Learning From Luke: Ready, Set, Serve!

Ready, Set, Serve!

Luke 12:32-40

Thomas A. Kempis, author of Imitation of Christ, wrote,
“Jesus has now many lovers of His kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
He has many desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation.
He finds many companions of His table, but few of His abstinence.
All desire to rejoice with Him; few are willing to endure anything for Him or with Him.
Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion.”

Kempis reminded followers of Christ that we cannot call Him Lord if we’re unwilling to do what He expects of us.

Serving In God’s Kingdom Requires Us To Be

* Ready To Release ~ Luke 12:32-34

  • 32 Jesus addresses the idea that His listeners are anxious; He reassures them (and us)
  • 33 These instructions are for those who are WORRIED that they’ll somehow miss out on being a part of the Kingdom. Jesus doesn’t hate owning stuff – this is just a restatement about how to be rich toward God
  • 34 How can we detect where the focus of our lives lies? By noticing what we value.

* Ready To Serve ~ Luke 12:35-40

  • 35 Jesus moves from thoughts of finances to acts of service; BE READY
  • 36 Biblical concept is that the Master has only temporarily left, and that he’ll be right back; so we’d better be ready for His return
  • 37 an amazing thought- our Master will serve US, in response to our being ready to serve HIM
  • 38 remember, not just GET ready (prepare), and BE ready (participate), but STAY ready (persist)!
  • 39 This statement underlines the UNCERTAIN nature of God’s timetable
  • 40 we simply don’t know when we’ll be called upon, so we need to stay ready all the time to serve the Lord

What examples can we use to Get, Be, and Stay Ready to serve our King? Let’s borrow from our passage in Isaiah: Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Let’s live out these examples from God’s heart.

Learning From Luke: Storage Fees

Storage Fees

Luke 12:13-21
Today’s parable reminds me of the instructions on how to catch a monkey. Simply drill a hole in a melon just large enough for the monkey to insert its hand. The monkey will grab the melon seeds in it’s fist… and be unable to withdraw the fist through the hole. That monkey could be free anytime it liked… but it won’t let go of the seeds. How do you catch a monkey? With it’s own greed.

How Can We Tell Need From Greed?

* Free of Greed is Good ~ Luke 12:13-15

  • 13 setup: this man wants Jesus to force the issue found in Deuteronomy: 2/3 to elder, 1/3 to younger; implication- find a loophole to get me what I want (Jesus has shown Himself to be very good at finding new-to-them reinterpretations of the Law)
  • 14 Jesus reminds him (and us) that He’s not here to carry out legislative functions; we ought not to be using Jesus’ words to get our own way
  • 15 He cuts to it: GREED is behind this request; Jesus’ warning: don’t let addiction to STUFF be what defines you

* Fee of Greed is High ~ Luke 12:16-21

  • 16/17 With the thought of greed on His mind, Jesus tells this parable; an abundance of crops at harvest isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • 18 Notice the emphasis on “I” and “MY”?
  • 19 this rich man is trusting in his riches to provide; frankly, that’s God’s job!
  • 20 And God weighs in: “you trust in STUFF? What good will that do you now that your life is OVER?”
  • 21 Jesus WARNS the listening crowd (and hopefully, we’re still listening); “rich toward God” – how could anyone pay God? Answer: by sharing what you have with others who don’t.

God LOVES the poor, and advocates for them ALL OVER the Scriptures. We dare not ignore them and think God will be okay with that.

Learning from Luke: The Lord’s Prayer Parts

The Lord’s Prayer Parts

Luke 11:1-13

In the Luke 11 passage, the disciples were listening to Jesus pray, and even though He’d taught them (and demonstrated for them) about prayer, they once again don’t seem to “get it” like Jesus does. So, they ask. Again. Actually, that’s one of my favorite things that the disciples do – ask repeatedly when they don’t seem to be able to hold on to the lesson they’ve already been given. That gives ME hope for my own growth in Christ. Someday, like the Israelites who had fallen away from following God, we WILL BE completely able to follow the Master.

Until We’re Complete In Christ, We Can

* Learn the Parts of The Model Prayer ~ Luke 11:1-4

  • v1 Ask God to teach you through prayer
  • v2 Father- close relationship;
    hallowed- holy remembrance;
    your kingdom- submission to God’s will over your own
  • v3 dependence – daily manna
  • v4 Pulpit Commentary: “unforgivING is unforgivEN”;
    conditional nature to forgiveness, LET GO to receive;
    recognize we are VULNERABLE to temptation –
    God never leads us to be tempted (James 1), so this prayer is a reminder that we need to follow God’s holy directions instead of our own fallen nature

* Cultivate Use of the Model ~ Luke 11:5-8

  • v5/6 example of obligation; we are to care for others
  • v7/8 example of boldness; we don’t annoy God with prayer- God appreciates what would drive us to distraction!

