Friday, January 30, 2009

Luke, Chapter 21

Chapter 21 of Luke is not pretty. In it, the disciples asked what some of the signs of the end of the age would be. Their natural human curiosity wanted to know if the end times would come in their lifetime. It was a case of wanting to use their position close to Jesus to gain insider information. As usual, Jesus did not give a definitive answer. His answer actually fit two time periods.

When He mentions a generation he could mean the current generation He was peaking to or humanity as a whole. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed and suffered many of the fates Jesus described here. By reading elsewhere in Scripture, we see that many of the same fates are prophesied to happen at the actual end times. We know that no one knows the date and time that the Son of Man will return, but we are to be prepared at all times for that return.

12"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm you will gain life. – Luke 21:12-19

One of the things I pray for daily is the words and wisdom to make it in this world. I know I do not face gross persecution by anyone, yet I still feel like I do not belong to this world. I have long felt that I march along a different path than many people. Because of that, I don’t fit in very well in many situations. It is probably one of the reasons I have so many job struggles because I refuse to bend my principles for the sake of others if I think it is wrong to do so.

Part of Jesus’ promise here requires faith though. I keep going back to the section on sin, faith, and duty at the beginning of Luke 17. That paints a clear picture that an abundance of faith isn’t needed, just the fact that we have faith. We need to have the faith that God will gives us the tools we need to make it in this world. Personally, I feel like the more I do to pursue work lately the less I hear about it. I try to get through each day with the little bit of faith I have by saying, “Lord, this is Your promise. You promised to provide. Only You can do the things I cannot. It’s Your problem to fix.”

I have no idea how it will be done. Right now, short of a miracle offer coming to slap me in the face, I don’t know how God is going to find me a job. I just have faith that He will provide.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Luke, Chapter 20 part 2

Today’s post is a brief one as I am feeling a bit under the weather. In actuality, I feel like I have been run over by a truck. I still feel obligated to write about the good news of Christ though. It is also hard tow rite about the end of this chapter because it focuses more on some of Jesus’ straightforward parables. To me, Jesus makes his point very clear with both of these.

The first point is that things change in the resurrection, and he defines that by refuting the Pharisees’ claim that there is no resurrection. Consistently they called God the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If that is the case, then the resurrection exists because then He is the God of the living, not the God of the dead. In that, we live because God lives in us. It is no wonder they teachers were impressed.

The second point was another case of Jesus cutting off their attempt to trip Him up in His words. They expected the Messiah to be physically descended from David. Still, Jesus quoted one of David’s own Psalms to point out that David believed He had two masters: the Father and the Son. The Pharisees could not accept that things would be different than their perception, and that was their shortfall.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Luke, Chapter 20 part 1

In the days after Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He spent many days preaching in the temple. During that time, many people questioned his authority, but they were misguided in their questioning. To me, this shows one of the low points in human history. The Pharisees, as we see in this chapter, were all about questioning Him, but they couldn’t answer a simple question in return for fear they would look like they were losing their status.

This is just cowardly. I am ashamed to be a human being because of the actions of the Pharisees. They stood to learn the most from Jesus’ teaching by actually being there in person, yet they rejected him because of their own selfish nature. This entire passage focus on humanity’s selfish nature, but in it we see the very reason why we are in need of redemption. It could only be given freely as a gift to those who want it because we rejected Christ when He was actually here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Luke, Chapter 19 part 2

In today’s lesson we see a side of Jesus that He had not previously had in His earthly ministry. One of his defining characteristics was always humility. Though He was the greatest being that ever lived, He never enjoyed having praise heeped on Himself. He was always the model of being a servant throughout His ministry. To Him, it was the message that was important. Though others tried to exalt Him into a higher earthly position he never took it. As we know, His ultimate triumph on earth is still to come.

Today’s lesson is different, however. In today’s lesson He allows just a small amount of praise and status to be placed upon Him during the triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. These events occurred a week before His death in a time when the crowds quickly turned on Him.

37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
40"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." – Luke 19:37-40

Jesus knew what was coming for Him. He knew that He would face His own death on the cross, yet I think He went through with this spectacle just to give us a taste of His coming kingdom. As great as this entry was for Him, it pales in comparison to the entry He will make upon his return to earth.

