Today you should read: Luke 20:19-47
Have you ever tried to challenge someone else in a game but were just outmatched? Maybe you were a kid trying to beat your dad or older brother in a game of pickup basketball. Did you play on a team in school and your team could never beat the cross town rival? Many of us can relate to this feeling and no matter how many times we try we just seem to fall short. The scribes and the Pharisees are an example of this idea. They try repeatedly to outsmart Jesus and catch him in a lie but they just keep getting put in their place.
In our passage today we see their latest attempt to catch him in a lie in order to hand him over to the authorities. This time they wanted Jesus to go against Caesar so that the Romans would find him in contempt to Caesar. This would mean jail time and probably death. Their question was, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (v.22).
Finally… the scribes had him or so they thought. However, Jesus’ answer speaks volumes to what God’s call on our life is. It was so good that they all became silent in His presence. Jesus stated, “show me a denarius. Who’s likeness and inscription does it have?” they said, Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v.24-25). What did Jesus say in this statement?
1. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. The denarius had his image on it and that is what that government required. Following God does not mean that we do not submit to the governing authorities that God has put over us (Romans 13:1-7). The only time we should not submit is if the government is asking us to sin. We need to trust that God has allowed the governing authority over us. It is part of his bigger plan and we should submit out of love to God.
2. Give to God what is God’s. This is a massive statement. What is Jesus referring to? Genesis 1:26, Matthew 22:34-40 & 2 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that we are created in God’s image and we should give every ounce of ourselves in worship unto God because we have been bought with a price. What the scribes were asking about was very trivial. God desires our whole hearted worship.
So what will you give to God today?
Posted by: Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Luke 20:1-18
I will comment on the parable that Jesus told in Luke 20:9-18, but first, let me first point out a great conversational evangelism tool that Jesus displayed in verses 1-8.
In verses 1-2, the chief priests and the scribes confronted Jesus and tried to trick Him by asking Him a particular question. In verses 3-4, Jesus answered their question with a question. OK, there’s our conversational evangelism “tip of the day.” One of the best responses to people’s questions during an evangelistic conversation is to answer their question with a question. This causes the person to have to think for themselves, and sometimes it is very helpful for the person to hear the words coming out of their own mouths. It’s either convincing or convicting for someone to have to listen to his/her answers coming out of their mouths.
Luke 20:9-16 is a parable of Jesus that is referred to as “The Parable of the Tenants,” “The Parable of the Wicked Tenants,” or “The Parable of the Vineyard.” A brief summary goes like this. A man owns a vineyard. He has wicked tenants. They kill every servant whom the owner sends to collect produce. Eventually, the owner sends his son (the heir to the vineyard) to collect produce, but the wicked tenants killed him as well. Basically, Jesus was portraying that the Jewish leaders were the tenants and they were going to try to destroy Him as the Heir of the vineyard.
Jesus explained the point of the parable in Luke 20:17-18. Jesus said that He was the stone which the builders rejected, yet He has become the chief corner stone. He said that anyone who falls on that stone will be broken, and whoever it falls on will be scattered like dust.
Let me use the words of David Guzik in his commentary on this passage to explain what I believe (and I am willing to be wrong about this) the main point of this whole parable is: “Anyone who comes to Jesus will be broken of their pride and self-will, but those who refuse to come will be crushed by Christ in judgment.”
There are lots of points and applications that could come from this parable, but ultimately I believe Jesus wanted to make the point that we have the choice to be broken, or the choice to be broken. That’s not a typo. Those who come to Him will be broken in a healthy way, and those who don’t are going to be broken in judgment.
This passage reminds me of the importance of total surrender to the Heir of the vineyard, the Chief Corner Stone, Jesus. That’s where true and healthy brokenness comes from. I’m thankful to Jesus that I will not experience the other kind of brokenness.
Posted by: Rich Duffield
Today you should read: Luke 19:45-48
Jesus is serious about worship. Few stories emphasize that as much as the cleansing of the Temple. Here is the account of this moment in history as told by the Gentile-doctor-gospel-writer named Luke:
Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices.He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said. Luke 19:45-48
Matthew 21:12-13 and Mark 11:15-17 also give us this account. John adds a little more detail to it:
It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” John 2:13-17
Why was Jesus so mad? Because His people, who were made to worship the one true King, were perverting one of the cores of Temple worship: true, unsullied sacrifice. They were making a profit off of the people – the people who were traveling miles and miles to present themselves at the Lord’s House. They were “robbers” and “thieves”, according to Jesus. This could not stand. Jesus drove them out in righteous anger, quite forcefully, I might add.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself… 1 Corinthians 6:19
How does this story hit you today? Hopefully, you are reminded of the fact that you are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus wants your undivided attention. He wants your true devotion. This brings to mind a tragic moment in the life of the people of Israel that gives strong application to our lives today:
And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. 2 Kings 17:33
• Does 2 Kings 17:33 describe you? Are you trying to worship God but also following your own gods?
