Day 64 - 66: The Last Days of Jesus on Earth

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:41-44, KJV

 

By now, most are familiar with Jesus' final days here on earth. Beginning with the familiar theme of the leaders opposing everything He did, to the last supper, to His prayer in the garden, we see a series of events unfold that would ultimately lead Jesus to the cross. It must have been frustrating to Jesus to have the very ones He came to save working so hard to see that He didn't. It's not that the leaders didn't want to be saved, they just had a different plan in mind. 

 

I think there are times that we also have a different plan in mind.

 

That's why it is so important for us to read the Word. It is vital that we know the exact plan that God has for our salvation, just as it is vital for us to know exactly how He accomplished it. And it is critical that we understand the price that Jesus paid to make sure that we have that opportunity to be saved, lest we allow our own thoughts and plans to get in the way of our salvation.

 

The reading for the next three days consists of Luke chapters 20-22. They reveal the love that Jesus has for us, the commitment He had to make sure that we have that opportunity to be saved, and the depth of love that He and the Father have for us. It is an important story, and one that is worthy of our attention. It cost the Jesus' very life to tell it. Will we listen?

Day 63: What Will We Do In Heaven?

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants he gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’

When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’

Luke 19:11-17, ESV

 

This parable is a bit different from the more familiar parable of the talents, but it gives us some insight as to what may be awaiting us after this life is over. There are a number of things to glean from this parable, but it's the part where Jesus says, "You shall have authority over ten cities" that I want to draw to your attention.

 

You see, I believe many people have the wrong impression about heaven. That's alright, and partially understandable, because Scripture only provides a few glimpses of what awaits us in eternity, but what is not alright is this false idea that we will somehow be bored. I think that the non- Bible reading world has an idea that heaven will be boring, and that all we will do is sit around on clouds strumming on harps. The other end of the scale has people with the fanciful notion that we will be doing worldly activities like fishing, hunting and going to rodeos. I don't think that either notion is even close.

 

I think that's one of the reasons that Jesus told this parable. In it, we find two men hearing "well done", and then they are "given authority over cities". Now I don't know exactly what that means, but I do know that it gives us an indication that our eternity will consist of important, satisfying work. Whether that means we will have authority over literal cities or if Jesus is just giving us an idea of how vital our responsibility will be, we really cannot know for sure.

 

But we can know that heaven will not be boring, and we can hopefully also see that it will not be some sort of "recess" for adults. God has created us for important things, both here on earth and throughout eternity. Our duty (as always) is to serve Him to the best of our ability. And this service is interesting, important, and anything but boring.

 

Today's reading is from Luke 19.

 

  

 

Day 62: God Is Just

now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Luke 8:7-8, NASB

 

The text above reveals one of the greatest promises that has ever been given to man: God will not delay justice any longer than is necessary.

 

This promise follows a parable given by Jesus in which he tells of an unjust judge who finally brings about justice at the plea of a woman, for no other reason than she was so persistent in her pleas that she eventually wore the judge out. So that judge gave her the justice she sought, even though he was unrighteous and cared little about justice.

 

Jesus then contrasts this judge to our Father, who is neither unrighteous, nor unjust, He makes the point that God will not long delay justice when His faithful servants "cry to Him day and night". The reason that this is so important should be evident from the events that go on daily in this wicked world. In the last few weeks alone, we have seen the laws change in our own country to allow for more abortions being paid for with tax dollars, attempts at changing the laws to allow children to be abused by adults who want to "help" them change their gender, and laws to the reduce the prosecution of those who would abuse children in the most perverse and nightmarish ways imaginable.

 

Do you think that God is ignoring this suffering of the most innocent among us? I do not, but I do see where Jesus says that we need to be "crying to Him day and night" for the justice that is so desperately needed. This promise gives us hope at the assurance that God will not delay His justice, but this hope comes with responsibility. In short, we must ask God to interceded.

 

Are we doing that? Or does justice just not matter as much as it used to?

 

I for one (and I think that this is true of you as well) think that justice still matters to those who have a heart for God and for the innocent. That being the case, wouldn't it behoove us all to begin to "cry out" to God on behalf of those who need His justice the most?

 

The reading for today is from Luke 18. It reveals a number of truths about the nature of God that will allow us to take advantage of the blessings that He wants to give us, if we will just ask.

Day 61: Grace and Duty

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV

 

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

Luke 17:7-10, NIV

 

I believe One of the most important things for Christians to understand is the relationship between grace and duty. When we read that we are not saved by works, many people conclude that works are not even needed. Of course this is wrong, because the same passage that points out that we are not saved by works also points out that we were created to do good works.

 

While this might be confusing at first, Jesus' teaching in Luke 17 helps us to understand. The fact is that we are servants, and the function of a servant is to serve. The Bible's teaching is clearly not that we have no work to do, it's just that work alone is simply not enough. That's where the relationship between grace and duty comes in: Though we could never do enough to be worthy of eternal salvation, (thus grace), we still have our part to do (thus service).

 

When we understand that we were created to serve, but that we are saved by grace through faith, it takes the pressure off. The reason for this is that we could never do enough work to pay back Jesus for His sacrifice, but through grace we can do enough to do our duty. And, when you think about it, that's all God has ever asked of anyone. No more, but no less!

 

Today's reading is Luke 17. Like the rest of the Word of God, it helps us to understand.

Day #60: Two Masters

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.

Luke 16:13-14, ESV

 

Of all the truths that Jesus uttered, this is probably one of the hardest for men to accept. We live in a physical world that demands our attention. After all, we have to eat and have a place to stay. Since  these things take money, we have to work, and we have to give serious thought to money.

 

But note that Jesus is not denying our need for money, or even the fact that it will take hard work and large amounts of time to get it. He is simply saying that we cannot serve God and money, for a man can only have one master. It is not until we understand that God alone is our Master, and that all other things, including money, are merely tools that we use to serve Him, that we can actually live in the way that God wants us to live.

 

When the Pharisees heard this, they ridiculed Jesus. Do we?

 

The reading for today is Luke 16. It contains a perspective that we have to have in order to live for the only Master that we can have.