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Luke 24:44-49   (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Jesus appeared to the Disciples after his resurrection and ate with them demonstrating that his body was a physical body.

Jesus shared with them from the scriptures (our Old Testament) showing them that everything that had happened had been predicted long ago and it was necessary that it be fulfilled. Then the Disciples finally understood that Jesus’ death and resurrection took place so that repentance and forgiveness of sins could come and be preached to all people beginning with Jerusalem.

Then Jesus instructed the Disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were to receive the Holy Spirit as God had promised. Jesus words in this passage described the Holy Spirit as if it would come over them like a garment, and that it would give them power from God.

The Disciples experienced so much in three short days. Jesus’ mockery of a trial which they were too frightened to attend, his crucifixion, death, and burial. Then as they were staying in hiding behind locked doors, Jesus appeared to them. After all this, they are told to wait for the Holy Spirit. (See John 20:19-23)

It is so hard to put myself into their minds to understand what they must have been going through, but it would certainly be an understatement no matter what kind of words we chose to describe their feelings.

How much confusion and disruption are we willing to endure for Jesus’ sake? When the road gets bumpy and rough do we decide that we must be on the wrong road, that we must have misunderstood God’s call?

Father, thank you for your gift of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins that we might receive and accept his forgiveness. And thank you too, for the many faithful disciples from his generation until today, who made it possible for us to learn about him, to share his forgiveness, and to receive the eternal life Jesus brings. Never let us forget the price that has been paid, first by Jesus, and later by those who endured persecution, that the message might reach us today. Embolden us to carry the message forth with the same urgency as did those brave disciples throughout the centuries.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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     1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

     4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

     5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

     6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

     8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

     Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.  Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)

Wow! What an invitation! Before Jesus began choosing his twelve disciples he was at work healing people and speaking to the crowds that had already begun to follow him. One of the persons healed was Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. (Luke 4:38-39). When the crowds become so large, he borrows Simon’s boat so he could back away from the people on the sea of Gennesarett (also known as the Sea of Galilee) to speak to them. Then there followed the miraculous catch of fish after Simon had fished all night unable to catch anything – so many fish that Peter had to call his friends James and John to help him bring them in. The catch nearly sank both boats

Peter bacame instantly aware of his sinfulness and asked Jesus to leave, but Jesus invited them to follow him by assuring them that they would become fishers of men. They immediately left everything to follow Jesus.

I’ve often wondered about Zebedee, the father of James and John, having to continue fishing without their help. But here we see how Jesus provided an enormous catch of fish for him at the time James and John left him behind.

What is the message from this account that we can apply to our own lives today? One thing that comes to my mind first is the freedom we have to follow Jesus. He will take care of us and our families if we are obedient to follow him.

Once when I was in graduate school I agreed to help a young freshman with a paper she needed to have typed and printed. When I read her paper I saw how desperately she needed more help than just typing to get it ready. I coached her with questions and suggestions to help her make the decisions necessary to turn it into a good paper. The reason I mention this situation is that the timing couldn’t have been worse for me to help her, since it was time I needed to be preparing for my own exams. One in particular was for a class with a very picky teacher who was known for his impossible exams. But God is amazing! The day before this dreaded exam, one of our classmates persuaded the teacher to accept the hard work that everyone had put into their projects and cancel the exam. He did, and I received an A for the course. I also learned a few days later that the girl I had helped was very active in a campus Bible study group. God surely had brought us together for that brief moment in time.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

    19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ “ 

    21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 

    22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  

    23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-25 (NIV)

Verse 19 tends to baffle many. Is Jesus saying he is not good? If you look closely, he did not say that–he only said that no one was good but God alone. It is as if he were revealing to the man that he was God, but of course the man didn’t pick up on it.

After responding to the man’s comment, Jesus moves on to the man’s question, and directs his attention to the Ten Commandments. Through Jesus’ eyes this man’s reply probably sounds quite self-righteous – he had kept the commandments since he was a boy. And he may have tried to do so in a very consciencious way – which takes us back to Jesus earlier comment that only God can be called good. No one can keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.

Then Jesus went to the heart of the man’s problem by telling him to sell all he had and give to the poor. It appears the man was unwilling to do this as Jesus answer made him very sad.

This account in the Bible is one that most Christians are quite familiar with.  Many read it with fear–those who are the most wealthy. Others, perhaps, should quake as well when we consider what we own in comparison to those in the impoverished third world nations. How much are we willing to share with the less fortunate? Where would we draw the line?

I believe God wants us to hold our posessions in an open hand remembering that everything we own belongs to God. We should tithe to our churches and give to Christian causes. We should be generous with everything else, yet at the same time be good stewards of what God has given to us. We need to give to those in need, but we must pray for discernment that we may be able to give that which will help others to rise above their circumstances, without enabling them to continue embracing the very habits that may be keeping them down.