• Does your “Temple” need to be cleansed?
• What do you need to repent of? What sin do you need to throw off of you? (Hebrews 12:1-2)
• Do you need to lovingly intervene in the life of a friend who may need to get back on track? (Proverbs 27:6, 28:23)
• What did the Lord teach you today through this familiar passage of scripture?
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: Luke 19:28-44
The humble victor…
Imagine being in the crowd…. Jesus is riding in. Some believe, some don’t. Some hate Him, some love Him. Some are rejoicing in His life, and some are anticipating His death. Which one would you be?
Jesus is making a triumphant, yet humble entry. In just a few short chapters from now Jesus will be betrayed and on the road to death…yet, He will also be on the road to victory. I think this scene depicts that amazingly. You see, Jesus is riding in on humble means. He doesn’t have a choice horse. He doesn’t have men carrying Him while feeding Him grapes and fanning Him. He rides in on a donkey. He is showing the humility of His task. The humility that reflects what He came to do. Yet, with all of this going on, the smell of victory is still in the air. There are clothes being tossed on the road and there are palm branches that symbolize Jewish nationalism and victory. Jesus was about to have victory over the grave, over sin, over the devil, and over the hearts of people for the rest of eternity. When Jesus is finally betrayed, His road to the cross shows His humility and victory. And right here, right now, shows Jesus’ humility and victory.
This idea of humility and victory is a tough balance. As Christians we are supposed to reflect Jesus. To be like Him. So, I think that it is important that we show the same balance of humility in victory.
We have humility because we are less than God, but we have victory because He blesses our work that we attempt for Him. We have humility because we fail, but we have victory because we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. We have humility because we are utterly aware of our sinfulness, but we have victory because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. We have humility because we are called to die to our self, but we have victory because in that “death,” we have life. We have humility because people see our flaws and weaknesses, but we have victory because His grace is sufficient.
John Piper says that we are fighting as “JUSTIFIED SINNERS.” We have victory because we have been made right. We are humble because we are sinners who have been made right. What an amazing truth!
Represent Jesus today. Be a humble victor.
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: Luke 19:11-27
Today’s reading is the parable of ten servants… it’s a parable about investing…
As you read, the story Jesus told was about a rich man who traveled to a distant country to be crowned king. Before he left, he divided up his silver among his servants to be invested. When he returned, he called his servants into account for the money he left with them and the task he asked of them.
The first one did well – he made 10 times the original amount! He was given the honor of being governor over 10 cities as his reward. The second servant did pretty well too – he made 5 times the original amount. In turn he was made governor over 5 cities. The third however, did not do so well – he held on to the money – being afraid to invest it. The response of the rich man was harsh – take his money from him, give it to the first servant, then execute him.
What’s the punch line? We are responsible to invest what we’ve been given.
So… what HAVE you been given to invest?
We’re alive only by God’s grace and His good will. Most people simply live life – trying to get through – waiting for the weekend or retirement to come. As Christ followers we must not think like that. We have to see our lives as gifts from God to live for His purposes.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
…your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
God chose you before the foundation of the world! He gave you the most precious gift – the gift of eternal life. Is it enough for you to go to heaven – happy and secure in your salvation? No! You must share this gift with everyone around you – invest what has been given to you!
We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
2 Corinthians 5:20
Everyone alive has been given the gift of time – 365 days a year – 52 weeks – 24 hours – 1440 minutes a day. It’s your choice whether you spend your time or you invest your time. Serving God is one way to invest your time – in ministries in our church and outside our church. My dad used to love this poem by C.T. Studd – I’ll never forget it…
‘Tis one life and soon will be past, but only what’s done for Christ will last”
God has blessed us richly in our finances. The poorest American is among the wealthiest people in the world. It’s not how much you have – it’s giving God His part no matter what. The Old Testament law demanded 1/10 of your income. The New Testament principle is giving as God has prospered you (1 Cor. 16:2). When you spend a dollar it’s gone – but when you invest a dollar it lives on eternally.
“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:8-10
If Jesus were telling a story about you and all you’ve been given – what would He say? Would He tell about how you’ve invested the resources given to you – or squandered them on yourself?
You can always make a change – start today and invest what you’ve been given.
Posted by: Tim Parsons
Today you should read: Luke 19:1-10
I can’t read this story without picturing my sweet little 4 -year old daughter sing that annoying, old school, children’s song, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.” I can’t help but wonder if she is going to start calling other people “wee little men?” Despite the obvious issues I must personally deal with concerning almost all children Bible songs, I absolutely love this story in Scripture for it shows how Jesus wasn’t afraid to hang out with known sinners and how known sinners received Jesus with such joy after recognizing Him as Savior for their great sin.
As much as I love that main point in today’s Scripture, I hate seeing Christians who swing to the two extreme sides of the pendulum on reaching out to great sinners with a great Savior. One extreme side is Christians who use this passage and others like it to justify hanging out with sinners, but not ever sharing the Gospel with them, or being afraid to talk about repentance with them. Repentance, of course, is found in v. 8-9 when the tax collector was willing to give back what he had stolen and Jesus promised salvation to him that very day.
