Tag: gospel

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?
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.

Shining white!

Shining white!

The events of Luke 9:28-36 happen just over a week after Jesus told His disciples about His death and resurrection. He had a lot to think about, so He took Peter, James and John, and went up on the mountain to pray. The disciples fell asleep and when they woke up, Jesus was talking about His ‘departure from the earth’ with Moses and Elijah – two of the greatest prophets known to them! They wanted to make them comfortable, and honour them, so Peter suggested they build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. God came in a cloud and spoke to them and Elijah and Moses vanished, leaving just Jesus and the disciples on the mountain. None of them spoke about the occasion again.

  1. This event is referred to as the transfiguration. Why do you think that is?
  2. Just days before this took place Jesus had been speaking to His disciples about His death and resurrection. Do you think the timing is significant here? If so, why?
  3. Jesus only brought three of His disciples with Him to the mountain. Looking back at previous passages, do you think there was a reason that He brought these three specifically?
  4. What is the significance of Jesus meeting with Elijah and Moses?
  5. What is the relevance of this event for us today?  

Family vs Followers

Family vs Followers

In Luke 8:21, we find Jesus surrounded by a crowd of people, desperate to see or speak to Him, or perhaps to ask for a miracle. Someone, presumably at the back of the crowd, shouts out to Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside waiting to see Him. I hope Mary didn’t hear Him because His response didn’t come across so lovingly:

‘Jesus answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to God’s teaching and obey it!”

We know Jesus loved and respected His family, and we have been commanded to do the same (see the 10 commandments as one example) so I don’t think these words meant what it sounds like they do to us today. To me, it sounds like Jesus is either uninterested in seeing them or does not feel they are good enough to be with Him. I don’t believe either of these to be true.

  1. What do you think Jesus did mean when He said these words?
  2. How do you think the crowd, Mary and Jesus’ brothers would have understood what Jesus said?
  3. What do Jesus words mean for us ‘who listen to God’s teaching and obey it’ today? Who does that make us?
Planting seeds

Planting seeds

Luke 8:4-15

I think most of you who read this will be familiar with this parable that Luke recounts in chapter 8 but here’s a quick summary just in case:

Jesus told this story to help His audience understand the message He wanted to share. A farmer planted some seeds. Some fell on the roadside and was eaten by birds (these seeds represent the people who hear God’s teaching but the devil takes it away so they cannot believe it), some fell on the rock (these seeds represent the people who hear the message and believe it but when something challenges it, they let their faith go), some fell in the thorny weeds (these seeds represent people who let worries, riches and treasures in their lives affect their ability to do anything with the teaching they hear). The rest of the seed fell on good, fertile soil and grew well (these seeds represent the people who allow the Word of God to change them and are fruitful in their work). Jesus challenges those of us who hear the message to listen to the message and really hear it so it can change us.

I am very familiar with this bible text as I have grown up in church and this was a story often told in Sunday School, but every time I re-read/ hear it, I discover something new about myself and the place I am at in my life and faith at that moment. I have defined myself as a Christian my whole life, and got baptised aged 11, at which time I knew I wanted to give my life to God. At this point in my life, I was like the seed that fell in the fertile soil and grew strong and healthy and was fruitful.

Right now, I don’t see myself in any of these seeds. At this moment in time, I am the seed Jesus didn’t talk about (at least in Luke’s version of the story), the one that got caught up in the wind and travelled far from the Gardner and despite being desperate to grow and be fruitful, lacks the sun and water required to do so. Although I know God is nearby, right now, I don’t feel Him . I think most of us have been in this position in our lives, and the most important thing to remember is that although we might feel alone, we are not – God is there with you. The most important thing is to keep trying to grow so that you can get closer to Him and He will use you.

What seed are you right now? Maybe, like me, you don’t feel that you are like any of the seeds in Jesus’ parable. If that’s the case, what sort of seed would you be? This is a scary thing to talk about as it requires a lot of trust and non-judgement from those you talk to so if you don’t feel comfortable sharing in the comments, that’s fine. Perhaps you could share other times when you have been one of the seeds instead? It might be an encouragement to those who read it to know they are not alone that place.