Where Is Your Name: Luke 10:1-20

Focus Passage: Luke 10:1-20 (NCV)

After this, the Lord chose seventy-two others and sent them out in pairs ahead of him into every town and place where he planned to go. He said to them, “There are a great many people to harvest, but there are only a few workers. So pray to God, who owns the harvest, that he will send more workers to help gather his harvest. Go now, but listen! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Don’t carry a purse, a bag, or sandals, and don’t waste time talking with people on the road. Before you go into a house, say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ If peace-loving people live there, your blessing of peace will stay with them, but if not, then your blessing will come back to you. Stay in the same house, eating and drinking what the people there give you. A worker should be given his pay. Don’t move from house to house. If you go into a town and the people welcome you, eat what they give you. Heal the sick who live there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10 But if you go into a town, and the people don’t welcome you, then go into the streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dirt from your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. But remember that the kingdom of God is near.’ 12 I tell you, on the Judgment Day it will be better for the people of Sodom than for the people of that town.

13 “How terrible for you, Korazin! How terrible for you, Bethsaida! If the miracles I did in you had happened in Tyre and Sidon, those people would have changed their lives long ago. They would have worn rough cloth and put ashes on themselves to show they had changed. 14 But on the Judgment Day it will be better for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No! You will be thrown down to the depths!

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever refuses to accept you refuses to accept me. And whoever refuses to accept me refuses to accept the One who sent me.”

17 When the seventy-two came back, they were very happy and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we used your name!”

18 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. 20 But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.”

Read Luke 10:1-20 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Have you ever received a gift from someone?

Have you ever been promised a gift that you would receive at some point in the future?

In our passage for today, the closing verses stood out to me with a pretty profound insight. On returning from their missionary task, the disciples are excited because of the power that they received through the Holy Spirit. They return saying, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we used your name!” (v. 17)

However, in Jesus reply we see this profound truth, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven. (v. 18-20 – emphasis added.)

In His response, Jesus is teaching a significant truth: Our future rewards are more important than our present realities – even when we are in a good place in our lives.

At one of the heights of the disciples’ happiness/joy, Jesus intentionally points out that their happiness should not be based upon what they did (or could do through the Holy Spirit), but instead that it should be based on the fact that they have been saved and given the promise of a future life with Jesus in Heaven.

The truth we must remember is that our happiness must be because of what we are promised in the future and not based upon our present circumstances. The disciples were not able to cast out every demon that they came up against, and the temptation we all face is that when things don’t go our way, we have the tendency to doubt our relationship with God. When we are in the middle of an emotional high, it is easy to feel that God is with us, but when the emotions fade and we come down from the high we are on, we are tempted to think that God is moving away from us.

This is never the case. God wants His relationship with us to be about Him and His character, not about us and our ever-changing feelings.

The disciples were excited when they returned from their mission trip because of the amazing things they experienced on it – but Jesus knew that this feeling wouldn’t last. Our hope and faith need a stronger foundation than our feelings; our hope and faith need Jesus as their foundation.

Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy concerning His first appearance – which is another way to say that He kept His promises to the Jewish nation (even if they didn’t understand the promises). Because Jesus kept His Word then, we have no valid reason to think that He won’t continue to keep His Word moving forward into the future – which means that there will be a point that He returns, and a point when we return to Heaven to be with Him.

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Jesus and the Critics: Mark 5:35-43

Focus Passage: Mark 5:35-43 (NLT)

35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

Read Mark 5:35-43 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Right before Jesus resurrects Jairus’ daughter, we read about a startling reaction the crowd of mourners gives to Jesus following a profound statement. Jesus wanted to stretch how people viewed death, but instead, we read a completely different response. After Jesus tells those present that the girl is not dead but simply asleep, Mark tells us, “The crowd laughed at him.” (v. 40a)

Jesus was being serious, but the crowd didn’t believe Him. They laughed at Him instead.

But Jesus didn’t worry Himself with what others thought. He simply sent them away and then focused on helping those who He came to help.

Mark tells us that this was not the first crowd Jesus stopped in this event. Just a few verses earlier, after telling Jairus to have faith, Mark tells us that Jesus, “stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James).” (v. 37)

And after the crowd in Jairus’ home laughs at Him, we read, “But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.” (v. 40b)

Jesus had sent everyone away except for three disciples and the two parents. Jesus didn’t need a crowd full of pessimists and mourners present. He needed only a minimum number of believers present for this miracle. This miracle was to foreshadow His own resurrection, but the crowds present – and even many of the disciples had closed minds towards what Jesus was really capable of.

But Jesus didn’t worry Himself with what others thought about Him. He simply sent them away before focusing on helping those who He came to help.

Jesus serves as a role model for each of us. The more we focus on helping people, the more people will take notice, and many people won’t understand. Even the act of helping others will bring critics our way. But Jesus’ example is ignoring the critics’ words, sending them away, and helping those He came to help. When we face people who are critical of what we are doing, ignoring them may be the best option. Ignoring them frees us up to focus on helping those we came to help.

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Believing His Promises: Luke 1:26-38

Focus Passage: Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Read Luke 1:26-38 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In Mary’s conversation with the angel in the first chapter in Luke’s gospel, we read an incredibly powerful statement that the angel shares. While the context of this statement is the birth of Jesus, the way this statement is phrased makes it much more universal than being confined to just one conversation that happened over 2,000 years ago.