The other extreme is the people who ignore Jesus’ constant time with sinners and His words calling for a life to help reach the sick or lost, not the healthy or found. Of course, these same people sound awfully similar to the crowd who grumbled at Jesus for doing so and acted condescending toward Him for being a “guest for the sinners.”
Which one are you?
One who hangs out with a lot of lost people but is afraid to share the Gospel with them (which includes sharing repentance)?
One who grumbles and gossips over other Christians you see who hang out with lost people, judging their heart before ever seeing their actions with those people they could potentially be trying to reach?
Posted by: Erik Koliser
Today you should read: Luke 18:35-43
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? ~ Matthew 16:26
In our passage today we see a blind beggar along the roadside. He has no way of making a living for himself in this day and time. There are no programs that will offer him financial support for his disability. His only option is to beg for money and hope that those who pass will have mercy on him. This man knows the value of worldly possessions. His life is made harder because he has no opportunity to gain worldly possessions. How he must have desired a nice house with good food and a comfortable bed to sleep on.
When Jesus walks by someone tells him that it is Jesus and his answer reveals something very different about this beggar. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” When the beggar calls Jesus the “Son of David” he is acknowledging that Jesus is the messiah. The beggar had complete faith in Jesus as the son of God. The beggar’s faith is shown even further when he asked Jesus to give him his sight back. Giving someone their sight back was completely impossible but the beggar knew Jesus had the power to heal him. The beggar’s faith not only healed him physically but it saved him spiritually.
The ESV commentary states: Luke 18:42, Recover your sight. A single word in Greek (anablepa, “see”). For Jesus, only a brief command is necessary. Your faith has made you well. Literally, “saved”; the same Greek verb in Luke 7:50; 8:48. The blind man was healed both physically and spiritually.
This story makes me wonder, when I am in need is my first thought to cry out to Jesus? Do I believe that he is big enough to provide what I need? Do I ask with the right heart? (James 4:1-8). What about you?
Posted by: Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Luke 18:18-34
There is much to learn from the two stories in this passage. Let me briefly touch on each one today.
First, in verses 18-27, is the story of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” You can read for yourself Jesus’ answer to the man’s question, but I wanted to point out one aspect of Jesus’ answer. In verse 22, Jesus said, “One thing you still lack…” Look at what, David Guzik, a Bible commentator has to say about this statement:
“Though the man had everything – riches, an outwardly righteous life, respect, prestige, Jesus could still say, “You still lack one thing.”The man had everything but knew that he did not have eternal life – so he really had nothing.
In Mark’s recording of this incident, he adds one aspect that Luke left out. Mark says: Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him . . . (Mark 10:21). Jesus was filled with loving compassion for this man because his life was so empty. He had climbed to the top of the ladder of success, only to find his ladder leaned against the wrong building.”
Jesus then challenged the man to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. Jesus essentially told the man to surrender all to God. Real success, real fulfillment, real life, and real worship are found in complete surrender to God. Having a good game face, like the rich young ruler, was not enough for the man to inherit eternal life. So, what must one do to inherit eternal life? Surrender all to Jesus.
Second, in verses 31-34, Jesus told His disciples what would happen to Him when they arrived in Jerusalem. He told them that all of what the prophets said about the Son of Man would be true. He would be beaten, mocked, mistreated, killed, and rise from the dead three days later.
Think about the depth of Jesus’ words here. He willingly went to Jerusalem to fulfill the mission of taking on the wrath of God in order to become the sacrificial lamb on our behalf. That’s big time.
Let me tie these two stories together with a point of application. The rich man was faced with the challenge to surrender all. Jesus surrendered all for us. When I think about what Jesus willingly went through for us, I’m compelled, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to surrender all to Jesus. True surrender to Jesus is what He deserves from us, and it’s where real life is found.
Are you surrendered to the One who surrendered all? Like, for real surrendered? Let’s make sure our ladders are leaning on the right wall.
Posted by: Rich Duffield
Today you should read: Luke 18:1-17
“But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
If you tell me that’s not convicting, I’d call you a liar. When Jesus said these words, he prefaced them by talking about a widow who constantly brought her requests to an unjust judge. That judge became so annoyed with the woman’s requests that he finally granted them. Jesus, then, flips the coin and says that God, being a just judge, will all the more take care of His people’s needs. But that final statement in verse 8 is haunting: will their be a people of faith pleading to Him in the Second Coming? I don’t know about you, but I want that answer to be a resounding “YES”! I want to give my life to that cause; introducing people to the saving grace of Jesus and helping them become that pleading, faith-filled disciple.
The next parable also deals with faith, but in a different way. Jesus compares two very different people: a Pharisee and a tax collector. Tax collectors were considered dishonest thieves. Pharisees were considered religious zealots. Who had the real faith? The genuine person who knew his place before God: the tax collector. The Pharisee had too much pride and looked down on others, not realizing his desperate need for the grace of God. The tax collector simply threw himself on God’s mercy.
