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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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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The Family of Jesus

Today’s reading is Luke 8.

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

“How quaint?” we think. But this is not quaint at all, it is revolutionary. Today, family is important, but it is not what it was in Jesus’s day. In Jesus’s day, family was your security net, your conscience, your identity, your belonging, your protection, your obligation, your public face, your reputation, your community, your everything. And Jesus says, “Who is my family? Not the woman who bore me. Not the siblings who grew up with me. The good soil is my family.” The phrase “Word of God” is used three times in Luke. Two of them are in this week’s chapter. It is the good seed and it is the charter that determines Jesus’s family. Jesus’s family is the good soil. Jesus’s security net is the Word of God. His conscience is the Word of God. His identity is the Word of God. His community, His public face, His obligation, His reputation is the community of those who let the seed of God’s Word dig deep in their heart and bear fruit some thirty, some sixty, some a hundredfold. You don’t have to be born of Mary to be part of Jesus’s family. You do, however, have to be born of the imperishable seed, the Word of God (cf. I Peter 1:22-25). And you can be. Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep following.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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Someone Has Plans for You

Today’s reading is Luke 8.

The parable of the sower explains that someone has plans for you. First, there is Satan with his plans for you demonstrated by the first three soils. Satan’s Plan A is to get you to stay out. Like birds picking seed off of pathway soil, he will do all he can to keep the Word from sinking into your heart and mind. But if it does, he isn’t finished. His Plan B is to get you to drop out. He will introduce difficulty to you in hopes to get you to quit. But if you don’t, he isn’t finished. His Plan C is to get you to fizzle out. He will distract you with the cares of the world like eating and clothes and other daily worries and concerns. This is perhaps the hardest of all to detect, because those who are fizzled are still planted in the Lord’s field, but simply aren’t bearing fruit. However, God also has plans for you as demonstrated by the final soil. God’s plans for you are to come in, stay in, and grow up. The real difference between the two is how you will respond to His Word. I’m glad you are here reading with us, that shows promise. Keep it up. Let it sink it. Let it grow up within. Let it bear fruit. Those are God’s plans for you.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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Not By Bread Alone

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

As Luke tells the story, Satan first asks Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus’s response explains what this temptation is all about. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. As God had sustained Israel for 40 years in the wilderness, He has sustained Jesus for 40 days. He gave Israel manna to assuage their hunger. He sustained Jesus’s life, but let Him be hungry. Doesn’t this hit at life’s situation Satan often uses to tempt us. God was sustaining Jesus, but that sustenance didn’t make Jesus feel physically satisfied the whole 40 days. Here we are today, alive, but perhaps not as comfortable as we want. He is providing for us, but not at the standard of living to which we would like to be accustomed. There is discomfort, pain, annoyance, frustration, even a sense that we haven’t been completely provided for. After all, we’re alive, but hungry. Then Satan says, “Quit relying on God. Take matters into your own hand. You’re a child of God after all. If you were really His child, surely He would provide everything you want to the degree you want it.” But Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” That is, “I choose to rely on God. My life comes from God. I depend on Him. His grace is sufficient for Me.” That is, God is enough for me. Whatever God provides is enough for me. Satan wants us to believe if we do not pursue whatever he is offering, we’re going to die. However, the only true source of life is God. Not bread. Not water. Not even oxygen. God. Don’t let go of life. Don’t let go of God no matter what Satan offers.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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It is Written

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan will attack any way he can. Jesus has just heard from the Father at His baptism: “You are my beloved Son.” Satan comes at him with, “If you are the Son of God…” It’s as if to say, “I get it. God says He’s your father, but will He prove it? Let’s see.” But Jesus stands the test. The anchor which gets Him through is, “It is written.” Jesus is saying, “He doesn’t have to prove it to your satisfaction, Satan. He doesn’t even have to prove it to Me. He said it, and that is enough for Me.” This is exactly the temptation Satan puts before us over and over and over again. “If you were really God’s child, wouldn’t your life be easier? If God really loved you, wouldn’t you have gotten that promotion? If God were really paying attention to you, would your loved one have gotten so sick?” And in those moments of temptation, these words sound so reasonable. They are not. God does love you. He said it in His Word. More than that, He proved it by sending the Word who lived and died at our hands to wash our sins away. The only way to combat these foolish lies of Satan is to drink in God’s Word. Remember what it says; use its truth to cast down his misleading error. God does love you. You are His child. It is written. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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Inspiration, Revelation, & Research

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

I fear I too often oversimplify things. I usually do this to keep from causing difficulties or doubts. However, I’m learning that while it avoids difficulty in the short run, sometimes it causes problems for people in the long run who discover how complex things are and then believe we Christians don’t know the complexities. For instance, sometimes I gloss over the true nature of inspiration of Scripture. The recorded Word is very much like the incarnate Word. It is a coming together of deity and humanity. Inspiration does not mean God Himself wrote the Scriptures using men’s hands as the tools. It means God got His message to people. He got what He wanted in there. However, how did He do it? He used men. Certainly, there were times when God told men through miraculous revelation what to write. However, there were other times when men experienced and researched and then recorded what they knew from very natural means. Luke makes this case at the beginning of His book. He doesn’t claim to have sat down in his office and simply allowed God to guide his hand in the writing. Nor does he claim God dictated this book to him. Rather, he researched, studied, interviewed. That is, he acted like an ancient Greek or Roman historian. Through those means, God got what He wanted in this book. Therefore, when we refer to passages in Luke we can say at the same time, “Luke said,” and also, “The Holy Spirit said.” Just as incarnate deity in Jesus Christ poses difficulties at times, inspiration through human authors does as well. It is complex. That, however, is the beauty. God working in man, working with man, working through man. Isn’t that just like our own lives as we walk with God? Sometimes it is messy, but the end result will be glorious.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 1.

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