Luke

The Sick

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There is a big difference between being sick and being healthy. When we are sick, we know that there is a problem because our bodies respond negatively, painfully and sometimes violently to our illness. Often times we require some form of medication. And if our sickness is severe enough, we may even make an appointment with a doctor. When Jesus explained to the Pharisees why he decided to eat with tax collectors and sinners, he chose to compare himself to a doctor in Luke, chapter 5, verses 31 and 32, which says:

“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”

Jesus came to earth for sinners. He preached the message of salvation for sinners. And he died a horrific death on a cross for sinners. His mission was to seek and save the lost. He came for those in need of a savior. Do you need a savior? If you are a human being, I would suggest to you that you do, because the Bible reminds us that none of us are righteous, not even one. So, when Jesus said that, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” what he was really saying is that he came for everyone. Jesus came for anyone who is willing to admit that they are a sinner in need of a savior. He proved this by eating with those who were still in their sin, and calling them to repentance. If you are reading this today, I hope you understand that Jesus came for you. You, and everyone who has ever lived and ever will live, are spiritually sick and in need of the only doctor who can save your soul.

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I encourage you not to let pride or self-righteousness come between you and salvation. We are all sick and in need of a doctor. We are all sinners in need of a savior. The difference between those who allow Jesus to work on their heart and those who refuse, is whether we understand this truth and choose to accept his help. If you’ve never humbled yourself before Christ by admitting you are a sinner in need of a savior, then I hope you are willing to do it today. Before we can accept his help, we must first admit that we need it. Do not compare your righteousness to those in the world. Compare it to Jesus. If you still think you are righteous compared to him, then maybe you don’t need a savior. But the Bible teaches us that we all do, even those of us who have already accepted his sacrifice for us. We are still not good enough. Every day we are still in need of a savior. If you haven’t already, I hope you come to that realization as well.

Self-Righteous

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If you are a child of the Spirit, you see things differently than those who are a child of the world. Life encourages us to succeed, to compete and to be proud of our achievements. These things, in and of themselves may not be bad, but we respond differently depending on whether we’re behaving as children of the world or children of the Spirit. If our thoughts and aspirations aren’t filtered through the Bible and the Holy Spirit, they can become clouded by fleshly desires resulting in an unhealthy view of who we are. And when believers, even the strongest and most mature of us, begin to allow worldly aspirations in our heart, it could reveal itself in self-righteousness. We may find ourselves competing in the most holy of things, losing our path and becoming the very thing we are trying to avoid. Jesus warns us about that with the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. It says in Luke 18, verse 9:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:”

Jesus goes on to talk about a Pharisee, one assumed to be a man of God, approaching the temple proclaiming in his self-righteousness how happy he is that he is not like other sinners, and how proud he is of his righteous acts. Then a tax collector humbles himself before God with a broken spirit acknowledging that he is a sinner in need of mercy. Then Jesus proclaims that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. Life teaches us to compare ourselves to others and to aspire to be the best. But Jesus reminds us that when we see things through his eyes, humility and a broken spirit are how we are to respond to the world and especially to a Holy God.

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True believers should never be self-righteous, because true believers know that even on our best day our righteousness is like filthy rags before the Father. Our flesh makes us prone to sin and predisposed to desires that are contrary to the Spirit. When we are honest with ourselves, we understand that because we are humans in a fallen world, we aren’t much different than anyone else. As followers of Christ our job isn’t to judge, to look down on others or to elevate ourselves. Our job is to keep our eyes on God, to act in love and humility, with grace and mercy towards others as we try to reflect God’s nature as opposed to our fleshly, self-righteous nature.

