The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

March 2020

Dr. Kevin Calhoun

March 2-6  | Mark 16 | Luke 1-4


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Jonathan Norton

March 9-13 | Luke 5-9


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Rev. JT Overby

March  16-20 | Luke 10-14

 

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Dr. Craig Bowers

March 23-27 | Luke 15-19


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

March 30-31 | Luke 20-21



  • March 2, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Mark 16

     

    As we come to the end of Mark’s Gospel record, I want to draw attention to the last verse in our text today: “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the Word by the signs that followed.” Every word and phrase in this verse has meaning for us today.

     

    They . . .” – the ministry of the early church was not dependent upon one person by himself or herself.  The plural pronoun “they” implies the disciples and early believers worked together in service to the Lord.

     

    “. . . went out . . .” – notice also they did not stay in one place resting in     comfort.  They went forth into a community that was hostile to their faith, and they proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ as Lord.

     

    “. . . and preached everywhere . . .” – their ministry was far-reaching.  They were not content to stay in Jerusalem.  Everywhere they went, they proclaimed  salvation in Jesus.

     

    “. . . while the Lord worked with them . . .” – they were empowered by the Lord Himself.  They did not go in their own strength.  They were totally dependent  upon the strength and power of God.

     

    “. . . and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”  The power of God was manifested through signs and wonders as they were faithful to the ministry given to them.

     

    Application:

    How can we as a church family work together to serve our Lord? 
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    Where can you/we go as we serve the Lord each day?  
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    Prayer:

    Almighty God, teach us to serve You faithfully as one body of believers working with one goal and purpose in ministry.  Fill us with Your strength and power each day. Amen!

     



  • March 3, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 1

     

    Luke 1 begins with the announcement of two very special births to take place. The first comes to Zacharias (vs. 13) telling him Elizabeth will bear a son to be named John. The second comes to Mary (vs. vss. 28 ff.) telling her she has found special favor with God.  She, too, will bear a son who is to be named Jesus.  The angel continues,

     

    He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David; and He will reign over the house of   Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end,” (vss. 32-33).

     

    As familiar as this passage is to me, I never tire of reading these words.  I am amazed that God would choose to send His Son to save us from sin. 

     

    We begin reading about the birth of Jesus this week in our devotions.  In a few more weeks we will be celebrating the resurrection of our Lord during Easter. These are the two major emphases in the life of the church.  That is why I love these words from a hymn we sing, “Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its cross . . . Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its Lord.”  As we read about life and ministry of Jesus this month in the Gospel of Luke, let us also reflect upon the importance of His death and  resurrection.

     

    Application:

    What stirs your heart the most about the birth of Jesus? 
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    What stirs your heart the most about the death and resurrection of Jesus? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I thank you today for Your birth, Your life, Your death, and Your resurrection!  Thanks be to God!  Amen!



  • March 4, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 2

     

    This chapter in Luke’s Gospel gives us a very quick snapshot of Jesus’ birth, His childhood, His circumcision, and His trip with His parents to Jerusalem at age 12.  One verse in this passage continues to capture my attention every time I read it. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” (vs. 19).What do you think Mary “pondered” (thought about and reflected on)?

     

    Was she overwhelmed at God’s choice for her to be the mother of our Lord? That seems likely. Of all the ladies who ever lived, God chose Mary. She must have been overflowing with amazement, awe, and gratitude.

     

    Was she “pondering” the visit from the shepherds and the message they shared with Mary and Joseph?  Again, I believe this is entirely likely.  Listening to the shepherds speak of the angel’s message that a savior had been born in Bethlehem must have stirred her heart greatly.  Hearing them describe the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men, with whom He is pleased,” (vs.14) most certainly filled her heart with joy. 

     

    So many thoughts must have been going through Mary’s mind: How can this be?  How will our life be changed? What will we experience from now on? Whatever her thoughts were, her life would be different from that point on. 

     

    Take a few moments today and reflect upon the life of our Lord.

     

    Application:

    What event(s), miracle(s), or statement(s) in Jesus’ life have a major impact on your life? 
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    What would you most like to share with others about Jesus?  ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I want to You more today. Fill me with thoughts of You in everything I do and say!  Amen!

