WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Moody" [11-11 thru 11-17] DEVOTIONALS

 

Seven Days of Devotion 

 The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.

 

Read: Luke 2:21-52

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The St. Chad Gospels are a rare treasure. A beautifully illustrated, eighth-century Latin manuscript containing the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and part of Luke, it has endured for more than a thousand years. It is preserved at a cathedral in Litchfield, England, and is in delicate condition. Scholars from the University of Kentucky have recently been able, however, to use digital imaging techniques to make this manuscript available without further wear and tear. Computer technology allows those who wish to study the text and illustrations without having to travel to England or handle the physical manuscript.

The St. Chad Gospels manuscript tells the same story as the printed English Bible you hold in your hands today. In Luke’s Gospel, the story is that the direction and purpose of Jesus’ life were clear right from the beginning. This is seen in today’s reading in two events that take place at the temple.

The first happened when Jesus was still a baby. Joseph and Mary came to offer ritual sacrifices for her post-birth purification and to dedicate their son to the Lord. While fulfilling these religious responsibilities, they encountered two faithful servants of God who had long been awaiting the Messiah. The Holy Spirit led first Simeon, then Anna, straight to the unremarkable-looking young couple and their baby. Simeon declared that God’s saving love was found in this baby, not only for Jews but for all humanity—“a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 30-32).

The second occurrence at the temple took place years later, when the boy Jesus was twelve years old. His family had gone to Jerusalem for Passover, then headed home to Nazareth. Mary and Joseph thought that Jesus was among their travel group, and when they realized they had left Him behind they hurried back to the city. After several days of searching, they found Him in the temple, conversing as an equal with the rabbis. Though at the time no one understood, this episode revealed Jesus’ awareness of His identity as well as His commitment to honor and obey His heavenly Father (v. 49).

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Anyone who’s ever lost a child at a playground or the store has doubtless felt the same emotions as Mary and Joseph: sad, panicked, irritated, frantic, regretful, upset. I thought you were watching him! The humanity that permeates the Gospel narrative is here in all its richness. But Jesus was not only human, He was also divine. And so this very human story ends with a wonderful moment of divine strangeness: “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (v. 49).

 

MONDAY

Read: Luke 3

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Both Matthew and Luke include genealogies of Jesus in their Gospels. According to New Testament professor Grant Osborne, Matthew organizes his genealogy into three groups of fourteen names each, thus emphasizing Jesus’ kingly ancestry in the line of David. Luke’s purpose, though, is a bit different. His genealogy goes all the way back to Adam, thus focusing on Jesus’ universal humanity as well as affirming the claim that He is the unique Son of God. That’s why Luke placed his genealogy between Jesus’ baptism and temptation (see 3:22; 3:38; 4:3), instead of at the beginning of the narrative (as in Matthew).

Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist marked the beginning of His public ministry. John’s own ministry of preparing the way had begun, like that of previous prophets, when the word of the Lord came to him (v. 2). His mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah, and he was well aware that in doing so he was fulfilling a prophecy of Isaiah (vv. 4-6). His message was one of repentance and forgiveness. This was not an easy message to bring, for it included strong condemnations of sin and warnings of God’s wrath, from which the Jews’ status as God’s chosen people would not protect them. “Speaking truth to power” landed him in jail when he dared to condemn King Herod’s immorality. But those who believed John were baptized, signifying faith and a public commitment to live out his words.

We might legitimately wonder why Jesus was baptized. He had no sins to confess and no need for repentance. But by allowing John to baptize Him, He identified Himself with John’s ministry and message. Indeed, the themes of repentance and forgiveness would be at the heart of His own ministry and of the gospel.

In addition, this event revealed the person and ministry of Christ as recognized and approved by the other two members of the Trinity: “The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (v. 22).

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Repentance is much more than a prayer. Confession must be followed by turning away from sin toward righteousness: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (v. 8). Scripture gives specific, concrete instructions to those who repent, such as to share with those in need and not to abuse positions of power. Jesus preached this: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” (6:43). Seek to live in accordance with your confession and repentance today.