Which brings us to the verse about praise. Praising God is something that I do not do enough of. Lately I have been too focused on what I am doing wrong. I am missing what I can do right, and one of those things is to constantly praise God for what Christ has done. If I don’t, the stones themselves will cry out because He is simply worthy of praise. I do praise God today simply because I am alive.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Luke, chapter 19 part 1

Am I doing enough good in my life? This was a question I pondered deeply last night in the midst of another sleepless night. As God likes to do, He made sure it came up in my study of Scripture this morning. The first part of Luke 19 deals both with Zacchaeus the tax collector and the parable of the ten minas. In both, it is a case of having people to whom much was given, so much was expected of them in return.

I envy Zacchaeus. He knew instantly that he needed to see Jesus. Jesus then clearly delineated what He wanted of him. Unfortunately, while there are plenty of Sycamore trees to climb where I am, I lack having Jesus come by to talk directly to me. What stands out though is Zacchaeus’ willingness to serve immediately. He not only wanted to serve, but he was willing to give up all he had in order to serve. Do I have that kind of faith anymore?

That brings us to the parable of the ten minas. The central lesson in this parable is that not only are we responsible for what we do wrong, but we are responsible for what we fail to do right. Last night I was starring at the ceiling near 1am thinking of just this thing before I even read this passage this morning. In my current jobless state I feel like I am in a unique position. God is providing in ways other than traditional work. I may not go to some office in the morning, but He has found a way through massive amounts of coupons, the selling of ads on my other blog, and through my writing job that all my needs are cared for. That gives me the luxury of time each day.

I was questioning last night whether I can make better use of that time. I have been so focused on myself and what I can get out of everything that lately I have neglected my responsibility to other people. In that, I feel I have missed an opportunity to do good like the servant who was given just one mina. What is wrong with me volunteering my time for some place, maybe a day each week, even if I am not getting paid. Just down the street from us there is a women’s shelter that my wife and I both strongly believe in. We have donated items and money to them in the past. What is stopping me from giving them one day a week as a volunteer to help out around their office? Is there another place where I can do such a thing?

As I was struggling to sleep last night I was seriously considering how I could serve in this capacity of God can continue to provide without me having a traditional job. I have seen in recent days that it is possible for me to do work from home on various freelance projects and achieve the freedom that eludes me when I do have your traditional job. I can even make as much money if not more. My wife reminded me, however, that I would be missing the social interaction with other people. At first I didn’t think this was such a bad thing since I tend to be rather reclusive. Last night I was reminded, however, that social interaction isn’t a bad thing. I now know that if my professional life continues along this path of having me work from home that I probably should investigate giving my time as a volunteer. If not, I fear I will be missing a chance to do good, which as it says in James 4:17 is the same as sinning.

17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. - James 4:17

Friday, January 23, 2009

Luke, Chapter 18 part 2

It is fitting that I am ending this week with this section of Luke 18. I have felt like something has been missing in my spiritual walk. I feel like there is something I am holding back that is preventing me from totally experiencing God's blessing. I cannot place my finger on it, either. That makes it doubly frustrating. Let's look at the primary message of this chapter as Jesus talks about meeting the Rich Ruler.

 22When 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."

 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, 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 18:22-25

I don't know if I would consider myself rich. I manage my finances well and get by for what little I am able to bring in, but it isn't much. Compared to the way most of the world lives though, I am exceedingly wealthy. This makes me wonder if I call into this category. Is this what I am holding back? I know I try to begin each day by giving myself to God. I am praying that I do just that right now. I pray that He will use me today as he sees fit. Even in doing so, however, I feel like I am going unused. That leads me to feel like something is missing in my life.

I think it goes back to Wednesday's lesson on how God uses what little faith we have to do great things. That has been stuck in my head for most of this week. It has been a bad week as far as my mood goes. Still, I can see where God can simply use what faith I have instead of increasing it to make me better. The mere fact I have faith, no matter how little it feels at the moment, is enough for God. He only asks that we believe. Right now this feels very disjointed, but I pray that what small faith I have will be enough.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Luke, chapter 18 part 1

This morning is another rough morning. It is a morning where my stomach is in knots because something just does not feel right. I cannot place my finger on it, but today feels like it is the head of my feeling of not really belonging anywhere. Maybe it is my fear that everything I have been trying to do lately won’t be enough, even though I know it is not the case. It is my hope that today’s lesson in chapter 18 of Luke and some intense prayer will help the matter. I am praying that God will use my little bit of faith, as mentioned yesterday, to accomplish something wonderful.