* Keep the Context of the Model ~ Luke 11:9-13

  • v9/10 ask/seek/knock= increase in fervor; keep going in prayer!
  • v11/13 we don’t give rotten gifts, and we’re rotten ourselves – we know to give better than we are; in Matthew, God gives “good things”; Luke is more specific – God gives HIMSELF as our answer to prayer

What prayer could you possibly pray where God Himself showing up wouldn’t help? God is present EVERYWHERE: It’s up to us to NOTICE HIM.

#Learning from Luke, The Lord’s Prayer Parts, model prayer, models, components, parts, cultivate prayer, cultivation, prayer, importance of context

Learning From Luke: Serving While Distracted

Serving While Distracted

Luke 10:38-42

There’s a very good book I’ve been reading for the past year – Getting Things Done by David Allen. In it, Mr. Allen says that the way to get the important things of life done is to write down all those little things that so often vie for attention in your brain, thus freeing your mind to focus on the important stuff… Those of you who know me must by now realize that I haven’t finished the book…

As You Focus On Following Jesus, Consider

* Five(ish) Thoughts ~ Luke 10:38-42

  • 38 Remember? Jesus is doing the very thing He told the disciples – as you’re going, Look For Open/willing place/people
  • 39 Martha seems to have been the one to initially open her home to the Rabbi and his group; Mary just joined right into that crowd; BOTH women do something worthy of copying!
  • 40 A) Martha’s distraction shows that she wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet, too!
  • B) Martha is just getting to know Jesus- that’s why she asks “don’t you care”- people just meeting Jesus for the first time don’t know how much He cares
  • 41 Martha thinks that she has to do a lot of things to impress Jesus; but she’s reminded that her “many things” aren’t as important as she thinks they are. Do we worry like that?
  • 42 Mary chose better: to listen to Jesus

A simple reminder: don’t obsess about your “many things” to impress God. Just listen to Jesus.

Learning From Luke: Love And The Loophole

Caution Signs on the Road to Caring: Arrogance Off Course (Luke 10:25-28)
Caution Signs on the Road to Caring: Actions To Course Correct (Luke 10:29-37)
Let’s realize that neighboring is a VERB, directly tied to Acts of Ongoing Mercy

Love And The Loophole

Luke 10:25-37

Loophole – what a fun word. It means an absence or something vague in a law that allows a way to get around the intent of that law. What’s REALLY fun – for me – is it’s ORIGINAL idea; it was the slit in a castle wall which allowed archers to shoot arrows through. Sometimes looking for a loophole is innocent… but many times, it’s an expression of “offense”, as it were – a way to get one’s own way regardless of the circumstances. We see this in the text:

Caution Signs on the Road to Caring

* Arrogance Off Course ~ Luke 10:25-28

  • 25 “by doing WHAT shall I inherit”- expert tests about DOING right things
  • 26 Jesus’ focus on knowing GOD’S WORD
  • 27 expert gets the “right” answer, and the BROADer answer – expert knows the text
  • 28 “do this” – verb form indicates Jesus was saying, “sure, do that Law perfectly now and forever, and you shall live”

* Actions To Course Correct ~ Luke 10:29-37

  • 29 “expert” knows he can’t do the Law perfectly, so he starts looking for a loophole
  • 30/32 the Priest & Levite both refuse to help for the same reason: “half-dead” (unique word in all of NT); they put their own ceremonial cleanliness as more important than touching a person who MIGHT be dead – plausible deniability!
  • 33/35 Samaritan isn’t supposed to KNOW any better – ignorant of the Law and traditions – and yet he actually carried out acts of mercy: pity prompted compassion; rendered first aid; then transported to heal and rest; personally nursed, and then provided for more care when he had to leave; MERCY HAS A PLAN, it’s more than just feeling pity
  • 36/37 Notice the expert WON’T say “Samaritan”; Jesus’ response: YOU go DO the same stuff

=> A.T. Robertson, commentary author, wrote: “This parable of the Good Samaritan has built the world’s hospitals and, if understood and practised, will remove race prejudice, national hatred and war, class jealousy.”

Let’s realize that neighboring is a VERB, directly tied to Acts of Ongoing Mercy.

#Learning From Luke, Love And The Loophole, #Year C, Caution, Caution signs, arrogance, off course, course correction, correction, love in action, acts of mercy, ongoing mercy

Learning From Luke: Sent Seventy-Two

The Messiah’s Mission For Us: Sent to Share the Truth (Luke 10:1-11)
The Messiah’s Mission For Us: Sent to Set Up the Kingdom (Luke 10:16-20)
God lets us use His power and authority to get His work done for His glory. Always all about Almighty God!

