The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John


July 2020:




Jonathan Norton

July 1-3 Mark 14-16


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Rev. JT Overby

July 6-10 | Luke 1-5


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Dr. Craig Bowers

July 13-17 | Luke 6-10


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

July 20-24  Luke 11-15


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Jonathan Norton

July 27-31 |  Luke 16-20





  • July 1, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Mark 14

     

    In verses 12 – 25 we read about the Passover with the disciples and the institution of the Lord’s Supper. When remembering the Passover, it is important to understand its purpose was a look back on the past (Exodus 12:14) and it was also a look forward to the coming Christ (Luke 22:15). It was no coincidence that Jesus chose this way as His last meal on earth. He was saying the Passover would be fulfilled (1 Corinthians 5:7)

     

    The blood of the Passover lamb delivered the Israelites from slavery.


    The blood of Jesus sets us free from slavery to sin.


    The blood of the first Passover lamb saved the Israelites from judgment for 1 night.


    The blood of Jesus sets us free of judgment forever!


    The word “Passover” does not mean we escape judgment because we are worthy. It means He chose to Passover you. And only if Jesus’ blood is applied to the “door posts” of our heart, will He Passover us on His last judgment day.

     

    What about the Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Supper is not a requirement of salvation. It is an outward sign proclaiming that in our heart, we have taken in the body and blood of Jesus. By this we affirm that we believe Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sin. The Lord’s Supper replaces Passover. The Lord’s Supper is greater than the Passover. It does not require a trip to Jerusalem, it does not have a law about how often to perform it, it’s a joyful experience and no lambs are slain. The Lord’s Supper (like the Passover), looks back and looks forward.  It is simply an outward communion, as a reminder and a proclamation that we have communion with God in our hearts. Communion is defined as a sympathetic interaction or conversation between friends.

     

    Think about Jesus eating the Lord’s Supper… He loved us enough to eat with sinners, He loved us enough to die for us, He loved us enough to save us and He still loves us enough to have communion with us.



  • July 2, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Mark 15

     

    Two remarkable events occurred the moment Jesus died on the cross. First, there was an earthquake (Matthew 27:51), and second the veil in the temple was torn. There had been an earthquake at Sinai when the law was given (Exodus 19:16-18), but now the law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice Jesus had purchased freedom from the law.  

     

    This veil in the temple was not just a simple type of curtain. It was an elaborate veil with elegant embroidery that had been handmade. According to Jewish tradition, this veil was 30 feet wide, 60 feet high and made of extremely thick material. It was beautiful. The veil had separated man from God, but now, through His death, Jesus had permanently removed that barrier. When Jesus breathed His last breath, the veil was not ripped a little, which no human hands could have done. It was torn from top to bottom like a divine sword had sliced through it. This veil was made to keep sinful humans out of God’s presence. But now, when Jesus paid it all on the cross, the sacrifice has been made, our debt has been paid and the blood of the lamb of God has been poured out once and for all to cover the sins of the world. Now we are invited into the Holy presence of God.

     

    Hebrews 10:19-23 – “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.          

     

    Praise God for the confidence we have in drawing near to our Lord and to know we can walk in His Holy presence daily.  

             



  • July 3, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Mark 16


    We close the Gospel of Mark with his view of the resurrection of Jesus. As believers, we must grasp that the resurrection is just as critical to the Gospel as His sacrificial death on the cross. A dead savior cannot save anybody. The resurrection proves Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

     

    When I read verses 9-13, I cannot help but think what Mary Magdalene and the two disciples must have been thinking when Jesus appeared to them. I think we all would agree that it is one thing to hear the story of Christ’s resurrection, and something much more personal to meet the risen Lord face to face. For when you meet Him, you certainly want to share it with others. We read in the other gospels that their response was that they ran to tell others. I think we all would and we all should be continuing to run tell others each day.

     

    I believe it is fitting that Mark, who emphasized the servanthood of Christ, would end his gospel with a reference to His work and the Great Commission. By His Holy Spirit, the Lord wants to work in us (Philippians 2:12-13), with us (Mark 16:20), and for us (Romans 8:28). He commands us to serve Him by continually going to tell others about Him.               

     

    Lastly, let’s look at the consistency of God’s Word in that the gospel of Mark parallels Philippians 2. 

     

    Jesus came as a Servant (Mark 1-13 and Philippians 2:1-7)

    Jesus died on the Cross (Mark 14 & 15 and Philippians 2:8)

    Jesus was exalted to Glory (Mark 16 and Philippians 2:9)   

     

    It is good for us to pause and give thanks for the Bible. When we reflect on how it was written and why, God’s Holy Word is simply amazing and something we should never take for granted.


    Prayer:

    Lord, thank you for Your Resurrection and Your Holy Word! May we be running to share both with others each day we are on this earth!

     



  • July 6, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 1

     

    In Luke 1 we see countless Old Testament themes, stories, and hopes beautifully brought together. Let’s draw on a few to set our mind on the Lord in Luke 1.


    In Luke 1, we see Zechariah going to the temple to offer incense, a symbol of the people’s prayers before the Lord, yet it is God who will do the speaking. Zechariah and his barren wife Elizabeth will bear a son. The Lord is going to send a him as a prophet to prepare the way for the Lord to come. He will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet, but Israel ultimately rejects Elijah and God’s word through Elijah. Will the people of Israel reject his word as well? Zechariah and 
    Elizabeth are of the tribe of Levi, the priest-tribe whose job it was to be intercessors before God and the people. Would John be the great intercessor?


    The themes grow. We see an angel come to Mary who is descended from David, and who is betrothed to a man from the line of David—the royal line. God is going to give the virgin Mary a son.  Mary’s son will be called Son of the Most High and will reign forever and ever, bringing salvation and deliverance for Israel. The hope of the Old Testament and all the prophets are going to be fulfilled!


    What will this mean for Israel? Will they listen to John? And will they accept this new King to come from Mary? Will they turn to the Lord as He comes to them? When we are confronted with this King, what will we do with our lives? Love Him, bow down to Him, and submit all we are to Him? Or will we keep some of our lives back from Him, and hold on to what we can from the world?

     



  • July 7, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 2


    Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ is born! At His birth it seems like all heaven is bursting forth in praise. Unable to contain the joy at what is happening, they must share, speak, and sing of this great truth! Heaven’s heart is overflowing in praise at the majesty and wonder of God.

                     
    Mary and Joseph encounter a man named Simeon who was told that he would not die until he saw the Christ. He takes Jesus, an infant, up into his arms and proclaims that he is beholding the salvation of God for Jew and Gentile.


    What are the angels singing and speaking about? What do the shepherds come to see? What is Simeon seeing when he worships and praises God for bringing salvation? A baby. Through what is weak in the eyes of the world, the Lord will bring salvation. God himself comes in human flesh, taking upon Himself the weaknesses of human flesh, and will become a servant to all.


    12-year-old Jesus goes missing after Passover. His parents find Him on the third day and they ask Him what He thinks He is doing. He is about His Father and His Father’s work. Later in Luke, we will see Jesus is taken from His people as He is laid in a tomb after Passover. On the third day we see two disciples walking along, grieving the loss of Jesus. This time Jesus Himself reveals to them how it was necessary for the Christ to die, to be raised in order to bring salvation, and accomplish the Father’s works.


    Heaven overflowed with praise at the birth of Jesus. The birth means nothing apart from the life, death, resurrection, and ascension. We believe in that truth. Are our hearts overflowing with praise, that we just have to share the Good News and sing God’s praise to the world around us?



  • July 8, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 3

     

    Luke 3 sets the table for the world that Jesus is coming into. The political parties are all set. The religious parties are present. Why would Luke give us all this detail?

                     
    Everyone wants power, influence, and control. And every person since the fall has thrown off God’s authority over their lives and sinned against Him. Into this political and religious storm, comes John the Baptist. He doesn’t just come as any old prophet, even though that would be significant in and of itself. He comes as one preparing the way for Yahweh to come, the one true God, the Sovereign over all creation. How would these authorities respond to this proclamation and to Yahweh when He does reveal himself?


