Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
… Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent. … Luke 15.6-7
Jesus taught many times using a parable. According to Merriam-Webster, a parable is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.
The Pharisees and experts in the law were complaining. They did not like the fact that Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners that were coming to hear his teaching.
Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep. There were ninety-nine sheep safe in the open pasture, but one sheep was lost. The owner went to look for the sheep that was lost. He found it and brought it home. He called all his friends and neighbors to tell them the good news. He had found his lost sheep!
The significance of the parable is the joy that God has to see one sinner repent. There is much rejoicing in heaven over just one! Will we go out and search for the one who needs to repent?
#risingjoy #Luke #joy
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.(…) Luke 6.22-23
Being a Christian is not always easy. Suffering is not the popular choice. Insult and rejection are things that we try to avoid as much as possible. For someone to call us evil is offensive. Yet, when these things happen because we are following Jesus, it is cause for feeling blessed and rejoicing.
The apostles, in Acts 5.12-42, were called before the Sanhedrin, the high council of the Israelites. The high priest and the Sadducees, because of jealousy, had put the apostles in a public jail after they had been teaching and healing people. An angel released them during the night. He told them to go teach in the temple courts. They obey. Once again they find themselves before the Sanhedrin. The apostles were told not to teach in the name of Jesus. After barely escaping execution and being beaten, they left the council. They did not leave the council with their heads hanging down and feeling beaten. They left rejoicing because they had been worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. Every day they continued to teach and to proclaim the good news of Jesus!
When you are mocked for your faith, how do you react? Do you stand firm or do you begin to cower and wither? May we stand firm before persecution and continue to proclaim Jesus Christ!
#risingjoy #Luke #suffering
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.(…) Luke 2.9-11
In the Bible, the reaction to the appearance of an angel was great fear. Here the reaction of the shepherds is no different. They were living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. Between the sudden appearance of the angel and the light from the glory of the Lord shining around, they were absolutely terrified.
The angel had a message to deliver to them. It was good news! It would bring great joy to everyone. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They later decide to go check it out for themselves. They head to Bethlehem and find Jesus in the manger.
After sharing what they had seen and heard, they returned to the field glorifying and praising God. Everything they had been told was true.
Today, Christians are God’s messengers. The subject has not changed. We still announce Jesus to the world. We find what we need to know written in the Bible. Do you encourage others to verify the facts for themselves? Everything written in the Bible is true; therefore, we also can glorify and praise God.
#risingjoy #Luke #facts
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
(…)And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1.43-45
This passage is about two women. Both find themselves in situations that defy the very nature of how things should be. God’s hand was in the picture.
Elizabeth was pregnant. She was old and considered to be barren. But, God had a different plan for her. He blessed her with a child, John. He was a relative of Jesus. He would become the fore runner of Jesus preparing the way for the one who would come after him.
Mary was pregnant. She was a virgin who was pregnant with the son of God. As soon as possible, she went to visit Elizabeth. The text does not say why explicitly. Perhaps due to Elizabeth’s situation, Mary felt that she would receive understanding and support. After all, both women were in situations that were out of the normal. They were miraculous!
The baby, John, leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary entered the house. She blessed Mary for her belief that what the angel had announced to her would actually happen.
Mary often pondered about the things that happened, perhaps not understanding completely who her son was and what his mission was. But she allowed God to use her for his glory. It is a valuable lesson that we all need to apply to ourselves: letting God use us for his glory!
#risingjoy #Luke #handofGod
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. Then his son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!” So they began to celebrate. Luke 15.20-24
This is a glimpse of the joy that overflows in heaven when someone comes back to God. Let’s take a closer look.
The young man had come to his senses. In the verses prior to our reading, he had sunk to the bottom of the well. He was in a dark place and it was not going to get any better if he continued there. He had run out of options and of hope. Then he remembered… the father that had always taken care of him and loved him. Finally, he decided to make a change. He repented. He started back home.
