Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Luke 17:26-29

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

So when will the day of revealing of the Son of Man be? When will He return?

Jesus never gives a check list that can be used as a tick off leading to the event.

Instead He used 2 famous stories of Noah and Lot to say what it will be like.

Firstly, life will be normal. No one will suspect a thing. Everyone will be focused on a bright future. As in the days of Noah.

Secondly, people will think nothing will touch them. They will have an attitude which says we are invincible. As in the days of Lot.

Thirdly, their will be no warning neither will there be people suspecting His return. It will be akin to destruction falling immediately and quickly.

Now look around today.

See how normal life is for the many?

See how everyone are planning for their future?

But those who follow Jesus are ready for Him.

His return

Luke 17:22-25

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

This is a challenge for us in 2019.

Are we longing for the return of Christ?

Do we live our lives in expectation of it?

I lived during a time in the 70s of the many films of Jesus’ return. Pastors would preach a series on His return. We lived our lives not knowing if Jesus would come back that week! We lived with expectation and I think the Church was better for it.

What would we be doing if Jesus came back right now? Are you ready? Those were the questions.

Jesus tells his disciples there will come a day when they long for His return. May we be visited with such urgency again.

Jesus says his disciples must not go running after the false Messiahs that will come.

As if we would do that?!

Perhaps not. But what we are in danger of is for the Church to be so consumed with chasing after the latest NOW experience, the popular and the famous that our attention is taken off the real Messiah. “If only He would come” can be replaced with “If only I had this and that.”

But when he comes every eye will see him. There will be no doubt. He will supersede everything. All the WOW moments and people that we long to be like or to be near, Jesus will surpass them all. Like lightning in the sky so that everyone can see. The whole world will know.

Jesus then brings his disciples back to reality. The present reality for them is that Jesus would suffer and die first. For us our present reality is that we too may well suffer, we may struggle with defeat, we may battle

with the enemies of our soul that plague us. But we do so only for a short time. For there is a moment when the lightning will flash and what a day that will be!!!

Jesus is here!

Jesus is here!

Luke 17: 20-21 “20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

At the time of Jesus most ordinary Jews and certainly the Pharisees believed that the Messiah would overturn the Roman occupancy and restore the land to God’s people. The Messiah’s kingdom would rule the land.

Maybe they are trying to trip Jesus up as they had attempted many times or maybe it was genuine, but the question comes when will this kingdom come?

So many people wake each day believing that something good is going to happen to them. The lottery of life will smile on them. They will get this and that. The doors will open. The roads will straighten and utopia will be discovered. They have such a longing of coming into a kingdom where they are the top not the bottom. “It is coming, we just don’t know when.”

Jesus answers and it disappoints. “It is already here.”

It is not coming. I am here, right now, standing in front of you.

For us now in our generation, Jesus is here by his Holy Spirit, of course. But for them, then, he was there physically.

Are we living for what is coming, for our glory and promotion?

Yes the Kingdom of God is coming, Jesus shall return, but can we say also that the Kingdom is here, right now, in our midst. Not in physical form but occupying physical bodies by His Spirit.

Wherever you are now say these words, “Jesus is here”.

The power of thankfulness

The power of thankfulness

 

Luke 17: 15-19 “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 

We now see that this group was a mixture of Jews and Samaritans. They were usually divided and hated one another. It is strange how a disease can unite the greatest of enemies.

Where are the other 9? Was this man the only Samaritan?

Maybe the rest were Jews and being cleansed meant even more than the Samaritan because for them it meant they could be accepted back into the worship life of the community. As they were on the way to the priests they were healed and cleansed, but the most important thing was still to happen and that was they would be officially welcomed into society. So they just kept going. They needed to get to the priests and then they needed to be back into the heart of the community. They never thought of returning either when they were healed or when the priests gave them the full bill of health and by the time they were in the village doing life again, meeting long lost friends and family, Jesus was a distant figure to them.

