by Andrew Hillard
I love summer. It’s probably my favorite season. What I’m not always crazy about is what it takes to get there. Don’t get me wrong. Spring is beautiful, as long as I’m looking at it from inside my house, protected from the tidal wave of pollen waiting outside to wreak havoc on my body. In my mind, the best thing about spring is that today’s allergy season means summer is right around the corner with all of its warmth and cookouts and sun.
Now, I realize that you aren’t here for my opinions on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the seasons, so here’s the point…some things in life naturally point us to what is coming next, just as spring always gives way to summer. After a chapter filled with a long list of calamities that will precede His return, Jesus tells us here in Luke 21, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” Once again, as before, Jesus isn’t telling us to become preoccupied with trying to figure out exactly when He will return. He warns us against letting our hearts be weighed down by all the troubles of this world. Instead, he urges us to stay awake and pray for the strength we need to be faithful until He comes again. Because just as surely as allergy season—I mean spring—leads to summer, Jesus is coming again. He said it, and His words never pass away.
by Andrew Hillard
Jesus has been talking like someone with authority for a while now. All the way back in Luke 4:32, we saw that people were astonished by the authority of His words. Walking through Jesus’ ministry, we’ve seen his authority over things like disease and death and demons and nature. We’ve even seen him speak with the authority to forgive sins. None of that went over well with the religious leaders, but here in chapter 20, their frustration with Jesus seems to reach another level. We see that revealed in question after question, challenge after challenge, directed Jesus’s way. Why is that? Why now? Take a look back at Luke 19:45-46, “And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.’”
Proverbs 17:10 tells us, “ A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Before we’re too hard on the scribes and religious leaders who attack Jesus here, let’s confess that we’ve been just as stubborn at times. But by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, we can now be those who let the questions of this passage reveal and change our hearts. Under whose authority are you living today? Have you given to God what is rightfully His—all of you? That’s what the authority of Jesus demands.
by Shaun Caudill
As a child, I loved getting as much attention drawn to me as possible (as an adult too sometimes!). My mother would encourage me to not be loud or exuberant, but I couldn’t help myself…well, I didn’t really want to. I wanted the attention! Now, as an adult, I sometimes embarrass myself because of this need. I now also have my own kids who want attention, too (sometimes embarrassing me because of the attention they draw to themselves…sorry Mom). I finally get it. My mother wasn’t just giving me her preferences about how she wanted me to live life. She was taking this truth from Scripture. Proverbs 27:2 states, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Anyone who draws attention to themselves for the sake of being recognized, validated, or thought of as worthy is putting themselves on a throne that is not meant for them.
However, when Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people cry out “Hosanna!” believing that He is the king that will save them from the Romans, heralding Him as the coming Messiah… and Jesus receives it all unflinchingly. When the Pharisees tell Jesus that He should quiet His disciples down and make them quit this spectacle, Jesus tells them that even if His disciples were quiet, the rocks would burst into praise right behind their quieted voices (Luke 19:40)! Why does Jesus do what the Proverbs tell us not to do? Because JESUS IS GOD! If He is lifted up, He will draw all people to Himself (John 12:32). Jesus will draw attention to Himself because He is the greatest good, the fulfillment of our greatest need, and the ONLY one who deserves all the attention. I have this desire to be recognized. Christ has already recognized me as His (through my faith in Him), and He accepts me completely and whole-heartedly. What more do I really need? What would happen in this world if I drew more attention to Christ than to myself? What would happen if I cared more about people acknowledging Christ instead of acknowledging me? What would happen if I cared more about Christ being known than trying to make myself known? Am I sitting on a throne meant for Christ and need to step down? Am I lifting Him up? I don’t want the rocks to take my place! Hosanna! He is worthy!!
by Andrew Hillard
Zacchaeus may have inspired the catchier song, but Jesus’ parable of the ten minas holds a powerful reminder for us. He told the parable because people “supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.” Can I be completely honest with you? I want everything done yesterday. I like action and measurable results. I’m not a big fan of waiting. And in a world where almost everything is available on-demand, the truth is we’re all conditioned to expect immediate results.
