EXPECTING

Luke and The Lost

We live in a state of expecting if we are breathing and living life well. We expect to wake up the next day. We expect to go to our jobs, get family members up and ready for school, or expect any given day to be full of activity. We expect to be paid from our employers. We expect for the grocer not to cheat us on the bill. We expect others to love us back. We expect the bills will be paid by the end of the month. We expect, and maybe take for granted, all the things of this world. But do we expect Jesus to come back again? Do we live in expectation for this glorious day? We sing about Him being with us, but do we live in expectation of THE ONE who will come back to claim His own. Do we live as His own?…In the wait?

Luke tells the story of John’s disciples, sent by John, to ask for confirmation, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting?, or are we still waiting?” GREAT question! Jesus answers, not with words, at first, but by His actions. Then He asks John’s watchful disciples, “Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!” In others words, if you “get” what I am doing, then you will get Who I AM. They apparently “got it” because they went back to John with a full report.

Luke 7, The Message
Is This What You Were Expecting?

18-19 John’s disciples reported back to him the news of all these events taking place. He sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”

20 The men showed up before Jesus and said, “John the Baptizer sent us to ask you, ‘Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?’”

21-23 In the next two or three hours Jesus healed many from diseases, distress, and evil spirits. To many of the blind he gave the gift of sight. Then he gave his answer: “Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.

“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!”

24-27 After John’s messengers left to make their report, Jesus said more about John to the crowd of people. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A messenger from God? That’s right, a messenger! Probably the greatest messenger you’ll ever hear. He is the messenger Malachi announced when he wrote,

I’m sending my messenger on ahead
To make the road smooth for you.

28-30 “Let me lay it out for you as plainly as I can: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer, but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. The ordinary and disreputable people who heard John, by being baptized by him into the kingdom, are the clearest evidence; the Pharisees and religious officials would have nothing to do with such a baptism, wouldn’t think of giving up their place in line to their inferiors.

31-35 “How can I account for the people of this generation? They’re like spoiled children complaining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.’ John the Baptizer came fasting and you called him crazy. The Son of Man came feasting and you called him a lush. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

Luke 7 expectation

We are also taught that our actions prove who we are in Jesus. What are expecting? Do we live and behave in expectation of the One? Do we live to please Him? “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. Help us to follow you expectantly for you are The One and Only. We expect you to always be with us as You promised. We expect you to love us unconditionally and You do. We expect you to forgive us and You have. We expect you to come back again. And you will.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

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GOD IS BACK!

Luke and The Lost

In any given musical worship set at a church you will notice that the music begins upbeat, calling the people to stand and worship the Living God. Then the music slows a bit, is more thought provoking, with a message of Truth and meaning. The carefully prepared sermon is next which drives home Who God is, what He has done, is doing and will do for those who believe.

Another slower song is sung to induce contemplation about doing something in your own heart, changing your mind about what you have just heard. What follows is time to celebrate with a joyful song that makes you want to dance as you leave the security of the gathering to go out into the world to help others find and follow Whom you have found…Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Yes, God is back!

I think these thoughts with our next story in Luke who, with his writing proclaims, God is back…with us! as he tells each action of our Savior. He also shares in this particular story a glimpse of what breaks our Savior’s heart. Read along and see if worship of our God, in you, rises to the top and overwhelms you as it does me! This story is worship in it’s purest form. This story is about God come back!

Luke 7, The Message
11-15 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.

16-17 They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.

Luke 7 14

What do we learn?
–God’s back and living among men.
–God looks to the needs of His people.
–God is to be praised and worshiped.
–The “holy mystery” of worship: Quietly worshipful then noisily grateful.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. I am, indeed quietly worshipful this morning to be followed by noisily grateful. Go with us, still. My heart sings your praises! My feet want to dance to the rhythm of your grace!
In Jesus Name, Amen

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SIMPLE TRUST

Luke and The Lost

About a million years ago, (exaggerating) as a young married couple with two little ones, Randy and I were met with a test of one simple act of trust. We were barely making it financially as Randy worked a full time job while working his way through college. We had a worn out Corvair, (yes, some of you will have to look it up, it’s a car), that sat in front of our home. It was broken but we couldn’t afford to fix it.

