Manna for Today

 

Dedication to Christ (Luke 9:51-62)

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Learn it:

            Jesus is beginning to set his focus on Jerusalem.  That is where he knows his ministry will reach its end.  As they are making their way there they stop at a town and the town rejects Jesus.  The disciples respond by asking if they should pray to God to destroy it!  We do not know what Jesus said when he rebuked them, but he did not want to destroy the town.  They just peaceably moved on to the next town. 

            As they were walking Jesus encounters a man and we learn from their discussion about what Jesus requires of a disciple.  We first learn that a disciple will have no home.  We are called to follow Jesus where ever that may be.  Second, we are to prioritize our relationship with Jesus over everything else.  Jesus used the unimaginable example of a son burying his father.  Jesus said that proclaiming the kingdom of God is more important than that!  Thirdly, we must be looking forward to the road ahead of us.  We can’t get consumed looking back at the work we have done.  Jesus is calling his disciples to be 100% dedicated to following him.    

Live it:

            Jesus is reminding us that we are going to be at odds with the world around us.  Some people are going to reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.  How we respond to that rejection is very important.  The disciples wanted to kill them because they rejected Christ.  How did Jesus respond to those nailing him to the cross?  How did Stephen respond to those that were stoning him?  They interceded on behalf of their enemies that God would forgive them.  How would you respond if someone does not agree with your beliefs?  How can you respond graciously?

            For us to respond graciously, we must have our eyes have to be fixed on Christ.  He must be the priority in our lives.  Following Christ must be above our comfort, our family, and our desires.  He is number one.  Anything else will not satisfy us and will lead to frustrations in our lives.  Are you completely dedicated to proclaiming the kingdom of God?  We proclaim the kingdom of God not just by words but by works as well.    


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Trusting Jesus Even in Confusion (Luke 9:37-50)

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

41 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.  (Luke 9:37-45)

Learn it:

            After Jesus talks with Moses and Elijah, he comes down off the mountain and is greeted by a large crowd.  There is a man who is trying to find someone to heal his son who is demon possessed.  He had already talked with one of the other nine disciples but none of them were able to cast out the demon.  When the man asks Jesus for help Jesus said, “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”  Jesus rebukes his disciples because they are not fully trusting him. 

            Jesus wants his disciples to understand that if they trust him, they can do anything.  When Jesus sees the boy coming, he rebukes the spirit and instantly the demon is gone.  Not only is the spirit gone but the boy is healed as well.  Jesus fully takes care of the boy.  At this the crowd marvels again and then Jesus tells his disciples for a second time that he is going to be betrayed.  The disciples are still unable to fully understand the meaning of what Jesus said. 

Live it:

            Jesus wants to use us to minister to other people.  It is up to us to trust him and take those steps of faith.  He is going to put us in uncomfortable situations.  We will feel like we are incapable to do what he is calling us to do.  The truth is, we are incapable of doing it.  We can only do it through his strength.  We must lean on him and be obedient to his will. 

            Not only that but Jesus is going to call us to follow him even if the future does not make sense.  He told his disciples that he was going to be betrayed but they didn’t get it.  This did not stop them from following him.  They continued to trust him and follow him.  In our life’s things may look foggy but we must trust him and keep following.  Things will all come into focus at some point.


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 Listen to Jesus (Luke 9:28-36)

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.  (Luke 9:28-36)

Learn it:

            Jesus takes Peter, James, and John go up with Jesus to pray.  We can only imagine they had no idea what was about to happen.  As Jesus was praying his face changes, his clothes changes and he becomes incredibly bright!  If that’s not enough, Moses and Elijah appear!  Then they are chatting about Jesus coming to earth and how he is the promised Messiah. 

            Can you imagine being one of the disciples waking up to Jesus talking with the Old Testaments two greatest leaders?  Peter is the first one to speak up and he wants to build these great men places to stay.  This is a way to honor them.  Luke is nice enough to let us know that Peter really had no idea what he was saying.  Peter was in shock and just wanted to do something good.  Then, as if the night is not weird enough, as Peter is speaking a cloud comes, a voice speaks, and then Jesus is alone.  Naturally, the disciples decide to tell no one what had happened.  Who would believe their story? 

Live it:

            What do we take away from this passage?  It’s easy to get caught up in trying to decide the importance of Moses and Elijah.  The real importance is we have more confirmation of who Jesus is.  He is the promised Messiah.  He is bringing fulfillment to Jerusalem.  He is the Son of God.  Now that we know who Jesus is, we have to do what God says in verse 35, “listen to him.”  We listen to Jesus by reading Scripture and spending time in prayer with him.  Once we hear from him, it then hits our heart and lead us to action.  If spending time with Jesus does not lead to us doing something, then we are not listening to him.  How can you actively listen to Jesus today?  


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Following After Christ (Luke 9:23-27)

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:23-27)
Learn it:

            Jesus just told his disciples that he is going to be killed and now he is telling them that they have to pick up their own cross.  This would have been hard for the disciples to process.  Back then, if someone was carrying a cross it means they have been convicted of a criminal act and they are on their way to die a gruesome death.  This is the mental image that Christ his disciples to do to their own desires if they truly want to follow him.

            Jesus is wanting them to understand the importance of eternity.  His ways are better than the ways of the world.  If we want to “save” our souls for eternity, we must follow the ways Jesus has taught us.  He also gives the implications of what will happen when we stand before God.  If we are ashamed of Him and His teachings, He will be ashamed of us.  It’s a hard thing to hear.  It is a matter of life and death for us to be pursuing the things God has command and things that bring glory to his name. 

Live it:

            The big question we have to answer from this passage is, what does it look like to lose our life for Christ?  Jesus commands us to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses.  These are some vague ideas!  Let’s start with the first one to deny ourselves.  We have to deny oneself we have to put the interests of others above our own.  For a neighbor, it means how can we serve them and show an interest in their life.  For a spouse, it means not just asking what can be done for you, but considering how one can be of help to his or her partner.  For God, it is not just about getting stuff from him, but spending time with him so he can guide you in his life. 

 

            Then to pick up our crosses mean we must be about the business of the Kingdom of God.  The world needs to know we are on a mission and we have been found guilty of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  It is not an easy calling, but we have a Savior that modeled it perfectly and we are called to follow in his ways.  Do your friends and co-workers know about your faith?  Are you picking up your cross daily?  


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Pastor’s Corner