Except this one man. It seems he never got to the priests. He turned around as soon as he was healed and he ran back to the cleanser of his life. As he is laying prostrate before Jesus he receives something that the others never did. The thankful always receive more.

Don’t move from these verses too quickly. The man was an ex-leper and very thankful and in acknowledgment of the Healer is in a position of worship. His return and submission, his acknowledgment of Jesus the Healer equals faith and this is what made him well. But that is not speaking of his leprosy. He was already healed. “Well” is sozo and it means ‘to save’. This man received far more, he received salvation, a healing of his soul which previously lay sick underneath a healed skin disease.

Let us live a life of thankfulness.

Why move on when you can turn back and thank Jesus for what He has done?!

 

Obedience leads to miracles

Obedience leads to miracles

Luke 17: 14 “When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.”

Only the priests could declare the ‘unclean’ clean and fit to come back into society.

Everyone needs community and acceptance from others.

Everyone needs to know they belong.

Everyone needs to know that God and God’s people want them.

Jesus orders them to go to the men who had the authority to make this happen.

Now why do you think they hadn’t thought of that before?

They were unclean. They knew what the response would be. Rejection was waiting.

So what’s different now?

Their leprosy was still there, it wasn’t their circumstance for they had not been healed.

The difference was they had met Jesus and they heard his command to ‘GO’.

They knew what that meant. This was not blind obedience. This was obeying with faith. They knew something was going to have to happen to them prior to getting to the priests. They were going to have to be healed to avoid rejection.

There are times when even though our circumstances have not changed and we are still in pain that we have to walk in obedience to what Jesus is saying. He wants us to GO, to move forward and to walk down a certain direction which may even cause anxiety to do so.

As they went, Luke says they were cleansed. I love the fact that Luke makes us understand that actually it was the great High Priest who made sure they were cleansed. They were not just healed they were cleansed. By the time they got to the priests they were already cleansed!

 

Unclean people

Unclean people

Luke 17: 12-13 “As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

If you became leprous then life as you knew it ended. You would never be the same again. You were stigmatised, marginalised and not only from society, but seen as God’s judgment on you.

The unclean are still with us today. They are not leprous people, but they are seen as displeasing to God.

  1. They can be found outside.

They are not welcomed. They have to change their ways to be accepted. If they came in they would make us all unclean.

From the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee Jesus is now approaching a village. On the border of the village are ten men who all had leprosy. The ‘clean’ people are in the village and the ‘unclean’ are outside.

  1. They usually gather in like-minded groups.

If the ‘Church’ doesn’t want them then they will form new churches, communities that are held together not so much in what they believe but in who is against them.

  1. They are at a distance to the body of Christ.

They do not know how to draw near. Some have tried and found rejection and condemnation. A distance is safer for them.

  1. They can make a loud noise even for a small number.

The level of noise is not indicative of how many are speaking but the level of passion even if for only a few.

  1. They often don’t ask for what they truly need.

They are conditioned to ask for ‘stuff’ to survive their life, whether that be money or food etc. They don’t ask for healing.

Jesus met the unclean that day and something unexpected was about to happen!

Grey

Grey

Luke 17 v 11 “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”

Can you walk down the grey path? It is a lot more difficult than the black and white paths of life.

The border between Samaria and Galilee is a grey path, It is neither one or the other. The Samaritans were definitely considered as unclean people by those in Galilee. This is borderland and an unclean place. They haven’t even arrived yet in the next border town of the leper colony and here they are, Jesus leading them in uncomfortable places. They would meet their own kind there but also people who were known as below them, people who didn’t please God though they tried by following Scriptures, they never worshipped in the Temple of Jerusalem and so were sub-standard. Galilee was where Jesus had performed miracles and had cleansed so many lives. But along the border is where a new culture develops between the acceptable and the not so.

Does everything have to be clear cut for you?

Are there certain streets you will never walk down?

Is your favourite verse in the Bible, ‘Come out from among them’? (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Do you never like to use grey?

Jesus walks in the questionable places.

