Luke 18 – Verse by Verse

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This week Jesus teaches us to be bold and persistent in prayer.  He talks about grace and about the attitude we should have as we approach God.  Finally, he will remind us that his earthly ministry was always meant to end at the cross.

Luke 18.pdf

Luke 18.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:

 

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 18

Heavenly Father,

As we approach you in prayer, we want to leave behind any thoughts of our own merit, wisdom – and all confidence that we even know how to pray.

Our confidence is nothing more than trust in you. Give us boldness to come before you on the basis of your faithful love. And help us to be persistent in prayer.

Help us to live our lives in such a way as to store up treasure in heaven.

Not that we deserve any such thing, but again, we trust you and remember our constant need for your great grace.

And finally thank you for the cross, through which your Son Jesus has brought us into a right standing before you, by atoning for our sins.

It is in his name that we pray,

Amen

 

Grace illustrated – Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18 is where we find Christ’s “Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.”  It provides a number of lessons, namely on prayer, humility and grace.  Luke’s one-sentence introduction to the parable gives us a clear picture of what it is like when our understanding is devoid of the concept of grace.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 

What are such people thinking?  And what corrective would Christ offer to their error?  We are now ready to understand the parable.

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisee in the story does in fact think himself to be righteous.  He seems to be trusting in himself and, in his heart, treating the tax collector with contempt.  The man is convinced that God must be looking upon him favorably, since he is extra holy in all that he does.  No doubt the Pharisee really was more righteous than the tax collector in all of his outwardly visible behavior.

The tax collector comes to the temple with a sense of need.  We might add that there is no other way to come before God.  Neither gratitude nor worship make much sense if we are not needy at some deeply known level.  Prayers of petition express our need most directly.  A request for mercy from God is perhaps the ultimate petition, since our very lives and standing before God are hanging in the balance.  At the white throne of judgment we won’t be thinking of Aunt Betsy’s headaches.

Yet the tax collector is at least confident enough to go to the temple.  He is not so ashamed as to run and hide and refuse to pray.  He has a basic understanding of grace and his need for it.  This is the perfect place to begin.

Performance-based religion places numerous obstacles on the path to a reconciled and satisfied soul.  On our bad days, we can find ourselves striving in futility in an attempt to get right with God.  On our good days, we can feel confident, but deep down we are trusting in ourselves.  Neither end of that spectrum leads quickly to grace.

Grace reminds us that our best behavior is still somehow tainted by sin, even if only by a sliver of a wrong motive lurking in our heart.  Grace also give us confidence, when we know we have not measured up, to go into God’s presence and seek his mercy.  Like the tax collector who went down to his house justified.

Your worst days are never so bad that you’re beyond the reach of God’s grace.  And your best days are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.*

– Jerry Bridges, author, Navigators staff member (1929 – 2016).

* from Bridges, 2008. Holiness Day by Day, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 19.  Originally in The Discipline of Grace

Luke 14 – Verse by Verse

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This chapter starts with a miraculous healing.  Jesus then teaches us about following him.  His invitation is open to all, but those who accept it must be willing to place put Jesus before everyone or everything else and even their very lives.

Luke 14.pdf

Luke 14.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:  https://www.facebook.com/horizoncentral/videos/651452032317248/

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 14

Dear Heavenly Father,

Let us begin by humbling ourselves before you and accepting the invitation that you give to any and all who are willing to come to you.  We need your grace for our salvation and beyond – to live this Christian life from day to day.

Further, we know that discipleship is costly, but we also remember that any price we might have to pay will be worth it in the end.  We bring no merit of our own to this commitment. Help us to serve you well and serve you faithfully – to take up our cross, remembering that our lives are not our own but that we belong to you.

Finally, we also remember you as our healer – the one who has all power over all sickness and disease.  For those who are sick and for those who are working on their behalf, we pray for your grace and extra amounts of help from you at this time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 13

Heavenly Father,

At present, we see that good and bad things happen to both good and bad people.

We accept the way that you maintain your control over the world, allowing evil and tragedy to exist side-by-side with everything that is good.  Even within the church, the living expression of Christ’s life on earth, we see that there is corruption.  Help us not to be a part of that problem, but rather be part of the solution.

Help us not to trust in ourselves, in our own goodness, merit or virtue or righteous works.  We see that before your holiness, the only safe way to approach you is in humility, admitting our guilt and seeing our need for repentance.

Forgive us of our sins, fill us with your Spirit.  Help us to live completely for you, relying on your power, the power of Christ’s resurrection life at work with us.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Luke 10 – Verse by Verse

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Christ has now turned from Galilee toward Jerusalem.  In this chapter Luke gives us some stories not found in the other Gospels, such as sending the seventy (two) and the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10.pdf

Luke 10.mp3