The Great Banquet

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 21, 2023

Luke 14:15-24

Jesus at a Pharisee’s house II

The Great Banquet

Throughout my lifetime, I have been to many banquets. Some were weddings, and others were retirement dinners. Others were big parties that one of my employers would throw for the employees and their spouses each year. Other banquets I attended were for a church function, which could also be quite elaborate.

After the food, beverages, dancing, and interactions with friends and family, these types of parties/banquets come to an end. People say their goodbyes and head home to their everyday lives and responsibilities.

In today’s Parable, Jesus speaks of another kind of banquet. This is a banquet that God invites everyone to, but unfortunately, not everyone accepts His invitation.

****************The Point****************

Today’s devotion is a continuation of yesterday’s reading. In yesterday’s parables, Jesus was discussing being a humble servant. Today, His point is slightly different.

“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

 “ ’Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

Luke 14:15-24

This Parable was told by Jesus because of what someone at the table said.

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

The banquet is what might be called “God’s Salvation Banquet.” Jesus is the servant sent out by God the Father to call people to repentance and faith. The guests invited to the banquet but refused the invite for various reasons are the people of Israel, as the teachers of the law and Pharisees. The church leaders rejected Jesus. They did not believe He was who he said He was, The Son of God.

Jesus, the servant, went out into the nation of Israel and was rebuked. Then He went back out, inviting the lame, the sick (including those with the sickness of sin), the crippled, and the blind. This is the same group of people Jesus referenced in yesterday’s devotion.

The servant/Jesus reports that many had come to the banquet from this group. But there is still room at the table (The Kingdom of God), so the servant is sent out a third time. Now to the rural areas where the gentiles live, many of them come to the banquet.

Everyone is invited to God’s banquet table, Jews, Gentiles, young and old, rich and poor, sick and needy. But unfortunately, many people reject Christ’s call to repent and have faith in the His Gospel message.

Those who reject God’s invitation have only what this world offers and nothing more. But, on the other hand, those who grasp onto the invite will enjoy everlasting life.

Nothing has changed. It was the same today as it was 2000 years ago. We are saved (B.G.T.F). By Grace (God’s unconditional, undeserved love) Through Faith (Our belief that God sent His only Son to be a living sacrifice for our sins, so we may live with Him in eternity forever.)

Jesus has invited everyone to the Kingdom Banquet. Our job is to share the Gospel message with others, so they may repent and have faith in Christ. We want everyone to join us at the banquet.

“Healing a man with dropsy”

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 20, 2023

Luke 14:1-14

Jesus at a Pharisee’s house

“Healing a man with dropsy.”

The Gospels speak of many ailments. We’ve read and listened to the healings by Jesus of blindness, deafness, leprosy, bleeding, and demon possession. In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus heals a man with dropsy.

Today we no longer call the ailment the man had dropsy; now, it’s referred to as Edema. Edema is characterized by excess watery fluid collecting in the body’s cavities or tissues. Usually, this illness is connected with congestive heart failure, as well as liver or kidney failure.

In today’s lesson, Jesus also shares two parables. First, he is at the home of a Pharisee enjoying a meal. He uses the example of a banquet in each of them.

*******************The Point*******************

Let’s look at today’s reading from the book of Luke.

“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So, taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

Then he asked them, 

“If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”

And they had nothing to say.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back, and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:1-14

One has to wonder why a person with dropsy was at the home of a Pharisee. The passage notes that Jesus was being carefully watched. Perhaps the Pharisee invited the ailing man to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath. This would result in Jesus being trapped and accused of not following the Sabbatical rules.

In his case, before healing the man, Jesus asks the Pharisees and experts of the law a question:

When Jesus did ask a question about what was lawful on the Sabbath, He was never asking permission. Instead, Jesus was putting the religious leaders on the spot. Nevertheless, in each case, He always healed the ailing person.

In today’s devotion, Jesus’ follow-up question speaks to the heart of the matter concerning the Sabbath.

Jesus was trying to tell the religious leaders that love comes first. The Pharisees and religious leaders were concerned about following the letter of the law. Jesus emphasized that people’s well-being is more important than following the Sabbatical law to the letter.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t follow the commandments or rules in general. The regulations and laws are put in place for a reason. But, at the same time, we must put the well-being of others first.

