Archive for the ‘Luke’ Category

November 12th, 2015

Are You Someone to Beware or Behold?

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:46-47 (ESV)

As the people of God, we are to put on display the character and nature of God, reflecting His goodness to a world in need. Specifically as those under the new covenant, we are to act in the empowerment of the Spirit through the transformative work of the gospel to bear fruit that evidences our new life in Him. We are to love as Christ has loved us. We are to be peaceful, patient, and kind, following the example of our great Savior. We are to be good, faithful, and gentle to those around us, seeking the good of others above self, and we are to be self-controlled, testifying to the incredible satisfying power of Christ. When we live in this way, we are accomplishing our purpose of bringing glory to God as all creation was intended to do.

A danger, however, exists for those who have learned the actions but failed to experience transformation. As religious people, we can come to appreciate action or service over discipleship and true restoration. Such is the case with the scribes mentioned in Jesus’ warning. They had the appearance of devotion, but were simply white-washed tombs (nice to look at on the outside but dead on the inside). They loved the honor of religion but lacked the heart of devotion reflective of the true, life-transforming love seen in Christ.

Where are you on this transformation spectrum? Have you truly been transformed by the gospel or is your relationship with the Lord more cultural or learned behavior? We are called to display the character and nature of God, and if we cannot do that in response to the gospel, then we are living lives Jesus says to beware of rather than behold. Seek to live faithfully in light of your calling today.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)

Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Fruit of the Spirit, Luke, Transformation.
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November 9th, 2015

Salvation Has Come To This House

“And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” Luke 19:8-10 (ESV)

The essence of salvation is restoration. Jesus came to restore that which had been broken or lost as a result of sin by taking upon Himself the penalty of that sin and overcoming its effect, which is ultimate death or separation from God. We are able to be restored as God’s image bearers within His creation because of the sacrificial work of Jesus.

Once we have been restored, our desire, having experienced the glorious work of His salvation, should be to extend the same grace we have been shown to others. As Jesus made a way for our relationship to be restored, we should make every effort to restore broken, earthly relationships. How can we hold on to grievances or guilt in light of Christ’s restorative work? Zaccheus provides us with a prime example of this. Having been forgiven so much and restored to right relationship with Christ, he declares his intention to restore that which he had broken. He says he will give the money he has earned illegitimately to the poor and restore money to those whom he defrauded fourfold. You see, it wasn’t enough for Zaccheus to simply be forgiven; he wanted to bring about restoration as Jesus did.

What about you? Having been restored by the work of Jesus, do you seek to bring about restoration in the lives of those in your realm of influence? Do you seek out those whom you have offended and ask for forgiveness? Do you try to right wrongs from your past to show forth the transforming work of the gospel in your life? Remember, we are continuing fully the ministry of Jesus, so we must be about restoration as He was.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Luke, Restoration, Salvation.
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November 6th, 2015

What Do You Love More Than Jesus?

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” Luke 18:22-23 (ESV)

We do not teach a “poverty gospel” in Christianity, meaning that we do not affirm that only in poverty can you truly live a life pleasing to the Lord, free from material distractions. While it is true that materialism is a dangerous foe to a Christian’s proper devotion to the Lord, material things are not in and of themselves evil. So, what is Jesus teaching this “ruler” in Luke’s gospel? If we are not affirming a poverty gospel, then why would Jesus command this drastic act of worship? Jesus asks this of the man because He knows where his true devotion lies. The rich ruler has been extraordinarily obedient to the requirements of the law, yet his heart still longs for the things of this world. He has yet to discover the central message of Christianity: true satisfaction is only found in God and God is only found in Christ.

This story is always a challenging one for the follower of Jesus, because it forces us to assess ourselves and see what things we are unwilling to sacrifice for Him. Are there things in your life that you would be unwilling to give up if Jesus asked you? If so, you have found a god greater than Him in your own mind. We all have idols that intermittently rise up in our lives; the trick for us, though, who desire to grow in Christ-likeness is to identify those things and put them to death so that they do not steal our affection for the Lord.

Dear friend, do not go away from the Lord sad as this rich ruler did. Remember that whatever it is that you must sacrifice in order to be obedient is far less satisfying in comparison to the greatness of our Lord.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, November 6th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Idolatry, Love, Luke.
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November 4th, 2015

Have You Been Faithful with Little?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10 (ESV)

The natural tendency of sinful man is to seek greater and greater glory for himself. We strive for more responsibility typically because it means more recognition and praise. We must be careful as redeemed followers of Christ, saved from our sinfulness, to not let this proclivity toward self-glorification seep its way into our service in the Kingdom.

