Revealed (Luke 12:2)

But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

Luke 12:2

As I read this promise this morning, I am struck by its dual application. It feels as though it is both a promise that should give me a moment’s pause and a promise that should cause me to breathe a sigh of relief.

It should give me pause because there is the implication that everything I do — no matter how secretive I think I am being — will be displayed in front of everyone one day. The promise of a future judgment is a promise that everything I do — good and bad — will be displayed publicly and rewarded or censured as appropriate. Nothing I think I have covered up will remain thus. Nothing that I think I have hidden is unknown to God and none of it will remain unknown to others.

I am able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this can also mean that all secrets will eventually stop being secret. There will come a day when I know as I also am known. There will be nothing about my God; no detail regardless how small that will not be open to examination. I will be able to ask and be answered; to seek and find. The secret things belong to the LORD (Deuteronomy 29:29) and the LORD offers us Himself. I will be able to know all the things that I seek to know in the day that I know as I am known. And that, for such as me, is a welcome relief.

Let me be mindful that all I do ostensibly in secret will be revealed and all things that are currently hidden will eventually be known. I will know as I am known and that is both a warning and a sweet promise.

Enter (Luke 11:52)

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.

Luke 11:52

This morning’s verse was spoken by Jesus during lunch with a Pharisee. Jesus came in and sat down to eat and the Pharisee was amazed that Jesus did not go though the ceremonial washing process before sitting down to eat. Jesus commented on the outward righteousness of the Pharisees and a Scribe; a lawyer chimed in, saying that Jesus’ chiding remarks also applied to the scribes. The scribe claimed that Jesus insulted them. While they may have taken insult, the comments are statements of fact.

The scribes; lawyers were “experts” in the Mosaic Law. They wrote commentaries on how, exactly, one went about honoring their father and their mother or what was meant when God said that no adultery was allowed. They had written tomes on these subjects and the whole ceremonial washing thing might have been derived from their ideas.

Jesus’ comment about the key of knowledge seems a bit abstruse, but really is not all that difficult. The purpose of The Law was to show us how completely incapable we are of keeping it. The Law is the standard of perfection. We none of us are perfect. If The Law is viewed through that lens, then we stop squabbling about how to keep it, because we know that we cannot. If we understand that we are in bondage to sin — slaves to it — then we begin to read through The Law in order to find the requirements for our redemption.

A friend of mine once told me that I could read through the OT looking for Jesus and find Him in every single book. I cannot say that I have faithfully done so, but every book I have taken the pains to look for Jesus in has yielded deeper understanding of my Lord. He has been present in every book. Every. One.

The key of knowledge about which Jesus speaks is, I think, Himself. The Messiah. The Redeemer. The key to understanding The Law and the prophets is not long-winded explanations or extensive commentaries but an understanding that all of it points to Christ. All of it. Jesus is the key of knowledge and the scribes; the lawyers had so muddled things with their diatribes that those who had caught glimpses of Jesus in The Law were forced to turn away from those or risk offending in some minutia that had been put in writing by a scribe.

This morning, am I looking to obey some set of rules or am I looking to obey the Rule Maker? Do I want to know the relationship of one Law to another or do I want a relationship with the Lawgiver? The difference is worlds apart and only one allows me to enter.

Perspective (Luke 11:27-28)

While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Luke 11:27-28

For the believer, this is the time of year in which we remember the birth of our Savior. It is important that things be kept in perspective during this season. There will be nativity scenes in plenty and some will become overly focused on the young mother kneeling beside the child she bore, but no less than Jesus Himself shifted that focus.

This morning’s verse comes at the end of Jesus’ remarks on what happens with regard to demonic possession and His ultimatum that whoever does not gather with Him is scattered. In light of His profound insight and His ability to state, categorically, that to stand against Him is to be scattered, a random woman in the crowd shouts out that His mom is a blessed woman.

Mary agreed with this woman’s sentiment. In the passage commonly called The Magnificat, Mary exalts God for condescending to use such as she and praises Him for fulfilling His promises to Israel. Mary counted herself blessed. Gabriel called her highly favored. Elizabeth called her blessed. There is no doubt that Mary was blessed.