    We get a taste of it in Luke 3. Herod throws John in prison. The rebellion continues. But it was never about John, but rather about the one John spoke of, the Son of God. We see a man named Jesus baptized by John and then something strange happens. The heavens open and the Spirit descends like a dove, and a voice declares that this is the Son of God! Luke then details a genealogy showing us just that.


    One has come in the line of David, Abraham, and Adam. He comes in the line of the great King of Israel’s history. He comes as a descendant of Abraham, the patriarch who was blessed so that he might be a blessing to the nations. He comes in the likeness of Adam.


    But He is a better David, Abraham, and Adam. He is the Son of God in the flesh. What kind of King will He be? What kind of blessing will He bring to the nations? Would He rebel like Adam did? What is our response to God’s coming?



  • July 9, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 4

     

    Here comes Jesus in the line of David, Abraham, and Adam. In Luke 3 we asked what kind of king Jesus would be, what kind of blessing He would bring to the nations, and would He rebel like Adam did?

                     
    Like Adam in the Garden and Israel in the wilderness, Jesus faces temptation from the serpent. Instead of exalting Himself and His desires over God’s will, He resists temptation and walks submissively to God. He enters the synagogue and reads from the prophet Isaiah. Salvation is coming and is here! The words are being fulfilled in their sight! Healing takes place wherever He goes. Broken lives are restored. Those possessed with demons find themselves made whole again. He speaks and acts with authority.


    The Old Testament time and again points to our need for a Savior. Page after page reveals how sinful, fallen, and broken humanity is. Adam sinned first. God chooses Abraham to bless the nations. Abraham and his offspring constantly fail. David the great King of Israel shows himself to be sinful and fleshly in very dramatic ways. What hope is there for salvation?


    Isaiah speaks of it. Yahweh would bring salvation through His Servant, who would be the suffering King and Messiah Israel has been longing for. In Luke 4 Jesus says that day has come. Yahweh has come.


    We are every bit as fallen as Israel. We need a Savior. We cannot save ourselves. We can do nothing to make ourselves righteous in the eyes of a perfect and holy God. But the Good News is this: God comes to us and He brings salvation by grace. Will we close our ears to that news like the people of Luke 4 and constantly strive to earn our way to God? Or will be submit to Him daily, and there find healing and restoration?



  • July 10, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 5


    Dane Ortlund, in his book called Gentle and Lowly, which studies the heart of Christ, discusses some stories from Luke 5. In Luke 5, we see such a beautiful picture of the One who came to save us. Seeing the works and the heart of Christ throughout Scripture is so important for our faith.

                     
    Jesus has already shown Himself to have power in His words, yet when Jesus encounters a leper, He touches this unclean man to heal him. The man asks Him, “Lord, if you will…” The word for “will” really hits at saying something like, “Lord, if you deeply desire this…” Does Jesus deeply desire to heal this leper? Jesus responds by saying that He does desire it, and the unclean, broken, outcast leper is healed.


    Then we see four friends dramatically bring a friend to Jesus for healing. Before they even make a request of their desires, Jesus gives the man what he needs the most—forgiveness. Then to show that He has the power to forgive sins, He heals the man of his paralysis.


    We see His soon to be disciples struggling to catch fish. They had been toiling all night but caught nothing. Jesus comes to them in the morning and tells them to throw their nets to the other side. To their surprise, they catch so many fish that the nets begin to break. Jesus then goes to a man hated by his people—a tax collector. He calls these fishermen and this tax collector to follow Him.


    What is at the heart of Jesus? A deep desire to love, care for, and save His people. Feeling worthless? Feeling broken? Feeling lonely? Feeling like you have sins that can’t be forgiven? Jesus deeply desires to bring you into His salvation, all of you. Will you follow?



  • July 13, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read  Luke 6

     

    Today, our focus is on verse 12. Decisions need to be saturated in prayer. Jesus chose the apostles through whom He would entrust the future of His ministry after His ascension. The apostles were the pillars of the Church. They would give the church Christ’s doctrine. They were absolutely crucial to the future of the continuation of Christ’s work. With thousands of followers, Jesus had many from which to choose.

     

    What do you do when you face decisions? How do you make decisions? What is your process? Do you look for a feeling?

