Blessed are the Readers

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

As Jesus was talking about replacing the spirits (which we discussed yesterday), a woman was moved to exclaim, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” Certainly, this is a wonderful and true claim for Mary (see Luke 1:45). However, this woman is actually expressing her own longing. It’s as if she is saying, “I wish you were my son. Wouldn’t that be the greatest blessing?” Jesus’s response is essentially, “You can be just as blessed as My mother and more so if you listen to My Word and follow it.” Do not miss that Luke reveals this blessing just after Jesus’s instruction to replace the evil spirits. Luke is not indicating that the Holy Spirit equals the Word of God or that the only way the Holy Spirit works is through the Word of God. However, he is pointing out that one thing we have control over that grants us access to the Holy Spirit and His guidance is how we react to the Word of God. If we want to replace the evil spirits, the bad habits, the sins in our lives with God’s Holy Spirit, we don’t just sit around hoping the Holy Spirit will take us over. No, we pursue that blessing by opening up the Word of God and drinking it in. That is one of the reasons having a Bible reading plan like this one is so important. I’m glad you are here. Keep reading with us. It is doing us more good than we can possibly know, but only if we are listening to it.

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

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Replace the Spirits

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

While we are certainly supposed to put our sins to death, being a disciple is not about stopping behaviors. It is actually about replacing behaviors. If all we do is cast out the evil spirit, we can do our dead level best to sweep up the house and keep it in order, but that spirit will simply bring seven more. Nature abhors a vacuum. So does our very being. If all we strive to do is get rid of bad stuff in our lives, we will only ever find the bad stuff taking over. It’s like trying to make yourself not think about pink hippopotamuses. Jesus doesn’t verbalize the actual instruction when He offers the warning. But can there be any doubt what the instruction is? When the evil spirit is cast out, it needs to be replaced by the Holy Spirit. I can try with all my might to keep out the evil spirit, but if I don’t invite God in, allowing Him to take up residence, rearranging the furniture as He sees fit, controlling the remote, calling the shots, and filling the space with His presence, then all my attempts at control are nothing more than vacuuming the carpet as the tornado targets my house. Don’t evict the spirits, replace them. That is discipleship.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 11.

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How Bad Do You Want It?

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

One of the big mistakes we make about prayer is acting as if the prayer has only been answered if it was answered, “Yes.” If we got what we asked for, we call it an answered prayer. We need to understand that sometimes God says, “No.” That prayer is just as answered. However, there are some other answers that we often overlook, like the one demonstrated in Jesus’s story about the pestering neighbor. The neighbor bangs on the door to ask for bread, but the person in the house says, “Go away. I’m in bed.” The neighbor continues to pester until the person gets out of bed and grants the request. Have you thought about what God is demonstrating there? The point is that God’s answer sometimes isn’t “No.” Sometimes it is, “I don’t know. How bad do you want it?” Haven’t all parents learned this response at sometime. Junior, for the third time in a year, has decided he wants to pick up some expensive instrument and learn to play it. The parents know this is likely just another whim. Instead of simply granting the request to purchase a trumpet, electric guitar, drum set, they hold off. They aren’t saying No. They are actually waiting to see exactly how serious the child is. God responds that way for us at times as well. He doesn’t immediately grant the request, but neither is He actually saying No. Sometimes, He is letting us demonstrate how serious we are. So, keep praying until you realize you don’t want whatever it is you are requesting, until God grants it, or until you are absolutely certain God has said No. Sometimes He is asking, “How bad do you want it?”

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 11.

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Teach Us to Pray

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

I am always humbled by Luke 11:1. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'” Jesus prayed in such a way that his disciples asked to be taught how to pray like Him. Prayer is very important to me. However, I’m nowhere near as consistent, deep, dependent as I want to be. And I’ve never prayed in such a way that someone, not even my children, asked, “Teach me to pray like that.” I have lots of growing to do. I have lots of growing to do in prayer. However, I’m not going to wait for that growth to happen. I’m going to go ahead and pray today. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 11.

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Only One Thing is Necessary

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

I’m a Martha. I get worried and bothered about everything, even the smallest details. It destroys my peace and joy. It disrupts my relationships. It is detrimental to my spirit. I constantly need to be reminded that only one thing is necessary. There is only thing I can take with me out of this life. Everything else will be taken from me. Everything else is going to burn up in the end. Most everything else will fall into ruin before the end even gets here. In fact, very few things that give me such angst today will even matter next week. But one thing is necessary. Today I want to focus on that one thing: my relationship with Jesus. How is yours today?

Next week’s reading is Luke 11.

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Who Is My Neighbor?

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

In order to save face, the Lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus didn’t answer the question; He told a story. Then Jesus asked His own question: “Who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The Lawyer asked the wrong question. The Lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” What he should have asked is, “How can I be neighborly?” That is the same question each of us needs to ask. But Jesus really takes it a step farther. Whenever people read stories or hear stories, we naturally place ourselves in the shoes of someone in the story. Whose shoes was the Lawyer wearing? Clearly, he was not the Samaritan. He would never rob anyone. As a lawyer, he would align with the Pharisees and would not see himself as either the Priest or Levite, whom the Lawyer would naturally assume were Sadducees. Who does that leave? The most likely person the lawyer would relate to is the robbed and beaten man. Recognizing this, we discover the very genius of Jesus and this story. The Lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells a story that essentially says to the Lawyer, “I don’t know, Lawyer. Who would you want to be your neighbor if roles were reversed?”

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 10.

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Context! Context! Context!

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

When Jesus sent the disciples out, He gave commands. “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.” I have to admit, when I travel to preach, I carry a wallet, a backpack, extra shoes, and I greet folks all over the place. Every preacher I know does the exact same thing. What’s up with that? Why would anyone violate a clear, direct command from Jesus like we do with this one? Because of context. In Luke 22:35-36, Jesus calls the events in this week’s reading back to His disciples’ minds. “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” Then Jesus gives new instructions: “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack.” Certainly, we need to be careful students. Sometimes it seems people wave the word “context” around as a magic wand to dismiss any passage they don’t want to apply today. However, context, whether historical, literary, or textual, does clarify meanings, principles, and present applications. Jesus’s command in Luke 10:4 is not a command for all people or even all evangelists of all time. It was a specific commission for a specific group of people on a specific mission at a specific time. We do not apply it as a direct command to us. Rather, we learn from Luke 22 that the earlier commission was intended to teach the disciples to rely on God. Even though we carry a moneybag and knapsack today, we must still know the proper application of Jesus’s limited commission instructions: rely on God, the Filler of moneybags and Provider of knapsacks, not the money or material goods in the bags and sacks. We must rightly handle the Word (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). Appealing to context will not empty passages of their meaning. We do need to beware those who use “context” as a smokescreen to deny a passage’s proper modern application. On the other hand, we should not fear examining the context in order to know the appropriate application, which will not always be the direct one. Always remember three of the greatest Bible study rules: Context! Context! Context!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 10.

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