God is not as concerned about outward obedience as He is our inward obedience and the motivation for our obedience. Do we obey God with a willing heart out of love, or do we obey Him grudgingly with murmuring and complaining?
Luke 14:7-35 Jesus shares in this passage the cost of discipleship. He says clearly that discipleship requires forsaking all. He shares the parable about the man who prepared a great supper and invited many to come. Those invited had excuses for not attending the dinner. One man was too busy with his possessions, another was too busy with his business, and another was too busy with his family.
Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24 So many seek success and desire to prosper. Financial seminars are held to teach people how to invest and make the most of their money. Training seminars on selling yourself to the interviewer are attended by those who desire to advance in the business world. The Lord sees prosperity and success totally opposite of the way the world sees it.
Luke 13:1-22 This passage in Luke has special meaning to me because the plea of the vine dresser became a prayer my husband and I prayed for a church we were attending. In this church the pastor was open to the things of the Spirit, but most of his congregation were not. They did not want any changes. We were in this church for three years when we attended a Sunday school retreat. The retreat was in Calloway Gardens in South Georgia, and we were in charge of getting the speaker.
Luke 12:35-59 Remember the game "hide and seek"? One child closes his eyes and counts to ten while the other child hides. At the count of ten, the child opens his eyes and begins his search by saying, "Coming ready or not!" Then this child diligently searches high and low to find where the other child is hiding. I recall being a child hiding, and the moment the one who sought me found me, my heart jumped and I always yelled loudly "Boo" to scare him.
Luke 12:8-34 My life verse is Philippians 2:13: "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." It was such a joy to have this understanding when I was twenty-six years old. I was at a retreat, and our leader instructed us to go out by the lakeside and be quiet and still before the Lord. We were instructed to ask the Lord questions and then wait for answers. Waiting for an answer when I prayed was a new experience for me, as usually all my prayers were one-way conversations with the Lord. What happened in a twenty-minute span of time changed my whole life.
Proverbs 12:19-20 Counselors of peace have joy." Romans 14:17 tells us, "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." In yesterday's reading we learned that Jesus is the kingdom of God. He is all righteousness, all peace and all joy, and we can enter into the kingdom when we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and take over our lives. I do not know a person on earth who does not desire to be right with God and his fellowman, to have peace and to experience joy. Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, and sometimes we forget this is our message also. In addition to preaching the kingdom, we also now can tell of the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who now sits in heaven making intercession for us. The gospel should contain all of these facts.
Luke 11:14-36 One of the favorite expressions in our family is, "Well, nobody is perfect." We all make mistakes, and I am so ever grateful for our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our redeemer. He is able to take our messes and make something worthwhile out of them. As I was reading this morning about another ministry Jesus had, I recalled an incident I experienced in India.
Luke 10:38-11:13 Our pastor has said that we have to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. When we look at our lives, we have to ask ourselves, "What is the main thing?" I had a friend who put on her refrigerator a sign that said, "What difference will this make 10,000 years from now?" Priorities change when we realize that our life here on earth is but a hands breadth. Those who know Jesus Christ personally will live forever with Him. Jesus told Martha that she was careful and troubled about many things, but Mary had chosen the one thing needful. Mary chose to sit at His feet and learn of Him. Without Him we can do nothing. When we realize this, we will spend more time sitting at His feet as Mary did.
Proverbs 12:12-14 One of my constant prayers is that the law of kindness would be upon my tongue and that my conversations would be seasoned with grace. There is a proverb that says that pleasant words are health to our bones. This proverb says that we are satisfied with good by the fruit of our lips.
Luke 9:51-10:12 From the time my three sons were toddlers, I prayed that all three would be used as laborers in the last great harvest. Jesus exhorts us to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers. The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. The Lord sends the laborers. He speaks to the potential laborer and gives him the call for his special field.
Psalm 73:1-28 Where will your focus be today? Here the psalmist looks at the people around him. He compares himself with those who are ungodly and realizes they seem to be better off than he is. He reminds God of how he has cleansed his own heart, but he cannot see the benefits of living a righteous life. His complaint to God is the same as that of many Christians today: "What's the use in trying to be good and going God's way when nothing is working out?" But then he goes into the sanctuary and draws near to God. He realizes that the wicked will eventually perish, but he will not. He thanks God for His faithfulness in holding his hand through hard times, for His guidance, counsel and strength. Then he shares this wonderful statement: "It is good to draw near to God; to put our trust in Him and to declare His works." The psalmist first sees only the people who are close to him and the circumstances around him. At the end of this psalm, he is given a supernatural pair of glasses to see beyond those things he is experiencing. He focuses on the God who is in control of all things. To receive healing for his eyesight, however, he had to go into the sanctuary and draw near to God. He had to retreat from his circumstances and the people who surrounded him and get alone with God. In the sanctuary there were no distractions and his attention was focused only on God.
Psalm 72:1-20 Vladimir, our Russian son, has been our gardener for the seven years he has lived with us. I remember the first time he cut the grass; he was so very proud of his accomplishment. Shortly after the grass was mowed, a shower came; we both stood in the carport and breathed in the elegant smell of rain on freshly mowed grass. There is nothing to compare with this smell. This psalm gives a beautiful description of what will happen to people who fear the Lord. One of the promises of God to those who fear Him is, "They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth" (vv. 5-6, KJV).
Luke 8:41-9:6 Jairus had just heard the news that his daughter was dead. Can you imagine his amazement when he heard Jesus say, "Fear not, believe only?" This story has a happy ending because Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead.
Luke 8:22-40 We have had the opportunity to cross the Sea of Galilee many times. Our guide usually points out the fact that storms can come up quite suddenly on the sea because of the Golan Heights that surround the sea. Jesus was peacefully sleeping through the storm while His disciples were frantically bailing water out of the boat. Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waters and suddenly all was calm. Then Jesus asked them, "Where is your faith?"
Luke 7:36-8:3 In response to the those who questioned His willingness to allow a woman who was a sinner to wash His feet, Jesus told a parable: "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:41-43, KJV).