Friday, March 31: Luke 21- Life could get rough, but God is with us.

Eschatology, the study of the end times, is filled with differing opinions and understanding. In this chapter alone, trying to figure out when Jesus is talking about the fall of Jerusalem and when he shifts to the end of the earth before His return is not easy. I sometimes want to shout, “UUGH, I don’t understand.”

I wonder sometimes if I need to understand. I mean, is it important to figure it all out? The people of Jesus’ day and seafarers today don’t necessarily understand the science behind weather patterns, but they can read the general patterns.

Red sky at night, sailors delight.

Red sky in the morning sailors take warning.

Ancient Polynesians could tell the presence of a yet unseen island from 100 miles due to slight changes in wave patterns.

My thought, can I understand enough to be able to read the signs???

   Can I understand enough to get the big picture?

The big themes I hear from Chapter 21: Life could get rough. I don’t know if I am living in the days before the end but if I am, things could get ugly for Christ followers.

·         Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (10-11).

·         You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me (16-17).

·          “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken (25-26).

No matter how horrible it might get around us and for us God is with us.

·         But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life (18-19).

·         For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict (15).

I sit here not really knowing anymore about the end times and Jesus’ return than I did at the start. However, my faith is strengthened because I accept into my heart that God is in control. No matter how hard it gets for me, and around me, God is still with me and in Christ I will win life in the end.

This I believe is the overarching pattern the Lord is showing me this morning.

Praise be to the Lord… He knows. He is in control. He will win in the end. Death and evil will be defeated and all who stand fast in Him will be saved. We will win when we are ushered into eternity with our God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Halleluiah. Amen.


Thursday, March 30: Luke 20- Most severely.

Grades of punishment….I don’t normally think about eternity having grades of punishment. Separation from God and eternal torment for eternity seems pretty severe no matter how you slice it. Still the closing verses of this chapter seem to indicate a greater punishment for some.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely (45-47).

Teachers of the law tend to get a pretty strong hit from Jesus. The use of religion for personal gain or personal honor appears to be part of the root of Jesus’ concern. These religious men want honor and respect and yet they are taking advantage of people. They are show without substance. They are hypocrites. According to Jesus they will be punished most severely.

That is a frightening thought for me on many levels. The obvious level is that there are grades of punishment in eternity… severe and most severe!

But what gets me at a deeper level is that I am a teacher of religion and if I don’t watch myself the fate of the teachers of the law could be my fate. Even James, Jesus’ brother, writes, Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).

These texts shout to me, “Bill, examine your teaching and your life. Is all of you surrendered to Me? Are you teaching and living with integrity and care for My family?”

Lord, Your call to personal examination is frightening in light of these words of Yours. Punishment at Your hand is unfathomable, but to be punished most severely… I have no words.

Examine me and know me, cleanse me at the deepest places that I might not sin against You and I might serve and help Your people. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 29: Luke 19- Each person has a choice.

Reading Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry I recognized a foreshadowing of life at the end of days when Jesus returns to this world as King of kings and Lord of lords.

According to Luke, as Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (37-38).

However, many do not join in this praising of Jesus. At the conclusion of the account Jesus speaks judgment over Jerusalem saying, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (42-44).

The sad truth is when Jesus returns people will either receive Him with joy and praise or they will be judged and destroyed. Earlier in this chapter, in the parable of the 10 minas, the newly crowned king punished those who opposed him in the final sentence of that parable. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me (27).

No one likes to think about the punishment that will be handed out at the end when Jesus returns but it is part of the NT. As we say in the Apostles’ Creed, “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

The only way to escape the coming judgment is to be a disciple of Jesus. The praises we offer Jesus now will be amplified as all his disciples praise him at His return and then continually into eternity.

So Jesus places a questions before us. Will we join the ‘whole crowd of disciples?’

It’s your choice… choose wisely!

Lord Jesus, I have made my choice. I will follow You. Lead and direct me in Your service.  I pray in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Tuesday, March 28: Luke 18- A deep probing.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. After a brief parable about persistence, Jesus concludes: And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (1,7-8).

This Jesus-teaching stings mainly because I don’t believe that I am very persistent in prayer. I pray about something a couple of times but then I tend to move on.

Does this mean I lack faith? Does my lack of persistence in prayer suggest that I am privileged and therefore do not really need prayer because I can get done what I need without God? Or is my lack of persistence an indicator that the things I was praying for was a desire rather than a true need and I simply changed my mind?

I have more questions than I do answers… and my questions are cutting and exposing.

Oh, Lord God, if this text is exposing my immaturity or my privileged lifestyle or something else, please show me. Help me to see the sickness in me so that I might go to Dr. Jesus for healing. Help me to see any laziness in me so that I might go to Jesus, my trainer and coach, so that I might grow in faith and perseverance. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, March 27: Luke 17- How do you respond?.

When God asks something of you, something you are not sure you can do, how do you respond? This was the question God posed to me while reading Luke 17.

The question came through the disciples. Jesus was on a roll, one faith imperative after another. The chapter opens with Jesus center stage speaking to His disciples:

“Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them” (1-4). These comments come after a few chapters of Jesus speaking on a wide range of topics.

It is as if the apostles cannot take any more. Jesus’ last directive about forgiveness, repeated forgiveness to anyone who asks, was the last straw. They interrupt and butt in “Increase our faith!” (5), they blurt out.

As I recreate the moment in my thoughts, it is as if they throw their hand in the air and yell “Stop” before they ask for faith. They can’t take anymore. Their faith is cracking. “We can’t do this. What You are asking is too great…”

When Jesus asks something that you feel is too great for you to do… what do you do?

Some of us whine… “Why me?” Some reply to God, “Ask someone else.” This was Moses’ first response at the burning bush… ‘God, I can’t speak, send someone else…’

Some of us run from God like Jonah.

The apostles cried out for more faith! I was duly impressed and personally challenged. What a great God-honoring request…

Would that this become my ‘go to’ response when God asks things of me I think are too big or too hard or too much to ask of me.

Oh, God, grow my faith and trust. Grow my maturity and my desire to follow you wholeheartedly. Train me, God, for loyalty and self-less faith. Make me, teach me, Lord, to be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that I am at Your beck and call.  Then, Lord, when I don’t think I can do what You ask, show me how to pray with all sincerity. INCREASE MY FAITH.

I pray this in Jesus’ name and I pray this so that my life brings honor and glory to You, my God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Saturday, March 25: Luke 16- God is still in control.


This is a chapter filled with expressions I find difficult to understand. After working to resolve some of my difficulties, I took a deep breath and prayed a brief prayer, “Lord, allow me to climb on your lap and nestle in Your embrace. Allow me something to feed my heart and soul, not just my mind.”

As I sat a bit longer with the Lord I realized that whether or not I can unravel the difficulties of this chapter, the Lord is still God. And in the end He will make plain what I cannot now understand due to my human limitations.

Surprisingly this gave me solace and comfort. God is God and He knows more than I. There are times and texts I do not understand. Just because I do not know does not mean all is lost because God knows.

This seems to be a strange lesson from this chapter but it is pouring peace into my life. Why? Partly because there are many things happening in my world today that are causing me to scratch my head in wonder and bewilderment.

The world seems to be growing more and more polarized by the day. What is so troubling is that good people, faithful people, are deeply divided by the various views.  I don’t understand.

It is as if God is reminding me that He remains in control and I need to trust Him and live faithfully as best I can during these turbulent and often confusing days. The various money themes of this chapter highlight for me that living faithfully means using my money in God honoring ways.

A fitting prayer to conclude today’s time with the Lord seems to be the old hymn:

I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender. I surrender all… Amen.


Friday, March 24: Luke 15- Throw a party in heaven.

‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (6b-7).

 ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (9b-10).

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate (24).

The theme of being lost and then being found comes across clearly in this chapter. Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son… the search, the longing and the celebration when the lost is found is also very clear. All heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.

So if we want to throw a party in heaven, search for someone who is lost in their sin and help them find the love, forgiveness and welcome of God when they come home.

Help me, Father, throw many parties in heaven. Lead me to the lost and then fill my mouth with words that honor and show them You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 23: Luke 14- Counting the cost.

Among today’s teachings it was the “the cost of discipleship” portion that drew me in. After reading I sat still considering the multiplying effect of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’ call to discipleship should never be entered into glibly.

I am wondering if today’s evangelical presentation about accepting Christ by praying a simple ‘sinner’s prayer’ is a distortion and downgrade from Jesus’ expectations. It seems Jesus expected a great deal more than a 30-second prayer.

