As we read this last chapter in Luke we wonder why he did not focus on just the beauty of the resurrection. Dr. Luke is drawing us into these real life scenes that we might relate as to why there are those today who also cannot understand the resurrection and see how God is at work amongst us. We are brought front and center that we might learn from these encounters as a means to share the gospel message.
First are the women who needed an angel to walk them back spiritually to the words of Jesus: “Remember how he told you?” The two on the road to Emmaus needed the presence of the risen Christ to jog their memory of the passages he had taught them. And just as with the women, we too need our physical and spiritual eyes opened that we might recognize the risen Christ. Is this not the work of the Holy Spirit? We remember John’s words: For God so loved and we begin to put the puzzle pieces together.
It took an angel to open the understanding of the women. It took the “stranger” to begin questioning the Emmaus walkers as to what they already knew. But, it was not until the angel asked the key question and it was not until Jesus broke the bread at the table of fellowship that their eyes were opened and they recognized and put 2 and 2 together.
So what is the lesson? God loves us and He will provide what we need to have our eyes opened and our understanding illuminated. Where are you? God will provide what we need to see and understand the risen Christ.
“people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,”[Heb 9]. Our question is: are you prepared for your entry into eternity? In Luke 23, we are presented with three candidates for us to observe and determine ours.
First on our list is Barabbas, an insurrectionist and a murderer. He is incarcerated in a prison awaiting his sure sentence of death. As he sat waiting could he hear the crowd led by the religious leaders calling for his release? Did he know that his life would soon take an abrupt turn? Did he know that the religious leaders and the crowd offered an innocent man named Jesus to face the cross that was slated for him? We wonder and only in eternity will we know his thoughts, his actions before and after. Only God knows his destiny.
Second, are the two criminals who were also led with Jesus to the Golgotha hill and there nails would pierce their bones. They both heard Jesus cry out “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Yet only one would enter eternity forgiven for he cried out remember me when you enter your kingdom. Jesus heard and promised that would be true. His forgiveness for his sins was washed away on that day. The other would enter a Christ-less eternity. He neither feared God or man.
Your destiny is assured—either heaven or hell. If you are like Barabbas, bow the knee now for life is uncertain. If you are like the thief on the cross who railed on Jesus, think what lays ahead for you. If you are like the thief that sought forgiveness you can be assured of this promise: you will be with Christ in heaven/paradise. What is your destiny?
In the opening verses of Job, we find the villain Satan in the presence of God as the accuser of the brethren who has been on the prowl looking for someone to devour. [1Pe 5:8]
The adversary challenged God that Job’s trials would result in falling and cursing God. But God knew his servant Job, he is “a pure and upright man, [he] fears God” Just as God knew Job, Jesus knew Peter and Jesus knows us. Unlike Job Peter was given fair warning. “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;” The question is this: when tests come will we be like Job?
And how does the adversary work? Distraction. He distracted Job from his prayer walk. He distracted through the disciples’ mistrust of another’s motives and arguing as to who was the greatest. In the midst of this, Jesus revealed the test and a powerful truth: The test may not be removed but “I have prayed for you, that your faith not fail.”
We are to be like Job: he never cursed God. But, if like Peter we fall we must NOT say: I have fallen; I am of no use BUT rather I have fallen, I must get up and strengthen others as Jesus said. God will use the bad to bring about good. Beloved, cling to this: Jesus is interceding for us that our faith not fail. It is not “if” but “when” we fall we are to turn back and strengthen others with the lessons we have learned.
Frank Turek, author of “Stealing from God” wrote: “the amazing evidence of God’s sovereignty is revealed in how even those who don’t believe in Him call upon Him to remind them of the source that paved the way to their disavowal of belief in His existence.”
Skeptics then and skeptics now are those John wrote about: “You study the scriptures that testify about me,” [Jn 5] yet you deny the evidence. The religious leaders did believe in Jehovah but modern day skeptics are living proof of Romans 1 claiming to be wise but are fools. Then and now they struggle with the evidence before them and so just as Turek says; they steal from God’s domain to seek their own understanding of truth while denying it when it is revealed.
The religious leaders came asking “by what authority do you do these things.” “Do we pay taxes or not?” ”Prove there is a resurrection from the dead.” Instead of a blanket yes/no statement Jesus fired back his own questions. Today we can apply that same principle when asked these types of questions by asking: “What do you mean by that.” The burden of proof falls upon them. The religious leaders faced a dilemma: believe or deny; and just as the skeptics today they answered, “we don’t know.”
Beloved, you can be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” with those you meet today. Be prepared; hide God’s word in your heart so you can “discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5]
Some other books to consider:
“Tactics” by Greg Koukl; also his website: http://www.str.org/ and articles here on Bible.org
“Letters to a Young Progressive” by Mike Adams
“Though troubles assail us and dangers affright” are the first words of the hymn written by John Newton. In the third stanza, he writes “when Satan assail us …we triumph by faith.” But even though we are people of faith we are also prone to think God is ‘afar off.’ The psalmist’s words echo back to us: “You are near Lord!..the Lord is near all who cry out to him.” [Ps 119/145]
That is the one gripping truth we need to cling to in times of danger or trouble. The ungodly boast, are arrogant because they think God will not see nor hold them accountable. This is the picture of pride the Proverbs author reminds us of with the warning that it will bring about his fall.
But even though we are people of the faith we face this foe more often than we would like to admit. It creeps ever so silently into our framework as we look in the mirror or when we act less than favorably towards others in our countenance or our words. At times like that we must recall the warning of our Lord from our study in Luke: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” [Luke 14] Remember Beloved that God is still in his holy temple sitting upon his throne. Nothing goes unnoticed and a day of reckoning is near. Keep your lamps filled awaiting his appearance! Keep your sin accounts short! God is near to the brokenhearted.
As a parent these words have been heard more often than not when an older sibling gets to go do something but the younger only hears the ‘no.’ Do we think that it is just a parent that has to say ‘no’?
Backing up in Luke 8 we find the threefold description of the heart which has fallen on the fertile soil. According to vs 15 it hears the word, clings to the word, and bears fruit. Again in vs 21 Jesus repeats himself; the faithful ones are those who hear the word of God and do it. And to help the disciples see this in living color he takes them away from Jewish territory into Gentile territory where after a rough night on the sea they drift idly onto the shore only to be met with a demoniac. How does that square with his teaching about heart soils and family?
When all is said and done, the demoniac is healed and the town is left flabbergasted. What is left but to follow Jesus right? Instead, as a ‘parent’ Jesus says ‘no.’ Translated; do not follow me. I have greater work for you and it is to go and proclaim what God has done for you. The healed demoniac heard the word of God and now has to cling to it and bear fruit. The same mandate is for us: go and proclaim what God has done in your life.
Jan 3rd Luke 2 “Being Used by God”
A day ago I received a notice: your toll-tag will expire and must be renewed. To not do so will bring consequences. It was much the same many years ago when all of Israel received such a notice from Caesar Augustus for all of the Roman empire to register according to their family lineage. To not comply meant one would face serious repercussions. And so it was that Joseph and the very pregnant Mary set off for Bethlehem. We can learn a lesson from them: “let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment.” [Rom 13]
But there is more here. God has not only orchestrated the timing of his Son’s birth using a single ruler’s whim but he fulfilled his promise of long ago: “As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.” [Micah 5] And why does he do this? That we might know that what He is a promise keeper of what he told the prophets of long ago.
God has a plan; His Word is true and trustworthy for He is sovereign. He uses men to accomplish his purposes so that his ultimate plan might be fulfilled—all men will come to repentance. Just as God used Caesar to accomplish one part of his plan, so he will use you. Are you willing to be used by Him?
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