January 12, 2012 Devotion Sharing (Luke 4)

Submitted by Joe S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
REFLECTION QUESTIONS

Luke 4:34

One commentator notes“In Greek the question in verse 34 is an idiomatic way of asking, ‘Why do you want to bother us?’ The remark is revealing, since it indicates both the inherent authority Jesus possesses and the demon’s awareness of that power.” 

  • Why was Jesus’ presence a bother to the demons?  How do I view the changes Jesus wants to bring about in my life?

Jesus’ presence was a bother to the demons because they didn’t want anything to do with him.  They did not give Jesus authority in their lives and wanted to be left alone to do as they pleased.  When Jesus, the one who has total authority and a rightful claim over them, comes onto the scene, they hate it because it threatens their autonomy.  Because they are clinging on so tightly to their illegitimate claim over their own lives, they can only view Jesus as the one who is trying to destroy them.  How someone views God depends on who that person thinks is the rightful authority over his life.  A person can only welcome God’s presence in his life if he is able to acknowledge and accept God’s rightful authority and claim over his life.  If he refuses to acknowledge God’s authority, he only sees God as one trying to rob or kill him.

My own response to God can be frighteningly similar to the demons’.  When I feel that God is challenging me in some way, for example, to love and care for someone when I would much rather not deal with the person, I can view God as someone who is trying to destroy… destroy my plans for a cozy time at home, destroy the peace that I can have if I just close my eyes to the needs of others.  I can’t welcome God until I am able to acknowledge Him as the Lord over my schedule, the Lord over my agenda, the Lord of my time.  When I can accept that, then I can start to see things clearly.  God is not trying to destroy, but is graciously trying to involve me in His plan to save, give comfort, provide hope, or bring healing to someone.  He’s not trying to destroy but to bless, and not only bless some other person, but also bless me.

Luke 4:31-42

  • Review all that Jesus did on this one Sabbath day.  What picture of Jesus emerges from this?

On this one day, Jesus taught the crowds at Capernaum, healed a man possessed by a demon, healed Simon’s mother-in-law, healed many of the townspeople of their sickness and demon possession.  From this snapshot of one day in Jesus’ life, it shows that He was a very hard worker.  His day was jam packed from morning to nighttime with ministry.  After a full day of preaching and healing, he had every right to retire for the night and not see the people who came to him.  But even at night, after the sun sets, he’s still helping and healing people. Jesus models for me what kind of life I am called to live as a Christian.  It’s a life of making myself available to others, it’s a life of working hard to love people.  Some days can be very busy and tiring, where I have a busy day at work and spend my evenings meeting up with students.  But seeing Jesus’ life reminds me that this is what a normal Christian life is supposed to look like.  It’s supposed to be challenging, difficult, and tiring.  I readily accept that as normal when I think about the life of a doctor or a politician.  But somehow it’s easy to think that Christian life and ministry should somehow be easy.  Jesus reminds me that I need to be ready to push myself and work hard in serving God.

Luke 4:42

  • What did Jesus do at daybreak?  Where did he go?

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place to pray.  Despite his incredibly busy schedule and how tired he must have been from the all he did the previous day, he makes time where he can be alone to fellowship with God in prayer.  He apparently couldn’t find such a place in the house where he was staying at.  So he took the initiative to go outside to a place and at a time where he would not likely be disturbed.

  • What can I do to find times of solitude and prayer?

I need to carve out the proper time and location where I can be alone to pray, uninterrupted by the phone calls, texts, emails, chores, or other things that can distract me.  For me, this time is usually at night, after the baby is asleep, after the computer is shut off, when I’m not receiving many phone calls or texts.  This is the time that I need to be faithful to so that I can reconnect daily with God in prayer.

Luke 4.43

  • Reflect on the purpose of Jesus’ life.  How does this affect my view of my life’s purpose and priorities?

