because he is kind

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LOVING BEYOND THE NORMAL EXPECTATION

Luke 6:32-36

Luk 6:32 “If you love the ones who are loving you, what kind of grace is that for you? Because even sinners love the ones who are loving them.
Luk 6:33 And if you do good to the ones who are doing good to you, what kind of grace is that for you? Even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what kind of grace is that for you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full.
Luk 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people.
Luk 6:36 Be merciful, in the same way that your Father is merciful.

because he is kind

Our love and good deeds need to push the envelope, to go the second mile, because we are reflecting the kindness of our sky Father. We can be thankful that God has built love and care into the fabric of all societies, and his truth is reflected partly in any religion. But we must go beyond that common grace. We must demonstrate uncommon grace, sacrificial love.

LORD, show us how to love beyond the normal expectation.

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reverse Robin Hoods

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WHY WE CAN LOVE OUR ENEMIES

Luke 6:27-31

Luk 6:27 “But I am telling you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Luk 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luk 6:29 To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not hold back your tunic either.
Luk 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away.
Luk 6:31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.

reverse Robin Hoods

Jesus had just painted a picture of the world with broad strokes, indicating that it was made up of the haves (the rich and comfortable) and the have nots (the poor and needy). He had included his disciples in the latter group, telling them to rejoice because their fortune would be reversed in the future.

Now, this text represents an interesting development. Instead of Jesus telling this group of faithful poor to rise up against their oppressive ruling class and exact justice against them, he tells them to love these enemies, to bless them and pray for them, and GIVE to them. This is the context in which Jesus states the golden rule.

Why would anyone want to be a reverse Robin Hood? It must be because they believe what Jesus promised. Some day the have-nots will become the haves, the miserable will be comforted. So, we can afford to be generous today, even toward those who do not deserve our generosity.

LORD, show us how to bless, pray and give like those who will inherit your kingdom.

Posted in discipleship, future, giving, love, second coming, vengeance | Tagged | Leave a comment

reversal of fortune

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WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?

Luke 6:24-26

Luk 6:24 “But trouble is coming to you who are rich, because you have received your comfort already.
Luk 6:25 “Trouble is coming to you who are well filled with food now, because you will be hungry. “Trouble is coming to you who laugh now, because you will mourn and weep.
Luk 6:26 “Trouble is coming to you when all the people speak well of you, because their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.

reversal of fortune

Jesus was speaking to an audience with a history of holiness, but without the holiness. He was speaking to a society with a legacy of loyalty, but without the actual loyalty. Riches and comfort had taken the place of God in their lives. But he warned of a coming judgement in which the fortunes would be reversed. The haves would become the have-nots. This was a very effective evangelistic strategy, because even the rich and comfortable tend to worry about losing what they have.

The disciples did not have riches or the comforts of life. But they staked their eternal future on what they did have: a relationship with Christ. Do you have that?

LORD, thank you for giving us what we can not lose: eternal hope in you.

Posted in contentment, discipleship, eternal life, evangelism, relationship with God | Tagged | 1 Comment

because of that day

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THE SECRET TO CHRISTIAN JOY

Luke 6:20-23

Luk 6:20 Then he raised his eyes toward his disciples and said: “You who are poor are actually blessed, because the kingdom of God belongs to you.
Luk 6:21 “You who hunger now are actually blessed, because you will be full. “You who weep now are actually blessed, because you will laugh.
Luk 6:22 “When people hate you, you are blessed, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man!
Luk 6:23 Rejoice because of that day, and jump for joy, because your reward in the sky is great. Because their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.

because of that day

The secret of Christian joy is the Christian hope: the day when Christ returns and sets up his kingdom. That is why we say we are blessed, even though some of us may be poor. That is why we praise the Lord for his fullness, even if we sometimes go hungry. We can look the world’s hatred, insults and persecution in the face and laugh, not because it doesn’t hurt, but because its hurt is temporary. God’s love and his coming kingdom is permanent – permanent joy.

LORD, thank you for that coming day: our hope.

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when power comes

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ARE WE PREACHING THE FULL GOSPEL?

Luke 6:17-19

Luk 6:17 Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases,
Luk 6:18 and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured.
Luk 6:19 The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all.

when power comes

The healing and deliverance that people experienced in the ministry of Jesus was a demonstration not only of Jesus’ power, but proof of the validity of his words. So, the people came to hear his message, and were healed and delivered in the process. The day of miracles in ministry is not over, and the Holy Spirit has not ceased to exist. We should expect miracles and restoration to occur, but only if we are careful to actually be proclaiming the same message that Christ did. He taught that God is restoring his kingdom to the earth, so we need to get ready for that kingdom. He also taught that those not ready on the judgement day will be destroyed. It is hard for some people to see that message as good news, so they are eager to dumb it down, making the message more positive. But changing the gospel robs it of its power to deliver.

LORD, give us the courage to preach the full gospel: its positive and negative words.

Posted in balance, deliverance, evangelism, gospel, miracles | Tagged | Leave a comment

called community of faith

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WHO ARE YOU COOPERATING WITH?

