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Luke’s Gospel is so beautifully detailed. Luke was a doctor and good at noting details in a situation. He says that he had carefully investigated all the details in order to give the governor an orderly account. (v.3) So we are blessed to be able to read so may details that the other Gospels leave out. This chapter is really long and this story is where we get most of the details of Jesus birth. The verse that stands out to me is verse 37, which says, “For no word from God will ever fail”, or as other versions say, “For nothing is impossible with God.”  What a powerful statement. There is nothing that can happen to keep God’s promises from coming true. Even when it looks like our world is crumbling around us, God’s word will never be wrong. 

Do you sometimes wonder if things are too hard for God, or if believing in what He said is foolishness, because what you are living through or experiencing seems the exact opposite of what He promised. Hang in there. Keep believing! Remind yourself that nothing God said or promised will ever fail!

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I love it when the name of one person is mentioned briefly and we never hear about that person again. For some reason God wants to put the name of that person in scripture. Maybe it’s to remind us that real people saw the real Jesus.  In verse 25 we meet a person named Simeon. We know that God promised Simeon that he would get to see the Christ. And he did recognize and bless the baby Jesus as the savior!! 

He prophesied in verse 35, “the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed.” He was talking about you and me. What thoughts in our hearts would be revealed? Do we need to go to Jesus with any of those? 

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In this chapter we read that Jesus started His ministry when He was about 30 years old. We know that His ministry continued for about three years until His crucifixion. Do you know of another life that changed so much of the world in just three short years? He gave us hope, love, faith, and forgiveness. He used 12 ordinary men to help Him change the world in such a short time. Think about how you would like to influence someone for Jesus over the next 3 years. Think about one way that Jesus changed your life. And then think and pray about how you can be a part of changing someone else’s life.

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After spending 40 days in the desert and being tempted in every possible way, you would think the evil one would just give up. Not so. (v13) “When the devil had finished all this temptation, he left him until an opportune time.” Did you read that? He was just waiting for another opportune time. Do not think that just because you get away from temptation one time that the devil will not be prowling around to get you at another low point. That’s his job. Plan now for what might tempt you? Ask Jesus to keep you safe.

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At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus is teaching the people from a boat on the lake. The boat He climbed into belonged to Simon Peter, who had just finished cleaning the boat and all the nets when Jesus asked to get in the boat. Then the great miracle happens because Peter was willing to obey Jesus command to put the nets in the water. We have often talked about the fact that blind obedience to Jesus can lead to amazing outcomes, because Jesus sees the bigger picture. Besides that miracle and obedience, the verse that makes me look within myself is verse 11. “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.” Those fishermen left their livelihood and everything they knew because they had seen the power of God and trusted in Jesus. Even after the amazing things God has done in my life, sometimes it is hard to leave some things behind to follow Him. What things do you have a hard time leaving behind?

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So often in life, we make a decision based on what’s best for us, or what sounds good, or what makes sense to us. The power of prayer before making a decision is highlighted in verses 12-13. Jesus went out to the mountainside to pray, and prayed ALL NIGHT. Then He called all his disciples to Himself and chose 12. That was a big decision, because those 12 would change the world. You would think that logically speaking, He wouldn’t have chosen Judas, because we know what happens, but that was part of a greater plan as well. In our own decision-making, let’s be more prayerful and ask God for wisdom, and then rest in our decisions. Even if something seems like it went wrong and we made a bad choice, we can trust that even that may have been part of God’s bigger plan. Are you allowing God to be in on your decision-making?

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Oh to be more like Jesus! At the end of this chapter, a Pharisee had invited Jesus to his house. I am sure that Jesus knew it wasn’t going to be an easy, laid back dinner, because the Pharisee’s were constantly testing him, but He went anyway! When the woman starts putting oil and tears on His feet, the silent judgment of Jesus begins. “If this man were a prophet, he would know…” But Jesus did know!! And He allowed her actions to teach them a lesson and to show her love and forgiveness. As a pastor, my actions are often judged or misread, and it really hurts my feelings. But Jesus, He just calmly and sweetly tells the Pharisee a story. He knows His purpose and knows some won’t understand, but He teaches anyway. Couldn’t we all learn from that and teach patiently, knowing that each person has their own perception and even misconception. And as those that rush to judgment, couldn’t we ask to hear the other person’s thoughts and not just write off their ideas as wrong.

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The parable of the lighted lamp is so interesting. It is true that no one turns on a flashlight and then hides it under a pillow. It would be useless. We turn on a light so that we can see. And Jesus says that there is nothing hidden that He won’t shine a light on and bring into the open. SO trying to hide our shortcomings and sins is a useless task. He will reveal all of it, so save let’s save ourselves the stress and heartache, and confess to Jesus so that we don’t have to try and hide anything. Verse 18 is confusing…Jesus has been talking about lights and being able to see, then suddenly, He says, “Therefore, consider carefully how you listen.” Using one of our other senses, He reminds us to not only to be careful about what we see and don’t see, but be wise with what we hear and learn! Spend some time today thinking about what your ears hear all day long! And are you really listening more to the important things or the unimportant things.