     

    If you make wise choices in the smaller decisions, you will make wise choices in the larger decisions. We develop patterns, systems, routines in how we make decisions.

     

    Clearly, we should always begin making decisions with careful examination of the Bible. The principles of God’s word should never be violated.

     

    What about choices we face that are clearly not addressed in the scriptures? Should I take this job, go on this vacation, sell my house, etc. How should I respond to what they did? The Bible gives us some great insights in this passage about making decisions through prayer:

     

    Develop an intimate relationship with God. That doesn’t happen overnight. It is a journey. It  involves spending time together.

     

    Pray in the character of Christ (In His name). Pray in total submission to the will of God. Before you know His answers, accept it!

     

    Gather as much information as you can. Faith isn’t the absence of information, faith is acting on the information God has given you.

     

    God wants you to make your decisions with your eyes wide open as you are obedient to Him. God says, count the cost before you start to build a tower or a bridge. Your commitment needs to be made counting the cost. BTW, the costs are always higher than you think!

     

    Application:

    What decisions are before you right now? How will you navigate through them? What patterns will you develop? 
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    Prayer:

    King Jesus, may I continue to pursue an intimate, loving, trusting relationship with You. Thank You for guiding me through Your word and Spirit.



  • July 14, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 7


    Our focal passage is verses 11-17. We encounter a scene that breaks your heart. It is the scene of a little old lady who is a widow and has only one child to take care of her. But her son dies and she is left alone in a ruthless world… heartbroken and vulnerable.

     

    It is in these times, the times when you see people in desperate situations that people ask – where is God? Why doesn’t He do something?

     

    First, bad things happen. It is called life! But, let’s not avoid the question. Why do bad things happen? One word. Here is why – SIN.

     

    Second, God cares. Notice verse 13. Jesus “felt compassion” means to be moved with compassion and sympathy.

     

    Third, only Christ brings hope. Jesus commands the grieving mother, “Do not weep!” It would be cruel and uncaring to say something of that nature. Unless, of course, you could change the circumstances! But the circumstances couldn’t possibly be changed. It was illogical. It was unheard of, never seen before, never happened  before.

     

    Do you have circumstances that seem impossible? Is there someone that needs to be saved and you think it is impossible for them to be saved? Is there something that needs to happen in your life that you think is impossible?  Do you think it is impossible for it to happen because logic tells you it can’t happen, experience tells you it won’t happen, people assure you there is no hope? But Jesus Christ brings hope in a      hopeless world if we will trust Him.

     

    Fourth, Jesus conquers death. God has the power over death, hell and the grave.  We are not to fear death. Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" He didn’t ask him, suggest it to him, He commanded it! This man arose. Funeral over!!!

     

    Application:

    What has gripped your heart with fear? Are you willing to stop fretting and start trusting?
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  • July 15, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 8

     

    Our focus today is verse 18. “Be careful how you listen!” You can listen casually, seriously, or apathetically. That is HOW you listen. You can listen to truth, trash, or gossip. That is WHAT you listen to. Jesus said, be careful HOW you listen. But He ties the “how” to the “what”!  

     

    When you listen to that which is LIGHT, you are listening to truth. The Bible teaches us that it is natural for us to want our ears “tickled.” The truth does not “tickle” the ears but goes down into the heart! Truth is not gossip, theories, or fear mongering. Truth is eternal, inspired, and authored by God.

     

    Listen to that which is authentic, see verse 17. The light of God is going to shine in your heart to reveal its true condition. In other words, you don't want to be a  hypocrite. So, listen carefully to His word and then be truthful with yourself once you see yourself in the “perfect law of liberty.” 

     

    Verse 18 teaches us that more is given to those who listen with open ears. So, when you hear the Spirit of Christ and you listen, you receive! But when you refuse to  listen, what you have will be taken away from you!

     

    Finally, He teaches us in verses 19-21 to listen with a heart of obedience. Why did Jesus’ mother and brothers come to Him? They thought He had lost his mind. Jesus said, my family are those who listen to the Word of God. We are to hear the Word, believe it, and then do it. Jesus encourages us to listen with a view to OBEY.

     

    Prayer:

    My Lord, may I have ears to hear!