Maybe it is okay to use the ‘sinner’s prayer’ as the entrance into discipleship, but a life of discipleship is much, much more. Too often, it seems, we allow people to think faith is simple and easy; all one needs to be saved is to pray the prayer.

Over and over again Jesus reminds His followers about the implications of following Him.

How hard it is to square Jesus’ words, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple (26) with some of the family first and family at all cost teaching out there today.

I believe Jesus is using hyperbole to make a point that following Jesus MUST be our first and highest priority. I believe it is hyperbole because Ephesians 5 and Colossian 3 tell us to love our wives/husbands.  Jesus himself chastises the Pharisees for declaring Corban money that should have gone to caring for parents (Mark 7:11). His point, which is still hard to follow, is that obedience to God must never be compromised in the name of family duties. This is only the first of Jesus’ words on the subject.

It seems that His intent might be to scare people from being disciples, and if not, that at least He is causing them to ‘count the cost’ which might cause some to give up. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? (28) Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (31-33)

Stepping out of the past into the present, I need to ask myself if I am compromising my discipleship in any areas for the sake of relationships or pleasures or…

Counting the cost was not only for followers in Jesus’ day, it is for followers in every day and age.

Jesus, Father, Spirit, help me be honest with myself about my discipleship of Jesus. In His name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 22: Luke 13- Unless you repent.

Chapter 13 begins with a teaching which the editors of my NIV translation titles “Repent or Perish.” Mentioning a mass murder Jesus asked if the people thought those who died in that horrendous way were guiltier than other people. “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (3). Next discussing a tragic accident where a building collapses and people die, Jesus again asks the people if they think that those who died in that way were more guilty than other people. And again Jesus replies in the same way. “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (5).

From God’s perspective all people have broken His laws and need to repent or they will perish.

That’s a pretty stark word but it is also very clear, gradations of guilty are not the issue. What matters to God is whether we repent. Both cases of the ‘you’ in verses 3 and 5 is plural. Jesus is looking over everyone saying ‘You’ as in ‘You-all’ must repent.

Repent –acknowledge that we have broken God’s law of loving God and neighbors wholly –and asking God to forgive us as we turn 180 degrees and change our lives. We begin walking toward Jesus and His will and way rather than away from Jesus. We follow Jesus as Lord and seek to please Him rather than self.

Repentance is required of everyone if we want to avoid perishing.

That’s Jesus’ word…

Question is, have you repented?

Lord Jesus, thank You for making my need clear. I turn to You.  I repent.  Please forgive my wrongs and show me the way to live that honors You and the forgiveness You have rendered to me. I pray this acknowledging that You Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are my God and I now live to honor You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, March 21: Luke 12- Vintage Jesus.

This chapter is chock full of Jesus’ teachings. I could spend a week, even more on this lone chapter. So much good stuff.

It was Jesus’ opening that grabbed me and never let me go. Verses 1-3: Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Hypocrisy… Selling a ‘self’ that isn’t true. Professing one thing yet doing another. In the last month a high ranking White House advisor resigned because he had inappropriate conversations with Russians before President Trump took office. As the story unfolded he denied it. Other officials even defended him as a man of character. However the wire taps on the Russians showed that he did in fact have those inappropriate conversations. The result… his resignation and egg on the face of those who defended his character.

How many people have been exposed living a lie by a cellphone picture?

Jesus reminds us that [t]here is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. While the truth doesn’t always come out that quickly it does have a habit of revealing itself. As people of faith we believe that God knows everything, so even if we get away with some hypocrisy this side of eternity, God knows and God will deal with us when this life ends.

Jesus warned Be on your guard against… hypocrisy.

His warning is as fresh and true today as it ever has been.

Are you listening? God whispers to me… “Am I listening?”

Lord, show me my failings, my inconsistencies, my areas of weakness so that I will grow. Train me to guard my lips and my heart that I might be a person of integrity rather than falsehood and hypocrisy. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, March 20: Luke 11- Prayer in its simplicity.

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation’ ” (2-4)

At its heart prayer is speaking with God our Father. By calling God Father we begin with the intimacy or connected relationship. God is not some distant ‘being’ or ‘entity’ we hope will give us a hearing because of something we have done or some offering we bring Him. No, God listens because He is our Father. As our Father we have a family connection and we can enter His presence anytime because we are family.

Not only is God Father, He is Majestic and King.  He deserves all honor and glory because of who He is. None is like Him in splendor.  The awe we have for Him will usher us into our prayer and will set the tone for our speaking with Him. He is family but He is also King.

