The greatest of human arts cannot compete with the theater of nature. No human artist has ever been able to top the beauty of a flower. No human-made scent can outdo the fresh smell of a forest in the spring. A skyscraper looks merely mechanical when compared with a mighty oak tree. God’s multi-sensory handiwork surrounds us.
Now look at humanity. Does any other creature possess the ingenuity and plasticity of the human mind? Can an ant take apart genetic material and put it back together to make a vaccine? Can an aardvark explore, learn, imagine, dream, and envision a future and make that vision a reality like human’s can? God stamped his image on humanity in a way he did not with any other creature.
People often ask for a sign to show them God exists. But look around, the signs are everywhere.
The Jews of Jesus’ day asked him for a sign to validate that he was who he said he was (Luke 11:29). How obstinate could they have been? He has surrounded us with signs through all the years of our existence. If that were not enough, he cast out demons, calmed storms, turned water into wine, and healed the sick. Yet, still they had the nerve to ask for another.
He responded that the only sign they would receive would be the sign of Jonah. Jonah was an Israelite prophet sent to preach against the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to go, but, when God compelled him, the Ninevites repented and believed. People keep asking for a sign, but unless a person repents and believes even the wicked people of Nineveh will stand at the judgement against their obstinance. (Luke 11:29-32)
The late teacher and theologian R.C. Sproul once said: “…unbelief is not an intellectual problem. It is not because there is as paucity of evidence, or that God has not made himself clear: the problem is a moral problem. We don’t want to believe, because we know that if we acknowledge that God-ness of God and the deity of Christ, that means that we must repent, and therein lies our pain and resistance. In spite of a world filled with the light of the majesty of God we shut our eyes and [remain] in darkness.”
Jesus stands before you with arms wide open. Will you open up your eyes to him?
One day after Jesus drove a demon out of a man, some people accused him of casting out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Luke 11:15).
What was Jesus doing two thousand years ago? Whose side was he playing for? Satan, the prince of demons, or God? If Jesus worked for Satan, he made for a bad employee. At every turn in the road, Jesus diminished Satan’s power rather than strengthened it.
We conclude what became an eight-part series on Jesus’ lessons on prayer from Luke 11 with Jesus’ assurances of God’s goodness in responding to our prayers. Jesus gives two basic illustrations to make this point.
If you fasted for forty days and had the power to turn rocks into bread, could you resist? If you could have all the power and prestige in the world by just bowing down to Satan, would you? If you had the ability to leap from building to building, what would stop you from showing off just a little? For forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted in ways that none of us could even dream of. Yet, he did not fall to temptation and sin.
We continue our series on Jesus’ pattern for prayer, by looking at the petition, “Lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:4).”
In 2006, a man entered a single-room Amish school house and violently murdered 5 young girls. One can hardly imagine the heartache felt by this Amish community after the tragedy. Yet, when news media outlets reported the story, the response of the community outshined the gruesome act itself. Without missing a beat, the community choose to forgive the murderer and even reached out to his family in sympathy instead of understandably demanding that he pay for his crime.
My grandparents used to have a woodcut picture in their kitchen based on a famous scene of two peasants in a field. In the background, a church bell rang to mark the end of the day. In the foreground, a small basket of potatoes laid on the ground. The two peasants hovered over it, with heads bowed, thanking God for the fruits of their labor. Though it was small, it was enough. They thanked God for enough.
Last week we looked at the first petition in Jesus’s pattern for prayer, “hallowed be your name.” This week we look at the second petition, “your kingdom come.”
We all desire a world where justice rolls down like water, where sickness and death ceases, where God rules the nations and the nations rule as God would have them rule, and where we behold the face of our Father in Heaven with unveiled faces. Many of us have given up on such a world. We have become too content with moldy bread, when a feast awaits us. God’s Word assures us such a day will come.
Jesus responded to his disciples request to teach them to pray by giving them a pattern for prayer (Luke 11:2-4). You may have noticed that the words Jesus gave his disciples in the Gospel of Luke differ from those in the more familiar version found in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus likely gave his disciples this prayer many times. The words themselves are not as important as the pattern. This reminds us that God does not need our repetitive words. He wants to hear us speaking to him from the heart.
The mid-nineteenth century missionary to South Africa Andrew Murray once said of prayer: “The disciples had been with Christ and seen him pray. They had learned to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public and His secret life of prayer. They had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer – none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ And in after years they would have told us that there were few things more wondrous or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer.”
Distracted activity can rob us of what is most important in life. Take Martha for example. You would want Martha on your team. Quick to roll up her sleeves, never shy of going the extra mile, Martha got things done. When Jesus came to Martha’s town, Martha was likely the first person to invite Jesus to visit her home.