Do you seek greater things? Do you seek greater responsibility? Why? Do you seek it because you wish to hear the applause of men? Do you seek it because you find security in success regardless of the source? Or do you desire to see God’s glory grow? Are you happy with that with which you have been entrusted, knowing that the Lord’s name is being praised because of it, or are you constantly seeking more, feeling a sense of entitlement?

Take a moment today and see what God has already given you. What areas in your life or ministry do you have influence over? Be thankful for those and seek to make them better, knowing that in their excellence the name of the Lord will also be seen as excellent. As you walk faithfully in these things, also trust that the Lord will see your faithfulness and entrust more as any good lord would to a trustworthy servant. Now, remember that this inevitability is not a cunning way to sneak your desire for personal glory past the eyes of the Lord, as He is of course knowledgeable of both our actions and motivation, but it is a promise that our greatest happiness is found in the promulgation of His glorious name. Let that be your goal and whatever task He entrusts to you will be worth your life.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Faithfulness, Luke, The Name of the Lord.
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November 3rd, 2015

A Father’s Love and A Son’s Response

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:24 (ESV)

Child of God, hear this beautiful promise today: you can never wander too far away from the loving arms of your Heavenly Father! There may be times in your life when the temptations of this world once again captivate your mind and call you back into the pig sty in which you were found by Jesus, but know that even in the mud and muck of depravity, your Father in heaven waits and longs for you to “come to yourself,” repent, and return. A father’s love is unending and unconditional.

For many of us, these times of spiritual defeat push us away from the Lord, causing us to think ourselves too unworthy to return. “How can I go back to Him and ask Him to forgive me again? Would He even recognize me?” While certainly, as a Christian, our desire should be to grow in holiness, reflecting in greater detail the nature of Christ in our lives, do not let moments of weakness once again define you as they did before you surrendered your life to Jesus. Remember who you are! Your are a child of the living God, made so by the sacrifice of Jesus and the regenerating work of the Spirit. Yes, you have fallen, but get back up and return home to the arms of your loving Father.

May we not allow the inevitability of failure to ensnare us in defeat. We are more than conquerors in Christ, guaranteed eternal victory over our battle with sin. Stand up today, dear friend, and walk forward in holiness. Return to your Father, confess your sin, and see the feast that awaits!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Love, Luke, Repentance, Return.
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November 2nd, 2015

Do Not Be Anxious

“And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.’” Luke 12:22 (ESV)

Have you worried about anything this week? Have you been anxious about an event or circumstance? Jesus has a word for you this morning: stop. But how can we stop worrying? Isn’t worrying a part of having responsibility or being human? Worrying or anxiety at its core is a statement about our trust in the sovereignty of God. In this particular passage and also in Matthew’s recording of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His disciples to consider the fullness of  creation and how even the smallest birds are provided for by their Heavenly Father. They do not worry about where their food will come from because the Lord has taken care of them. The challenge for us is to trust in the same way, knowing that we are of more value to the Lord as His prized creation.

What kind of things have you felt anxious over this week? My guess is that for many of you food, clothing, or shelter were not chief among them. The Lord has provided for you, and yet in spite of all of these evidences we still allow relatively small things to captivate our minds and divert our attention from our meditation on the goodness of God. Today, choose to trust. Choose to walk in faith, knowing that the Lord will provide. And if you do find yourself in a situation worthy of concern, pray and ask the Lord to come to your rescue. Who knows? It may be that your request will be met by someone who in turn has recognized the abundance of blessing the Lord has given to them and in generous response wants to share that with someone else. That is how the body of Christ is supposed to work after all, proving another way that God has provided for His people.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, November 2nd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Anxiety, Luke, Sovereignty.
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November 1st, 2015

The Distraction of Serving

“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:40-42 (ESV)

Serving should be the natural response of someone who has been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself came to serve and to build a Kingdom that was others focused, as explicitly expressed in the “Sermon on the Mount” and various other teachings of Jesus. There is a potential danger, however, in this proclivity toward service. If we are not careful, we can begin to fall back into our “pre-gospel” understandings of how we relate to God and once again subconsciously use service as a way to gain His favor. You see, we like activity and we like busyness, because both of these things make us feel like we are contributing to the product. But the gospel expressly states that you and I cannot help ourselves and that salvation and the maintenance of salvation are entirely an act of the Spirit of God, enabled by the sacrifice of Christ.

