Sunday, July 3, 2011

End of Luke!

Friends! We've made it to the end of Luke!! :) Well, technically, our group for church finished it over a week ago now, but I'm finally posting the end of it on the blog! :) Woohoo! We are now into Acts and I can't wait to share that with you as well. I've also decided to take part in the 2011 Boundless Summer Challenge. I will be posting updates in a note on Facebook if you want to follow. If you've never checked out Boundless before, you definitely should now. Lots of great articles and advice for young (20-30's) adults. :)

Have a great holiday weekend! Happy 4th of July!
Soli Deo Gloria,

Luke 21
I was in nursery so I still need to listen to Pastor Mark's sermon on tithing from this past week [June 19], but I love the image in the story of the widow's offering. I want to be a generous giver as much as I can, not just as much as comfortable. In his warning to the disciples about the end times, I liked the wording "make up your mind not to worry". It reminds me that I need to make the conscious effort to rid my life of worry, it's not something that will happen automatically. I have to be careful about this otherwise my heart "will be weighed down with...the anxieties of life" (vs. 34). It is such an easy trap for me to fall into right now with some uncertainty about the future and big decisions looming on the horizon, but I need to remember to consciously commit them to Christ and then release them, not grab them back from His hands. Making the effort to not worry is worth the result I want: increased faith, trust and dependence on Christ, a closer relationship with my husband, and less stress in my life overall. :) With God all things are possible!

Luke 22
I know where my hope is and that the story doesn't end here or with the crucifixion. But sometimes, this part of the story, from the Passover meal to the betrayal, can be so saddening to me. I think this is mostly because I know what happens next. In my heart, I beg the disciples to pay attention and open their eyes to what is occurring. I feel crushed at Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial, knowing all to often how prone I am to fall into my own sins and grieve my Savior. I love the reminder Jesus gives the disciples, that when they were sent out they didn't lack anything. I need that reminder so much nowadays! That and the one to not worry. Even now, as he knows he is preparing to be crucified, Jesus gives his disciples such wonderful advice on the Mount of Olives: "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." If I wish to not fall into sin, I need to be in communication with my Heavenly Father, becoming more like Christ.
When Jesus says "You say that I am" at the end of the chapter, the priests are enraged because the phrase Jesus used ("I am") was considered to be only a phrase that God used to describe Himself ("I AM THAT I AM."). Jesus knew his audience and knew that they would not believe him or answer any questions since they had ceased doing so long ago. His claim to deity with that one statement was enough in their eyes to condemn him for blasphemy. 

Luke 23
Here we see the fruition of Herod's mission to see Jesus that started in chapter 9 but it doesn't give him the satisfaction he sought. Despite desiring so earnestly to see him and questioning him for a long time, Herod is disappointed when Jesus doesn't answer his questions. So it can be for us sometimes. I may earnestly desire to experience a relationship with Christ or pray to him, but if my motives are selfish than I will be severely disappointed. Based on how he treated John the Baptist, we can expect no better treatment for Jesus from Herod's hand. Even the one thief who yelled at Jesus was disappointed when he wanted Christ to save them all from death.
Luke does not record this, but in Matthew 27, when the crowd is calling out for Jesus' crucifixion, they say “His blood is on us and on our children". So back in Luke 23, what Jesus says to the weeping women has so much more impact: "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." It echoes the judgment that the people called on themselves for crucifying the Messiah.
I love the image of the curtain being ripped from top to bottom between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the Temple. The way had been made for us to return to a relationship with the Holy God, there was no longer anything that could stand in our way if we desire that relationship.

Luke 24
I love the phrase "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" It reminds us that our Savior truly lives! I also love that these were the women who had cared for and followed Jesus and they were the first ones to hear about his resurrection. The travelers on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus only when he chose to reveal himself but after he disappeared they recalled the fire that had been kindled in their hearts at hearing the Scriptures he shared with them on the road. Their hunger and thirst for knowledge of the Messiah was written on their hearts and Jesus spoke directly to this. May the same fire and desire fill my own heart as I read His Word! I find it interesting that Luke makes a point of saying that the disciples did not believe it was Jesus because of "joy and amazement", not necessarily out of any doubt that it was in fact him since I'm certain they would recognize him. I love that Jesus' final act before returning to heaven was to bless his followers. We know from the other gospels that this was his great commissioning, sending us out in His name, but not alone. :) And, of course, that takes us into Acts...

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