Archive for the ‘Luke’ Category

Jesus in the house

July 28th, 2017 by Maureen

By the time Jesus reached Jericho he had developed quite a reputation as a teacher. Though He was just passing through, people were gathering to see him anyway. (You have to consider the limited entertainment options available in the 1st century.) Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector was a short guy so he climbed a tree for a better view. When Jesus got to Zacchaeus’ tree He looked up and said, “Come on down, I’m inviting myself to your house!” (This would be like being invited to hang with a touring rock band.) Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. Many in the crowd were annoyed, “He’s staying with that sinful man, that tax-collector (It wasn’t just the IRS back then, tax collectors were personally considered social pariahs.) Luke 19:1-7

Zacchaeus was completely jazzed that Jesus was coming to his house. He wasn’t thinking about whether the house was clean or the pantry was stocked. He wasn’t worried about who else might show up. Maybe Jesus didn’t pick one of the self-righteous crowd because they would have stressed about proving themselves worthy, making themselves and their houses look perfect, or groveling about how they didn’t deserve the honor. Maybe joy and excitement made for a better vibe.
Later at his house, Zacchaeus told Jesus that he wanted to donate to the poor and make it right with anyone he had cheated. For Zacchaeus this was a response to being with Jesus. Jesus had already chosen to come to Zacchaeus’s house when this happened.  Jesus didn’t make a deal that He would only come to Zacchaeus’ house if he would clean up his act and Zacchaeus didn’t try to bribe Jesus with such promises. That’s not how it works. We kill the joy and excitement of being with Jesus when we try to make it work like that.

Lord, thanks for not just visiting the house, but for living here even though it gets messy sometimes.

The search for misplaced treasure

July 27th, 2017 by Maureen

A woman who has 10 silver coins loses one. She doesn’t stop to light a lamp or sweep. She focuses on finding that coin. When she finally finds it she calls all her neighbors together and rejoices because she found the lost coin. Angels rejoice like that when someone’s outlook is transformed* because of Christ. Luke 15:8-10

Personally I think turning on the lights and sweeping might have helped her find the coin, but I am very experienced at looking for lost stuff. If I could get back all the time spent looking for keys alone I’d have several months.
Unless an item has been utterly destroyed every lost thing exists somewhere in some form. So really, lost things are actually misplaced. Keep looking long enough and carefully enough and they will eventually turn up.
Imagine the Mona Lisa is missing. It’s valued at $790 million dollars but it’s priceless because there is only one Mona Lisa.  The flurry of searching for the Mona Lisa is nothing compared to the intensity with which God values us and persists in looking for ways to show Himself to us so that our minds can get to the place where we know Who He is in us and who we are in Him.

Lord, thank you for persisting until you find all that is misplaced and for restoring all that is worn ragged from being misplaced.

*metanoia – traditionally translated “repent or regret.” At the time “metanoia” was used in this writing it was understood to mean “a change of mind or thinking.”  The focus is not on all the ways we’ve been wrong but on discovering and receiving the treasures God lays before us because He loves us. If you’re going to spend your time looking for something, let it be something beautiful and valuable.

Is forgiveness more life changing than healing?

July 24th, 2017 by Maureen

It’s a decent-sized space, but so full there is barely standing room. Pharisees and law teachers from surrounding area as well as a bunch of locals have come in to hear Jesus. Among them is a paralyzed man. Wheelchairs hadn’t been invented yet so people who couldn’t walk had to be carried on stretchers with handles by friends or family. Having heard that Jesus was a healer his friends wanted to put him in front of Jesus but there was no way through the crowd. They went up on the roof, moved some tiles, and lowered him down to Jesus.
Jesus recognized the faith and determination the man’s friends were showing in taking on this project and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The guy on the stretcher is probably thinking, “I sorta came about my legs.”
Jesus was dealing with two situations here. He wasn’t trying to mess with the guy on the stretcher and his friends. He was all about responding to their act of faith. But this moment was also an opportunity to make a point about his overall mission.
“He can’t say that. The law says its blasphemy to say that. Only God can forgive sins!” The scribes and Pharisees were well versed in the scripture and were shocked that Jesus would say something like that.
Jesus knows what they are thinking, “Why are you questioning in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’?”
Not all the religious leaders had made up their minds about Jesus. For some in the crowd this was their first encounter.
“I said that so all of you know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sin,”
Then Jesus turns to the man on the stretcher, “Get up and walk. Take your stretcher,and go home.”
The man got up, picked up his stretcher and went home praising God.
“That’s incredible!” Gripped by astonishment and awe at what had just happened, everyone began to glorify God. Crediting and thanking God is the appropriate response to a miracle. Jesus does what it takes to get them there, after giving them a big hint about His identity and mission. Could Jesus also have been saying that forgiveness is a bigger deal than healing?
Healing is a big deal in this temporal world. It changes and encourages the lives of many people when it happens.
Forgiveness has impact not only on our own psyches, on our relationships, on our health, and on our lifestyles in this present physical realm but its impact extends into the eternal and spiritual realm as well.