The last thing the angel tells Mary after sharing God’s plan for her life is this: “For no word from God will ever fail.” (v. 37)

Of all the verses included in the entire Bible, this one may come in as one of the most powerful messages ever spoken. This statement tells us that every single thing He has promised will come to pass. We might not always know the details or the timing surrounding when it will happen, but we can be assured that because God said it, it will happen.

It is worth paying attention to a follow-up question surrounding this statement: “Why?”

We should ask ourselves the questions “Why can we be sure that no word from God will ever fail?” and/or “Why is it that no word from God will ever fail?”

We can believe the message the angel shares is true because it tells us a key piece of God’s character. While God is merciful and He is willing to delay judgment (the events surrounding Jonah’s message to Nineveh), His words will ultimately come to pass (Nineveh was eventually destroyed, but it was at a later date because God delayed His punishment as a result of the peoples’ response to Jonah).

This statement also assures us of another promise we have: Jesus will return and God will remake the heavens and the earth to be perfect like they originally were before sin. God has promised us this in His Word, and we can be sure that His word will never fail!

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Joining a Movement: Luke 14:7-24

Focus Passage: Luke 14:7-24 (GW)

 7 Then Jesus noticed how the guests always chose the places of honor. So he used this illustration when he spoke to them: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding, don’t take the place of honor. Maybe someone more important than you was invited. 9 Then your host would say to you, ‘Give this person your place.’ Embarrassed, you would have to take the place of least honor. 10 So when you’re invited, take the place of least honor. Then, when your host comes, he will tell you, ‘Friend, move to a more honorable place.’ Then all the other guests will see how you are honored. 11 Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.”

 12 Then he told the man who had invited him, “When you invite people for lunch or dinner, don’t invite only your friends, family, other relatives, or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they will return the favor. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the handicapped, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then you will be blessed because they don’t have any way to pay you back. You will be paid back when those who have God’s approval come back to life.”

 15 One of those eating with him heard this. So he said to Jesus, “The person who will be at the banquet in the kingdom of God is blessed.”

 16 Jesus said to him, “A man gave a large banquet and invited many people. 17 When it was time for the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who were invited, ‘Come! Everything is ready now.’

 18 “Everyone asked to be excused. The first said to him, ‘I bought a field, and I need to see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I bought five pairs of oxen, and I’m on my way to see how well they plow. Please excuse me.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I recently got married, and that’s why I can’t come.’

 21 “The servant went back to report this to his master. Then the master of the house became angry. He told his servant, ‘Run to every street and alley in the city! Bring back the poor, the handicapped, the blind, and the lame.’

 22 “The servant said, ‘Sir, what you’ve ordered has been done. But there is still room for more people.’

 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go to the roads and paths! Urge the people to come to my house. I want it to be full. 24 I can guarantee that none of those invited earlier will taste any food at my banquet.’ ”

Read Luke 14:7-24 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In the parable Jesus shares in our passage for this journal entry, we see an interesting parallel when we look at the character of the servant — the one who the master sent to invite those to the banquet. While there are several angles and roles that the servant could represent, for this article, let’s narrow our focus of the servant role to how he represents Jesus.

First off, the host sends the servant to those who were originally invited. If this role represents God sending Jesus, He first came to invite the Jews and the “church people” – specifically those who claim His name (Christ) and those who claim to be a part of His group. When these people discount the invitation, then God sends Jesus to invite everyone else.

But wait! There was no “Christian” church when Jesus came. He launched the disciples to “build/grow” it at the close of His earthly ministry. So doesn’t that mean that only the Jews rejected the invitation while leaving the Christian church safely in the second round of invitations?

Maybe, but Jesus didn’t come to start an institution, He came to start a movement. The Jewish “church” at the time was more about the institution than about the God it claimed to worship. Too often, I see today’s Christian church being more focused on the institution, than on the Savior who’s name we uphold. In this regard, today’s church is just as at risk for rejecting God’s invitation as the original Jewish “church” was.

The longer someone has been part of the Christian faith (i.e. church), the greater the temptation there is to drift towards supporting the organization over supporting the God we serve and the Savior we put our faith in.

I believe that there will be a large number of Jews in heaven – and I believe there will be a large number of Christians who have devoted their whole lives to Jesus there as well. But, I also believe that there will be a good number of people who are “spontaneous” invitees, because God does not want Heaven’s banquet to have any empty seats.

As someone who has grown up in the church, I share the temptation to shift my focus off of the reason for the church and onto keeping the church “safe”. We must not fall for this trap. Jesus came to rescue sinners: meeting them where they were, and helping them move to a new life. These people are part of the second wave of invitations. We must not turn away anyone who God is inviting to be at His banquet. We must be smart about how we relate with those who have a bad past, but we should never exclude them from the community, unless they value a sin over the Savior – which is something we can only know after having given them a chance and time to experience God’s love. They will exclude themselves before we should exclude them. That is how God works.

Everyone is invited. You are either a part of the first group of invitees or the second. Are you willing to accept Jesus’ invitation and place being like Him (i.e. being His representative to others) ahead of your other projects, goals, and responsibilities? It is no small commitment, but it is what He called us to.

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