Trust Him

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I have a friend who immediately left a ministry and job that he loved, to move several states away to a place that he’d never been because he believed God was telling him to do so. He didn’t have anything set up at his new location; no job, no house, and no contacts, but he knew - even though it didn’t make sense to him at the time, that God was calling him. And he knew that even though he didn’t understand God’s plan at the time, that he should trust him. Have you ever been in that place? Have you ever felt God calling you to do something that made no sense at the time? Simon Peter did. And if God ever calls you to trust him by doing something that doesn’t seem to make sense, I encourage you to do what he did. It says in Luke, chapter 5, verses 4 and 5:

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

To Simon, it made no logical sense to follow Jesus’ command. He’d already fished all night with no results. Neither did it make any logical sense for my friend to leave everything he’d known and move to a strange place. But they did. And as a result of their obedience, God led my friend to a new ministry calling and when Simon obeyed, he caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break. We might not understand God’s plan when he asks us to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense, but even still, we need to trust him. He has a plan. He sees what we can’t see, and he knows what we don’t know. Our job isn’t to question God. Our job is to obey him, even when it is difficult, and even when it doesn’t make sense.

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If you went back in time and warned your younger self about something you wish you would’ve avoided or handled differently during your life, chances are that your younger self would trust your advice, follow your instructions and ultimately choose a better path than the one you originally chose, even if it didn’t seem to make sense at the time. Likewise, we need to trust God if he calls us to do something that doesn’t make sense on the surface. For Simon, God had in mind a miraculous outcome from his obedient act. What might God have in store for you if you choose to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense at the time? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure whatever it is, you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Extreme Mercy

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I’m always learning, and I’m always being reminded, what it means to be like Christ. Being Christ-like is what we are called to pursue, but it is an effort that is difficult to do, and impossible to maintain, without the help of the Holy Spirit. One area that I find particularly difficult is when he calls us to be extremely merciful toward our enemies. He calls us to be extreme in our mercy because he has poured out extreme mercy on us. Remember, the Bible tells us that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. So, even when we were his enemies he showed extreme mercy, and he calls us to do the same. In Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 28, Jesus says:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

And in verses 35 through 36 he says:

“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 the wicked.”

God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, so we should be too. I don’t think he is calling us to be a doormat, but he is calling us to be extreme in our mercy, extreme in our forgiveness, and extreme in our love toward those who are extreme in their hate towards us. When I think of extreme mercy, I’m always reminded of the persecuted church; believers who are imprisoned, tortured, or killed because of their faith in Christ. Often times, I read stories of how they pray for their persecutors, and how they genuinely show love toward those who are expressing hatred. They are not doing this in their own strength. The Holy Spirit helps them. And likewise, we need the help of the Holy Spirit if we choose to love our enemies as well.

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Jesus tells us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us.” That is extreme mercy. But Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he didn’t do himself. He showed us that kind of mercy, and that, I believe, is why he asks us to do likewise. Not every day do we have the opportunity to love our enemies; at least that is the case for me. But when you have the opportunity, I challenge you to show them extreme mercy. If you do, you will be taking on the likeness of Christ. And not only that, Jesus assures us that if we show extreme mercy then our reward will be great.

Good Soil

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If I dwell on the state of our country and the world, often times, I become discouraged. Evil seems so pervasive, there seems to be an overwhelming aversion toward anything Christian, and it seems as if everyone is selfish; caring only about themselves. If you get caught up in the news, you may begin to wonder if God is at work in the world anymore. You may even begin to question if anyone is trying to share the gospel anymore. But when I read the parable of the sower, found in Luke, I’m encouraged that the word of God is being spread, but the ground in which the seed is sown may be more hard, more thorny and more shallow than in days past, producing fewer crops. In effect, the word of God may be shared, but it is having a more difficult time finding good soil. When Jesus shares the parable of the sower, he explains that when the seeds of the gospel fall on soil that isn’t good, the word may be ineffective. Only when the seed falls on good soil will it produce a crop. It says in Luke, chapter 8, verse 15: 

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Have you heard the good news? Has anyone told you that the blood of Jesus has the power to save your soul? If so, do you believe? Did those words fall on good soil? Because only when they have are you truly able to grow in your faith and produce a crop.

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In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us that “the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”. Is your heart made of good soil? Do you expose yourself to the word of God, retain it and by persevering produce a crop? I encourage you to get serious about your faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to till the soil of your heart so that when you hear the word, read the word, or in any way are exposed to the word of God, you retain it. And that by living out what you’ve learned you’ll be able to produce a crop by leading others to Christ and storing up treasures in heaven.