Manna for Today

 

The Centurion and Community (Luke 7:1-10)

Then Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.  (Luke 7:1-10)

Learn it:

            Jesus finished up his sermon and moves on to visiting different cities.  He heads to Capernaum and there he is greeted by some “elders of the Jews”.  This may not have been unusual but their request was.  They come and ask Jesus if he would help a Roman Centurion.  This would be so unusual!  Jews and Romans hated each other, especially the military!  The Jewish elders say this man is worthy of Jesus’ time because he loves Israel and even contributed financially to building their synagogue.  Jesus hears them out and agrees to go and help heal the Centurion’s servant. 

            On their way to the house, a second group of people come and bring a message from the Centurion.  The Centurion does not feel he is worthy of Jesus to come to his house.  He understands authority and how people will do the will of their leader.  This leads to his faith being displayed that if Jesus says the word, he knows his servant can be healed without Jesus making the trip.  This amazes Jesus, you know the Son of God, and he says that a Roman Gentile has more faith than any in Israel. 

Live it: 

            The Centurion is a man that had a lot of character and good standing in the community.  He built a relationship with people who hated him by learning about their culture and then helping them improve it.  Through this, they went to Jesus on his behalf and Jesus agreed to help him.  We can learn a lot about living a life in the same manner.  We need to learn about people who are different than us and help them improve things that they value.  This is where a church can partner with their communities by volunteering to help clean up parks, help put on community events, or come alongside the school system and see how they can help.

            By serving we can build relationships and through that, we can show the love of God.  Hopefully by being the hands and feet of God people will ask questions.  Then we can point people to our Savior.  This is hard work and takes sacrifice.  But if we look at the example of Christ then this is what we are called to do.  This is what building the Kingdom of God looks like.  How can you play a small part in that mission?


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Fruit and Foundation (Luke 6:43-49)

 Posted on 2/13

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”  (Luke 6:43-49)

Learn it:

            Jesus ends his sermon on the plain with a way for people to tell if they are following his teachings.  The first lesson is how people can tell if someone might be a follower of Jesus and that is going to be by the works that they do.  He uses the example of trees and the kind of fruit they produce.  An apple tree will produce apples and an orange tree will produce oranges.  It only makes sense.  If someone is truly good, pursuing Jesus then they will produce good works.  It only makes sense! 

            Next, he gives a warning that those who claim to know him but do not obey his commands are going to be in for a tough time.  They are not building their life on a firm foundation and when the storms of life come their way they will struggle.  Yet, if someone does know Jesus and obeys his commands, they are building their lives on a strong foundation.  On that foundation, they will be able to withstand the storms. 

 Live it: 

             There are two things we need to examine in our own lives.  First, what kind of fruit are we producing?  Are we doing things that bring glory to God?  We need to look at how we are using our time, skills, and resources.  Looking at those things will give us a good picture of the fruit we are bearing.  This can be a humbling experience and hopefully, it will challenge us to be more selfless.

 

            The second thing we are to do is to find out what foundation we are building our life on.  Are we putting our trust in Jesus or in our self?  Do we find ourselves hoarding money and material possessions?  Do we find our security in our jobs?  Our trust must fully be in Christ and what he wants us to do.  Anything we build with our two hands is temporary and can fail us.  Christ is always with us and will give us the strength to get through the hardest of times.  I pray you are able to spend some time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the way you are living your life.  


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Leadership Qualities (Luke 6:37-42)

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  (Luke 6:37-42)

Learn it:

            In Jesus’ teaching, he transitions from loving our enemies to not judging others.  Not in the sense of a courtroom but how we look at our neighbors and critique how they live their lives.  One reason he gives us for not doing that is how we judge someone is how they will treat us.  He says that we should be forgiving others instead of judging them.  If we live a life forgiving other people, then we will receive the same kind of grace.  Jesus uses the imagery of how people would measure out grain when they would buy it.  A generous seller could really press down and pack a measuring cup, so you get more bang for your buck. 

            Jesus covers a lot of different areas, but they all fall under the umbrella of leadership.  He talked about not judging other people and then he talks about how we should lead other people.  We have to lead with our eyes open, focused on our heavenly teacher.  We also have to have humility and be working on our own weaknesses before we help someone else.  That is not being a good leader or friend.  We have to be working on our own life, aware of our faults.    

Live it: 

 

            We all are leaders in some way.  Whether in our families, jobs, church, or community we have people watching us.  Jesus has given us some guidelines on how we should live and how it will affect our relationships with others.  We need to be known as forgiving and generous people.  We can do that by being focused on Jesus and letting the Holy Spirit work in our own lives.  That is going to be the best way we can love and lead others.  How can you work on these qualities in your life?  Pray that Jesus would continue to mold you into his image so you can love those around you better.  


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The Call to Exceptional Love and Mercy (Luke 6:27-36)

27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

Learn it:

            In our culture love is a tingly feeling when we see someone that we are attracted too.  Love is a fleeting feeling that can be there one day and gone the next.  Jesus is challenging our view of love and makes it clear how we are supposed to live it out.  He tells his disciples to “love your enemies.”  Then he goes on to describe who your enemy is in case you are unsure.  It is the person that hates you, curses you, physically abuses you, and steals from you.  That is the person we are commanded to love.  We are to love them in a radical way.  We are called to care about them, pray for them, take their beatings, and sacrificially give to them.

            Why are we to do that?  We are supposed to be reflecting the character of God and standing apart from the world.  For the world will love those who love them, but Jesus wants us to love those who reject us.  It’s too easy to love and give to someone who will reciprocate the feelings.  We are called to live a life of sacrifice because we have something greater waiting for us.  We are called to model a life lived out by our Heavenly Father.       

Live it:

            Jesus calls us to a high standard of living.  This command calls us out of our comfort zone and to step into some awkward situations.  In our times our enemy is someone that does not follow Christ.  Christ is not calling us to go out and debate them into becoming a Christian.  We are to love them in real, practical ways.  We need to build a relationship with them so we know their needs.  Then we can begin helping them in whatever way we can.  Maybe it’s by cooking a meal, offering to babysit, or inviting them over for a game night.  These are simple ways to begin the relationship then figure out bigger steps you can take to really display the love of Christ to them. 

            Christ wants us to love people in such a way that they question why we are doing it.  That’s when we can tell them about our Savior.  Can you imagine if every follower of Christ lived a life like that?  I bet the reputation of the church in America would be radically different!  We would go from a religion that is known for what it hates to a group of people displaying the love of their God.  What small step can you take to love your enemy?


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Pastor’s Corner