The final section in our reading reminds us of the type of faith we must have in order to enter God’s Kingdom — faith like a child. With that, let’s consider a few questions for application and reflection:
1) Remember when Jesus became your Saving Lord? Describe that child-like-faith moment.
2) Why is it so difficult to maintain that kind of faith today?
3) Be honest: are you more like the Pharisee or tax collector? Why?
4) What faith-steps are you facing today?
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: Luke 17:22-37
As I was reading today’s passage one thought that was repeated twice just absolutely jumped off the page at me. It was this:
People are unaware of what is coming
Jesus says in this passage that was the case in the time of Noah when the flood was about to come. No one fled for the mountains or tried to join Noah in the boat. People were just going about life as though nothing was coming. The same was true in the case of Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of those towns were just going about their daily lives when fire and sulfur rain came and destroyed them and their cities. The scary thing in this passage is that Jesus said His return will be just like those instances. There are two similarities between those happenings:
- It happened suddenly
- It brought judgment
Jesus is telling us that His return will be “like the lighting which flashes” (v. 24) and that “whoever tries to keep their life will lose it and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (v.33) The last statement is interesting. As I thought about what it meant in the whole of this passage this is what came to me:
Judgment is coming. Try to defend yourself and you will lose. Surrender yourself to Christ and you will win
So, here is the thought for today. Which one are you doing? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus and are you awaiting His coming or are you trying to make a life for yourself here on earth? Are you “eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage,” “buying and selling, planting and building” (v. 27-28) or are you like Noah…or like Lot? What defines your life, heavenly home coming or retirement and worldly comforts?
Posted by: Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: Luke 17:1-21
Keep on forgiving…
They’ve wronged me too many times… is the way some of us feel about certain people in our lives. People have hurt us, talked bad about us, embarrassed us, abandoned us, been selfish towards us, and spoken discouraging words towards us. There are certain people in our lives who have failed us and disappointed us more than we would like. We’ve gotten our hopes up that they will be better next time, stay true to their word, quit the addictions, and have a little more self-control. We’ve forgiven them, yet they don’t seem to be making any steps towards change. We’ve had a heart to heart discussion with them, yet our words seem to have fallen on deaf ears. They don’t care, they only focus on their own wants and needs, and they don’t treat us right. We care about them, but all they seem to do is discourage us. And, yeah, they ask for forgiveness, but what are we supposed to do, just forgive them every time??
In our reading today, Jesus says:
“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” (V. 3-4)
As difficult as forgiveness is, we are called to give it. Jesus said if someone wrongs you seven times a day and repents and asks for forgiveness seven times a day, you are commanded to forgive…every time. In Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells Peter to forgive 7 x 70 times…aka, an infinite amount of times. I think there are two separate lessons we can learn here.
1. Our motivation in forgiveness is an understanding of how much Jesus has forgiven us. At the end of the day, you and I have sinned against Jesus so much and deserve eternal punishment. But God has forgiven us, in Christ, for every single sin. He has forgiven us for our past, our present, and our future. He continues to show grace upon grace currently in our failures. I heard a quote recently that said, “You can forgive much when you understand you’re forgiven.” If you’re having trouble forgiving, meditate on your sinfulness, let it sink in, and then think about God’s grace.
2. Our steps in forgiveness are seen in 3 steps, according to this verse:
- Rebuke. Help them see their sin in a loving way.
- Allow space for repentance and an apology. This is our ultimate goal. Our goal is not to beat down, but to build up.
- Forgive every time. If they truly repent, we are called to forgive every time.
Forgiveness in every situation may look different. And, just because we forgive, it doesn’t mean we become best friends. BUT, when we don’t forgive in our words and in our actions towards the people who hurt us, it does not show the character of Christ and the bitterness eats away at our joy and our relationship with God. Again, we must forgive with our words and actions.
Who do you need to show forgiveness to today? What action steps will you take?
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: Luke 16:19-31
Jesus talked about hell more then any other subject. Yes, the one word that makes us slowly sink into our seat when the preacher starts talking about it and we are most likely afraid to say around our lost friends when sharing the Gospel. About 13% of Jesus’ words in the four Gospels are about hell and judgment and more than half of his parables talk about the eternal judgment of sinners. One such parable is the one we read today for CPC Jumpstart. Although we shouldn’t take everything literally in this story about a rich man who went to hell and a poor man who went to heaven, we can find some sober truths about hell from the One who conquered it and wants to save us from it.
1. Hell is a place of suffering and torment. (v. 23a, 24b)
Every so often a movie or song will come out making fun of how boring heaven will be and what a party Hell will be. I’d even heard it from lost friends after becoming a Christian in High School. Too bad everyone with this attitude and mindset is getting their info from anyone but the creator of Hell and the source of truth (because this is just one of many passages in Scripture that describes Hell as a place of suffering and torment). You don’t like those words? Try a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” another common term that Jesus would use for it.
