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?

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?

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.

Luke 4.14-30 – January 4, 2020

Luke 4.14-30

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4.18-21 NIV)

How amazing would it have been to be in Galilee that day and realize the person sitting in front of you was the fulfillment of all that which you and your people had longed for. Years of waiting now being realized in this man. Yet, what Jesus WAS doing and what the people WANTED him to do were often in conflict. How hard would it have been to anticipate a Messiah, only to have him act contrary to your understanding of how he was to act?

Thought Questions:

Jesus gives a list of things he is accomplishing, an agenda of sorts, as spoken first by the prophet Isaiah. Would you characterize Jesus’ followers today as people doing the things on Jesus’ list? How can we do this better?

Why would Jesus’ comment about people outside the Jews being accepted into faith cause so much conflict? (vv. 24-30) In what ways are people still concerned about “outsiders” coming into the church?

Notice that Jesus is being led by the Spirit. In what ways do you allow yourself to be led by the Spirit? How helpful is this to a successful life of discipleship? How is this scary, at times?

We Had Hoped – April 29, 2019

Judges 9.22-10.18; Luke 24.13-53; Psalm 100.1-5; Proverbs 14.11-12

Have you ever had your hopes dashed? By “hopes,” I don’t mean things that may or may not have come to pass. I mean things that you put all your dreams into, everything you were about was focused on the possibility of this thing coming true. You absolutely knew it would happen. Only it didn’t. While the comments of the two men on the road to Emmaus were sad, perhaps even sadder was the fact that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, they just had to go through a time of doubting that it was true. When have you thought Jesus was not going to provide salvation for you?

Questions:

Describe a time when you have spouted off brags and boasts, only to have it come back to haunt you.

Why do you think it was through the breaking of the bread that Jesus’ followers finally recognized him?

What are ways we acknowledge that the Lord is God today?

Why would a seemingly right path lead to death?

Dead – April 28, 2019

Judges 8.18-9.21; Luke 23.44-24.12; Psalm 99.1-9; Proverbs 14.9-10

We often arrive at worship on Easter morning dressed in our finest, big smiles on our faces, ready to celebrate a risen Lord. Don’t forget, however, that first Easter morning was filled with sad disciples making a painful journey to where they were certain their friend and their Lord lay dead. How does the pain of Saturday or early Sunday morning make the joy of Easter Sunday complete?

Questions:

How can we be people who assume that we are not leading others, but that God is?

How do you think you would have reacted if you had been standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus died?

What does it mean for us today to say that God is our king?

In what ways do we make fun or belittle the idea of guilt? How can we make certain we are not doing this?

Forgiveness – April 27, 2019

Judges 7.1-8.17; Luke 23.13-43; Psalm 97.1-98.9; Proverbs 14.7-8

Jesus is hanging on the cross, slowly dying for the sins of the world. Below him are all of the people shouting insults and derogatory comments to him. The people responsible for his death are watching on with glee. The people who swore they would die with Jesus are nowhere to be found. How would you respond to your enemies if you had been in Jesus’ situation? How does Jesus respond? How can we move to be able to respond in this way to our enemies?

Questions:

What sort of moments do we have today when our enemy’s armies are huge and ours are tiny, well, tiny plus God? How can we trust God more in these circumstances?

What do you think the early readers of Luke’s gospel would have have thought when they read that Pilate declared Jesus innocent?

What new song do you sing today as a result of God’s wonderful deeds?

How can we love others while still staying away from fools?