Manna for Today

 

Blessings and Woes (Luke 6:12-26)

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

           “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21        Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

            Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

22        Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

24        But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

25        Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

            Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

26        Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:17-27)

 

Learn it: 

            As we continue through Luke, we read about Jesus picks his 12 disciples and then he goes into a sermon message.  This is similar to the Sermon on the Mount that we read in Matthew chapter five, but Luke’s version is a lot shorter.  Jesus begins his sermon with four blessings.  People who began to follow Jesus were typically among the outsiders of society.  If Jews decided to follow Jesus, they would be cut off for their community in hopes of bringing them back.  That is why Jesus is encouraging them by sayings blessed are those that are poor, hungry, weeping, and when people hate you.  It’s all things they are going through. 

            He then goes through four woes that reflect the blessings.  If someone is rich, well fed, joyful, and well-liked they need to examine their lives.  In between the blessings and woes, there is another verse.  This verse is the main point of what Jesus is hoping they will learn.  He wants them to be focused on eternity and find their true happiness there.  Earthly things will pass away but we have a great reward in heaven. 

 

Live it: 

 

            Whatever is currently going on in your life, whether it is good or bad, your joy needs to be found in heaven.  We may struggle to pay bills, find enough food or go through some difficult relationships but we must trust and believe that God is going to get us through it.  Whatever present suffering we may endure we know that heaven will absolutely be worth it.  Sometimes life can get so hard that it’s hard to imagine things getting better.  That is why Jesus gave us the church, so we have a community of believers to surround us and encourage each other.  If you are going through a difficult time, tell someone.  You do not have to go through it alone on your own strength.


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Jesus is Lord over All (Luke 6:1-11)

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.  (Luke 6:1-11)

Learn it:

            Luke is going through stories of how Jesus relates to his opponents.  The Pharisee’s condemned who Jesus spent his time with, they did not like how his disciples were not fasting, and now they are challenging how Jesus spends his time on the Sabbath.  For Jews, the Sabbath was a day of rest and there were many rules and traditions for people to follow. 

Luke gives us two stories of how the Pharisee’s were watching Jesus and his disciples closely.  We have a story of them picking grain from a field and eating it, and another story of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath.  We see Jesus was again challenging people’s understanding of God’s law.  Where they so focused on following the law, they forgot how much God loves people.  Pastor Harry Ironside wrote, “The point the Lord Jesus was emphasizing is this that man is more important in the eyes of God than any ritual observance.”  This is why the Pharisee’s got so angry because their hearts were not on God but on themselves. 

Live it: 

            When we read the Bible and apply it to our lives, do we do it in a legalistic way or do we do it with the love of God in mind? The Bible tells us time and time of again of the amazing grace and love of Jesus Christ.  It also tells us about different types of sins that we must stay away from and how we should live a life of holiness.  How do we best love other people, do we condemn them for their disobedience, or do we point them to the one that can love them perfectly? 

 

            There tend to be two different kinds of churches.  Churches that focus on strong Biblical teaching, preaching the gospel and the need for repentance, yet their outreach ministries are weak.  Then there are other churches where they have strong outreach ministries, meeting needs in the communities, but people say their teachings are “weak” or “watered down”.  What we need to strive for is to do both.  I think most people will agree with that, but it is a challenge to find that perfect balance.  (Please know this is a generalization and I am sure there are plenty of churches doing both really well, but typically a church will favor in one direction or the other.)


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Sometimes a New Way is Better (Luke 5:33-39)

They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”  34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

 36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”  (Luke 5:33-39)

 Learn it:

             Luke continues the story of Jesus interacting with the Pharisee’s at Levi’s party.  The Pharisee’s then brought up the topic of fasting to Jesus and why his disciples were not doing it.  By this time fasting was a very important part of the Jewish tradition.   Fasting would be a time where someone would show sorrow for their sin and they would typically fast two days a week.  The Pharisee’s were curious as to why Jesus’ disciples were not showing remorse for their sins. 

            Jesus responded by saying that his disciples should be joyful because the bridegroom is currently with them.  It was not the time for fasting but the time for rejoicing.  This is a major shift in how the Jewish leaders would understand fasting.  Jesus tries to help them understand by giving three quick examples of how “new” and “old” things do not always mix well.  He is explaining that his teachings are not a patch that can be applied to Judaism, but it is something brand new.  Jesus ends with a little jab at the Pharisees by saying how some people will prefer the old wine compared to new wine.  He is implying that some people will always want to hold on to the past when they are presented with something new. 

 Live it:

             For a short passage, there is a lot packed into it!  The main thing we can learn from the Pharisee’s is we have to be careful how we hold on to our old traditions.  For the Pharisee’s they were holding on to their traditions in fasting.  In the Mosaic Law they were only required to fast once or twice a year, but through traditions, it eventually changed to twice a week!  We have to hold our traditions, whether it is how a Sunday morning looks or how we do different ministries at the church, with open hands.  Being willing to change if we see we are not being effective anymore. 

            Jesus was not throwing out the practice of fasting completely.  He wanted his disciples to fast when he left.  He wanted to renew how they fasted and what it meant.  We still fast to show express repentance from our sin.  Then we move into a celebration because Christ came and brought forgiveness!  We are not stuck in a process of continually mourning our sins.  We want to live a life of joy.  Our traditions can be good, and we need to make sure that they lead us to celebrate Christ.  We also need to be sure people are still connecting with their original purpose.  Sometimes we need to breath new life into them to help people reconnect with God.  


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Jesus’ Purpose (Luke 5:27-32)

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  (Luke 5:27-32)

Learn it:

            The next story Luke includes after Jesus heals and forgives a paralyzed man is the calling of the disciple Levi.  Levi was a tax collector and this profession was looked down upon.  Nobody liked them and today they would have had the same social category as pimps or informants.  This is a guy Jesus comes up to and says, “Follow me.”  Obviously, word had gotten around about who Jesus was, and Levi immediately followed Him leaving behind his career, which probably paid him pretty well.  It would have been a huge sacrifice for Levi to do this. 

            Levi throws a big party for Jesus and a bunch of Levi’s tax collector friends show up and other people.  While this party is going on the Pharisees, aka the religious leaders, were watching and judging the people Jesus was hanging out with.  Jesus responds to their question telling them it is the sick that need a doctor’s help, not the healthy.  He has come to save those that are lost.  Jesus did not come to save the proud or those who believe they are without sin.

Live it:

            What Jesus said is the best news for us. The only hurdle is that we must first recognize our need for a savior.  The tax collectors and “sinners”, as the Pharisee’s called them, were probably aware of their faults.  Being outcasts in society and always looked down upon.  We need to see that we are desperately sick and need a relationship with Jesus.  And what’s awesome is that Jesus wants to spend time with us and make us better.  That is his purpose for coming.  He came so that we may know him and believe in him.  Praise God!

 

            If Jesus can call Levi, change his life and use him in mighty ways.  How can God use you?  He can transform your life, shape you and mold you into his image.  It is up to us to be obedient to Jesus and respond to the call his has put on our lives.  How can you, like Levi, leave behind your former way of life and glorify God?  Levi did it with a party.  How can you use the ways God has blessed you to bless others?  


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Pastor’s Corner