2. Hell is a place of eternal regret with no second chances for salvation and heaven. (v. 24a, 25-28)
Jesus illustrates the rich man’s regret for not changing his life around and helping the poor man out. He even cries out for mercy but it is too late. He suddenly has a great burden for his family who does not know the harsh truth of this horrific place but he can’t warn them because, as much as we want to believe, there is no Biblical proof that one would have a second chance for salvation, or to share the Gospel with others.
3. Hell is a reality that will be denied by those who won’t believe in Jesus Christ. (v. 29-31)
One important theme from this parable that can be easily overlooked is found in these last three verses. Abraham explains to the suffering, rich ruler in Hell that his brothers can receive salvation if they take to heart what the prophets say about sin and the upcoming messiah/savior for that sin while the rich ruler argues that one who comes back from the dead will convince them even more of the severity of their souls. Abraham’s response is, “if they won’t listen to God’s prophecies, they won’t believe in a resurrection,” which, of course, is Jesus’ somewhat sneaky way of revealing that many will deny Him as future Savior, (even after He appears from the dead before hundreds of people for the very same fact that they denied the prophet’s prophecies about Him as Savior).
Being reminded of the harsh reality of Hell, who do we have to continue to share the Gospel with or invite to church so they don’t have to suffer the torment and regret that we read about this morning? Maybe God wants you to be just as bold as Jesus was when talking about such a place.
Posted by: Erik Koliser
Today you should read: Luke 16:1-18
The parable of the dishonest manager seems to be a common story in 2014. How many employers asked their employees to “fix the books” in order to profit this week? I have no way of knowing that number, but it is easy to imagine that it is a very high number. It is a common practice for large companies to take on businesses that are failing just so they can have it as a tax write off. I don’t even want to know how many Eron’s still exist.
The issue with the dishonest manager and the Pharisees boiled down to Jesus’ statement in verse 13… “You cannot serve God and money.” To serve something in the context of this passage is to be subject to either God or money. When we are subject to or mastered by something then we will do anything that it takes to serve it. We see how the dishonest manager in this parable was dishonest in order to horde his riches and gain favors.
So why do some serve and object such as money? Money provides security, comfort, status, luxury and is a symbol of success. In other words, the promise of money is that it provides an opportunity for us to be in control of our lives in a way that we desire. The issue of the heart when it comes to the love of money is pride. When we read Jesus’ words in verse 13 we can relate it directly to James 4:6:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Submitting ourselves before God and desiring to serve him as Lord is the key to being faithful in a very little and finding yourself entrusted with true riches (v.10-11). I heard a quote once that said something like, “True character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”
Questions for reflection:
1. Who is the master that you serve? Who would your bank account or calendar say that you serve?
2. Who are you when no one is looking?
Posted by: Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Luke 15:11-32
Here we have the younger of two sons who had it made and was loved by his family. He took his share of his inheritance early, and then lived recklessly and squandered his wealth. You are likely familiar with the prodigal son story.
Let me ask a mind-blowing question (not really). Do you know why the younger son didn’t enjoy the pig pen? Well, because he wasn’t a pig.
Guess what. You and I aren’t pigs either (mind-blowing). We weren’t created to live in a pig pen, yet so many of us, at some point, likely found ourselves rooting around in the mud, eating slop, and smelling like swine as we lived in rebellion toward God.
Many of us came to the realization that we didn’t like smelling, looking, and acting like pigs and we came to our senses. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit revealed to us that we weren’t pigs, therefore we didn’t have to live, look, and smell like pigs. He convicted us of sin, reminded us that we could come home, and revealed to us the cleansing power of Jesus.
And, when we got home, we didn’t find a chastising Father who was waiting to beat the pig-pen mud off of us. Instead, we found a Father who was willing to run to us and embrace us even while we yet smelled like swine. He even clothed us with His finest robe. All of a sudden, because of the love and compassion of the Father, we no longer looked and smelled like pigs. In fact, we found ourselves at home being who we were created to be, a child of the Father.
How is it that the Father could be so compassionate and loving after we were so rebellious towards Him? What incomprehensible love! What amazing grace! I’m thankful that I’m no longer in the pig pen.
I wonder if some people reading this today are kind of feeling like they are living in a pig pen. They find themselves feeling dirty and smelly because of sin and rebelliousness. Maybe some need a reminder that they weren’t designed to live in a pig pen because, well, they aren’t pigs. We are created to be in the Father’s house, living as one of His loved children, doing what He made us to do. Maybe someone has a choice to make today to return home and get cleaned up.
By the way, don’t even get me started on the older son.
Posted by: Rich Duffield
Today you should read: Luke 15:1-10
When was the last time you misplaced your cell phone? Do you remember the fright that ensued? The frantic hunt begins. You start retracing your steps. You check every room. You call it multiple times just hoping to hear that sweet, sweet Top Gun theme song ringing, guiding you to where you lost it. For you it may be Freebird, or Shout to the Lord, or one of the goofy pre-loaded ones. But you get the picture. That moment you get it back, there’s not only a sigh of relief, there’s a celebration.