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When Jesus sent the 12 disciples out on their first mission, He gave them all they needed. We would think they would need to pack a suitcase and bring clothes and food and extra jackets in case of rain, and maybe a blow dryer and iron and… the list goes on! Believe me, I traveled with 4 women every time I was sent on a mission. I know what being prepared for all circumstances can look like!!! BUT, that’s not the kind of preparation Jesus wanted them to have. He simply gave them power! His power! He actually told them they didn’t need anything else! Jesus knows all we need, and He will provide for us. We just need to trust in His power!

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In this chapter Jesus is sending more men out on a mission. He says that there are so few workers and the harvest is ready, so He needs them to go out and reap the harvest of souls ready to hear the gospel. But again, He sends them out empty handed, but with His power and the wisdom to know where they should stay and preach, and when they should go. In verse 17, we read that they came back with joy! Being on mission for Jesus is not always easy, we may encounter hardship and even opposition, but we will always come back with joy! Just ask any of those that have gone on a mission trip to Cuba or Honduras. It may come with some hardship, but you return with JOY!!! Pray about what mission you can go on in the future!

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This chapter assures us that Jesus has control of our lives if we ask Him. Luke 11:24- 26 is very concerning. It states that an evil spirit can leave a person, yet it can come back even stronger. This reminds us that you can clean yourself up, stop the negative lifestyle, but unless that void is filled with Jesus Christ it’s still going to be open to demons coming back in. So changing our actions without inviting Christ into our heart leaves us more vulnerable. 1 John 4:4 “The one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.” Who can I pray for today to know the power of the Christ?

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“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” v.1 Jesus starts right out by telling us what to be careful of. Leaven (yeast) is very tiny but soon changes every ingredient it is mixed with. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek meaning “actor”. It is a stern warning to all of us to be very careful how we “act”. We must be careful to not just say we are Christ followers but also actually live it. Don’t minimize the little things. How do I see hypocrisy in my life? Lord, I pray for your help in changing me.

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Two days ago we were talking about leaven. Let’s discuss v. 20- 21. So short, and as always, so powerful! Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to leaven. (yeast) 

 We recall that a tiny bit of yeast changes everything it touches.  Likewise, only 12 disciples began sharing the Gospel. Yeast works from the inside to make delicious bread. Jesus works from inside us to transform our hearts. Yeast keeps growing just as the Kingdom of God keeps growing throughout the whole earth. Lord use me. Am I supporting and praying for a missionary who is leaven in other lands? Who?

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“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother...” (v.26) Does Jesus really want me to hate my family? Clearly, by other verses in the Bible the answer is No. But He does want us to realize there is a cost to being a disciple. For most of us it is not a serious as perhaps being persecuted for your belief in other countries. But, we need to realize it means Christ first in all of our choices. How we spend our time or our finances or clothes we wear. We choose to share the Gospel even though it might be hard to do. We choose to follow Jesus not our culture or own desires. What is one thing I haven’t truly given up? Lord, please reveal and heal that in me.

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Luke 15 has three parables, each one is filled with hope. Reminding us that Jesus never, ever gives up on anyone. He did not give up until He found the lost sheep. The widow did not give up until she found the lost coin. The father did not give up hope for his prodigal son. And each parable ends with the overwhelming joy of God “over one sinner who repents.”

 Who is the lost one that I am praying for? God knows the joy-filled ending- don’t give up.

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The theme of Luke 16 is the love of money.  There is a difficult word picture of the rich man in hell begging God to send a message to his rich family before they die. As we read these passages, we might realize that it was not the money that was the problem. It was the actions of the people with the money- greed and self-centeredness. God does not say you cannot be rich, He says “You cannot serve God and money”(v. 13) Riches often make us self indulgent and indifferent to the poor around us. Living in such an affluent society, we must keep ourselves very aware of this. Having money does not mean God loves us more; it means “to whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48

Where have I been indifferent? What can I do now?

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It’s a fact… we will never be able to avoid things that cause us to sin. We will never be able to avoid those people that bring out the worst in us. Jesus said in verse one, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen” (Good News version) or as it says in another version, “Offenses will certainly come…” (HCSB)

Since we know that fact, we shouldn’t act surprised or be unprepared, Are you surprised when you go to the store to buy something and you have to pay for it? No of course not. You are prepared with the money you need and maybe even a list of things to buy. In the same way, let’s not let offenses or temptation to sin catch us off guard. Be prepared for your day by praying and reading God’s word and letting His Spirit protect you from temptation and hurt feelings. And in our preparation for this,  we can also ask God to help us not be the one to bring the offense to another. We don’t want to cause someone else to stumble. Are you spiritually prepared for today?

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In verse 28. Peter declares that they have left everything to follow Jesus! And he is right! He left his family, his business, his friends, and everything he knew to follow Jesus. Is he whining, or just making a statement? I’m not sure, but I know that Jesus gives him the greatest answer ever! He says “ NO one who has [sacrificed] for the sake of the kingdom will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in eternity.”

