A weekly devotional designed to help you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, through practical application of spiritual truths from God's word.
Unless You Repent
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Do you remember in John 9 the situation with the man who was born blind and Jesus’ disciples asked Him if it was the man or his parents who had sinned that caused him to be born blind? And now here we see that the perception of the people mimics this idea that hardship somehow equates to how bad of a sinner someone is.
Even in our current culture of unchurched, people tend to claim “karma” – the idea that if you do good, good will happen to you and if you do bad, bad will happen to you. But Jesus debunked that, not only in John 9, when He answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) but also here, when He says not once but twice, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
To God, sin is sin.
It doesn’t matter if the sin is telling a lie or killing someone, sin is sin.
A common example given is that when you view a city from an airplane, you can’t tell which buildings are houses or skyscrapers. They all look like little tiny boxes from that high. But think of this – If you caught someone lying to you, did they do wrong towards you? How about if someone came over to your house and stole from you, would you say they wronged you? What about if someone walked up to you and punched you in the face, would that be wrong towards you? Sure, you might feel different levels of upset about those, but regardless of how bad, they still wronged you.
But let’s take the emotion out of it - if you get pulled over for speeding 5 miles per hour over the legal speed limit, did you break the law? If you get pulled over for speeding 20 miles per hour over the legal speed limit, did you break the law? Since the law states the speed limit, even if you’re only driving a little over that, you have technically broken the law.
God, who is holy and good, gave us His law, first through the ten commandments, and later in more details through Moses, which included those 613 laws, both ceremonial laws and moral laws. There has only been one human to date who has never broken any of those laws and that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, IN ORDER that through His fulfillment of them He would be the perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. If we’re in court for speeding, even if only 1 mile and hour over the speed limit, facing fines for breaking the law – it would be like Jesus standing up, paying our fines, doing traffic school on our behalf, and our driving record is instantly clean.
That is of course a very simplistic example, but the idea is the same – we did the crime but Jesus paid the time, it’s that great exchange in which Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them… For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:19a,21)
But just because Jesus died for the sins of the world and quite literally anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved, doesn’t mean that everyone will be saved. Jesus makes it very clear that unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. So indeed, sin is sin and all who confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9), but if repentance doesn
Interpret the Present Time
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.” (Luke 12:54-59)
In our current culture, the world views love as tolerance of sin and not acknowledging sin as sin, but that’s the most unloving thing we can do to those who are dying in their sin. And this isn’t a soapbox message threatening hell, but it truly is a message of love as Jesus urges people to be reconciled to God before it’s too late.
Accountable in the End
Every person will have to give account for their words and actions in the end. The only difference between those who get separated as God’s sheep and the rest as goats is that the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, covers His sheep. As Christians, we not only need to take inventory of ourselves to ensure the treasure we’re storing is in heaven, just as we read Jesus mention several devotionals ago, but we need to be a people burdened as ambassadors seeking to reconcile a lost people to their loving Creator. Even though our salvation is secure, we too will have to give account for our faithfulness to what God entrusted to us.
And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:3) Don’t we want to be a person who shines like the stars in heaven? And the end is coming soon, so the time to work will soon run out.
Yes, many have and will scoff and say that Christians have been saying it’s the end times for a long time, but with the knowledge that the “slowness” they speak of is God’s grace allowing time for repentance - Do we share despite the scoffing or does the scoffing silence our gospel message? This is another one of those hard questions, but one well worth taking the time to honestly answer and take assessment of in ourselves. Jesus didn’t come down off the cross and stop His mission of redemption for you and me when people scoffed at Him, and neither should we be halted in our mission when people scoff at us.
It is well observed that the world doesn’t like the word judge. They actively quote the partial words of Jesus out of context when they tell Christians that He said to “judge not”, but the Spirit Himself is convicting the world of the coming judgement and Jesus here asks, “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”.
The thing is, it was while we were still sinners that God died for us, and He loved us and sought after us in our lost state to bring us into reconciliation with Himself. So while we may be hated in the process, don’t ever give up on sharing the gospel with people. They are indeed sinners whom Jesus died for and we have the message, the very words of life, that Jesus gave us to share.
Do you remember the person or the people who shared Christ and His gospel message with you? I bet you do because it was likely super impactful, it changed your whole life! And you now, as a follower of Jesus, not only have the opportunities that the Spirit provides but the calling to share the gospel with them, which is what Jesus commissioned His disciples before He ascended and in which you have been commissioned as His follower.
