Good Things, Bad Priorities

Re:Verse passage – Luke 14:12-24 (day seven) 

But they all alike began to make excuses… I have bought a piece of land… I have bought five yoke of oxen… I have married a wife. vs 18-20

The most shocking part of this parable is that the excuses are legit. No one would cancel their honeymoon for a friends party. Nor would people bat an eye if the CEO flew across the country to check on his new factory.  These are not bad things. In fact, they are good things, but good things can make for bad priorities.

How many of us do the same thing? How often do we get preoccupied with our everyday life occurrences and inadvertently neglect our spiritual health? We fill our schedule with good things justifying our actions because the things we did were not sinful. However, good things, if they are not Kingdom things, can quickly become an idol.  Our priority as followers of Christ should be “What we can do for the Kingdom?” not “Does the Kingdom fit into our schedule this week?”

Manure

Re:Verse passage – Luke 13:1-9 (day seven) 

And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. vs 8 ESV

I appreciate the clarity in the ESV’s translation of the fertilizer. It wasn’t some blue “Miracle Grow” that you buy in a bottle from the box store down the street. This was manure: animal feces. If you wanted to create the best growing environment with the best fertilizer, you would have to get your hands dirty as well as deal with a putrid smell, which is likely why this vinedresser waited three years before going this route. Putting forth the effort to cultivate his fruit was inconvenience to him, and he almost waited until it was too late.

Fruit is the by-product of a fertile relationship with Jesus. As the relationship is nurtured, fruit will be produced. Many Christians find the cultivation of that relationship as an inconvenience. They would never admit that, but the reality is shown in the lack of fruit (love, joy, peace etc.). If we are not willing to get down on our hands and knees in prayer and dig into the Word on a regular basis, we can continue to expect a barren tree.

Season of Abundance

Re:Verse passage – Luke 12:13-21 (day seven)

And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” Luke  12:19

It is easy to read this passage and think that God doesn’t want us to prepare for the future, but that is not the message of this parable, nor the message across the Bible.

 Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure. Genesis 41:49

What makes Jospeh different from the rich man? Both saw an opportunity to capitalize on a season of abundance. One wanted it for pleasure. The other wanted it for security. One wanted to be able to stop working now. The other wanted to work hard now so they could survive the years where working was not possible. God honors wise planning, but selfishness destroys hard work.

Participatory Faith

Re:Verse passage – Luke 11:5-13  (day seven)

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” vs 9

Nowhere in scripture can you find a verse that says, “If you become a Christian, your life will be easy. You will be given blessings just for being a Christ follower.” Most committed Christians would argue that this life takes sacrifice and work, but unbeknownst to us, this message of easy living gets passed down in evangelism as we attempt to sway people into Christianity. This is what happens when we prioritize converts over disciples. In discipleship, new believers get to see a participatory faith. They get to see that life does become easier, but only after things got harder first. They do receive blessings, but they are not materialistic. When we our faith becomes participatory (asking, seeking, knocking), we will see how God is working and how that work is always for our good!

Love

Re:Verse passage – Luke 10:25-37 (day seven)

Go and do the same. vs 37b

This is not a challenge to help the poor (though we should). This is not a cry for more social justice (though justice is good). This is a challenge for heart change.  While we often see ourselves as the Good Samaritan in this story, we are more accurately the lawyer wanting to know, “Have I done enough?” Jesus wants our actions to be based on a feeling of deep concern and love for other human beings regardless of what that person has done for (or to) us. When we “love [Jesus] with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind,” that love will not just overflow on those in our immediate circle, but it overflows on every person who comes across our path.

Purpose of Parables

Re:Verse passage – Luke 8:1-15 (day seven)

“[…] it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”

Jesus gives us a glimpse into the purpose of his storytelling. Jesus isn’t telling us that His parables are only understood by some elite group of people. Actually, His stories are quite relatable, and it is likely that most people understood what He was getting at… when they allowed His words to penetrate their heart! Matthew Henry says parables make the things of God “more plain and easy” to those willing to be taught, and “at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who [are] willfully ignorant.” Application of the parable is the difference in hearing and understanding. As we continue this study in the parables of Luke, dive deep into these stories and see how God is penetrating your heart and ask yourself, where can I be found in this story?

Foundation Repair

Re:Verse passage – Luke 6:46-49 (day seven)

“…who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock.” vs 48

Have you ever had your foundation repaired on your home? It can be an aggravating experience.  Your house may look beautiful from the outside, but a small shift in the soil can cause extensive damage to the integrity of the home. Even a well laid foundation is susceptible to damage if the ground surrounding the foundation is not properly cared for. Well cultivated grounds reinforce the structure of the foundation.

This is the same for many Christians as well. They laid a great foundation in their younger years, but over time they began to neglect their faith, placing too much trust in their foundation alone. Neglect allows for the ground to shift, and shifting left unattended leaves their faith vulnerable. Heroes of faith are those who continually nurture their theology, thus reinforcing their foundation. What are you doing to cultivate your faith and reinforce your foundation?

New

Re:Verse passage – Luke 5:33-39 (day seven)

“But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” vs 38

Speaking in what would seem to be riddles, Jesus was getting the people ready for what was to come.  The weakness of the flesh made the Law incomplete (Rom 8:3), so Jesus was bringing something new, something fresh: a new covenant.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'” Revelation 21:5

Speaking again in what would seem to be riddles, Jesus is getting us ready for what is to come. The weakness of the flesh made this world incomplete, so Jesus is bringing something new, something fresh: a new earth.

“They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (KJV)

No riddles, but still, the message remains the same. Though our flesh may make us feel incomplete, Jesus is bringing His mercies new and fresh every morning! What new mercies does God have in store for you today?

James’ Farewell

Re:Verse passage – James 5:19-20 (day seven)

Unlike Paul’s epistles, James’ doesn’t end with a final greeting or prayers of thanksgiving. Rather, it ends very abruptly. It may seem strange as we read these two verses this week that this is the end, but we should not be surprised. This is par for the course given the style we have seen from James throughout the book. He is not afraid to get in your face and tell you like it is. Which is exactly how he challenges the readers to be. When you see your friend (day six) drifting in their faith, you go after them. You bring them back.

Why end here though? Why the abrupt stop? He stops because he wants to emphasize this one final command: a call to community. James recognizes that the Christian walk is not intended to be done alone. We need one another. We are BETTER when we are TOGETHER.

Confession and Healing

Re:Verse passage – James 5:12-18 (day seven) 

 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. vs 16a

In the middle of a passage about healing physical sickness, James tells us that if we really want to be healed, we need to confess our sins. His reasoning for the correlation is threefold. One, sin is the root of sickness. God is not punishing someone because of their sin, but sickness is a result of the brokenness created by the fall. Sin exists; therefore, sickness exists. Secondly, spiritual wellness is paramount to any physical wellness. This is why Jesus would always say after healing someone, “Your sins are forgiven.” If our soul is not well, fruits such as joy, patience, and peace that are necessary to withstand trials will not be readily available. Lastly, by confessing to other people, you enable accountability. Not only will these brothers and sisters help you eradicate the sin, but they will come along side you when the going gets tough to give you encouragement and counsel. Confession is a necessary step in healing.