finishing costs


devotional post #2003

Luke 14:25-30

Luk 14:25 Large crowds were going along with Jesus, and once — turning to them he said,
Luk 14:2 “If anyone comes to me and does not detest his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come behind me is unable to be my disciple.
Luk 14:28 Because which of you, if you desire to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and calculate the cost to see if he has enough money for its completion?
Luk 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to show disrespect of him.
Luk 14:30 This is what they will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’

finishing costs

The gospel accounts tell us that Jesus had a tremendous crowd following him, but nobody finished with him. What he did on the cross, he did alone. As today’s text shows, Jesus stopped along the road and challenged his followers to make sure they would be finishers. How do we become finishers? What are the finishing costs?

We have to value our relationship with Christ above all other relationships, even above our family and our own selves.
We have to be willing to sacrifice even our own lives if that is what it takes to finish the course he calls us to.
We have to take inventory of our lives and come to the conclusion that finishing the course will take everything we have, but still be determined to pay those costs.

LORD, we have determined to follow you. Give us the courage to finish the course.

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the necessity of now


devotional post #2002

Luke 14:15-24

Luk 14:15 When one of Jesus’ fellow banqueters heard this, he said to him, “Everyone who will feast in the kingdom of God will enjoy this special advantage!”
Luk 14:16 But Jesus responded to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many guests.
Luk 14:17 At the time for the banquet he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’
Luk 14:18 But from the first they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I have to go out and see it. Please excuse me.’
Luk 14:19 Another said, ‘I have bought a team of five oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’
Luk 14:20 Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’
Luk 14:21 So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was enraged and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor ones, the crippled ones, the blind ones, and the lame ones.’
Luk 14:22 Then the slave said, ‘Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.’
Luk 14:23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and back roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled.
Luk 14:24 Because I tell you, not one of those individuals who were invited will taste my banquet!'”

the necessity of now

A group was eating with Jesus, and an unnamed someone spouted off about the great feast in the future. This soul was stuck in the future, and if not careful, he might miss the necessity of now. So, Jesus told his parable about the excuses. If you had asked any of those who refused the master’s invitation, they would have said their relationship with the master of the banquet mattered to them. They would have insisted that they really intended to spend time with him and and feast at his table in the future. Just not right now. Jesus’ point is that if there is no “now” there will be no future.

LORD, we long for your eternal “then,” but give us an ever growing vibrant enjoyment of your kingdom right now.

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because they cannot repay


devotional post # 2001

Luke 14:12-14

Luk 14:12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you host a luncheon or a dinner, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours so you can be invited by them in return and get compensated.
Luk 14:13 But when you host a banquet, invite the poor ones, the crippled ones, the lame ones, and the blind ones.
Luk 14:14 Then you will enjoy a special advantage, because they cannot repay you, because you will be repaid when the righteous ones will be raised.”

because they cannot repay

Jesus encourages the privileged to stop using their fortunes to gain more fortunes. Instead, he advises investing in those who are less fortunate, and that investment will pay off at the resurrection.

In a sense, this bit of moral instruction is window dressing for what Jesus would go on to teach, about responding to God’s invitation now instead of putting it off. What he says first is that some of his listeners are so busy making a future that they do not take time to love the needy today. The needy are actually a blessing for us, because helping them is an investment that will pay off when it really matters.

LORD, give us the wisdom to be generous toward those who need it, as an act of love reflecting our relationship with you.

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least significant


devotional post #2000

Luke 14:7-11

Luk 14:7 Then when Jesus noticed how the guests chose the more significant places, he told them an illustration. He said to them,
Luk 14:8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the more significant place, because a person more highly regarded than you may have been invited by your host.
Luk 14:9 So the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then, embarrassed, you will begin to move to the least significant place.
Luk 14:10 But when you are invited, go and take the least significant place, so that when your host comes near you, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up here to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of everyone who shares the meal with you.
Luk 14:11 Because everyone who lifts himself up will be levelled off, but the one who levels off himself will be lifted up.”

least significant

Jesus is not simply applauding the value of self depreciation here. There is a gospel purpose for this instruction. He had already lamented the fact that his generation had thought themselves too important to embrace his love and join his kingdom. Like the Pharisees who represented them, they wanted to make themselves first. But in order to join Christ’s kingdom, you have to start out at the entry level position. That way, everyone around you becomes someone you can show Christ’s sacrificial love to.

LORD, we are willing to start low, because we are aiming high for you.

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freedom for all


devotional post #1,999

Luke 14:1-6

Luk 14:1 Something else happened one Sabbath when Jesus went to eat bread at the house of a ruler from the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.
Luk 14:2 Notice this man right in front of him suffering from dropsy.
Luk 14:3 So Jesus asked the experts in religious law and the Pharisees, “Is it allowed to heal on the Sabbath or not?”
Luk 14:4 But they remained quiet. So Jesus took hold of the man, healed him, and sent him away.
Luk 14:5 Then he said to them, “Which of you, if you have a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?”
Luk 14:6 But they could not respond to that.

freedom for all

The Sabbath was intended to be a celebration of freedom — the freedom of an entire nation of slaves now set free, and able to set aside an entire day for rest and devotion to their Saviour God. But the Pharisees had turned that celebration into a new slavery. They had become so enslaved to their traditions that they would tolerate this man suffereing in front of them and go about their business. Jesus revealed their hearts. They just did not feel affinity for the sufferer. Jesus’ question — asking them about their own sons and oxen — got to that point.