     



  • July 16, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 9

     

    As we focus today on verses 23-27, we learn what it takes to be a Christ follower. Verse 23 gives us the three commandments that are essential in being a follower of Jesus: “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

     

    First, we are to deny ourselves. The verb is an aorist imperative which means the decision must be made daily. To deny yourself means that you acknowledge that there is nothing that you can do to save yourself. It doesn’t mean that you lose your identity. You fully realize who you are – a SINNER. To deny yourself means that you accept the truth about yourself and you come to trust Jesus. To deny yourself means that you don’t put your trust in YOU. Self-denial is not the end, it is the beginning point. Self-denial is the first step of salvation.

     

    Second, “take up your cross daily.” This is also an aorist imperative. A daily decision. To take up your cross means to submit openly to the authority of Jesus Christ. It involves suffering and death. We are to embrace the suffering that is involved in following Christ as our Lord. Many people in our world have lost their lives because they follow Jesus. They have lost their homes, their jobs, their friends, and their acceptance in the community. They have lost their future and they have lost their freedom.

     

    Third, follow Jesus. The verb here is a present imperative, meaning that following Jesus flows from fulfilling the first two. To follow Jesus means to be His disciple, His loyal follower. It means that your agenda is His agenda. Following is only possible when we come to the end of ourselves by denying self and we take up our cross by submitting to the rule and authority of Jesus.

     

    Application:

    Today, will you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus?

     



  • July 17, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 10

     

    What makes God glad? Verse 21 says that Jesus “rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit…” First, Jesus praises the Father for hiding “these things” from the self-sufficient, vs 21.  “These things” refers to the truth of the KINGDOM.

     

    Truth has been concealed from the “wise and intelligent.” God conceals truth from those who think they are intelligent and strong. (see 1 Cor. 3:18-29)

     

    God has hidden the truth of the Kingdom of God from those who have everything figured out and those who know more than God. Self-sufficient people don’t need God because they are smart enough on their own.

     

    Jesus rejoices that “these things” have been revealed to the “unskilled.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon the Greek word “babes” metaphorically means UNTAUGHT, UNSKILLED. In other words, God has chosen to reveal the truth of the Kingdom to those who are unskilled and untaught. Look at the group around Jesus. They were commoners. They were fishermen, publicans and former prostitutes. God reveals the truth about the Kingdom of God to those who have open hearts.

     

    God reveals Himself to those who realize that they have nothing to offer Him. The biggest self-deception of the ‘wise’ is the idea that their learning gives them a spiritual advantage.

     

    The heart of God rejoices when we come before Him with childlike faith! He finds great joy in revealing truth to those who have abandoned self-sufficiency and cast themselves on Him.

     

    How much more do you know today than you did 30 years ago? Hopefully a lot! What if you had an additional 300 years to learn? What about 3,000 years? Your knowledge would not come close to the all wise God. To paraphrase Ralph Stockman, The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of ignorance. Those who fail to recognize the expanse of their shoreline, will have blind eyes.

     

    Application:

    Does your heart make God glad?

     



  • July 20, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 11

     

    As the disciples began to follow Jesus they saw Him pray, they heard Him pray, and they discovered that prayer was a vital part of His daily life.  Therefore, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In response to their request, Jesus gave them what we often refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” This model prayer teaches us several truths.

     

    The first and most important lesson is to begin with God. Jesus taught them to begin by addressing God as their Father in heaven and acknowledging He is the source of all life. God alone is Sovereign.  By beginning our prayer in this way we acknowledge that we come to God on His terms, not ours. We want His Kingdom to come and His will to be done.  This is an act of submission unto God.

     

    Then, Jesus taught His disciples (and He teaches us) to ask.  We are to ask God for everything we need.  We ask for forgiveness, we ask for our daily needs, and we ask for daily protection from temptation. We are taught to trust God daily and rest in His strength. Jesus then shared two illustrations with the disciples encouraging them to pray with persistence and not give up. 

     

    When we put these lessons together, we have what we need to know how to pray.  But the best way to learn how to pray is to pray.  .

     

    Application:

    Describe your daily practice of prayer.  
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    What can you do to develop a stronger and more faithful prayer life? 
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    Prayer:

    “Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; Teach me Thy paths.  Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, For Thou art the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day,” (Psalm 25:4-5).