But Jesus flips it around. Jesus says that those who live in obedience — as Mary did, incidentally — are blessed. Was she unique? In that she was the vessel chosen to bear my Lord, yes. In that she was obedient and faithful and blessed, no. Myriads of believers through the ages have submitted themselves and found the blessing therein.

Will I be counted among those? There are times when I doubt. I am not good at obeying. I am frail and faulty and fumbling. I look more a fool in motley than a child of the King in purple. Does this phase my Lord? Not a whit. He is undeterred by my failures. So long as my desire is to submit myself and to be obedient, no matter how feeble my attempts or sadly lacking my obedience, He continues to work and to increase His grace in me so that I might become fully submitted; fully obedient to Him and enjoy the blessing therein.

Good Gifts (Luke 11:13)

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Luke 11:13

Matthew renders this statement as If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11). While calling the Holy Spirit what is good is accurate, it is not the whole of Who and what the Holy Spirit is and does. Since whole treatises have been written on the topic and since I am no theologian, I will leave the unpacking of Who and what the Holy Spirit is and does for those better and wiser than myself.

What I notice is an argument from the lesser to the greater. If you begins with the lesser. If mere mortality; if imperfection; if selfishly motivated I can bring myself to care enough for my own progeny to give them good things, then why would I think that my Father in Heaven would do less? Why would not immortality; perfection; and altruism Himself not give so much more and better than ever I could?

I notice also that what my Father in Heaven gives me is the Holy Spirit. When Paul writes to the church in Galatia, he enumerates the fruit that comes with the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — and that fruit is very good. What Jesus tells me the Father will give is the Spirit Who brings with Him all of those things. And those things are the very things for which my soul yearns. Everyone, without exception, wants at least some of what that list contains. Do I want love? God is love and He will give Himself to me liberally. Do I want peace? God promises that I can come to Him with my worries and cares and burdens and exchange them for His peace.

In this season wherein we run mad trying to find the perfect gifts for one another, God offers to give Himself. He offers to give me Himself and all that He entails — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And He offers Himself for the asking. Will I ask Him for still more of Him? I need Him. As the hymn says, I need Him every hour.

Amazed (Luke 9:43)

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

Luke 9:43

Have I been amazed at God’s greatness; God’s majesty recently?

The Bible tells me that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His greatness is undiminished. His majesty just as majestic as it ever was or will be. Does it still amaze me?

God has not stopped working in the world. While the crowd in this verse was amazed at God’s greatness after Jesus casts out a demon from a child, this does not mean that God is not still doing miraculous things. I know those who have experienced those miraculous doings. I have been the object of miraculous doings. Does it still amaze me?

Like all things, my amazement can become commonplace. I can come to expect God to do the unexpected; anticipate that God will do things that blow my mind. And in so doing inure my mind to the impossible things that are just another Wednesday for God. For Him, the amazing is commonplace. For me, it should remain amazing.

That my wife loves me, despite all my faults and flaws and shortcomings amazed me at the first. I need to regularly come back to the stark reality of how little I deserve her love in order to remain amazed by it. Likewise, I need to remember that God sees nothing as unanticipated — His omniscience prevents Him from being amazed or surprised — but His anticipation of a thing does not mean that I cannot be amazed at what He has done. In point of fact, I should be amazed at what He does. He does the impossible. How can I allow that to become my normal?

I need to forbid myself to become accustomed to God’s greatness. It must inspire my awe every time I encounter it. And I encounter His greatness anew every morning in the form of His mercies.

I need to permit myself the wonder; the childlike amazement at what God does. My daughter teaches me much and her gasp of delighted amazement when I do something of which she is simply not capable and the answering spark of joy in my heart at her wonder are a regular reminder that my amazement at God’s greatness is not only appropriate and acceptable but brings joy to the heart of my Father in Heaven.

Let me delight in my Lord’s greatness and in so doing delight His heart.