 

 TUESDAY

 

Read: Luke 4

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If the Gospel of Luke were a courtroom drama, today’s reading marks a shift from testimony to hostile cross-examination. Yesterday, not only John the Baptist but also God the Father and God the Holy Spirit testified to the reality of the arrival of the Messiah and His identity as God the Son. The Father said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (3:22). Now Satan entered the scene like an opposing lawyer finally given permission to question the defendant. His clear intention was to disprove or call into doubt the person and mission of Christ.

He planned to do that by tempting Him to sin. If he could get the Son of God to sin, the mission of redemption would be over. The plan of salvation would be finished, wrecked before it had really begun.

The first temptation was straightforward, trying to provoke Jesus to use His divine power to meet a physical need (for food). The second was more subtle, taunting Jesus to establish His kingdom by a road other than suffering and death. The third was even more devilish, as Satan used biblical words to try to manipulate Jesus to perform a sign that would gain Him public recognition as the Messiah.

Full of the Holy Spirit and quoting Scripture, Jesus successfully resisted these temptations. To the first, He responded that His power was not for selfish use. To the second, He rejected an alternative road as one that would involve disobeying His Father and the blasphemous act of worshiping Satan. To the third, He saw through the tempter’s twisting of Scripture to justify wrongdoing and dismissed both Satan and his specious reasoning.

Then Jesus walked out of the desert and began His public ministry. His first public words quoted Isaiah to identify Himself as the Messiah (vv. 15-21). He taught. He cast out demons. He worked miracles of healing. He encountered some faith, but more often surprise, anger, and rejection. These narrative events in Luke 4—temptation, miracles, and rejection—form a preview or microcosm of the entire life and ministry of Christ.

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Jesus experienced temptations throughout His life (v. 13). How can we resist them as He did (Heb. 4:14-16)? One key is to know and use the Word of God—Jesus quoted Scripture in response to all three temptations. Another key is to be full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him. With the Spirit at the wheel, one cannot steer wrong. Finally, because He saw Satan’s shortcuts as dead ends, Jesus was unwilling to consider anything less than full obedience to His Father.


 

 

WEDNESDAY

Read: Luke 5:1-32

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Dr. Amit Goffer of Israel has created a robotic suit that can help paralyzed individuals to walk. Created after Dr. Goffer himself was disabled in an accident, the ReWalk suit is a kind of exoskeleton with leg supports, motion sensors, and a computerized control box. According to one news report: “With the assistance of crutches, which offer balance and support, people paralyzed from the waist down can walk, bend, sit and even climb stairs when they wear the suit.” Benefits are said to include better physical health and a stronger sense of personal dignity.

Jesus needed no modern technology to help the paralyzed man in today’s reading walk. He had the power to heal at a word. What’s more, He had the power to forgive sins. When the paralytic’s friends lowered him through the roof, in fact, this was the issue Jesus dealt with first (v. 20). As the Pharisees recognized, Jesus was claiming to be God—because only God can forgive sin. When Jesus backed up His claim with divine healing power, what could they say? They could have praised God, as did others who were present (v. 26), but instead they took offense and continued to oppose Him. They saw not with eyes of faith, but with small minds and petty hearts (v. 30).

We see a variety of examples of Jesus’ power in Luke 5. He healed a leper as well as the paralytic. He demonstrated power over nature by filling nets with fish. His teaching was powerful, as people crowded around to hear the word of God (v. 1) and the call to repentance (v. 32). He clearly believed in the power of prayer, for He cultivated it as a personal discipline that sustained His inner spiritual life (v. 16). He also showed spiritual power in calling individuals to follow Him, and it is notable that He chose not from among the ranks of religious leaders but instead called fishermen (vv. 10-11) and a tax collector (vv. 27-28). Unlike the Pharisees, these new disciples responded to the person of Christ in wholehearted faith—they “left everything and followed him.”

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Where do you stand in relation to Jesus. Are you a Levi, a forgiven sinner eager to introduce others to Him? Are you a face in the crowd, attracted by His teachings or miracles but still undecided? Are you a skeptic, offended by the idea that Jesus is the only way to God? Are you a fisherman, unsure of what this extraordinary Jesus person is going to say or do next, or why, but still ready to follow Him anywhere? Wherever you are, Jesus stands ready to welcome you as His follower.