We are invited to ask for what we need… our daily bread. God is not a free ATM who gives us everything and anything we desire in the moment. What kind of Father would He be if He spoiled us rotten?!  However, God will give us what we need when we need it… daily bread. By giving us what we need in the present God invites us to always be present with Him. If He gave us everything we needed forever we would never need to return to Him. We have a loving dependence upon and with God our Father.

One of His great gifts and a gift He can adjudicate because He is King is our forgiveness, our pardon, our release from the burden guilt lays on our backs. This is one of our great needs… forgiveness, pardon, release.  God our Father and King lavishes this upon us for the asking.

God our Father will lead us in life and away from pitfalls if we ask Him. Remember He loves to be present with us. He also loves to guide us when He is with us, but He will not force His way, so He invites us to ask and He will lead us away from temptation.

There we have it… prayer in its essence…

Join me…


Praise be to You… hallowed be your name, your kingdom come

Give me that which I need today, food, shelter, work, companionship… Give us each day our daily bread.

Forgive my sins and lead me in right living and on a path that avoids sin… Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. Amen.



Saturday, March 18: Luke 10- A slap in the face from God.


Ugh. Sometime God just slaps me when I open His word. Today was just such a day. He slapped me with the story of the Good Samaritan. When my eyes first noticed the headline, I instantly thought, “Oh, I like this story.” Then as I read it, immediately the rancor of the political turmoil in our country over immigrants flashed in my eyes. Next thoughts erupted, “How would I react if Samaritan was changed to Muslim, and particularly a Muslim from one of those terrorist producing countries.”

Ugh, that’s when the slap of the Holy Spirit hit me.

Samaritans were hated by Israel, so to make His point Jesus puts a Samaritan in the lead role of His parable.

Today’s Samaritan might be a Muslim from Somalia!

Oh Lord, forgive me for my hardened heart…

for not treating everyone and anyone as my neighbor…

for selective love…

Help me, Lord, to love my neighbor as myself as You direct. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, March 17: Luke 9- .

There is so much content in Luke’s chapters I often do not know where to sit and meditate. I am struggling again with this today.

Oh Lord, as the sun is shining outside, may Jesus’ words shine into my heart and life…

After my brief prayer, I decided to meditate on the final vignette of the chapter.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (57-62).

I feel a bit inadequate or deficient in my discipleship as I read this account, particularly the two pointed comments by Jesus I put into read. Jesus is demanding everything, absolute allegiance. Having buried both parents and a mother-in-law in the last few years, I cannot imagine not being there to bury them. Jesus’ words seem harsh. Now maybe I am missing some cultural piece, but if the man’s father had truly just died, would Jesus reject him for taking part in family obligations of burial?

Then again, if his father just died, why is he there with Jesus at all… could this be an “I’ll follow you later, Jesus, when it is more convenient” comment?

Am I rationalizing this Jesus story or trying to make cultural sense of it? Sometimes it is hard to tell what is driving my reactions to the text.

Absolutes aside, Jesus is making a strong case for total allegiance to Him. Allegiance stronger that cultural and family bonds. Allegiance to Jesus that trumps any and all other human allegiances, stronger than

·         Family ties

·         National ties

·         Country of origin ties

·         Neighborhood, party, collegiate, race or ethnic ties.

Jesus is saying that my connection and following of Him is more important than anything else in my life.

This is so difficult to fathom as well as live out.

Even Paul recognizes that a husband has more responsibilities and pressures than a single person. And balancing these responsibilities affects service availability to King Jesus (read 1Corinthinans 7:32-35, particularly 33-34).

This I realize is where faith, listening to the voice of the Lord and understanding His word comes in. We need to be living in God’s will and following Him.  If He asks us to choose between Him and any other loyalty, we must choose Jesus.

Lord God, I lay down my life to You. I seek to be the best husband, father, pastor, human being I can be and following You is essential.  Should You call me to choose between obedience to You and cultural functions of any of my other facets of life, I pray for strength to follow You totally and unequivocally. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 16: Luke 8- You can be God's dearest family.

In the middle of this chapter filled to overflowing with Jesus’ exploits –teaching and healing –there is a pause in the action. During the pause Jesus makes a stunning statement. Listen as Luke records the event. 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” (19-21)

I allowed Jesus’ words to sink in. Everyone who is a true Jesus follower –hears and does His will –is His closest family. We are as close to Jesus as his mother and brothers. We are His intimate family.

