Luke 19 – 10/13/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Nineteenth Day – Friday 10/13/17

Luke 19 – As a Christian and a member of Jesus’ church, it is so easy for me to read this chapter and feel pretty smug about the Jewish people in Jesus’ day.  It’s easy to think: “Who Jesus is should be so obvious to anyone with half a brain!  They sure were hard-hearted, sinful, blind, and insulting to God!”  And I congratulate myself for not being like that!  [Note to self: see again 18:9-14]
     But if I read Luke as I should, I find myself in the same place as the people that Jesus challenged.  I, too, have some pretty definite ideas about who can be saved (1-10).  I, too, need to be careful to use what God has taught me rather than anxiously guarding and protecting it (11-27).  I also need to realize how often I celebrate Jesus – but then expect him to act in “the right way” (28-44).  I need to allow Jesus to aggressively rearrange how I go about his “business” (45-48).         
     When I read Luke, I need to be sure I’m seeing myself in the right characters and in the right places.  If I read him wrongly – I may miss how I need to include Jesus in the parts of my life that need him most!

Reflection: How would I react if Jesus walked into my church or worship (or my life) and told me that what I was doing to honor him was missing the point? What have you seen while reading through Luke that could challenge some of your assumptions about how you live your Christian life? 

If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preferences for safe investments and limited liabilities.  – C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves



Luke 18 – 10/12/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Eighteenth Day – Thursday 10/12/17

Luke 18 – Today’s chapter presents a collection of parables, encounters, and teachings.  Most of the topics we’ve already heard about from Jesus:  Don’t stop praying.  Don’t be proud of your religiosity.  Value children.  Don’t think wealth is a guarantee of God’s favor.  And, for the third time, we hear Jesus say that he is going to Jerusalem to die there.
          I think Luke recognized that new ideas take a lot of repeating before they begin to sink in.  I think Jesus knew that, too.  For those of us who have heard and read so much of this for so long, Jesus’ new ideas can become “invisible” – we don’t even recognize the upside-down, backwards challenge they throw at our religion and our lifestyles – if we truly include Jesus.
         Today, like the blind man, I need to cry out, “Lord, I want to see!”

Reflection: As you read these short scenes today, which one do you most need to give time to reflect, pray, and decide about?  As you pray, pray as a blind person might: “Lord, I want to see!

Let’s face it – humility, kindness, righteousness and welcoming the stranger – these are tough sentiments in today’s political and social climate.  They are also very biblical. – David Jordan



Luke 17 – 10/11/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Seventeenth Day – Wednesday 10/11/17

Luke 17 — We each have more effect on people than we realize.  Especially on children.  They are sponges, not only of what they hear, but of what they see, and feel, and sense.  “So watch yourselves,” Jesus says (3).  As adults, we affect, and are affected by, others more than we realize.  And we are sponges – of words, looks, hurt, attitudes.  Children don’t always know what to do with what they see and hear.  Adults don’t either.  Jesus gives us some help: don’t give too much energy to wrongs you’ve received.  And be careful to give enough energy mending wrongs you’ve given.  Yes, it’s hard, unnatural, backwards (isn’t that what we continually hear in Luke?).  But this is the very least you should do as a follower of Jesus (1-10)!
      A life of gratitude reflects the gift of grace (11-19) – and prepares you for the total change when Jesus returns and makes “all things new” (20-35).  In fact, to include Jesus and join in his kingdom now is practice for the way life will be then.

Reflection: Where do I need to pay attention to what I do and say and project?  How can I live and show God’s new way of life to a broken world?

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they

are always watching you. – Robert Fulghum



Luke 16 – 10/10/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Sixteenth Day – Tuesday 10/10/17

Luke 16 – One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is: “If I had more money, I wouldn’t hurt!”  And, then, we continue our self-deception — we conclude that those who do have more money are on better terms with God.  I guess we think like this: (1) God doesn’t want us to hurt.  (2) Money keeps us from hurting.  (3) People with money are blessed by God so they won’t hurt.  And, often, we continue to an even more confused conclusion: (4) People without enough money to keep from hurting are not blessed by God.  In fact, they’re probably being judged by God — or else they’d have what they need!                                                 
     Jesus’ parables speak truth to our deceptions: 1. Using money to help others ultimately helps you (9).  2. Having money requires wisdom (10).  3. A focus on money in your life can crowd out God (13).  4. A side observation: It is very easy to crowd out God’s real intentions in scripture; for example, in our marriage commitments (17-18).   5. Money (or lack of) in a person’s life doesn’t always say about them what you think it does.  And it certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone’s health in eternity (22-23)!

Reflection: What do you rely on most for your security in life (now and forever)?

Whatever happens, we don’t want to end up poor.  Consequently, it’s hard to give more than we could and easy to want more than we need. – Rodney Reeves, A Genuine Faith: How to Follow Jesus Today                                         

There are no pockets in a funeral shroud. – Spanish proverb

You never see a hearse towing a U-Haul. – East Texas proverb



Luke 15 – 10/9/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Fifteenth Day – Monday 10/9/17

Luke 15 – Thank you, Luke! Luke has given us two of Jesus’ best-known parables.  Their characters continue to influence our American language and culture today.  First, we met the “The Good Samaritan” in Luke 10.  Today, we meet “The Prodigal Son.”  This chapter is simply three parables: the lost sheep (3-7); the lost coin (8-10), and the lost son (11-32).  Jesus told all three to religious folk who complained about who Jesus gave his time to (1-2).  Two points strike me:

  1. God is just as focused on those who don’t love him as he is on those who do.
  2. God is so excited when folks who don’t love him come to love him, that he’s not angry about when they didn’t.