  • July 21, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 12

     

    In our reading today Jesus tells a parable about a very successful man whose harvest was so big that he decided to build bigger barns in order to store his excess.  Doing so would allow the man to sit back and take life easy.  We then read these words, “You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (vs. 20). 

     

    Why was the man chastised in such a way? It was not because of his success. Success is not a sin. We all want to be successful in our endeavors. Nor was it because of any deceit in the man’s actions. There is no indication the man was dishonest in his work. Surely it was not because of the man’s desire to save.  We are all taught to prepare for the future.

     

    There are, however, a few truths revealed for us in this passage. First, the man gave no credit to God.  Notice how many times he says “I” and “my” in these verses. He took all of credit himself. Secondly, he never gave thanks to God for his crops. We see no signs of gratitude at all.  Lastly, he placed his trust in earthly possessions rather than in God. 

     

    Jesus then closed the parable with a warning. “So is the man who lays up treasure for Himself, and is not rich toward God,” (vss. 20-21). 

     

    Application:

    List any earthly possession(s) you may have that interfere with your walk with God.
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    How would you react if these possessions were gone tomorrow? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, open my eyes to areas in my life that have become idols to me.  I want to trust in You, and You alone, at all times. Amen!

     



  • July 22, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 13

     

    I want us to focus today on an event recorded in verses 10-13.  Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath when He heals a woman with a physical disability. Rather than focusing on the synagogue official who was offended because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, however, I want to focus on the lady who was healed.

     

    We notice first of all the pain this woman felt. For 18 years she had suffered a physical infirmity. Her back was bowed and her spine was curved. It was so bad that she could not stand erect. But, rather than staying home and feeling sorry for herself, the lady was in the temple preparing to worship God. What a wonderful example she sets for us.  How easy it is for us to stay home at the first sign of inconvenience.

     

    Notice also her humility. She did not approach Jesus asking for healing  The Bible tells us Jesus called her over to Him when He saw her (vs. 12).  This indicates to us that all people are special to Jesus.  We are not mere numbers. The Shepherd does indeed know His sheep by name. We can rejoice in God’s goodness and mercy every day.

     

    At this point Jesus laid His hands upon the woman and healed her. The cure was instantaneous, and she was able to stand up erect. Upon being healed, the Bible tells us “she began glorifying God,” (vs. 13).  What a beautiful picture we have in this  passage.

     

    Application:

    Describe how God has brought a change into your life. 
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    How have you given glory to God?  How can you continue to Glorify Him today? 
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    Prayer:

    “Clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy,” (Psalm 47:1).



  • July 23, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Luke 14


    Have you ever been invited to attend an event or activity and you really did not want to go? Often times I will go because I do not like conflict.  However, there have been times when I have made “flimsy” excuses to avoid going.

     

    In our scripture text today, Jesus tells a parable about several people who were invited to a big dinner banquet, but they all made excuses not to attend. 

     

    “The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’  Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come,” (vss. 18-20).

     

    The message in the parable is clear. The celebration in God’s Kingdom is going to happen with or without us. Even when we make excuses to turn away from God, God continues to call people to Him. Many will go because God’s intends for His house to be full. Thus, we are to respond to God’s invitation with repentance and faith. A friend of mine has written, “In the presence of God, the food is plentiful, the fellowship is rich, joy is abundant, and life is eternal,” (Tim McCoy, Pastor, Ingleside Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia).

     

    Application:

    What excuses have you made to avoid following the call of Jesus on your life?
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    Write a prayer of complete trust in Jesus. 
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    Prayer of Commitment:

    “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works,” (Psalm 73:28).



  • July 24, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Luke 15

     

    Our reading for today contains three parables that are very familiar to all of us: the parable of the lost sheep (vss. 3-7); the parable of the lost coin (vss. 8-10); and the parable of the lost son (vss. 11-32). As we think about these three parables today, let’s consider the context of the passage. 

