in the last decade or so citing the end of the world?  But Jesus clearly states in Luke chapter 21 that certain things need to happen before the end will take place. 

Some of you might think the Bible and its predictions are just another myth but to those who hold dear to the life-giving words of this ancient text, today's passage is one that should be studied and ultimately bring comfort.  I am going to outline the spotlighted scripture, highlighting key concepts from these verses.
  • Verses 8-9:  Jesus warns us to "watch out that you are not deceived".  Many will say the end is near but only God knows.
  • Verses 10-11:  Jesus talks about wars and nation disasters occurring.  We have definitely seen our fair share of these lately.
  • Verses 12-19:  Jesus warns about the possibility of being persecuted for your faith.  BUT we are to consider this an opportunity to share our faith.  Jesus tells us not to worry about what you will say that He will give you the words.
  • Verses 20-24:  Commentators believe that this passage is the prophecy concerning the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Romans.
  • Verses 25-33:  There will be signs pointing to the end but at that time you "will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory".  So look up- your redemption is near!
  • Verses 34-36:  Don't worry about these things or let them weight you down.  "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man".   
The end will come for all- one way or the other.  It is for you to decide to put your faith and trust in Jesus, choosing His way now and forever.  If you need help with this decision, send me a message- I'd love to pray for you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 20- Luke

Read Luke 20.

Spotlighted Scripture:  None

I really struggled with today's reading and was not able to narrow in on one topic to blog.  So I am not.  I am not going to write a posting just to write one.  I hope you understand.

I would encourage you to read the whole chapter for yourself and to think about what God wants you to hear & apply.

Have reading!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19- Luke

Read Luke 19.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 19:11-27.

After reading today's passage about the parable of the ten minas, a few thoughts cross my mind.
  • Am I utilizing my gifts and strengths for God? 
  • How can I put my God-given abilities to better use?
  • Am I being faithful with the small matters as well as the large matters?
  • What can I immediately apply to my faith walk after reading this parable?
How about you? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 18- Luke

Read Luke 18:9-43

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 18:18-30

How many times have you read this story and thought "well, I'm not rich so this doesn't REALLY apply to me".  I believe the "rich" in this story could be interpreted in multiple ways.

Yes it was wealth & possessions that were preventing this young man from inheriting eternal life.  But could it represent other "things" as well?  Whatever we choose to put before our relationship with God can hinder our ability to "come & follow". 

Pride, fame, selfish needs/wants, family/friends, physical fitness, shopping, greed, and so the list goes on & on.  Any of these "things" can hinder your ability to recognize the need for a Savior resulting in the inability to inherit eternal life.  Once we are "in" through surrendering our life to the saving power of Jesus, these "things" can hinder our ability to connect with God and be fruitful for his kingdom.

So take time today to reread this passage and insert your "thing" into the story. 
  • What kind of person would Jesus have called you?  Rich, fit, famous...
  • How is your "thing" preventing you from becoming a child of God?  Ask God to reveal Himself to your heart- all you need to do is confess with your mouth & believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).
  • In what ways are your "things" hindering your daily relationship with God?  What can you do today to respond to what Jesus asked the young rich man- "See everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me".
If you need prayer, please leave me a comment.  I would love to pray for you today!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 17- Luke

Read Luke 17-18:1-8

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 18:1-8.

Persistent, patient prayer- Jesus encourages the disciples to keep asking and never give up.  Both these words are not fun to practice. 

Webster defines these words as:
  • persistent:  continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
  • patient:  bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity  
God wants us to keep asking but patiently wait for the answer or relief.  He is interested in growing our faith, not spoiling us by giving us all our wants.  I know it can get tiring, praying for the same thing over & over but Jesus knew we would need the encouraging words found in the parable of the persistent widow. 

Psalm 34:17 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles"

Be encouraged today and know that God is never late & His Plan will always be the best!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 16- Luke

Read Luke 16.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 16:13-15.

Not many feel-good lessons in today's passage.  I thought I'd focus on 2 verses but would love to hear your thoughts on the rest of the passage.

