Luke 20:20-47

If you are familiar with The Hunger Games series, you probably know a little about what it looks like to be trapped, tricked, or deceived.  All throughout the movie, Snow attempts, and sometimes succeeds, in his trickery towards Katniss, Peeta, and the Districts.  Often his attacks would come in different forms because he was determined that everyone would play by the ‘rules of the capitol.’ 

 

You see the same way Snow attempted to use psychological games to deceive Katniss and the Districts, the spies and Sadducees attempted to do the same with Jesus.  They were so desperate to find any accusations against Him, that they stooped to the level of deception.  I wonder how often do we stoop to this level as followers of Christ, or simply as students.  How often do we lie, cheat, or manipulate others in order for a situation to go in our favor? 

 

In Luke 20:20-47, we learn that many of these attempts are short lived.  Throughout scripture we constantly see religious leaders trying to trap Jesus, but then we see how Jesus ever so quickly ‘shuts them down.’  Why?!  Because they are going about it all the wrong way.  Just like the spiritual leaders in these verses, we often believe that we can handle some situations in our own strength when in reality, Jesus can do a much better job!!

 

Daily Challenge:  Take a moment and think about this past week.  Have you used any type of manipulation, or deception, in order for a situation to lean in your favor?  Take a few moments and pray.  Thank God for his grace, but also seek repentance for your actions. 

Luke 22:54-71

In verse 34, Peter was told by Jesus how and when he would sin against Jesus just hours before this all took place. Yet he still let fear of man and his sinful flesh win the day. It is easy for us to stand back nearly 2,000 years and shake our head at Peter and believe we would have responded differently. However, if we take a sober look at our lives we see a list of things that don’t line up. There are so many aspects about our lives that shout that we are not “with Jesus” and that we don’t “know him.” However, the key to this passage is found in verse 62, “And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter failed in a profound way, but he responded in genuine and heartfelt brokenness over his sin.  Peter’s response to his sin greatly contrasts Judas’ later response to his sin. Peter’s response resulted in life, Judas’ did not.

Spend some time taking an honest look at your life today. What areas of your life build a case of denial that you are with Jesus? How will you respond to this reality? Will you let shame drive you away from his presence and towards death? Or will you respond with a broken heart that draws near to him? If you do there is no limit to what God can do with your life. He used Peter to become the vary cornerstone of the early church.

Luke 23:1-25

I think that our natural tendency is to distance ourselves from Barabbas. He was a murderer and a revolutionary, somebody that we probably wouldn’t associate with. Sometimes we use some choice phrases when someone cuts us off in traffic, but that’s hardly murder, right? Our actions couldn’t be as serious as someone like Barabbas, could they? If we take a closer look at the words of Jesus and the position that Barabbas was in, we might get a surprising answer. Matthew 5:21-22 paints a sobering picture, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Here we are shown that the Lord cares deeply about the positions of our heart and that even a position of anger is like murder to our Lord. If we look also at the situation that Barabbas was in, we can see that he was in the same position that we all are before we come to faith. We, like Barabbas, are all sinners in need of Jesus to be killed instead of us. This story paints a picture of what it means to be saved by Christ.

As you think about this truth, ask yourself some questions that help to put you in the shoes of Barabbas. What would be going through your mind if Jesus literally took your place on death row? What happens in your heart if you imagine yourself hearing the echoing screams of the crowd bouncing down the stone corridor and into your prison cell? What is a ‘right’ response to the realization that another person took your place for the punishment you deserve?

Luke 21:1-19

Throughout life, we are often given rules and instructions to follow in order to help us succeed.  Think about it.  Before you could even get your drivers permit, you had to read the SC Drivers Manual; a book dedicated to instructing you on all the rules of the road.  Then once you start learning to drive with your parents at your side,  they start giving you instructions.  And if you don’t follow through perfectly, they freakout and yell them louder.  So by the time you get your license at the age of 17, you never want to hear, or follow, another set of rules, instructions, or guidelines for the rest of your life.

 

When I was younger, I would constantly hear people say the BIBLE could also be referred to as the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  Even now when I think about it, my mind is blown because it’s so true.  Day to day we struggle to find answers to questions like what’s next, where to go in life, how much to spend, will things get any easier, etc., when that doesn’t have to be the case.  In this passage, Jesus reminds us of how we must give our all to Him; even if it seems small to others, you should give everything you’ve got.  When you are betrayed, bullied, picked on, or even persecuted because of your faith, remember you have to stay with it (v. 16-19 MSG).  Romans 5:3-5 reminds us, “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (ESV). 

 

Isn’t it so humbling that Christ, even while away, would leave us a book of instructions on how to live life.  He cared so deeply for us before we were born to leave us guidelines on how, and why to persevere and on what things are good and bad for us; He evens teaches us how to love so He is glorified in everything!!  What an amazing Father we serve daily!!

 

Daily Challenge:  Think about how the Lord had guided your day.  Thank Him, then pray asking him to continue to guide your days and decisions in order to help make is name famous on the earth.