Sunday came, the funds were tight, but we still placed our tithes in the offering plate trusting that God would bless the slim remains of our bank account and get us through until the next paycheck. What God did was nothing short of a small miracle to some but gigantic to us.

Dad called me Monday morning and asked what the license plate number was on our Corvair. “Why?”, I had to ask. He said a neighbor who works at the Tag Agency called. They were running a contest with a promotion to remind people of the importance to keep their tags current. The neighbor looked up the number as being registered to Dad and myself. (My dad had helped me buy the car before I was married.) Our tag number was pulled as a winner of $50! Back in the mid 70’s that was enough to buy groceries for a week for a family of four!

God used this unbelieving neighbor to guide us to the gift He had for us! The tag numbers were posted in the local newspaper. It was up to the owners to read the paper and identify their tag if it was a winner. We couldn’t afford to subscribe to the paper, so we would not have seen it posted. Dad missed it. So, God’s glory was shown to us, dad and dad’s neighbor. We, including the neighbor, will never forget this simple act of trust.

God continually blesses simple trust in Him. He always has and always will. Read of the simple trust of a Roman military man…

Luke 7, The Message
A Place of Holy Mystery
7 1-5 When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.”

6-8 Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him, “Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for you to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to you in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9-10 Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.” When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.

Luke 7 trust

What do we learn?
–Simple trust pleases God.
–Trust and obey, for there’s no other way,
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
–“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Do you believe and trust this verse…or not?
–“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
–“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Trust. Simply trust Him.
in Jesus Name, Amen

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BUILT TO LAST

Luke and The Lost

Many products come with a guarantee that states “built to last”. Of course we can’t always trust those words UNLESS the words are followed by true actions in the product. Does it stand the test of time and use? Does it still work after many years? Does it keep going and going strong even when it is used in rough situations?

Jesus tells us another truth about His Word to us. We are “built to last” if we do what He says. We need to take what He says and work it into our lives, not as good words to say, but as words that lead to righteous, helpful actions. We become the Words because the Words are our foundation for living life well. His Word in our lives become our habit for living if intentionally practiced. We are getting there if we act upon His Word in us without even thinking about it. Are we there, yet?

Workers will come to build a small deck on the back of our home today. It will be squared and tied into the foundation of our home. If we didn’t have a firm foundation the deck would just be a floating addition, tied to nothing. When the rain and snow comes, the deck would most likely float away. The deck will not be just an addition, then, to our home, it will become part of the home itself. Get it?

God’s Words are not meant to become something nice to say on Sundays. His Words are not “tack ons” to our busy lives. His Words are to become a part of us that pump as much life into our actions as our heart pumps blood into our veins. Both provide Life. Real Life. A life built to last…for eternity!

Luke 6, The Message

Luke 6 good fruit

Work the Words into Your Life
43-45 “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

46-47 “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

48-49 “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to be wise, smart, insightful carpenters who build our lives upon Your Word. May our actions reflect You and Your Word and bring you glory and praise!
In Jesus Name, Amen

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POPULARITY OR TRUTH?

Luke and The Lost

I overheard a newly married couple argue over who was going to do the dishes. The score cards then appeared in the conversation. “Well, I took out the trash yesterday.” “But I washed the car the day before.” Do you keep “score” at your house? Randy and I worked hard not to do that. This is not the way Jesus taught us to love or work together. It is the popular way of worldly thinking but it is not living the Truth of what pleases God. We do for others to please God. Period. Who’s keeping score? True servants do not keep score.

There will always be troubles but there will always be help in troubles while living here on earth. Some troubles we bring on ourselves by working harder to please ourselves and others than on working enthusiastically to please God. Do you want to be popular with men? says Jesus, or live by my Truth.

