Tag Archives: Mission

God’s People, part 290: Luke

Read Colossians 4:14

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Philemon 23-25, NLT).

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 290: Luke. Luke is probably the most well-known of Paul’s companions and co-workers. The reason for this is that the Gospel According to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles have been attributed and probably were written by him. Of course, those works are anonymous; however, there is some convincing textual evidence that has been argued in favor of Lukan authorship. Out of all of the missionaries, Luke certainly is the most recognizable.

At the end of Colossians, Paul sent greetings from Luke, of whom he referred to as the beloved doctor or physician. Luke was a gentile man who would have no doubt had some modest wealth as a physician. In ancient Rome, private practicing doctors made anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 sestertii per year. To put that into persepctive, soldiers got paid a measly 900 sesterii a year.

Luke would have received a good education in order to become a doctor and would have been a prolific writer, which can be seen in his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Doctors in the ancient world were known to extensively write and, to this day, we have writings from doctors in the ancient world. When one reads the Gospel of Luke and Acts, one gets the sense that he was a highly educated man. In Luke, he opened his Gospel up with, “Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught” (Luke 1:1-4, NLT).

In that introduction, Luke was indicating that he had done his research and was putting together an ordered account for Theophilus, and we can see that he had the approach of a well-educated man who researched, used reason, and history in order to be as accurate as possible. From this introduction, we also gather that he was not an eyewitness to Jesus and that he was drawing from many sources, not just three. How many Gospels were there? We don’t know, but there were multiple accounts circulating, both orally and in written form.

This is the Luke that Paul refers to in our Scripture reading today. He was a fellow co-worker and occasional companion with Paul. He was with Paul in Colossae and he was with Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome as well. No doubt, Luke attended to Paul’s medical needs as well as to his Spiritual needs. He was a man of loyalty and well-respected among the early Christian churches.

Beyond this, we know little more about Luke. In fact, there are two traditions on how he even died. In one tradition, based off of early written accounts, Luke settled in Greece, wrote his Gospel, wrote Acts, and, at the age of 84, he peacefully died in Boeotia. In the other tradition, he was martyered by Nero after being accused of practicing sorcery. In that tradition, Nero cut off Luke’s hand after which Luke performed a miracle by reattaching the hand to his wrist. That miracle caused all of Nero’s cabinet to believe in Christ and, as a result, Nero ordered all of them, including Luke, to be beheaded.

It is hard to really know what is true when it comes to these traditions and, honestly, it doesn’t really change who Luke was either way. Luke is, yet again, another important faithfulness is and how powerful faithful witness can be. Luke’s Gospel emphasized God’s affinity for the “least of these” and how important it was for wealthy people, such as himself, to value God’s Kingdom and human life over and above finances. Luke used his resources to help others, including Paul, and he humbly served and made a huge impact in the development of the New Testament canon and of Christianity itself. In fact, his Gospel and Acts make up one quarter of the entire New Testament.

Luke’s traits should challenge us to grow in our own faithfulness and commitment to being a faithful witness. Evangelism is vital to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ Luke’s example shows us how important that is in ushering the Kingdom of God, where the last shall be first, where the poor shall be rich, and where the the lost and the least shall be welcomed in by a Father (e.g. the Prodigal Son) who is waiting with open, loving arms.  Let our commitment to evangelism be renewed and let us continue to grow in our faithfulness.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” – Hudson Taylor

PRAYER
Lord, I love you and praise your holy name. Please give me the strength to be a powerful witness to your Good News and for your Kingdom. Amen.

God’s People, part 285: Holy Coalition

Read Romans 16:6, 8-23

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.”  (Romans 16:25-27, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 285: Holy Coalition. In today’s Scripture, Paul continues asking the Roman church to greet the list of people he was sending. Here is the list of people that Paul sends his greetings to in Rome:

Priscilla and Aquila, Epenetus, Mary, Andronicus and Junia, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the believers in the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who meet with them, Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and to Olympas and all the believers who meet with them.

On top of those believers, some of whom we have already discussed, Paul sent the letter with Deacon Phoebe and asked the church to treat her with the highest of honor. This list of names are each of the people Paul knows in Rome, all of whom had been partners in mission and ministry. These were the people who carried on Paul’s work in Rome and how Paul, though he had never been there, had a connection to the believers in that city.

That is quite an extrodinary network Paul had built up; however, Paul continued by also sending the greetings of others who were with him in Corinth, where he wrote the letter. Those people included: Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, and Tertius. In fact, Tertius was the one who was pyhsically writing the letter as Paul dictated it to him. It is well established that Paul’s eyesight was bad and that he had people who would write down what he dictated to them. Sometimes, as we will see in future devotions, Paul would sign the letter in his own hand to prove to the receiving community that it was, indeed, him.