But now, in the midst of a pandemic, where it feels as if the whole world is holding its collective breath, we’re reminded that, even when we haven’t felt it, we’ve always been a people who are waiting. As Christians, we’re a people who know the King but still wait for the day when the kingdom will appear in its glorious fullness, a day when disease and death will be no more. And as people who aren’t the best at waiting, Jesus’ parable asks a timely question—how will we wait? Will we wait like the servant who hid the master’s money away in fear, just trying to get to the other side of all this with as little disruption as possible? Or will we wait like the servants who invested the master’s money wisely, looking for every opportunity to grow what our King has entrusted to us? A lot of things may be on hold right now, but until our King returns, let’s be servants who do what we can with what we have, wherever we are, to advance the good news of Jesus.
by Scott Kerr
In times like these, more people turn to prayer than normal. Should we have confidence when we pray? In the first few verses of Luke 18, we read about a persistent widow and an unjust judge. In these verses, we read that the widow was being denied justice by the judge because he didn’t “fear God or care about people.” However, the widow continued coming back and back and back until finally the judge got tired of her bugging him, and so he gave her the justice that she was looking to receive. In verse 1, we are told that Jesus told the parable so that his disciples would continue to pray and not give up. Consequently, some have read the parable to mean they should keep bugging God until they get what they want. Is that what we are to learn? The answer to that is no. We are even told in James 4:3 that sometimes we do not receive because we ask wrongly. So, just being persistent to get our way is not the point. So what is the point? Jesus explains in verses 6-8. “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8 ESV). The point is we should keep praying because we can trust that God will give justice to His people. When we pray, we can keep praying because at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way God will answer the prayers of His people. If an unjust judge will finally give justice, we can trust that God will act more quickly to provide justice to His people. So, what Jesus really wants us to do is keep praying with confidence, knowing God will take care of His people.
by Shaun Caudill
“Are we living in the end times?” That is a question that seems to be asked rather often in the time we are living but even more so when we are experiencing a crisis in our world. In Luke 17, the Pharisees were wanting to know from Jesus when the kingdom of God would appear. Jesus doesn’t answer the Pharisees’ question by answering the “when” of the end times but the “who” of the end times. The Pharisees were so preoccupied with seeking the signs of when the kingdom was coming that they couldn’t even see the answer they were looking for right in front of them! Not when, but Who! Jesus was standing right in front of them stating that if they would look to Him they would experience the kingdom they were so were desperately seeking. Living in the presence of God through faith in Jesus IS the kingdom!
Understanding and studying what the Bible says about the end times is an important topic but not for the reason many think. We do not study so that we can say which event or events will lead up to His second coming but so that we can draw closer to Him in faith. By studying Scripture, we know certain things are going to take place because God is in complete control and tells us beforehand! John 15:15 tells us that we are His friends and He desires that we live in confidence and faith with Him. Because I know that everything is under His control, I can be at peace. Guess what? Jesus told us that things can get uncomfortably crazy but that we don’t have to be scared or fearful because through Him everything is under control. Are we living in the end times? Let’s ask a better question…Do I have a relationship with Christ and trust Him? If I am in Christ then I can be at peace regardless of how difficult things get. He is with me and has promised that He will see me through as I seek Him. Are you living as if Christ is in control of these times we are living in?
by Andrew Hillard
People have a lot of worries and questions right now, but Jesus addresses one of the biggest in Luke 16—money. Jesus tells us, “You cannot serve God and money.” The Pharisees, we’re told, “were lovers of money.” And then there’s the story of the rich man and Lazarus. There was a rich man with the best clothes and the best food, and there was a poor man named Lazarus who laid at the rich man’s gate, covered in sores, wishing he could just eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Their lives on this earth looked very differently, but so did their lives beyond this earth.
In moments of uncertainty, it can be easy for us to worry about what we have or what we don’t have, but our hope isn’t tied to how much money we have. Our hope isn’t built upon anything that is changing or shifting. Our hope is that we hear the word of God and believe what He says because “it’s easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” That’s the kind of hope we can bank on.