(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. 14 (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. 1-6) This is what happened when a ruler of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat at his house. Not only did Jesus heal a person suffering from dropsy, but he also asked two seemingly dichotomous questions to those keeping a close watch on him: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” and “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” However, none of the people at the scene responded. It can be observed that, in their hearts, they actually held a double standard: they did things on the Sabbath, but Jesus could not heal the sick on the Sabbath.
These poignant questions illustrate a typical double standard. When others make mistakes, we use the narrow lens of a microscope to see their mistakes, and when we make mistakes, we use the wide lens of a telescope to see our mistakes. Today, try to reflect on this point. If you invite Jesus to eat at home someday, would he not also point out the mistakes you have made?!
(vv. 7-11) At the same meal, because the host saw the invited guests, he chose someone to sit in the place of honor at the table (in Jesus’ time, the closer you were to the owner, the higher the position). Jesus took the opportunity to tell all of the guests a parable. This parable does not mean that we rush to lower our status and sit in the least honorable position first; and after this, wait for someone to invite us to the place of honor so that we will be glorified. In fact, the true value of man is calculated in the eyes of God. The last sentence of verse 11 reflects this point: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This verse does not mean that you rush to the least honorable place hoping all will see that you are humble when in fact, you want to be exalted. God sees your heart. Nor does it mean that we live a life of extreme inferiority. We can compare the scriptures describing Satan (Isaiah 14:12-14) and Jesus (Philippians 2:6-11):
(Isaiah 14:12-14) “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God; I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
(Philippians 2:6-11) “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
At that time, no one asked Jesus to sit in the place of honor at the table. He did not compete with others to sit in the least honorable place either, but his true value and status were undeniable. The way of true humility is to humble your heart, respect God, and know your own place by following Jesus’ example. We need to return to God from time to time to see our true value clearly, to think about our original outlook, and our current status. What am I most proud of that can bring me anything or take me anywhere?
(vv. 12-24) While reading this verse, I felt very convicted because when dining with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I would always think in my heart: We are eating in the kingdom of God and we are so blessed! Regardless of those who make excuses to decline invitations to the banquet, the Lord’s heart is clear – it is with the “poor, disabled, lame, blind…” – those who cannot reciprocate and those who were originally uninvited.
The wedding banquet of Christ and the banquet in heaven are really for those who are poor in spirit and of the lowest rungs of society. When we are blessed enough to be partakers at the banquet, can we see more of those who have not yet attended the banquet because of the empty seats beside us at the table? Pray for the Lord to use us!
(vv. 25-35) From the scene of gathering to eat together to the road, walking alongside Jesus, the scriptures say that there are a lot of people following Jesus. Jesus used the parables of constructing a building and fighting a war to ask as the Lord did. Jesus taught people to calculate the cost of following him first. Otherwise, the person might retreat halfway through their spiritual journey, like salt that has lost its flavor and is of no use. We can easily understand this but, when Jesus wants his followers to “hate” (meaning from the original text) his relatives and even his own life, people may respond with dismay!
In fact, Christians should love others well, including our own family members. This is a given. It is because of Jesus that our identities have become the children of God. Our own relatives will gradually not recognize our values and priorities in life. It is difficult for them to understand our newfound identity in Christ, and it may even be possible for others to view them as strange because of their relationship to us. Others’ viewpoints have caused pressure in the relationship between our relatives and us. This is the “hate” Jesus is talking about here. I believe that this is extremely challenging for everyone who wants to be a disciple! However, this is what Jesus wants us to think about: Am I willing to leave everything behind, take up my cross, follow the Lord, and be a disciple of the Lord?
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?”)