You Can’t Be Made Righteous By Your Brother’s Faults (Luke 16-18)

Luke 18:9-14 NKJV Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (10) “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. (12) ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ (13) “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise [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, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Life isn’t fair. It’s full of people who will hurt us. It doesn’t take long for children to play together before the drama of so-and-so did whatever to start to unfold. Tattling is human nature. Its our sin nature that makes us want to point out the sins of others. Somehow we feel that if our sins aren’t as bad as somebody else’s then we are ok.

We should know better. No one else’s sin can make you righteous. No matter how much of a sinner someone else is, it doesn’t make you right before God. We all stand our fall on our own before the Lord.

When we point out the sins of others, we are trying to justify ourselves. We are trying to make ourselves look better. We imagine that if the fault really lies with someone else, well then maybe we aren’t that bad. The problem is that recognizing someone else’s sin never made our own sin disappear.

This is why forgiveness is such a big deal. When we refuse to forgive others we are holding on to a perverted sense of righteousness because we fail to release them from their sins. That kind of righteousness is self-righteousness and it doesn’t save, it damns.

The only way to truly deal with the sin in our lives is not by pointing out the sin in others, but freely confessing our own sin. Two men went to the temple to pray. One was right in his own eyes and in danger of Hell because he was blind to his own sin. The other freely confessed he was a sinner and walked away justified, not by what he had done, but by the God who hears the prayers of the humble.

Father, Help us not to look for the fault in our brothers, but to freely confess and deal with the faults that lie in our own heart. Help us to trust you to judge the faults of others and to see our heart rightly. I pray that we are always swift to come to you for repentance. I rejoice that you have made a way for us to be made righteous through Jesus Christ who takes away our sins when we humbly repent and trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


One who is faithful in very little

We have only done what is our duty

Will He Find Faith On the Earth?

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Who is My Neighbor? (Luke 10-12)

“Who is my neighbor?” is a question that I’ve often thought of in a sense of who do I have an obligation too? Who do I need to be neighborly too? Asking the question this way puts me in the sense of being active. There is something I must do to be neighborly. The reading today struck me in a new way when I heard Jesus say, “so which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” (Luke 10:36). It’s the first time I realized he asked the question from the perspective of the man who needed a neighbor.

Recently, dealing with all the issues included in having the Covid virus, I found myself much like the man in this story who was helpless and in need of a neighbor. We were blessed to have folks call and check in, offer prayer, and some even brought food to our family and even gave us a care package. In the grand scheme of things we probably would have made it through without extra attention, but the neighborly work of those who came to our aide really helped us and blessed us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

As I reflect on this passage this morning, I can’t help but be struck that the point of what Jesus was saying was that we are to be neighbors to those who need one. As I look around my world, there are lots of folks on my street, in my community and beyond that need a neighbor. It’s the folks who are dealing with this virus and need a hot meal. It’s the friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s the couple going through a divorce. It’s the teenager struggling to do homework while in quarantine. What it looks like to be a neighbor in each situation will be different. I’m not the brightest when it comes on how to demonstrate love and hospitality to others in some situations, but by God’s grace I’m pressing forward to see who he might put in my path today that needs a neighbor.

Father, Thank you for helping me see a subtle aspect of this passage that I haven’t seen before. Thank you that it provoked my heart to look for those who need a neighbor today. Help me to truly love my neighbors and demonstrate your love and kindness to everyone I see today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


Last Year’s Post

I have given you authority

Blessed Rather Are those Who Hear the Word of God

One’s Life does not Consist in the abundance of His possessions

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

The Power for Ministry Resides in Private Prayer (Luke 4-6)

I’m stuck at home recovering from the effects of the Covid Virus. According to the CDC guidelines I’m out of quarantine and no longer contagious, but the pneumonia that came with the virus has left me with some difficulties breathing. Our deacon body has been generous and given me several weeks to recover my energy before preaching again. On the one hand I am very grateful for their care for me and desire that I have freedom to recover. On the other hand, I’ve felt so useless over the last few weeks that I’m eager, maybe too eager, to jump back into every aspect of ministry. Indeed, there are more hurting now than ever due to the virus and losing loved ones. My plate feels fuller than it has ever been in some sense, but I’m being cautioned to take things slow for the sake of my health. I’m a big believer in accountability and I am grateful to submit myself to these Godly men and their wisdom.