Notice that the father was watching for his child. He was seen a long way from home. The father did not turn his back on him. But he ran to meet his son, hugged him and kissed him. The father was so happy to see his son that it seems he gave his son’s comments little importance. He called for a celebration of the return of his son!
All of us have been at the bottom of the well. Perhaps you are still in that dark place. What is important is that we remember that we have a Father who loves us more than we can imagine. He is anxiously waiting for us to decide to return to him. It must be our decision to change our direction and come back. Come back to God! Let the celebration begin!
#risingjoy #Luke #repentance
“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”
The second and third woes of Jesus reverse fortunes. The woes are for those who live for these things, “those who make merriment … a constant aim” (Fourfold Gospel).
For the partier, eternity will not be a party. Think weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus challenges what it is we live for.
#votd #Luke #woes
“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’”
He was different. Very strange. In that strangeness he caught their attention. But they still spoke evil of him, even while being immersed in water by him.
People who refuse to leave their sinful ways will find fault with anyone who challenges their status. Are you a fault-finder, when your real need is repentance?
#votd #Luke #criticism
“And Peter said, ‘Look, we have left everything we own to follow you!'”
Jesus said it will be difficult for the rich to enter heaven. Peter mentions their sacrifice. Surely, then, they will be saved! Such will be blessed many times over, Jesus said.
What must I do to be saved? Give up everything to following Jesus! Stop clinging to this world. And see more of what I will receive than what I have sacrificed.
#votd #Luke #sacrifice
“… Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
They all do it. All the four evangelists marked Judas as the future traitor of the Lord. Matthew 10.4. Mark 3.19. John 6.71; 12.4. His sin, never repented of, overshadows every reference to him.
Famous people such as sports figures are often known by big mistakes they make on the field or court. Their accomplishments are forgotten; their mistakes, remembered. Shall we do the same?
#votd #Luke #sin
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box.”
Jesus was observant. As divine God who knew men’s hearts, he also could see the reality behind the act. But anyone could tell what was happening with offerings in the temple.
The Lord calls us to first judge our own acts and motivations. And to stop treating God as if he were a human being. He wants us to judge all things by his word, not by our ideas.
#votd #Luke #observation
“I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”
While Jesus was being transfigured (glorified), nine of the disciples apparently tried to glorify themselves rather than serve their Lord and help their fellow man. They failed to do the very thing Jesus had given them authority and power to do.
The world needs our message. We have been given the authority and power to teach. Will we fail?
#votd #Luke #gospel
“Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known.”
Why guard against hypocrisy, such as the Pharisees demonstrated? v. 1 Because it will all come to light in the future. Fear of man causes dissimulation, v. 4, but fear of God should lead to honesty and transparency, v. 5.
Human drama derives from secrets. (Read any novel.) Divine redemption occurs from revelation and knowledge. We move from one to the other by confession.
#votd #Luke #revelation
“For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing.”
If only man would look beyond his bodily needs and desires! There is a soul to think of. There is eternity to prepare for.
A man told me he goes to the gym in order to lose weight so that he can drink every night at the bar. What a miserable life! But does the way I live have a higher goal?
#votd #Luke #more
“Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.'”
Jesus was born in order to die for man’s redemption. If the cross was central to his experience, it is no less so for his followers. This applies to everyone (“all”).
Three things are necessary: say no to self, die to self and to sin, and do it daily. Only then can one follow him. If God is good all the time, we must do this all the time as well. Are you willing?
#votd #Luke #discipleship
“I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Jesus taught the true life of subservience to God as the whole objective of divine creation and purpose. In order to enter that life, he also taught certain conditions or requirements apply. Childlike humility is one of them.
Humility that brings us into God’s circle must not presume to know better than the Lord how we must conduct ourselves, how we must worship him, how we must serve him and show others the path to him.
#votd #Luke #humility #kingdom-of-God