Luke 23:26-56

The entirety of Scripture leads up to this point. The Most High God who put on a cloak of flesh marched to His death that He did nothing to deserve. Even while He was heading directly to the grave, His character never changed. He encourages the Daughters of Jerusalem, asks His Father for forgiveness for the people crucifying Him, He submitted to the Father’s will by staying on the cross, He pardoned the sins of the man hanging next to Him. These acts of love are consistent with His actions before facing this level of persecution and torment. If even in the most brutal death imaginable, our Lord went the extra mile for His people, then what convinces us that He doesn’t do the same for us all of the time? The crucifixion is the stark realization that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) and the fulfillment of so many prophecies found throughout the Old Testament.

 

Many people know that the story doesn’t end here though. The resurrection gives us hope that Jesus conquers death, but it doesn’t discount the suffering that our Lord went through on our behalf. He bled and died so that we could experience life in abundance and life everlasting with Him. If the crucifixion didn’t take place, we would have no chance of achieving unity with God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works.” (Eph 2:4-5, 8)

 

Reflect on what Jesus did on the cross today. What is true about our standing with God because of the crucifixion? How does the crucifixion affect the way that we relate with God and with others?

Luke 21:20-38

Something that I’ve learned in my lifetime is:  People love to watch football.  People love to watch baseball.  And people just love to watch sports!!  How interesting is it that we now live in a culture where visual stimulation is deemed a priority.  As college students we constantly walk around with our phones checking Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, because we want to ‘see’ what’s going on; even if it’s not important, we’ve got to know.  Often times the determining factor of whether we revisit a church is by how long our attention can be kept.  If there’s not enough ‘pomp and circumstance’ then we tell ourselves that we aren’t going back.  Why is that?!  I think maybe because a culture has been created where things are all about us.

 

When reading these verses from Luke, the question comes to mind:  Are we ready for what’s to come?  Are we watching for the various signs so we aren’t caught off guard?

There are so many things that are pulling for our attention.  We’ve got social media, classwork, friendships, alcohol, drugs, work, and so much more.  There are so many things we have to keep up with, it makes sense of why there’s a struggle to spend time in the Word.  Even though these things pull at our attention, we have to intentionally pull back.  Luke 21:34 reminds us that we have to be watchful.  We have to be careful to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of college life so we don’t miss anything.  These distractions can cause us to miss our personal growth, gospel opportunities, or even divine appointments with others.  The truth is that Jesus wants to use you to help reach others, but you have to be ready, watching for when it’s time for you to take hold of the God opportunity.

 

 

Daily Challenge:  Pay attention to the amount of time you seek entertainment during the day.  Consider taking that same amount of time and seeking out the Lord through prayer, worship, or reading the word.

Luke 24-1-35

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angel of the Lord told the women who went to honor the Lord’s remains with spices. When approaching the tomb, seeing the two men standing there, the stone rolled away, and no corpse in sight, I wonder what was going through their minds. Were the afraid? I think my natural response would be that someone has stolen the remains, defiling His grave, thereby stealing any last shred of dignity that Jesus had. It would have grieved me inside. The text says that the women were terrified, but they were comforted and reassured before they had time to dwell in that fear. The angels remind the women that everything Jesus said about Himself was true, that he would be risen from the dead!

 

The crucifixion is the darkest night in all of scripture, but the resurrection is a morning bright enough to make the crucifixion seem like a thing in the distant past. All that Jesus came to Earth to accomplish finds its application in the resurrection of Christ. The disciples were still looking in places of death for the One who was risen. I think that while this is a true historical event and the angels meant what they said literally, this truth can be extended even to us today. If Jesus is our only hope of salvation and we seek fulfillment in other places, then we too are seeking the living among the dead. Ask yourself today, is there anything in your life that you’re seeking for satisfaction or having hope in that is not Christ? What is God calling you to do about this? Who can you bring into your life to help you stay accountable to keeping your eyes on Christ?

Luke 22:1-30

Disappointment is something that we begin to experience at such a young age.  At first we tend to let it go, especially if someone closest to us is the cause of it.  And as much as we may try to avoid it happening, there’s no way to stop it. 

 

In Luke 22:1-30 we begin to read about the events that lead up to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.  We learn that Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to prepare the Passover supper and room.  We later read that Jesus knows the person who will betray him is sitting in the same room.  Wow!!  Talk about being able to put personal feelings aside.  If I were in that position, I don’t think I could show that much restraint, portraying love and grace, like Jesus did.

 

Just imagine how different this world would be if we resembled Christ in this manner.  If we were able to understand the value of grace, defined as obtaining what we don’t deserve, I believe we would show it more often.  Jesus’ life exemplified grace.  Ephesians 2:8-9 starts off by saying, “For it is by grace you have been saved…”  In case you missed that, Paul is saying that Grace = Jesus = Salvation.  In learning this, my heart is so thankful that Jesus showed restraint that day.  All Glory Be To His Name!!

 

Daily Challenge:  Thank the Father for constantly showing you grace.  Pray that you would be shown the places where you can begin to extend more grace.