Lord, thank you for forgiveness.

A brief history of the Sabbath

July 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

One Sabbath Jesus met a man whose right hand was withered. The Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would violate Sabbath laws by healing him. Jesus was aware.
Jesus asked the man to stand in front of him and asked him, “So, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath? Is it lawful to save life or destroy it?”
Jesus was referencing something that would later be called Pikuach nefesh, which says that preservation of human life overrides religious considerations. The Pharisees were aware of this argument, supported by some rabbis at the time. It was later official adopted into the Talmud.
Jesus looked around at the Pharisees and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
The man did and his hand was healed.
The Pharisees were furious and discussed how to address the situation in such a way as to counter Jesus and be able to say he violated the Sabbath.
This is the face of legalism.
God rested on the seventh day. (Gen. 2)
So Moses told the Hebrews to gather manna for two days on Friday and rest on the Sabbath. (Ex. 16).
Four chapters later all sorts of restrictions about the Sabbath are imposed.
By Deuteronomy formal religious observances had been added to the proscribed “rest.” So it wasn’t just rest anymore.
As time went on religious leaders assumed and abused the responsibility for deciding what constitutes “rest” and “work,” what it means to keep or violate the Sabbath, and how to punish offenders.
By the book of Numbers violating the Sabbath laws was being punished by death.
By Jesus time legalism, including Sabbath legalism, was the Pharisee’s primary method for retaining status and control.
Through the years, in different times and places, citizens were compelled by law and punishment to attend church.
Today 40% of those polled say they attend church regularly. About 25% actually show up three out of four Sundays. Apparently people still feel compelled enough by perceived expectations concerning religious observance that they will lie about it in anonymous polls.
Legalism works through adherence to laws and practices, fear of punishment, and control through fear and guilt.
Jesus works through transformation, rest, and freedom.

Jesus knows physics. Jesus knows fishing. Jesus knows you.

July 22nd, 2017 by Maureen

There was big crowd milling around waiting to hear Jesus speak on the shores of Lake Gennesaret. Four fishermen were cleaning their nets nearby where their two boats were docked. Jesus asked one of them, Peter, to take him out a little ways so he could address the crowd. He stood in the boat and gave His talk.
Jesus knew His physics. Sound travels well on water. Sound  bounces upward as it hits the warmer air on shore. So the people standing in the back where the shore inclines can hear just as well as the people in front. Speaking from the boat creates a natural amphitheater. So, if Jesus wants to give a Ted Talk, it’s a great venue.
But why stop with a talk; Jesus goes full theater.
He turns to Peter, “Put the nets out into deep water and get ready for a catch.”
This is awkward for Peter, the professional fisherman. Jesus is a great teacher, no doubt, but Peter knows fishing. He doesn’t want to embarrass Jesus in front his audience so Peter answers softly, “Uhhh, Jesus, We’ve fished all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so…”
A little bit later the nets were so full they were in danger of breaking. Peter had to call his partners in the other boat out to help with the catch.
It dawns on Peter that Jesus is more than a great teacher and he falls to his knees in awe.
“Chill, Peter, don’t be afraid,” says Jesus, “from now on you’ll be fishing for men.”
Jesus gave his audience a short drama, a live-action parable, to punctuate a message:
Just because you put all your effort and knowledge into a goal doesn’t mean it is going to succeed. But if Jesus inspires you to do things a different way or to take an unknown path, even if you have serious doubts, you can trust Him for abundant results. Jesus is an expert at everything.
After that the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, took another leap of faith, closed their business, left everything behind, and followed Jesus. Luke 5:1-11

Lord, I trust You with my journey. Help me to recognize and respond to Your voice, especially when the unexpected or the unorthodox seems like the way to go.

Illustration from All Church Sound.

Compassion can be messy

April 20th, 2017 by Maureen

Compassion is a theme in the gospels. Jesus had compassion (Matt. 9:36, Matt 14:14, Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34, Luke 7:13, Luke 10:33) and said “be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:36.

It’s really easy to figure out how our troubles, or someone else’s, are a result of poor choices . Compassion is seldom convenient and frequently misinterpreted. Somehow compassion can be associated with excusing, endorsing, or enabling destructive behavior, but compassion is a restorative rather than a punitive reaction. Crawling out of a bad patch is messy for the person crawling out and for the compassionate people helping and supporting that person. Compassion is a core motivation in God’s interactions with us and a healing force in our interactions with one another.

