Inviting Unworthy Sinners: Luke 5:1-11

Focus Passage: Luke 5:1-11 (NCV)

One day while Jesus was standing beside Lake Galilee, many people were pressing all around him to hear the word of God. Jesus saw two boats at the shore of the lake. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, and asked him to push off a little from the land. Then Jesus sat down and continued to teach the people from the boat.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.”

Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will.” When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. They called to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking.

When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he bowed down before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man!” He and the other fishermen were amazed at the many fish they caught, as were 10 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.” 11 When the men brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Read Luke 5:1-11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

The official call of the earliest and closest disciples contains a fascinating conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, the man who would ultimately become the most famous disciple. While Matthew and Mark simply include a shortened version of this event, Luke draws out all the details of what happened – and the miracle that changed the direction of these men’s lives.

The idea that is jumping off the page at me while I read this event is in Peter’s response to Jesus after they had finished hoisting the net full of fish into the boat. When Simon Peter realized what had just happened, Luke tells us that he bowed before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man!” (v. 8)

Simon Peter realized after his earlier comment, which was full of doubt and perhaps even a little sarcastic, that Jesus was significant. At what was probably the worst time of the day to fish, Jesus had miraculously brought about a catch that was probably many weeks’ worth of pay. Peter realized this and he realized that there was nothing that made him worthy to even be around Jesus.

Looking at Peter’s time as a disciple we can see that he was the one who seemed to get himself in the most trouble, but he was also one of the only disciples brave enough to declare Jesus to be God’s own Son. Luke tells us that Peter felt unworthy of even being considered as a follower. He felt his past excluded him.

However, a couple verses later, we read how Jesus responded. Jesus replied to Peter by saying, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.” (v. 10b)

Jesus’ response tells us something incredible about God. God is willing to include sinful people in His plan. While we are entirely unworthy to even be considered for a part in God’s story, He is more than willing to invite us to be a part of it. Jesus invited sinful Peter, and He is more than willing to invite you and me to be a part of His story in the world today!

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Secret Preparation: Matthew 24:36-51

Focus Passage: Matthew 24:36-51 (CEV)

36 No one knows the day or hour. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows. 37 When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. 38 People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. 39 They didn’t know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.

40 Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. 41 Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. 42 So be on your guard! You don’t know when your Lord will come. 43 Homeowners never know when a thief is coming, and they are always on guard to keep one from breaking in. 44 Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.

45 Who are faithful and wise servants? Who are the ones the master will put in charge of giving the other servants their food supplies at the proper time? 46 Servants are fortunate if their master comes and finds them doing their job. 47 You may be sure that a servant who is always faithful will be put in charge of everything the master owns. 48 But suppose one of the servants thinks that the master won’t return until late. 49 Suppose that evil servant starts beating the other servants and eats and drinks with people who are drunk. 50 If that happens, the master will surely come on a day and at a time when the servant least expects him. 51 That servant will then be punished and thrown out with the ones who only pretended to serve their master. There they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.

Read Matthew 24:36-51 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of the times when Jesus was teaching, some of His followers asked about when His return would be. Instead of sharing a time, which He says He doesn’t know, Jesus describes what the world would be like. In Jesus’ description, He shares an idea that many people have misunderstood.

After sharing that He doesn’t know the time, Jesus tells His followers, “When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. They didn’t know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.” (v. 37-39)

Jesus parallels His return to the days of Noah. While it is easy to say the people living in Noah’s day were shocked and surprised when the flood ultimately came, they were not uninformed. For over 100 years, Noah had been preaching about the coming judgment, and likely everyone had written him off and gone about their own lives and their own tasks – ignorant of what God was about to do.

We are told this is how it will be when Jesus returns. While people will have been given a clear warning, most will have dismissed or ignored it, and while they were warned, they still will be surprised.

It is under the context of Jesus returning and appearing that we then read the following verses: “Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. So be on your guard! You don’t know when your Lord will come. Homeowners never know when a thief is coming, and they are always on guard to keep one from breaking in. Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.” (v. 40-44)

When Jesus returns, He first describes it at a time when He will appear, and then He describes it as being a surprise to people. He describes it as being a time when some people will be ready, while others won’t be.