And there is hope in the parable of the persistent widow. This is a woman that never gave up in the face of even more daunting circumstances. She fought alone as I do. She sought an answer that looked like it would never come just as I do. In this, Jesus wants us to remain strong in faith regardless of if the answer is yes or no to what we ask. As Jimmy V. says, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" – Luke 18:6-8

If an unjust and uncaring judge can come around, won’t the God of the universe? It doesn’t feel like it today, but I know that God is out there and He cares about me. He has provided before, so He will again. Right now my own faith is lacking in this area, but I pray that I have the strength today to look beyond myself and see something greater in what God is doing right now. After all, I have all the time I need today.

In that, the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector makes even more sense. I feel like lately I have been the Pharisee, focused only on myself when I pray. I have tried to branch out, but I keep coming back to what I need. Jesus has spoken of tax collectors before. They were the most despised members of society, yet we consistently see them making better decision than the supposed religious elite. It is this attitude of supplication and humility that we must take before God. Right now, I feel like I am nothing. It is God’s choice what he does next with me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Luke, chapter 17

Chapter 17 of Luke offers us a picture of forgiveness. The main point of this chapter relates to sin, faith and our duty to God through each. There are days where it feels like our Christian walk needs a lot of faith, but in reality only a small amount is needed. Jesus asks us in this passage to view our faith as a seed. When you plant a seed it grows into something larger. Instead of asking for more faith it may be better for us to ask God to work with the little faith we are given.

Forgiveness is another aspect of Jesus’ message here. Much tot eh dismay of the Pharisees, Jesus taught that there was nothing beyond His ability to forgive. He leaves us with this message in verses three and four.

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." – Luke 17:3-4

These standards are not overly high because they are the same standards Jesus Himself has for us. He merely asks us to follow these same standards. The disciples here did not believe they could live up to those standards, thus the lesson on growing what little faith we have.

This chapter ends with a message about the coming kingdom of God. I admit there are days that I long for this kingdom because I cannot tolerate the ways of this world. Lately I have been thinking about how I just don’t seem to fit in anywhere. In that case, I certainly don’t long for this place. The primary message here is that we must always be ready for the coming of the kingdom. As children of this kingdom, naturally we are not going to fit in or be comfortable in this place of loss and sin. It is through God’s grace and mercy that we are freed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Luke, chapter 16

I wanted tot hank Micah for last week’s impromptu discussion. It really made me look at the question of mercy and worthiness at a different angle. I thought about it quite a bit the past few days while I was out of town. In his final comment, Micah had a good point in that all things are created for the Son rather than for us. We are still loved by God, but that love is clarified through the works of the Son.

We see an example of that as we continue with Luke 16. In it, we are reminded of our spiritual responsibility with what God gives us. In the parable of the shrewd manager Jesus reminds us that even when we are given a small amount we must still be responsible and manage it will. If we cannot manage even these small responsibilities we will never be trusted with larger ones.

10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? – Luke 16:10-12

This is important because we each have our own responsibilities in God’s kingdom. Some are given to teach. Others are given to serve. Still others are given to evangelize. It doesn’t what our responsibilities are, however. It is more important that we strive to discover what they are and fulfill those responsibilities. If we don’t we are not serving our sacred duty.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Micah's response

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I had a death in the family so I had to scramble and make travel arrangements all morning to South Carolina for us. I wanted to step away from the book of Luke briefly today in order to respond to Micah’s comment on the last entry. Micah commented that part of the beauty in God’s plan is that we aren’t deserving of God’s mercy, yet it is still freely offered. I think that’s a bit of a catch-22 and along the lines of the question, “Can Jesus microwave Himself a burrito so hot he Himself cannot eat it?”