Everyday Denial (Luke 9:23)

And He was saying to all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23

There are four things mentioned here.

First, Jesus says If anyone wishes to come after Me and limits the group to which the next statements apply. If I do not wish to come after Him, then I can stop listening.

Second, Jesus speaks of what I must lay down — he must deny himself. I must turn away from myself and the selfishness that is promoted in the culture in which I live. I must place my focus elsewhere.

Third, Jesus tells me what I should pick up in place of what was laid down — take up his cross daily. I notice that He does not tell me that my cross is something I take up once and I will always carry it, but rather that I must take it up daily. Every day, I will be called to crucify myself anew. Every day, I will need to make the walk to the place where my self dies. Every. Day.

Fourth, Jesus tells me what I am to do once I have shouldered my cross — follow Me. This is the same instruction given as the calling of the apostles. This is the same challenge issued to the rich young ruler. The ruler was told to sell all that he had — to deny himself and take up his cross — and to follow Christ. The calling never changes. It is always a call to follow Christ. Sometimes, He is walking up the hill to be crucified. Sometimes He is walking on the water. The point is not where he is walking, but that I am to follow.

This morning, let me deny myself, take up my cross, and follow behind Jesus. These may look different every day, but I need to repeat them every day.

Unaware (Luke 8:53)

And they [began] laughing at Him, knowing that she had died.

Luke 8:53

How often do I find myself in a place similar to these people?

Jesus walks in and the corpse is plain to see; the evidence that nothing more can be done is obvious to everyone. The mourners have only begun their work because it is the time for them to do so. They were not mourning a short time before Jesus’ arrival, because the little girl was still alive. They — though they do not know it yet — will not be mourning in a few moments, because Jesus is about to remove the reason for mourning yet again.

Folks in the First Century were well acquainted with death. In point of fact, folks in some parts of the world today are well-acquainted with death. They see it too regularly to mistake it for anything else. But Jesus says something that boggles the mind. He tells them that the girl is not dead, but asleep.

Was He unaware? Had He somehow missed the painfully obvious reality that the girl was dead and her corpse lying right in front of Him?

I wonder how often I ask the same sort of questions — asking if God has somehow overlooked what is painfully obvious; thinking He is somehow unaware of what is going on. But He is well aware of what is going on. He knows far more than I do. He knows not only what is happening this moment — the moment in which the mourners are wailing and lamenting the loss — but what is happening in a few moments — the breathless joy of a child restored to her parents.

The truth is that I am the one who in unaware. I am unaware of what God is trying to accomplish through those moments of suffering. I forget that He promises that joy comes in the morning and that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I am unaware of the larger picture; the great things He is trying to do and the mightiness that He wants to display in my life.

Father God, please make me aware of how unaware I really am. Please, teach me to trust in Your awareness and Your plan.

Great Things (Luke 8:39)

“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:39

Jesus casts demons out of a man and the man begs Jesus to let him (the man) travel with Him (Jesus). Jesus gives that man this directive: “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.”

What great things has God done for me? Have I shared them with anyone lately?

In the here and now, there are many blessings. There have been several rounds of layoffs at my place of employ. I am still working. I live in an apartment whose rent is still, by the standards of the places surrounding, miraculously inexpensive. I am married to a wife who loves me — faults and all — and have two wonderful children who teach me much. I fellowship with a marvelous group of believers who love one another. We are not perfect, but the only perfect Person was nailed to a cross about 2,000 years ago. I am blessed with friends and family who love me and bear with my weaknesses and insecurities. My life is, by God’s grace and generous heart, very good.

More than all of this, God came and died for me. He loved me when I hated Him. He sacrificed Himself for me when I have trouble sacrificing the little time it takes to read His Word and write these journals. I am blessed by the time spent here with Him, but there are always other things that vie for this time. God laid aside the glories of Heaven in order to be born into squalor and live a workman’s life and end His brief stay on this globe nailed to a cross.

