Tag: bible study

The Richman and Lazarus

The Richman and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

When I am attempting to learn something new, I have to be physically involved. You could give me pictures or say the instructions step by step. I could even watch you do something and have a video recording of it to watch back, but if I don’t get the opportunity to be hands on, I won’t remember it nor will I be able to confidently carry out a task.

In the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, it seems the rich man was like me. He had teaching from Moses and the prophets, but he only paid attention and fully understood it when it was too late.

I know some people who take advice from others and put it straight into practice and others who ignore advice from anyone other than themselves. I am somewhere in the middle. I appreciate good advice when I need it, but will need to test it before taking it as solid truth. For example, if someone told me that something was hot, I would often have to hold my hand near it before believing them. – not on it though because I am not a risk taker!

With Lazarus in heaven and the rich man in hell, he suddenly realises that he is wrong but it is too late. Jesus explains that once you are in heaven or hell, you cannot switch over to the other. One belongs to the devil and the other belongs to God – no house shares allowed!

This is difficult to hear as Christians with friends who are not believers, but it is the way things work. Good and evil are separated and there can be no contamination otherwise Heaven could not be the perfect place we know it to be. We need to be sharing the Good News of Jesus with everyone we know and love to ensure they don’t end up in the fires of hell. However, we are lucky that in our time, since Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are given another chance. Judgement day is God’s day for Him to ask us one more time if we believe in Him. Therefore, even if we decide to go against Him all our lives, we have another chance to spend eternity in Heaven.

Our God is a compassionate, loving, gracious, merciful God. He is the God who sent His only Son to earth to die for us – He wouldn’t do that if He didn’t care about us. God doesn’t want us to leave Him and spend eternity away from Him so He will always give us the best chance, but if you have the opportunity, say yes to God now – it will save time later.

The cost of being Jesus’ follower

The cost of being Jesus’ follower

‘Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower. Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying, ‘This person began to build but was not able to finish.’ “If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace. In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower.‘ – Luke 14:25-33

Life has its challenges but overall, I love it! I love spending time with my family and seeing friends, reading books, watching films, walking the dogs, eating nice foods, good music, doing arts and crafts, playing guitar and singing, ice skating, and much more! When I wake up in the morning, even on a bad day, I look forward to what I am going to do. Sometimes, that is walking the dogs and seeing friends and sometimes it is reading and lots of sleep. Whatever it is, I do my best to have a good day and make it one for others too!

We have been given the gift of life to enjoy so it is not wrong to love life, but as Jesus says in Luke 14, it is wrong to love it above God. When we get so stuck into the things we love that we forget God and even idolise those activities, then we are living life the wrong way. “In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower”. This doesn’t mean you can still love life and the things you enjoy, but it is important to recognise the reason we have these things is God’s gift of life, love and provision and without Him. When you are doing something you love, take a moment to remember the One who made it possible and thank Him for it.

You will be rewarded

You will be rewarded

Study of Luke 14:12-14

In this passage, we find Jesus telling yet another parable to the man who He had attended dinner with. You will see when you read the whole chapter, that both the passage before and the one after are both parables and each of them are related to dinners and banquets also. He must have been hungry when He was telling these stories to have had food on brain each time!

  1. Why does Jesus talk use parables of eating and banquets so often in His teaching?
  2. Who was this teaching intended for?
  3. Why does Jesus tell the man to not only invite His rich friends and family but also the poor and crippled, lame and blind to the banquet?
  4. What does Jesus mean when He says, “But you will be repaid when the good people rise from the dead”?
  5. How can we use this parable to help us be more Christ-like in our lives?
Jesus will die in Jerusalem

Jesus will die in Jerusalem

Study of Luke 13:31-35

We are very far away now from the lovely Christmas story that is usually told at this time of year. We are deep into the mud and mire of Jesus’ life and the sadness and darkness is building. The baby, kings, sheep and cosy stable are far away but this is the reality of Jesus’ life and our lives too. Christmas is great, but it doesn’t last forever. We have work to do and it won’t be happy, jolly, fun all the time – sometimes, it requires sacrifice and pain too.