What we see at the end of Romans was an extensive network of people that Paul had worked with and befriended over his many years in ministry. Nay, this was more than a network, it was a Holy Coalition of believers, revolutionizing the pasgan Western world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What an amazing legacy we see! What a lesson for us, as modern Christians, to learn.

This should remind all of us that we are a part of a Holy Coalition of believers! We are a Holy Coalition of ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! You need not be ordained in order to be a minister; you merely need to follow Jesus and deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have not come to him as their Lord and Savior.

Who are in your Holy Coalition? Who are in your network of believers that you can join with in mission and ministry? We were not created to spread the Gospel by ourselves, but as a community of believers. It is in this Holy Coalition that we find the strength and the support to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. Let us continue to build up that Holy Coalition so that more and more people come to know, love, and surrender to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
It’s hard to survive alone on an island. This is especially true in our faith.

PRAYER
Lord, help me to see the value of spiritual networking, or coalition building, and of being a part of your community of believers, that I might be supported in my mission to serve you. Amen.

Cavity

Read Acts 17:26-31

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let Me.” (Matthew 23:37, NLT)

FluorideToothNobody likes going to the dentist. At least, not anybody I know. I just had to go to the dentist today in order to get a cavity refilled. About a week earlier I had felt something wiggling between my teeth and I just knew that wasn’t a good thing, especially since I had been on another juice fast and I hadn’t eaten anything to get caught between my teeth. Plus, the dentist had told me that this one filling was giving way and that we would have to keep an eye on it. Indeed, no eyes needed anymore, the filling is gone.

Why do we get cavities anyway? If God is all-knowing, wouldn’t God know better than to make things that rot or go bad? Now that question may make me sound like I am being facetious and, in some ways, I am. With that said, how many times have we stopped and questioned God over the things that happen in our lives? Whether it be over cavities, our luck, our lot in life or even in the midst of death, we are prone to question God. So, let me ask the original question again. why do we get cavities?

Well, the truth is that we get cavities as a result of poor diet, poor dental hygiene and, on occasion, because of genetic issues. The latter reason is way more rare than the former two reasons, and the majority of us get cavities as a result of the first or the second or even both of those reasons. Believe it or not, diet is a leading cause for cavities. Do you like processed foods? If you eat pre-made foods, cold cuts, junk food and/or spend the majority of your shopping trips in the center aisles of the supermarket, then the answer is that you eat a ton of processed foods. And those types of foods notoriously cause deterioration of our teeth, which is also a sign of deteriorating health.

It is also a known fact that if you don’t brush and floss regularly you will also be prone to cavities and other dental diseases such as gingivitis. The net result of all of this is that our lifestyles and our neglect cause cavities…not God. The same is true spiritually. When in a spiritual rut, we often turn to God and question, “Why?!?!? Why is this happening to me?” We often question God’s presence in our lives and wonder if God has been with us in our time of need, but we fail to stop and question ourselves, and we fail to see ourselves as the culprit of God’s absence.

In fact, it is theologically wrong to say that God was ever absent. The fact is, God is always with us; however, when we’ve spent our time building a wall in the way of our view of God, it is hard to notice that. We spend way too much time prioritizing other things first and foremost and, as a result, a cavity starts to form within our very souls. We begin to ache and throb for help and, only when the pain gets too much to bear, we cry out for God to tear down the wall we’ve been so persistently working on building.

Rather than waiting until moments of pain and despair to cry out to God, let us work diligently on having an ongoing and vibrant relationship with God. Read the Scriptures, pray, read books that focus on the spiritual life, become a part of God’s community of worship with other believers who can be a part of your spiritual journey and you a part of theirs. Serve others for the sake of serving them and become missional in your life. If you do these things, you will begin to promote a healthy spirit and the kind of spiritual cavities that form in a decaying soul. Does it take effort? absolutely! But your health and your relationship with something bigger than you is worth that effort.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“The closer we move toward God, the closer we move toward each other.” – Unknown

PRAYER

Lord, help me to continue building my relationship with you, which will ultimately strengthen my relationships with others. Let me not forget that my relationship with you IS my top priority. Amen.

A LOOK BACK: What Did Jesus Do?

press-job-work-1

This past month has been a busy one, filled with pressing work and fast-approaching deadlines. As a result, I taken the liberty of sharing some devotions from the past that, I believe, are just as relevant now as they were when I first wrote them. Of course, I have written a couple of new ones over the course of the month and, once November 1st passes, I will get back to my usual discipline of writing new devotions every week. I thank you for your patience and for journeying with me, looking back at some very relevant messages.

Click here to read today’s devotion.