There is no human closer to Jesus than you are if you listen to and do His will.

Do you care for your mom and siblings? I think we all do. That is the relationship Jesus uses to explain His care for you and me and everyone who hears and does His will.

As I sit I am humbled by Jesus’ love for me, for us, for his family.

I hope you are part of Jesus family, too…

Oh Jesus, thank you for this incredible statement of Your love for me, for us. Amen.


Wednesday, March 15: Luke 7- An act of grace.


I find the second story, the raising of the widow’s son (vv11-17) fascinating.

We know nothing about this woman beyond the basic facts that she is a widow and her only son has died. We don’t know if she is a faith-filled Israelite or not. Actually we don't even know that she is Israelite, except by inference… she lives in Israel.

She does not ask or beg for a miracle. We don’t know if she knew who Jesus was. She is simply a woman in grief with a low life status; she is a widow and now has no son to care for her.

Jesus makes the first move motivated by compassion, his heart went out to her (13), and so He acts. Sovereignly and decisively Jesus acts. Jesus interrupts the funeral procession and heals the dead man. Barely a word spoken to the widow and only a single command given to the dead man, Young man, I say to you, get up (14). The man sits up and speaks; he is alive.

What a crazy moment that must have been. At the word of Jesus a dead man is made alive. The apostles were likely as open-mouthed as the woman and the funeral procession.

Awe for God, wonder and praise rise up spontaneously. God gets all the glory.  The fame and news of Jesus spreads like wildfire.

What can I take into my life?

Jesus can and does work miracles and when He chooses, miracles happen.

Another thought is that I must be wary of creating some formula about how, why, and when Jesus acts miraculously. He acts at His own prompting. He acts according to His own will.

Oh, God, remove my unbelief… help me to believe You fully. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Tuesday, March 14: Luke 6- The upside down world of Jesus .

So much of this chapter presents the upside down world of Jesus.

This upside down world of Jesus is not a perfect world, or a utopia. Some people will take advantage of other people, evil exists and creates havoc and pain for others but the people following Jesus will (are supposed to) respond in beyond natural human ways. It is a world where the poor today are the rich of tomorrow, where love is a person’s response to evil people and their hurt-filled actions, and where the appropriate response to a curse is to bless. This upside down world of Jesus understands that the Sabbath is a gift to humanity and one aspect of loving God on the Sabbath is caring for a fellow human beings and relieving his/her suffering. It is a world where people stop judging and where forgiveness is a way of life.

Living the upside down life of Jesus takes guts. The Jesus-follower will at times, maybe often or even always, lose according to the rules of the normal world. Evil people may take advantage of her/him. This happened to Jesus. The Jesus follower may not amass wealth because they have helped those in need.  However, the Jesus follower will make the world a better place, a more loving place and a kinder, gentler place.

Thinking and writing all of this I realize I have a Long, LONG way to go to be like Jesus…

Oh, God, give me strength to live like Jesus, to live in the upside down world of Jesus teaches us about. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Monday, March 13: Luke 5- Working with the sick.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick (27-31).

This brief vignette has me wondering this morning…

Do I spend too much time trying to convince the healthy they need a doctor rather than spending time with the sick who need a doctor?

Do I spend too much time with people who have ready access to ‘doctors’ rather than going to places where people are desperate for doctors?

I am wondering if I spend too much on life living among ‘healthy’ people who have little or no spiritual need.

I don’t know. I am conflicted.

Where I live we have MANY wonderful doctors and although I am generally healthy, I do need my doctor and other specialist-doctors during every year. So, though I am generally healthy, I appreciate having doctors here when I need them. Then I travel to developing nations where there is a shortage of doctors and the need is HUGE. One doctor can make a difference for many, many people.

Jesus’ words have me wondering about living among people with spiritual needs… who are they and how can they be ‘found.’

I get the analogy; I am wondering about practical application and what God may be saying to me…

Lord, provide me clarity on this as I go about my day and ponder Your words more throughout my day. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, March 11: Luke 4- An opportune time.

Out of this entire chapter of miracles and teaching by Jesus it was the last three words from verse 13 that arrested my attention. When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time (13). The devil failing to entice Jesus to sin during his time in the wilderness continued to look for an opportune time to come after Jesus again.