Jesus had just finished telling the crowd that you can't serve both God and Money.  In the NIV translation of this passage, money is captialized.  Basically you can't serve God and little "god"- whether it is money, fame, lust, family- you fill in the blank.  Your heart can not be divided and God knows our heart.  We are also reminded that "what is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight". 

Like I said, not a feel-good lesson but a very valuable one.  So I am asking myself a few tough questions today.
  • What little "gods" am I serving?  How is my heart divided?
  • Where are some things that men values but God finds detestable that I need to purge from my life?
  • In what ways can I serve God wholeheartedly?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 15- Luke

Read Luke 15.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 15:1-7.

When a person raises their hand to accept Christ as their Savior at church, do you:
  • clap politely and quietly say Amen?
  • look at your watch, knowing the service is almost over?
  • jump to your feet, rejoicing that one who was lost is now found?
Oh, I wish I could write a BIG YES next to the last one but I am guilty of being desensitized to the uniqueness of this extremely important decision.  When reading this portion of scripture about God's heart for the lost, I realized how far my heart is from aligning with the heart of God. 

God desperately wants the lost to be found and He wants us to be instrumental in bringing them back to the fold. 

I pray today that God breaks my heart daily for the lost of this world, that I do not become numb to the fact that people are dying with no hope of heaven.  Help me, God, to rejoice like the angels when one of your lost comes home.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 14- Luke

Read Luke 14.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 14:1-6

How many of you like to follow rules?  Sometimes following a set of rules can be much easier than listening to your heart or gut in a situation.  Jesus came to show us how to live the sacrficed life but he also came to stomp on the rules that were causing the religious leaders to not live merciful lives.

If you have ever read the 10 commandments, then you know that the Jewish people were commanded to keep the Sabbath holy.  To keep the Sabbath holy meant to do no work but to rest.  This law became one of many that the religious leaders would beat over the heads of the Jewish people.  Jesus wanted to put a stop to these back breaking laws then ultimately break the back of sin by dying on the cross.  This resulted in Jesus choosing to act when he shouldn't on the Sabbath, usually in front of a crowd of religious elites. 

Jesus' main message to the crowd that day was to not withhold a good and merciful act for the sake of law and tradition but be willing to step on law to help those in need. 

  • What is God speaking to you today based on Luke 14? 
  • How has rules and traditions caused you not to act when you should? 
  • In what way do you need to listen more to God's Spirit and less to the legalistic elite of our day?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 13- Luke

Read Luke 13.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 13:6-9.

Welcome to a story about grace.  Undeserving grace.

Let me set the scene:  A man planted a fig tree in his vineyard.  According to Leviticus 19:23-25, when any kind of fruit tree was planted, you were required to wait four full years before eating any fruit.  In the fifth year you were allowed to pick from the tree & eat.  So the owner of the fig tree planted the tree and waited the 4 years required by Jewish law to pick the figs.  In year 5, 6 & 7, he continued to visit the vineyard to pick figs off the tree but the tree had not yielded any fruit.  So he tells the gardener to cut it down since it is not producing fruit and wasting space in the vineyard.  But the gardener tells the owner to give it more time and let him nurture it for one more year.  Then if he returns in 1 year and there is still no fruit, he will cut it down.

Here are my thoughts on this story:  When we are new to our faith, God gives us a chance to root & grow.  But there comes a time when we need to start to produce fruit in accordance with our faith.  When the gardener asks for one more year to nurture and grow the tree, that's grace.  God gives us chances to get it right, picks us up when we do it wrong, and wants to give us every opportunity to grow. 
  • What kind of tree are you?  Have you been recently planted- rooting & growing?  Or have you reached the point when fruit should be evident and able to be picked? 
  • Take time today to thank God for His grace.  Ask Him to show you how you can bear fruit for His Kingdom. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 12- Luke

Read Luke 12.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 12:25-26, 29-31.

God will provide so don't worry- easier said than done!