Sent Seventy-Two

Luke 10:1-11; 16-20

I was reading an article about how United States military personnel were to conduct themselves while in action. I found it especially interesting that every military individual is under orders to NOT obey unlawful, illegal orders. This requires them to know 1) what is the objective of a certain military operation, and 2) what is not allowed in that area of operation. Knowing our orders, and how to live them out, is crucial for our mission as well…

The Messiah’s Mission For Us:

* Sent to Share the Truth ~ Luke 10:1-11

  • 1/2 “advance troops” Jesus had sent out 12 Disciples, and then Mt. Of Transfiguration; God’s kingdom on earth was being made known, so Jesus sends His followers with specific instructions
  • 3/4 Notice the attitude they’re to have: TRUSTING God
  • 5/8 trust God that they will be at peace as they minister; that they will be fed
  • 9 heal sick; proclaim the Kingdom (I think these are more closely connected than we often realize today)
  • 10/11 Attitude dealing with rejection: THEY are not being rejected, GOD is. The “shake the dust off” is a symbolic warning (when Hebrews would travel among the goyim, they would shake the dust off their feet from their travels – to have the 72 do this to THEM is to signal to them: “you are no better than the Heathen in the rejection of God’s work among you”)

* Sent to Set Up the Kingdom ~ Luke 10:16-20

  • 16 theological equation: your words are My words; reject them, reject Me; reject Me, reject GOD
  • 17/19 when the 72 come back, they’re excited because of what “they” can do – and Jesus sets them straight: His authority is given TO OVERCOME THE ENEMY – we’re not to be doing church-y stuff just because we can, but because we are participating in building the Kingdom of God here… and we WILL be opposed as we do it!
  • 20 So the point isn’t to rejoice in Gods-power-on-loan-in-us as we work… but that it means we belong to God our Father!

God lets us use His power and authority to get His work done for His glory. Always all about Almighty God!

Learning From Luke: From Man To Ham

To Arm Against Scratch Attack: Four D’s of Satan’s Strategy (Luke 8:26-33)
To Arm Against Scratch Attack: Three Reactions To God’s Work (Luke 8:34-39)
Jesus is STILL setting people free; if you’re stuck in sin, ask God for intervention, to set you free today!

From Man To Ham

Luke 8:26-39

Embarrassing story: Ed tries to cast out a demon as seen through a distorted bathroom window – it’s actually a Chrysanthemum. Knowing about the Enemy’s schemes is a good idea (“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Pet.5:8-9)

To Arm Against Scratch Attack:

* Learn Four D’s of Satan’s Strategy ~ Luke 8:26-33

  • 26/27 Demon possession~ it’s REAL; doesn’t happen to Spirit-filled believers
  • 28/29 Demon submission~ the demon REBELLED against God, and doesn’t want to be punished for it; submits to Jesus out of fear, not reverence
  • 30/31 Demon destination~ A) wandering around Earth, looking for a dwelling place in those without the Spirit;
    B) Abyss (Rev.9:1), general word for place for the dead, which has within it Hades (for dead non-Hebrews), Gehenna (for dead evil Hebrews- Mark 9:47–48), and Tartarus (for demons – 2Pet2:4) once there, they’re stuck until judgment; eventually the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)
  • 32/33 Deviled ham~ this is the only instance in Bible of animial possession; begs the question WHY would Jesus allow this? First, the demons aren’t allowed to wander- stuck in the pigs; Second, Jesus is JEWISH – He doesn’t really care that the pigs will be drowned; Third, demons are predisposed to cause mischief and harm as a way of intimidating humans (we’ll talk more on that next section)

* Three Reactions To God’s Work ~ Luke 8:34-39

  • 34/37 afraid of what? demons seek to deceitfully manipulate them to do their will rather than God’s (2 Timothy 2:26); demons have “the power of death” over them and therefore use people’s “fear of death” to maximum advantage (Hebrews 2:14–15)
  • 38 man’s request, once free: to become a regular follower of Jesus (a very good impulse!)
  • 39 Jesus’ response: minister where you ARE; consider all those who knew how you were formerly a slave to sin, and how you’ve been set free – what a witness!

Jesus is STILL setting people free; if you’re stuck in sin, ask God for intervention, to set you free today!

A Life Built By Wisdom ~ Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

A Life Built By Wisdom

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

I engaged in a conversation this week with a number of people who are convinced the world is in a dead-end situation… but that people are basically good at heart. When I pointed out the contradiction, they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand. They had some knowledge, but very little wisdom to offer in plans to rebuild a better society.