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus also shared two parables at the Pharisee’s house.

First, Jesus says:

 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.”

“As a parable, it has a spiritual significance. A wedding feast was a recognized symbol for the kingdom of God and heavenly bliss. This parable is based on the practice of seating guests at table by rank and distinction. The more important guests arrive last, and an unwary early arrival might have to be moved to a lower place so to accommodate them. Far better to adopt a position of modest and wait to be invited to a better seat. For God exalts humble and debases the proud.” (New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition, Luke 14, Pp. 1004)

Jesus is saying that rather than be self-seeking and putting ourselves on a pedestal, we should be humble to our fellow man. Just as Jesus was humbly born in a stable and later got on His knees to wash His disciples’ feet. We, too, should be unpretentious and servants to others.

Then Jesus presented a second parable.

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back, and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

In the second parable, Jesus directed it at His host.

Jesus tells His host that you will be paid back when you invite your friends, brothers and sisters, relatives, and rich neighbors. In other words, they will eventually ask you to their homes for dinner.

But what about the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. Jesus is saying that these are people who are generally unable to reciprocate with an invitation back to you. Jesus is not condemning His host for inviting friends and family to his home. Jesus himself did not fall into any of the people in the second category.

Let’s think of it this way. What about that homeless person on the street corner asking for food or money? How about an older adult who rarely leaves their home because they are never invited to join someone for dinner? Or the disabled person who would like to come to church on Sunday but doesn’t have transportation.

These are the people that need help but generally cannot reciprocate. And that’s okay! Of course, don’t have a self-seeking attitude when you help others. But know that you are doing God’s work, and He sees what you are doing in His name.

We don’t know if the reprimands Jesus gave in these parables hit home or not. But, I’m sure Jesus hopes that, at the very least, His disciples will have heard His words and learned to practice humility.

Jesus heals a man born blind

Lenten Devotions

Gospel Lesson for Sunday

March 19, 2023

John 9:1-12; Genesis 3:9-13; Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus heals a man born blind

It’s all your fault!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it amusing how often we play the ‘blame game’ throughout our lives.

When we’re kids, we blame our sibling or a neighbor kid for something we did to not get in trouble. “I didn’t leave the bicycle in the driveway. Johnny did it.”

The blaming of someone else for a problem continues as we get older. We’ll blame a colleague for something we did at work or perhaps were both responsible. “Honey, why didn’t you pick up pasta from the store as I asked you?” We might reply, “I don’t recall you ever asking me to do that.” Even when you now remember she did.

The blame game goes all the way back to Genesis in the Bible:

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-13

**************************The Point***********************

Today’s devotion includes the blame game I spoke about above.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 

“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”).

So, the man went and washed and came home seeing.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So, I went and washed, and then I could see.”

“Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.”

John 9:1-12

These verses seem to be about a blind man, why he was blind, and the disbelief that he was healed. But there’s more to it than that; let’s break it down:

  • “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (vs. 2b)
    • For some reason, the disciples believed this man was blind because of sin. So, they asked Jesus who was to blame.
    • Although our actions have consequences, that doesn’t mean because you get a cold, break a leg or get cancer; it’s because of something you did wrong.
    • Jesus responds explicitly to His disciples, telling them that the man was not blind because of sin.

 “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

  • Right now, is our day. While we are alive, it’s our job to do the work of Christ in this world. But, one day, night (death) will come for us, and we will no longer be able to serve in this way.
    • While Jesus was in the world, He was light (He still is) for people to turn to for salvation, help, for eternal life. Jesus has left us responsible for continuing His work and spreading the Good News of the Gospel while we are on this earth.