Lord, hold my arms out and open when I feel the impulse to cross them and judge.

Good morning, beauty

March 30th, 2017 by Maureen

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

God made the lilies beautiful and fragrant and suited for their environment. Lilies do not strive to be lilies, they simply are. And God enjoys in them. We put so much unnecessary toiling and spinning upon ourselves as if we can make ourselves lilies or somehow attain greater “lilyship.” Jesus goes on to say “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, how much more will He clothe you?” We are beautifully arrayed in God’s great love and grace. That is what makes us His pleasure, His joy, His children.

Lord, help me to be more aware of who I am, made by You and not so focused on what I am trying to make myself.

Contents may shift but the bag is still full

January 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. For what measure you measure, it will be measured in return to you. Luke 6:38

Anyone who has opened a new bag of chips knows that contents shifts so that while the content of the bag measured in ounces is considered full, the bag can look half empty. How we measure our resources and how we perceive that measurement determines whether we experience what we have, and what we think we have to give, as abundance or lack. And…that pressing and shaking going on in our lives might just be contents shifting to make room for more. What if the abundant life Christ has for us really is all that and a bag of chips – and the bag is bottomless?

 Lord, help me to measure by Your limitless abundance.

Bring the merry, Mary

December 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. Luke 1:46

“Congratulations, kid, it’s a Messiah.”  When an unmarried, pregnant young woman uttered this song of praise, the blessing of being chosen was taking its toll on Mary’s relationship with her fiance and her standing in her community. That whole thing about giving birth in a stable probably wasn’t on Mary’s bucket list either. Christmas is going to have its inconvenient and awkward moments. Like Mary we can choose to embrace the absolute wonder of “getting to” participate in celebrating God’s truly good news of love and goodwill,or we choose an attitude of “having to” endure the inconveniences and disruption. Hint: “getting to” keeps the Merry in Christmas.

My soul magnifies the Lord!

You can’t “fix” Christmas…and you don’t need to

December 21st, 2016 by Maureen

Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace, among men — good will. Luke 2:14 (YLT)

So many Christians feel a specific obligation to “fix” Christmas and to “fix” the people we see at Christmas. This very attitude can rob us and the people around us of peace and goodwill. If Jesus is the reason for the season and God sent angels to announce His birth as a message of God’s peace and good will, how does criticizing secular Christmas entertainment, decorations, or traditions, resenting the winter holidays of other religions, bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas, or insisting on a “purist” position that challenges the authenticity or appropriateness of celebrating Christmas at all promote peace and goodwill? I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one preacher who went to a mall and told little children who were in line to see Santa that Santa isn’t real.  Dear, well-meaning fellow Christians. Stop it. Just adore Him. Peace, love, Christmas.

Glory to You, O Lord, show us how to greet this time of year with Your peace and goodwill toward others. All others.

the wonders of Christmas go to 11

December 14th, 2016 by Maureen

Simeon 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 2:33

Jesus is often misunderstood and misrepresented. His message, meaning, motives, His divinity and humanity, and the implications of Jesus as Savior does not fit well with human egos and agendas. His free restorative grace upsets the human desire for justice and retribution. His free gift of salvation upsets the human desire to be self-sufficient and to prove our own worth. His love is sometimes twisted, resisted, or rejected because of our perspectives and presuppositions. Yet, wonder of Christmas wonders, the power of His love, joy, and peace so reflects our deepest needs and desires, that we declare a season to celebrate those ideas even though many of us may not yet consciously interact with God, the Source of all these good things.

Lord, turn our hearts and thoughts to Your perspective and Your joys.

Peace is the 8th wonder of Christmas

December 8th, 2016 by Maureen

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78

Peace can seem elusive. Our nagging concerns, our serious issues, our great sorrows can rob us of sleep and assurance and even cast shadows on what should be happy times. Even with all we face, most of us live pretty comfortable lives. It is easy to forget that elsewhere on earth people live in what must seem like a constant state of fear and darkness. This the stuff that Jesus came to overcome. In His bright arms there is no shadow, only peace and rest. Our situations might not immediately change (or ever change) but things get better because we experience His light and peace.

Lord, let Your light break upon all of us. Show us how to use our arms, our words, our love,  and our prayers to envelop those in dark places with Your light and peace.

The 7th Wonder of Christmas

December 7th, 2016 by Maureen

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19 (ESV)

Mary didn’t know. The story she found herself in was beyond her ability to conceive or to control. It was beyond belief when she tried to explain it to other people in her life. The future and its implications were far from her ability to foresee. All she really had to go on was what she knew of the God who brought her into this story. Mary trusted Him made treasure of the uncontrollable, inconceivable, unbelievable situation she pondered. A wonder of Christmas is that God is writing our stories too and our pondering can become treasure too. The stories we find ourselves in offer us the same opportunity to  trust God’s love, good purposes, and goodwill toward us when we don’t understand much else that is going on.