Perhaps that’s why it all jumped back out at me again as I saw Jesus so busy with ministry in these chapters. I can imagine the fire that was burning to go and preach repentance! He was a man on a mission! Everything He did had consequence! How could he possibly slow down to go find a desolate place and pray? He had too much to do!

But that’s when it caught me this morning. Precisely BECAUSE he had so much to do, he had to go and find a desolate place (twice in today’s reading). He went to pray. When the demands of ministry were heaviest on his shoulders, Jesus made it a priority to pray!

As I read along this morning I couldn’t help but draw the conclusion that the power of Jesus’ public ministry was tied to his private prayer life. Jesus modeled something here. The bigger the demands of ministry, the more important the prayer closet becomes. As I focus on resting from the pulpit for a few weeks, I’ll be gladly shifting a lot more of my attention to prayer. It’d be foolish to imagine that any of us could do ministry without fully depending on the Lord anyway.

Father, thank you for the model of prayer found in today’s passage. I am grateful that in His humanity Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to live with a full ministry calendar that included time to get away and pray. Forgive me for the times I have tried to take ministry in my own hands, strength and power. There is no way to really do what you have called us to without constantly, consciously checking in with you through prayer. I ask that you guide me in a productive prayer closet this week. In Jesus’ Name.


He Went to a Desolate Place

They Left Everything and Followed Him

Why Do you Call me Lord, Lord and Don’t do what I say?

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Day 29: Luke 16-18 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 16-18 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The older I get the more I realize that most critics of the Bible have never actually read the scriptures. Do you see the portrait of Jesus here? Taking on Pharisees. Healing the sick. Welcoming the Children. Speaking words of warning and comfort.  Counseling a rich man to go all in for God. Speaking up for the helpless. That was just three chapters in the middle of Luke.

The gospel of Luke is so counter cultural it’s not funny. Have you noticed all the stories about rich men? The rich young ruler, the rich man and Lazarus, and from yesterday, the poor brother who wasted his inheritance (yes he wasted it just like a drunk on booze) and the other brother who never left home. There is a two fold theme opening up here… God accepts those who have nothing to offer and those who have lots of money often have the hardest time seeing there way to God because of it (16:14). Either way, you can’t love money more than God (16:13).

The big take away for me today was the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14). There is really only one way to approach God and that is to be humble. Often, it is easier to see the sins of others and miss my own sin. To be humble is a gift of God’s grace. To know your sin before a holy and a righteous God, while uncomfortable, it ultimately the most profitable thing that can happen in your life.

FATHER, I pray that you would guard my heart from loving anything more than you. I pray that our hearts would always be humble. I ask that our consciences would be sensitive to you and that you would guard our hearts from idols. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. Convict us of sin and bring healing to our souls. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here


Day 28: Luke 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Imagine being the younger son in Luke 15, rehearsing your speech and making the final turn to approach the house. You’re not sure if you will be accepted. Then you see him. Running to meet you. It’s your dad! You’re running through the speech one more time in your head. You are practiced, you are ready, but as the words leave your mouth you hear him say, “kill the fatted calf, we are going to have a feast tonight. My son who was dead is now alive. He is home.”

You’re accepted. You are welcomed. You enter the party with full confidence that you have your father’s unmerited favor. ..

