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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Pray for Laborers

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

I needed the reminder. I can look around at our culture and begin to believe no one wants to hear or respond to the gospel. I hear the laments of folks about diminishing congregations and increasing disinterest. I start to think the problem is a blighted harvest. That is not Jesus’s diagnosis. The harvest is plentiful. The problem is not with the yield in the field. The problem is the number of laborers. We need laborers in the harvest. We need those who will make personal connections and start spiritual conversations. Today, let’s pray for laborers. And then, let’s plan for God to begin His answer with us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 10.

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Why Make Disciples?

Today’s reading is Matthew 28.

If you had asked me before today, “Why do we need to make disciples?” I would have said so people can be saved. And, certainly, that is true. However, it hit me in today’s reading that Jesus’s stated reason for us to make disciples is because “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Why do we make disciples of Jesus? Because Jesus is the King of heaven and earth. Why do we share the gospel? Because Jesus is King. Why can we be unashamed of the gospel? Because Jesus is King. I often say things like, “Will you make Jesus your King?” And while we all know what is meant by that statement, it isn’t actually the right question. Jesus is King. He is your King already. You need to be His disciple because He is King. The real questions are: Will you confess Jesus as King, and will you surrender to Him as such? How about today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 1.

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Ears to Hear

Today’s reading is Matthew 11.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. On the one hand, that’s just about everyone, isn’t it? We all have ears. And of course, this is somewhat metaphorical. Jesus isn’t saying deaf people have no responsibility to surrender to Him. On the other hand, this actually calls to mind Psalm 115 and 135, when the psalmist spoke of the idols who have ears but do not hear and then explains that those who follow them become like them. Jesus’s point is not really that if you have ears you ought to listen. His point is that those who have become overrun with idolatry (not necessarily statuary) won’t listen. We need to be people who turn away from idols, including abandoning our own idolatry of self. We need to open up our ears by making Jesus our God, our King, our Leader, our Lord. Then we will have hearing ears. The people who heard John and Jesus were too enamored with their own thoughts, plans, and ways. They idolized their own pleasures and perspectives. Therefore, any excuse would do to ignore anyone who taught the will of God. Let’s open our ears and listen no matter what we hear from Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 12.

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Jesus’s Modus Operandi

Today’s reading is Matthew 4.

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction of the people.”

Listening to the blogosphere today, you’d think Jesus’s modus operandi was to enter a town, go to the “other side of the tracks,” seek out the marginalized and vulnerable, hang out with them, feed them, heal them, show how much He loved them, and then gain from that an opportunity to teach them. Therefore, those in authority hated Him, so they killed Him. That simply wasn’t His method. Jesus entered a town and went to church. That is, He went to the synagogue to teach. People of all shapes, sizes, and social statuses would come listen. He taught all and healed all in need. More would come to listen, and more would come to be healed. Please, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying in today’s world we do our best and most effective evangelizing by preaching in a religious meeting house. I’m just asking for some honesty about Jesus Himself. We can’t possibly come to truth if we develop a habit of retrofitting what we think is a good idea back on top of what Jesus actually did and on top of what is actually written. Further, we are in danger of actually missing the point of Jesus’s mission and work when we do so. Jesus’s mission was not to socially empower the vulnerable or socially mainstream the marginalized. Jesus’s mission was to save souls from sin and build His kingdom. It happens that the marginalized and vulnerable were often the ones who did respond. Whatever we do and wherever we go to meet people, whoever responds, let’s make sure we keep Jesus’s main mission our main mission. And let us be unashamed of His gospel and His kingdom.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 5.

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Pray for Us

Today’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 3.

“Pray for us,” Paul writes, “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.” What a great prayer. As those unashamed of the gospel, busy passing it along, this should be a prayer we often speak. “And that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” And there is that part. No matter how much we proclaim and how much we pray, there will be unbelievers. Let us pray God will deliver us from them. Not only that He will deliver us from their physical attacks and persecutions, but even from their attitudes and influences that might drag us along in their unbelief. If you haven’t prayed yet today, make this part of your prayer. If you have, why not pray again and include this?

Monday’s reading is Matthew 1.

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God Gives the Growth

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 3.

We need to plant and water. We have a great seed in the gospel. We need to spread it around as much as we can. However, we need to know it is not our work that causes the seed to grow. That is God. I am successful when I plant and water. It’s up to God, not me, to make that seed sprout in someone’s heart and produce fruit. Certainly, we don’t need to be reckless and careless in how we plant and water, but neither do we have to sit paralyzed trying to figure out the best way to share the gospel as if its success depends on us. God’s Word sounded forth will produce God’s results. Sometimes the result will be simply leaving others without excuse. Sometimes the result will be glorious salvation for the hearer. But we are successful when we have planted and watered. Let’s be unashamed. Let’s plant and water the gospel seed.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 4.

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