The purpose of Jesus’ life was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God to as many people as he could.  After the previous busy day, he just pushes on to the next town to preach the gospel and minister to the people there.  He didn’t sit back to pat himself on the back for a job well done.  He can’t do that because He knows there are others that need to hear the gospel.  Jesus shows me that my life’s purpose and priority must be on sharing the gospel. This has to be my highest priority, above building my career or pleasing my family.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                          

  • Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text, or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Dear lord, thank you for giving me a calling that is so important, it demands all my energy and effort.  You have called me to spread the gospel, not only to bless others, but in order to experience the most blessed life.  Thank you for blessing me with a life that can be busy and tired with good, meaningful work for you.  I commit to giving you increasing authority over all my time, emotions, and energy to do your will.

Submitted by Jon C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Self-Study

Luke 4:31-44
It is clear from this passage that while Jesus heals many people, his main mission is to teach and to preach. In v31, when he came to Capernaum, the first thing we see him doing is teaching the people on the Sabbath. In v43, Jesus says that he has come to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. Why is this significant? Although Jesus had great power to heal and do amazing miraculous things, his priority in his ministry was preaching the good news. In v18, he says that the Spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor.

While people’s physical needs are important, as Jesus demonstrates by healing those who come to him, it’s people’s spiritual needs, their separation from God, that have eternal consequences. And when the people came to Jesus to keep him from leaving them in v42, he left them to preach the good news in other towns, because this is what he was sent to do, and he refused to allow this noble task of physical healing to distract him from his primary, most important purpose. This may have been misunderstood by the people as misguided or worse, uncaring. When his disciples came looking for him in Mark, they exclaimed “everyone is looking for you!”, everyone being those who were coming to Jesus for healing, suggesting that healing those people is what Jesus ought to be doing with his time, given his amazing power and gifts. Consequently, even the disciples probably misunderstood Jesus’ heart and his view of the world when Jesus told them that they need to move on to the other towns to preach the good news.

I have much to learn from Jesus’ clear understanding of man’s most pressing and consequential problem: our sinfulness. Man’s spiritual need is not as immediately visible or apparent as someone’s physical illness, especially given the taboo associated with talking about spiritual things. So it takes a good amount of persuasion to convince others of the truth of our dire spiritual condition. Reminding myself of this truth is even a challenge, given that most of my day, I’m surrounded by voices that tell me that money and physical comfort are man’s greatest needs. I need to daily meditate in God’s word to properly prioritize what’s important in life.

Christianity is unique in that it claims that our spiritual need is our biggest problem and it claims that it has the solution to that spiritual need. This is the unique message that the church has to offer. And preaching this message of man’s sinfulness, repentance, Jesus, the cross, God’s forgiveness, and eternal life is the unique mission of every Christian. And preaching doesn’t only involve standing up in front of a group of people to give a Bible study. It includes going out, making connections with people, and persuading and exhorting them to consider the claims of the Bible in light of their human experience. It requires a lot of discomfort that many of that our ministry staff are experiencing right now, trying to reach out to people, meeting them wherever we can, just so that they might give Christianity a hearing and allow the gospel to change their lives and redirect them towards God and God’s people.

What are the ways in which I get distracted from this clear mission? Worries about the future, desire for a comfortable life, all of the voices that tell me to just fend for myself and my family and to invest all of my gifts and energy in making my life as secure and comfortable as possible. Giving into those distractions will consume my entire life, all of my time and attention and resources, leaving nothing left for the clear mission that Jesus modeled for me. Some of these distractions are good things, but there’s no end to them when I am consumed by securing my life and making life for my family as comfortable as possible, and it requires discipline to prioritize the singular mission that Jesus gave us. As we go out and labor to share the gospel with people, I need to go with strong conviction of this truth that every person needs God, that every person has this spiritual problem and need that can only be solved by Jesus, and that this is their biggest problem in life. I pray that this conviction would cause me to step out of my comfort zone, live a life busy with God’s good work to do, not be so fearful of rejection and hostility from people, and boldly preach this message as we try to minster to people.

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