     

    As the chapter begins, we notice two different groups of people gathering around Jesus. Tax gatherers and sinners (“low-class” people scorned by all) were present, as well as Pharisees and scribes (respected people esteemed highly in the community). But notice what is taking place. Jesus, with His message of hope and forgiveness, is surrounded by sinners who long to hear His message. The religious leaders, however, criticize Jesus by saying, “this man receives sinners and eats with them,” (vs. 2).

     

    Although this was intended to be an accusation condemning Jesus, a truer statement could not be made. Christ Jesus does receive sinners.  That is His purpose. That is the Gospel message. The Apostle Paul stated it clearly for us, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . .” (1 Timothy 1:15).  Oh, what joy this brings to us today!

     

    You and I can come to God by faith in Jesus. We can receive forgiveness from our sin. Furthermore, we can walk in a new relationship with God because of all Christ Jesus has accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection.

     

    Application:

    Have you trusted in Christ Jesus as your only means of salvation?  If not, turn to Him today. ________________________________________________________________


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    Write a prayer of faith and trust expressing your desire to walk with Him today. 

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    Prayer:

    “God, be merciful to me, the sinner,” (Luke 18:13).

     


  • July 27, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 16

     

    We can learn three key lessons from reading the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in verses 19-31. All three lessons really come down to our focus on the Word of God.

     

    First, God’s Word is the most important evidence of truth any person can examine. It is more important than miracles, dreams or appearances from angels. As verse 31 says, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Seeing a miracle will not bring us to repentance for our sin. Only the Holy Spirit can convince us of our need for repentance. The greatest gift we can give an unbeliever is the Word of God. Nothing is more convincing than the Holy Spirit through the power of the Holy Scriptures.

     

    Second, God’s Word is the best information we have to prepare us for eternity. Remember life for believers does not end here on earth. All of my grandparents have passed away, but in Heaven they are all still very much alive. They all believed in the Word of God. They loved it, learned from it, and lived it. Now they are getting to  partake in the promises of God’s Word in eternity with Him.

     

    Third, the person who ignores the Word of God in this life will be rejected by God in eternity. We read in today’s text that the rich man learned this, but it was too late. That is why the Word of God is so vitally important in the here and now. That is why we must commit to the study and obedience of the scriptures. It is incredible to see what happens when we let God change our lives through the power of His Word.

     

    While we still have time on this earth, it is never too late to examine the scriptures, and to prepare ourselves for life beyond. His Word is like cool water to a dry, thirsty soul. We must drink it daily.                  

     



  • July 28, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 17


    In this chapter, Luke gives us four lessons that Jesus gave His disciples that are essential to living the Christian life:

                                                          

                                                            1.) Faithfulness

                                                            2.) Forgiveness

                                                            3.) Thankfulness

                                                            4.) Preparedness


    In our first time through the gospels we focused on Preparedness when studying Luke 17. Today, let’ focus in on Faithfulness and Forgiveness.


    In verses 5 & 6 we read about faith like a mustard seed. How do we increase our faith, the apostles asked? Jesus encourages us to have faith rather than fear. Notice He doesn’t say anything negative, He doesn’t create great concern, or even call them out for not having enough faith. Instead, Jesus encourages them that it only takes a little faith to accomplish great things. This is because it really isn’t about us who have faith, it is ultimately all about the One who we have faith in. We must also understand that it takes living faith to obey His instructions to forgive others.


    Both love and faith are key elements in forgiveness. Our obedience in forgiving others shows that we are trusting God to take care of the consequences, to heal the damaged emotions, to handle any possible misunderstandings, and to work everything out for our good and His glory. Now, we must understand that true forgiveness does involve some pain. Somebody gets hurt and there is a price to pay. However, love motivates us to forgive, but faith activates that forgiveness so that God can use it to bless His people.


    It is certainly good for us to have faith to deal with the difficult things. Things such as temptation (vs. 1-3), and to accomplish what seems impossible, such as forgiveness (vs. 4-6). Faith is essential to do even the everyday tasks that our Lord has commanded us to do.




  • July 29, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 18

     

    Luke writes about several types of people in this chapter, and each one has a spiritual lesson to teach us. We read about the Widow and the Judge (vs. 1-8), the Pharisees and the Tax Collector (vs. 9-14), the Little Children and Adults (vs. 15-17), and the Rich Man and the Beggars (vs. 18-43). Back in March, we emphasized the Pharisee and the Child. Today we are only going to look at the Persistent Widow.