This next passage is full of words that are counterculture with higher thinking that is beyond what this world has to offer. The world speaks of platitudes of “serving” but generally serving is expecting those served to give something back to you. Mm, that’s not what Jesus teaches.

Read slowly. Munch on the words slowly. Meditate on the meaning behind the words. Evaluate your own thinking as I am. Are we trying to be popular or are we truly living the Truth?

Luke 6, The Message
Give Away Your Life

24 But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
25 And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.

26 “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.

27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

39-40 He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.

41-42 “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Luke 6 true

What do we learn?
–God’s way of life.
–Our task is to be true, not popular.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I will meditate on your word all day long. Thank you for consistently reminding us of Truth, Your way of life for us. Defeat the foe within us who shouts a different way to live. Help us to follow you, obey your commands, and join you in your work with enthusiastic hearts and minds to please only You.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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BLESSINGS

Luke and The Lost

“Count your many blessings, name them one by one” so the old hymn goes. I remember this song as one of my mom’s favorite songs. It had a great alto tag that built a beautiful harmony in the chorus. But what does “being blessed” mean? How deep do we go? What are we counting?

Jesus has the answer. (He always does!) He explains being blessed well…

Luke 6, The Message

You’re Blessed
17-21 Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:

You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.

You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.

You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.

22-23 “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.

Luke blessed 2

 

What do we learn?

We are blessed when God has us right where He wants us…humbly repentant, fully committed, determinedly devoted, and tenaciously trusting in Him with all that is in us.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Counting…and still counting. We ARE blessed! Because You live in us. Tears are only for a little while until we realize Who You are once again. I am Your servant. I am listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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DRIVEN BY PRAYER

Luke and The Lost

Are you perplexed? Are you wondering where God is in all the confusing activities around you? Breathe. Just breathe as the songs goes by the same title. But I am reminded of a chorus of my childhood and young adult years that impacted my life so much that I still remember it today. Here are the lyrics of A QUIET PLACE…

There is a quiet place, far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flower
There in my quiet hour with Him, my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small, or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find

Then from this quiet place I go to prepare to face
A new day with love for all mankind

Whether a garden small, or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find

Then from this quiet place I go to prepare to face
A new day with love for all mankind.

Another chorus equally beneficial, but so old I can’t find it anymore…

My quiet hour with God to get to know Him better
My quiet hour with God to get to know more.
Not a quick hello or a cry for help.
Just to get to know Him more.

These words quiet my heart yet today and calm my restlessness of indecision and ponderings of what might be next. The choruses settle my soul and send me to that quiet place of prayer where I am…still. I know I must give all to God, listen and wait for Him to answer. “Be still and know that I am God” the Psalmist writes.

I have learned that if I am willing to listen and prepared to obey, the answers come. But it is in these quiet hours of time with Him that His Light seeps in, burning off the fog that clouds my mind, allowing me to see the next step in the journey with Him. He organizes my thoughts and pulls them together to make sense, which is a process of changing my heart’s desires to match His. He prioritizes the urgent that lead to purpose and pushes away the busyness activities that lead to complacency.

Be still and know. In our next passage of Luke we read that Jesus, the Son of God, who never sinned, prayed. He went off by himself to pray before doing anything of importance. Before choosing his leadership team, He prayed. ALL night. He prayed and listened. Then He did what the Father told Him to do.
“I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it,” says Jesus. (John 12:49) “So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5:19)

So why don’t we? Be still. Pray. Listen. Obey. Repeat.

Luke 6, The Message

Luke 6 Jesus chooses

The Twelve Apostles
12-16 At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. The next day he summoned his disciples; from them he selected twelve he designated as apostles:

Simon, whom he named Peter,
Andrew, his brother,
James,
John,
Philip,
Bartholomew,
Matthew,
Thomas,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon, called the Zealot,
Judas, son of James,
Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Here we are again to study YOU for it is all about YOU. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives, individually and collectively. I’m ready to listen, trust, and obey. There is no other way. 
In Jesus Name, Amen

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