Here’s my favorite part of this passage. After Jesus heals the blind man. People don’t believe it’s the same man. Some of his friends then ask him where this Jesus is. His reply speaks volumes, “I don’t know.” (9:12b)

  • I don’t know your background, but mine was in supermarket retail. I’m not the same person I was 30-40 years ago. I’m not talking about how I look or how strong I am. I’m not the same guy.
    • I’ve grown; I’ve become a new person in Christ
    • 30 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine writing these words down, yet, I am.
  • I’m no better than anyone who is reading this devotion. Just remember this, when you have Jesus in your heart and you have faith in Him. You are a different person, and people will notice.
  • The blind man’s friends didn’t believe it was him because he could see. He was a changed man. Suddenly, he could walk down the street with authority, not bumping into people.
  • Unfortunately, it seems there may have been one thing missing.
  • They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”This may have been a literal statement. The man genuinely didn’t know where Jesus was at the time. Or, was it a lack of faith, and he had no understanding or idea who Jesus was or what He had done for him?

Do you know where Jesus is? He is in His Work, He is in your prayers and devotions, and He is in your heart. But, most importantly, Jesus is with you and me always.

For you and I, it is still day. We are to be about the business of God while we are still here before our night comes. So, until that day comes, follow Jesus’ final directive to His disciples:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

“Saying I’m sorry isn’t enough.” Repent or Perish

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 18, 2023

Luke 11:13:1-9

“Saying I’m sorry isn’t good enough.”

Repent or Perish

How many times in your life have you said the two words, “I’m sorry.” I don’t think I could come up with a number for that answer.

Children say it to their parents when they’ve done something wrong or have gotten caught in a lie. Likewise, adults apologize to their spouses by saying, “I’m sorry,” for everything from forgetting an anniversary to infidelity.

Those two words often roll off of our tongues as easily as the words I, we, and the. But, if someone is genuinely sorry for something they said or did, those two words aren’t enough. They also need to be genuinely repentant and change their ways.

Today’s reading talks about repentance. On the surface, it may seem like the two words are synonymous. But they’re not.

**********************The Point**********************

Let’s take a look at today’s verses and a parable from the book of Luke.

 “Now, there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, 

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were guiltier than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So, he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now, I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'” Luke:1-9

It’s interesting how the human mind works at times. When the words above were shared, several people who were with Jesus brought up the story of some Galileans who had died at the hands of Roman soldiers. They perished while they were killing their sacrifices in the temple.

The people who brought this up were trying to justify themselves. They envisioned themselves as better people than those who had died at the temple.

Then Jesus brings up the tragic end of 18 people who died when the tower in Siloam collapsed (near the healing pool in Siloam.).

In both cases, people felt that these people died because they were horrible sinners. This couldn’t be further from the truth. That would be like saying the 3000 people who died in the towers on 9/11 were all sinners and deserved to die. Again, that’s just not true.

“We must not interpret unusual earthly suffering and death as a specific punishment for some sin which an individual has committed unless there is proof.” People’s Bible Commentary, Luke, Victor H. Prange, Pp. 154-157.

Jesus then tells a parable about a fig tree that was not bearing fruit. At the time, the fig tree represented the people of Israel. Today, we can view the fig tree as the people of the world.

There are few places in this world where the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not been shared. The man in the story was probably the owner of the vineyard. The man in the story is God, looking at His creation and not seeing people believing in the one true God. Jesus is the worker in the vineyard asking for more time for the fig tree to grow.

God is patient to a point. He gives people time to repent and follow Him.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Although God gives us a delay in judgment, He expects up to repent of our sins. This is not a forever offer. Just like in the parable, there is a time when the unfruitful tree will be cut down. If we die unrepentant, our opportunity for salvation and eternal life is lost.

As a believer, it’s a scary thought. Do you have questions? Are you unsure of what your own prospect of eternal life is?

Number one, repent. Confess your sins, transgressions, and mistakes to God, and ask for forgiveness. If that is foreign to you, talk to someone who is a follower of Christ.

God is patient, but we don’t have forever to repent.

Time to hit the pause button, “Do Not Worry.”

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 17, 2023

Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 11:22-34

“Do Not Worry”

Time to hit the pause button

As I explained in my first devotion in this series, I wanted to concentrate on the parables of Jesus in the book of Luke. But, every once in a while, it’s good to take a pause so you don’t miss something important.

Everyone has their own favorite or what they consider to be a meaningful Bible verse. Mine is Matthew 6:25:33 (as well as Luke 12:22-34). These are the passages about worry Jesus discusses in His Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a specific reason for this being my favorite passage.

Back in the early 1990s, I was struggling quite a bit. I was involved at my church, teaching a youth Bible study and presenting children’s messages on Sunday mornings.

