Sunday Devotional: Luke 11:1-4

“He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say:

Father,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone
in debt to us.
And do not bring us into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4)

These verses in Luke are part of the “Model Prayer” that Jesus shared with His disciples.  The disciples asked Jesus about prayer and how they should pray.  Jesus shares with them this short prayer as a model for how they should pray.  They should acknowledge God the Father as holy.  They should ask for daily provisions.  They should ask for forgiveness and repent of their sins and to show forgiveness to others. And they should ask for help in dealing with temptation.

We all have times when we struggle to pray.  Sometimes it is hard to have those moments to sit and pray.  But the good thing is God listens to our prayers big or small.  He wants us to have those conversations with Him.  And thankfully when we’re struggling with prayer, we have this model prayer that Jesus shared to go back to and have a starting point.

This week, let us commit to prayer. No matter how big or small, let us take time to have those conversations with the Lord.

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Sunday Devotional: Luke 15:1-7

“All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

So He told them this parable:  “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,  and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’  I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)

This was the first of three parables Jesus shared to the crowds after hearing the Pharisees and scribes complaining.  This one dealt with a shepherd who had lost a sheep.  He had the 99 out in the open field safe and sound but one was missing.  The shepherd went and searched for it and eventually found it.  When he did, he brought it home.  Not only that, he called all his friends and neighbors to let them know what had happened.  The shepherd was joyous that all 100 were back in the open field again.

There is that same kind of joy that happens when one sinner repents and follows Jesus.  There is great celebration that takes place.  One was lost but now is found.  We should celebrate like that when we hear such great news.  We should be sharing that good news so that others who are lost can be found.  This week let us share that joy and share that good news of salvation to a world that needs it.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:44-49

“Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

These words from Jesus are the last ones recorded of Him speaking in the book of Luke.  They were said to the disciples around the time of Jesus’ ascension.  He was returning to the Father but before He did, Jesus did two things.

One, he taught them.  He “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”  He helped them to understand and relate those passages in the Old Testament (Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms) and how they relate to Jesus.  And not only that, how Jesus fulfilled those promises and prophesies.

Two, he instructed them.  He told them that he would be sending them someone that the Father promised.  That someone is the Holy Spirit.  They were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes to empower them in sharing the Gospel in which they were witnesses.

We have that same message and we have that same Spirit inside of us.  We have the Scriptures are able to understand them through the Holy Spirit.  And because of that same Holy Spirit, we are able to go and share the message with others.  This week, let us be about that.  There is a world out there that needs some good news.  We have that good news in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:13-32

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  Together they were discussing everything that had taken place.  And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them.  But they were prevented from recognizing Him.  Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked them.

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him.  But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened.  Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb,  and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”

He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken!  Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther.  But they urged Him: “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.”

It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-32)

This is one of the encounters that happened following the resurrection of Jesus.  There were two followers of Jesus who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They were distraught.  They were discouraged.  They had lost their joy, their hope.  And here comes Jesus.  And for the longest time, Jesus did not reveal Himself to the two.  Instead, He makes this a teaching opportunity.  He spends about seven miles sharing about all that was revealed about Himself in the words of Moses and the Prophets (the Old Testament).  And only at the end of the day when they were breaking bread together, did He reveal Himself to the two.

I think we all have those times like the two followers.  We have our struggles and doubts  We lose hope and faith in the midst of hard times and struggles.  But like those two, we need to be reminded again of the truth.  That Jesus is alive.  That He did rise from the grave.  That is has all authority.  And He loves us and wants us to keep being faithful.

This week, let us be reminded of the hope that we have in Christ.  And let us keep being faithful in following Him on the road that we are walking on.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 22:39-46

“He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him.  When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray,  “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.  Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46)

At this point, Jesus and His disciples had just finished eating the Passover meal and they left the upper room.  Jesus then went over to the Mount of Olives to spend some time in prayer.  While Jesus was praying, several of His closest disciples (Peter, James & John) were to keep watch.  However, they were tired and kept falling asleep.  Jesus kept waking them up and encouraging them to pray as well.

As I was recently reading over these verses again, I was struck by a phrase that I hadn’t noticed before.  It said that when Jesus checked on the disciples he found they were sleeping “exhausted from their grief.” Other translations say they were “sleeping from sorrow.”  The disciples knew something was the matter even though they didn’t know what would take place in mere hours.  But they were distraught.  And so they wanted to just sleep.

I know there have been times in my life where I was exhausted from my grief and and wanted to sleep from sorrow.  When times were hard and I was struggling and just wanted to turn my mind off and sleep.  But like the disciples, in those times we need to pray.  We need to pray for the situations that we’re struggling with at the moment.  We need to pray for those around us and the problems they are facing.  We need to pray and praise God for listening to us.  But no matter what we need to pray.

This week, whether we are exhausted from grief or things are going well, let us pray.  Let us be about prayer.  And if it something we’re struggling with, let God know.  It is a joy and privilege that we have to be able to talk to God.  Let us take advantage of that.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 22:31-32

“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

During the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared the Passover meal with the disciples and gave what would be His final words of instruction before He would be arrested and killed.  In the middle of sharing with His disciples. Jesus looks at Peter and tells him what will happen to him.  Later Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows three times, Peter will deny Jesus.  Here Jesus is telling Peter (and the disciples as a whole) that Satan wants them.  Satan wants to sift them like wheat.  He wants to cause trouble in their lives.

But Jesus tells them that He has prayed for them and He tells Peter that when he repents (from denying) to “strengthen your brothers.”  Even in these short verses, there is truth.  We will have to deal with tough times.  We will mess up and fail.  But the great news is that Jesus is praying for us.  He is interceding for us with the Father.  He is able to do that because of His death paying the cost for our sins and His resurrection being at the right hand of God.  And when we fail, we can repent and turn back to Him and He accepts us.  As well, we have the opportunity to strengthen and encourage one another as we all go through various trials and tribulations.

This week, let us give thanks that Jesus has prayed for us.  Let us be grateful that when we mess up, we can repent and turn back to God.  And let us encourage one another and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 19:45-48

“He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”

Every day He was teaching in the temple complex. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were looking for a way to destroy Him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were captivated by what they heard.” (Luke 19:45-48)

Most people know these verses for the cleansing of the Temple which Jesus did during his last week before His crucifixion.  That is important because the temple was where worship was supposed to take place but there were money changers and others that were taking advantage of people and pushing out real worship taking place.

But look at the next couple of verses.  Jesus that last week would spend every day teaching in the temple.  And while this didn’t please the chief priests and scribes, the people gathered daily to hear Jesus teach.  They crowds were “captivated by what they heard.”  We should have that kind of heart and desire.  We should be people that are drawn to hear what Jesus has to say to us every day through our time reading Scripture, through our prayer time, through times throughout the day that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.

This week, let us desire to have hearts like that.  Let us be like the crowd that gathered to hear Jesus teach in the temple.  Let us be a people that are captivated by what we hear from the Lord.