     


  • March 5, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 3

     

    Our scripture reading for today tells us of the ministry of John (the baptizer) and the baptism of Jesus. In verse 3 we read, “And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Then in verse 8 we read, “Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance.” 

     

    The teaching about repentance is important for us today because there are many who would say they believe in Jesus but they do not believe this makes any difference in their lifestyle choices each day. We need to understand this error is a distortion of the gospel message. Jesus said, “. . . repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:15). Repentance and faith go together.

     

    Paul faced this same problem when writing to the Romans and to the Galatians. There were some who taught that we can continue in sin so that grace may increase (c.f. Romans 6:1).  However, true faith always leads to a change in behavior. We turn away from sin and toward our Savior, Jesus.  Because we believe in Jesus, we now want to please Him and walk in obedience with Him.  Yes, we are saved by grace and not by our works.  But Paul also tells us, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:10).

     

    Application:  Let’s make it personal:

     

    Have you fully trusted in Jesus for salvation from your sin? ________________________________________________________________

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    List areas in your life you need to submit to Jesus and His Lordship. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, open my eyes to areas in my life I need to turn over to You.  Help me to walk in obedience with You today.  Amen!

     


  • March 6, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Luke 4


    Can you imagine what people must have thought as Jesus began His public ministry?  We read in verses 14-15, “. . . news about Him spread through all the surrounding  district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.” He taught them in ways they never heard before, and He began healing people of various illnesses.  In verse 42 we read that the people wanted Him to stay in the area with them.

     

    Look with me, however, at His response in verse 43.  Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Often times we want to keep Jesus with us in our own comfortable surroundings.  However, we are called to be on mission for Him. We learn three important truths about mission/ministry in this passage.

     

    Why is this mission important? Because we are commanded to in Matthew 28:18-20.  Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples . . .”

     

    Where do we carry out this mission?  Acts 1:8 tells us, “. . . you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

     

    Who is to be involved in this mission?  All who profess faith in Jesus are called to    mission and ministry.  In 2 Corinthians 5:18 Paul tells us when God saved us He “. . . gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 

     

    Application:

    List some ways you have been involved in mission/ministry for our Lord. ________________________________________________________________

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    List ways you would like to be used in mission/ministry in the future. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, give me “ears” to hear Your call to mission in my life, and may I be found faithful.  Amen!

     


  • March 9, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Luke 5

     

    In this chapter Luke describes the Lord’s meetings with four different people and the changes they experienced because of their faith in Him. I want to focus today on verses 12-16 when Jesus heals the man with leprosy. This story paints a beautiful picture of how Jesus treats those in our society that are viewed as untouchable.


    Notice in verse 12 that Dr. Luke describes the man as “covered with leprosy”. This tells us that this man was in the later stages of fighting this horrific disease, which means he had been isolated and deemed unclean for 10-20 years. But notice what Jesus “did” first, not what He said. In verse 13 we read that Jesus touched him first, then He said “I am willing, be cleansed”. Then Luke uses one of his favorite words to tell us that the leprosy “immediately” left the man. Wow! How incredible that Jesus touches an untouchable person, and when He does there is “immediate” change?

     

    When I read this passage it takes me back to the Old Testament in Leviticus and Isaiah where leprosy is described. The prophet Isaiah compares our sin nature to having  spiritual leprosy in Isaiah 1:4-6. It is great reminder that if we are living in unrepentant sin, the following pattern will usually happen:


    -It starts small

    -We try to cover it up; it’s deeper than the skin (Leviticus 13:3)

    -It slowly spreads and consumes our flesh (Leviticus 13:7-8)

    -We lose all sensitivity

    -Our sin isolates us (Leviticus 13:46)

    -It will eventually kill us if not confessed & repented    

     

    Luke 5:12-16 is an illustration of the grace and transformational power we see in Jesus on the cross. He became sin (unclean) so that we might be made clean (2 Corinthians 5:21 & 1 Peter 2:24).

     

    Give Thanks to God that when He touches us we are changed forever!

     


  • March 10, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Luke 6

     

    In verses 1-11 Jesus teaches the Pharisees an important lesson that we should all take to heart. That lesson is there is never a wrong time (or day) to do the right thing. As Christians, there are no days off from sharing God’s love with others. In verses 20-49 we have Luke’s record of the Sermon on the Mount, where we learn that as followers of Christ, every day we should demonstrate love (v. 27), doing good (v. 27), praying for others (v. 28), giving (v. 30), showing mercy (v. 36) and forgiveness (v. 37). We do not only do these things on certain days or days we feel like it, but every day we are commanded to do these things that honor our Lord and attract others to Him.

     

    Another important lesson learned in this chapter is the importance of prayer. Many times, Luke points out the priority of prayer in the life of Jesus (v. 12, 5:16, 9:18, 11:1 & 11:40-46). Notice in verse 12 that Jesus prayed all night before calling the 12  Apostles. Before every major decision or big event, Jesus spent quality time alone in prayer. Does this describe your prayer life? How many times have you prayed all night, or for even an hour, or maybe longer than five minutes? I submit that if we spent more time (not rushed) on our knees with our Lord before important decisions, we would more often than not see Him provide us with incredible spiritual clarity.

     

    The last lesson I want to point out from this chapter is that of how we should respond to our enemies. The world teaches that we should get even with our enemies,  whereas Jesus teaches to get right with them.  We should always deal with our own sin before correcting and responding to others. A great sign of spiritual maturity is when we focus more on repenting of our own sin rather than pointing out the sin of others. How do you respond to those who have wronged you?       

     

    Application:

    Which spiritual fruit (vs. 43-45) mentioned in this chapter are you bearing today? 
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  • March 11, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Luke 7

     

    Somebody once said that compassion is simply defined as “your pain in my heart”. As we read through Chapter 7, we see Jesus model incredible compassion to four different individuals going through completely different struggles:


    1.) A dying servant (vs. 1-10)

    2.) A grieving mother (vs. 11-17)

    3.) A disciple with doubt (vs. 18-35)

    4.) A repentant woman (vs. 36-50)

     

    Jesus helped all of these people despite some in society saying they did not deserve it. But as Christians, we know that compassion does not measure, it ministers. Compassion ministers to people’s needs regardless of circumstances. Aren’t we  thankful that Jesus does not decide to help us in our time of need based on whether we deserve it or not. Jesus is always there and He cares.

     

    Imagine the grieving widow in verse 11-15, who is walking a long her son’s coffin. She is so overwhelmed with sadness that she is hardly looking up. She is too torn to even pray. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been put in position to minister to a person grieving like that? If so, think back to who showed compassion to you. Think back and ask yourself: Did I show compassion like Jesus to someone who was hurting?

     

    In all of His important activity, Jesus always saw the specific needs of people. He never failed to stop what He was doing to care for people. What a model for us! No matter how busy we are, we must remember there is nothing like caring for people in need. People who are hurting need more than a one-time encouraging word. They need a listening ear, they need a follow up text and they need a phone call to pray with them again.

     

    Prayer:
    Jesus, thank you for Your incredible compassion for us in our time of need. May we be intentional and consistent with showing compassion for others, and we pray that  compassion draws those hurting closer to You, Lord. Amen.                   

     


  • March 12, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Luke 8


    When I read this chapter two questions come to mind: 

    Are you a Sower
    and 
    Where is your Faith?

     

    When we read the parable of the sower in verses 4-15, we see that the farmer sowing seed represents someone who gives out the Word of God. This could be a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, a Christian author or simply someone who witnesses to others regularly. It could be an adult, a teenager or even a child. Anyone who gives out the Word of God is a sower. Hopefully we are all sowers! We must understand that the sower is not always the first one who actually plants, nor are they the last one who harvests. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth”. What Paul is saying here is that someone else may have sown the seed in the life of a family member or friend of yours, and now you have come along to sow a little more of the seed of the Word. Prayerfully that person will come to faith in Jesus. However, remember our job as a sower is not the harvest. We are to sow the seed so that God can bring in the harvest.

     

    In verses 22-25, Jesus calms the storm. The disciples are terrified and Jesus asks them: “Where is your Faith?” (v. 25). When I read this text I have to ask myself is my faith in my circumstances or is my faith in Jesus? We cannot place our faith in other people, our job or our finances. If we do, we will end up being let down. Our faith must only be in the one true living God who loves us and cares for us. He knows our circumstances and our struggles. Once we completely place our faith in Jesus, we will be ready for any storm that life brings our way.

     

    Application:

    Where are you sowing seeds? 
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    Where is your faith today? 

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  • March 13, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Luke 9

     

    This chapter is long with 62 verses, so there is a lot to cover. Let me just sum it up with one word sections that Luke uses to describe the ministry of Jesus: Commission (vs. 1-11), Feeding (vs. 12-17), Teaching (vs. 18-36) and Predicting (vs. 37-62).

     

    Let’s look at two of these. In the first section Jesus “Commissions” the 12 Disciples.  I think it is important to remember that up until this point Jesus had done all the ministering. The disciples had watched Him, taking notes, but had never done ministry of their own without Jesus close by. Now Jesus is sending them out and He gave them Power and Authority to do the Ministry. That is what we are to do as a Church. Reach, Teach, Disciple and the Send Out. But remember, we will only make an impact for the Kingdom if we are Prayerfully Prepared and rely on the Power and Authority of the Holy Spirit, not ourselves.    

     

    Then in verse 23 we see the invitation to Follow Jesus, and He Teaches how to do so with two key points. The first instruction to be a follower of Jesus is that we must “Deny Ourselves” (give up our own way). This means saying no to what we want and saying yes to what Jesus wants. We simply obey and follow our creator. He is in charge, He rules our life. He is not just our Savior, but also our Lord! The second way we follow Jesus is “Take up His Cross daily”. This is a great word picture from the days when crucifixions were common. When you saw someone carrying their cross on their back you knew it was a one way trip. When we decide to follow Jesus there is only one path and that path is carrying His wants, His desires, His love and His will for our lives everywhere we go.

     

    Are you Going Out to Minister, Denying Yourself and Carrying His Cross Daily?  



  • March 16, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 10

     

    Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. He is being cast down. The Kingdom of God is at hand and is coming in full. According to Paul in Romans 16:20, God will one day crush Satan under our feet. Let us not then think too much or too little of our enemy! His final defeat is surely coming, but until that day comes, we deal with sin and evil in this world. Why should that not scare us?


    Consider what we see of Jesus in Luke 10. Jesus is bringing salvation through what looks like folly and weakness to the world. His death on the cross will be His exaltation and victory!


    And what makes the story of the Samaritan so powerful? We see a priest and Levite avoid a man in need, but they are unwilling to enter into this   situation, unwilling to become unclean by coming in contact with this man, and stay far away. The Samaritan comes near and helps the man.


    What we see with Jesus is infinitely better. He comes to us in our neediness as we have been decimated by the enemy. He enters into our uncleanness to heal us, make us whole, and cleanse us.


    Jesus is the victor, the conquering King, the compassionate Lord and Savior we need. So, which portion will we choose? Will we choose to ignore this Jesus for the sake of working, being busy, accomplishing tasks, fulfilling goals, or will we see that the good portion is to live our lives setting our hearts and minds on Jesus, and living for Him in all we do?



  • March 17, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 11

     

    Paul says in Ephesians 1:3-4 that God gives us, in Christ, every spiritual blessing we need to live holy and blameless before Him. The Hebrew writer in Hebrews 13 says that God will equip us with everything good we need to do His will. How are all these gifts and blessings given to us? The Spirit.


    Are we in need? Are we struggling? Do we feel broken? Do we feel helpless against temptation? Are we struggling relationally with the Lord? Jesus says to ask, seek, and knock and God will give His Holy Spirit. The Spirit knows the will of the Father for our lives and does His perfect will in us (Romans 8:26-27). God delights to give us the Spirit. He delights to hear those prayers and answer those prayers. Are we praying those kind of desperate prayers for more of the Spirit's work in our lives?


    Jesus says that those who are truly blessed in life are not the richest, smartest, the ones who look like they have it all together, but those who hear the Word of God and keep it. Someone greater than Solomon has come. Someone greater than Jonah has come. Judgment is surely coming.


    What hope is there for us? I struggle to hear and keep the Word! There is hope because God delights to answer the prayers of His people and give more of the Spirit. He speaks to our hearts the truths of God's Word. He gives us the grace we need to keep the Word. Let's ask, seek, and knock all the more

     


  • March 18, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 12

     

    It is hard to teach that Jesus comes to bring division. Surely many of us have felt division in our families and amongst our friends. Why does it have to be this way? Why does Jesus come to bring division? Ultimately, the world is strictly divided into those who believe and trust in Jesus and those who do not. We will either confess and believe that He is the Savior, the Son of God, or we will reject His claims over our life. Luke 11 teaches us that those who reject  Jesus, reject both us and the Father who sent Him.


    Where will our hearts lie? Where will our treasure be? We need God's grace to find our treasure in Him alone; not in family, friends, career, riches, and possessions. If our treasure is in anything other than Jesus, it will lead to emptiness and ultimately, death. God delights to give us all we need, though. He knows our needs, spiritually and physically, and delights to provide for us. He graciously gave us His Son; how will He not give us all we need (Romans 8:32)!


    What is even more astounding is that when we acknowledge Jesus before men, even with the division it may bring, Jesus promises us acknowledgement before the angels. He is proud to acknowledge us! What a gracious truth.


    While the division that comes in this life might bring a temporary heartache, the acknowledgment of the Son leads to infinite and eternal joys. May we weigh those out rightly and live our lives acknowledging the Son.

     


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    March 19, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 13

     

    Scripture teaches that apart from Christ, all of us are dead in sin - under God's wrath. Yet to those who are perishing, He shows grace. The fig tree has no right to remain standing after it continues not bearing fruit, yet even it is shown grace. Jerusalem, the city of God, filled with those who would kill its prophets, is still shown grace by Jesus.


    They ask Jesus if those who are saved will be few. His answer is not about number, but about those who will be saved will be unexpected to them.    People will come from the east, west, north, and south and feast in the     Kingdom. The door is narrow. Elsewhere, Jesus calls Himself the door to the sheep gate. There is only one way to the Father, only one way into the Kingdom, only one way to salvation. The door is narrow, but the door is Jesus. The way in is Jesus, full of grace and truth, full of steadfast love and kindness to His people! He makes it possible for us to enter.


    Those who are left out of the Kingdom will be unexpected. There will be very religious people left out. They are the types of people angry at Jesus for  healing on the Sabbath. They are those who would try and get to God by their performance, by how often they attend church, by how much they tithe, how much they know, how much they pray. They try and become their own way to the Father. They remain under God's wrath. 


    We all remain under God's wrath unless we come near, by faith in Jesus. The door is narrow, but Jesus lived, died, and was raised to make a way. Let us enter in.

     


  • March 20, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Luke 14

     

    There is good reason why so much of Jesus' teaching is about the denial of self. Ever since mankind sinned against God in the garden, we have been trying to elevate ourselves above God, find life for ourselves, and live for our own glory. It is a temptation for those very familiar with Christianity to  neglect these teachings, thinking, "Yeah, I chose to die to self a long time ago, I am good to go." However, the call for death to self to follow Jesus is an everyday calling.


    In what ways am I living for self? In what ways do I exalt my life above God? In what ways am I living for my own glory?


    Do I spend more time thinking about my kids? Do they consume my thoughts, emotions, and energy? What about my career? Is the desire to  glorify and honor the Lord what compels how I work and make decisions in my work? What about my status in the world? What about my education? What about my hobbies? What about my resources?


    Who am I living for? Unless I renounce all things, I cannot be a disciple of  Jesus, and we will either be disciples of Jesus, or disciples of sin, blind to the ways we are living.


    We thank God that He has invited us to the Great Feast in Jesus. God says to come to Jesus and find all you need to be satisfied and filled. Bring all your insecurities, desires, aspirations, and find all you could ever want and infinitely more in Jesus. Bring all your longings for joy, happiness, and peace and find them all satisfied in unexpected ways in Jesus.


    We were created for Him, so let us live for Him alone.

     



  • March 23, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Luke 15

     

    Several outstanding members of the High Church noticed that one of their own was hanging out with the wrong crowd! They moved immediately to take action. They pulled the guilty member aside for a serious conversation! It went something like this: You need to be more concerned about your reputation. Eating with people who are obviously far from God can tarnish your good name. Not only that, but it is a poor reflection of the good name of the High Church. Associating with “those” kinds of people can also lead you down a  destructive path….. and so the conversation went. But, the member paid them no attention and continued to hang out with those far from God!

     

    Of course, you caught on really quickly that this “member” was simply  following the footsteps of Jesus. The religious elites said of Him in a condescending attitude: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (verse 2). 

     

    Jesus responded to their “complaining” by sharing three of the greatest parables in the Bible. We’ll look at them another day. But the point is this – Jesus was guilty! Yes, he receives sinners. Thank God He does! Yes, He eats with sinners! Why? In order to show them His love and then tell them about His love.

     

    We are to do no less. “Receive” means to give access to oneself. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). When we intentionally allow those who are far from God into our lives, we are following the example of Jesus. Our Lord never accepted their sin. He loved them enough to eat with them so that He could show them the way to the Father. We are not to be LIKE the world in order to LOVE the world.

     

    Application:

    Intentionally develop a friendship with a person far from God for the explicit purpose of showing and telling them about His Love.



  • March 24, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Luke 16


    Money! It creates all kinds of emotions. Those who are usually “normal” will lose their minds when it comes to money. Why? Because money is a strong leverage. Jesus deals with a powerful financial principle in the first 14 verses of this chapter. Here’s the timeless principle: Your faithfulness and wisdom in powerful, temporal matters (i.e., money) determines your trustworthiness with powerful, eternal matters.

     

    There are several important issues in this story. First, how we use money is important. The unrighteous steward used money more wisely than most “sons of light” (verse 8). He negotiated a financial LOSS but he gained friends. He created a win/win/win situation. His boss won because he looked like a hero. The debtors won because they paid a lower price. The unrighteous  financial manager won because of his shrewdness. Those of us who are “of light” need to be wise and righteous in handling money. It’s a big deal. This guy was praised for using money to win friends. We are to invest God’s money in winning people to Christ.

     

    Second, trust is based on being trustworthy in little things. Some people see money as the top priority in life. Here’s the thing about money: It can’t buy the most important things in life. But, if you are like the “Pharisees, who were lovers of money” (verse 14) you may respond the same way they did – with disdain.

     

    Third, keep this clearly in your mind, money is not the issue in this story. The key to this story comes down to this: What will you prioritize, Money or the Master?  The temporal or the eternal? Gold or God? The number in your savings, or the number of people who are being saved. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (verse 13)

     

    Application:

    Lord, reveal to me how you see my faithfulness in the stewardship of       temporal things. Show me the true position of my priorities. Do I focus on money issues more than reaching those far from God?



  • March 25, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Luke 17


    On the heels of Jesus’ story about hell in chapter 16, we begin today with a very strong warning in the first two verses: 


    He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

     

    It’s important to know what Jesus means by “stumbling blocks.” How can someone be a stumbling block? Maybe a better question is “how can I avoid being a stumbling block?” Remember a basic rule for proper biblical interpretation is to always keep a verse in context. What is the context? Teaching on heaven and hell, followed by this serious warning, immediately followed by teaching on forgiveness.

     

    Jesus said it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around your neck than to cause “one of these little ones to stumble.” Who is he referring to?

     

    Let’s start with those who are stumbling blocks. It is obvious that he is referring to anyone whose lifestyle or teaching hinders others from coming to Christ. If my lifestyle, my words, my teachings, causes others to turn away from the truth of the Gospel, then I have become a stumbling block. Unfortunately, some will deny the reality of hell, live with an unforgiving heart, and refuse to speak the truth to those who are in sin. They are  stumbling blocks.

     

    May I commit to the Lord Jesus to share even unpopular truths, keep my heart free from bitterness, and love others enough to speak words of truth to them.

     

    Prayer:

    Dear Lord Jesus, please show me if I am being a stumbling block in the lives of others.



  • March 26, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Luke 18

     

    When the Lord returns, “will He find faith on the earth?” (verse 8) What does faith look like? The picture Jesus painted is in the first 8 verses. We see faith demonstrated by someone who continues to pray to the Lord Jesus even though there is little hope. Even when it appears that nothing will change. But this person persists in praying. Why? Because of faith.

     

    What are you praying about? Here’s a better question, what was a prayer of the past that is no longer a prayer today? Will you believe that our Righteous King will do what is best in His perfect timing? That is a demonstration of faith.

     

    Faith not only persists in prayer, but faith has assurance that the One to whom we pray is able to answer. Faith knows that God can move hearts as well as mountains. Faith has assurance in the power of God that compels us to persevere in prayer.