My position as a sales manager for a food distributor was ending (The company was being bought out, and none of the middle management (me) was going to be picked up. At the same time, I was being pulled more and more toward ministry. That’s when I asked to meet with my Pastor.

We met for dinner, and throughout the meal and after, I poured out my heart about many things. My life, the church, my job, money, and marriage. My Pastor listened intently and only commented when he wanted more information.

When I was finished talking, his first words to me were, “Matthew 6, Do not worry.” For the next few minutes, every time I asked my Pastor a question about a worry or potential problem, his reply was, “Matthew 6, Do not worry.” Finally, He told me to read Matthew 6:25-34 over and over again.

That night, I took my Pastor’s advice and read the Matthew passage repeatedly. I did this for many days. Then, slowly, I finally understood what Pastor was trying to tell me.

This brings us to our Bible story and discussion for today.

Yes, it’s Matthew 6:25-34.

***********************The Point********************

Let’s get right to it and read the Matthew passage.

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon, in all his splendor, was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34(NIV)

I’ve always considered this a straightforward passage, so I’d like to break it into three sections.

In the first section, Jesus tells us not to worry about our basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Jesus gives us a comparison in this passage. He tells us to look at the birds of the air. They don’t do anything but eat and fly. God provides food for His creation, the birds, even if they don’t do any work to obtain it. As human beings, we are more valuable to the Lord than the birds. So, if he takes care of the birds, won’t he naturally take care of us when we work and toil for our survival.

God’s not promising that you’ll have a job and always have enough money to put food on your table. What He is saying is that He will make food available to us. Perhaps it will be through Food Stamps or meals at a food kitchen. He will provide.

Jesus goes on to speak about the flowers in the fields and how beautifully they grow and flourish. Like the birds, they do not labor for what they have. Once again, flowers die quickly, yet God gives them all this beauty when they do not work.

Once again, God will provide clothing for us even better than the flowers of the field have. Some of us will have jobs and purchase clothing. Some will go to Good Will and get their clothing at lower prices. And some will be given clothing through government and non-government programs.

God emphasizes not worrying about clothes, food, and water. These necessities will be provided one way or the other.

The second point Jesus makes is to seek God and His kingdom first. Now that you know your necessities will be taken care of, have faith in Him. When we make God our priority, He provides.

Finally, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We have so many problems each day we need not worry about what the next catastrophe will be in our life. Our life will have problems. We should take them one day at a time.

My Pastor, that I spoke of in my opening story used to say this about worry.

“90% of what we worry about will never happen. 5% of what we worry about won’t be as bad as we think it might be. And the last 5% we need to put in God’s hands because we can’t control the circumstance. And, actually, we need to put it all in God’s hands because we can’t control any of the outcomes.”

When my daughter, Heather, was a baby, she cried a lot, like most babies. A song was the one thing that quieted her down and let her release what was bothering her. You’ve probably heard it. Let me leave you with the song’s first verse, which tells us how to deal with worry.

“Here’s a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry, be happy

If every life, we have some trouble

But when you worry, you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy now.”

“I Shall Return,” Be Watchful

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 16, 2023

Luke 12:35-40

“I Shall Return”

Several quotes from the 20th century are still familiar to us today.

Who can forget actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator declaring,

“I’ll be back.”

But my favorite quote is by General Douglas McArthur during WWII. In early 1942, then-President Roosevelt ordered him to leave the Island of Corregidor in the Pacific. This is because  McArthur’s family was with him on the island. There also were 90,000 troops who stayed behind.

Upon leaving, General McArthur said,

“I shall return.”

He did just that in October of 1944. However, there’s a lot more to McArthur’s leaving and return. I encourage you to check out the site below for more detailed information.                          


Shortly after His Transfiguration, Jesus set out with His disciples for Jerusalem. During their journey, He taught them many things. In today’s reading, Jesus specifically spoke about being ready for His return.

**********************The Point********************

Let’s take a look at Jesus’ words to His disciples concerning watchfulness.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table, and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Luke 12:35-40

Just like the servants in the above reading, Jesus expects us, as His followers, to be ready for His return. Therefore, for those who are prepared for Christ’s return, Jesus says He will serve His followers. This reference is not unlike what Jesus did at the Last Supper. He got up from the table and got on His knees, washing His disciples’ feet.