The gospel offers freedom for all, or not freedom at all.

LORD, we celebrate our freedom every day, and seek opportunities to bring others into that freedom.

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embracing Jesus’ love


devotional post #1,998

Luke 13:34-35

Luk 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!
Luk 13:35 Notice, your house is forsaken! And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

embracing Jesus’ love

Jesus compares himself to a mother hen, gathering her chicks to herself to protect them from harm. But the chicks have other ideas. They scatter to the four winds, helpless in the face of danger — a forsaken house. And that is how they will remain until they accept who he is — their Messiah, coming in the LORD’s name.

LORD, we embrace your love and protection, and seek to draw others to you.

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God’s plan, not Herod’s


devotional post #1,997

Luke 13:31-33

Luk 13:31 At that time, some Pharisees came up and said to Jesus, “Escape from here, because Herod wants to kill you.”
Luk 13:32 But he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look, I am expelling demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and by the third day I will complete my work.
Luk 13:33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is impossible that a prophet should be killed outside Jerusalem.’

God’s plan, not Herod’s

Here is an interesting bit of commentary on this passage:

“Jesus does precisely what the Pharisees urge him to do (v 33), but only after making it very clear that he is doing it on his own initiative and not theirs (v. 32). They tell him to “go” (v. 31), and in reply he defiantly tells them in turn, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look, I drive out demons and accomplish healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I am finished’“ (v. 32). But then he announces his own intention to “go” after all—not at their request but out of divine necessity: “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, for it is not possible that a prophet should be killed outside of Jerusalem” (v. 33). He does what he is urged to do, but not because of the urging. As an itinerant prophet, he moves according to God’s plan, and no one else’s.” (J. Ramsey Michaels, “The Itinerant Jesus and His Home Town,” in Authenticating the Activities of Jesus, ed. Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans (Boston: Brill, 1999), 187.).

Our Saviour had a plan to accomplish, but it was God’s plan, not Herod’s plan. Whose plan are we living by?

LORD, show us your plan for our lives, and give us courage to follow it, no matter who says otherwise.

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wide enough


devotional post #1,996

Luke 13:28-30

Luk 13:28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves thrown out.
Luk 13:29 Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God.
Luk 13:30 But indeed, some who are last now who will be first then, and some are first now who will be last then.”

wide enough

The wider hope theory posits that Jesus must save some people apart from their understanding and acknowledgment of the gospel. Theologians suggest this because they cannot see God condemning so many who have never heard about Christ. Yet, this passage shows that God does care about the masses who have not. His solution to the problem is to send us to the far corners of the planet to reach them with the good news of deliverance through his Son.

Christ’s generation had all sorts of evidence of Jesus, yet many of those who were first to hear him and his gospel refused to accept him and it. The multitudes from all nations who were last to see him will accept his kingdom, and celebrate his return, while those who were first will only see the kingdom with regret and shame.

LORD, thank you for the hope we have in Jesus Christ. It is wide enough.

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knowing all about Jesus


devotional post #1,995

Luke 13:25-27

Luk 13: 25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will be standing outside and knocking on the door and begging him, ‘Lord, let us in!’ But he will respond to you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’
Luk 13:26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
Luk 13:27 But he will respond, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Go away from me, all you wrongdoers!’

knowing all about Jesus

There were some in the crowds who knew all about Jesus. They had heard him preach, saw his miracles, even ate and drank at the same parties he went to. But they remained uncommitted. Jesus warned those “good people” who failed to put their faith in him that on judgment day, he would not acknowledge them. The question for us is not how much we know about Jesus, but whether he knows us.

LORD, break the walls that keep us from committing to you 100%!

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narrow door, or wider hope


devotional post #1,994

Luke 13:22-24

Luk 13: 22 Then Jesus travelled throughout towns and villages, all the while teaching and making his way toward Jerusalem.
Luk 13: 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” So he said to them,
Luk 13: 24 “You should make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

narrow door, or wider hope?

Struggling with the reality that so many remain unevangelised, some theologians have suggested that there is a wider hope — that is, that Jesus will accept some by his grace in spite of the fact that they never heard the gospel. It is hard to reconcile the wider hope theory with passages like this. In fact, Jesus seems to be saying that there will be a lot of people who want to enter the kingdom through the door (which is Christ himself) but who will be unable to.

I know a lot of “good people” who know everything about the gospel but live their entire lives just on the outside of it. Will Jesus save these “good people” anyway? I want the answer to be “yes” but it is not. Faith in Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

LORD, show us how to show others the door, because they need to enter it before it is too late.

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