On the one hand, we must be worthy on some level if it is offered. There was something that God saw in humanity eons ago that said we were at least worthy of the chance at being saved. Yes, we inherently screw things up and fall short of the grace of God just because we are human, yet we still have that chance. It is a choice we make of our own free will to see our fallen we are and search for that forgiveness.

That gets to the other side of the coin. We aren’t worthy, but God still makes His mercy available to us. Here is the dictionary definition of mercy:

Mercy - compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

We are people in God’s power. There is absolutely nothing we can do to escape it. Despite this, he does show us mercy. My view of God is not Jonathan Edwards’ Puritan view of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God where we are merely toys that God plays with. We have a choice through our own free will to accept this mercy God gives us despite what we have done. We don’t deserve it, but we are worthy simply because the gift is offered.

And it is offered freely. Mother Theresa was one of the most gentile people that ever lived. She was still a sinner and needed to accept God’s forgiveness. On the other side. Jeffrey Dahmer brutally murdered at least 17 people, yet before he was killed in a prison fight he had reportedly become a born again Christian. If that is proof that there is nothing beyond God to forgive I don’t know what is. That is one of the biggest examples of mercy in the case that it wasn’t deserved, but it was still offered. On some level God still found that man worthy and gave him the choice of His mercy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Luke, Chapter 15

What does it mean to be lost? We were all lost at some time. That is why I like Luke 15. This chapter perfectly illustrates God’s love for us through a series of three parables taught by Jesus. This is not even lost in the sense that I have felt for some time. I know I am lost and directionless at the moment, but ultimately I have already been found. I have sought to have Jesus in control in my life, so I can never be truly lost again.

Luke 15 has the parable of the lost coin, the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the lost son. In the first two we see how zealously God seeks us when we are lost. Those are items that cannot find their way back on their own. Like God does with us, however, there is rejoicing when those items are found.

7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Luke 15:7

When I started this blog I didn’t have delusions that it would change the world. I have long said that my main prayer for this is that just one person reads it and is influenced to give their lives to God. That would give my life purpose if that were to happen. In my personal Bible that verse is underlined simply for its beauty. God certainly has trillions of other things to do in running the universe, yet He cares about each one of us individually to rejoice when we find him.

Ultimately, finding him is the focus of the third parable in this chapter. As humans, we have the choice in whether we will return to the Father or not. In this parable, the actions of the older son represent those who do not see God’s plan. They are the ones that think they deserve something because of their own perceived righteousness. They think others don’t deserve God’s divine mercy. We are worthy though. I cannot stress that enough.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Luke, Chapter 14

In Luke 14 Jesus once again touches on the subject of humility. I have been thinking a lot about this lately because I feel like God is trying to tell me something in it. That is why today, I am trying a new approach to facing the day. As most of you know, it has been a constant struggle lately to find work. Temp work has been few and far between. I have had basketball games, something I actually enjoy, to cover, but that is not really much. The rest of the time I have been seeking and trying every avenue possible in order to find some kind of work. Most of those end up being nos or dead ends.

As I was falling asleep last night, however, I felt God whispering to my spirit to trust Him. As I search, I get more and more frustrated when I don’t find something. It makes me even more tense as each jobless day passes. Compounding matters is the fact we are going to see my in laws in April and I fear that trip is preventing me from taking anything long term even though I don’t have such offers. In this, I have tried to tell myself that God will provide. I haven’t really believed it though.

That is why God was trying to tell me something. I feel like last night He was impressing on my heart to sit back and wait today. I feel I was being told that today needed to be a day where I simply listen for His voice and trust Him to do what needs to be done behind the scenes. Yes, there needs to be effort on my part, but in reality the final act is not something I can do. I cannot force a decision in someone. I cannot walk into some place and start drawing a paycheck. Ultimately, it must be God that decides what He wants in my life. I have lately felt it is something I must go out and do, but that is not the case.