The point is that if we are ready for Jesus’ return and are doing the things we should be doing, we will be rewarded. What are the things we should be doing? Matthew 28 comes to mind when just before His ascension, Jesus says to His disciples,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

When Jesus returns, He expects us to be doing the work of the Kingdom.

Here’s the tricky part. We don’t know when Jesus will return. He comes straight out and says so,

“You also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:40

So, what are we to do? First, as Christians, we must be prepared for Jesus’ return at all times. Never letting our guard down with worldly distractions. One day Christ will return, and we need to be alert and prepare for Him by being about the work He instructed us to do.

“I want more,” The Rich Fool

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

Luke 12:13-21

March 15, 2023

The Rich Fool

“I want more.”

Some of us are sometimes worse than others, but we all have moments in our lives when we think of embracing greed. We’ve all met someone who always needs to have the latest model car, the newest cell phone, or other toys, as I like to call them.

Several years ago, I wrote a student devotion to the same bible passage we’re looking at today. In it, I used Veruca Salt as an example of the greediest person you could ever know.

If you don’t know who Veruca is, perhaps a photo of her will jog your memory.

Yes. Veruca is the young lady from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who wanted everything, and she wanted it Now! Here are a few lines that she sang in the film.

I want a ball

I want a party

Pink macaroons and a million balloons

And performing baboons and

Give it to me


I want the world

I want the whole world

I want to lock it all up in my pocket

It’s my bar of chocolate

Give it to me


Perhaps you have met or know a Veruca Salt in your life. If you and I reflect for a moment, maybe there’s a bit of Veruca in all of us.

In today’s parable, Jesus isn’t saying having riches is wrong. Instead, He’s talking about our attitude towards them.

**********************The Point******************

At the beginning of this reading, Jesus is asked to intervene in a financial dispute between two brothers. However, instead of resolving the plea with a solution, Jesus tells a parable about greed.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘

 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21

As I mentioned earlier, this parable is about greed. You’ll notice in the reading that the rich man never says anything about giving to the poor or helping others. He only speaks about how he can make his own life better and easier.

“Greed is just another word for covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to have more than one actually has, not necessarily out of envy for other people’s wealth). It not only leads to strife; it also expresses a fundamentally wrong attitude to life, according to which possessions are all that really matter.” (New Bible Commentary, 21st-century edition, Luke 12, Pp. 1001.)

God puts the greedy man in his place when He tells him that he will die that very night. Like all of us, the rich man will end up with nothing at the end of his life.

Everything we have, money, cars, our home, electronics, etc., is just stuff. It’s stuff we can’t take with us when we die. The riches we can accumulate on earth are loving and being loved by others, gaining and showing respect, serving others, helping those in need, and most of all, loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.

When all is said and done, all the stuff we have isn’t ours anyway. Because we’re only borrowing it while we’re here, we can’t take it with us. So, don’t be greedy and make money and the material things in the world your priority.

Instead, make spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others the most important thing you can do.

Jesus teaches on Prayer/P.R.A.Y.

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 14, 2023

Luke 11:1-10; Matthew 6:5-15

Jesus teaches on prayer


Each day I do my best to begin my day with prayer time. Generally, I get up in the morning before my wife, Kathy. Next, I dress and head to the kitchen, where I set up a pot of coffee. I then either sit on our sofa or go to my home office.

At this point, I use my cell phone to begin my prayer time. First, I read the daily devotion from, as well as another, a subject-driven devotional of my choosing. Then, I pray. I pray about everything and anything weighing on my heart, as well as for needs and wants.

When I took my ministry classes in the 1990s, one of my professors taught the class an excellent formula for personal prayer. I encourage you to try it; it helps you organize your thoughts and guides you through prayer.

“Try the P.R.A.Y. approach of praying. When you pray, begin by Praising God for all He has done for you, including sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross.

After praising God, Repent. Ask Him to forgive you for all of your sins in thought, word, and deed. (Don’t be afraid to be specific, He already knows everything you’ve done anyway.)