Then imaging the older brother in Luke 15. (Remember, this story is about two brothers.) You’ve been loyal, you work the farm, you do what you are told and never once has your old man thrown a party for you. When you come home you are furious to find that your brother is home and the old man has thrown him a party. You feel slighted somehow. You feel edged out. Somehow the fact that your father would accept your stupid younger brother makes you angry. You don’t enter the party. The father has to come out to invite you in… in the end we are left wondering if you will ever go in?

This is the scandal of Amazing Grace that God would love sinners who repent and find their way home. Sometimes we think that people need to suffer a little because of where they have been and the choices they have made. But that’s not the way God welcomes sinners. The road to repentance is an open road that he looks down, waiting and expecting.

FATHER, thank you for the scandal of Amazing Grace. Thank you that you welcome repentant sinners. I rejoice with those who have trusted in you as Lord and Savior. I lift up those who have wandered far from home and are living in the far country. I pray for the salvation of friends and family. I pray for repentance that leads to rejoicing. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here


Day 26: Luke 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In the gospel of Luke we often find faith in unsuspecting places. The faith of the centurion to recognize that Jesus has the authority to heal from afar is one of those places (7:1-10). Jesus had just spoken in his hometown about their apparent lack of belief and that even in Old Testament times that God sometimes chose to do works among those who were outside of the covenant nation of Israel (4:25-27). As we keep reading, we will see a faithful response from those you wouldn’t expect. Today in the same chapter we saw the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50) who interrupts a party to clean Jesus’ feet. While she was probably a Jewish woman, she was certainly out of her social context.

Along the lines of the woman who washes Jesus’ feet, I thought it was profound that Jesus uses this as a teaching moment for Simon (the host) about forgiveness. I think it is always easier to see someone else’s sin.  The human heart is prone to gawk, make fun of and demand repentance for the wrongs that we see others commit.  We seldom ever like to take the time for honest self-evaluation of our own hearts. If I’m not careful I will see the sins of others and in my mind be way too harsh, not thinking or realizing that I have sin that has to be dealt with too. Those who have come to Jesus by grace through faith need to extend the same grace we have received to others.

Forgiveness is one of those things that is easy to do on paper, but hard in real life. Forgiveness for me is often a process and seldom ever is it a single event. I continually need to be reminded to forgive other for offenses big and small in the same way that I have been forgiven.

The big take away for me today was 8:18. We must be careful in how we hear. God’s word wasn’t meant for the purpose of information alone. It was meant for transformation. I know all about how to diet. Believe it or not, I have read books (that’s right plural) on dieting, exercising and losing weight. My problem is I haven’t done anything with what I know and my waste-line shows it. For all of that information to profit me anything I have to DO it. It’s the same with God’s word. Knowing how to forgive and forgiving are two different things. Those who do God’s word, get more from it than those who merely read it… What a challenge that was to read today! Are we hearing God’s word to transform our lives?

Finally, I wonder what it must have been like for the Gaderene demoniac to be healed of his demon possession and sent then home to tell others about what the Lord had done for Him? Here is a man who was ready to leave it all behind and jump in a boat and follow Jesus (8:38). This is the kind of disciple that Jesus was hard pressed to find. Yet here he finds one and his command isn’t to go to the darkest streets of Jerusalem, or even to go to the utter most parts of the earth. Jesus instead says, go home and tell those people what I’ve done for you (8:39).

He was already where God was calling him to go. He needed to be a sign and a witness of God’s faithfulness among his own people.  God had placed him in that area for a purpose.

Have you ever wondered that you might have that goofy brother-in-law for a purpose? That you might have found that family doctor for the sake of the gospel conversations you’ll have in the midst of being sick? Have you contemplated that God might want to use you to reach that child that is always hanging out at your house with your son or daughter?

FATHER, thank you for the grace and forgiveness that I have found in Jesus Christ. Help me to never forget the love and forgiveness that I have received. Help me to see my sins honestly before you and be quick to repent. Give me grace to be quick to forgive others when they sin against me. Help me to look for opportunities to share my faith with those that you have already put in my life. Thank you for the privilege of shepherding your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here


Day 25: Luke 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

It never really occurred to me before that the devil tempts Jesus with authority here early in his ministry (4:6). Authority is one of those things that Jesus declares after the resurrection (Matthew 28:18). I have no doubt that the devil was offering Jesus a “shortcut,” so to speak, but I had never grasped the explicitness of it until this morning.

Jesus obviously isn’t a pragmatist. The best way is always God’s way. It may not be the quickest, or even most effective, but it is the right way. I wonder sometimes, where am I tempted to take short cuts? I get how authority without the cross was a temptation to power here, but I wonder if it wasn’t also a temptation to take the shorter, quicker, most effective route?

Tree’s produce fruit after their kind (6:43-45). The scripture isn’t concerned with how much fruit there is here (though there are thought on this in other passages). What is at stake isn’t how much, but what kind. Makes me think about what kind of stuff comes out of my life? Is my life overflowing with the joy I have in Jesus or is it something else? If it is something else, what? why?

This passage also isn’t concerned with growth. I think I might step on some toes here but there is a way to grow in the wrong direction. Bad trees grow and they produce bad fruit. The measure of the Christian life isn’t just generic growth, but specific fruit. What kind of fruit are you producing.

There is much more to ponder, but here is where I hung out in my thoughts and meditation today. Am I producing the real fruit of Godliness in my life? Are you?

Here is how I am praying today:

FATHER, thank you that Jesus didn’t give in to temptation, but was tempted in all ways as we are, yet was without sin. I am glad that you understand my temptations. Today I pray that you would lead me away from the things that tempt us to sin and closer to you. I pray that we would be those who don’t only hear your word, but we would be those who do your word. I ask that the real fruit of godliness would be evident in my life. We don’t want to play at Christianity or church. We want all that you have for us. I pray that you make us all more like Jesus. Thank you for the gift of leading and praying with others. I ask for your blessings on us today, may it be a fruitful day for your kingdom and your glory. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here


Your Prayer Has Been Heard

Zack and gabeA Meditation of Luke 1:5-25.

Have you ever longed for something? Ached so bad that you could feel it in your bones? Cried out to God and begged? Perhaps in the midst of it all doubted God and thought he was cruel at worst or just uncaring at best? You prayed and Heaven were silent. No, not just silent… This deafening quietness makes it seem like Heaven doesn’t  care.

There once was a righteous man who was married to a righteous woman. They kept the Law. They loved God. They worshiped Him! But they had no children. They would have counted children a blessing. They asked God for this blessing, to be able to have kids. They petitioned Heaven, but they heard no reply.

Enter in for a moment to their life: As life goes on, so does everyone else. Nieces, nephews and even cousins are born. You watch as friends give birth and celebrate with joy the arrival of their sons and daughters. Some families seem especially fruitful and as they pass by there is a silent exchange. No one says anything out loud, they don’t use their mouths to speak, but they don’t have to. You read it in their look. The silent words of pity as they stroll through with so many blessings and your house has none.

You cry out to God. “Bless me! I know I don’t deserve a little one but you are a God who blesses! Our home would be a fine home for a child. We would fine parents. You who have opened wombs before, open this one!”

And you pray that prayer through your twenties, your thirties, your forties and on until you feel a little silly praying like that anymore because you know your body is too old. There marriage act itself would be a miracle these days, how shall their be a child now?

But there is one story in the history of your people where such a miraculous birth took place and so there is hope. This petition has become so well rehearsed and that perhaps you ask Heaven for a child each day as you go through your daily prayers. Or perhaps you ask with a hint of belief that the God who worked in Abraham and Sarah will work in you to produce a child as well. Either way, you still pray.

So then one day you are in the very act of worshiping God and there at the alter of incense is an angel. It’s a scary thing to be in the presence of an angel. When they appear they usually pick people up off the ground and tell them not to be afraid. This he does, then he says, “Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will call his name John.”

When Elizabeth is with child she says it like this, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

These are amazing words because they allow us to see the unfolding drama in the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth. While they were receiving the blessing of a child they were also receiving something more…more than they had asked. They were invited into the drama of redemption. The longing of their hearts and the absent roll of parenthood in their life wasn’t placed their by God’s cruelty… Just the opposite. It was a blessing. They would be parents of the prophet of God who would make ready the way for the Messiah.

The story of the birth of John reminds us that we are not the author of our lives. Our lives are given to us by our Creator. While we like to think we are the main characters in the story, we just play a supporting role. Even John himself would just be support for the real lead, Jesus. When asked about Jesus’ ministry John would say, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

But now we have to look at our lives through the story of John’s birth. Do we live lives of humble submission to God? Do we live in the greater awareness of His Kingdom? Do we see that our community, family, workplace, and perhaps even our bareness or fruitfulness is not ultimately ours alone but can all be used by God in bigger ways than we have ever thought or imagined? Or have we been busy with our lives trying to rip the pen from the authors hand and rewrite the script?

(Lk. 24:27) why was the Bible written

Is the Bible about how to live or about the one who lived for you? Is it about a list of rules to obey or about the only one who was ever perfectly obedient to God? Is it a guide book on how to live in a fallen world or a news cast containing the good news that Jesus has come to save us from our sins?

You see that’s what is at stake here! How will you view the scriptures? Is it about what God has done or what you must do!

Don’t you see? It is about what God has done! The gospel, the good news of the kingdom of Heaven, is about what Christ has done for us. He has taken our sin. He has born our transgressions. He has suffered the wrath of God in our place and he has risen from the grave.

Now we must hear. We must understand. We cannot miss the message. We simply turn to Him. We look to Him who bore our iniquity and shame. We must embrace Him. We must surrender. We must turn to trust in Him. We must walk in Grace.


Thank you for saving me. Thank you that I am counted righteous by the work of Christ. Thank you that your Bible is the message of what you have done for me in Christ. I will live in your grace.

Heads up to those of you following along.

I’ll be back Monday in another book of the Bible. I’ll be taking a slightly different approach. I’ll read each day until something strikes me. I may read only a few verses from the previous day or I may read a few chapters. Each post will be around 150 to 300 word meditation with a brief prayer. I’ll also post references to 3 passages of scripture that I’m praying through that day. I read one passage in the morning, one at noon, and one in the evening. I’ll post the references. Feel free to look them up and pray along.

If you haven’t caught on yet I do not post devotional thoughts on Sundays or Thursdays. I’m still in the word, but I choose to reflect on the Sunday message my pastor preaches and the Wednesday night message that I deliver.

“he was looking for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 23:51)

Have you ever been desperate to see God move?  Have you ever looked around and realized that apart from God doing something, it’s hopeless? Have you ever hoped beyond hope that God would move in a significant way in your lifetime?

Joseph did.  He was looking for the kingdom of God.  Then one day on the worst day in history Joseph did something that put him right in the middle of seeing the kingdom of God come together.

You see He put the body of Jesus in his tomb.  When it looked like all was lost he did the right thing.  He provided a burial for the peasant that everyone had thought was the Messiah.  He gave his tomb to Jesus.

Even on a terrible day, Joseph was prepared to be busy doing something.  He was going to take care of the body of this peasant and put him in his own tomb.  Joseph was a man of action.

I guess that looking really involves doing.  Looking for the kingdom of God isn’t sitting on the sidelines hoping to see a miracle or something.  That was what Herod was doing and he wasn’t looking for the kingdom of God.  He just wanted a show.

Joseph was looking and as he was looking he was doing.  His action put him in the middle of the kingdom of God.


I am seeking to follow you today.  I don’t want to be a spectator.  help me to do even small and menial tasks as unto you today.  Thank you for my salvation that was accomplished on the cross.  Use me to tell others about you today.