(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. 5 (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.1-11) As written in this passage, a group of people were crowding around Jesus to hear the word of God. At that time, a group of fishermen, Peter, James and John, were called by Jesus to follow him for “catching men”. It was by the Lake of Gennesaret, the seashore of Galilee, where these three fishermen had frequently appeared, and it was during the time when they were working on their most familiar job – fishing. Jesus asked Peter to do one thing: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” If you were Peter, how would you feel? Peter had been fishing there for more than just intermittently. Did Peter not know where and when to catch the fish? They had been toiling all night and took nothing. What was the point to Jesus asking them to put out into the deep water and let down the nets? Yet, praise the Lord! They had done it following Jesus’ command and then they were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken. They enclosed a large number of fish, filling both the boats so they began to sink. After seeing the true mighty power of Jesus, Peter suddenly realized what a person he himself truly was. Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” This is a significant confession from Peter. And Jesus’ kindly called such a man like Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Brothers and sisters, in which areas or fields are you most familiar with? Peter and the other two fishermen had toiled all night. Isn’t this scene similar to our experience in real life? Sometimes we rely on our own experience and strength to work tirelessly at work, for our families and interpersonal relationships, and in our social environment. Perhaps many of us share similar experiences in the past where we have invested much effort on something, but haven’t seen any success or results yet. At those moments, do not forget to be still and come before the Lord for his guidance.
Let me share my own experiences from my prior job in a lab. At that time, I was tasked to conduct my own experiments or to train new members in the lab. There had been several instances where I had not been able to make any progress in producing data results over numerous days. And those were experiments that I had performed repeatedly in the prior years and procedures that I had been super familiar with. Several times I had to come before God, earnestly praying for myself and also asking my colleagues to join me in the prayers in the lab. Then we were able to make progress in our research on that day. Such things occurred more than once to me and my scientific research group! May we constantly remind ourselves to come before the Lord to proclaim His sovereignty, following him closely. In the areas or fields that we are familiar with, let us rely on the Lord, our Savior and believe in the mighty God. By doing so, we may be able to experience the faithful God and know ourselves better.
(vv.12-16) A man full of leprosy was completely healed by Jesus and he was “made clean” by the word of Jesus. This man was told by Jesus to go and show himself to the priest in accordance with the rules of the time so that he would no longer be separated from his community. There are instances where we know some people have been touched, cleansed and healed by Jesus, yet they are still hesitant to rejoin the community. What was the cause of this problem? Jesus or their personal issues? What are the personal issues we have not yet faced or dealt with even after we are cleansed by God?
(vv.17-26) On one of those days, as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed and laying him before Jesus. Jesus healed this paralyzed man, enabling him to rise up and walk, and he even said to this man in front of the crowd, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Whether Jesus was teaching, performing miracles, healing, or casting out demons, the focus of his ministry was to demonstrate that He had been given the authority from God. And God wanted to save people from sins! But when Jesus spoke on his forgiveness of sins, the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Indeed, there is only one God. Who else can forgive sins but Him? If Jesus were not from God, his statements would have been blasphemies. As shown in verse 24, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”., Jesus said to the man who was paralyzed— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And the fact that this man was able to rise up and walk proved that Jesus is from God and he can forgive sins. In contrast, those who had questioned about Jesus actually spoke blasphemies because they even had doubt for the authority of God.
Knowing that “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” is great! God is in charge of all things. God is righteous and holy, and He will not tolerate any filth and sin before Him. Eventually All sinners will be judged before God. Jesus has paid the price through his sacrifice on the cross, for you and for me. Thanks to the salvation of Jesus. Like that paralyzed man, may our sins also be forgiven and be able to rise up and walk.
(vv.27-39) This passage is about how Jesus had called Matthew, the tax collector, to follow him. This is the second time in this chapter that someone was noted to have “left everything” and followed Jesus. This passage also described Jesus’ view of fasting, with an emphasis on interpersonal fellowship. He spoke on the parable of mismatching old things and new things. Let us take a moment to remind ourselves not to be overly occupied by old ideas as those ideas may hinder us from receiving Jesus in our new life!
Note that Matthew, the tax collector invited Jesus to his house for dinner. Let us now talk about eating! During fellowship time, would you normally sit and eat with newcomers or other church brothers and sisters? While it is wonderful to fellowship with brothers and sisters, what would happen if new comers are left alone or sitting alone at a table? Then our behaviors would be similar to the kind of behaviors that the Pharisees and the scribes had complained about. (v.20). Even though we may not verbalize our preference, we show it in our actions! Brothers and sisters, what if we were to make a table for Jesus today, with one table full of only believers and another table with seekers only. Which table do you think Jesus would choose to sit at?
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?”)