  1. In previous passages, the Pharisees have tried to trick or even endanger Jesus. Why are they warning Him about Herod now?
  2. Why does Jesus refer to Herod as a fox?
  3. What is the importance of Jerusalem here? Why does Jesus say He cannot be killed outside of Jerusalem?
  4. Who was Jesus greatest enemy at this point? Herod? The religious leaders? The general public?
  5. Does Jesus let the adversity affect Him or what He decides to do going forward?
Change your hearts

Change your hearts

Luke 13:1-5

Despite the simplicity of this title, this passage contains a lot to think about! Firstly, Luke tells us about some people who died, some at the hands of Pilate and others when a tower fell and crushed them. He goes on to tell us what Jesus said about these situations:

“Do you think this happened to them because they were more sinful than all others from Galilee? No, I tell you. But unless you change your hearts and lives, you will be destroyed as they were!” – Luke 13:2b-3

The purpose of Jesus bringing up these situations was to explain to the people listening that those who died here had no part in this. They hadn’t done anything wrong or chosen to be in these situations, yet they lost their lives. This is a great comfort to us today that when tragedies occur, it is not always the fault of the people involved, or anyone else for that matter. Hurricanes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, falling towers, death at the hands of others. In all these cases, the people who die are not to be blamed.

When I first became ill, I was told by many people that I needed to pray more, have more faith of a repent of a sin. They told me it was my fault I was ill, otherwise God would have healed me by now, but that is just not true. Sometimes, these things happen, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Not everything is out of our control though.

Although Jesus made it clear that these people did not die due to their actions, or lack of, the same could happen to us at any moment. No day, hour, minute or second of life is guaranteed and we need to prepare for the day we are not on the earth anymore – that means we need to check out and change our hearts.

Yesterday, we read the parable of the servants who are awaiting their master. They don’t know when he is coming, but they are prepared for his arrival. In the same way, we need to prepare for Jesus’ arrival, even though we don’t know exactly when it will happen.

Take a moment to look at your heart. What parts need some cleaning or removing and what parts need some work doing? What could you do today to help you prepare for the day when your heart will be visible to God in Heaven?

Don’t trust in earthly things

Don’t trust in earthly things

Luke 12:32-34

I think there are two groups of people in the world. One group spend their money as soon as they get it and the other group saves as much money as possible, only spending what is necessary. Which one are you? I am a mixture of the two, but I prioritise saving money over spending it on ‘things’.

As you might have noticed, there is often a thread that goes through a few passages in a row or an entire chapter. In this particular one, the message seems to be about not treasuring earthly possessions above God and heavenly things. Although being good at saving money is generally positive on earth (as long as you aren’t greedy!), saving isn’t looked down so well upon in Heaven.

There is a very well known story that you may be familiar with that represents the importance of putting God first. It is the camel and the needle and it can be found in Luke 18:25:
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”.

It is not wrong for us to have money or clothes or earthly things that we love, as long as we are not greedy or selfish and don’t idolise those things. It only becomes a problem when we prioritse those over God. If saving your money becomes more important to you than giving it away to people in need, that is when you might need to reconsider what your faith means to you. As Jesus said, ” Your heart will be where your treasure is.”

I need to check myself to ensure that when I save money, I am not doing so for selfish reasons, but that I am doing so with the progression of God’s kingdom and my future in Heaven in mind.

Don’t be like the Pharisees

Don’t be like the Pharisees

Study of Luke 12:1-7

It’s busy. So busy that the crowd are standing on each other’s toes. They have gathered to see and hear Jesus and what does He decide to talk to this very large, eager crowd about? Love? Grace? Forgiveness? Nope. He tells them not the be like the Pharisees, who are hypocrites! Not a nice message to hear – especially if you are a Pharisee!

  1. Why do you think Jesus decided to talk about hypocrisy at this moment? Was it because He knew He could reach lots of people with a lesson important to Him? Maybe it was because He knew there were Pharisees in the crowd who would hear the message too? What do you think?
  2. Why does Jesus tell the people to ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees…’ What does He mean by that?
  3. Jesus starts by talking about hypocrisy, then about fearing the devil and finally, about how much God knows about and cares for us – more than the sparrows. Why do you think Jesus combined these stories in one session?
Jesus talks to the experts of the law

Jesus talks to the experts of the law

Study of Luke 11:45-54

As someone leading an online community of Christians (a Church?), this passage in Luke 11:45-54 spoke to me in a big way! Jesus is forced to converse with a group of experts of the law after one of them said they were insulted by what Jesus had been teaching. Jesus was not often on their side, or in favour of what they were teaching the people.

  1. Why do you think the law experts felt insulted by Jesus?
  2. What were they doing that Jesus didn’t like?
  3. Why were the experts of the law enforcing rules on the people but not keeping them themselves? Were they above them? Unaware of them? Did they not really believe they were required to be kept, but wanted control over the people?
  4. When Jesus said, “You have taken away the key to learning about God’, what does He mean?
  5. The passages ends with, ‘When Jesus left, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees began to give him trouble, asking him questions about many things, trying to catch him saying something wrong.’ Why did the experts of the law want to catch Jesus out?
Jesus’ power is from God

Jesus’ power is from God

Luke 11:14-23

There are some situations in which Jesus heals people from physical ailments by casting out demons inside them. Not all physical conditions were or are, caused by demons or other spiritual matters, but this one was. The man was mute as the demon inside him was mute, and in Matthew, we are told he is blind too. That must have been scary for this man and those around him.