10But 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. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." – Luke 14:10-11

This is where the lesson in humility comes in. I see now that I can only do so much. Thinking I can do more, that I am owed a place of honor at these jobs simply because of who I am, is not exhibiting humility. I have been guilty in the past of thinking certain places are beneath me. This is something that needs to stop. Yes, Ic an feel out of place. Yes, I can feel like something isn’t a good fit for my skills, but I need to get past thinking I am above some places. Right now I am the one in the lowest position. I need to commit today to wait and listen for what God is going to reveal about taking a better place. Clearly I am needed where I am at today. In that, I had best find out why and listen to god for that why.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Luke, Chapter 13

It has been a few days, but I have draw encouragement from a number of places. Thank you to the anonymous poster who left a comment after Thursday’s writing. It lifted me up and allowed me to see some perspective here. The situation is slightly better since the second interview that day was a very good one, but I still have no definite offer on the table. It is looking more and more like I am supposed to strike out on my own, substitute teach, and find various freelance assignments in there. I am encouraged because the Lord will provide.

We see examples of that in Luke 13. In the face of opposition Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath. The subsequent humiliations of the synagogue leaders would be another step toward His death, but He still moved forward. To me, that is one of the greatest signs of encouragement. I am merely facing a continued professional and financial struggle. Jesus was facing a painful death on the cross in order to take away the sins of the world. Obviously, this is no small feat.
6Then 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. 7So 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. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' " – Luke 13:6-9

I wanted to include this parable today because it make a big statement along the lines of encouragement. Each of us is like this fig tree. We are given a short time in order to bear fruit. Before knowing Christ it is difficult for us to bear fruit as well. With proper care and spiritual nourishment, however, we can reach the point in our growth that we can provide some space for others. This is how our spiritual walk needs to be. I am guilty of not bearing fruit each day. I agree it is very hard to feel productive in my current state, but this blog and daily study of the Bible is a way of watering and fertilizing myself. Other than that, I am on God’s graces. If He can provide for the trees and birds of the air (as seen in the mustard seed parable later in this chapter) I should have no worries that He can provide for me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Luke, Chapter 12 part 2

I am in dire need of encouragement today. I just got out of a job interview that, in my opinion went poorly. I am not totally turned on to the job, but I need something. I have another interview this afternoon that sounds better on paper, but who knows until I get there. Both could offer, but neither could offer. Even then I feel a deep sadness in my soul. I was asked the question, "What do you want to do?" and I couldn't answer truthfully. What I want to do in this life seems impossible at the moment.

I feel so low that I can't relate to today's message on watchfulness in Luke chapter 12. I do feel like I have been waiting for a very long time for things to come my way. I know in my heart that Christ represents peace when He comes, but I haven't felt peace in ages. As a result, I was not ready today for the interview that faced me. I am lost in a dark room with no light whatsoever. There is an exit, but I don't know how large the room is or where that exit would be.

39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." – Luke 12:39-40

I am extrapolating Scripture here to fit my life, but I feel like today was an unexpected day. I didn't know about either interview until yesterday afternoon, but I still wasn't prepared despite all the time I have been waiting professionally. The first was a mystery about what the position would be and it still is. I don't know if I am a good fit, but I can certainly do the job. The question is, do I want to. I pray this second opportunity is better, will offer, and I won't have to worry about the first, but I rarely get what I want.

I know this doesn't have much to do with watchfulness right now except that I feel I know longer have the strength to be watchful. All I want to do is go home, curl up in a ball, shut off my phone, and cry.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Luke, Chapter 12 part 1

There are days when I question if I have enough faith to truly survive in this world. Those questions come almost daily, but they are offset by the promises that are laid out in the first half of Luke, chapter 12. In this chapter we are asked to speak for the cause of God regardless of the cause. That goes hand in hand with the admonition not to worry. If we anchor ourselves in the promises of God we don't even need to worry about what we will say. God will already prvide the words for us through the Holy Spirit.

11"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." – Luke 12:11-12

I know I do not face persecution except for what is made up in my own little mind. I live in a country where I have the freedom to do and think whatever I feel. In that, I still must rely on the Holy Spirit to give me what I need to say when I represent God. I cannot possibly do this very blog on my own. Each morning I struggle in the flesh to know what to say, yet God always seems to reveal some truth in these words. It isn't always a grand truth, as we saw yesterday. There is still something though. It is my prayer that I represent Him well here.

