Luke Devotional – Week 9

Rev. Doug Heiman   -  

February 27 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:1-12, Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. 10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

From last week, Jesus continued his thoughts on the fake religion embraced by many of the Pharisees. They looked the part. They did all the right things, but their hearts were far from God. So, Jesus told his disciples to be careful of their leaven, which was a metaphor of corruption and decay. One day their hypocrisy would be revealed for what it was. All their external acts of goodness would be made public to be shown as nothing but empty religion.

Jesus warned his disciples not to fear any human who could kill them but to fear God for He held their eternity in His hands. They must turn in faith and serve Him from the heart. Jesus then tells them their worth in God’s eyes. If God knows the smallest details of our world, about sparrows and even the number of hairs on our head, then we do not have to be afraid because we are far more valuable than any flock of sparrows. So, on the one hand we should have a healthy fear of God because He is our judge for all eternity, but on the other hand as His beloved followers, we do not have to cower in fear because God has placed high eternal value upon us and cares deeply for us.

He clearly tells us that if we acknowledge Him here on earth, then we will be acknowledged as belonging to Him in heaven. But if we deny Him here, then we determine our eternal destiny. As some had done with Jesus, anyone who attributes the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan cannot be forgiven. They have locked the door from which their help comes. Instead, the Holy Spirit will teach those who belong to Christ what to say if they are brought before authorities for their faith. These teachings reveal a fake faith may fool people but will not fool God and will cost them for all of eternity. 

Prayer: Father, inspect my soul and reveal any hypocrisy. Cleanse me deeply and give me a pure heart to love and serve You as a response of Your love for me. Amen. 

February 28 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:13-21, Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.

16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Jesus was so wise. He refused to get involved with a dispute between two brothers over money! Just because we are asked to do something does not mean we are the one to do it. Jesus said his ministry did not include such judgments. We do not have to do those tasks that fall outside of our gifting or skill set. Nor do we have to comment on every social media post. 

However, Jesus did use this as a teaching moment about the dangers of greed. The Kingdom of God does not measure our worth by what we own or by the size of our investments. This may be a measure of earthly success but not of the heavenly kingdom. 

If you are focused on getting rich, then you are focused on the wrong goal. Regardless of the messages we receive, life does not equal the sum total of our assets. 

The carefree and careless attitude of the farmer building bigger barns to contain his abundant harvests is a classic example of one who is in love with stuff rather than God. Jesus often taught that wealth is the major competitor with God. He made it clear that it is impossible to serve both simultaneously. We, as Americans, need to especially here this message because we are wealthy in comparison to 80-90% of the world’s population. 

Jesus makes it clear that wealth itself is not the sin. Instead, the danger of wealth as a sin is when we replace having a rich relationship with Jesus with the emptiness of stuff as our god of choice. Jesus knows how empty and depressing a pursuit of wealth is in comparison to enjoying the wealth of God’s kingdom. 

May we heed Jesus’ word to guard against all greed and the pursuit of wealth for its own sake. May we use our resources to advance God’s kingdom not just our own personal endeavors. As good stewards, we understand all we have is from God and is to be used for His holy purposes.

Prayer: Father, please protect my heart from pursuing wealth as my god. May I steward well all You have given me, to not only care for my needs, but to care for others and advance Your kingdom into the world. Amen.  

March 1 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:22-34, Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Jesus continued his teaching on how we are to manage the stuff of this world and how we are to avoid it handling us. His target audience was the disciples, so, it is a message for all who are serious about being disciple-makers of Jesus Christ.

Our culture puts so much attention on food and clothing. We often do so from a position of abundance where we enjoy all the options afforded to us as we dress up to dine out. However, Jesus’ culture was worried about having enough food on the table and clothes to wear. Jesus gave them assurance from nature itself that God supplies birds food and lilies their beautiful adornment. If God does that with the lesser parts of creation, then surely God will provide what we need when we need it. 

So, why spend so much time and energy worrying about God’s provision? Jesus has promised that He will take care of you. If you worry about these mundane things, then what is going to happen when you face something so much larger that is out of your control? Jesus’ answer was to set our minds on seeking the kingdom of God above all other things. God will give us what we need, and most of all, He will give us the best gift of all, the Kingdom itself. 