In the last week, a broken tooth that I have been waiting to be taken out, has become very painful as an infection has started to build up in there – gross, I know! It doesn’t compare to being made bling and mute by a demon, but it is majorly distracting and nothing seemed to be making it better, so I prayed and asked God to take the pain away until I can get it seen to and get the pain managed with medications and antibiotics to stop the infection spreading. You might be wondering what this has to do with Jesus casting out a demon, but I promise I am getting there!

I have been chronically ill for more than 5 years. For the first few, I prayed that God take the conditions away, but He didn’t do that. Instead He brought me peace and contentment in my situation and gave me great doctors, friends and family members who have helped me in a variety of ways. Since then, I have prayed only for symptom control. For higher pain levels to be lowered, for energy to be increased and for my body to be able to get through a busy day, so when my tooth started hurting really badly, I prayed to God and asked Him to control the pain. I felt Him telling me to be patient, Then I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, my pain was 10 times better, and my regular medication controlled it well. I immediately thought of God and how He must have answered my prayer, but then I realised that if my tooth isn’t in pain, the root must be dead, otherwise it would still hurt.

In the events that unfolded in Luke 11:14-23, the people saw a man with a demon inside him making him mute, but then Jesus came along, and cast the demon out, and the man could speak again. Though they had seen this take place, they still thought Jesus must have used the power of Beelzebul as only he could command a demon out.

In my situation, I asked Jesus to remove the pain, and believed He could, yet when He did, I made up a reason for why it got better without involving Jesus in that. When Jesus came through, I didn’t think it possible. Why did I do that?

Somehow, I don’t think I am alone in this. Miracles don’t happen in spectacular ways in my world in the same way they did when Jesus was on earth (or at least I am not aware of them!), but they do still happen. We need to remember that, so when God does something for us like removing tooth pain, giving us more energy, or providing food when we need it but can’t afford it, we recognise it and thank Him for that.

Is it Easter or Christmas?

Is it Easter or Christmas?

‘While everyone was wondering about all that Jesus did, He said to His followers, “Don’t forget what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be handed over to people.” But the followers did not understand what this meant; the meaning was hidden from them so they could not understand. But they were afraid to ask Jesus about it.’ – Luke 9:43b-45

I am frequently puzzled by the contrast of all the wondrous things I read and hear about Jesus doing, both in the bible and in the world today, and the bad things and the seemingly, unanswered prayers. This must have been how the disciples felt too. They had seen and heard the amazing things that Jesus was doing, but they were held back by their doubts and by their confusion around the things He was saying with regards to His future, and what that meant for them.

I am very curious, and am known to ask more questions than the average 4 year old in a day (my parent are thankful for Alexa for this reason!). I struggle with the not-knowing but God is a God of mystery. Sometimes, because it’s best for us not to understand, sometimes, He uses the mystery to grow our faith, sometimes, we just have to wait and sometimes, it’s too big and complicated for us to understand.

Although we can feel confused and alone in working out what is happening around us, God hasn’t abandoned us, expecting us to struggle with our questions alone. Jesus knew the disciples wouldn’t fully be able to grasp what was about to happen, but He kept giving them clues along the way. To us, these clues can sound really obvious, but that’s only because of what we know. If the disciples had retrospect, I am sure they would understand it too, but that’s not how it works.

Sometimes I hear or read something, and it helps me make sense of a particular situation, or come to terms with not knowing why I can’t find the answer. I believe that this is where God is getting involved by sending clues my way. It’s down to me to accept that, just like the disciples, I might not understand right now but maybe one day, I will. Once Jesus rose from the dead and showed Himself to them, the disciples understood what had happened, but they had to wait for that day to come around.

When he was writing this book, Luke included some of the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples prior to His death and resurrection. These must have recalled by individuals after the event so they could be written down for us to read. I can just imagine Peter turning to Luke and saying, “Oh yeah, there was that time He said He was going to die and come back again, but at the time, I had no idea what He was going on about! Oops.”

It’s okay to be confused by everything that is happening – the good and the bad, and its okay to not know the answers. If you need to know more, ask God, and He will help you make sense of the things you need to know, and settle your mind on things you don’t need to know, at least for the time being. Maybe one day, like the disciples, you will look back and it will all make sense.