Today, we approach one of the most familiar passages in Luke. Jesus talks about lost things (and people), and then the pursuit of them. He shows us the celebration that takes place when those things were found. The lost sheep and lost coin are great anecdotes that the Great Teacher used to illustrate an important truth about the Kingdom of God: God, our Father, is in pursuit of His lost sons and daughters. We all turned from Him and chose our own way; a way that not only doesn’t satisfy, but ultimately leads to death and eternal separation from Him.
He refused to let us go without a fight.
Jesus came to find His sheep and coins. He found us, but there was a price to pay. There was no wallet big enough to foot the bill; it would cost Him His own life. He would endure wrath and all of our sin would be heaped on His perfect, untainted self. He endorsed the most personal check of all time by rising from the dead. Through His resurrection power, His sheep are brought back into the fold. Through His risen life, coins are swept up and returned to the purse.
Here are a few questions we need to wrestle with today:
1) Are you one of His lost sheep/coins?
2) Are living in gratitude for the high price Jesus paid for you?
3) Are you devoting your life to telling others about this Redeeming Savior?
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: Luke 14:25-35
When we tell someone about what it is like to be a Christian and what it means to follow Jesus we usually talk about how great it is and all the blessings it brings and how joyful life is. These things are certainly true but one very important thing we often neglect, mostly on purpose, is the cost. Many times people will say something to the effect of, “it is a free gift” and “it doesn’t cost you anything because Jesus paid it all.” In the passage today Jesus tells us that isn’t entirely the case. Now, let’s be clear, salvation has nothing to do with what we do or any religious works of ours. In that sense, salvation is free and Jesus has paid it all. But Jesus, here, makes it very clear that we have a cost, too. So what is that cost? It is very simple and yet very profound. The cost is:
Jesus, when we come to Him, demands that we give Him ourselves. And He tells us that if we are not willing then we cannot be His disciple, His follower. Jesus even uses language of hate in relation to a person’s family and crucifixion. He could not have used much stronger language than that.
So, Jesus has drawn the proverbial line in the sand and given us an ultimatum:
“Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost…”
Chances are, if you are reading this, you are probably a Christian. If this is you, have you counted the cost of what it is going to take to fully follow and commit to Jesus? Maybe hobbies you like, relationships you have, family, free time, a job, money? I promise you this, it won’t be cheap but it is always worth it. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know Jesus, it truly is the greatest relationship anyone could have but it will cost you something. Your life will have to change. Are you willing to give things up? To change things around? Jesus requires it of us. Not to be saved but to fully commit to and follow Him.
Posted by: Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: Luke 14:1:24
Thanks for being a JumpStart reader. I’ve heard many reports that God is using this as a tool to get you in His Word every day. That makes me very excited!
In today’s reading, Jesus deals with the idea of humility in a BIG way. He teaches us leadership in a manner opposite from current opinion. He says…
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (v.14)
Most leaders think that that the best approach to leadership is to:
- Put yourself out there
- Let everyone know what you’ve done and what you’re capable of
- Act like you’re the leader and in charge
This is pretty much the accepted approach. Things were no different in Jesus day – that’s why His words puzzled them so much.
Jesus Leadership Model looks like this:
- Leaders show humility from a true heart of humility – they humble themselves
- Leaders recognize that lifting yourself up only nauseates people and will eventually result in your destruction
- Leaders understand that exalting yourself isn’t really exaltation at all
- Leaders see the bigger picture – humility now allows for exaltation later
That’s the kind of leader we all want to follow! Where do you fit on the Brag’O’Meter?
God has been working in my life in this area a great deal – I hope He speaks to you as He’s making you in the image He wants you to be. Let Jesus’ Words ring in your mind today…
“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Posted by: Tim Parsons
Today you should read: Luke 13:18-35
The Advancing Kingdom…
God has a unique way of doing things… He chose David, the smallest of his brothers, to be his anointed king. He used Paul, a persecutor of the church, to possibly make the most prominent gospel impact aside from Jesus. He used uneducated fisherman to begin the gospel mission. And most significant of all, He sent His Son…the King of the universe…to become the least of all men, that He might save the world from their sin.
Not only this, but God has used this peculiar way of doing things so often, that it almost seems normal. I’d encourage you to walk through Scripture and see how often, and in what circumstances, God chooses the underestimated to do remarkable tasks. That’s pretty encouraging for you and I…huh?
In our reading today, there is a common theme:
Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God as like a mustard seed, with the mustard seed being one of the smallest of all seeds. Again, Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God as like leaven, which we know from other passages that just a tiny bit of leaven will work it’s way through all the dough, causing it to rise. Again, Jesus refers to having to enter the Kingdom through a narrow door (Himself), which only few will enter. Again, Jesus says that some who are first will be last, and some who are last will be first. And even again, we see the religious “leaders” treat Jesus harshly, and Jesus laments over the people whom He desired to save.