25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? – Luke 12:25-26

Though I have been given the promise of the Spirit in the Words of this blog it is still one of the things I worry about. Often times when I step back and truly look at the root of my concern I see it is pointless. Last night I was having trouble sleeping because of worry going through my head. In the light of the morning, however, I see that I actually do not control anything. As much as I think I control my life I realize that I could be driving home from substitute teaching today and have a semi plow into me, ending things in a heartbeat. We are literally at God's mercy each day.

Does that mean our lives are pointless? Of course not! We are asked to give God everything we have until His purposes are fulfilled in us. I think that is why, in my human nature, I fear death. That fear comes from thinking I somehow won't fulfill God's promises. In a way, that fear is a good thing. I have long believed that I will not have fear once that moment comes for me because God will prepare me for it spiritually. At that time, it will be merely a transition. It is my prayer today then that I will fulfill what he wants me to do in this life for however long he needs me to do it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Luke, Chapter 11 part 2

I feel I can relate to this second part of Luke 11. I feel like I am sitting here in my life waiting for a miraculous sign as to what I am supposed to do. I am here because I feel powerless to actually affect said change. Unlike the Pharisees, I see that life must be lived on faith and not on miraculous signs.

That leads into the second part about the lamp of the body. I have let my lack of a miracle hide my light. The fact that I can’t get anywhere causes so much bitterness that I hide myself from the world. I hide mostly out of shame because I feel worthless in the eyes of everyone. This section is very hard to write about. I don’t feel any great insights other than these, so I will allow you to draw your own conclusions from your personal reading.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Luke, Chapter 11 part 1

How is your prayer life today? I ask because that is the early focus of Luke chapter 11. Jesus teaches us to put our heart and soul into prayer. This fits in with the true definition of prayer. I believe that prayer is something special. It is our direct communication with God. Therefore, it is also an amazing gift. Though God already knows everything, we can tell Him exactly how we feel through prayer. Because of this, I believe prayer does not always have to be flowery language. We can fall into that trap where we feel that if we just ask the right way, it will be given to us as it says in this chapter.

I try to pray like I am talking to God merely as a best friend. If I am frustrated (as has been the main theme of many prayers lately), I tell him. If I have much to praise, I let out a spontaneous prayer of thanks. Prayer does not have to be this grand, elaborate production. To me, the best prayers are ones from deep inside. This is why I feel my prayer life has struggled. I have missed that connection with the Father. I feel I am saying the same things over and over again, but He is just not listening. I feel I am missing something.

18If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. – Luke 11:18-20

I think the above verses help explain the disconnection that I have felt of late. I am divided between seeking God to get me out of this rut of life, yet I continue to seek my own way out contrary to what God has planned for me. My own plans conflict with God’s plans, so I continue to sit in this place of nothingness. This leads to frustration, depression, and eventually anger.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Luke, Chapter 10 part 2

The other night I was driving home from a basketball game I had covered. We happen to live in a nice building, but it is surrounded by a more run down part of town. This one street in particular is the image many would conjure up when you think “bad neighborhood”. Still, it is the best way to get to two major arteries in the city from our place. When stopped at a light on this street just before turning onto the street our building is on this woman was standing at a bus stop. It was about 9:30 at night, but she came up and started saying, “Sir! Sir!” toward my closed window.

This is where I failed in life’s test.

See, I had a chance here to do what Jesus calls us to do in the second half of Luke 10. Instead, I succumbed to my fear and doubt being in a bad neighborhood.

30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." – Luke 10:30-37

I do not know this woman’s issues. I don’t know if she was homeless, drunk, or high. I don’t know if she was needing legitimate help. I don’t know this because I didn’t bother to find out. I froze, starring straight out my windshield as if she didn’t exist. It’s not like I couldn’t do anything either. I normally carry zero to little cash in this age of debit cards, yet this was a rare time that I had actual cash in my pocket. If it was an emergency, similar to the one described above, I could have helped.

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I do my part to donate food, clothing, money, etc. to various charities throughout the year. I do this without fanfare, not because I have to but because I am blessed and I need to share that blessing. Unfortunately, this leads to an attitude of, “hey, go to where I have donated if you want help.” It is a horrible attitude, and one that must stop in 2009. I am not one who is big on resolutions, but I do want this year to be one of changed attitudes and perceptions, beginning here.