     

    Faith also believes in the character of God. That is why we pray without   ceasing. We know that not only is God fully capable but we know that He will do that which is fully righteous. He is a loving Father who will give to His   children that which is best. He will move in His perfect timing.

     

    Application:

    What do I need to persevere in prayer over? Do I demonstrate the faith that Jesus illustrates by this helpless widow?



  • March 27, 2020


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Luke 19


    Most of us are familiar with the story of Zaccheus because of the song. We know the song but I’m afraid we miss the point of the story. By the time the dust settled, most of the good people of Jericho were extremely angry at the young Rabbi, Jesus! The most honored, respected, and popular people of   Jericho knew the rising star would be passing through their town. It was expected that He would receive their hospitable invitation to eat with them. But, He refused.

     

    One man in town, prior to Jesus’ arrival, was the most hated man in the    community. Zaccheus. He was a tax collector. An extortionist. He was doing ungodly work for the ungodly Romans. He didn’t have a friend. He was an  outcast. Lonely and wealthy. Yet he had heard that the young Rabbi brought hope. Was he Messiah!

     

    Zaccheus did two things that no respectable Middle Eastern man does. First, he ran (verse 4). Second, he climbed a tree (verse 4). He humbled himself so he could see the One who loved the unlovable.

     

    Jesus did the unthinkable. He invited Himself over to Zaccheus’ house. How did the outstanding, honored citizens of Jericho react? They were furious!  Jesus refused their invitation but then invited Himself over to Zaccheus’ house. What gall!!! Jesus redeemed Zaccheus! How many great teachers would have walked by Him without even noticing him up in the tree.

     

    Application:

    Today, look for people who are lonely. See those who are trying to hide behind the trappings of prestige and wealth. Love the unlovable. Dare to be different.



  • March 30, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Luke 20

     

    As I read our passage for today I am drawn to the opposition we see in the religious leaders toward Jesus. In the first few verses Jesus is confronted by the chief priests, scribes, and elders who are questioning His authority (vs. 2).  Later in the chapter (vss. 19-26) the scribes and chief priests sent spies to question Jesus about paying taxes. Then a group of Sadducees came asking Jesus about the matter of marriage.  All three questions were attempts to trap Jesus. 

     

    Following Jesus’ response to the questions I am drawn to two particular  verses. In verse 26 we read, “And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and marveling at His answer, they became silent.”  Then in verse 40 we read, ”. . . they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything.” Not only was Jesus able to avoid the intended traps, but He was also able to silence His critics in the process.

     

    I want to laugh at the humor in these events, but I am forced to ask several questions of myself.  How do I treat Jesus in my daily words and deeds? Do my actions betray a challenge to Jesus’ authority in my own life? Do I seek to rationalize my own behavior by watering down His teachings? Or do I demonstrate faithfulness to my Lord by following Him in obedience?

     

    Application:

    How do you respond to the teachings of Jesus?  Especially those who        challenge your behavior? 

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    List any behaviors in your life that need to change as you follow Jesus.  

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, show me the ways I turn away from Your teachings and draw me back to faithfulness to Your Word.  Amen!



  • March 31, 2020

    by Kevin Calhoun

    Read Luke 21

     

    Our reading for today begins with a very challenging picture concerning offerings to the Lord. Jesus praises a widow who gave an offering of two small copper coins.“Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”

     

    Nowhere do we read that this widow received any material gain as a result of her offering.  Her reward was a word of praise by Jesus to those who were standing nearby. In fact, she probably did not hear the words spoken by Jesus. Her only desire was to participate in worship by giving sacrificially to God.

     

    I am reminded of Paul’s words of praise for the Macedonian Christians in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. Even though they were suffering poverty in their own lives, the Macedonians begged Paul for the privilege of giving an offering beyond their ability to give. Their one desire was to give themselves entirely to the Lord (vs. 5).

     

    I find these passages of scripture (and others like them) to be both convicting and challenging. What are my motives for giving? Do I give simply to help our church meet the budget? Or do I give because I find great joy in participating in the ministry to which God has called us?

     

    Application:

    What about you, what motivates you to give unto the Lord? 
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    List ways you might be able to give more to the Lord through your time, talents, and treasures.  ________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:

    Almighty God, open my “eyes” to any faulty motivations I have in giving.  Show me how I can give more generously of myself to Your church.  Amen!