So, we are to freely give what we have to be a blessing to others because this is where true treasure lies. Extravagant giving reveals you are a kingdom of heaven person seeking after the heart of God who is inheriting the kingdom of God.  

Prayer: Father, I give you my worries as I seek You and Your kingdom. I know You will provide all that I need so I choose to be generous with all that You have given me. Amen. 

March 2 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:35-48, Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” 41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

We are to be ready, always ready! There is no day off from living out our stewardship with the Lord. We must be prepared for the day of His return. For those who have been faithfully living out their relationship and doing the work of the kingdom through the church, we are given an incredible picture. Jesus will seat us at the banquet table, put on the apron, and then serve us! This is just an unbelievable image of how we will be treated as faithful stewards of the gift of grace we have been given. 

As a follower of Jesus, all of life is an act of managing God’s good and great gifts. All we have is on loan from God to be cared for until He returns. We will be held responsible with what we have done with what we have been given. 

The more we have been given in resources, responsibilities, and relationships the greater the expectation is that we will steward it well. We cannot forget that all we do not own anything, but it all belongs to God and should be valued and treated as such. If we do this faithfully, then, when Christ returns, He will serve us at the banquet table because we have faithfully served Him.

Prayer: Father, help me to fully grasp that all I have is from Your hand and that You expect me to faithfully care for it. Give me wisdom and courage to do what You would do with these gifts so that I will be ready for Christ’s return. Amen. 

March 3 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 12:49-59, “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against. 53 ‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”

54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.

57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right? 58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. 59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny.”

Earlier when John the Baptist was asked if he was the Messiah, he responded by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus’ baptism was with the fire of judgment. Whenever God’s kingdom intersects with the worldly kingdom, there will be a cleansing. God’s holiness cannot help but burn away that which is not good and beautiful according to His holiness. Jesus tells us that this baptism would ultimately lead to His death. This heavy burden was hanging over Jesus as He made His journey to Jerusalem for the main event. 

Jesus’ question of whether we think He came to bring peace to earth is, Yes! It was prophesied at His birth. Multiple times He spoke of His peace and His desire for it to be upon Jerusalem. So, why does He say that He came to divide people? He speaks of the outcome of His new kingdom message that would actually divide people in their acceptance and rejection of it as we have already seen. So, Jesus’ kingdom is intended to be one of peace on earth, but because people fail to accept His message, it will cause division even in families and among friends.  

Jesus went on to say that they could predict the weather with accuracy but they could not predict the signs of the times. He had offered many though they wanted more. There was a coming crisis for Jerusalem. Rome was coming, and indeed did in 70 AD to destroy the Temple. 

Jesus was letting them know that the way of revolution was not the way to win the battle. 

In fact, when He says it is better to settle with an adversary on the way to court, He was speaking about receiving the kingdom now rather than waiting for the impending judgment that was soon to come. This message might give good counsel to those involved in legal matters but the pressing message was to receive the kingdom of peace rather than the fire of judgment.   

Prayer: Father, may we too pay attention to Jesus’ word that compels us to accept the kingdom message now rather than wait until it is too late when judgment comes. Amen. 

March 4 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 13:1-9, About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”

Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”

The common thought was that people received what they deserved. If someone suffered greatly, then they must have sinned greatly. Jesus dispels such false theology by telling His audience that the Galileans who were killed offering their worship were not more evil than anyone else. 

Jesus offered another example of the eighteen who were killed when the tower fell on them. They had not done anything that caused them to die in such a tragic way. In both cases, Jesus warned His audience about the need for repentance for judgment was coming. We all need to be prepared for our moment with death and for the determination of our eternal destination.

How can we be ready? Jesus tells us to repent. We are to shed ourselves of worldly kingdom values and make the turn to Jesus and His kingdom priorities. We must be intentional in our decision to go with Jesus and become His disciple. 

Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the fig tree that is given another opportunity to bear fruit before it is chopped down. Jesus was saying He has been looking for the fruit among the people but, largely, has not found any. There have been individual cases of faith but, overall, most are rejecting His message. However, grace was given to offer them a little more time to make the turn and follow Him. However, we should never mistake the gift of a little more time with the thought that judgment is not coming. We must choose quickly!

Peter wrote these words,

2 Peter 3:9-10, The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Prayer: Father, without further delay, I choose to make the complete turn to Jesus today. I leave behind the chase of this world and choose to pick up the cross of Jesus. Amen.