Luke 6:12-16

Luk 6:12 Now it was during this time that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God.
Luk 6:13 When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:
Luk 6:14 Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Luk 6:15 Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,
Luk 6:16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

called community of faith

Luke highlights the showdown between Jesus and the religious experts who had decided to oppose his ministry. Then he makes a point that during this time of opposition and anxiety that Jesus withdrew to a mountain to pray all night before selecting twelve from among his many disciples as his delegated representatives. At the end of the list was Judas Iscariot, who turned out to be a traitor. Judas cooperated with Jesus’ enemies to accomplish their will, not God’s will.

There is a community of faith in my neighbourhood who is specifically called by God for the purpose of promoting the word of Christ and doing his will. My commitment to Christ will be judged in part by my cooperation with and fellowship within that community of faith. Church matters.

LORD, keep us faithful to you, and your called community of faith.

Posted in church, discipleship, faithfulness, Jesus Christ, loyalty | Tagged | Leave a comment

allowing evil is not alright

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WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED TODAY?

Luke 6:6-11

Luk 6:6 On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and was teaching. Now a man was there whose right hand was withered.
Luk 6:7 The experts in the law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a reason to accuse him.
Luk 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up and stand here.” So he rose and stood there.
Luk 6:9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it alright to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?”
Luk 6:10 After looking around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man did so, and his hand was restored.
Luk 6:11 But they were filled with mindless rage and began debating with one another what they would do to Jesus.

allowing evil is not alright

The experts in religious tradition were not at all interested in helping this deformed man be whole again. They were only interested in keeping their traditions, and preventing Jesus from upsetting their system. Jesus stopped before healing this man and looked around at each one of them — into their hearts. He exposed their hypocrisy.

My question today is: Am I as interested in helping people out of their bondage and mistakes and pain as Jesus is? Or, am I just interested in maintaining my traditions? When we see evil happening all around us, and we just pick an enemy or two to condemn, we are guilty of the same shortsightedness as these religious experts were. Allowing evil to continue is not alright.

LORD, show us how to overcome evil in our world today.

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the One who defines holiness

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NO GRUB, NO GLORY

Luke 6:1-5

Luk 6:1 Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples picked some heads of wheat, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them.
Luk 6:2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?”
Luk 6:3 Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry–
Luk 6:4 how he entered the house of God, took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any to eat but the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?”
Luk 6:5 Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

the One who defines holiness

Jesus’ argument was not that the king has the right to supplant the authority of the priests, although it is easy to see how people could make that claim based on this text. No, his statement that he (the Son of Man) is lord of the Sabbath is the basis for what David did, not the other way around. The Messiah defines holiness. The Holy Spirit told David that the kingdom could not be advanced, nor holiness served, by he and his men starving. Likewise, that same Holy Spirit prompted the disciples to take care of their need for food while serving and following Christ.

LORD, thank you for all of your provisions, not just the “sacred” ones.

Posted in David, holiness, Jesus Christ, Sabbath | Tagged | Leave a comment

what the new wine is

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WHAT WAS WRONG WITH A LITTLE FASTING?

Luke 5:33-39

Luk 5:33 Then they said to him, “John’s disciples regularly fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours continue to eat and drink.”
Luk 5:34 So Jesus said to them, “You cannot ask the wedding guests to fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?
Luk 5:35 But those days are coming, and when the bridegroom is taken from them, at that time they will fast.”
Luk 5:36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old garment. If he does, he will have torn the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
Luk 5:37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will crack the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
Luk 5:38 Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins.
Luk 5:39 No one after drinking old wine wants the new, because he says, ‘The old is good enough.'”

what the new wine is

Jesus was not against fasting. He had fasted himself, in preparation for entering his ministry, and during his times of retreat and seclusion during his ministry. So, just branding all the old traditions as old wine, and going after new traditions is a misapplication of this text. Instead, Jesus warns against holding on to traditions which fail to accomplish their intended purpose. The disciples were not waiting for the Holy Spirit to move. He was moving in the person of Christ, so the disciples had no time to isolate themselves in preparation for anything. Being with Jesus was the new wine.

LORD, give us the new wine of your presence, and may we never forsake that experience for another.

Posted in discernment, discipleship, fasting, presence of God | Tagged | Leave a comment

the other congregation

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WHO ARE YOU MINISTERING TO?

Luke 5:27-32

Luk 5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth. He said to him “Follow me,” .
Luk 5:28 And he got up and followed him, leaving everything behind.
Luk 5:29 Then Levi gave a big party in his house for Jesus, and there was a large group of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them.
Luk 5:30 But the Pharisees and their experts in the law complained to his disciples. This is what they said, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luk 5:31 Jesus responded to them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but those who have something wrong with them do.
Luk 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous ones, but to call those who have made mistakes to repentance.”

the other congregation

Jesus continued to meet in the local congregations and sharing insight from God’s word to all of those who were interested in that. He did not forsake that congregation. But he had another congregation. He had meetings like this, in the house of Levi, where he could get an audience with a different sort. When the people from that other congregation complained that he was doing this, Jesus told them that a doctor’s job is fixing those who are broken. Doctor Luke would have appreciated this story.

LORD, show us how to connect with the lost and broken, to call them to repentance.

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