Thursday 24 December 2020

Listening to Jesus? (Ch 24)

Luke Chapter 24

v1-8 - Women discover the empty tomb and are told Jesus has risen.
v9-12 - They return to the disciples who think they are talking nonsense but Peter runs to the tomb.
v13-27 - Two disciples walking to Emmaus meet the risen Jesus but do not recognise him.
v28-32 - They arrive and sit down for a meal and recognise Jesus as he breaks the bread.
v33-49 - They return to tell the others and Jesus appears to them too.
v50-53 Jesus ascends into heaven.

REFLECTION: Walking with Jesus and listening to his word.
So often Jesus had explained things to the disciples. Now Jesus had been crucified, we know he had risen but soon Jesus would leave them to ascend to heaven (v51) How would they then understand? When the word that became flesh was no longer with them they needed to learn to search the scriptures the word God has given for us today.
As the account of the two waking on the road unfolds -
(i) They do not recognise Jesus but that seems deliberate (v16)
(ii) They do not understand Jesus had died to redeem to save (v20-21)
(iii) Jesus then points them to the scriptures for the answer (v27) why not just let them see who he was and that he had risen. It seems he was teaching them to look in the scripture for answers.
(iv) He does reveal who he is as they sit at the table (v31)
(v) Then they said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?" I long for that as I read the scriptures that Jesus by the power of his spirit would open my eyes and heart to God.
(vi) Later he opened the minds of the other disciples to understand the scriptures (v45)

Loving Heavenly Father, as I walk and do not understand what is happening to me and around me draw alongside me by your spirit. I might look for many things but help me to allow you to point me to your word and use your spirit to open my heart and mind. When I wonder where Jesus is may my heart burn within me as you speak to me help me to see Jesus. Thank you for this Gospel written by Luke and all it teaches us about Jesus. Help me to take the time to listen each day to the word you have for me. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen


Wednesday 23 December 2020

Jesus was born for this. (Ch 23)

 Luke Chapter 23

v1-25 - False accusations (v2), passing the buck (v7, 11), injustice (v14, v25). How could this happen - perhaps we should ask Jesus (see Ch 18v31-32)
v26-43 - Jesus is led to his death with two criminals and one finds paradise.
v44-49 - As Jesus dies there is darkness (v44),  the temple curtain is torn (v45), he speaks to his father (v46), and the centurion cries out (v47).
v50-56 - Joseph and the women make practical arrangements to bury Jesus, there is no doubt he has died.

REFLECTION: While all of us are born and will one day die, Jesus was born to die.
There are so many things wrong with the trial of Jesus and his death sentence. It was clear to all he did not deserve to die - even the criminal on the cross said "we are punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But his man has done nothing wrong." (v40)
The sinless son of God, hung there for me, I deserved death, he took my place, so I might know life.
The curtain was torn in two as Jesus opened the way for us to enter God's presence through his blood shed for us. In this dark hour, he took the punishment for my sin so that I could go free when I trust in him. Jesus, thank you, Jesus, thank you.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you so loved the world that you sent your one and only son into this world, to die for me. Thank you that by his death he took the punishment I deserved so all who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life. As Christmas draws near and we remember the savour in a manger, may your spirit move in many hearts to look to that same savour on the cross and come to know life in his name. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Tuesday 22 December 2020

A friend of Jesus? (Ch 22)

Luke Chapter 22

SUMMARY: As Jesus approaches the final hours before his death we find these remarkable scenes among his disciples. 
v1-5 Judas overcome by satan for money agrees to betray Jesus.
v7-23 As Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples and institutes what we know as communion. with the shadow of betrayal in the room (v22-23)
v24-30 The disciples at this moment are more interested in which of them is the greatest and Jesus rebukes them.
v31-38 Simon Peter is unaware of the danger and his limitations and the emptiness of his words in v33
v39-46 His disciples in the battle they faced were sleeping instead of praying.
v47-53 Judas betray Jesus and John in his Gospel tells us it is Simon Peter who resorts to violence.
v54-62 While the rest of the disciples are nowhere to be seen Peter follows as Jesus is led away but then denies he ever knew Jesus.
v63-65 With his followers scattered Jesus is beaten, mocked and insulted. 

