The Way: Powerful Peace

 

Then Judas (also known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus) asked Jesus a question (213). “Master, why will you reveal yourself to us & not to the world?”

Jesus continued: “Whoever loves me will do what I have taught. God will also love that person, and we will come to live with him.   Anyone who does not do what I have taught does not love me.  What I have taught has come directly from God.

“After I’ve gone, God’s Holy Spirit will teach you everything you need to know.  The Spirit will also help you remember everything I have taught you.

“I am giving you peace – not peace as the world understands it, but the peace of God.  This peace is so powerful that you won’t be worried & you won’t be afraid.  You will be bold!

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“Listen, you should be glad that I am returning to God, because there is nothing greater than being with God.  I’ve told you all this now, before it happens, so that, when it actually does happen, your faith will grow stronger.

“But, we can’t talk much longer now; the powers of this world are coming for me.  Although they have no power over me, God’s plan of redemption requires my submission to them at this time.  From my example of submission, you will understand that the way to show love for God is to do everything that God commands.”

Jesus concluded, “Come, let us leave this place.”  Then, after singing a song praising God, they left the upper room & went out to the gardens on the Mount of Olives.

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Jesus, please help us to love the peace that only You can give.

(213) Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, John 14:22-31

The Cost Of Following Jesus

 

Once, when large crowds of people were following Jesus, he challenged them (159): “Whoever loves family members more than me,  does not really follow me. And whoever is not willing to be put to death for following me, does not really follow me.”

Then Jesus used a couple of examples to help people consider carefully the real cost of following him.  “If you plan to construct any kind of building, you normally figure out the cost beforehand, to make sure you’ll have enough money to finish the building. Otherwise, you may get the foundation laid, but be unable to finish the job.  Then people won’t think you’re much of a builder.

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“Or look at it this way.  When a king, with an army of 10,000 soldiers, is facing another king, with an army of 20,000 soldiers, he normally considers his battle plan very carefully, to make sure his forces are strong enough to win. If he cannot assure himself of victory, he’ll send messengers to ask for terms of peace, rather than sending his troops to certain defeat.”

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Jesus concluded, “In the same way, you need to consider carefully the cost of following me.  Following me will require you to give up everything else in this life. Otherwise, your service for others in my name will be as worthless as salt that has lost its flavor.

“Listen to what God is saying to you!”

Jesus, please help us to love following You more than everything.

(159) Luke 14:25-35

Learn To Discern

 

Jesus concluded by emphasizing the importance of seeing people from God’s perspective (151):

Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I came to bring the fire of division to the world. Your testimonies about me will set family members against one another; sometimes, your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

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When you see clouds in the west, you say it’s going to rain — and it does. When you feel the south wind blowing, you say it’s going to be hot — and it is. You can discern variations in the weather.

Now you must learn to discern the signs of the times from God’s perspective.

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Then you’ll be able to judge for yourselves the right thing to do.

For example, if someone brings a lawsuit against you and takes you to court, settle the dispute with him before you even get to court.  Make that a priority before God.

LORD, please help us to love seeing things from Your point of view.

(151) Luke 12:49-59

Live For The King

 

After this, Jesus left Jerusalem and went with his students toward Jericho (139).  Then Jesus chose another 70 witnesses and sent them out in pairs, to every town and place in the area where he intended to go. He gave the new witnesses this commission:

There is a large harvest, but too few workers to gather it in. Pray to God that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.

I am sending you out as lambs among wolves, to help bring in God’s harvest.

Don’t take a money purse; don’t take a beggar’s bag; don’t take extra shoes.  Don’t stop to visit with friends along the way.

Whenever you go into a town and are welcomed, heal the sick and show the people that they can live for God as their King right now.

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Bring peace to every house in which you stay.  If the people in that house welcome you, let your peace remain with them; but if they don’t welcome you, then keep your peace.

Stay in one house; don’t move around from one house to another. Be content with whatever food & drink you are given, gratefully considering it as payment from God for your work.

However, if you go into a town and are not welcomed, wipe the dust of that town from your feet.  But as you leave, keep showing the people that they can live for God as their King right now.

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If they continue to reject you, know that on the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the evil people of the town of Sodom, than to the people of that town. Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; and whoever rejects me rejects God who sent me.

How terrible it will be for the people of Chorazin! How terrible, too, for the people of Bethsaida! If the miracles which I did in Chorazin & Bethsaida had been done in sinful towns like Tyre & Sidon, the people there would long ago have put on sackcloth & sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre & Sidon than to the people of Chorazin & Bethsaida!

It will be the same for the people of Capernaum.  For hoping to lift themselves up to heaven, they will be thrown down to hell.

 Lord Jesus, please help us to love living for You as King, right now.

(139) Luke 10:1-16

Leading By Serving

 

Jesus and his students left that place and went on through Galilee (121).  Along the way, Jesus continued instructing his students:  “I am going to be handed over to men who will kill me. Three days later, however, I will rise to life again.” But his students didn’t understand exactly what he meant, and they were a little afraid to ask him.

Nevertheless, as they walked on, Jesus’ students debated as to which of them would be the greatest, after Jesus was gone.  Jesus was aware of this, so when they broke their journey in Capernaum, he asked his students, “What were you debating as we walked?” They were ashamed to answer him.

Then Jesus sat down, gathered the twelve witnesses, and taught them: “If you want to be the greatest from God’s perspective, you must take the lowest place from the world’s perspective.  You must be a servant to everyone in the world.”

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Jesus took a child in his arms and said to them, “You must even be a servant to little children.  Anyone who welcomes a child in my name welcomes me.  Anyone who welcomes me welcomes God.”

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John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was expelling evil spirits from people in your name; we told him to stop, because he’s not part of our group.” Jesus responded, “Don’t try to stop him.  It is not evil to do such a miracle in my name. Anyone who is not openly against us is effectively for us. Anyone who simply gives you a drink of water — because you are my friend — will be rewarded by God.

“It is true that God will often use fire to purify your lives here on earth, even as you use salt to purify your temple sacrifices.  But when the salt is bad, the sacrifice is impure.  Be salt for one another; make each other thirsty for more of God.  This is the way to avoid useless debates & live in peace with one another.”

Holy Spirit, please help us to love serving people in Jesus’ name.

(121) Matthew 17:22-18:14, Mark 9:30-50, Luke 9:43b-50

The Mission: A Cross For Everyone

Jesus concluded giving his witnesses their mission (100):

Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I came to bring division to the world. Your testimonies about me will set family members against one another; sometimes, your worst enemies will be the members of your own family. Whoever loves family members more than me cannot be my friend.

And whoever doesn’t take up his own personal cross and follow in my steps cannot be my friend. If you try to preserve your life on earth, you will ultimately lose it; but if you will lose your life on earth for my sake, you will have life preserved forever in heaven.

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Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes God who sent me.

Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward.  Whoever welcomes God’s servant because he is God’s servant, will share in his reward.

And whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of my students, because he is my student, will certainly receive a reward.

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When Jesus had finished instructing them, the witnesses went out & did exactly as they had been told.

  • They preached that people should turn away from their sins.
  • They expelled many evil spirits.
  • They anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

God, please help me to love You, even when family & friends reject me for that.

(100) Matthew 10:34-42, Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:6

The Mission: Serpents & Doves

Then Jesus called his twelve chosen witnesses together and gave them authority to expel evil spirits and to heal every disease & every sickness.  These twelve men would be sent out in pairs by Jesus, with the following instructions (97):

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Go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Tell them that God’s kingdom is open to them right now!  They can serve God as their king right now!

Restore health to the sick, even those with leprosy; restore life to the dead; and expel evil spirits.  You have been freely given God’s kingdom, so freely give God’s kingdom to others.

Don’t carry any money; don’t carry an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Trust God to provide what you need for your work.

When you come to a town, find people who welcome you, and stay with them until you leave that town. Bring peace to every house in which you stay; if the people in that house welcome you, let your peace remain with them; but if they don’t welcome you, then keep your peace.

If any home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah, than to the people of that town.

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I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So you must be careful as serpents, but also carefree as doves.

God, please help me to love trusting You as I serve You.

(97) Matthew 10:1 & 10:5-16, Mark 6:7-11, Luke 9:1-5