Jesus walks in the places that were united but now stand divided.

Jesus walks where no one really wants to.

Jesus walks in the messy places.

He likes the grey.

 

 

 

Duty

Duty

 

Luke 17 v 7-10 ““Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

 

Having just taught that as disciples we should treat people with respect and that we should live a life of continuing to forgive, Jesus then warns the disciples not to be like the Pharisees and think themselves superior for doing so. This is after all our duty. The English translation says we are servants. But the Greek ‘doulos’ is slave. The slave in this parable is ploughing the field, farming the sheep, preparing the food and getting everything ready for the master. That was his duty. Now we might think he deserved to be thanked. The parable suggests otherwise. There is no room for entitlement whether that be of thanks or a sense of achievement. If you receive from God it is purely grace. Nothing of what you have done has earned the praise. It is your duty to obey. I am not sure there is much discipleship without duty.

Let us go and do our duty today by serving God in all we that we do.

10 healthy rebukes.

10 healthy rebukes.

Luke 17: 3-6 “So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

There are times that a rebuke is needed. The word means ‘to express strong disapproval of someone, to speak seriously, to warn’ in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end.

There are a lot of rebukes that lead to division and hurt. Can there ever be a healthy rebuke? Here are 10 thoughts:

  1. A sin needs a rebuke from the one sinned against, v3.
  2. It will be a healthier rebuke if we see the sinner as family, our brother or sister, v3.
  3. A rebuke is for the purpose of repentance which leads to forgiveness, v3.
  4. The one who rebukes has relationship in sight, v3.
  5. A rebuke is not to gain advantage or to harm but it leads to the eventual surrender of the one rebuking as they forgive the sinner, v3.
  6. A rebuke may be ignored or non-effectual, the sinner may continue to sin and keep coming back, the rebuke may need patience, v4.
  7. The measure of the rebuke must not increase even if you spend all day rebuking the same person, it should still lead to forgiveness not division, v4
  8. This controlled and compassionate rebuke seems beyond us at times, v5.
  9. The rebuke needs faith because without it you can never live a life of forgiveness, v5.
  10. It is easier to rebuke into forgiveness than move a mulberry tree into the sea. If we can do the latter with a little faith then we can muster enough faith that God can restore that relationship, v5.

 

 

Treating the mikros with respect.

Treating the mikros with respect.

Luke 17: 1-2 “Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

Jesus is still speaking about the religious leaders and the ordinary Jew as he addresses his disciples. The ‘little ones’ does mean children but it also means anyone of any age who is under our influence. In fact the word is ‘mikros’ and it means the ‘unimportant’ or the ‘insignificant’. These religious leaders were not only lovers of money but they were lovers of themselves. They were burdening people. The ordinary Jew were being tempted to believe that they would never please God unless they performed every religious duty devised by man. You see the things that were causing people to stumble were not the obvious tempting sins. It was this religious nonsense and it still exists. The Pharisee is still amongst us. Deceptive and manipulative leadership causes people to stumble in this life. Any authority that views people as unimportant and insignificant in the way they are spoken to and treated needs to be removed. In the words of Jesus, if they cause needless harm then they need to be hurled to the bottom of the sea. Strong? Yes but that’s how wrong it is.

I believe this applies to everyone and not just leaders. But come the position comes the responsibility. I heard a few days ago how a young person has stopped going to church simply because she was told by her Pastor, “You are not a very good Christian.” That comment no matter how much the leader felt justified to say it tempted the girl to think, “You’re right, I’m not going to be able to do this life,” and she walked away. She was tempted and she surrendered to it.

But how can the Church show discipline? How can we lead if we are unable to use strength and challenge? We do it the Christ way. We go via the cross and we lay our life down in total humility. This is how we treat the mikros. He showed us no other way.

Our responses and actions towards people either causes them to thrive or trip. We cause them to grow or to stumble. The temptation trap is always available to us and we must resist picking it up at all costs.

Mikros should never be used.