REFLECTION: How would you have felt if this had been your friends' behaviour?
(i) Sold out for money (v5),
(ii) More interested in who is the greatest as you face betrayal (v24)
(iii) Speaking bold words of loyalty which you know will not materialise (v33)
(iv) Sleeping as you wrestle in prayer (v46)
(v) Pretending to show love as they stab you in the back (48)
(vi) Afraid to admit that they know you. (v57, 58, 60).
Before we are too hard on these disciples and especially Peter did you notice v62 - When Peter realised what he had done 'he wept bitterly'.
When did I last do that when I let Jesus down?

Heavenly Father, as we come to you the holy and perfect one, constant in you faithfulness, eternal in you love, generous in your grace so we realise our weakness and our wandering. We realise our need for salvation, forgiveness and strength in Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice for us on the cross. Yet so often like these disciples, like Peter, we have sold you out to gain something else, we have become full of our own importance we have spoken what turned out to be empty words, faltered in our commitment to prayer, been ashamed to speak of knowing you. Lord as we realise what we have done give us hearts like Peter who wept bitterly. As we do we ask that you will restore us as you did Peter, and use for your glory. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Monday 21 December 2020

Be careful ... watch and pray. (Ch 21)

 Luke Chapter 21

SUMMARY:  Things are not always as they seem to us.
v1-4 The poor widow gave more than all the others.
v5-6 A beautiful building is not what we should focus on.
v7-11 Not all who say 'I am he' should be followed.
v12-18 In the face of great difficulty and even death we are safe v18.
v20-24 The surrounding of Jerusalem is not the end of God's people.
v25-36 Signs to look for does not lessen the need be ready at any time (v36) [Jesus is returning and 'this generation', that is the Jewish people (or perhaps the church), will not pass away until he does.]

REFLECTION: This chapter begins and ends with two beautiful examples. The widow's giving (v2) and the people listening to Jesus (38).  In between, we learn what will happen before Jesus returns. There is much could be said but we should focus on what it means for us today?
While -
(i) Beautiful buildings will not last (v6),
(ii) deceivers will come (v8),
(iii) there will be difficult days (v11, v12, v16, v17, v24)
We should take heart and not be afraid (v9) -
(i) Jesus will give us words and wisdom (v15)
(ii) We are safe when we are in Jesus (v18) [note even those who face death are safe] because
(iii) We have LIFE in his name if we stand firm (v19)
(iv) When the end comes 'redemption is near' [that final redemption from the presence of sin as we enter our eternal rest]
(v) As we are careful (v34) by watching and praying we will escape destruction and stand before Jesus (v36)

Heavenly Father, as we come to you this picture of destruction, deception, danger and even death can unsettle out hearts. It reminds us of many who not just in history but in this time face great opposition and danger as they follow Jesus. Heavenly Father we pray for them today, give them words and wisdom, keep them safe, assure them of LIFE in your name, and that redemption is near. Encourage them as they watch and pray. Heavenly Father in the challenges we face today, help us today to be careful our hearts do not become weighed down by the anxieties of life but help us and those we love to watch and pray and keep looking to Jesus. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Sunday 20 December 2020

What is the real question? (20)

 Luke Chapter 20

SUMMARY:  A chapter full of questions - mainly for those who are asking.
v1-8 - What authority does Jesus have? What about John?
v9-19 - What is this parable really about, and who is the son?
v20-26 - Can they trap Jesus with clever questions about money and politics?
v27-39 - Will Jesus get drawn into their abstract theological discussions?
v41-47 - Will they find an answer to Jesus or just keep to hollow pretence?

In v1-8 - Jesus is asked about this authority? Jesus then asks what they think about John?
It seems Jesus won't answer them if they won't answer him (v8) - but read on ...
In v9-19 is the answer, and the question it leaves us is simple. What will you do with the son? 