We must, then, be careful in the midst of our serving to remember the reason we serve. We do not serve to gain, we serve because of what we have already gained in Christ. Further, in light of that realization, we must remember to sit and worship this Christ, Who has given us so much! There is a time for service, yes, but there is also a time for meditation. We must have balance, a balance that only comes by a healthy understanding of grace as exemplified in the good news of Jesus.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 1st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Grace, Luke, Serving.
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October 21st, 2015

The Master of the Wind

“And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’” Luke 8:24-25 (ESV)

If you have ever been on small boat in the midst of a torrential storm, then surely you know the reaction of the disciples in this passage is not a melodramatic one. Waves crashing over the sides, flooding the decks, and knocking people off of their feet would cause anyone to worry. These men were frightened and justifiably so. In their fear, they run to their “Master,” Who for some reason is sleeping in the midst of this chaos and beg Him to save them. In response, Jesus stands up, calm and composed, and demands the elements reflect His nature rather than allowing His to be affected by them.

The Lord is our firm foundation. He is the calm and hope we need in times of great distress. He does not grow weary by circumstance nor worry about the future, for He establishes the circumstance and directs the future. He is sovereign over all things, and we must place our faith in that sovereignty, trusting that when times become difficult or our burden seems to large to bear that we have a Master, Who calms the seas by simply speaking over them “Peace, be still.”

How do you react in times of stress? Do you worry and run to the Lord in fear? Or do you remember the God you serve and take comfort in the knowledge that He is in control of all things and will work those circumstances for the good of those who love Him?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Luke, Security, Sovereignty.
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October 20th, 2015

The Importance of Need in Prayer

 ”And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 (ESV)

The Lord has given us a blank check! At least, that’s what our flesh wants to hear. We read this passage and think, “You mean, I can really ask for anything? The Lord is seriously promising to give me anything I want?” But we must read what Jesus is saying more carefully. Jesus is not teaching us that we can pray in His name and receive whatever we want. Rather, He is saying that our Father in heaven will meet every legitimate need you and I have. God is good, and He loves His children. Therefore, He will provide for them.

I have seen this first hand in my time in Africa. The children we work with there do not have much, but through the local church the Lord is providing. Consider this truth in your own life. Have you seen the Lord provide for you in times of great need? Have you given Him praise for His faithfulness?

When you pray in supplication, asking for something from the Lord, be sure you have asked yourself whether or not this request is a legitimate need or a selfish desire. The importance in this is striking, since you do not want bitterness to set in when the Lord does not answer your selfish request. See this beautiful promise for what it is, a statement of a Father’s generosity toward His children, rather than an open door to an endless supply of extravagant things which we do not need.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Luke, Prayer, Provision.
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October 18th, 2015

Does Your Love Match Your Forgiveness?

“‘Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’” Luke 7:47-49 (ESV)

This morning we encounter one of the most beautiful stories in all of scripture, in which a sinful woman recognizes her indelible need to worship her worthy Savior. Luke does not provide us with much back story for this woman except for the note that she is a known “sinner.” Because of her status, she is looked down upon by the “righteous,” who call into question Jesus’ righteousness for letting  such a woman have any contact with Him. Upon recognizing their judgment, Jesus asks a simple question of His host, Simon, that carries a profound answer.

Why wasn’t Simon treating the good “teacher” the way this sinful woman was? Why was she so broken and generous in her gift? Because she recognized her great need and the hope that rested for her alone in Christ.

The question for us today is, “Who do you most resemble in this story?” Are you broken over your sin? Do you bow before the Lord, desiring to give Him the very best you have because of what He has given you? Or do you judge those who have been forgiven much, thinking them unworthy of contact with you and your God?

The reality is that all of us have sinned greatly, whether we recognize it or not. The deeper we walk with the Lord and the greater we strive for holiness, the more junk we will find. May we not be accused of loving little for thinking we have been forgiven little. May we have the continual mindset of this brave woman, who saw her Savior and worshiped Him accordingly.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Forgiveness, Love, Luke.
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