Verse 25 tells us that we can't add time to our life by worrying- we actually lose time when we are consumed with worry.  Worry is a waste of our time & energy- it produces nothing good.  The only time worry is good is when we turn it into prayer which draws us closer to God.  Philippians 4:6 tells us to "not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God".
  • Take time today to stop worrying- everytime you find yourself worrying, turn it back to God in prayer. 
Verse 29-30 says to "not set your heart on what you will eat or drink".  Instead "seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you". 
  • What is your heart set on?  How does that show in your daily life?
  • Ask God to show you how you can seek His kingdom first.  Start with the little things- God calls us to be faithful in the small things. 
"It does require the supernatural grace of God to live 24 hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery & living an ordinary, unnoticed & ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.  It is engrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God- but we do not.  We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life and holy on the ordinary streets among ordinary people and this is not learned in 5 minutes".  (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest) 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 11- Luke

Read Luke 11.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 11:33-36.

Do you ever feel like the only light shining amidst a room of darkness?  God has not placed you in this darkness for you to conceal or hide your light.  He wants you to shine and He knows that just a little light can light up a whole room.  Matthew 5:16 says "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."  Our light brings God glory- it doesn't get better than that.

Verse 34 says that "when your eyes are good, your whole body is full of light.  But when they are bad, your body is also full of darkness".  We need to be intentional about the things we expose our minds too.  Philippians 4:8 says "whatever is true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things".  2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".  When we fill our minds, bodies and spirits with "good" things, the light in us will shine brighter and stronger, causing others to see the glory of God.

Light exposes & expels darkness.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 10- Luke

Read Luke 10.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 10:38-42.

How many times have you read or heard the story of Martha and Mary?  Who are you in this story?  I bet you can identify with one of these women.

If you are a Martha type, you can understand her frustration at her sister.  The food isn't going to cook itself, the table won't magically set, and the drinks won't pour themselves.  These things need to be done.  So no there isn't time to sit and listen- help is needed in the kitchen.

If you are a Mary type, you understand why she is at Jesus' feet.  Who cares about the dinner- can't we just order pizza and use paper plates? 

Verse 41-42 can be unnerving to the Martha in us- "but only one thing is needed".  Tell that to the pile of laundry, the dirty dishes, the dusty floors- these things need to be done. 

I think Jesus knew that each of us need to be reminded that He is the most important thing- that we need to stop & take time to sit at His feet each day.  When we give Him "His time", He always gives us enough time to get it all done.  The days I prioritize my quiet time are the days I feel less stressed about my "to-do" list.  So go ahead, "chose what is better and it will not be taken away from (you)".

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 9- Luke

Read Luke 9.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 9:23-27.

What good is it?

There are two places in the Bible where you will find this phrase. 
  • Luke 9:25 says "what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?". 
  • James 2:14-16 says "what good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

So today I asking myself, "what good is it"
  • to toe the line between God's way and the world's way- to lose or forfeit my very self
  • to praise God and curse man with the same very tongue
  • to see a hurting, dying world & turn my back
I am tired of duplicity- I want to whole-heartedly follow Jesus.  But God knows that I need reminding daily take up my cross- that in my fallen state I need to daily surrender to God's way and will for my life.  Then after I pick up my cross, I need to GO forth & do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 8- Luke

Read Luke 8.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 8:40-56.

We all need Jesus. 

In this passage, Luke contrasts two very different people who need Jesus.  Jairus was a synagogue ruler meaning he was an important and affluent person.  The bleeding woman would have been an outcast- for 12 years she would have been considered unclean by Jewish law.

Both of these people needed Jesus to heal.  Both of these people took a risk by seeking Jesus to help.  Both of these people needed to "not be afraid and just believe".
  • How desperate are you for Jesus and His healing touch?
  • What is the "pleading prayer" on your heart today?
Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up".  Don't give up- remember Jesus' words- "Don't be afraid; just believe and she will be healed".

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 7: Luke

Read Luke 7.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 7:36-50.