Wow, if we could just get that into our heads! If we could just really grasp that concept! Sacrifice=many times return. You can’t out give God. When you think, “Oh gosh, this is going to hurt to give/do/help”, just remember…the return on that investment is many times! Not just double, but many times!!!  Don’t believe Jesus, just try it! You will be amazed at the blessings you will get!

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Luke 19 comes at an appropriate time in our study. Just as we are preparing for Easter, this chapter tells of His entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. But on the walk there we are introduced to Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and very wealthy man. Not very loved due to the nature of collecting taxes and taking plenty extra for himself.  But Zacchaeus was curious and wanted to see this Jesus –enough so that he, an older man, was willing to climb up into a tree. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus he said. “Come down immediately, I am coming to your house to stay.” (v. 5)

   Zacchaeus opened his home and his heart to Jesus. This rich man did the right thing. He accepted Jesus into his house, he repented, he acted on it and gave to the poor and repaid any wrongs he did. He became a changed man. 

  This Easter, is there any Zacchaeus you would invite to church to hear how Jesus can change their situation and life for the better?

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We are following Jesus during the week before his death. Through parables He was sharing the truth, giving all a chance to choose him. We see him speaking to the Chief Priests in the story of the vineyard.  Jesus is so clear in his teaching of the vineyard workers (missionaries, pastors, sharers of His word) who get beaten by those who don't want to hear the truth. Then the son (Jesus) comes and the tenants (Pharisees) kill him, hoping the owner would not bother them anymore. . The Chief Priests were so convicted that they were filled with fury. Rather than choosing Jesus, they too plotted to destroy him. 

  V. 18: “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken, anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

  We will all face Jesus.  We are either humbled when we fall on that stone and choose to follow the Father, or we will be crushed and hope is gone for all eternity.

  Is there anyone you know who has tripped on the rock? Invite them to church to hear the truth that will change their lives.

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And each day Jesus was teaching at the temple. v 37

  Jesus was giving us as much wisdom as he could in his last week of life. And lives were being changed daily. But one question all people have always had is- “When Lord, when is this over? When are you coming back? What are the signs? “

  There are Bible studies and commentaries and personal beliefs galore.

Jesus tells us, don’t be deceived when people say the end is near, there will be catastrophes and wars and will be persecuted, people will faint from terror. BUT, he never says- start worrying about it!  Instead he promises: I will give you words of wisdom(v.15), stand firm and you will win life (v.19), stand up and LIFT your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (v. 28).

   What do you think about the end? Lift your head, no fear, no anxiety, and no worries. Jesus has you covered!

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There is so much to contemplate in this chapter as we read about the day before Jesus’ crucifixion. If you want to study more today, a great chapter to read is Isaiah 53, because that is the chapter that prophesies all that is about to happen to Jesus. He refers to it in Luke 22: 37 as he is telling his disciples what it about to happen. Try to make time to read it before Easter.

Something that God really impressed on me as I read this chapter is how He knows when we will fail Him, and yet He still loves us so much and will use us in a mighty way, if we recognize and repent of our failures.  In verses 31-34, Jesus tell Peter that he will deny Him and not just once, but 3 times! Peter is shocked and says that he would never do that! But as we read, Peter does! Then, when Peter realizes what he has done, and Jesus looks him in the eye in v. 61, no words were necessary for Peter to recognize what had just happened. So He went outside and wept bitterly! I believe it is because of that weeping that we see Peter’s recognition of his sin and his repentance. Having failed Jesus so deeply, and then recognizing it, Peter was a powerful testimony to God’s grace and mercy for the rest of his life. We can read throughout the New Testament how God used him mightily. So, the thought for the day is this… Jesus knows that we will fail Him, but if we” weep bitterly” about our failures, then God can use us! What does that mean for you today?

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This chapter is so full and so sad as we read about the events leading up to the crucifixion.  Read this chapter slowly and think about today being Good Friday and why we call it Good, when from a human perspective, it was truly just horrible!

Isn’t it interesting how common goals or problems can draw people together, for good or for bad. People who like to study the bible get together to do that, but people who like to do drugs get together to do that! In this chapter, we see Herod and Pilate getting together to decide what to do with Jesus. Verse 12 says that on that day they became friends, whereas before they were enemies. They were not just “not friends”, they were enemies! Mistreating Jesus and trying to figure Him out, drew them into a common bond. Think about the people you spend time with. Is your common bond a good purpose or a hurtful one?

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Jesus resurrection… the power over death and sin! Praise God for Easter! 

When Jesus appeared to the disciples at different times, they usually didn’t recognize Him right away.  They were so into their own lives and their own thoughts and their own way of mourning the loss of their Teacher, that they couldn’t see who was standing next to them! Do I sometimes get so caught up in my own life that I miss Jesus beside me? Also, thank God that he can remind us and explain to us what His life and teachings mean. Verse 45 says that He opened their minds so that they could understand the scriptures.  Let’s make that our daily prayer as we continue reading a chapter a day! “Lord, open my mind to understand.”