Lord, help us to have a generous spirit.  Help us to remember that all we have comes from you when we are tempted to keep it all to ourselves.  Thank you for the reassurance that “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (verse 27)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 

     31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:28-33 (NIV)

There is something about watching a house being built that thrills me. The design of the house, the way the walls are constructed with the stud skeletons inside… everything about it excites me as I anticipate the finished home.

I once observed someone building an addition to an old house they were fixing up as I rode to and from work each day. It was exciting to see the addition take shape and I was feeling so proud for the owners, whoever they were. But then the work stopped and weeks passed, months passed, and the plywood that had been nailed to the outside began to curl outward and the house turned into a great disaster. It was apparent that someone had failed to consider the cost, either in manpower or materials, and now what had started out to be so grand had turned into a major embarrassment to the builders.

Jesus doesn’t want his followers to begin something we won’t finish, especially when it comes to our walk with him. He tells us his “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11:30) but that is when we are walking in step with him. Are we willing to walk in step with him when the road gets rough? Or are we only fair-weather friends? As long as everything is comfortable and rosy for us we will follow, but when misfortune comes our way we hold God responsible for it and resist the yoke instead of trusting it. If we are going to be true disciples of Jesus, we must count the cost and rise above our circumstances by staying in step with Him.

Lord, help us to be totally surrendered to you. Let us count the cost and count it all Joy as we trust you to help us to weather the storms that may come our way. Let us rise to the challenge and share your word with others, regardless of the cost.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

Why do we invite guests into our homes for a meal, or take them out to a restaurant? Are we trying to impress them, hoping to win their favor, so they will do good things for us? Business people do this regularly, and our income tax laws (USA) allow them to call these meals business expenses.

Jesus says not to invite those friends, neighbors and relatives who might be inclined to return the favor. Instead we are told to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind because they will be unable to return the favor. This is true hospitality.

As I read these verses I believe it is our motives that are at the heart of the matter. As in all other forms of relating with people, we are to have a servant’s heart. If we invite someone to our home, we should look for someone with a need – someone we can help in some way.

If we are faithful to serve others through our hospitality, God will be the one who will bless us, though it may not be in this lifetime.  Verse 14 says you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Lord, give me a servant’s heart. Help me find ways to show hospitality to those in need, not to win their favor, but to reflect your love to them that they will seek to know you better.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:10-11 (NIV)

 How special it is when someone unexpectedly honors us in some way in appreciation for something we have done. It is a much more pleasant experience than when we anticipate recognition that doesn’t come. Jesus is telling us in these verses that a spirit of humility is of great value, while those with a spirit of pride and self-seeking can only anticipate an embarrassing fall.

It seems appropriate to consider some forms of false humility. For instance, if someone does something very well–perhaps they sing beautiful solos or prepare fantastic meals–yet they habitually belittle his/her own performance; the appearance of humility may only be an attempt to fish for praise. 

So what should we do when we are praised for a job well done? We should acknowledge our honest appreciation to God for giving us the ability to do the task.

I must also share a confession from out of my past that still occasionally spills over into my present. I went through a long period in my life where I was starved for appreciation by the most important person in my life, one who willfully chose to withhold it. As a result of this void, when I received praise at church I was so grateful for it that I found it difficult to pass it on to God. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the role God played in enabling me to perform, I was simply desperate to be affirmed as a person. It was as if I was saying “Yes! I did it!”

I don’t claim to have been justified in accepting and treasuring that praise. I only share it here for the sake of some unknown person who, too, may be starved for recognition and appreciation. Be gentle with him or her – the time will come when he/she will joyfully pass the praise on to God.

Lord, help us to always recognize our dependence on you. Enable us to sincerely humble ourselves as we walk through this life. Help us to seek your glory and not our own. And help us to honor those around us who serve you and others well.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  Luke 14:7-9 NIV

     While watching people position themselves at the prominent pharisees house to make themselves look important, Jesus cautioned them about their foolish ways. It would be much better to be asked to move to a better seat than to be asked to give up your seat for someone more important than you.

     How do we apply these scriptures to our lives today? Do we like to sit at the “head table” at special occasions? Do we seek public audience for every good deed we do? Are we bent out of shape if a plaque with our name on it for a contribution we made thirty years ago gets moved from the vestibule to a less significant place? Do we blog every day on Bible scriptures, but spend so much time studying the “stats” (counts of how many read which posts) that it is hard to start writing the next post? (ouch!)