   Reflection: Who and how much will I let God love?

     Jesus knew what he was doing when he ate with the wrong people.  He went about announcing that the kingdom of God had come to earth.  And he would attend any party to prove the point. – Rodney Reeves, A Genuine Faith: How to Follow Jesus Today



Luke 14 – 10/8/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Fourteenth Day – Sunday 10/8/17

Luke 14 – Luke is pretty succinct and clear in this chapter.  Jesus is invited to eat at a big spread of food in the home of a zealous religious leader.  The other guests were obviously positioning themselves in prominent places.  Jesus wryly observed that, instead of protecting their pride, they might be opening themselves to embarrassment (7-14). 

     One guest belts out: “Seating charts now don’t matter anyway! What’s important is having a ticket to the Big Banquet in the End!”  Which prompts Jesus to announce that, actually, God is going out into the streets and giving those tickets away for free now.  And anyone who will come, whether “qualified” or not, is welcome!  That is shocking to them – and to us!  But isn’t that the Good News?  Tickets don’t go to the ones who have earned them – they go to anyone who will trust God’s invitation in Jesus!  The price of the ticket is paid by God’s grace in Jesus (15-24).  After all — isn’t that how we are assured of a ticket? 
     Jesus adds, however, that turning ourselves upside down to accept this grace will turn everything else in our lives upside down, as well (haven’t we seen that in Luke already?).  So count the cost, he says seriously.  God gives you everything with his grace – but he asks for everything in response (25-35).

     Reflection: Jesus ends with: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  What do you hear today?



Luke 13 – 10/7/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Thirteenth Day – Saturday

Luke 13– There comes a point at which you’re either in or you’re out.  You can’t stand around the door any longer – go through it or go away!  Jesus said as much to those who sat around speculating about others’ lives rather than stepping into God’s clear will for their own (1-9).  Often, those kinds of folks are busy keeping their lives orderly and tidy, careful about what’s proper and pious – and they miss the deep concern of God for the ones often considered unworthy of too much time or effort (10-17). 

     But it’s easy to wonder: if Jesus’ way is what God wants – why don’t more people accept it?  Jesus encourages us not to worry.  What God has begun doesn’t look like much – but it doesn’t take much yeast to affect a whole lot of dough! Do what’s true, not what’s popular or predictable (18-21).  Be one of the few who actually carry through.  Be open to the surprise that many people you would expect to get it won’t – and many you’d never expect to be interested (or allowed to be) might just show up at God’s table in the end after all (22-30)! One of Jesus’ deepest griefs was that his own kinsmen would not be open to anything other than what they expected or wanted.  In fact, it moved him to tears (34-35).
    

     Reflection: So far, how does including Jesus surprise you?  Can you get past your “surprise at the surprises” to trust, follow, and include him?



Luke 12 – 10/6/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Twelfth Day – Friday

Luke 12 – If your Bible prints Jesus’ words in red letters — this chapter will show a lot of them!   Luke records a lot of Jesus’ teaching in the next few chapters.  It’s an interesting challenge to follow his “patterns of thought” as he makes connections between the topics Jesus speaks about.  The theme of this chapter, though, seems pretty clear: Don’t have a view of your life that is too small!

     These 70-90 years of life can be pretty consuming, either with joys or pains.  Jesus reminds us: our lives are much more than this chapter of our existence!  Don’t let its successes fool you (13-21) – there is more coming than you can handle without God.  And don’t let this life’s needs frighten you (22-34) – God knows you and will take care of you.  Make God and his priorities your prioritiesPay attention to what is coming!  Don’t be caught off guard when God moves history (or your life) into the rest of your life in eternity (35-48).  BUT – don’t expect everyone else to get it or support it.  In fact, don’t be surprised if they resist it!  Pay attention! (49-59) 

     Reflection: As you include Jesus in your life, how does he help you keep your view of life (1) large enough and long enough?  And (2) focused enough on what really matters and really lasts?  Today may be the right day to “refocus.”



Luke 11 – 10/5/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel

Eleventh Day – Thursday 10/5/17

Luke 11– Luke’s account of Jesus now begins to swing back and forth between Jesus’ teachings of encouragement and his strong words of warning:

  • Be steady and confident in prayer – God is your Father! He won’t give you something evil.
  • Be careful of so stubbornly wanting God to be what you want that you reject who he really is.
  • If Jesus and his resurrection aren’t enough to convince you, don’t waste time asking for “signs.”
  • Keep the eyes of your heart clear and focused. Everyone else will “see” what you’re focused on.
  • Always measure your religious markers by the markers of God in the prophets and in Jesus.

     It’s as if Jesus is echoing the words of gold-chained Mr. T: “I pity the fool!”  Woe to the one who misses it!

     Reflection: How is your prayer life?  Do you have confidence that you can really trust

God like a good, good Father?  How’s your vision?  Can others clearly detect Jesus’ vision-clearing light by the ways you include him in your desires, goals, and decisions? 


Luke 10 – 10/4/17

Learning to Include Jesus: Reading through Luke’s Gospel
Tenth Day – Wednesday 10/4/17

Luke 10 – At this point, Jesus sends out seventy-two of his followers to preach and heal (and we thought he only had 12 following him!).  They are ecstatic when they return, and Jesus is, as well (17-24).  But there’s still much to learn and clarify – like who can be included in God’s new work?  Can people they’ve been taught to exclude — like Samaritans (25-37) and women (38-42) — be included in God’s new work?

               

     Reflection: Who have you assumed that God loves – but you don’t have to?  Who are the people you have most difficulty welcoming into full participation in God’s new way of life?  Why is that?  Jesus makes clear by what he says, but mostly by what he does: to include him is to include them also.