Now it’s time to Ask. That’s right, ask God for anything, health, love, wealth, help on a test, even problems with a bully, anything at all. He’ll answer the requests you make that He feels are best for you and fit into His plan for you.

Finally, Yield to God. Yield means to be flexible. It’s time to ask God some questions. “God, what do you want me to do with my life,” or “God, how can I serve you better,” and of course, “Lord, help me to stay on the path you have set before me.”

I encourage you to use the P.R.A.Y. approach to start your day.

In today’s reading, Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer.

***************************The Point***************************

In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer, as well as being persistent in our prayers.

‘Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything. I tell you, though, he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence/ persistence, he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.” Luke 11:1-10

Just as Jesus had completed some time in prayer, one of His disciples approached Him. He asked Jesus to teach them to pray like John (The Baptist) taught his followers.

This is an interesting question put to Jesus. He had already sent out the 12 and then the 72 as evangelists, yet now they come and ask Him to teach them to pray. Perhaps this teaching moment is not chronological and was introduced earlier. Nevertheless, here it is. This version of the Lord’s prayer is a bit shorter than the one Matthew writes about in his Gospel.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

 your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

 Give us today our daily bread.

 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

 And lead us not into temptation. (6:13 The Greek for temptation can also mean testing.)

But deliver us from the evil one.6:13 Or from evil; (some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.) Amen.’

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:5-15

After Jesus’ disciple inquires about prayer, He shares with him what we have come to know as, The Lord’s Prayer. It outlines how to pray, not what to pray for every time you do. (Take some time to read both versions (from Luke and Matthew) to understand Jesus’ prayer parameters.)

Jesus goes on to give an example of how to pray with a parable about a man who needed bread to feed a visitor at a late hour. This is not a story of kindness; instead, it is a story of persistence. When we pray, Jesus wants us to pray incessantly. This is why Jesus says in verses 9-10,

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.”

Persistence in prayer pays off. Jesus wants us to come to Him continually. He may not answer our prayer the first time, nor the second or even the third. But Jesus will answer our prayers in His time and in His way. He will take care of our needs and sometimes even our wants.

Our asking, seeking, and knocking never fall on deaf ears. Jesus hears our requests and will respond when the time is right. But remember, everything happens in God’s time, not ours.

The Good Samaritan – “Street Eats”

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 13, 2023

Luke 10:25-37

The Good Samaritan

“Street Eats”

Those of you who have followed my devotions over the years have probably seen me mention “Street Eats.”

Street Eats was a program I began with my students and the congregation in 2012. Here’s how it worked.

Throughout the year, my youth group would ask for financial donations for our Street Eats project. The money raised would go to purchase items that would be put in gallon-size zip lock bags. The bags were then displayed in the Narthex of the church. In addition, congregational members were asked to grab a bag or two and keep it in their car.

The bags included items such as: bottled water, canned meats, canned fruit, crackers, and assorted snacks. The idea was that congregation members would hand out the Street Eat bags to needy people they met on the road of life. Generally, they were handed out to homeless people who were appealing for help at intersections.

In the four years my students filled the Street Eats bags, over 3000 were distributed to needy people.

In today’s parable, Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan who also helped someone in need along the road.

************************The Point*********************

The parable of the Good Samaritan is not only a good story, but it is a great teaching tool. Let’s take a moment to read it now.

“On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this, and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

“In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer. and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

Although the above passage tells us the story of The Good Samaritan, I would be amiss if I didn’t take a moment to speak to the beginning of this passage.

“On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied.” Luke 10:25-28

It is here, as a lead into the parable we find The Law, The Ten Commandments, summed up in one sentence.

Love God and love your neighbor.

Jesus uses this simple explanation of the commandments as a Segway to His parable. Then, Jesus uses this parable to answer the expert on the law’s question,

“So he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In today’s parable, the priest and the Levite (a temple assistant) saw the wounded man on the road, but they did not help him. It’s evident that the two of them did not consider the injured man a friend.

“Generally, among the Jews, a neighbor was defined as a fellow countryman, one of the same race.” (Peoples Bible Commentary, Victor H. Prange, Luke, Pp. 125)

Jesus turns the teacher of the law’s beliefs upside down with this story.