Lord, I treasure the pondering as well as the revelation.

Around the table

November 4th, 2016 by Maureen

Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” Luke 14:15

We are entering the season where there are so many gatherings of families and friends. Jesus used meals as a time to include, to teach, and to nourish. He ate with everyone who invited him and performed miracles so everyone with him could eat. He keeps adding leaves to His table so we all can sit at the big table with Him. When I think of all the tables I get to sit around and all the faces at those tables, I am incredibly grateful.

Lord, thanks for today’s feast of friendship, discovery, and grace.

Defeat for the kingdom of fear

October 31st, 2016 by Maureen

Fear not, little flock because it gives the Father delight to didomi (give, appoint, bestow) to you the basileia (kingdom, reign, royal power, dominion, rule.) Luke 12:32

Rulers of the kingdom of fear oppress, manipulate and dominate using fear and shame. Jesus’ redemptive victory at the cross was a coup that replaced the kingdoms of fear that the political and religious rulers administered to their advantage and that the enemy twisted to his own purposes. Clinging to these defeated kingdoms, its former rulers would keep us feeling like powerless serfs and worthless rabble, scrambling to earn favor and dominated by fear. As members of Jesus flock we can now see ourselves as fearless, empowered citizens and beloved, endowed children who bask in our Father’s delight.

Lord, I delight in Your perfect love that casts out all fear.

Famous last words

August 28th, 2016 by Maureen

 

If I want him to remain alive until I come back, what concern is that of yours? (Jesus to Peter concerning John)  John 21:23

Behold I am sending the promise of my Father to you, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt. 28:20

Each of these gospels records different last words of Jesus, and each offers a different perspective. John records a personal conversation between Peter and Jesus, basically offering assurance that Jesus is interested and involved in our individual stories. Luke offers assurance that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit continue to communicate with us and will be our source and inspiration. Matthew simply says that no matter what happens throughout history, or through the passages of our own lives, Jesus is always, always with in.

Jesus, thank You for communicating to humans through Your life, Your words, and Your Spirit.

The planning stage

August 10th, 2016 by Maureen

Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” Ex. 33:16 [Jesus said] “But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Luke 24:49

The only plan the disciples in the upper room had was to wait for the Holy Spirit. Moses wasn’t about to budge until He sensed God’s personal presence. We can get caught up in purpose, in planning and in the details of executing our plans, and fail to recognize or enjoy God’s personal presence. Fully and continually experiencing God’s presence with us, in us, and through us is the purpose and plan.

Lord, fill me with Your Spirit and help me respond to whatever happens out of Your presence in me.

How can I help….

June 8th, 2016 by Maureen

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Luke 6:31

We all like to be treated respectfully, justly and considerately, and I think this verse lands in those generalities. I don’t think we should take it as an instruction to create one-size-fits-all responses to other people’s life situations. We are all different. For example, when in crisis some of us like it when others come rushing in to be physically present and talk with us, while some of us feel smothered by this kind of response, but really appreciate it when people help with logistics so we can have space to process. Getting to know individuals and finding out their preferences before jumping in to help assuming what would make us feel loved might be the better helping strategy. If we are recipients of help, we need to have the grace to recognize when others are trying to help and tell them what would actually help us if what they are doing isn’t really helping. Ultimately, how we help needs to be about the person being helped, not about the helper.

Lord, help me to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Behold now the Kingdom

May 15th, 2016 by Maureen

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Is. 61:1, Luke 4:18-19

Jesus read this and said: “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” This was His mission statement, His proclamation of His advancing kingdom. When our Spirit-led lifestyles, relationships, words, and deeds are a response to citizenship in His present kingdom our natural response to others is to  desire freedom, vision, and blessing for them. The great commission is inviting participation in the hope and joy of His fulfilled work of grace and redemption, His present and advancing Kingdom.

Lord, help me to focus on Your priorities and Your mission.

See the lily, be the lily

May 9th, 2016 by Maureen

Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

There is a difference between moving in concert with God and making our own concerted efforts to move for God. When we stop trying to measure up to human definitions of beauty, glory, or worth we discover the infinite beauty, glory, and worth of being our authentic, restored, created selves. When we stop trying to prove our devotion and to earn His pleasure through our own try-hard efforts we discover the incredible lightness of being yoked to Christ whose gracious work of righteousness is enough to make us lilies.

Lord, help me to be aware of the beauty, the glory, and the worth in which you have arrayed me.