Day #52: How Are We Doing So Far?

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Luke 8:14, RSV


Perhaps of all the situations Jesus describes in the parable of the sower, the circumstance of the seed sown among the weeds may be the one we relate to best, for we all struggle with various aspects of our lives choking out the good seed.


Just think about the past twelve months: From a pandemic that has changed the way people live and work and go to school, to an election where our politicians may have achieved their ultimate goal of separating the masses in order to better control them, to a week of weather so cold that it paralyzed about 2/3rds of the United States. Add to that the everyday distractions that we always deal with, and we can end up with a lot of weeds growing in our hearts, if we are not careful.


The reason Jesus used such parables as the one we find in Luke 8, was to get us to think about what we are doing here and where we are going. Too many people go through days, weeks, and even longer without a single serious thought as to their eternal destination. They are, indeed, choked out by the cares and pleasures of this life, and by doing so, they are keeping the Word of God from being productive.


How about you? How are you doing so far?


Today's reading is from Luke chapter 8. It tells us what we can do to avoid being unproductive in our service to God.

Day 51: God Has Come to Help

They were all filled with awe and praised God. " A great prophet has appeared among us," they said, "God has come to help His people."

Luke 7:16, NIV


"God has come to help His people." Perhaps there is no better description of why God sent Jesus to this earth. The events preceding this passage are worthy of remembering. Jesus has just come into a town and found a widow whose only son had died. Those of us who have not experienced such sorrow cannot know the depth of grief that this dear woman was experiencing. She had first lost her husband, and now her child.


And then Jesus came to help! Sent into this world to redeem His people from their sins, God also allowed Jesus to perform many miracles which would not only help us to believe in His power and authority, but which would also help His people.


Can you imagine? What must it have been like for this woman to receive her son back from the dead? This woman who was likely completely bereft of hope for a good life, has now been given hope and joy and peace beyond anything that she could have dreamed she would ever experience again. She who was shattered was made whole, because God sent Jesus to help His people.


Now, we know that Jesus has died for our sins in order to give us hope and joy and peace at the prospect of serving Him and living with Him forever, but we also know there are certain things that He no longer can do. His ministry on earth is over. He has fulfilled that part of God's eternal purpose. But, though He no longer raises those who have died physically to return to live in this physical world, He promises that all who serve Him will be raised from physical death unto life eternal.


And that is even better!


This hope, in part, is why we are reading! To see the help that God still has for His people!


Today's reading is from Luke 7. Just as it did 2,000 years ago, it has the power to give you joy and peace and hope!

Day #50: Good Vs: Evil

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.

But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.

But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Luke 6:6-11, ESV


This passage is a microcosm of the battle we face today. In this instance, there was a man whose hand was crippled. The people in power so hated Jesus that they could not see the importance of helping a disabled man who needed healing. Instead, they saw an opportunity to accuse and destroy. Jesus, on the other hand, saw a man who needed help, so He helped him. This beautiful act of kindness enraged the officials.


Why would that be? In this case, we know the reason. It was because the officials were so opposed to Jesus that it blinded them to what was needed - helping the helpless - and it caused them to want to destroy Jesus. Why? The simple answer is that Jesus was good and they were evil.


Fast forward to the present time when every crisis seems to be taken as an opportunity to destroy one's opponent. In recent months, we have everything from disease to economic hardships. It is a time of true need. Yet many so-called officials seem to be ignoring the fact that people need help, and in many cases are furious when help comes from those who do not support their power. Because of this, we have witnessed, over and over, direct opposition to those who would help, if it seemed in some perverse way to the "officials" that it threatened their power.


Why would they care where help came from?


Maybe, it is because the battle between good and evil is just as prevalent today as it was during the time of Christ. Now, if we are not careful, this type of anger and opposition might cause us to react with a similar anger, and a similar opposition. Or, we can react in the way that Jesus did: We can simply help the helpless. Now, we must understand that this will make some people furious, but that's okay. Evil people will always be opposed to people who are trying to do good. Our job is simply to do the good that we can whenever we have the opportunity to do so. 


Today's reading is from Luke chapter 6. It tells us all about the battle between good and evil, as well as which side God wants us to take in this fight.



Days #48 & 49: Jesus Can Change Your Life

And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.

Luke 5:12-13, KJV


I can only imagine what it must have been like for the man described above. He was a leper, and therefore an outcast from all of society. The passage above reveals that he didn't have just a little leprosy, rather, that he was full of leprosy. So he was not only a social pariah, but he literally carried a death sentence - one that would slowly eat away at his body until he was mercifully taken in death.


Then Jesus came along. This leper, a man who would not have been permitted to come in contact with the lowliest of people because of his uncleanness, was actually permitted to approach Christ. He was allowed to do so because Jesus let him. And when this man who had carried this death sentence wherever he went came into contact with Jesus, he was made clean.


Clean! Can you imagine what it must have been like for the leper? Jesus will do the same thing for you, if you will let Him.


The fact is that all men have sinned, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23). So you see, we are not all that different from the leper, for we too are unclean and we too carry a death sentence with us. Yet Jesus, by the grace of God, brings us the same free gift of cleansing if we will only come to Him according to the terms set by His Father... and we can be clean!


The reading for today (and yesterday) is Mark 4 & 5. They reveal much about the love of God and the healing that Jesus brings to those who will come to Him.

Day #47: Is Your Life Fruitful?

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance...

Luke 3:3-8(a), NASB


At the outset of Jesus' ministry, we find John the Baptist preparing the way. He told the people about many things, but one of his main tasks was to encourage the people to repent and be baptized. In the passage above, we find that many people were coming to him to be baptized, but John noticed a problem with some of them: Their repentance appeared to be lip service only. Now, how could John have known that. We know from the teaching of Jesus that men are not allowed to judge the hearts of their fellow man, so we must assume that John was not just engaging in some form of a forbidden speculation.


No, we find the answer to his conclusion in his very words to, "bear fruits in keeping with repentance." Now that is something that we all can do, is it not? I don't mean necessarily that we spend our time trying to see if others are truly repenting, I mean that we should be able to tell in our own lives if we are truly repenting based on the fruit we are producing. But, how can we do that?


Well, how can you tell if a tree is an apple tree or not? I suppose you could become an expert in apple trees, learning to recognize an apple tree at every season and every stage of its growth, but there is a much more simple way than that: You can see if it has apples! It's the same with repentance. If you have truly repented, you will have fruit to show for it. If you have been unkind in the past, you will now show fruits of kindness to those you encounter. If you have repented of lying, the fruit you will bear is the truth. If you have repented of selfishness, the fruit you will bear is unselfishness.


I think the point that John the Baptist was making was that just saying you have repented doesn't make it so, anymore than just saying a cactus is an apple tree makes it so... it is by their fruits that you shall know. Didn't somebody famous say that, once upon a time? What kind of fruit are you bearing?


Today's reading is Luke 3. It contains a lot of vital truths to ponder.