Manna for Today

 

The Future Kingdom (Luke 17:20-18:8)

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

 Learn it:

            As Jesus is getting closer and closer to Jerusalem his warnings become more and more stern.  A Pharisee asks Jesus when his kingdom will come.  This is a natural question!  Jesus has been preaching about this future kingdom that is coming and of course people are going to want to know when it will arrive!  I don’t think people were ready for the answer to their question.  Jesus paints this bleak picture and there will false testimonies.  He compares the coming kingdom to the judgement days of Noah and Lot.  Those were some harsh times! 

            Life is going to be going along as normal.  People will be living and marrying.  Business will be going along with their normal things.  Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere the he will return and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  After this Jesus tells a parable to his disciples on how to endure until the coming kingdom.  He tells them to pray.  To be like the persistent widow and keep asking the judge.  Eventually the judge gave in to the widow and how much more will God listen to our prayers?  Prayer and hope are the most important tools we have as we wait for Jesus to return. 

 Live it:

            How do we apply Jesus’ teaching about the coming kingdom?  There are many passages in the Bible about the signs of his return.  It’s fun to examine them and apply them to our current times to figure out when he is coming.  While we need to know what the signs are it’s important that we respond to them appropriately.  It should lead us to wanting to spread the gospel to all the people we know.  We can see that the world isn’t getting better and sin is continuing to spread like wildfire.  We know that the end is going to look like and we should want to save as many people as possible from what is ahead. 

            While things look bad, we should be like the persistent widow.  We should all the hope that God is going to be faithful and help us.  He is always looking out for us.  We should also use the power of prayer.  Knowing that he hears them all and will respond perfectly.  Pray for his protection.  Continue to pray for the friend or family who continues to reject the gospel.  God hears them all and will give us what we need.  Pray today that God will use you to build his kingdom and bring others into a relationship with him!    


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Faith and Gratitude (Luke 17:11-19)

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  (Luke 17:11-19)

Learn it:

            People that had leprosy back then were often restricted to camps outside the city and were told not to mix with healthy people.  They were neglected and considered unclean.  It was a harsh life to live.  When this group of men with leprosy saw Jesus, they knew he was someone who would possibly show compassion.  They cry out to him and he responds by just telling them to go to the priests.  That was all they needed to hear, and they knew that they would be healed.  That would have taken great faith to do! 

            As the head towards the temple, one of the men recognizes that he is healed and turns back to thank God.  It turns out that this man is a foreigner!  How could someone that may not believe in Judaism and has been hated by Israelites turn and thank God?  We see that Jesus extends his grace to all people and even those that we may not expect will respond to that grace.  The foreigner not only receives physical healing but is commended for his faith.  He experiences a deeper change in his life than the other nine. 

Live it:

            The takeaway from this passage is that we are like the foreigner.  When we recognize something amazing happening in our life, we need to turn a praise God.  The fact that the other nine people did not return creates in our minds that nine times out of ten we will probably forget to thank God for the good things he does in our lives.  It’s often unintentional.  We get so excited that things feel our way and we celebrate with those that are around us.  In those moments, no matter who small they are, we should pause and praise God.  Recognizing that anything good we have in our lives is because of him. 

            One big way we praise God is by singing songs to him.  Ephesians 5:19-20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Singing songs is a great way of showing thanks to God.  One time a week that’s easy to do this is during a worship service.  It’s a time of focusing as a community on the goodness of God and what he has done for us.  Hopefully, we do more singing and praising outside of that hour each week!  We should continually be praising him because his grace never stops!  How can you incorporate more times of praising God into your life each week?


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Qualities of a Disciple (Luke 17:1-10)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

7 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”  (Luke 17:1-10)

Learn it:

            In this passage Jesus is giving some more guidance on how a disciple of his should conduct themselves.  There are four things he covers in this passage.  First, a disciple should not be a person that causes someone else to sin (1-3a).  We have to watch how we live our lives and make sure we are leading others in the correct teachings of Jesus.  There is a strong warning against those who do lead others astray.  Second, he commands us to forgive those who have repented of their sins (3b-4).  It’s easy to get caught up in not trusting someone after they have sinned against you, but if someone does genuinely confess what they did, we should welcome them back into the community.  Sure, there might be a period where they are taken out of certain roles, but we forgive them.  There should not be any more tests or holding their past over them.     

            Thirdly, a disciple must display faith in their life (5-6).  Jesus makes it clear that the size of your faith is not important.  The smallest amount of faith can overcome immeasurable circumstances.  All that matters is that faith is present in our lives.  Lastly, a disciple should live a life of service (7-10).  We should not be doing things because we will get rewarded in heaven.  We do the work of God because we love him and want to do what pleases him. 

Live it:

            Being a disciple of Jesus means we must live a certain way.  We must fight against sin, forgive others, live a life of faith, and serve others.  All of this means we must die to our self and fix our eyes on Christ.  When you look at the four characteristics Jesus talks about in this passage how are they seen in your life?  What ones are you weak in and which ones do you do well?  Take time to reflect on how Jesus is encouraging his disciples to live.  Pray that God would give you the strength to live a life pleasing to him and that he would give you opportunities to be obedient to his word.  Being a disciple means you are out doing things that are glorifying God.    


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Money and Compassion (Luke 16:19-31)

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”  (Luke 16:19-31)

Learn it:

            This story of the rich man and Lazarus comes at the end of a section where Jesus has been talking about money and how we can have a healthy relationship with it.  In this story we read about a rich man who continually ignores Lazarus, who is a poor man, who lives outside his house.  When they both die Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to hell.  The rich man is condemned because he has a lot of wealth, but he did not steward it well and was selfish with it.  He had a hard heart, and even while he was in hell, he was still wanted Lazarus to be a servant to him.  He still had this hard heart and had no compassion. 

            Once he realizes that there is no changing his predicament, he begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers.  He knows their hard hearts and wants them to be spared from a life in hell.  Abraham tells him that they have, what we call, the Old Testament to read and they will be spared.  The rich man still knows that they will ignore that, and they need something spiritual to happen in order for them to change their lives.  Abraham knows their hardness of hearts will still reject the message if someone were to be raised from the dead.  The original readers of this story know that for a fact because Jesus was risen from the dead and people still rejected him! 

Live it:

            In this story we, the readers, would be the brothers of the rich man who are blessed to be able to hear his message.  It gives us the opportunity to change our lives, so we do not end up in the same place as him.  One warning to be clear is that our works do not save us.  The Bible makes that clear in other places.  This passage is about how our faith should be lived out and they should reflect his character.  The gospel of Luke talks a lot about how we need to see opportunities to be compassionate and then take action.  This passage sends a warning that if you find comfort here on earth you will not have comfort in heaven, and the opposite is true.  I ask you, how comfortable is your life?  Are there ways you can give sacrificially?  As Christians our true reward is in heaven and that is what we are living for.  How can we display that truth in our life today? 


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Pastor’s Corner