Read Lk 9.52-56 – When Jesus passed through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem he was shunned. His men, being offended, took it personal and wanted to nuke the village. Jesus rebuked them and shows us a side of leadership that all leaders need to heed; Not everyone is going to be a big fan of what you’re doing. In fact, good leaders do the hard thing but great leaders do the hard thing even when people will not endorse what they are doing. These leaders have a sense of timing, they are patient, they see down the road, and can take it on the chin when they’re decisions aren’t popular with everyone [and without retribution]. Can we bless those who curse us? Can we allow our reputation to be sullied for the sake of the kingdom.
Read Mt 18.1-5, Mk 9.33-37, Lk 9.46-48 – Have you ever wanted to be great? I mean like, be the boss, or famous, the most liked, or something like that? I don’t know about you but I have had this ambition all my life and so did the disciples. Now for the record, greatness in the world’s eyes is not all it’s cracked up to be and Jesus let’s His disciples know it. He says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child – this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Now the world is having none of that! But who’s eyes are we trying to be great in, the world, each other’s, or God’s? Now that really defines greatness, doesn’t it? Like beauty, greatness is in the eyes of the beholder and there is only One who holds everything. Who’s eyes are we trying to be great in?
Read Mt 26.69-75, Mk 14.66-72, Lk 22.55-62, Jn 18.18-27 – I feel sorry for Peter. One moment he’s facing down an armed mob with his little sword and the next he denies Jesus when confronted by a little girl. But before we get all uppity and all, don’t we have our “moments?” Haven’t we gone from Hero to Zero in no time flat? Yes, this is our stark reality and that’s why Jesus came and died for all our “moments.” Are you having a “moment” today? Let’s Confess, Repent, and Move On in the glorious victory of our Savior.
Read Mt 26.47-56, Mk 14.43-52, Lk 22.47-53, Jn 18.4-12 – When Judas sold the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed Him with a kiss, Jesus called his enemy “friend.” When Peter cut off the ear of one of those seeking to kill Him, Jesus healed His enemy. Jesus commanded us, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Mt 5.44) How hard it is to love even those who mildly irritate us let alone someone trying to kill us. And yet Jesus practiced what He preached even in His last hour of agony and pain when He prays for His murders, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Lk 23.34) When we say “I want to become like Jesus.” is this what we are talking about?
Read Mt 9.35-38, Lk 10.1-2 – We are often annoyed by begging. People begging for money, kids begging for the latest toy, pets begging for food. But God is not annoyed by beggars. In fact, God commands us to beg! When Jesus tells His disciples to “PRAY” for laborers to be sent into the harvest, the Greek word He uses is “BEG.” It’s like when the leper came to Jesus and begged Him to heal him. (Lk 5:12) Or the demons in the Demoniac begging Jesus not to torment them. (Lk 8:28) And when this same man was delivered from those demons, he begged Jesus that he might follow Him. (Lk8.38) Now that’s some pretty intense begging going on! And in the same way Jesus commands us to beg the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Are we obeying Jesus’s command to beg for laborers? Are we teaching others to obey this command?
Tip: Set an alarm for 10:02 and pray Luke 10.2 daily
Read Jn 15.1-27 – Some how, some way, we have boiled down abiding in Christ to having a good quiet time in the morning (reading the Bible and Prayer). Is that what remaining in Jesus really looks like? Read the chapter and let’s see what the Expert says;
Being His disciple
Loving one another
Obeying God’s commands
Going to bear fruit
Being helped by the Holy Spirit
And this is just a list from chapter 15! But if we need to boil it down, the Apostle John says; “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2.6) Are we taking a wholistic approach to abiding in Christ or are we picking and choosing? Are we teaching others that remaining in Jesus is a whole lot more than having a good quiet time?
Read Mk 4.26-29 – The farmer in the parable of the seed has no clue how it grows. He plants, nurtures, and harvests but at the end of the day he sees the whole process as a miracle from God. But today we are so much smarter aren’t we? Well, not so much. I think any honest scientist would admit that there is still a lot to be learned about the miracle of a plant bearing fruit. But if we are not careful, we can fall under the delusion that we know everything about kingdom growth. We can assume that all we have to do is steps A through E and voila, we have mature disciples bearing fruit. Uh, no. The kingdom advancing in an individual, a community, and this world is still a miracle. We are completely dependent on the King to cause it to grow. (1 Cor 3.6) Are we declaring our dependence on God through prayer about the ministry He has called us to? Do we think we have found the silver bullet and cut the Holy Spirit out?
Read Mt 26.31-35 – It’s a good thing to be confident. It gives you the resolve and assurance to accomplish even the most difficult tasks. But there is a danger of being over confident. Peter had several such rude awakenings. One of his ventures into this dangerous territory was when he told Jesus to His face; “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” And later, when a little girl asked if he was one of Jesus’s disciples, he did the very thing he was so confident he would not do. Completely relying on our own confidence is a trap. Let us be confident in this; Jesus will see us through even when we lack the strength, courage, or even fail. He’s got this. (Phil 1.6)
Read Mt 18.6-10, Mk 9.38-50, Lk 9.49-50 – Ever meet someone with the gift of criticism? Someone who could find something wrong with perfection? They play Devil’s Advocate so often, you’re starting to wonder who’s side they’re really on. Now don’t get me wrong, criticism is a good thing when it is appropriately used. I like critique, probing questions, and a little push back. It keeps me straight. But I can only handle so much before I start to wilt. Maybe this is what Jesus means when He’s exhorting John (and the rest of us); “For everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you season it? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Are we salting one another (Heb 10.24-25)? Are we salting one another too much?
Read Mt 9.35-10.15, Mk 6.6b-13, Lk 9.1-6 – When Jesus looks at the world, what does He see? He sees “sheep without a shepherd.” And how does He respond? He is overwhelmed with compassion so He runs around like a crazy person, wearing Himself out trying to love as many people as He can, right? Compassionate, Yes. Doing it all Himself, Nope. His first step is to instruct His disciples to pray and ask the Father to send more laborers (shepherds) into the harvest. Step two is to send the same into the harvest. Did you see what Jesus just did? He multiplies His efforts by praying for, training, and sending more laborers (shepherds) into the harvest. Are we praying earnestly for more laborers? Are we multiplying our efforts by training and sending others to shepherd the flock?