We can challenge the authority of Jesus as he lays claim to be king in our lives - but he is the son and the heir. What will you do with the son? 
We can try all kinds of tricks, political division, logical contradiction,...  to avoid the question but it is still there. 
What will you do with the son? 
When will we stop the questions (v39) and listen to Jesus? - He is God the Son (v44) 

Heavenly Father, as we come to you we confess that so often we are quick to questions and slow to listen. We are swift to challenge and find it hard to submit. Thank you that Jesus is God the Son, he has authority over us, forgive us for the many times we ant to rule our own lives and turn away from your way for us. Help us to stop questioning and to listen. We pray for all who fill the silence with endless questions and so avoid hearing the call of Jesus. Today may they reach the end of questions and find in Jesus the answer. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Saturday 19 December 2020

Who is King for you? (Ch 19)

 Luke Chapter 19

SUMMARY:  Will we have Jesus as our King?
v1-9 - A sinner welcomes the King (v6) and is saved (v9)
v11-27 - Some didn't want that king (v14) and are killed (v27)
v28-44 - The crowd shout for the King (v38) and don't know what it means (v41)
v45- The people hang on every word of the King (v48)

REFLECTION: This chapter has king Jesus in view. Not everyone welcomed Jesus or wanted him to be their King. That sinner Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus and was saved. Jesus had come to seek and to save the lost like him v10. Soon the people will welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as King v38, and there are those who will seek to kill Jesus v47. So Jesus tells this powerful parable because "the people thought the kingdom of God was going to appear at once". Jesus would be king but not at that moment first he must go away and return v12. What that means is hidden from their eyes but it will bring them peace v41. Jesus had talked about it in Ch 18v31-34. Jesus would die and rise again and build his kingdom in the hearts and lives of all who trust in him. Those who seek him as king will know salvation and reward when he returns as king. Those who did not want him to be king over them will face death. Who is king for you? are we found today hanging on every word of JESUS v48? 

Heavenly Father, we come to you and to Jesus as King. Thank you that we now know what would bring peace. Jesus went to his death for us and came back from the dead so that we can know forgiveness and peace with you. Thank you that Jesus is building his kingdom in the lives of all who submit to his rule today. Thank you that when he returns to rule and reign over all things, we will enter into our reward. Lord help us as we eagerly await, to hang on every word of Jesus and to use every gift you have given us, for you Glory. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Friday 18 December 2020

The Journey of Faith (Ch 18)

 Luke Chapter 18

SUMMARY:  Consider what this chapter says about Faith
v1-8 - Faith is persistent in prayer - (v8)
v9-14 - Faith is humble of heart - have mercy on me a sinner (v13)
v18-30 - Faith is childlike - (v17) trusting
v31-34 - Faith is wanting Jesus more than anything (v22)
v35-43 - Faith in Jesus is about understanding his death (v34)
v35-43 - Faith asks Jesus for mercy (v38) 

REFLECTION: As I look back through that list and start from the bottom it reminds me that faith leads us on a journey to discover God. A God who hears and answers the prayers of his children.
cries out for mercy, 
understands that Jesus died and rose again for me
reaches that point of wanting Jesus more than anything else
takes that step of childlike faith of trusting in what Jesus has done
is humble and realises that as a sinner we need to be saved
discovers who God is 
and when it realise God's love and justice, that he cares about us faith will persevere in prayer.

Heavenly Father thank you for that journey of faith that leads us to you through Jesus your son.
Today we pray for all who are on this journey of faith.
Those who have realised they need your help - Lord help them to understand what Jesus did for them.
Those who have looked to the cross - help them to know that Jesus is more precious than anything which might hold them back.
Those who have realised Jesus is the answer - give them childlike faith to trust Him.
Those who have stepped forward to trust Jesus - grant them a humble and repentant heart.
And all who have come in faith to Jesus - help them to know you better each day so that they will persevere in prayer to you thier loving Heavenly Father. 
In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen