Manna for Today

 

God Has Given You a Testimony (Luke 8:26-39)

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.  (Luke 8:26-39)

Learn it:        

            This is the fourth account in Luke of Jesus casting out demons.  What’s important about this one is that it happens in a Gentile region, so these people were not Jewish.  Also, the person possessed does not have only one demon, but many demons within them.  We read about how Jesus has great power and can cast them all out.  We see the physical effect of them being removed because they are cast into pigs.  This causes the pigs to panic and they all run into the sea and die.  But the man is not cured and calm once again.

            Do people respond to this miracle with joy and praise, that this man’s life has been restored?  No!  People are angry and ask Jesus to leave.  They recognize that Jesus is a powerful man and are afraid of what he can do.  Then the man Jesus healed wants to travel with Jesus, but Jesus has other plans for him.  Jesus wants him to spread the news in his hometown so others will know the name of Jesus.

Live it:

 

            In our culture, we do not see demon possessions like this often, if ever.  Yet we do see evil and how it affects people, whether in their anger, gossip, alcoholism, or drug addiction.  Satan is active in the world and in this passage, we know that Jesus is greater than him.  There can be healing.  We must trust and rely on him for his power to move in mighty ways.  Not everyone will acknowledge the truth of Jesus and people will reject him.  It does not mean we give up on them.  God will use the testimony of those whose lives he has changed to bring others closer to him.  What testimony has God given you?  How can you use it to share the gospel?


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Being a Part of the Family (Luke 8:16-25)

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  (Luke 8:16-25)

Learn it:

            After Jesus taught the parable of the sower he leads into another lesson about lighting a lamp and how a person wouldn’t hide it in a jar or under their bed (8:16-18).  It is to encourage people to be open with the gospel and not hide it from other people.  We need to be sharing it with other people.  There is also a warning in this section about how at some point everything will be revealed.  There is a subtle hint at an incoming judgment and people need to be thinking about their future. 

              Luke then moves into a story of where Jesus is being mobbed by a crowd of people.  While he is talking with them his mother, Mary, and his brothers show up wanting to talk with him but can’t.  We learn in this story that Jesus prioritizes his spiritual family over his biological family.  Jesus is consistently more focused on the work of his Heavenly Father than he is with his earthly family.  This is something that would challenge our social norms today and how we relate with our biological family and our church family. 

            The last story in this section is the story of Jesus calming the sea.  This story displays to us the authority that Jesus has over nature.  The apostles are truly amazed at Jesus and learned something new about him.  They had seen him cure diseases but the fact that he can control nature is taking his powers to a new level.  This led to a deeper level of faith for them. 

Live it: 

            In the first part of this section, 8:16-21, we have teachings from Jesus of how we are to live our lives.  We should be focused on living out the gospel in our lives.  We should not be ashamed of our faith but willing to let others know we believe in Jesus Christ.  If we do that, we know that Jesus will claim us as part of his family.  If we are about his business, he will claim us as our children.  How cool is that! 

            Then in 8:22-25, Luke moves into why we should want to be about the business of Christ.  It is because he has ultimate power over all things.  He is the Son of God.  Jesus’ claims to be God is absolutely true and we should believe what he is saying.  Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?  Then you should be playing your part in his family and sharing the gospel.  


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Responses to the Gospel (Luke 8:4-15)

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

“ ‘though seeing, they may not see;

though hearing, they may not understand.’

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  (Luke 8:4-15)

Learn it:

            As Jesus was out teaching a large group was gathering around him so he took the opportunity to teach this parable.  This parable to the crowd would have been a little confusing because they do not get the explanation that the disciples get.  The crowd is challenged with the task of searching out what the real meaning of the parable is.  This was a common practice of teaching that would weed out people who were following a popular trend.  It would force sincere learners to find out the purpose of the parable.  Could you imagine today of preachers taught this way?  I cannot imagine a lot of people sticking around if they were being taught in riddles! 

            The disciples were lucky enough to be taught what the meaning of this parable is, and by the grace of God, we too are able to know the meaning.  We read that Jesus is explaining what happens when the gospel is shared with a person.  First, we see the devil is a force that is trying to prevent people from accepting it.  Second, some people may respond well but then fall away because there is no depth to their faith.  Third, others will accept the word and begin walking in faith.  Over time their faith will plateau and will fall away.  Lastly, there those that receive the gospel, accept it, and begin to grow and mature in their faith. 

Live it: 
            This passage gives us understanding as to what happens when we share our faith with someone else.  I hope that we have all had the opportunity to do that.  But often we leave wondering if we explained it well enough and wondering if they will be in the good soil.  As many of us know, like planting a seed we will not see the results for a period of time.  Jesus’ teaching gives us some steps to take to help the gospel take root in a person’s life.
              First, we have to be in prayer that the devil will not lead the person astray.  This is first and foremost a spiritual battle we are engaging in when we are sharing the gospel.  To help prevent the other two scenarios we have to surround this person with community.  That way when hard times come, they will have Christian brothers and sisters to lean on.  Being in community will help remind the person not to chase worldly pleasures but to focus on God.  Community is an important way of helping a person stay committed to their faith and grow in maturity. 

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Women Funded Jesus’ Ministry (Luke 8:1-3)

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.  (Luke 8:1-3)

Learn it:

            In this short passage, we get a brief glimpse into other people that were with Jesus as he was traveling around Galilee.  We learn that Jesus was not just with his 12 disciples.  Jesus actually had some women that were traveling around with him.  This would have been so countercultural back then because women were to be primarily housekeepers.  It also would have been very scandalous for a Jewish teacher to even be talking with a woman.  Look at how the disciples acted when Jesus was talking with the woman at the well in John 4:27, the marveled at what Jesus was doing!  These women were right in the middle of the action and learning all about what Jesus was doing. 

            Not only were these women learning but they were also financially supporting his ministry!  Women did not make a lot of money so the fact that they were willing to give what they had was astonishing.  We also learn just a little bit of their background.  Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus when he cast several demons out of her.  Joanna comes from a high social class because her husband worked for King Herod.  We see that even in the women associated with Jesus they come very different social backgrounds and they are living and working together.  These few verses were so radical back then and should really challenge us in how we view women’s role in the church.

Live it: 

            Today, a lot of critics of Christianity have often thought that the church does not empower women enough.  They look at it as a male-dominated religion and women must be submissive.  While there are plenty of examples of churches throughout history doing that, it’s not entirely biblical.  Women played an important role in Jesus’ ministry.  They were traveling around with him and learning from him.  In churches today we need to understand that women play a vital role in the success of the church.  We need women stepping into different leadership roles.  While I do believe there are certain roles that are specified just for men, we cannot neglect the importance of their contributions to serving the local church. 

 

            Do you see women serving at your church?  Women, do you feel like there is a place for you serving in your church?  If not, talk with the leaders and see if there are opportunities for you to serve.  Women have often been encouraged to serve as over the children’s ministry or planning events.  These are very important roles, but women can also serve as worship leaders, leading missions, spiritual care or in finances.  Men, we need to make sure we are including women in playing a role in the church.  


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Pastor’s Corner