Do you see the theme? The Kingdom of God, starting small, with this Man who is even treated unfairly by the legalistic Pharisees and by His own people, will be the One, who begins this Kingdom advancement. It will start small, here on earth, with One man…and by the hand of one or two more…and one or two more…and one or two more… most of which will be the weakest, most insignificant, underestimated people… this Kingdom will advance. It will penetrate the entire world, working its way through everything, just as the leaven does. What a peculiar way that God has chosen to advance His Kingdom. He could have done things very differently, and it shows what kind of God He is.
Ultimately, God includes us in this plan to advance the Kingdom. We are part of that small beginning…but we are also part of that glorious end. So my questions to you today are:
How are you advancing God’s Kingdom on a regular basis?
How will you advance God’s Kingdom today?
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: Luke 13:1-17
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)
In today’s passage I want to focus on Jesus healing the woman with a disabling Spirit. Jesus heals her and the ruler of the synagogue was irate. He claimed that Jesus had broken the law and worked on the day of the sabbath rest.
For us to understand this passage fully we need to understand that the Jews over the years had added to this law and made many extra restrictions and permissions as they saw fit. One of the permissions to this law was that they were allowed to water their animals. Jesus points out this flaw in the ruler of the synagogues accusation in verse 15.
So what should we learn from this passage?
1. Focus on the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.
The purpose of the sabbath was to rest to The Lord. The heart is to take a break from the day to day labor in order to focus on God. Jesus was serving God by healing the woman not serving himself (although serving himself would have been serving God but you get my point).
2. Not all rest is sabbath rest.
Sabbath rest once again was to rest to The Lord and not to yourself. Don’t get me wrong it is ok to enjoy the gifts of God but the heart of sabbath rest is to be focus toward worshipping God.
Question to ponder:
Do rest to The Lord or away from The Lord?
Posted by: Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Luke 12:49-59
I don’t see any imagery in this passage of the Jesus who is cuddling little children and lambs. Instead, I see the Jesus who is speaking intense, harsh, loving, compassionate truth to those who need to hear it. Who are those who need to hear it? The original listener, as well as you and me.
Let me summarize this passage in my own words:
(vs. 49-53) Jesus basically said, “I didn’t come to earth to live and die for you just to make you happy.” Jesus came to bring a very divisive truth that requires total surrender. This total surrender is going to result in intolerance. Not an intolerance of other people, but an intolerance to that which is false. Let’s be clear…the Gospel is very exclusive and very intolerant. It excludes what is false and is intolerant of some of our made-up versions of Christianity. Jesus is very straightforward here in this passage that He didn’t come just to bring peace on earth. He actually came to bring division…to separate the wheat from the tares, so to speak.
(vs. 54-59) Again, these words aren’t from the lamb-holding version of Jesus. These words are from the “I don’t mind calling a hypocrite a hypocrite” version of Jesus. He told His listeners that they have no problem analyzing when a storm is coming or when warm weather is coming, but they struggled to analyze and determine that their behavior was in conflict with being a true follower of Jesus. What does Jesus call these guys who didn’t practice what they preached, or walk the talk that they spoke? He called them hypocrites. He’s basically saying, “You hypocrites better get your heads on straight before you experience judgment.”
This passage challenges me to consider areas of my life in which the Gospel is intolerant. What are the areas of my life where I am just a straight up hypocrite? This isn’t a real fun question to consider.
This passage also reminds me of the great grace of Jesus. I’m reminded that Christ has forgiven me of all my sin, even the areas in which I am often hypocritical. I’m reminded that Christ has positioned me as perfect and holy before God. I’m reminded that He is in the process of making my sinful, often hypocritical, condition on earth to look more and more like Christ every day.
May we all experience the strong conviction of the Spirit today in areas where we fall short of the glory of God, as well as the sweet redemptive essence of the Gospel as He makes us more like Himself.
Posted by: Rich Duffield
Today you should read: Luke 12:13-48
Jim Elliot, a famous Plymouth Brethren missionary, died while being an example of a well-known quote from his journal: ”He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” These words were inspired from the story we read today on the rich fool. They echo what Jesus said a few chapters earlier in Luke:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:24-25, ESV)
The simplicity of the parable in Luke 12:13-21 can’t be understated. You either make possessions (or abilities, or ____________) your God, or God is your God. It can’t be both. The rich man had no care in the world; only his crops and barns mattered to him. While he may have appeared to be a hard worker, Jesus exposed that he didn’t have the most important detail figured out: the state of his soul. It reminds me of something my youth pastor once told me: “He who dies with the most stuff….. still dies.” The rich fool was a fool not because of his riches but because of his lack of eternal riches.
Church, let’s spend some time practically wrestling with this story.
1) Are you the “rich fool” in the story? (Whose kingdom are you building?)
2) How do you see the “rich fool” play out in our society?