To Build A Wise Life, Learn

* What Wisdom Wants ~ Prov.8:1-4

  • 1 Wisdom wants us to know her (don’t get hung up on female language here)
  • 2/3 Two main theories: 1) Wisdom refers to Jesus Himself; 2) Wisdom is personified as female, often compared to female goddesses outside of Judaism
  • 4 We are intended to listen to God’s Wisdom, to learn and implement it in our own lives

* What Wisdom Isn’t ~ Prov.8:22-26

  • 22 Wisdom is CREATED (so isn’t Jesus)
  • 23 the first creation of God with a job (appointed by God, so isn’t non-Jewish goddess)
  • 24/26 Wisdom predates matter; God had Wisdom in mind before He spoke “stuff” into being

* What Wisdom Is ~ Prov.8:27-30

31 Our lesson from Wisdom: do what She does – rejoice in God’s world, and all the people in it

#Pentecost Year C, A Life Built By Wisdom, #Year C, wisdom, better life, learn what is wise, do what wisdom does

The Language of Adoption ~ Romans 8:14-17

The Language of Adoption

Romans 8:14-17

Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit showed up and empowered Peter to preach a message that led over 3000 people to Christ. When the Spirit empowers us, CHANGE HAPPENS! So… what does it mean when change **doesn’t** happen?

If You’ve Been Brought Into God’s Family

* Surrender to Spirit Is Central ~ Rom.8:14

led by the Spirit are sons: indicates a conditional truth – if you’re living by your fleshly desires, you’re not being controlled by the Spirit (which is an act of surrender); indicative:
IF you belong to God, you WILL/MUST surrender to and be controlled by the Spirit

* Forced Faith Is False ~ Rom.8:15

“spirit of fear” if a person is being abused, they will not live in emotional ease, but TENSION. If one is being FORCED to OBEY, they won’t have warm fuzzy feelings for the enforcer.
NOTICE: Abba father – Daddy – very intimate endearing term: our great and awesome creator God of the Universe is DAD

* Empowered to Practice Piety ~ Rom.8:16

Also conditional/indicative: God the Spirit confirms IN YOU that you belong to Him because of what you are enabled to do;
(cf 1 John 3:24: “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”) IF one belongs, one is empowered to obey.
IF one is not able to obey God’s requirements (to put on Christ), then that one does NOT belong to God as a son or daughter. They are still a SLAVE to sin if they’re consistently choosing to live in it!

* Attached to Anointed One For Access ~ Rom.8:17

co-heris w/ Christ: what do we inherit WITH Jesus – begs the Question: what did Christ inherit? Phil 2 shows us He let go of equality with God and took on the form of a servant; when that servant/human form died & was resurrected, He was RESTORED to FULL ACCESS to God.
THAT is what we will inherit as well; not equality with God (we don’t become gods) but we are no longer SLAVES; we are seated at the family table; if we share in His sufferings (of being a human surrendered to God), then we will share in His glory.

Ask yourself: am I stuck living in sin, and I just can’t get free? Only way to get UN-stuck: surrender completely to Christ!

#Pentecost Year C, The Language of Adoption, #Year C, family, spiritual surrender, surrender, fake, fake faith, fake news, power, empowered, practice, piety

Called For A Gift of Life ~ Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Called For A Gift of Life

Rev.22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Birthdays can be very different, depending on where you’re at in the timeline of your life. I have memories of a few birthday celebrations that were great… and I have memories of where the day passed almost without recognition by anyone (myself included). And yet, there are some gifts worth waiting for that are so far beyond…

The Final Gift of God

* The Beginning of the End ~ Rev.22:12-14

  • 12 Note: this is AFTER the Judgment; these rewards are BEYOND salvation; (cf 1Cor 3:11-14) for GOD’s glory, not ours
  • 13 reminder: EVERYTHING begins and ends with Jesus!
  • 14 The other shoe finally drops: Garden of Eden, Tree of Life – we FINALLY get to receive the rest of the initial intended promise of Life with God forever

* The Middle Before The End ~ Rev.22:16-17

  • 16 “for the churches” Warden Community, pay attention, this is FOR YOU: God promised to David that there’d always be a descendant of his on the Throne
  • 17 note the response: Spirit & gathered church call to the reader: Come to Christ! READER responds: Come to me! Spirit calls ALL to repentance (John 16:8), but not all respond (2Pet 3:9) – God never FORCES us, but draws us

* Agreeing With The End ~ Rev.22:20-21

  • 20 The reminders we need DAILY: Jesus keeps God’s promises, and He is coming back!
  • 21 This is what we hold on to in the meantime: God’s grace for God’s people.

Let’s extend that to all we meet, whether or not they’re a “part” of our congregation. We ALL need reminders that Jesus loves us, and wants the best for us.


Pastor Ed Backell

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