A True Example

Today’s reading is Luke 21.

You know what would be super cool? To be Jesus’s ultimate example. Think about it. How would you like it if Jesus called His disciples together, pointed at you, and said, “You know all this stuff I’ve been talking about for the past three years? That person right there, that person is getting it right. That person is what I’ve been talking about.” Wouldn’t that be cool? That actually happened. Luke recorded it, but I’ve overlooked it most of my life because it is just four verses, the person isn’t even named, and I always thought it was just written to teach us about how to give into the collection. I’m talking about the unnamed widow who put two little coins into the temple treasury. Really, I encourage you to reread all of Luke and see if you can’t see how so much of what Jesus taught culminates in the example of this widow. Even in this immediate context she is set up as a contrast not merely to the rich that are likely looking down on her paltry contribution, but as a contrast to the scribes from the end of the previous chapter. You would think that men who spend their days copying and teaching God’s law would stand out as the ultimate examples. No. They are pretenders who look spiritual but actually defraud widows. As Luke records it, almost as soon as Jesus highlights this about the scribes he sees a literal widow who isn’t defrauding others. She isn’t taking from the less fortunate. Rather, she is defrauding herself in order to support the temple. As Jesus had said to the brothers arguing about an inheritance, life isn’t made up of possessions. Now we see a woman who really believes that. Wow! I want to be more like her.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 21.

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Counting the Cost

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

If we want to be Jesus’s disciple, we must count the cost. We don’t want to be like the fellow who starts to build a house, couldn’t actually afford it, and leaves a half finished monument to his poor planning. The cost? Renouncing everything. Isn’t it interesting that the cost is not paying everything? Even when the fellow we often call the rich, young ruler came to Jesus, Jesus didn’t say, “Sell all you have and give it to Judas my treasurer.” Jesus was no cult leader trying to get rich off the backs of gullible followers. However, this isn’t just about money. This whole teaching was actually based on Jesus’s claim that before we come to Him, we must hate our father, mother, wife, children, siblings, and even our own life. We are giving our allegiance to Jesus. We must be ready to renounce everything, including our family, our livelihood, anything we believe makes up our life right now in our service to Him. In other words, Jesus is to become our life. Renouncing doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. It means renouncing our claim on everything and everything’s claim on us. What is ours becomes His to be disposed of, dispersed, distributed, deposited, destroyed, defended as Jesus sees fit. Am I really willing to hand everything over to Jesus? Is there something in my life that if Jesus asked me to give it up, I’d say, “No.” If so, I need to keep counting. Don’t answer that question thinking, “Well, yes, there are some things I’d never give up, but Jesus would never ask me to give those up.” He may not. But He may. Is Jesus more important to you than anything else? Your reputation, your mother, your house, your spouse, your car, your business, your father, your acclaim, your children, your job, your pleasures, your pursuits, your goals, your desires, your identity, your money, your sexuality, your savings, your trophies, your retirement. We live in a culture that says no one has the right to ask this of us. In fact, no one does…except one. Our Creator, our Savior, our King. The good news is knowing that Jesus only asks of us what is best for us eternally. Understand, this is not really a question of whether you will renounce everything. You will. You already do. There is something in your life that holds sway over everything that might be considered important to you. There is something for which you will sacrifice everything no matter how painful or traumatic. It is different for each of us. Jesus says make it Him. Have you counted the cost?

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Humble Yourself

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

It is too easy when we hear a principle to keep it so general it is hardly applicable at all. For instance, Jesus could simply say, “Humble yourself.” Or just, “Be humble.” Instead, He gives an extremely specific example. When invited to a feast, don’t assume the seat of honor. Instead, sit in the place of least significance. Of course, if we assume Jesus is only talking about wedding feasts, we have a problem. After all, if Jesus’s example is taken too literally, it becomes nothing more than another way to gain honor for yourself. In fact, it becomes all about propping yourself up in front of others, which is never Jesus’s true intent. Rather, Jesus is using this particular illustration to point out that if we don’t humble ourselves, God will. It will not be pleasant when He does. However, the opposite is not true. That is, folks today will say, “If I don’t promote myself, who will?” That isn’t how it works in the kingdom of Christ. Self-promotion is never the right path. Humble yourself. If God wants you exalted, He will do it. If not, be thankful you were invited to His feast at all and enjoy a place at the table.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 14.

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Humble Exiles

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

Christ’s exiles are holy and honorable, but we must also be humble. In other words, we don’t get all uppity about our holiness or our honorableness. We recognize Satan is on the prowl. He is looking to destroy our holiness and our honorableness. And we are not so holy or honorable that we can’t fall prey. We must humble ourselves before God and one another. We must walk in humility in order to be exalted by God. We must walk in humility to have victory. Thank God for the victories of holiness and honorableness He has granted in our lives, but let’s not get lax. Keep up your guard. Keep up your humility.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Peter 1.

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Trust

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

Do you see the thread of trust throughout the stories in today’s reading? In the first, we can trust that God will deliver His elect. Perhaps not in our time, but in His. It will happen, so hang on to Him. But don’t trust in yourself and in your own personal righteousness. Honestly, you simply cannot be righteous enough to deliver yourself. Don’t trust in riches. They will not buy your way into the kingdom no matter what else they will buy for you. Don’t trust in the crowds, they will steer you wrong. Keep calling out for Jesus. You can trust Him. And smack in the middle of these stories, the little children. The little children who don’t know any better than to trust their Father. The little children who humbly depend on their Father no matter what. That is to be us. We know that for some children of human fathers, that trust can lead to terrible tragedy, but never with our Father. We can be like little children. He cares for us. He knows the way. He is the way. Trust Him no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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A Humble Life

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

“Clothe yourselves with humility,” Peter says. We are to be humble before one another, whether we are young or old, whether we are shepherd or sheep. Further, we are to humble ourselves before God, which is demonstrated by casting our anxieties upon Him because He cares for us. Humility is tough. We all want to accomplish something great. We all want to be seen as someone special. We want to give the good advice, set the good example, be the sought after counselor. And, of course, God may use us that way. But first we must become like our Chief Shepherd. After all, the greatest thing He did for us was die on a cross. Talk about humility. Boy, I’ve got a long way to go. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Peter 1.

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