February 20, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 15:11-32

The parable of the prodigal son is one of my favorite parables that Jesus left with us and I know I’m not the only one. A big reason why it is so beloved is because we can easily relate with each son (not that that’s a good thing).

Many of us can relate to the prodigal son as a child of God who has been given an eternal inheritance by our good Heavenly Father but instead of living inside of his security, we rebel from His love and protection to live for the world. Of course, like the prodigal, the world uses us, abuses us and leaves us at an all time low and when we finally come to our senses on what we had (basically repent from our conviction of sin and cosmic treason) we turn back to our Father in humility and He is waiting for us in the road to his house with arms wide open, no questions asked celebrating our return back to Him.

Or we can relate to the jealous brother of the prodigal son. The guy who felt like they followed all of the Father’s rules, didn’t run off into the world and doesn’t think that the Christians who did  deserve a second chance and celebration when they return back home. It’s so easy for us to become judgmental and self righteous concerning other people’s backsliding and this should really hit home in how we respond when they do repent and are given grace by God and celebrated in the church.

Which character have you related to at certain times in the past and are there any “prodigals” that you need to pray for?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

February 19, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 15:1-10

 

It’s easy to live our lives every day and never really notice lostness.  It’s everywhere around us.  Lost boys – lost girls – men – women.  I think the reason is, they don’t know they’re lost.  If they did – they would be looking to be found.  So… we tend to forget too.

Jesus reminds us of this today with two illustrations.  First with the Lost Sheep – then with the Lost Coin.

Jesus spent much of his time with lost people.  Sometimes some very undesirable people – at least they were undesirable to the religious elite.  They were never undesirable to Jesus.  This brings up a point – we can’t really reach lost people if we’re not around them.  Or… if when we are, we forget they are lost and that our primary job is to help them find their way to Jesus.

The culture of the day was very familiar with sheep.  They were everywhere.  They ate them, used them for sacrifices, clothes and more.  Many of the men were shepherd boys at one time or another and understood Jesus’ analogy.  When one sheep was lost – the shepherd left the others to go and find them.  When he did there was a celebration.

Jesus then moves to an illustration that women would more clearly understand.  He said if a woman had 10 silver coins and lost one – what would she do?  She would search diligently until she found it.

Jesus point was clear – men and women are worth more than sheep and coins.  Why shouldn’t we be just as persistent to reach the lost humanity around us as we are to find animals and money?

Then Jesus drives this home in verse 7…

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.

Do you have your lost antennas up?  Are you aware of the spiritual condition of the people around you?  Have you even thought about it?  

  • Who could you begin praying for today that may be lost around you?
  • What plan could you think of to get the Gospel to them?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

February 17, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 14:25-35

This is one of those passages that can be scary. What we see is Jesus addressing the crowd that is following Him about the cost that comes with being a disciple of Christ. He describes this in three parts.

  1. Jesus says in verse 26, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  This seems wrong at first, since we are supposed to love others. But the term hate is a Semitic expression for loving less. This means that we should simply love Jesus more than all of these things, including ourselves.
  2. Verse 27, Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Bearing our cross means that we must deny our self or our own will and embrace God’s will, no matter what the cost. The cost of Jesus following the will of the Father was his death on the cross. In the same way, we are called to that kind of commitment.
  3. Verse 33, So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Jesus is absolutely asking for us to be willing to give up everything. If it came to it, we should have no problem leaving all that we have in pursuit of Jesus.

The reason that I said that this was a scary passage is because if we are all really honest, we would probably hesitate in these three areas. Jesus explains the danger of this with the analogy of the salt. In that time salt was taken from the dead sea, and had to be processed a specific way in order for it to be good. This process took time and if it was done wrong the salt was unusable. In the same way, if we are not truly committed to following Jesus, we become unusable. This seems harsh but if God calls us to something radical and we cannot leave behind our families or possessions and we are not willing to pay any cost, then we will not accomplish what He is calling us to do.

Examine yourself today and ask yourself if you are in line with the description Jesus gives of a Disciple.

 

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

February 16, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 14:1-24

Our passage today sees a mix of Jesus’s ministry of miracles and teaching. Jesus often taught in parables, and the purpose of parables are to expose the hearers to where they stand with God. The first 6 verses of chapter 14 show the Pharisees questioning Jesus’s healing of a man with dropsy on the Sabbath. In verse 3, he says, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” and goes on to say in verse 4, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Jesus is mainly attempting to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The Pharisees followed the letter of the law, but not the heart of it. Basically, by following the letter of the Sabbath “law” the Pharisees were ignoring the greater command to love people.

The narrative then goes into a parable about parties with three sections. The first (verses 7-11) served the purpose of showing how pride is the opposite of what the Kingdom requires. The lesson, found in verse 11, is a verse you’ve probably heard before: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility is a mark of the Kingdom.

The second section (verses 12-14), is meant to prove that how we treat people reflects our motivations. Have you ever wanted to be friends with someone because they increased your status in some way? Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being friends with people who benefit us, but we should be aware that we can have a tendency to want something from our friends more than we are willing to give something for our friends.

The last section (verses 15-24), serves as a warning to those who expect a place in the Kingdom without trusting the King. We can really read this exclusion as a picture of how the Kingdom will be open to all who believe in Jesus, not just those who have a Abrahamic family line (meaning that Gentiles [non-Jews] would be in the Kingdom).

Jesus wants all of our hearts. When we read the Parables, we should read them with a sense of the seriousness of what it takes to live them out, while trusting that Jesus perfectly lived them out on our behalf. Jesus perfectly lived both the heart and the letter of the law; Jesus’s humility led to Him being exalted; Jesus selflessly loved us; Jesus provided the sacrifice needed for sinners to enter the Kingdom. My encouragement to you is to lean into both the saving and transforming grace of Jesus.

What is one thing that stood out to you from our passage today? Leave us a comment below!

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice