December is a crazy time, for many of us. It’s so easy to wake up one morning in January, and realize that you’ve missed most of Christmas, it’s meaning anyway… then we vow not to lose focus- next year. It’s not too late for this year!!!!!
Yesterday- at Laced With Grace, I posted my plan for staying focused on the meaning of the holiday. I am reading a chapter a day of the book of Luke. 24 chapters 24 days to Christmas Eve. My goal is to keep Christmas in the Context of the Gospel.
I’ll be posting many of my journal’s raw thoughts here- the things I find and the ways I respond. I encourage you to join me— add your thoughts in the comments… or on your own blog! I started on the 1st—in my journal— (yep actual paper) but decided to start here with todays reading…..
Lord of the Sabbath
1One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” ( Funny how legalism isn’t a new invention… the Pharisees thought it better to starve than to do work – ie pick grain- on the Sabbath… wonder how often I let my legalism casue me to go hungry, when I could be satisfied…)
3Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (This establishes who Jesus was- Lord of the Sabbath… and that feeding the “hungry” is a priority, and should be)
6On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Jesus cracks me up. He knew the Pharisees were watching Him, for the purpose of making accusations, instead of being “careful” Jesus puts it right in their face. He puts the question that was in their hearts, before their eyes. Their question seems to be… will, Jesus follow the letter of the law, or let a man suffer another day…Jesus’ response- to heal the man- seems to show a contrast between Jesus’ heart- (of compassion) and the Pharisees heart- more concerned with their own appearance of “holiness” following the law- than with being compassioate towards others.)
The Twelve Apostles
12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, (Guess I hadn’t realized there were other disciples and Jesus chose 12 to send out as Apostles… have to look up Apostle…) whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Jesus chose Judas, knowing He would betray Him, long before Judas ever had the thought, in my opinion. )
Blessings and Woes
17He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil[a] spirits were cured, 19and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, (Often translated poor in Spirit- meaning recognizing our own sinful state)
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21Blessed are you who hunger now, (I don’t think Jesus was tlaking about craving carbs… but craving for God)
for you will be satisfied. ( To be satisfied with God…. Lord- please fill me up! )
Blessed are you who weep now, (I think the blessing is in the comfort we can have when we cry out to God..)
for you will laugh. (Even the greatest hurts in my life have led back to joy… not in the happy that bad thing happened way, but in the I trust God more- now that he’s brought me through that, sense…)
22Blessed are you when men hate you, (This one is also tough—- but I can say this- there have been times when I’ve had people “hate” me, for doing what I felt strongly was i n obedience to God…. it doesn’t FEEL like a blessing… it FEELS awful, but what feels much better- is knowing that for just one moment- I’ve done what was important and right before God— not men)
when they exclude you and insult you (I hate to be excluded… but sometimes- it’s for the best for all involved! )
and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23″Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. 24″But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (When Jesus want to make something crystal clear— He says it both ways- once for the ones who want to see the positive side, then yet again for those who’ll only get it from the opposing perspective)
Love for Enemies
27″But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(How can I do good, ot those who hate me? I have a few ideas of who they may be…. but DO GOOD? I’ll have some opportunites over the holiday’s thats for sure…the praying is somehow easier than the doing… God please help me to DO GOOD to those who hate me… welll– and help people not hate me too much! )
29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. (God,this is so hard- it goes so against my natural justice tendancies- make me more like you)
32″If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37″Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(A lot of times these verses are taken out of context, and twisted to mean that if you GIVE things to people— then THINGS will be given to you… what it says- is that if you withold forgiveness from others, you are in threat, of not having forgiveness extended to you when you mneed it— and I need t OFTEN!)
39He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Lord- train me and teach me- make me to be like you!)
41″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (A million times I’ve heard this- and a million times- I stand convicted. Lord- it’s so easy for me to see the speck in someone elses eye….!)
A Tree and Its Fruit
43″No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
(The overflow of my heart….. hmmm been pretty frustrated and sressed lately.. a lot of sarcastic, angry words have been flowing… God cleanse my heart renew it and change it…let the overflow be one of love and peace and forgiveness)
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46″Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Is it getting a little warm in here??????Ouch. Lord- help me to obey you out of love for you….)
47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Lord, help me to put into practice the things you have taught— help me to stay focused on you – and to become more like you— amen