 

 

 

 

 

THURSDAY

 

 

FRIDAY

Read: Luke 5:33-6:16

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“I used to believe in God,” wrote actor and comedian Ricky Gervais. “I loved Jesus. He was my he-ro.” But then one day his “cheeky” brother came in and asked their mother, “Why do you believe in God?” She panicked and could give no answer. Startled, young Ricky felt she must be hiding something, and very soon he concluded that Jesus was as big a fake as Santa Claus. “Within an hour, I was an atheist.” Now he tries to do the right thing and be a good person, but he thinks that God, heaven, and hell are security blankets for people who can’t handle the truth.

Rejection of Jesus and God’s truth is nothing new. Though it was present from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, opposition becomes a major theme from this point forward in Luke.

Several conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees take center stage in today’s reading. The first involved a challenge to His disciples’ spirituality (5:33-39). The setting was Levi’s evangelistic dinner. Jesus answered their question about why He shared a meal and fellowship with sinners with a rebuke that implied they didn’t understand His ministry (5:30-32). Their pride stung, they attempted to regain face by asking Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast. Fasting is a spiritual discipline indicating devotion or self-denial, so the question was obviously an insult. Who does this rabbi think He is? they might have been thinking. Choosing such ridiculous disciples! Jesus’ answer was a wise surprise. Days of fasting would come, but the arrival of the Messiah meant the present time was one of joy and celebration (5:34-35).

Two additional conflicts involved challenges to Jesus’ righteousness (6:1-11). The Pharisees accused the disciples, then Jesus, of doing “work” on the Sabbath and thus breaking the fourth commandment. To count rubbing heads of grain together or speaking words of healing as “work” seems strange, but it broke their traditional regulations. Jesus responded with a biblical reference to David, identified Himself as “Lord of the Sabbath,” and asked a rhetorical question—about whether doing good was “against the law”—that exposed their spiritual blindness.

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If many of us are honest, the attitude of the Pharisees might feel familiar. It’s often easy to critique someone’s choice of friends or seeming lack of piety. We become indignant when others don’t follow our interpretation of what’s appropriate. When we are tempted to react like the Pharisees, we should search the Scriptures and pray, inviting the Holy Spirit to search our own hearts. We want to follow Jesus in having the spiritual wisdom to know what is truly important and honoring to God.

 

 

SATURDAY

Read: Luke 6:17-49

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A recent book by Stan Guthrie gives readers an excellent overview of Christ’s teachings. All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us examines the nearly three hundred questions asked by Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels. Guthrie has organized these questions into 26 chapters and asserts that Jesus’ questions reveal His priorities, what He wants us to believe, and how He wants us to live. If we take His questions seriously and measure our lives accordingly, we’ll be challenged to a closer walk with Him.

Today’s Scripture reading also gives an overview or quick tour of the teachings of Jesus. Up to this point, we have seen a few main themes—His identity as the Messiah and Son of God, His mission of saving the lost, His message of repentance and forgiveness, and His power as seen in His miracles. Now in the Sermon on the Plain—named this because Jesus “stood on a level place” (v. 17) and in contrast to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7)—we get more details. Rather than being delivered on only one occasion, these were likely truths that Jesus stressed throughout His years of teaching.

Jesus reaffirmed the Golden Rule, saying, “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (v. 38). But He also stressed going above and beyond the Law. For example, loving your neighbor isn’t enough. Imitating God means we must love our enemies, pray for those who mistreat us, and go the extra mile in honor of God’s mercy (vv. 27-36).

Jesus also frequently reversed the world’s ways of looking at things. For example, the “poor” (or humble) would inherit the kingdom of God, while the “rich” (and proud) are condemned (vv. 20, 24). Qualities that God blesses include humility, righteousness, and endurance of hardship and persecution, whereas those who put their hope in material and temporal things are warned that such things cannot satisfy. The only sure foundation for a righteous life is obedience, that is, putting into practice the words of Christ (vv. 46-49).

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You might be interested in the book featured in today’s introduction: All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, by Stan Guthrie (Baker Books, 2010). It can be purchased online or at your local Christian bookstore. Guthrie wrote in the acknowledgments: “No one benefits more from a book than the one who writes it, and I am no exception. Walking with Jesus as he asks his questions is the most exhilarating spiritual journey I have ever undertaken.”


THE WEEKLY WORD WITH MOODY

Can be found here:

http://theweeklywordmoody.blogspot.com/

 


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