Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 23 August 2022:
Watch this short video overview of Ruth: https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/ruth/
Ruth 1:16, 17 — “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
True love is a commitment to fidelity for life. Ruth demonstrated this sort of commitment not only in her marriage but also in her extended relationships. To whom do you show this sort of commitment? These words are often recited in weddings, but many don’t really mean what they are saying. Some have said these words truly believing they meant it, but they really didn’t have the heart for them. Peter said similar words to Jesus during the time of the Last Supper — “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” I believe Peter really meant what he said, but Jesus knew his true heart. Jesus knew Peter had not yet been perfected in love, but Jesus had a plan for Peter, to grow Peter in love. We have all failed in love and continue to fail in love. Jesus has a plan to make us leaders in love. In God’s grace, strive for greater love. Where you are still a Saul, Jesus has a plan to make you a Paul. Can you also see a Paul in the Sauls around you?
Luke 22:2 – “And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.”
During the time of the Passover, the religious leaders were seeking to murder to Son of God in order to maintain their status and security on earth. Today, many churches and church goers are willing to sacrifice Jesus for sake of the American Dream.
Luke 22:19 — “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic reminder that Jesus died for us and is now in us, empowering us to become increasingly Christlike and to serve as His ambassadors on earth, proclaiming the Gospel to all creation. Just as we are what we eat physically, Jesus reminds us that we are being conformed to His image as His Spirit within us transforms us.
Luke 22:26 – “…the leader as one who serves.”
The greatest leader is the humblest and the one who serves others most. This is the exact opposite of what the world expects of leaders.
Luke 22:27 – “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
From Henry T. Blackaby — The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God. When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1-15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served. The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.
Luke 22:28 – “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials….”
“It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).
The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?
We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?
Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on ‘outside the camp’ (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow— but only the voice saying, ‘Follow Me’ (Matthew 4:19).” (Oswald Chambers)
Luke 22:29 — “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom….”
You, right now, are part of the Kingdom of God. Serve you King faithfully now, regardless the cost.
Luke 22:32, 40-42-44 – “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers…. Pray that you may not enter into temptation…. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done…. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
We can learn much in today’s readings from Jesus about prayer. Jesus’ primary focus in prayer was intercessory prayer for others, that they would not succumb to temptation, and that the Father’s will would be done on earth. See how Jesus’ example of prayer today parallels the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 (also, see John 17 for a deeper glimpse into Jesus’ prayer priorities). Throughout the remainder of the New Testament, you will see this pattern of prayer priorities revealed by the apostles – praying for others, and the fulfillment of God’s will.
The pattern for prayer in the Bible is a focus on God and others rather than on self and on temporal needs, praying for God to be glorified and that others would be strong in faith and empowered to glorify Him and to spread the Gospel – “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power…. Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you….” (2 Thessalonians 1:11; 3:1) The Bible says we should bring our personal concerns before the Lord in prayer – “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” (James 5:13) However, even these prayers should be offered with confident thanksgiving and with the motive of “thy will be done.” (Philippians 4:6)
Again, our prayer exemplars weren’t focused on changed conditions but rather changed hearts. Jesus prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Paul didn’t pray to be freed from prison but rather that God would use his chains to advance the Gospel. Consequently, Paul may have had a greater impact for the Gospel in prison than he did in his freedom. Also, when Paul prayed for other disciples, he generally didn’t pray for changed conditions for them but rather for their conformity to Chris-like character and for their continued strength and faithfulness in glorifying God through their circumstances and spreading the Gospel. What is the focus of your prayers?
- Colossians 1:9 — And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding….
- Colossians 4:3 — At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
- 1 Thessalonians 3:10 — …as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
- 2 Thessalonians 3:1 — Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you….
- Philemon 1:6 — …and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
- Hebrews 13:18 — Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
“And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” Prayer is a powerful thing, more powerful than we can understand. When Jesus prayed, He was strengthened by an angel. When we pray, we too are assisted in our prayers – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) You may not know what to pray or how to pray, but God will honor your heart of prayer and strengthen you along the way. How do babies learn to talk? They listen to their parents’ conversations and then try to talk to them. How do we learn to pray? We read and study God’s word, and then we try to pray from God’s word, growing in our communication skills over time. How excited do parents get over baby’s first words? How much does the Father love your feeble prayers? Never miss the opportunity to listen to God and talk with God.
More from Henry T. Blackaby on intercessory prayer — Prayer is not difficult to understand. It is difficult to do. When was the last time your heart so grieved for those you were interceding for that your entire body agonized along with your mind and heart? (Heb. 5:7). We are a generation that avoids pain at all costs. This is why there are so few intercessors. Most Christians operate on the shallowest levels of prayer, but God wants to take us into the deep levels of intercessory prayer that only a few ever experience. Deep, prolonged intercession is painful. It involves staying before God when everyone else has gone away or sleeps (Luke 22:45). It involves experiencing brokenness with the Father over those who continually rebel against Him. How many of us will experience this kind of fervent intercession? We long for Pentecost in our lives and in our churches, but there is no Pentecost without Gethsemane and a cross. How do we become mature in our prayer life? By praying. When we do not feel like praying is precisely the time we ought to pray. There are no shortcuts to prayer. There are no books to read, seminars to attend, or inspirational mottoes to memorize that will transform us into intercessors. This comes only by committing ourselves to pray and then doing so. Why not accept God’s invitation to become an intercessor? Don’t allow yourself to become satisfied with shallow, self-centered praying. Stay with God in prayer until He leads you to pray at the level He wants.
Luke 22:34 – “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.’”
God knows your limitations better than you do and will use your failures to reveal to you the truth of your character but more importantly the truth of His character, the truth of His undying love and faithfulness, and the truth of the sufficiency of His grace.
Luke 22:35 – “And he said to them, ‘When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘Nothing.’”
God will place you in challenging conditions to build your faith and to reveal Himself in a greater way.
Luke 22:36 – “…let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”
Jesus expected His disciples to be equipped and ready to defend themselves. God’s people have always been ready to defend themselves.
Luke 22:46 — “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Prayer is your best defense against temptation, but prayer takes diligent effort.
Luke 22:48 — “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Many proclaim love for Jesus outwardly while they are betraying Him inwardly.
Luke 22:49 – And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
If you are asking God for an answer, be sure to wait for the answer.
Luke 22:51 – “But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him.”
Jesus cared for others even though they led Him to die.
Luke 22:61, 62 – “And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”
God will have to expose your false pride before you will be ready to serve Him humbly. Pride always stands in the way of your life mission. Seek to remove all pride from your life.
Luke 22:67, 68 — “‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.'”
Only God knows who will believe and who will not believe – you don’t. Proclaim Jesus, and leave it to the Holy Spirit to do the convincing. Remember, the knowledge of God comes from spiritual enlightenment, not intellectualism.
Luke 22:67-71 — Witness is useless to those who have already chosen not to believe.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 August 22: Prioritize prayer today, and prioritize others in your prayer, primarily for their relationship with Jesus.