The priest and Levite walked right by the injured man. But the Samaritan not only helped the man on the spot but also ensured that he would be cared for days to come.

If their roles had been reversed, the teacher of the law probably would not have helped the injured man either. If you remember the definition of ‘neighbor’ above, the teacher of the law would not have included the Samaritan as such. But the Samaritan fulfills Jesus’s words and commands that we should love one another. So, the teacher of the law all but admits that the Samaritan would be his neighbor.

We live in a society that “preaches” things like “Me First” and “You’re the most important person in your life.” None of that is true. Put others first. Jesus put the needs of humanity ahead of His own and gave the ultimate sacrifice, His life, for our salvation. So perhaps, making others more important than ourselves, no matter their race, creed, or color, isn’t such a bad idea.

A Drive through the desert, “Jesus teaches the Samaritan Woman”

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 12, 2023

John 4:5-27

Jesus teaches the Samaritan Woman

“A drive through the desert”

In the summer of 1977, my wife took a trip to Disneyland in California. I had just left my job in Colorado, and we set out on a mini vacation. At the time, I was driving a 1974 Plymouth Duster. The car was metallic purple and had a small V8 engine without air conditioning.

Our trip took us to Flagstaff, Arizona, and along I-40 to California. When you drive through Arizona on I-40 west, you travel through the southern portion of the Mojave Desert. To this day, I have no idea how warm it was, but the heat was dry, and we drove with the windows down.

After a while, we came across a sign that said, “Last gas 96 miles.” I looked at my wife and said, “Well, we have a full tank of gas, so here goes.” I don’t recall the speed limit; it may have been 70 mph.

Along that 96-mile stretch, we encountered car after car broke down on the side of the road. Every one of them was a large car that probably had an air-conditioner. Finally, after over an hour of driving, we saw a sign, “Gas 10 miles.”

We didn’t really need gas, but boy, oh boy, were we thirsty and hungry. I don’t recall what the town was that we ended up at after our 96-mile desert trek. But it did have a Denny’s. So, we went in, and thankfully it was air-conditioned. The waitress came over and gave us menus and walked away.

Now, back in 1977, any restaurant I had ever been to never asked if you wanted water; it was brought to the table automatically. So, I finally called the waitress over and asked if we could have some water. She apologized and said customers had to ask for water because of their location. Water was a premium item at the edge of the desert, and no one wanted to waste it.

After our discussion, the waitress did bring us water. She may have refilled my glass five or six times. 😊

Today’s Bible story is about Jesus and the woman at the well. It seems Jesus’ human side was showing, and He was thirsty.

**********************The Point********************

The passage below states that Jesus was tired and thirsty. At Jacobs well, he encountered a Samaritan woman. He used this encounter as a teaching moment that led to the woman’s conversion.

“So, he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 

“Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews, do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our Father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 4:5-26

Let’s take a moment to look at the friction between Jews and Samaritans by reviewing our text.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water,

Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews, do not associate with Samaritans.)”

“Going through Samaria for Jews was a little like walking into a neighborhood marked as gang territory in the United States today. It could lead to a hostile encounter (see verse 9). This condition existed from the time Assyria had conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, took most of its people into captivity, and settled it with foreigners (722 B.C.). These people mingled with the Israelites, who were allowed to remain. As a result, the mixed people in Samaria continuously combined false religions with worship to the Lord and harassed the Jews.” (People’s Bible Commentary, John, by Gary P. Baumler.)

This explains the woman’s hesitancy to even speak to Jesus, let alone give Him some water to drink. Jesus knew everything about this Samaritan woman. He knew how many husbands she had and that she was now living with a man she was not married to.

Jesus went on to tell the woman that He was the living water He had spoken of in the passage. Then, Jesus came right out and said to her that He was the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.

The woman heard Jesus’s words and believed. Immediately she became an evangelist, telling all the townspeople about the man she had just encountered.

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” John 4:28-30

They came, saw Jesus, talked with Him, and many in the town became believers.

Sometimes it’s easy; people hear about Jesus, listen to His words, and believe. Other times it’s not as easy. But it is our job as Christians to plant the seed of the Gospel with everyone we encounter and let the Holy Spirit work on their heart and bring them to Christ.