Week 28, Days 1-4
Week 28, Days 1-4
“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:31–34, TNIV)
I’ve been on the road and out of town at a conference for ministers. So, writing has taken a backseat this week. But I have a minute to catch up and share one of the most meaningful passages of scriptures for me personally.
Luke’s Gospel has challenged us to consider our lives and how we have positioned ourselves in the world. How have we tried to insulate our lives with wealth and the “securities” of this world? How have we tried finding peace in a world of influence, wealth and the pursuit of power?
The rich man is illustrative of our current situation. One of the fastest growing industries in America is storage units. A quick trip through any town in America will tell you we have run out of room for our possessions, and we are building bigger barns to accommodate.
There is ultimately for me a trust issue when it comes to turning over possessions for pursuit of the kingdom. I am often afraid to abandon the securities of the world to rest in God and seek his kingdom.
But it is these words that offer a great comfort, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid, your father loves you and cares for you. “He is pleased to give you the kingdom.” It is God’s heart to welcome you into the Kingdom. There is nothing to fear.
Perhaps you’ve taken “give you the kingdom” to mean “dying and going to heaven.” But it is very much concerned with our present realities. God is pleased to give you life in him, today. You are free to pursue the kingdom and have life anew under the reality of Christ as King.
This trust issue is truly foolish. Just one look around the garage or basement and I can be quickly reminded of the failure of possessions and wealth I’ve tried finding comfort and security in. Yet Jesus’ words here remind me, comfort and encourage me that what I should truly trust in is, “a treasure in heaven that will never fail.”
Christ doesn’t fail. We can trust in him.
Week 27, Day 5
Week 27, Day 5
July 8, 2022
Scripture: Luke 8
“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”” (Luke 8:19–21)
This chapter is about God’s Word. Specifically the words and life of Jesus, from the parable of the Sower, to the powerful moments of Jesus healing people from death to life. Faith, our trusting in the Word of God, is at the center of these stories. Faith that Jesus can heal the dead, just touching his cloak or listening to his word, it’s all faith.
Particularly, this moment when family are looking to come to him. Jesus is told that his family is on the outside, looking to come near to him. He tells those who are listening, “My family is made up of those who hear God’s word and live it.”
He’s talking about faith. When we have faith, we hear and we respond.
Like every day, I need this encouragement. It’s a twofold challenge and encouragement: 1) Am I listening to God’s Word? And 2) Am I responding to what God is saying to me through it?
That makes up quite a bit of our faith. Thankfully, when we do this, we are not alone. We are a part of the family of God.
Listen, respond and walk together in the family of believers.
Week 27, Day 4
Week 27, Day 4
July 7, 2022
Scripture: Luke 7
“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”” (Luke 7:44–49, TNIV)
Do you know the trouble of self-righteousness?
It directly influences my love of Jesus.
This is not an invitation to go on sinning, so that both God’s grace would increase and your love would increase. Rather, it is an invitation to see the ways in which our hearts forget our need for God. Self-righteousness, the kind that Jesus so often must contend with, blinds us to our need for God. We have no need for God and no love for God because we are righteous without him.
Simon does not see a need to worship and love Jesus.
The sinful woman knows very well just how much she needs him. She falls over herself to love and serve him.
She’s been forgiven much so she loves much.
Do you need God?
Your understanding of that need directly impacts how much you worship him.
Week 27, Day 3
Week 27, Day 3
July 6, 2022
Scripture: Luke 6
““No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43–45)
One of my favorite books is The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. In it, he makes direct reference to this passage, and he shares the key to spiritual transformation, “If you tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself.”
The focus, for Willard is on tending to our hearts and our souls. How is it that we do this? I believe the root of our transformation is in our willingness to let God tend to our lives. The most important aspect of spiritual transformation is the work of God on our lives.
What in the world does that mean?
We’ve had the highway around us being worked on, repeatedly. An outside force is working to smooth out the damage that has been done to it. Left on its own, the road will continue to deteriorate. Spiritual transformation is the act of inviting the outside force, the Spirit of God, to work on us. If we want to bear good fruit, we must have God work on us. He works well in times of prayer, scripture reading, Lectio Divina, silence, reading of Psalms, memorizing scripture and so much more. Spiritual exercise is an invitation for the transformative work of God on our lives. It is not done so that we appease God and make him happy with our behavior. Rather, it is God caring for our souls and renewing our minds.
We should not be surprised that the fruit of our heart is evil if we really haven’t given our hearts over to God to do his work.
Our mouths become a great measure on the condition of our hearts. I know there are seasons in my life where I am angry and have needed rest. I’ve had moments in my life where listening to my mouth I realized that there was hurt and anger building in my heart. Personal hurt overflowed into relationships and harmed others.
Our mouths tell us about our hearts. They remind us of our need for God to tend to and care for us. What does your mouth reveal about your heart? Take time for God to care for your heart today!
Week 27, Day 1 and 2
Week 27, Day 1 and 2
July 4 & 5, 2022
“But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”” (Luke 4:43)
“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Luke 5:31)
What must Jesus do?
It is good for us to see the heart of Jesus. What is it that captivates and motivates his ministry? It is the lost and the sick. It is the broken and despised. It is for those who are far off. It is to help the sick.
It is also to proclaim the Kingdom of God. These all go hand in hand. Jesus is announcing a new reality, a new way of life, one in which God is righting wrongs and setting things in their rightful order.
Jesus’ ministry is centered on inviting people into this new reality. His particular interest are for those who have been suffering and gone through great difficulty.
Is the Gospel that I share comparable and compatible with Christ’s? Is what captivated Jesus’ heart, the same as what captivates mine?
Week 26, Day 5
Week 26, Day 5
July 1, 2022
Scripture: Luke 3
“Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”” (Luke 3:14)
There’s a lot to talk about in Luke 3! John’s ministry, Jesus’ baptism and his genealogy!
But let’s pay attention to a small but important part of John’s ministry. He was obviously baptizing people, but he was coupling that baptism with repentance. “What is it that we do now that we have been baptized?”
John’s message is clear, “Stop extorting!” “Stop using positions of power as a way to get ahead!”
The poor have already been mentioned in Luke’s Gospel, preparing us for the ministry of John and Jesus, “He has brough down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53) He is deeply concerned with how they have been treated, and for him, evidence of the kingdom of God breaking into the world is directly reflected on how the poor are blessed. Luke’s intentions are quite clear, especially at the start of the account of the book of Acts, it is the poor who have all their needs met. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)
It’s a good place to start, isn’t it? What do we do now that we’ve given our lives to Christ?
We don’t use positions of power to our advantage, rather, we make ourselves nothing, pouring ourselves out. We follow the example of Jesus, who lifts the broken, ministers to those who are suffering, and cares for one another. We love one another as Christ loves us.
Be content, love well, follow Jesus.
Who can you encourage today?
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.