Day #168: Daily Bible Reading Plan - June 14th
Scripture Reading: Luke 11 - 12 …
If people actually read the Bible rather than simply listening to what some people say ABOUT Jesus, they would be surprised!! Because Jesus is God, all that the Bible says is what JESUS says; but even reading through the Gospels, that part of the Bible that records some of the words and deeds of Jesus during His brief ministry - some three and one-half years - on the earth, reveals that Jesus WAS not and IS not the Jesus being portrayed today by many.
Jesus was utterly and totally focused on calling people to enter the kingdom of God and telling them HOW to do so. From His teaching on prayer in Chapter 11 (verses 2-13), to His condemnation of the Pharisees and teachers of the law … from His parable of the rich fool to His warnings to watch and wait, interpreting the signs that point to His coming, Jesus points us toward the power of the kingdom of God and to the coming of His kingdom when He returns. While He cared about people and met their needs in amazing ways at times, His focus was not on doing miracles but on teaching people how to enter the kingdom of God which, unlike this world, will last forever!
It is important to understand this if you are to understand why Jesus spoke as He did. He was direct, He was honest, He was bold and at times could sound harsh. He didn't "pull any punches," as the saying goes. He cast out demons, put hypocrites in their place and called people to repent, to turn from their sins. This was serious stuff and He knew most people didn't yet "get it." Far from the soft- peddling of many today, Jesus spoke TRUTH! And we are called to do the same!!
Jesus taught His disciples to pray by pointing them immediately to focus where He did: on the kingdom of God. "Father, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come" (11:2). He told them to ask for the Holy Spirit (11:13). It is the empowering presence of the Spirit in the lives of believers that transforms disciples of Jesus from self-centered religious hypocrites into servants of the Master. While it is the Spirit who brings about the new birth, once we receive God's grace and trust in Jesus we are told to "be filled with the Spirit," to "walk with the Spirit," and to "be led by the Spirit." God is with us and IN us and will always answer the prayers of those who desire nothing more than to be obedient to Him.
Some seem to always want more. "Others tested Him by asking for a sign from heaven" (11:16). This is not the only place where Jesus opposes those who always want a sign. FAITH doesn't need a sign. In fact, Jesus said the only sign that generation was going to get from heaven was the "sign of Jonah," His resurrection! And they didn't understand that because they didn't have the Holy Spirit. People who demand signs from God seem to always want God to "prove Himself." But those who have their focus on God's kingdom don't need signs. Where is your heart? Where is your mind? What do you believe? What do you think about from day to day? Where is your focus?!!
Jesus warns, "See to it that the light within you is not darkness" (11:35). For the Pharisees and teachers of the law, that was the case. They taught what they thought was important … and it wasn't that everything they taught was wrong; but they missed the WHY of it all!! Jesus called them "hypocrites" because they thought that by keeping their own list of rules they were "good enough." There was no "fear of God" in them. When Jesus confronted them they responded, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also" (11:45). Why did Jesus talk like this? Because they were teaching people to trust in their own goodness and that was directly contrary to the message Jesus came to bring: "Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!"
The key to open the door to the kingdom was to confess Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to testify that Jesus IS who He says He is and when people reject Jesus they are "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" by declaring His work and His Word not to be from God. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is God! God exists eternally as Father, Son and Spirit … the One true and only God, our Creator. Once you realize and accept and believe and testify that the God who reveals Himself in the pages of the Bible is GOD, your focus in life must change. Now YOUR life is HIS life and you live in this world with one eye on what He wants you to do and the other on the signs of His return.
Throughout Chapter 12, Jesus is pointing ever more clearly forward to His coming kingdom. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. … Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell" (12:4-5). If you acknowledge the Son of Man before men, He will acknowledge you before the angels in heaven (12:8-9). As the rich fool learned, "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God" (12:21). "Don't worry about your life … life is more than food … and clothes …" (12:22-23).
Yes, "the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek HIS kingdom, and these things will be given you as well. Do not be afraid … for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom" (12:30-32). Isn't that a glorious, beautiful, wonderfully simple truth for those who know that our treasure is in heaven and not on this earth?! "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (12:34). Therefore, WATCH … and WAIT!!
How can you and I be ready for Jesus to return or to leave this world and enter His kingdom in heaven? "It will be good for that servant whom the Master finds doing so when He returns" (12:43). "That servant who knows his Master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his Master wants will be beaten with many blows" (12:47). Did JESUS really say that? Yes, and that's not all He said!
"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (12:51). Did JESUS really say that? Why don't you ever hear preachers on television talk about what Jesus really said?! They and many in churches all over the world rarely speak of sin or repentance or judgment, proclaiming instead that God loves everyone (something Jesus never said … that's NOT what John 3:16 says … read on to verses 18-21) … and deceiving people into being like the Pharisees and trusting in their own goodness. Either that, or they do what the teachers of the law did: load people down with guilt and talk only of sin and never of grace and the cross of Jesus Christ and forgiveness and LIFE in Christ Jesus!!
You need to KNOW what Jesus really said, and the only way to do that is to study God's Word, to surround yourself with those who seek wisdom from the Spirit of God to understand His Word (not add to it!) and to FOCUS on the King and His kingdom! When you know what Jesus really said you will find that it all fits together and it all points to the truth that Jesus is "the Way and the Truth and the Life" and you CAN come to the Father through Him.
Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God" (12:8). That's a promise you can count on and a truth that will change your life … now, and forever!
"Father in heaven, without Your Spirit I would be vulnerable to the voices of those around me who speak only of rules made by men. Your Word is truth and in it is revealed the way of life through faith in Jesus. Thank You for saving me by Your grace and opening my heart and mind to receive all that Jesus says, from Genesis through Revelation. Fill me with wisdom from Your Spirit to understand these things and to share them with others, laboring in Your harvest field until the Master returns. In Jesus' name, Amen"