The Very Last Penny
Just as the parable of the servant who is forgiven a financial debt they could never repay, this too is giving that parable type example tha
Not Peace But Division
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)
This little section of verses is packed full! Jesus quickly speaks about the coming judgement and His work on the cross in just the first two sentences, before giving us the details of what to expect (especially when the world tries to say otherwise!).
Fire & Baptism
We know in Jesus’ first coming that He came to set the captives free, not to condemn but to save. But in His second coming, there will be a fiery judgement upon the earth and those on earth who have chosen to reject the salvation offered to them through Jesus. However, at the time Jesus said this, He hadn’t even been crucified yet.
It’s really interesting how Jesus describes His pending death for the sins of the world though a baptism and that it was a great distress to Him until it was accomplished. When we go through water baptism, we are publicly showing the inner work that took place in our hearts in an outward way. As we go down into the water and back up again, it symbolizes our dying to sin and going into the grave and then raising to life anew; this is identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. And in that act of death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus redeemed mankind – of which He was eager to do and is why it caused such great distress until it was accomplished. We were the joy set before Him on that day, the reward in which He was paying His life to redeem.
Not Peace, But Division
This whole idea of peace and division is something that most people who don’t have a true knowledge of God and the Bible usually miss. They claim that Jesus was all about unity and tolerance and love, usually to justify their sin when the Holy Spirit is convicting them concerning sin and righteousness and judgement. While Jesus is indeed about unity, it’s unity within His church, of which He prayed for in His high priestly prayer; and grace, of which through the apostle’s letters we are encouraged to abound in; and love, of which God is. But an aspect that is often disregarded by those misguided Bible quoters is that Jesus is also the Way and the Truth and the Life, and while that creates unity and stirs grace and love within His Church, it indeed creates division between darkness and light.
Just as with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus came to draw a line in the sand. He Himself created division amongst the Jews in His day – those who heard Him and believed and those who heard Him and loved their sin more, which fueled their desire to kill Him. When Peter and John were brought before the council in Acts 4, there was division between them, as followers of Jesus, and the Jewish council, who had killed Jesus. And the Scriptures say that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12)
Jesus Himself is the dividing line and as He had said earlier in Luke, Whoever is not with
The Faithful and Wise Servant
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:41-48)
Peter asked a good question here – who is this message for? When we read the consequences of disobedience, they are severe, so we kind of should know who Jesus is telling this to.
Jesus says here that His message is for all who are servants of God. To the servants who are faithful and wise stewards of what God has entrusted to them, will be blessed and rewarded. But to the servants who say to themselves, “My master is delayed in coming” and decides to mistreat other servants and love the things of the world, they will face the consequences upon the master’s arrival, which will come upon them unexpectedly.
It’s interesting that we read about varying consequences because servants who aren’t obedient will all face consequences, but some will be more severe than others. The varied severity of negative consequence is based on the knowledge of the master’s will.
Now we could get into the details of the servants who will receive what in the parable is described as a beating, but the more important aspect for us to focus on is the difference between the servants who will receive a beating and the servants who won’t. Sure a lighter beating is better than a severe beating, but isn’t no beating at all better? The difference between whether or not a servant will receive a negative consequence is based on their obedience to the master’s will.
The Faithful and Wise
As we read these distinctions, we should want to be a faithful and wise servant. The master trusts this servant and gives them responsibility over His household. This is one who leads and serves his other fellow servants, looking out for them and not beating them like the unfaithful and disobedient servant.
It is easy to put ourselves immediately into the place of the faithful and wise servant, but we don’t want to miss this opportunity to self-reflect and make sure that we are indeed falling into this category and not just deceiving ourselves. It’s much easier to be lazy, mean, and selfish because that’s our natural tendency as sinners.
Faithfulness comes from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and wisdom comes from asking God for it. In this process of self-reflection, and being completely honest with yourself, are you doing these things? In short, it takes abiding in Jesus to produce the fruit that comes from a faithful and wise servant.
Much Will Be Required
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
As a follower of Jesus, you have been entrusted with things. These things may look different from person to person. The most obvious differences is things like: a pastor has been entrusted with feeding and equipping a congregation, along with his first ministry of his wife and children if he has them; and a prayer ministry leader has been entrusted with faithfu
You Also Must Be Ready
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
This is the cherry on top of the last several things Jesus has been telling us. He’s been telling us to not live for this physical world, not to be anxious but to instead seek the kingdom of God; all in all an exhortation to live heavenly minded. And this is the epitome of why – You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Dressed for Action
Jesus is coming back soon and as His servants we shouldn’t be slacking even He seems to tarry. The first command Jesus gave was to stay dressed for action. We live in a dark world and it can often feel wearisome to keep working and serving, but in essence Jesus is saying, don’t put your spiritual pajamas on just because it’s dark. No one is ready to work and serve in anything with their pajamas on, right? They have to be dressed and outfitted for work, proving they have a willingness to serve. So yes, it’s dark but it’s not time to sleep, it’s quite the opposite - it’s time to wake up and serve BECAUSE the days are evil.
