Luke 10

Read Luke 10.

The lawyer we meet in Luke 10:25 wanted to put Jesus to the test, asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” But what we quickly learn as readers is that Jesus wasn’t the one being tested. Jesus answered the lawyer’s questions with questions of his own, quickly discovering that this lawyer already knew the answers he was purportedly seeking, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Not interested in taking “yes” for an answer, the lawyer questions Jesus again, “And who is my neighbor?” This time, Jesus responds with a story, which is now known as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ story concludes with the question, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” Again, Jesus puts the ball in the lawyer’s court, asking what he thinks being a neighbor looks like. The neighbor in the story was, as the lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy,” so Jesus instructs him to go and do likewise.

The lawyer’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. Twice, Jesus affirms his assessment of the situation. He was seeing things clearly. The lawyer’s problem was the same problem that can befall any of us–he wanted to justify what he was already doing rather than make the changes he knew he needed to make. How can you be a neighbor today? To whom can you show compassion and kindness?

Luke 9

Read Luke 9.

Lots of things are happening in Luke 9. Jesus is moving and shaking and making things happen – and it all demanded a response. 

Herod was so perplexed that he wasn’t entirely sure what the proper response was.

Peter responded by confessing Jesus as the Christ. 

The same Peter, along with James and John, responded to the transfigured Christ in stunned awe and silence.

Upon witnessing a boy healed of an unclean spirit, the crowd responded in astonishment “at the majesty of God” (v. 43).

A variety of situations and circumstances received a variety of responses from a variety of people. But Luke also records a prompt from Jesus that we must also respond to: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (v. 23).

So how will you respond? And I’m not asking “what’s the right response?” – because you can know the right response without actually responding accordingly. I’m asking you, “how will you respond today?” May we respond not just in word, but also in deed – denying ourselves and walking daily in the way of Jesus.

Luke 8

Read Luke 8.

The Christian world is full of so many platitudes that the truth behind them often becomes obscured or even forgotten. These things get repeated so often out of context that they lose their usefulness to us. While I am sad that there are no more brick and mortar Lifeway stores, I am not upset that there are fewer Philippians 4:13 coffee mugs out there. We see them so often that we forget that it’s not about you needing that cup of coffee because you stayed up to late watching a movie, but you can do all things so you are gonna make it.

There is a passage in Luke 8 that can, if we are not careful, become the same to us. It can become just another story that we take out of context and then use it to think God is a genie that will get us out of every bad situation. But that’s not the point of verses 22-25 in Luke 8. Let’s remember the context. Luke has spent the past few chapters showing that Jesus called those who followed him to a deep life of faith and not just any faith, but faith that showed itself in a changed life. We, as followers of Jesus, should look and act and talk and think differently. And one place that is seen powerfully in the life of a Christian is who we deal with difficulty and hardship.

So here are the disciples, crossing the lake, when a terrible storm pops up. And we know its bad because the disciples, with all their experience on the water, were terrified. So they wake up Jesus in the most dramatic way possible… “Jesus! We are dying!!” And after the storm is calmed Jesus asks them one question, “Where was your faith?”

We don’t follow Jesus because the life he gives us is free of difficulty. He doesn’t remove every danger. Rather he calls us to have faith that he is with us and he is greater than all of it. You may need to make a difficult decision, you may be facing rejection or hardship because of your faith. Maybe you are passed over for a promotion or your kid loses her spot on the team because you choose church on Sunday over work or practice. You may have a dear friend walk out of your life because you share the gospel. Remember friend, Jesus doesn’t keep our lives free of difficulty but he does promise to walk with us through it.

Luke 7

Read Luke 7

Luke chapter 7 is ripe, filled will lessons we can learn from Jesus. We see Him as healer, as someone who brings the dead back to life, and as one who forgives. Though the miracles He performs in Chapter 7 can teach us many things about Jesus, I’d like us to focus on the forgiveness Jesus offers. 

There are essentially two reasons forgiveness occurs or should occur in our life. One, when we have wronged, and two, when we have been wronged. Complete forgiveness is often difficult for us to give, and many times, it’s hard to receive. But we see forgiveness in Jesus.

At the end of Luke 7, Jesus asks Simon a question. He says, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answers just like we would. The one who was forgiven the most would love more. Right? Jesus confirms that Simon has judged correctly. In this analogy from Jesus, we are the debtors. 

We owe a debt we cannot repay. And that debt was so heavy God sent His son, our savior, to pay that debt for us. We have much to be happy about! Jesus has paid our debt in full. Would you reach out in faith today and receive this forgiveness?

Blessings

Luke 6

Read Luke 6.

The Pharisees who questioned and opposed Jesus in Luke 6 are a living, breathing representation of what it means to miss the forest for the trees. They knew the law. They knew what was allowed on the Sabbath and what was not. But their attention to the minute details of the law blinded them to the bigger picture. Their enforcement of the law failed to account for the heart behind the law.

