week 3

Luke 6:20-49

Luke’s writing of the Beatitudes, or blessings, is shorter than that recorded in Matthew ‘s Gospel.  However, in both cases Jesus is being countercultural in the words that he shares. Jesus demonstrates that there is a distinction between happiness and blessedness. ‘Happiness’ in our world today, is based on the circumstances of our lives; while ‘blessedness’ is based on the character of God. Our life circumstances are constantly moving up and down, back and forth and can cause our emotions to swing wildly from one state to another. But, when we embrace the fact that God does not change and is the only constant in our lives, we can rest in a sense of blessedness regardless of what life throws at us.

So how can we consider ourselves blessed when we are poor, hungry, weeping, and are hated by others? We start by seeing the world as Jesus sees it. Then, we begin to act like Jesus acted when he was on earth.  And we embrace the fact that the Kingdom of God is coming now and in its fullness in the future. The process of the Kingdom coming has begun and we get to be a part of that because we are in connection with a Holy God.

The Beatitudes are not a set of rules and regulations, rather they represent a picture of the lives we will live as the Holy Spirit is filling us with His presence and giving us a proper perspective of the Kingdom now and in the future. Our perspective shifts on the world and our current circumstances change when we realize that the Kingdom of God isn’t as much about getting and it is about being.  The relationship with God changes everything.

Is the major objective of your life finding happiness?  If so, what happens when life is difficult and bad things are happening?  Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and base your life on being filled with His presence.  Then you’ll discover what a truly blessed life is.

Luke 7:1-35

The story of the amazing faith of the centurion is important in Luke’s telling of the Gospel because it shows the process of the message of Christ from its original Jewish audience into the Gentile (non-Jewish) world. The centurion knew very well what a chain of command meant because he was in charge of others. He knew that whatever he told those under him to do, they would do without any question. He also recognized who Jesus was and that he was an authority over all things (even sickness).

Jesus was amazed at the faith and understanding of this Gentile and healed the centurion’s servant who had been suffering from a deadly illness of some kind. Jesus displayed his authority over the illness simply by the words that came from His mouth in this story and in the story about the widow’s son.

How do you view the authority of God over all things? Many Christians have “head” knowledge of God which tells them that God is sovereign over all things, but our “heart” knowledge often doesn’t match up. Perhaps that is why God allows us to go through difficult times that test our faith, so that we can transfer what we believe in our minds to what we believe deep down in the essence of who we are. Hard days are necessary for the development of our faith. So what circumstances are pushing you to a deeper understanding of God’s work in your life right now? Could it even be possible for you to give God praise for the trials of life that you are walking through today? Do you trust Jesus to be the authority figure in your life?

Luke 7:36-50

Today’s scripture describes a beautiful story of forgiveness. The sinful woman takes advantage of a Jewish custom that allows needy people to visit the banquet and receive some of the leftovers. However, her plan had nothing to go with food and everything to do with serving Jesus. While he was reclining at the table to eat, the woman takes the perfume and pours it on the feet of the Jesus, and weeps.

Why is she crying? My guess is that she is overwhelmed to be at the feet of the Savior. She probably realizes that who she is and the things that she has done over the course of her life don’t match up with what she knows to be right. In essence, she is broken by being in the presence of Jesus.

Jesus recognizes her act of devotion and declares her sins to be forgiven. Her love for him is not the basis of her forgiveness; her faith is (v50). The forgiveness Jesus offers is always unearned, unmerited, and undeserved.

Maybe you have grown up in church your whole life, or maybe this is the first time you have read this story in God’s Word. Either way, the most important question you need to answer today is “Have you experienced the forgiveness that only comes from a loving God?” There is no other question more important for you to answer in your lifetime than this. Today is the day to be broken and allow God to make you whole in a way that only He can.

Luke 8:1-21

The word “broadcast” literally means to scatter. So when a television show, radio program, or wifi signal is broadcasted, it basically means that information is going out in all directions. That’s the picture that is painted in the ‘Parable of the Sower.’ The entire act of sowing the seed is meant to display the proclaiming of the Gospel to all kinds of people in all types of situations.

Jesus doesn’t normally explain what the parable means but in this case he tells the disciples the exact meaning of each of the types of soil described in the verses. What a gift this is to the disciples to have some of the secrets of the Kingdom spelled out for them. It seems that Jesus may have given them this knowledge because he had expectations of them.

Once Jesus had died, was resurrected, and went back to God the Father, it became the disciples’ main job to be broadcasters of the Gospel. They were to scatter the seeds of the Gospel in every place where people needed to hear it, and that’s exactly what they did. Remember Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13)? 

Remember Paul’s many missionary journeys?

Today, it’s our great honor to take the message of the Gospel to every single place on planet earth. We get to be broadcasters of the faith. If you are a follower of Jesus, how will you tell others about him today; next month; next year? Many of the easy places have access to the Gospel already, but there are still millions on planet earth that haven’t heard. Let’s change that in our lifetime. Go!  

Luke 8:22-39

Up to this point, Jesus had shown his power over death and disease but now Jesus takes on natural and supernatural forces. We see Jesus walking on the water, calming the wind and the waves, and casting out a legion of demons in the region of Gerasenes.  Jesus is demonstrating that his power is not just reserved for the everyday situations of life, but that he has authority over everything in the physical and spiritual world.

One of the things that is incredibly surprising in this story is the statement Jesus himself makes when the man asks to go with him. Jesus simply tells him to “return home, and tell how much God has done for you.” There was no one to disciple him, no one to teach him, no books to read, no podcasts to listen to. Imagine being the only believer in an entire region. Although he probably had no teacher, we know that the man led many to faith in Christ through his story because church history tells us that Christ- followers came from this region.  This nameless man did his job by telling what Christ had done for him.

Do you know the power of your faith story? It is a story that is worthy to be told. It’s a story that is unique to you. God desires to use your story as part of His story. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light” (Luke 8:16).

Let your story shine in the darkness!