Devotionals are sometimes adapted from my Portuguese originals. They emphasize obedience to Christ as Lord, living like God’s special people, and participation in his spiritual rescue project. The devotionals come several times a week urging us to live the Word of God daily. Get them by email here or sign up for the whole shebang.
Luke 15 is the scheduled New Testament reading for today. Below, I’ve translated the Portuguese devotional thought based on the chapter, or one verse of it.
But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:2 NET
If your only concern is personal purity, and not purification for others, you’ll side with the Pharisees who criticized Jesus.
If, however, you share the same spirit of Christ, the desire to rescue the impure and transport them back to the presence of the Father, you will do as he did: search out the lost wherever they are. Continue reading →
Here are five introductory points for tomorrow’s lesson on “How to Beat Hypocrisy,” from Luke 12:1-12. I include them here and now, since I don’t know if I’ll get the whole outline translated or not.
Some days ago an American actor admited his hypocrisy, since he campaigned against polluting the earth and rode in his private, polluting jet. Generally, people tend to point out hypocrisy in others, but Jesus wants us to confess our own and repent of it.
The text of Luke 12:1-2 is divided, according to the markers (“speak,” “say”), in three paragraphs: verses 1-3, verses 4-7, and verses 8-10. (NET, NRSV, ESV e NKJV follow this division exactly.) Continue reading →
Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luke 10:25 NET
The ultimate test is getting the right answer to this question. The expert, above all people and more than all issues, should have had the answer on the tip of his tongue. He wanted, however, to harm Jesus. Our Lord wanted to bless him with life through this question.
Only the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will find eternal life, and not the one who wants to justify himself (Luke 10:29).
When, like the expert, you stand up, let it be to get eternal life, rather than escaping the responsibility to confess Jesus as Lord and obey him in everything. Let it be to love God totally, and your neighbor as yourself.
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.
James 1:17 NET
They say that one of the trials of living with an alcoholic parent is never knowing how he will react, whether today he’ll be nice or mean, whether he will ignore the child or beat him. Continue reading →
But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves by refusing to be immersed by John.
The Jewish leaders’ refusal to be immersed by John signaled their rejection of God’s purpose for them.
John had been “sent from God” (John 1:6) to prepare the way for Jesus. His message included a change a life and immersion in water so that sins might be forgiven. Although his baptism was preparatory and temporary (see Acts 19:1ff), during that period it was part of God’s purpose as a concrete sign of repentance and to bring about God’s forgiveness. Continue reading →
“Then astonishment seized them all, and they glorified God. They were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen incredible things today.’”
Luke 5:26 NET
When Jesus forgave the sins of the paralitic man, he was criticized. But when the crowd saw Jesus cure the man, and the man walking and carrying his stretcher, the witnesses glorified God and exclaimed that they had seen something extraordinary.
Afterwards, Jesus calls Levi to follow him, and criticisms rain down on him again, No praises.
The verse above concludes the passage about the paralytic, but do you reckon that Luke isn’t wishing that the reader would make a similar exclamation about Levi’s calling?
For what is more incredible: forgiving sins, reclaiming a soul, inspiring a fat cat to leave his riches in order to follow the Lord, or restoring a man’s body? Is it not the former?
Today, things haven’t changed much. We are impressed with the material, while the spiritual passes unnoticed. Or criticized.
You have your opinion, I have mine. Usually, opinions, being what they are, don’t matter much. Some of us prefer Apple, others a PC. In the end, both get the job done. But at times an opinion matters and means the difference between life and death, between right and wrong.
Text: Matthew 22
Memorize: “While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them a question: ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said, ‘The son of David.'” Matthew 22:41-42 NET
Usually, Jesus’ enemies asked him questions, attempting to test him and make him stumble. Sometimes he answered them, sometimes not. This time, however, our Lord challenges the Pharisees with a question, which deals with the central issue of his identity. No matter of personal opinion, the answer was Continue reading →
Memorize: “He said to her, ‘What do you want?'” Matthew 20:21 NET
In two stories in sequence, Jesus asks people what they want. In the first, he asks “the mother of the sons of Zebedee [who] came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor” (v. 20). And no small favor at that! In the second, two blind men cry for mercy, so he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 32), as if he didn’t know already.
He denies the first, while he grants the blind men’s desires. With his questions about what they want, he shows both his willingness to consider the requests, at the same time indicating that he doesn’t fill in blank checks. Continue reading →
Memorize: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.” Matthew 18:6 NET
Eternal life matters more than any other thing in this life (verse 8). Whoever causes another, more spiritually fragile and weaker in faith, to lose eternal life will be held responsible and will suffer dire consequences.
It is possible to make someone sin by arrogance (verses 1-5) and, in a way, by omission (verses 10-14) that fails to confront and admonish (verses 15-17). Continue reading →