Peter, James, and John returned from the Mount of Transfiguration to confusion, chaos, and a terrible manifestation of evil. What unfolded next brought into sharp focus a critical lesson for the disciples and one equally critical for us. For we, too, are confronted with confusion, chaos, and evil. In this gospel story, a surprising, highly relatable individual will emerge to inspire us.
In our previous message, we saw Peter confess Jesus as the Messiah. Right after this, Jesus tells his disciples he is going to suffer and die. Certainly, this would not have been the picture of the Messiah they would have been expecting. Perhaps because of that, God the Father, in his grace, allows a few of the disciples to see a glimpse of Jesus in his glory. Not only does he allow them to see Jesus in his glory, but the Father also affirms Jesus’ identity and then commands them to listen to him. In the days ahead, the disciples were going to be challenged by some of the things that Jesus said to them. They were going to have to decide to listen to him and follow him. The same is true in our day. Jesus has shared with us some hard things--things our culture finds offensive. We have a decision to make. Will we obey the Father and listen to Jesus, or will we listen to someone else?
C.S. Lewis said, "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important." In this message, we pick up Luke’s Gospel at Chapter 9 verse 10. The significance of Jesus becomes clear through the last in a series of remarkable miracles. His identity, which He has thoughtfully unveiled, becomes clear to the disciples. As the fog lifts, Jesus outlines the implications of His identity, the call to follow Him, and offers a jarring interruption to the disciples' self-centered expectations. Like the disciples, we still need to have our expectations rattled so we can invest in the things that will last.
Have you heard Jesus calling you but you feel inadequate for his mission? Perhaps you’ve been learning from Jesus but are beginning to realize that’s not enough. He’s been calling you to something more. In Luke 9:1-9, we see Jesus take a step back as he empowers the disciples to venture out on their first short term mission trip. There comes a time when we must experience the wonder of who we have been shaped to be in Christ. We realize Jesus’ power is with us as we imitate Christ.
Have you ever been desperate? Have you gone through an intense season of suffering and been desperate for something to change? Maybe you haven't experienced a prolonged season of suffering, but you've been in a real life-or-death situation and were desperate for help. There’s no getting around the fact that we live in a broken and fallen world. Because of that, eventually each of us will come face to face with desperate circumstances. When we do, the question will be where (and to whom) will we turn for help? In Luke 8:40-56, we meet two individuals who are in a place of desperation and who, in faith, turn to Jesus for help. Jesus honors their faith, but He also gives them more than they were asking for. In doing so, their faith is put to the test.
At some point in life, we will all experience sudden significant storms that, if allowed, will leave us gripped with fear. In this passage, Jesus shows us that He is the only one with the authority and the ability to bring true peace and transformation in the difficult situations of life.
We are all looking for that "extra something" that can make a difference in our lives. We all want to be happier...to have good families...to do well in our work...to have meaning and purpose in life. What is that "extra something"--that secret that makes a difference? Jesus, the great difference maker, gave a message to the crowd in Luke 8 that answers this question.
In this message, we look at one of the most moving and touching stories of true repentance and faith in the entire Gospel of Luke. We see why Jesus truly is the friend of sinners and how it applies to each of our lives.
In the last message, we witnessed Jesus doing the impossible. Interrupting a funeral by raising a dead man would appear to still any doubts. But in the very next scene, doubt emerges from a surprising corner and not-so-surprising corner. The way Jesus responds to these pockets of doubt reveals much about Jesus and ourselves. Does He condemn doubt? Or does He welcome and answer it?
We live in such a busy and hurried world today. People are running from one thing to the next and, if that wasn’t bad enough, now we have an overabundance of technology and media to distract us. The reality, though, is that we live in a very broken world and people are hurting all around us. Jesus has called His followers to love and show compassion to those who are hurting. Yet for many of us, we are so self-absorbed or distracted that we can’t see anybody but ourselves. As we start Luke Chapter 7, we are going to see that Jesus lived radically different from that. He was aware of the needs of those around him and His compassion caused Him to respond to their needs.
A beating heart supplies all we need for our bodies. A spiritual heart does the same thing for our spirit. The writer of Proverbs said it this way: Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. In our next section from Luke, Jesus warns of the things that can dull the heart and shrink it. Conversely, Jesus offers a pattern of life that enlivens and enlarge the heart.
As Jesus’ ministry grows, so does the opposition. But why? If He was doing so much good, why would powerful forces begin to line up against Him? Luke helps us understand this by taking us inside four different encounters. In each scenario we see a different slice of how Jesus questioned the unquestionable. There are powerful lessons here for all of us, especially in how we relate to the Word of God. Do we use it to reinforce our pride, or do we let it uproot our pride?
The Bible is full of many wonderful, amazing promises, ones that we can bank our lives and eternities on. Yet following Jesus still requires faith, and as John Wimber (the founder of the Vineyard movement of churches) used to say, “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” In Luke 5:1-26, we read three different stories involving people seeking to follow Jesus. In each one, they step out in faith and take a risk, and as a result they witness "extraordinary things" (5:26).
One of Luke’s goals is to communicate that the gospel of Jesus is for everyone. He pays special attention to the neglected and minimized. One commentator said, “For Luke, the ‘lowly people’ are especially noted as candidates for God’s grace.” One such highlighted group was women. In an excessively male-centered first century world, Jesus modeled ministry to and with women in a way that shocked his contemporaries. He defied labels then, and he continues to defy labels as He offers modern women an alternative to religious and secular salvations. He offers a third way, a gospel way--it is good news for every woman.
Physical health is important to all of us. We all want to live life free of pain and physical disabilities. But if we or our loved ones are ill--particularly, when they are gravely ill--life comes to a screeching halt. We see examples in the gospels of Jesus healing all. How does this apply today? Does Jesus bring healing to us like He did when He walked on this earth?
One of the biggest struggles in the human heart is the fear of rejection. Many of us are held captive to the opinions of others and their expectations of us, such that it controls our lives. However, we see in the life and ministry of Jesus that He was completely free from that fear. He didn’t let others' opinions and affirmation affect or control him. Instead of being controlled by others, Jesus followed His Father’s voice and His Father’s will for His
Easter happened in the past, but spills into the present. The Bible teaches that if we become believers we are "raised with Christ" and "made new" through Jesus’ resurrection. We are literally plunged into the life of God and participate in His life. Sound mysterious? It is--the Bible can only describe it with word pictures. Sound important? Undoubtedly! One author described this connection to Jesus as "at once the center and circumference of authentic human existence."
Good Friday is an evening where we celebrate and remember the death of Jesus Christ and the redemption that comes through His shed blood. Enjoy this message from Tom Short as he share some thoughts on the agony that Jesus experienced in the garden.
In our last message on Jesus’ baptism, we saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove. We also saw His Father speak from heaven, affirming Him in His identity. As we move to Luke Chapter Four, we see the Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness where He will go toe to toe with Satan. This will be one of their first battles, and Satan will throw everything he can at Jesus in order to try to get Him to compromise. However, as we will see, Jesus emerges from the battle victorious. Jesus accomplishes what Adam, Israel, and even you and I, could not accomplish.
As followers of Jesus, we know that our core calling is to become like Jesus. To become a ‘"little Christ," as C.S. Lewis put it. Yet, is that fair? I mean, He is God. How can we think as He thought, speak as He spoke, or do what He did when He has such a remarkable advantage? Surely, God was kidding. Right?! We will re-examine this Christian undertow in this message called "The Beginning." Jesus’ baptism, though told in only a few verses, opens up a flood of insights about how Jesus could accomplish all He did. Reflecting on these insights may just ignite a fire in your own vision of what God can do through you.