Luke 19:11-27

“They supposed the kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (v11).  When Jesus neared Jerusalem, people thought their own conception of “the kingdom,” God reigning over foreigners through the exalted Jewish nation, would appear immediately.  But Jesus told stories to explain that “the kingdom” was all about welcoming and serving the King, not about winning.  In fact, his parable of the minas, or talents, warned of the dangers of not really knowing the Master we say we serve (v21-26).

“Well done, good servant!” (v17).  Our King has revealed Himself in Jesus, and all work done out of love for Him becomes part of His good, eternal kingdom.

Luke 19:1-10

“And there was a man named Zacchaeus … and he was seeking to see who Jesus was” (v2-3).  Tax collectors like Zacchaeus were known for their corruption and therefore despised by ordinary people.  Yet when Jesus came near, instead of running away, Zacchaeus “was seeking” to know him.  Jesus recognized his humble, eager searching (to the extent of climbing a tree) and offered to visit his house.  Zacchaeus, despite his reputation and his sins, “received him joyfully” (v6).

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost” (v10).  Like Zacchaeus, when we eagerly desire to know Christ, we find that He was already searching for us.

Psalm 25

“O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame” (v1).  The psalmist believed that the best way to achieve the honor he desired (and to avoid shame) was to follow God.  It wasn’t a selfish desire; rather, as a people created in God’s image, God’s ways are best for us (v4).  Sin is destructive, but our “good and upright” Creator teaches us how to live because He loves us (v8-9).  He calls us to obey Him and thrive, and He even invites us to friendship (v14).

“His soul shall abide in well-being” (v13). Well-being is the result of being at peace with our Creator through Jesus and choosing His ways above all other paths.

Proverbs 6

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech …” (v12).  The proverbs vividly describe the pitfalls of all kinds of sins: laziness (v10-11), bad stewardship (v2), adultery (v29), etc.  People who habitually lie and “sow discord,” or stir up conflict, are considered especially dangerous, because they ruin the peace and trust of the whole community (v19).  Just like adultery, lying (especially about others) has ugly consequences that ripple out through our entire network of relationships.

“For the commandment is a lamp” (v23).  God doesn’t want us to stumble around in the dark; His commands show us the way to healthy relationships and a joyful life.
 

Leviticus 26

“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid” (v6).  God’s original intent for humanity was an abundant, secure life, and the Israelites were promised this kind of life if they would “walk in my statutes and observe my commandments” (v3).  God promised that they would enjoy the results of their labor and not fear their enemies.  A life of fellowship with God, obeying and serving Him, would lead to satisfaction, peace, and fruitfulness (v4-5). 

 “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (v12).  We become part of God’s family by putting our trust in Jesus, and by following Him we find abundant life.
 

Leviticus 25

“But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land” (v4). “Sabbath” in Israel referred to the 7th day, and it also referred to the “rest” God commanded each 7th year.  By pausing their work, the people recognized that God was their real Provider, and by resting, Sabbath prevented the people (including servants and foreigners) and the land from being exhausted.  Sabbath was always an act of faith, since the people had to trust that they would not go hungry (v20).

“For the land is mine” (v23).  God is the true Creator-Owner of our world and everything in it.  When we work and rest in partnership with Him, we receive what we need every day.   
 

Leviticus 23-24

“These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations …” (v2).  God not only rescued Israel from Egypt, He also gave them instructions about how to live in the Promised Land.  They celebrated several religious “feasts” throughout the year, such as Passover/Unleavened Bread (v5-6), which commemorated their deliverance from Egypt, others that were agricultural, and the solemn yearly Day of Atonement.  Season to season, God was at the center of everything.

“When you come into the land …” (v10).  Whatever we do, wherever we go, God calls us to intentionally arrange our lives so that He is our center and our purpose.   

Luke 18:9-43

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt …” (v9).  Jesus said that those who “exalted” their own goodness (v14) and looked down on others would be humbled by God.  He warned his hearers about self-righteousness, which prevents us from approaching God like humble children (v16) and receiving what we need.  He challenged the rich young man to let go of his personal resources, his self-protection, and depend totally on God (v22).

“Jesus … have mercy on me!” (v39).  When we let go of our pride and self-justification, we are able to receive the abundant mercy and forgiveness Jesus offers.
 

Luke 18:1-8

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (v1).  In Jesus’ parable, a bad judge who “neither feared God nor respected man” (v2) was persuaded to help a widow because of her persistence.  While God does not need to be persuaded like the unrighteous judge, Jesus challenged his hearers to have the same bold persistence, knowing that our kind, powerful, and good Judge listens as we call out to Him “day and night” and will certainly help us (v7).    

“Will he find faith on the earth?” (v8).  We pray because we have faith in God’s character.  He loves us, He hears us, and He will ultimately rescue us.

Psalm 24

“The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (v1).  The psalmist tells us that everyone and everything belongs to the King, yet we must choose to be citizens of His holy kingdom (v3).  God eagerly welcomes the person “who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully” (v4).  Rather than perfection, the King wants those who sincerely seek His face (v6).  

“… that the King of glory may come in” (v9).  We cheerfully submit to our good King, welcoming His rule in our lives, because we were created to participate in His glorious kingdom. 
 

