Have Mercy On Me

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

In Jesus’s story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, we met a character who was certain he was doing enough and a character who begged for mercy. As the chapter continues, we meet a man who was certain he was doing enough and a man who begs for mercy. The rich ruler may have thought there was something lacking, but when he heard what it was, he went away sad (instead of justified). Then we meet the blind man who begs twice for mercy from Jesus. Can Luke be any clearer in the connections between Jesus’s parable and these actual men? When we read a contrived story, it may be hard to make real life applications. What would these situations look like in real life? We saw the Pharisee’s real life counterpart in the rich ruler. It looks like someone who thinks Jesus is a great teacher, but not great enough to actually obey when He says something really, really hard. Then we meet one of the counterparts with the tax collector in the blind man who cries out to Jesus despite the crowd trying to shush him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It looks like someone going against the crowd. It looks like enough faith to seek Jesus even when people are telling you to be quiet. And isn’t this another parallel to the children we read about after Jesus’s story? Just as folks tried to hinder the children, folks tried to hinder the blind man. Here is childlike humility and trust. His story in Luke ends by following Jesus and being a reason for the crowds to glorify God. And finally, if we can draw one more connection to earlier passages in Luke. Jesus says to the blind man, “Your faith has made you well.” This is the exact same phrase Jesus said to the sinful woman in Simon the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7:50 and to the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:48. Almost all miracle stories are salvation pictures. This is no exception. Without Jesus we are blind. But if we turn to Him for mercy no matter what the crowds say, we will find mercy, salvation, and justification. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 19.

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Like Children?

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

We find another one of those events in Jesus’s life that we have gotten so used to, we can miss how shocking it is. We love the passage about Jesus letting the little children come to Him. It is so sweet and cuddly. We think about how great it is that Jesus took toddlers into His arms. It is a Kodak moment custom made for a wonderful Hallmark movie. But are you catching how counter-cultural what Jesus says actually is? It wasn’t only counter-cultural in the ancient days, it is counter-cultural today. It isn’t counter-cultural because an adult is accepting children. It is counter-cultural because He is saying we need to b e like children to get into His kingdom. Who wants to do that? You want me to accept your kingdom like a child? You want me to just have faith in You and accept everything You say without question? You want me to be the subservient one who just does what I’m told because I don’t seem to know any better? Don’t we warn children to steer clear of people who say things like this? Can you understand why many mature, grown up adults would have a problem with this? The fact is if anyone else were saying what Jesus says here, it would be awful. If anyone else were saying this, we should run as fast and as far away as we could. But this is Jesus. This is God in the flesh. And we have a good God who has our best interests at heart, which He proved by dying on the cross for us. When He says it, it is amazing and comforting and incredible. I’m not saying we check our reason at the door. I’m not saying just blindly accept that Jesus is who He says He is. However, I am saying, having recognized that the evidence is in Jesus’s favor, if you are going to live your “Christian” life constantly second-guessing Him, wondering if His way really works or if you might have a better plan at least just in this one instance, then Jesus isn’t going to do you any good. There are very few people who are going to say, “Yep, I’m a little child. I’ll accept Jesus like that.” Most people will think that is infantile, naive, immature, and foolish. And most people will miss out on the kingdom. In fact, someone somewhere is reading this post and saying, “See, those Christians are so dumb. Not only are they weak, helpless sheep. They are naive, ignorant little children.” But it is sheep and children that Jesus saves, and I’m okay with that. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 18.

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Will You Let Him Gather You?

Today’s reading is Luke 13.