I think the devil operates the same way today against all people. He looks for opportune times to entice us to sin. And this got me thinking, what might be my weak spots? What might be opportune times to entice me to sin?

When I am tired… I don’t think and act as I might when I am well rested.

The same goes for when I am stressed, or even sick, particularly when I am coming down with something and don’t yet recognize its effect on me.

I can tend to worry about money and finances, so a chink in my armor can be finances and the devil knows just how to nuzzle his pressures into those chinks.

I have immediate and negative reactions toward whining; so when someone whines to me I often react without grace.

I could continue… when I am anxious about time or pressured driving somewhere, these are more opportune times for the devil to prick and poke and entice me to selfish sin-filled behavior.

By naming some of my weaknesses I hope that I have taken the first step toward victory in these areas…

Oh Lord, help me face my true self and ask for help with my natural weaknesses and forgiveness for all the times I have fallen. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Friday, March 10: Luke 3- Different reactions.

I found myself thinking about the different reactions to John’s message. People who sat under his preaching took his message to heart and wondered, “What should we do?” (12).

People of all walks of life began wondering how John’s word applied to their lives, even tax collectors and soldiers –outcasts and disliked people –asked what they should do given their professions. And John told them. The implication of the text is that these people were spiritually hungry and they changed their ways.

But then the story continues, John confronted a person of power, a person who did not come to him. Instead it was someone whom John sought out. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison (19-20).

Herod’s reaction was quite different from the populous who sought John out.

Different people, different reactions.

I mused; the populous sought out John and were willing to change. However, John called out Herod who had no interest in changing and had power to do something against John.

Speaking to the spiritually hungry, witnessing to God’s way can be relatively easy and fruit blossoms.

But speaking to the spiritually closed, beware. They likely will not accept your words (judgments) and they may use their power to harm or stop you.

Even as I wrote the above I realized that the two statements above could lead me (us) to live ‘safe lives’ never speaking God’s prophetic words to a corrupt people or a corrupt generation. However, we must follow the leading of the Lord and when God calls us to speak to unsympathetic people or systems we must realize that sometimes we are a ‘John the Baptist’ –we will suffer earthy loss following Jesus’ heavenly directive.  Other times we may be ‘a Jonah’ seeing earthy fruit while following Jesus’ heavenly directive.

Note to self… follow the Lord’s direction and accept what comes whether good or bad. It is the Lord people are following or denying, not me.

Second note to self… make sure you are following the Lord’s direction and not some self-generated voice from within.

Oh God, give me ears to hear and a heart to discern YOUR voice, YOUR leading and YOUR call for my life today and every today You allow me to live this side of eternity. And Lord, also give me courage to follow wherever YOUR call leads and to accept whatever the outcome no matter how it affects me personally. I am willing to be a John the Baptist if that is YOUR call for my life. I pray in Jesus’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 name. Amen


Thursday, March 9: Luke 2-Treasuring Jesus .

The birth story is so familiar, I wondered if reading it would be the ‘same old’ but it wasn’t. It was as if the Lord had something new for me to see in His Word.

It is the idea of treasuring…

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (19).

But his mother treasured all these things in her heart (51b).

Twice in this chapter Mary takes the amazing and wonderful events of Jesus’ life and treasures them in her heart.

I found myself drawn into the idea of treasuring the things of God.

To treasure… to honor, to treat with great respect, to keep safe so as not to lose them, to delight and esteem with great value.

By putting them in her heart Mary is pondering them, chewing and ruminating on them. Again she is valuing them but valuing them in a manner that they get folded into her life. These events were not simply ‘things that happened one day.’  She kept them alive by thinking about them, probing them for meaning and significance and holding them in a way that as time goes by their significance is tied to and grows with the new experiences of Jesus she is treasuring.

Recently I read A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. In chapter 7 he talks about ‘the continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God… lifting the mind to ‘behold the Lamb of God,’ and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives.”

This I sense is what Mary did. She never stopped beholding the things her son Jesus did and said and she stored them, as a treasured possession, in the vault of her life.

Oh, to treasure Jesus and the things of Jesus. To be able to recognize His works in the world and to consciously store them so that they give strength and meaning and context to my life.  To be able to draw upon them for faith, for substance, for beauty, for wonder and for awe all my life long… such is the wonder of treasuring and pondering the things of Jesus.