3) What idols are in your life that you continually feed?
4) What are some basic ways we can avoid becoming like the “rich fool”?
5) How can you lay treasures up in heaven? (In general, yes. But even this week?)
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: Luke 12:1-12
Here in America persecution of Christians is very mild and mostly relegated to name calling and bad press. This is sadly not so for our brothers and sisters around the world. They live each day with the knowledge that at any moment they could be standing before policemen, soldiers, or government officials who will try to force them to denounce Jesus.
Many believe, as I do, that we are not too far off from this being the reality in America. This will shake the church in America in a way we can’t even fathom. Sadly, I believe many will turn away and deny Jesus when they are faced with this crisis.
In verses 8 and 11 Jesus tells His disciples that this will happen if they are to stand for Him. But, He also gives them encouragement:
1. Don’t fear
He says don’t fear those who can only kill you physically. Jesus tells them that the threat of death is not something a believer should fear. Death is not the end but the beginning of the perfected, eternal life with God. That is something to rejoice in, not fear.
2. God cares for you
God goes to great lengths to know and be involved in the lives of sparrows and human hair. How much more valuable are you to God than those things? Verse 7 tells us not to worry, we are much more valuable than those things.
3. God will speak for you
Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit will speak for them when they are standing before those who would have them to deny Him. We can take comfort that He will do the same for us. Battle is best prepared for beforehand, not during. We must be prepared and ready for when these times come to us in America because they will. Don’t wait until it is upon you. Start now preparing your heart and mind to know, trust, and believe these words and encouragement from Jesus.
Posted by: Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: Luke 11:14-54
You can’t be Neutral…
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” Luke 11:23
One of Satan’s greatest tricks that he plays against people is neutrality. He has us convinced that it’s OK for us to land in the middle – to not really make a clear decision one way or the other regarding our stand with Jesus. Whether we are dealing with a decision about receiving Jesus as our Savior, living our lives for Him, or obeying Him – being neutral seems to be valid option. Just one problem… Jesus said it’s not!
Why is Neutral so Attractive?
- It much easier
- It requires less thought
- There’s considerably less pressure
- It seems as though no one’s against us
What are we Neutral about?
- Our walk with God
Often our thought is, I’m a Christian – I go to church – but I don’t want to go overboard about it. I have a lot of things going on. Jesus is just one of them.
- Sin and Obedience
God is not neutral about our sin – He is very clear about what expects us to do and how He expects us to live. We often prefer to argue and debate the things that there is no debate about.
Every blood-bought child of God should have a heart that abounds to serve our Savior. Our spirit should be unsettled if we’re not.
Often our attitude is – this is for others – or, I’m not made for it or called to it. We can’t be neutral about evangelism. Jesus commanded it – God expects it. Our lives cause us to either be a stepping stone leading others to Jesus or a stumbling block causing them to fall – a missionary or a mission field.
This is the most dangerous of all. So many people feel like they are not really committed to Jesus as Savior – but they’re not bad – so they are somewhere in the middle and it will be OK. It won’t be OK! Either you are in a relationship with God through Jesus or you aren’t.
Jesus was clear, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” Neutral you cannot be – you’re either on His team or you’re not. My prayer for you today is that you will be ALL in…in every area – that you will decide to be fully invested with Jesus and committed completely to Him.
Posted by: Tim Parsons
Today you should read: Luke 11:1-13
Are you praying?
I am amazed every time I see God’s Word discuss the topic of prayer. I think I am so taken back because the way we see prayer described in the Bible is so different than how we practice it in our lives.
When asked how to pray, Jesus doesn’t stress closing your eyes, or getting on your knees, or clasping your hands…He describes the right words…and ultimately the right heart.
There are two major themes that I see in this section when Jesus describes how to pray. They seem to contrast each other…but truly, I think they balance each other.
Pray for God’s will to be done
And not only pray for it… but also submit to it. When asked how to pray Jesus responds with what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” The overall theme of this prayer is focused on God. His will, His glory, His kingdom, His forgiveness, and His deliverance. And, as common as it is to know this prayer by heart, do we pray it? I know I don’t on a regular basis. Why not? When the Lord was asked how to pray, He responded with this! I think we should pray this “God focused” prayer more often.
Pray for God to supply what you want done
The second part of this seems to focus on God’s grace in supplying what we ask for. If you’re anything like me, I tend to think God actively DOES NOT give me what I ask, because I am unworthy. I, more often than not, wonder if He will answer with good gifts. But, thank God His goodness toward me isn’t based on my goodness towards Him. We see a description of a Father who cares for His children by giving good gifts just because they ask and because He loves us. So, what big things are you asking for God to supply? In what ways are you being “persistent” in asking Him for what you desire? God wants you to be persistent, to push the limits on what you ask for, and to be expectant that He answers with good gifts.
To close, we see this balance:
Let us ask for what we want…knowing that God delights in answering…yet at the same time, ask for His will to be done….knowing His will is best.
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione