Luke

Be Ready

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You may have heard the phrase, “there’s no rest for the wicked”. But I submit to you, in many respects, that can also be said of the righteous. Don’t misunderstand, I realize that we do find rest in the Lord. Jesus encourages us to find rest in him. But what I’m saying is that we never really take a break from being ready for the Lord’s return. We can never let our guard down, or lay down our Christian walk for a season. Luke chapter 12 verses 35 through the first part of 37 says: 

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”

These are the words of Jesus. And a little bit further, in verse 39 he says: 

“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “

Being ready can be easy if it becomes your lifestyle. But it can be difficult if you still have a foot in the world. I encourage you to be less and less like the world, and take on more and more of the character of Jesus. I believe that the more we become like Jesus, the easier it is to be ready for his return. Becoming more like Jesus is a sign of spiritual maturity; a sign of spiritual growth. We, as believers, shouldn’t stay in the same place with our Christian walk year after year. We should be growing. And the more we grow, the less scary this portion of scripture will seem because being ready will become second nature.

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Jesus tells us that we need to be ready for service, like men waiting for their master to return. He says that it will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I’m convinced that the more we become like Jesus, the easier this task will be to accomplish. Being ready isn’t so much a mindset as it is a lifestyle. I’m sure you can identify habits in your life, whether good or bad, that have become so much of who you are that you keep doing those things without even thinking. Even still, those things that have become easy for you, may be incredibly difficult for someone who hasn’t made it a part of their lifestyle. Growing in the Lord is a process that continues to transform our lifestyle. So I encourage you not to stay the same. Continue to become more and more like Jesus. If you do, your lifestyle will be such that you’ll always be ready and watching with less and less effort over time.

Love Enemies

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As believers, we must continually strive to emulate the character of Jesus. When we do, not only can we take pleasure in knowing that we are walking in step with the Lord, but the Bible reminds us that a side benefit, is that we will often receive rewards in heaven. But it isn’t easy to be perfect like God is perfect. One difficult mandate given to us is the directive to love our enemies. Jesus says in Luke chapter 6 verse 35:

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

So, to be like God is to be kind to the ungrateful and wicked. It isn’t in our nature to behave like this. Actually, as a species, we are quite selfish. But if we want to be like God, we need to let the Holy Spirit retrain our mind, body and spirit to fall in line with what he wants, not what we want. If we love our enemies, the Bible tells us that our reward will be great and we will be sons of the Most High. Consider the phrase, “the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree”; referring to when a child behaves much like their parent. Let this be said of us when it comes to how others view us in light of our relationship with our God and Savior.

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In the New Testament, Jesus calls us to behave in a way that is contrary to our human nature. He tells us not to look upon the opposite sex with lust in our heart, not to be angry with our brother, to offer our other cheek when someone strikes us, and yes, he also tells us to love our enemies. If this is an area where you struggle, I encourage you to take it to the Lord in prayer. We aren’t built to make these kinds of changes on our own. That is why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit. We need to draw on his strength to succeed in areas where our flesh fails. But to do that, we have to surrender ourselves to him and let him do what needs to be done in our heart without fighting or rebelling. It isn’t easy, but Jesus wouldn’t ask us to do it if it couldn’t be done.

Percentage vs. Amount

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I’m convinced that our God is a God of percentages. Let me try to explain... There are certain unique attributes that separate one person from another here on earth. Some of us have more time, money, skills, or charisma than others which can be use in service to the cause of Christ. But I think it is less about how much we have, or give, and more about what percentage we use for him. For example, if you’ve been blessed with an amazing ability to serve the Lord because of where you were born, your loving upbringing, and your God-given ability to speak well; and I was born with a mental disability, an oppressive upbringing in a low rent neighborhood, with a speech impediment; that God may not expect the same from me as he does from you. So, because of your blessed ability, if God allowed you to win 1000 souls for the kingdom and me to win only 10, that our contribution might just be equal in God’s eyes. Check out what it says in Luke 12:1-4

"As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”

In this portion of scripture Jesus is saying that even though the widow only gave 2 copper coins, she gave 100% of what she had. And while the others gave a much greater amount, it may have only been 5% of what they owned. So, it is more about the percentage than the amount. Jesus said that she put in more than the others. Think of the parable of the talents. Why did one person get 5 to start off with, another 2 and another 1? Why not all of the same? And when the one with 5 doubled it, he was treated much the same as the person who doubled his 2. I believe that with God, no matter what you start with, the percentage of what you give, or earn, is more important than how much you give, or earn. Make sense? Anyway, that’s what I think the bible is revealing.

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The story of the widow’s offering proves that God cares more about the percentage than the amount of what we give to him. Which is one reason I believe the tithe is tallied at 10 percent of what we bring in and not a set dollar amount. But I don’t believe that this is only in reference to money. I think it applies to anything we do in his name. The bible reminds us that God wants all of us, not just a portion of us. And as we serve him, I believe that he looks at what percentage of ourselves we give more than the amount of what we give. So, if you’re seeing others who are dynamic for God, and you aren’t able to be because of a physical or mental limitation, remember this portion of scripture. If you are poor and can hardly make ends meet, but you see those who are much better off than you are making a difference with their finances, remember this scripture. This doesn’t mean you have no responsibility because of your limitations, but because of this scripture, I believe that there is a difference.

The Good Fight

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The bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. But it also reminds us that he will eventually come back. Satan is patient and looks for opportune times to attack us, times when we are spiritually weak and vulnerable. The bible describes him as a roaring lion seeking out who he can devour. So, we need to be on our guard especially when we are weakened. Luke chapter 4 verse 13 says:

"When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time."

This is referring to when the devil tempted Jesus in the desert after 40 days of fasting. In that moment, Jesus used scripture to fend off the devil. He used his faith as a shield to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one, and the words directly from scripture to parry every blow from Satan - kind of like how the bible describes our faith and the word of God in Ephesians 6. Satan is real. Jesus knows it and we should too. He attacks us when we are weak, like a lion looking to thin out the herd. And even when we fend him off, he will always look for an opportune time to come back. And since we know this we should always be on guard and recognize the signs of his attacks.

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When we struggle in our walk or circumstances attack our faith or our joy, we often times write it off as bad luck or we may even go as far as to blame God. But might I suggest that it could possibly be Satan? A discerning believer can see his attacks for what they are, and a strong believer, can combat them with the weapons that God gave us - the words and promises of the bible supported by our faith in the one who wrote them. Satan has no power over a believer except what we give him. Remember to always lean on Christ. When you struggle, cry out to him and remember what he promised in his word. He will never leave you or forsake you. And when you are tempted, he will always provide a way out.

Unashamed

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I remember when growing up how much I wanted to be like my older brother. I wanted to be like him so much that I’d listen to the same music he’d listen to, I’d try to act tough like him, and I always wanted to hang out with him and his friends. But for him, it wasn’t cool to be seen with me. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t like me, it’s just that he was embarrassed to be seen with me in public. Maybe you can relate. But even if we feel this way about our brothers and sisters here on earth, we need to be careful not to treat Jesus this way. We should never be ashamed of being associated with him. In Luke chapter 9, verse 26 Jesus says: 

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Even though it is becoming more and more unpopular to let people know that we are followers of Christ, we should never be ashamed. On the contrary, we should be honored to know the creator of the universe - the one who gave his life so that we may live in eternity with him. Unlike the little brother we don’t want to be seen with, we should look at him the way we look at someone we’re in love with. We should want to show him off to our friends because we are the lucky ones to be associated with him, not the other way around.

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We should never be ashamed to call ourselves Christians, to let others know that we love Jesus with all of our heart and that we want to be like him. We should never want to hide the fact that we are Christians even if there are negative consequences if we do. Jesus says that if we are ashamed of him and his words then he will be ashamed of us in heaven. I don’t believe any of us wants that. So I encourage you, let your light for him shine brightly. As the bible encourages, we should let our light shine on a hill for all to see. We shouldn’t hide it under a bowl.