week 2

Luke 3:1-38

In the third chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke introduces us to the ministry of John the Baptist.   John was a forerunner of Jesus, who preached to prepare the way for our Lord.  In verse Luke 3:3, we read that John’s main message was a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.  The scriptures are consistent that all mankind has a sin problem.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and the good news of Jesus’ coming is that we have one who is able to deal fully and finally with our sins.

 John the Baptist preached a message of repentance for all men to turn from their sin and return to God.  Not only was this message consistent with the message of the prophets, this is the Gospel message of Jesus.   As John is preaching this message, religious crowds come out to be baptized by him, but they do not receive the greeting they probably expected.  John the Baptist sees through to their motives and challenges their thoughts as to what righteousness really was.  In fact, he challenges them to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”  We cannot decide to bear fruit. Only the Holy Spirit working in and through us can bear fruit in our lives, and fruit is the evidence of true repentance and faith.   A tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  From John the Baptist’s conversations with the crowds, we see that a love of neighbor lived out shows a renewed heart. 

 As you pray through today’s passage, focus your attention on the same message of John the Baptist.  Have you repented of your sins and turned to the living God - the only one who can fully forgive you and restore you?  Have you been born again and changed by the Holy Spirit?  Are you rejoicing in the GOOD news of the Gospel on a daily basis?  Does your life bear fruit consistent with repentance?  Do you love your neighbor tangibly?  Pray that today God would do a work in your life that only He can do and that He would use you to share the message of hope with others.

Luke 4:1-30

At the end of chapter 3, Luke includes a genealogy that traces the line of Jesus back to Adam. While your common temptation when reading this might be to disregard it, this genealogy is very helpful in many ways.  One way is that it points to the fact that Jesus is the new and better Adam.  Whereas Adam ultimately sinned and brought destruction into this world, Jesus will not sin and instead He is our perfect Savior.  He is the new and better Adam.  As we begin chapter 4 this concept is key because we read about the temptation of Jesus, where Satan is again at work trying to get Jesus to sin.  If Jesus fails, we have no hope – so there is much at stake here.    However, Jesus does not fail, and there is a considerable amount to learn from our Lord in this passage.

Luke tells us that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness and fasted the entire time.  He then tells us that Jesus was hungry.  Such a small sentence, yet it carries so much weight.  How you do you act when you are hungry?  Do you ever get hangry? Does your hunger ever control your emotions? Your actions?  At the end of these forty days and at the height of his hunger, the devil tempts Jesus in an effort to lure him into sin.  The devil’s three different temptations are met with three different responses of Scripture on the part of Jesus.  Jesus knew the Word.  He combated the enemy’s attacks with the Word of God. 

In the Hebrews 4:15, we learn that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, yet he was without sin.  Isn’t that amazing?  What would your response be if you were in Jesus’ place in the wilderness? Would you have responded with Scripture?  Do you know Scripture to combat the attacks of the enemy?  In Psalm 119:11, David writes that he has hidden the word in his heart that he might not sin.  Have you committed scripture to memory?  Today, commit a specific verse to put to memory.

Luke 4:31-5:11

As we finish chapter four and begin chapter five, Luke writes to us about the authority of Jesus.  He first writes that as Jesus taught, He displayed authority.  The people were astonished at the authority in His teachings.  We further see this authority on display as He casts out a demon in the synagogue and then we see Jesus healing various illnesses at Simon’s house.  He then sets out to preach the good news, which He says is why He came.

 As we begin chapter five, Luke writes of how Jesus calls the first disciples who were fishermen.  The exchange is another display of Jesus’ authority because he challenges the fishermen to do something they had already done unsuccessfully.  Jesus wants them to go fishing with him, but Simon explains that they have already tried it.  However, Jesus displays his authority once again and they catch so many fish the boat and their nets are overwhelmed.    Simon Peter’s response is priceless, though, as he recognizes that Jesus has authority and falls down at his knees.

 When they returned to land, Luke writes that these men left everything and followed him.  There are no qualifications.  It does not say they took some time to tidy up and take care of the fish.  It does not say they left the next day after saying goodbyes.  The text just says, “They left everything and followed him.”   Have you recognized the authority of Jesus so strongly in your life that you have left everything to follow Him and obey Him immediately? 

 We do not follow this Jesus blindly.  He is the Lord.  He has all authority – he casted out demons, healed diseases, preached the good news and He is worthy of our worship! When He calls, we must follow.  Do you so treasure Christ above all that when He calls you respond? Is Jesus more valuable to you than anything else?  Today pray that you would treasure Christ in your heart and obey Him as He calls you to move.

Luke 5:12-39

As we continue our reading in chapter five, we find ourselves reading about Jesus’ ministry to some people who were the outcasts of society.  We first see Jesus encounter a leper, and although leprosy was a serious condition in that day, Jesus broke all norms and touched this leper and healed his disease.  Luke records that the leprosy immediately left this man and he was now clean, which meant that his life would forever be changed.

We then read of Jesus’ encounter with a paralytic.  As Jesus is teaching in a house, some men desperately bring their friend to Jesus.  Unable to find room to get their friend close to Jesus, they enter through the roof and interrupt Jesus’ teaching.  Jesus cares about this man and his condition and Jesus not only heals him, He offers forgiveness of sin.  This declaration by Jesus is the equal to Jesus calling Himself God.  This was a monumental moment in the life of His ministry because only God can forgive sins, and yet here is Jesus claiming to do exactly that. 

The next encounter we read about is that of Jesus calling Levi, a tax collector who had quite the reputation.  Jesus, though, is about changing lives, and He calls Levi to a new life of following Jesus.  We see three different examples of Jesus touching those seemingly far from God.  We see three examples of Jesus radically changing someone’s life.  What you and I need to realize today is this – we are the leper; we are the paralytic; we are Levi. Without Jesus, we are broken, unclean, outcast, and hopeless.  However, Jesus is in the business of writing a new story in our lives.  If you have met Jesus, He has made you clean.  If you have met Jesus, your sins have been forgiven.  If you have met Jesus, you are called to follow and obey Him.

 So where are you today?  Have you followed Jesus?  If so, are you rejoicing in the amazing grace he offers you today?  And if you have followed Jesus, what are you willing to do so that others will meet Jesus?  Will you carry your friends to Jesus?  Will you live in such a way that points to Christ?  Jesus wants to change lives – will He use you?

Luke 6:1-19

Are you in a hurry to get from here to there?  Does your life often feel rushed?  As we read through the Gospel of Luke, one thing we continually see is that Jesus was never in a rush.  In fact, one thing that characterizes His ministry routine was that he frequently stopped and retreated to get alone and spend time with God the Father.  All through the Gospel of Luke, we find little sentences that show us how Jesus withdrew from crowds and people to find time alone in prayer. 

In today’s reading, we have another one of those verses.  In verse 12, Luke records that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray and that he continued in prayer all night long.  While we don’t have many details about the specifics of this time, we know Jesus often retreated when ministry was tough and taxing.  Immediately following this He will appoint 12 apostles and then He will continue to serve the multitudes.  Jesus knew He needed time alone to spend with His Father. 

Does retreat and withdrawal to alone time characterize your life?  Do you find yourself desperate to hear from God?  When was the last time you truly unplugged from society -turning the phone off and removing all distractions?  Our schedules are busy and hectic and many times we simply don’t find the space to meet with God.  If we want God’s vision for our lives, we must seek His voice.  Today, find time to withdraw and meet with God.  Find time to pray and seek His face!