As you read today's scripture, take a seat at the dinner table of Simon, the Pharisee.  Soak in the events that occurred during this "unusual" dinner party. 
  • What was it like when the "woman who lived a sinful life" entered the room? 
  • How long did she stand behind Jesus before she fell at His feet?
  • Did Simon even acknowledge her presence or did he continue to talk to Jesus as if no one had entered the room?
  • As she cried, were they silent tears or heaving sobs?
  • Imagine what the room might have smelled like once she poured the perfume on Jesus' feet?
Have you ever come to Jesus like the "sinful woman" did?  God knows our heart so there is no need to hide behind pretenses- just come as you are- broken, sinful but thankful.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 6: Luke

Read Luke 6.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 6:27-36.

Love your enemies.... we are commanded by God to love God and love others BUT love the ones who hate us, who persecute us, who use us.  Really??

When you read this section of scripture, it is very counter culture- right now, we live in a society focused on "ME".  If it isn't about "ME" then who cares?  To love our enemies we HAVE to rely solely on the almighty power of the Holy Spirit which lives inside us as a believer. 

But look at the opportunity we have to share the gospel with others if we choose to love the ones who are hard to love.  When the people witness the outpouring of God's love on one's life, they truly get a glimpse into the heavenly realm.  This is how we can preach the gospel without words to a lost world. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 5: Luke

Read Luke 5.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 5:1-11.

Questions to ponder:
  • Has Jesus ever asked you to do something "again"?  Were you willing to do it?  What were the results?  (Verse 5)
  • How has Jesus "blown your socks off" lately?  In what ways has He caused your "boat" to overflow with "fish"?  (Verse 6-7)
  • How has your past  prepared you to serve God today?  (Verse 10-11)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 4: Luke

Read Luke 4.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 4:16-21.

"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

In what ways has Jesus fulfilled the Isaiah passage (verse 18-19) in your life?
  • Anointed you by giving the gift of the Holy Spirit?
  • Spoken the good news into your life?
  • Freed you from your "prison"?
  • Restored your sight?
  • Relieved you from oppression?
Take time today to thank Him for transforming you into the woman of God you are right now. 

Thank Him for how He will continue to transform you- He will be faithful to finish the work He has started in you. (Phil. 1:6)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 3: Luke

Read Luke 3.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 3:21-23.

How cool is it that somone- a man like you & me- got to baptize Jesus.  The scripture states it so matter of factly- "when all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too."  Stop to think about that- Jesus was baptized, too.  This baptism in the Jordan River symbolized the start to Jesus' earthly ministry at the age of 30.

Verse 21 says "As Jesus was praying,...".  Jesus, the Son of God, was praying.  If Jesus prayed, how much more important is it for us as children of God to pray?  Throughout the gospels, Jesus' prayer life is well documented.  In the book of John, the last verse says "Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25)  BUT all 4 gospels take pause in their writing to document times when Jesus prayed. 

This means 2 things to me:
  1. Jesus prayed SO much that they really couldn't leave it out- OR
  2. Prayer is SO important to God that He wanted us to witness Jesus modeling the behavior.
Either way, I get it- I need to PRAY!
  • How about you? 
  • Do you have a prayer life? 
  • How has prayer changed your relationship with God?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 2: Luke

Read Luke 2.

Spotlighted Scripture:  Read Luke 2:8-20.

How has God revealed Himself to you lately?  What was your reaction to His revelation?
Did you react like the shepherds?
  • scared (verse 9)
  • anxious to act on the revelation (verse 15)
  • shouting praises to God (verse 17-18, 20)
Did you react like Mary?
  • treasuring and pondering the revelation in your heart (verse 19)
Take time today to ask God this question: 
Who do you want me to go tell about the baby in the manger?

Please share what God has revealed to you through this passage.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 1: Luke

Read Luke 1.

Spotlight scripture:  Read Luke 1:45-55.

In this passage, God reveals through the mouth of Elizabeth that Mary is blessed because she believes God.  In your life right now, where do you need to believe God?  Sometimes just believing is the hardest thing we have to do.

Read Mary's song.  Take time today to write your own song to God. 

Please share what God has revealed to you today.