     

    In verses 1-8, Jesus tells us to forget the unjust judge and to think of the One Righteous Judge, Almighty God, who is in control of heaven and earth. Instead of the widow, we are now led to think of God’s people, who know our rights in Him and can claim our rights through Him. If an unrighteous judge will grant what the widow requests, how much more will The Righteous Judge give to His people who come to Him with their requests? The lesson here is that the person making the request must come constantly and consistently. Our Heavenly Father invites us to spend every day and every night with Him praying, bringing our requests to Him.     

     

    This prayer from Charles Swindoll is very fitting when reading Luke Chapter 18, as well as with all that has been going on in our nation lately: 

     

    “Forgive us, Father, for the wasted hours spent wrestling with wrong rather than focusing on right. Forgive us for our vengeful thoughts toward our opponents, toward those who have taken advantage of us or taken lightly our sadness. Refocus us as we see the power of prevailing prayer. Take away the bitterness – this acid that eats away at our souls and makes us dark, depressing, negative people. Keep us full of faith, even though there is not yet justice for all. We pray for Jesus’ sake and in His name alone. Amen”. 



  • July 30, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 19

     

    In verses 28-40, we have Luke’s account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In verses 28-36, we see the Preparation for the King, and in verses 37-40, we see the Celebration of the King.

     

    In the Preparation for Jesus’ last week on earth, we first read how He miraculously arranged for a specific colt to ride into the city on. This reveals His orchestration and control over these events. We think of a colt (or donkey) as a dirty and dumb animal, but the Jews thought it was an animal fit for a King (1 Kings 1). The fact that the colt had never been ridden and still submitted to Jesus indicates the Lord’s sovereignty over His creation. This special colt was chosen by Jesus and it was certainly suitable for a King. Jesus was entering Jerusalem as Israel’s one true King (1 Kings 1).

     

    The Celebration in verses 37-40 is the only time we read in the Bible were Jesus permitted a public celebration on His behalf. There are two main reasons why He allowed this to happen :

    1.) He was fulfilling prophecy as He was presenting Himself as Israel’s King (Zechariah 9:9).  We do not know for sure just how much the people really understood what was taking place, but we do know that they were singing praises from Psalm 118.


    2.) The second reason was to force the Jewish religious leaders into action. They had planned to arrest Jesus after the Passover (Matthew 26), but God ordained that His Son be crucified on Passover as the “Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Another reminder of how God has plans for everything. So now when the leaders witnessed this celebration, they knew they had to act.    

     

    The question for us today is: “Are we Prepared for the second coming of our King, and will we Celebrate His return?
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  • July 31, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Luke 20

     

    In this chapter we read where the authority of Jesus is challenged (vs. 1-8), and that spies were sent to try to trap Him with the issue of paying taxes (vs. 20-26). What is interesting to see in this passage is how Jesus begins to intensify His defense. He makes sure His followers understand the difference between truth and lies. He wants us to remember His willingness to become a martyr in the eyes of the world for the sake of that which He declares as right. The world views Jesus as a meek and mild man who was forced to the cross, when in reality He was fulfilling the will of the  Father to save the world. When push came to shove, Jesus exposed the enemy and made a stand on principle. Our Lord never wavered, and neither should we. 

     

    Something the Holy Spirit revealed to me when reading this text is how appropriate that what is written in Luke 20:20, “They watched over Him and sent spies who pretended to be sincere”. This verse is telling us they “watched over Him”, but what God is warning us of here is that we should actually “keep watch” for those who are false teachers and religious pretenders. Our eyes must be wide open, we must be alert, and we must guard our hearts against the schemes of ungodly teaching. How do we have clear vision to see the impostors? The verse is appropriately 20:20, as the only way we receive spiritual vision of 20/20 is through the power of the Holy Spirit. This power comes through studying His Word, prayer, and surrounding ourselves with other believers who are walking in the center of God’s will. These daily disciplines help us keep our spiritual vision at 20/20 so that we can see the enemy coming.