Luke 19.1-10 – January 11, 2020

Luke 19.1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, ‘”Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19.1-10, NIV)

Two things stand out to me about this passage. The first is the desire for Zacchaeus to see Jesus. He would do anything … even climb a tree. (Adults do not typically do that sort of thing!) The second is the way he was changed by Jesus, willing to give back even more than he cheated out of people. Jesus has a way of making a difference in our lives, doesn’t he?

Thought Questions:

How hard do you work to learn more about Jesus? Are you willing to do things that might be seen as “out of the ordinary?”

In what ways do people today–even or especially church going folk–ignore or shun those who are “sinners?” How should Jesus’ response to Zacchaeus and those around him affect our desire to reach out those we might consider “sinners?”

How has following Jesus changed your life in amazing ways?

Daniel 9.9 – January 10, 2020

Daniel 9.9

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him…” (Daniel 9.9, NIV)

It’s one thing to be forgiven for doing something accidentally, but to have the Lord be merciful to us even when we willfully rebelled against him? That’s an amazing statement about who God is and his love for us.

Thought Questions:

You hear people say that God could not forgive them for what they had done. Have you ever felt this way? Why is it so easy for us to assume we are “too far gone” for God’s love?

Describe a time when you felt like you most needed God’s forgiveness and he gave it.

How does God’s mercy and forgiveness affect how you love and love for him?

Hebrews 11.32-35 – January 9, 2020

Matthew 10.42

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11.32-35, NIV)

The whole chapter is good, but 32-35 reminds me that my faith in him can overcome anything.

Thought Questions:

When you look at the list of things in the passage above, how many of them seem beyond your ability, even impossible to accomplish? What would you say is the difference between the people listed in the passages above and you?

How does our faith in God allow us to do things we think would otherwise be impossible?

What events have happened in your life that you would you have considered impossible, had it not been for God’s help and your faith in him?

What challenges do you face today that, in view of your faith in God, are really know big deal?

Matthew 10.42 – January 8, 2020

Matthew 10.42

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of those little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10.42, NIV)

I love this passage because it reminds me that our service to God is not always the big, most noticed events. At times, it is simply the small things we do for others that matter the most.

Thought Questions:

At the end of your life what sort of things would like to be able to say you have done for God? How many of these things are big things? How many of them small, yet meaningful ones? Why would you say these things are important to you?

How comforting is it to you to know the things you do, big-to-small, are noticed by God?

How have you given a cup of cold water to someone today?

Luke 2.1-21 – January 7, 2020

Luke 2.1-21

“Glory to God in the highest heaven
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2.14 NIV)

We have just finished the “Christmas season.” As you reflect back on this time when we remember the birth of Jesus, how did you see the glory of God in the midst of the typical holiday rush?

Thought Questions:

In what ways is Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus sort of anticlimactic, just a mention that Mary gave birth to a firstborn son? In what ways might this tell us about what Luke considered most important about the story of Jesus’ birth?

How has the good news of Jesus provided you and the people you know joy?

How have you given glory to God today?

Psalm 118 – January 6, 2020

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever. (Psalm 118.1 NIV)

It is one thing to give thanks to the Lord when everything is going just as you planned, but what about when the bottom drops out, when troubles have hit and there is no end in sight? As you read through this Psalm, notice all of the ways the author describes how he was about to fall, but “the Lord helped me.” How has God helped you when you were down? Did you thank him?

Thought Questions:

How do you typically react when your life hits a rough patch? Where do you turn first? How can you turn to God’s faithfulness first?

Whether the psalmist knew it our not, there are several allusions to Jesus, the coming Messiah, in this psalm. Where are they and why do you think the psalmist mentions these specific things?

How much confidence can you have in your life–even in the hard times–knowing that God’s love endures forever?

Luke 17.11-19 – January 5, 2020

Luke 17.11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy h met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17.11-19 NIV)

I would like to think I would be the first to turn around and thank Jesus for what he had done, but to be healed of leprosy was so unbelievable, I’m not sure but I would have been too overwhelmed to even think. Two things from this. First, are you aware of how amazing God’s grace is to you? Second, have you said thank you?

Thought Questions:

How bad do you think it would have been for someone to have leprosy in Jesus’ day? What sort of ways are people ostracized today like lepers were in Jesus’ day? How can we show mercy on these people?

Why do you think Jesus healed these ten in such a simple fashion–no big scene, just “Go, show yourselves to the priests”?

Spend some time writing down the things for which you are thankful to God today.