     Humility and pride don’t survive each other well. For humility to come in, pride must leave. If we give pride a little room in our hearts it isn’t satisfied until it takes over everything. Pride and confidence are not the same thing, however. We can have confidence in God, and in what he can do through us. But confidence quickly turns to pride if we seek to take credit for what we do, without honoring God for giving us the vision, ability, and skill to accomplish the task. Many would-be great spiritual leaders stumble over their own pride and thereby limit what God can do through them.

    Heavenly father, use your paternal attributes to keep our pride under control. Prevent us from fooling ourselves into a sense of false humility that comes from meaningless flowery confessions. Make it painfully obvious to us when we are filled with pride, and lead us down a path of true humility, a walk that pleases you. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     1  One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

     5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.  Luke 14:1-6 (NIV)

This was not a cordial invitation to a banquet. Jesus’ invitation was a setup in which the Pharisees hoped to catch Jesus breaking the law. Jesus knew their motives, and silenced them by asking questions they could not (or would not) answer. Jesus first asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. This was the “test,” the reason Jesus had been invited to the banquet in the first place, and Jesus simply challenged them with the question of the day. He then offered an appropriate example of “work” that every one of them would do on a Sabbath. Would they help an ox out of a ditch if it had gotten stuck in it on a Sabbath? Of course they would, but none dared admit to it. Therefore they could say nothing when Jesus healed the man with dropsy.

Has Jesus given blanket permission to disregard the observance of the Sabbath (now observed on Sunday in most Christian churches)? Not hardly. Most of our excuses for not honoring Sunday as a day of rest have to do with convenience, not emergencies. Jesus was confronting the Pharisees in their hypocrisy.

Do we have a hypocritical spirit when it comes to honoring the Sabbath or Sunday as a day of rest? Are we quick to criticize those who work on Sunday (or Saturday), yet by our own choices of what we do on Sunday (or Saturday) do we require others to work? Do we expect stores and restaurants to be open for us on the day we say we honor as a day of rest? Do we choose to clean house inside where no one can see, but criticize our neighbor who is mowing his grass?

Lord, help us to see our own motives clearly as we choose how we will honor you. Help us to not have a critical spirit when we look at others. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 

    8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'” Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)

     We have two fig trees in our yard that sound like the one in this parable. Every year we see 2-6 figs growing on the tree, but before they begin to ripen they just disappear. We haven’t cut them down yet, though I understand how the man who owned the fig tree felt. But the gardener has more patience in this parable than the owner and he wanted to work with the tree yet one more year. 

    Isn’t it wonderful that God, like the gardener, is patient with us. Yes, he wants to see fruit, but he is patient. But there comes a point when his patience gives out in the same way as was the gardener’s willingness to work with the tree one more year, after which he would cut it down.

     God has given us his plan of grace or salvation. But we weren’t placed in the family of God just to look pretty–like the fruitless fig tree. We are in the family to bear fruit.

     Since this parable comes immediately after the urgent command to repent that Jesus spoke, it seems appropriate to assume that this fruit is connected to our repentance. Without repentance we cannot bear fruit. Without repentance people are trying to do the work on their own strength–they are telling God they don’t need his help. Therefore, they shouldn’t be surprised when his help doesn’t come when they find themselves in want.      Lord, help me to have a repentant spirit. Don’t let me sweep my sins under the rug and pretend you don’t notice, but help me to come to you with open hands and an open heart that I may bear fruit for you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)

     When the people shared with Jesus the news of the tragic and insulting death of the Galileans, Jesus asked them the question which was probably already in the backs of their minds. Did these men suffer in this way because they were worse sinners than other men? 

     No, came Jesus’ answer. But he challenged them to repent or they too would perish. Was Jesus talking about an earthly calamity that would end in death? Not hardly. He was warning them of the eternal consequences of rebellion against God, of failing to repent.

     Does God punish people through calamities today? People argue this point on both sides. This passage makes it appear that he does not. But there were many examples throughout scripture when God did use calamities to punish people for blatant sins. Noah’s flood was one of the earliest such instances. And in the New Testament Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Acts 5

     I don’t pretend to know the answer to whether or not any particular disaster of our day and time was the result of the sins of the people who died. I know we live in a fallen world in which sin abounds. People suffer for their own sins as well as for the sins of others.  God sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. 

     Having said that, I must add that it doesn’t really matter what you or I think about the answer to this question. The decision isn’t ours to make–God is the only one who gets the last word. If God chooses to punish a single person or a group of people for their sins, he is powerful enough to do it with or without our acknowledgement.

     Whether or not God is still using disasters to punish in this life, we must still take seriously Jesus’ warning to repent or perish. We will each come face to face with God at the end of our lives on earth, and if we have never repented and believed in Christ we will perish apart from God and his blessings.

     Lord, help us to repent of our sins and walk in newness of life with you.  Give us a compassion for those who still live in rebellion against God that we may extend a life line to them through Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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