How sad it must have been for Jesus to look at Jerusalem, knowing all He had done to save her from destruction. Knowing how God in all three persons had for millennia tried to lead Jerusalem to salvation and deliverance, while watching them choose destruction again and again and again. So Jesus cries out, “How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” Jesus doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants all to be saved. In this passage, He is talking about that temporal judgment that came on Jerusalem and Judea in AD 70. However, the principle applies to every judgment, including the final one. Jesus doesn’t want you to perish in that great day. He is doing everything to save you. He has even come in to the world as one like you and offered Himself as the only sacrifice that can save you from your own sins. He wants to gather you. Will you let Him? Will you let his wings draw you in or will you, like so many chicks, try to escape His protection, seeking to make your own way, thinking you know better, believing His protection is too smothering? Jesus is beckoning. The choice is yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 14.

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Children from Stones

Today’s reading is Luke 3.

“For I tell you,” John said, “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” Think about that for a moment. If God is able to raise up children for Abraham from stones, He is able to make children of Abraham out of you and me. I know there are times when we fear we will never amount to much in the kingdom of God. Sometimes, we want to simply give up. Don’t. In His time, God is able to make out of us exactly what He wants us to be. Don’t let go of Him. He has made us into His children and is making us into the kind of children He desires. No matter what, hang on to Him today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 3.

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Our Household in God’s Household

Today’s reading is Titus 2.

Yesterday, we learned there were insubordinate, empty talking, deceivers who were upsetting whole families teaching for shameful gain what ought not be taught. At the beginning of today’s reading, Paul turns that around on Titus. “No matter what anyone else is doing, Titus, you teach what accords with sound, healthy, faithful teaching. Those other guys are upsetting households, you settle them.” And then he talks about how everyone in a household should behave, whether male or female, whether old or young. But keep this in the context. Paul didn’t write this here so when we are preaching a series through¬†Titus we could preach some lessons on the home. He is actually describing the battle in the vile culture of Crete. Please see, the battle isn’t won on Facebook. It isn’t won in a courthouse. It isn’t won on the floors of Congress. It is won in our households. Sure, it is great when laws get passed that support truth. But in the midst of Crete, Christians fight the good fight of faith not by conducting political battles but by living in their own households distinctly and differently, living soberly, steadfastly, lovingly, self-controlled, exemplary lives in a way that the ungodly are put to shame as they try to find some way to make an accusation against us. I think this may be a needed teaching for us today as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 3 .

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I Want to be Truly a Widow

Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 5.

Okay, okay, let me clarify. First, I know I’m a man, and that would make me a widower, not a widow. Second, I don’t want my wife to die or my kids to abandon me. But here is what I do want. Because the true widow has been left all alone by biological and legal family, she knows her only hope is God. Therefore, she spends night and day in supplications and prayers. That is what I want. I want to be so convinced my only hope is God that I spend night and day in supplications and prayers. Too often, I place my hope in my strength, my work, my relationships, my plans, and then I use prayer more as the rubber stamp to get God’s religious seal of approval on all my hopes and dreams. I’ve come to realize that I can be a church-going Christian who reads my Bible a lot and even teaches the Bible who still leads a relatively godless existence. I don’t mean the pursuing immorality and sin kind of godless. I mean leading an existence where reliance on God is only in the background if thought about at all. I make sure to “say my prayers,” but I don’t necessarily see them as practically necessary to my daily living. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t want to wait until I’m in the true widow’s circumstances to have the true widow’s spirit. My only hope is God. Today, I want to pray like it. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 6.¬†

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Discipline is Hard

Today’s reading is Hebrews 12.

I want life to be easy. But where would an easy life lead? If every day were a walk in the park, would I understand how much I need God? Would I figure out how messed up I am in my heart and mind? Enter discipline. Doing whatever I want without facing consequences is fun and easy, but eventually it is destructive. Discipline is hard and painful. I don’t like it. But God puts me through it in the hope of saving my very soul. I often wish there was an easier softer way for me to grow, but I’ve come to realize I’m pretty dense and thick-headed. If God is going to get my attention, He has to get my attention where it hurts. I can cry, whine, moan, rebel, but God’s painful discipline is what trains me and gives me life. Who knew that discipline itself is really the grace of God? Let’s thank God for His discipline today.

Monday’s reading is Hebrews 13.

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