The Christmas season is a time when people run around yelling about the alleged war on Christmas — there may be one, but I have more important things to do than fret over it. Rather than tell anyone how the world is at war with Christmas, let me, instead, tell what Christmas really is: a great thing that God has done for me and everyone else. Christmas is the time we remember when God stepped down from glory indescribable to a stable. Christmas is the time we recall that the Son of God became the Son of Man so that He might become our kinsman redeemer. Christmas is the time when we give one another gifts to remember that God gave us Himself.

God has done and continues to do great things for me. Let me trumpet His greatness from the rooftops and let the rest sort itself out.

Secret (Luke 8:17)

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor [anything] secret that will not be known and come to light.

Luke 8:17

I do not know how anyone else thinks, but I often find that I believe I can keep things secret. Now, my wife knows that I am terrible at keeping pleasant secrets. A welcome surprise is almost impossible for me to tamp down and contain my excitement over. But what of the bad secrets?

Jesus makes this statement in the context of a person lighting a lamp and placing it on a stand. There are those who say that a legitimate conversion; a true change of mind and heart will become evident. God will work out what He has placed within me. While this is possible, there is a more interesting application for me.

Once a light is turned on, everything becomes much more clear. The brighter the light, the more clear everything becomes. I think of a room with a light on a dimmer switch. At its lowest setting, the light is not much better than darkness. As it brightens, the room is thrown into sharp relief and everything is obvious — every speck of dust, every crumb on the floor. The same is true of God’s light in my life. Early on, it was somewhat dim; a gentle, pleasant glow that gave light and warmth but there really was not much wrong in my life that was obvious to me. Sure, I noticed a few things wrong, but those were easy to set to rights — like moving the chairs into their correct position in a room. But the light got brighter and every stage of increased brightness reveals something more detailed; more challenging to put right and cleanse, until the things I am seeing are so difficult that only God Himself can set them to rights.

Got lit the lamp and placed it so that I could see. Sure, the light of Him living in me is there for others to see, as it should be. But that same light that lets a passerby know that the house is lived in alerts the denizens of that house as to what must needs be put in order. God’s light shows those outside my life God’s warmth and welcome. God’s light shows me the things that need to be corrected and cleansed.

Seed (Luke 8:11)

Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

There is much said about the word of God, both within the word itself and by others. There are those who doubt the veracity of the word of God and say that it is not historically accurate or that it is a book of fables. There are those who think it a mixture of things, some factual and others not. There are those who, like myself, believe the word of God to be precisely that: the word of God; what God wants to say to humanity.

The thing about seeds is that they must be given a mixture of things to grow and bear fruit. Likewise, the word must receive the things that are needful in order for it to be fruitful in my life.

A seed needs soil. The word needs to be planted within my heart and mind. It is not enough that I read it and go on about my day, I must allow it to take root and to rearrange things as the roots of trees often do with the things that are in the soil.

A seed needs water. God Himself is called the Living Water and it is this Living Water that is needed for the word to germinate from seed to plant and to bear fruit as a mature plant. If I starve a seed or a plant of water, it will not grow or die. Likewise, the word of God detached from God Himself is dead.

A seed needs sunlight. As the seed sprouts and pushes leaves through the soil into the air above, it needs light to shine on it for it to be healthy. Again, God Himself is called the Light and the Father of Lights, so God must illuminate what is heard and read for it to grow and bear fruit. But more, Jesus said that He is the Truth (John 14:6) and Truth illuminates; shines light on things. The word of God must bask in the light of Truth in order to bear fruit. God is Truth, but His word is also truth. In order for the seed of the word to become fruitful, there must be still more of the word shone on it that the word might illumine the word and that truth might vindicate truth.

Depending on the seed, there are other necessities, but those are the basics. Like any garden, the place where the word is planted must be cultivated; weeds must be removed and vectors — inspects and other vermin that would threaten the seedling — dealt with. I must address distractions and things that seek to destroy or distort or even imitate the word implanted.

This is more of a reminder for me, this morning, than anything else. A reminder to provide this word and every bit of the word that I receive with the water and light of God and still more of the word and to tend the garden wherein the word has been planted.