Leviticus 22

“And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted” (v29).  The rules for bringing sacrifices to God’s altar taught the Israelites to approach God with respect and gratitude.  They could not offer any diseased animal (v21), which would be giving God a worthless thing, rather than their best.  Further, the offerings themselves were treated respectfully, not being consumed as an entitlement by anyone, but eaten by the priests and their families who had no other source of income (v10). 

“I am the Lord … who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (v33).  We offer the best of ourselves to God, because He gave His own life to save us.   
 

Leviticus 21

“None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God …” (v17).  The priests who served at the Temple had to be physically healthy, because their role was symbolic, and imperfections and disease were symbols of a world poisoned by sin.  The Israelites used rituals to distinguish between the clean and unclean, holy and unholy, in order to understand God’s original intention for a good world. 

“I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (v23).  Jesus our High Priest didn’t have to be physically perfect, because his holiness was more than symbolic.  He put on our brokenness and sins and brought us into God’s presence, sanctifying everyone who believes in him.
 

Leviticus 20

“I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (v26).  The Israelites’ separation and distinction from other people wasn’t a matter of ethnicity, as much as a matter of behavior.  God commanded them to live in a way that would bring blessing, not destruction, and would mark them as belonging to Him.  He prohibited the evils of child sacrifice (v2), witchcraft (v6), and sexual immorality (v10), which were commonly practiced by their neighbors (v23).

“A land flowing with milk and honey” (v24).  God calls us to holiness, to follow His ways, so that we can thrive, enjoying healthy relationships in His beautiful world. 

Leviticus 19

“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (v2).  The Israelites were taught that “holiness” was a way of behaving toward God and other people.  It included respect for parents (v3), not making idols (v4), and not taking all possible profit for ourselves (v9), but rather being generous to the poor. Holiness is speaking the truth, being fair (v11), and treating foreigners well: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (v34).

“I am the Lord your God” (v31).  Pursuing holiness means being willing to change our own behavior to follow God’s standard of love.
 

Luke 17:11-37

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v13).  When Jesus met a group of ten lepers who called out to him, he healed them immediately.  They rejoiced, but only one returned to “fall on his face at Jesus’ feet” (v16), giving thanks.  Jesus commented on the fact that this “foreigner,” a Samaritan who supposedly didn’t worship God in the proper way, was the only one to praise God for his healing (v18).  The others rejoiced at the miracle, yet they ignored the Person who had performed it.

“The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (v21). Jesus is more than the answer to our prayers; He wants us to know and be known by him.
 

Luke 17:1-10

"Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” (v1).  While we often worry about our own temptations and trials, Jesus urged us to pay attention to how we contribute to the lives of others, positively or negatively.  We have a special responsibility toward the wellbeing of “these little ones” (v2); Jesus used the harshest language for those who would harm vulnerable individuals.  And while we never ignore sin, we are called to be quick to forgive a repentant brother or sister (v3-4).  

“Pay attention to yourselves!” Our tendency is to judge others, but Jesus calls us to take responsibility for ourselves – to love, serve, and forgive as He leads us (v3). 

Psalm 23

“He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul” (v3).  This beloved psalm speaks of our Shepherd leading us in a progressive way, toward maturity and deep peace.  At times, He gives us the restful green pastures we need in order to heal or gather strength, and then He walks with us through “the valley of the shadow of death” (v4).  Even in the presence danger and threats, He “spreads a table” of provision and anoints us with power (v5).

“I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v6). In life and even in death, our home is with the Good Shepherd who cares for us. 
 

Leviticus 18:21-30

“So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs …” (v30). God commanded the Israelite to be “clean,” to avoid all sexual perversion, including homosexual behavior and sex with animals (v22-23).  They were also told never to sacrifice their children, a terrible practice that was part of some religions, like the worship of Molech (v21).  God warned that all these things would bring terrible consequences; even the land itself (created by God) would reject their presence (v25).

“I am the Lord your God” (v4).  He is full of love and goodness, and He calls us to live in way that reflects Him and flows with His good purposes for the world. 
 

Leviticus 18:1-20

“I am the Lord your God.  You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt …” (v1-2).  The Israelites were told not to imitate their pagan neighbors, especially in the area of sexuality.  The Law explained that incest was wrong and so was adultery or any other sexual relationship outside of marriage.  Many pagan religions used sexuality as a source of power and included it in rituals, and other cultural practices used religion as a cover for abuses.  God told Israel to behave differently (v5). 

“You shall therefore follow my rules … If a person does them, he shall live by them” (v4-5).  God gives us boundaries so that we will not destroy ourselves, but follow Him and live well.
 

Leviticus 17

“This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices to the LORD … as sacrifices of peace offerings to the LORD” (v5).  The Israelites were prohibited from sacrificing animals outside the tabernacle (or later Temple), so that they would not be tempted to “sacrifice to goat demons” (v7) or other false gods that promised wealth, protection, and power.  Animal sacrifice was carefully regulated to preserve its purpose: to bring the worshipper closer to the God of Abraham, symbolically covering their sins.

Right worship is a “pleasing aroma to the Lord” (v6). As we reject false sources of satisfaction and comfort, we are drawn closer into God’s presence through Jesus.