Jesus’ words and actions called them to reconsider whether the Sabbath laws were being equally applied, as well as why those laws existed. Was it to prevent hungry disciples from eating? Was it to prevent a man from being healed? These events immediately precede the longest discourse of Jesus’ teaching contained in Luke’s Gospel, inviting us as readers to consider where we might be prone to do what the Pharisees did. Where might our backgrounds, traditions, and prejudices make it difficult for us to truly see what Jesus is saying? Are we quick to round off the rough edges of the beatitudes and the woes? Are we looking for loopholes when it comes to loving our enemies? Are there special circumstances–in our minds–when it is actually okay for us to judge and condemn others rather than repenting of our own hypocrisy? Do we call Jesus “Lord, Lord” without doing what he says?

May we be those who hear Jesus’ words clearly and build our lives upon them.

Luke 5

Read Luke 5.

[27] After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” [28] And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

Luke 5:27-28, ESV

There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of Jesus’ invitation to Levi: “Follow me.” Luke tells us that Levi left everything, got up, and followed Jesus. It doesn’t take long, however, for the Pharisees and scribes to try to complicate matters. They wanted to know why Jesus thought it was okay to eat and drink with people like Levi. They wanted stronger barriers for those who would come to Jesus, and while they didn’t address their questions directly to Jesus, that didn’t stop Jesus from answering them directly, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus has a way of simplifying that which we might otherwise complicate. We can be quick to add exceptions and amendments to the call of Jesus, more determined that people start following Jesus from exactly where we are than that they hear the simplicity of Jesus’ invitation wherever they are: “Follow me.” I pray that we can enjoy the beauty of receiving that simple invitation and the power of extending it to others.

Luke 4

Read Luke 4.

Luke 4 marks the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry – approximately three years spent preaching the good news of the forgiveness of sin, proclaiming the kingdom of God, and performing many signs and wonders. In doing these things, Jesus was fulfilling the very purpose for which he was sent (vv. 16-21, 43).

But did you notice that Jesus’ fulfillment of his God-appointed purpose came on the far side of difficulties and disappointment? Before he turned any water into wine, he was first tempted in the wilderness (vv. 1-13). Before he raised the dead to life, he was first rejected by his own (vv. 16-30). 

Friends, you have been called up into God’s story. You have a critical, God-appointed role to play in his plan of redemption. But make no mistake – it will come with challenges, frustrations, and struggles. Living on mission can get messy, and making disciples can be difficult. If this was the case for Jesus, why would we expect anything less?

May the Spirit of God help us to see and press on toward the opportunities that lie on the far side of opposition.

Luke 3

Read Luke 3.

As John is preparing the way for Jesus by preaching, teaching, and baptizing, he focused on a central theme…repentance. We think of this simply as turning from sin and turning to God, not only saying sorry and going about our day but rather coming to God with a heavy heart seeking to no longer linger in that sin. Seeking to grow closer to our Father by abiding in his presence. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially if the things we need to repent of have become a way of life. Many of the people in the crowd listening to John were people whose current lifestyles weren’t exactly bringing glory to God. Tax collectors, soldiers, the general population. All of these people had habits that were centered on their own best interests, whether that was padding their pocket with extra “taxes” or bribery or basic greed.

Something changed when they heard John preaching on repentance. They began to question. They no longer wanted to live in their old ways; they wanted to understand how to live for God’s glory through repentance. The question that they asked over and over was “What then shall we do?” The answers John gave would require personal sacrifice and humility if they truly wanted to follow the one true King. This wasn’t necessarily a popular message to proclaim, but those whose hearts were being changed by the Spirit were baptized in faith to live a life marked by repentance. So…thinking about that crowd, the crowd who stood hearing a hard message, the crowd standing at the water’s edge searching their hearts and desiring to repent…I wonder if we ask that question often enough. What then shall we do? If we are followers of Christ, our baptism by water and spirit are not the end of our call to repentance, but rather the beginning of seeking a new way of life. Is there anything in our hearts that we have been avoiding? That maybe we need to question? It’s not an easy task, but one worth the sacrifice.

Luke 2

Read Luke 2.

Do you know the story of your birth? I was born at a normal hospital after trying to make my first appearance at my brother’s third birthday party. What can I say? Mr. Gatti’s was an exciting place back in the mid-nineties. Maybe your story is good or bad or maybe you don’t know it, but all of our entrances into this world can be summarized like this: a baby was born.

In Luke 2, we see an account of the birth of Jesus. In one way, we can view it as normal. A baby was born. Our God came to the earth as a fully human baby. In another way, Luke 2 is an account of the greatest birth of all time. Our God came to earth as a fully human baby. Christ came into this world the same way as everyone else, but it was so He could fulfill God’s ultimate plan of redemption. He came to live a perfect life and to save us by taking the punishment for our sin.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11, ESV

Luke 1

Read Luke 1.

Here at VC Devotionals, we’ve spent the past year working our way through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. To do that, we’ve needed to keep up a pretty strong and steady pace. So, it seems wise now that we take a deep breath and slow things down just a bit. There’s nothing wrong with going fast. There’s a time for that. But there’s also a time to move more slowly and allow ourselves the space to contemplate more fully. That’s what we hope to do over the coming year. Rather than following a whole-Bible, plan, we are going to be focusing on the New Testament with a reading plan called NT260. You can find the details of that plan here.

It is my prayer for today and for the year ahead that we would see and hear Jesus in the words of the New Testament in a way that renews our faith and deepens our discipleship.