(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Luke Ch. 13 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-9) Chapter 13 begins with a passage of Jesus’ teaching to the public, which is an extension of Jesus’ teaching on “hypocrisy” in the last paragraph of Chapter 2 that we read yesterday. Some people felt disbelief about the miserable ending of those who had been killed by Pilate even at the time of their offering and were wondering if those people had committed any heinous crime that led to their suffering. Jesus referred to another incident, “…those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them”, to tell them that man should seize the opportunity to repent before the Lord. This is where Jesus said twice in a row, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Likewise, we too may raise similar questions when there are major disasters and casualties: are they “worse sinners than all the other…because they suffered in this way?” Jesus redirected them to reflect on their own life instead of focusing on other things that concerned them. He said unless “you” repent, you will all likewise perish.
Are you overly comfortable in pointing fingers at others’ mistakes and wondering if other people’s sufferings are due to their sins? Or will you examine yourself before God? It is Jesus’ hope that we take our life seriously, to repent humbly before God, to bear good fruit, lest we be cut down in the end and will likewise perish!
(vv.10–17) Here is another familiar scene in the synagogue on the Sabbath where Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, but this time it was for a woman who had been crippled. Once again, Jesus was challenged by others for his doing something on a Sabbath that others would not do. This time, Jesus rebuked the other side, the synagogue leaders, calling them “hypocrites“.
As referenced in the Book of 2 Timothy, such people were “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power“ (2 Timothy 3:5) What they actually did was to block the touch of the Lord of the Sabbath, which kept people enslaved without any relief nor true freedom.
How precious is the Sabbath for believers! Have you been resting on the Sabbath? If we can be fully obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit every Sunday, we will be set free by the Word of God. Every Sunday to us will be a day that we will be blessed and strengthened more and more!
(vv.18–21) What the two parables have in common is “from little things, big things grow” The mustard seeds and yeast which were so small that they were almost invisible eventually grow into surprisingly larger things like trees or much bigger dough. We see that Jesus’ disciples were originally a group of people who were not valued by the society at that time. Yet in the Kingdom of God, his disciples can have a big and profound impact. Brothers and sisters, this is the Kingdom to which you and I belong, and thorough us, it can influence the world!
(vv.22–30) In this passage, Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” In contrast, if someone was standing outside to knock at the door, Jesus’s response may be that he does not know where they come from. This shows there is a time limit for a person to believe in the Lord, as referenced in the Book of Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near”. Do you think that there were really people who “ate and drank in the presence of Jesus and received teaching from Jesus”, but are not recognized by the Lord and in the end be thrown out, hearing the weeping and gnashing of teeth? Yes, Jesus said there were many of them!
It is not about eating lunch and listening to the teaching at church. It will actually be more important for us to build a personal relationship with Jesus. When was the last time you cried out “Lord! My Lord”!? Was it the time when you followed the word from a worship leader on stage? Or did you say it in prayer along with your fellowship leader? Or are you new to Jesus? Is Jesus your true Savior and The Lord of Life?
(vv.31-35) The Gospel of Mark 6 recorded that Herod had suspected that John the Baptist was raised from the dead (Mark 6:16) in the form of Jesus, so he may have nursed a grudge against him. The Pharisees wanted to use this reason to make Jesus change his mind and return to the Judea. But Jesus was determined to continue his walk to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the religious center and the location of the Holy Temple at that time. Unexpectedly, Jesus’ response was, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!” Jesus prophesied about the path ahead of him and what he was going to accomplish!
The path Jesus took and the things he went through his disciples had to follow along and they had to go through the same things. It will be a narrow path for us and a path to deny ourselves. To follow Jesus on this path, we may need to be going against the flows of this world. Let us set our minds on Jesus, be prepared to follow His footsteps and move forward together!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)