May it be so, Lord. May I grow in my treasuring and pondering of Your great works and ways. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 8: Luke 1- The shine of God's presence.

I am breathless after reading this chapter. So much happens. God is on the move. I marvel at the intricate ways God is working to set up the birth of Jesus, the Redeemer.

Where to pause? Where to meditate? There is so much. Hmmm… life is like that.

There is always much more going on in life than on which we can focus. What we choose to consider and ponder is only a slice of all that is going on around us. This leads to a nudge from the Lord, “Bill, consider what you choose to dwell on in life. Look for My hand at work, see where I am spreading My good news and ponder that.”

I found myself being thankful for Theophilus. Beyond his mention here and in Acts he is an unknown person. And yet because of Luke’s desire to give him a firm and accurate grounding in the faith we have two majors works of the New Testament. Thank you, Theophilus, for your interest in the faith. Thank you, Luke, for desiring to disciple this dear brother. Thank You, Lord God, for inspiring these words, causing them to be so much more than history; they are Your very words to us about Jesus!

As I meditate on the Word, the sun has just crested the horizon of my yard. My family room is brimming with bright lights on this cloudless morning. My heart feels the same way. I feel as if the light of the Son Jesus is streaming into my life as I read about all the details leading up to His birth.  God is on the move. Good news is streaming forth…

And everywhere Jesus is shared and preached and lived, good news continues to stream forth. Halleluiah. It is a glorious day and I get to live it in relationship with my Lord and savior Jesus.

I hope you enjoy Jesus today, too…

Bless You, Father, bless You, Jesus, Bless You, Holy Spirit, for these words, this book and Your grace. Fill me today to be a blessing. Fill me with a passion for You and may my presence, my words, my actions be good news to the people I meet and interact with today. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, March 7: 2Peter 3- Scoffers.

There are many challenges for people who are trying to live faithfully. Yesterday we read about false voices that will try to lead faithful Christ followers astray. Today Peter warns about scoffers, people who don’t believe, will ridicule and make fun of Christ followers in the hopes of embarrassing us into unbelief.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? … (3-4).

Embarrassment is a powerful de-motivator. It can suck the life out of us. I know I have been there. I have felt the sting of intentional embarrassing comments about my faith. And sadly I have, at times, backed down or felt so insecure and belittled that I didn’t continue to witness in order to be a light for Christ in that moment.

Peter’s concern, I believe, is not so much momentary backing down –we all stumble and fall –as it is people who abandon their faith in Jesus all together because scoffing causes them to doubt and give up.

By God’s grace I have never given up the faith, but I still feel the sting of letting ridicule defeat me in a particular moment. Being scoffed at hurts. And as our world grows more secular the non-religious of the world will, with increasing ferocity, put down any and all religion. Christianity, as a dominant world religion and one committed to humility and non-retaliation, will likely face the brunt of the scoffers’ blows.

So I am finding Peter’s words powerful and convicting in light of world changes occurring. These ‘last days’ will present many faith challenges for those of us seeking to follow Jesus.

Oh Lord, give me strength to endure for You. Oh, Lord, help me to receive with more vigor your challenge to make every effort (1:5) in building and growing my faith. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, March 6: 2Peter 2- False voices.

Peter spends the entire chapter, about one-third of his letter, warning people about false teachers. People who secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them (1).

Truth is important. Right living is the goal, but truth is important.

Truth is like the foundation of a building. It is the anchor and support for the building. If the foundation is compromised, the entire structure is in trouble.  It may stand for a while but over time it will falter and be condemned.

So how can we tell a false teacher?

His/her truth and life.

Do they introduce destructive heresies… essential teachings that do not square with the Word of God? Peter mentions that some heresies can even go so far as to deny Jesus who bought them!

A second indicator is their lifestyle. What might some indicators be? Bold and arrogant (10b). Carousing (13). Greed (14).

Peter is not giving a comprehensive list, but painting a picture. Their lives do not mirror the fruit and character of Jesus the Lord.

If we follow such people we put our lives in peril because we emulate those we follow.

So the Lord whispers into my ear, “Who are you following? What are their teachings?  What does their life look like when examined?”

Who we are listening to matters. Think about it…

Lord, open my eyes to the people I emulate and listen to in my faith.  As a teacher keep me on the straight and narrow, that my teaching and life will build others up and point them to Jesus. I pray in His name. Amen.