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:13-17)
Part of Jesus’ command to stay dressed for action was to also keep your lamps burning. God’s word is likened to lamp as king David wrote, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105) and based on the parable of the ten virgins we know that we need to keep oil in our lamps to keep them burning, of which the Holy Spirit is likened to.
We can be ready and willing to serve but how can we effectively see and not stumble if we don’t have our lamps continuously burning in this dark and evil world? Part of being dressed for action, being willing to serve, is abiding in Jesus, reading His word and meditating on it, in order to keep our lamps burning.
Ready for His Knock
When my husband goes out of town for work trips, my girls and I count down the days until he comes back. And on the day he’s coming home and around the time we think he might drive up, we all intermittently check the driveway to see if he’s back yet. As soon as one of us sees him, we announce it throughout the house and run to the door to greet him. This is kind of how I imagine this description of the servants who are waiting for their master to come home. As soon as the master knocks, they open since they’ve been serving with an expectation and checking periodically to see if there’s a sign of his arrival.
God has graciously given us prophecies and signs that His coming is near, but do we live expectantly for His arrival? Are we getting too wrapped up in the service of our King that we aren’t looking out for the King Himself? We must be ready because we don’t know the day or hour that Jesus is coming back, but we can definitely see based on the signs that it’s closer than ever.
That day will come when He takes us into His eternal kingdom f
Where Your Treasure Is
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34)
This week is a continuation of the previous things Jesus has said. Obviously when, Jesus spoke these words He didn’t break them up into chapters and verses, so we keep in mind the context in which He was speaking from the verses we looked at in the previous devotional weeks leading up to this one.
Jesus had told a parable of a rich fool who wasn’t considering anything spiritual and was only living for the physical. That then led to Jesus talking about not being anxious because our Father knows what we need so instead we should seek His kingdom. And this week, we get more information that not only will God give us the kingdom, but it’s the Father’s good pleasure to do so.
As our good Shepherd, Jesus, reminds us of this type of relationship with Him in His precious address of calling us His “little flock”, all while repeating that phrase that we talked about last month again – Fear Not. He had just told us to seek God’s kingdom instead of being anxious, and now He tells us an awesome reassurance of that. We can obey in seeking His kingdom and not fear that it won’t be given because Jesus is telling us it’s our Father’s good pleasure to give it to us. This provides us freedom! We don’t have to be anxious or fearful, we can trust our Good Father.
That freedom paves the way to focus on storing the right kind of treasure in the right place. Part of that right kind of treasure is giving to the needy.
Treasure in the Heavens
In the early church we end up seeing that they sold their possessions and gave freely as anyone had need. And in James we read that taking care of those who cannot care for themselves, such as orphans and widows, is a pure and undefiled religion. These are the types of things that God values and treasures. Gold, silver, and jewels are all made by God and they don’t have the same value to Him that people have placed on it. Yet in our free will, it’s the things, including our hearts, that we freely offer to God that is of great value to Him and that He has defined as heavenly treasure.
Jesus makes it clear that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Now here we see treasure and hearts, but following this the right way doesn’t actually start with the heart. The heart is deceitful, and we most definitely don’t want to be guided by it. If we did that and went based on our feelings, our sinful nature would guide us to treasure the wrong things and we’d be stuck in a rut there.
To be effective in this, it actually has to start in your mind. If you are renewing your mind in the Word of God then your mind will be set on the things which are above. If your mind is set on the things which are above, then you’re going to have God’s perspective of treasure and not only treasuring the right things but storing that heavenly treasure. And where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
So once again, we see the application to this is to abide in Jesus and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The bible is God’s direct word to us and we have the privilege of having our own personal copy of it, often many copies in a household. Do we treasure that fact? That the God of the universe not only came down to earth to bring us redemption for our souls, but that He has preserved His word over thousands and thousands of years, and that He has gifted people to translate it into our native language, giving us the ability to read it whenever we want and with the promise that the Holy Spirit will guide and teach us as we read. That is amazing! God is amazing and His grace is amazing! This week, let’