However, the tricky part of Jesus’ description here is that being ready is not an entirely outward process. When Jesus describes two men in the field and two women grinding grain, He describes people who are essentially doing the same things, but one was ready and one wasn’t. Jesus’ appearance in this passage will not be remotely close to a secret even though it will be a surprise for many.

Jesus concludes this section by reemphasizing His key point: “Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.” (v. 44)

Our preparation for Jesus’ return might not be visible, but it is crucial. Not only is it important for us to be doing the right things and living for Jesus in a public way, but we must also be living for Him privately as well. Our hearts, minds, and actions must all be focused on Jesus and be ready for His return. This is the only way for us to not be surprised when He ultimately appears in the clouds at His return.

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Your Last Year: Luke 13:1-9

Focus Passage: Luke 13:1-9 (NIV)

 1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

 8 “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

Read Luke 13:1-9 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In this journal entry, we are looking at an ominous story Jesus tells about a fig tree. Most of Jesus’ parables are not all that vague, but when we read this one, it does seem to be less clear than most.

The big idea I want to point out about this parable is precisely what makes it very “unclear” – it’s missing its ending. The parable builds up the story, but then it leaves us waiting, wanting there to be an ending where none is supplied. Instead, we are left with the man who planted the tree giving the vineyard-keeper one more year to get fruit from the fig tree.

Why is this parable missing an ending? Does the fig tree produce fruit with the extra care that it is given? We don’t know, and here might be a reason why: The fig tree represents us.

If we read this parable with the perspective that we are the fig tree, would we live any differently? If God (the One who planted us) is waiting and watching for us to bear fruit (which is another way of saying to be productive with the gifts/life He has given), are we going to let life pass us by, or will we do something with the life that we were given?

If we are represented by the tree, and we were given one more year, wouldn’t that make the coming year a significant one?

This is one of those parables where I am glad there is no ending, because each time I read it I can be reminded that my time is not guaranteed, and what matters is what I am doing with my life today.

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Heaven-focused Hearts: Matthew 6:19-24

Focus Passage: Matthew 6:19-24 (CEV)

19 Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. 21 Your heart will always be where your treasure is.

22 Your eyes are like a window for your body. When they are good, you have all the light you need. 23 But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark.

24 You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Read Matthew 6:19-24 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

If we were to gather all of Jesus’ statements about saving money and placed them on a list, ranked by how well known the passage is, near the top of this list we would find a set of verses in the passage we are focusing on in this journal entry.

Our passage opens in the middle of one of Jesus’ sermons, and it opens with Jesus advising those in His audience, “Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them.” (v. 19)

This makes a lot of sense. Any place on earth is not 100% safe for us to place our treasure. Even in the modern banking environment we live in today, our money is not 100% safe. Even with all the protection and insurance, a banking error or hacker may instantly change the number you thought you had.

But Jesus gives us an alternate place for our treasure in the next verse. He continues by saying, “Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.” (v. 20)

On the surface, this seems like excellent advice – until one asks the question about how we accomplish this. As far as I am aware, there is no way to transfer money from my bank account from here on earth to heaven, or take my chest of earthly treasure and transfer it up to God.

However, in Jesus’ next statement, we see what Jesus may want to draw our attention to. Jesus finishes this point by saying, “Your heart will always be where your treasure is.” (v. 21)

Perhaps Jesus is not giving us this financial advice because He wants our money. What if Jesus shared this because He really wants our hearts? What if Jesus wants to get our hearts by helping us redirect our focus regarding money?

If Jesus wants us to shift our “money/treasure focus” to be a “heaven focus” instead, then we discover in these three simple verses a way for us to save in heaven – and that is by investing our treasure in things that help advance God’s kingdom and His message.

When our hearts are focused on heaven, the size of our treasure on earth is not as relevant as our focus on advancing God’s movement and message within our sphere of influence. When our hearts are focused on heaven, our treasure will follow, and we will work alongside God in spreading the gospel message, the great news about His kingdom, and gift of salvation He freely offers. That’s what happens when we have hearts that are heaven focused.

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