Conversion of the Heart

Eyewitness: pp. 184
Eyewitness Stories: Luke 19:1-10
New Living Translation: Luke 19: 1-10
In Your Bible: Luke 19:1-10

Jesus’ encounter with the wee little man, Zacchaeus, was extraordinary. He heard that Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners. * So he risked a chance to see Jesus as he walked through Jericho, on the road to Jerusalem. Truly, Zacchaeus had a conversion of the heart.

Up a Tree

We know Zacchaeus was so short, he needed to climb a sycamore-fig tree in order to see Jesus. He’d probably never seen him before. ** When Jesus saw him, he knew who Zacchaeus was and what he did. Jesus said, Zacchaeus, hurry down from there, for I must be a guest at your house today” (Eyewitness Luke 19:5b). One commentator says ** that Jesus even stayed overnight! Strange indeed. Outraged, the crowd grumbled because they knew Zacchaeus was a sinner.

Salvation

We know little of what happened at his home, but Zacchaeus, the despised man, found a friend in Jesus. Merely meeting Jesus and talking with him changed Zacchaeus’ heart. Later Zacchaeus stood before Jesus. “Sir, I will give half my wealth to the poor. If I have defrauded anyone, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8 Eyewitness Stories). This was beyond what the law required (see Lev 6:5 and Num 5:7).

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:9,10 NLT). On commentator * says, in the New Testament “lost” means a man who has wondered away from God (not damned or doomed). Zacchaeus truly had a conversion of the heart.

Prayer: Father, thank you for seeing my heart, knowing my feelings, and being a comforter of my soul. I need you. Selah.

Questions: What first comes to your mind when you recall the song starting with the phrase, Zacchaeus was a wee little man? This encounter seems to be one of the few stating Jesus stayed overnight in a person’s home? How does this add to the striking conversion Zacchaeus had? When was the first time Jesus had an impact on your heart?

* The Gospel of Luke, Daily Study Bible, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956, p 244, 245.

** Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown, Luke 19:1-10, ewordtoday.com

Seek God With Your Whole Heart

Eyewitness: pp. 179, 180
Amplified Bible: Matthew 19:16-16
In Your Bible: Matthew 19:16-26

This encounter with Jesus and the rich young man shows great detail of the man’s background, his intentions, desires, and feelings. God searches the state of man’s heart, and chooses by character and motive. Seek God with your whole heart.

The Question

A rich man (possibly a religious leader) came to Jesus to ask, “Teacher, what [essentially] good thing shall I do to obtain eternal life ” (Matthew 19:16a Amplified Bible)?

Jesus said, “Keep the Commandments” (Matthew 19:17b Amplified Bible). Of course the man wondered which ones are the qualifiers for eternal life. He said he had done these since he was young . . . what more should he do?

Be My Disciple

Jesus answered him, “If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk]” (Matthew 19:21 Amplified Bible).

Yes, the Amplified Bible gives us a better picture than “keep the Commandments.” Jesus understood this man was only looking for a simple answer. But he needed to be a disciple of Jesus. Then learn real treasure, to understand eternal life, and to receive eternal life.

It’s Relationship with God

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions (Matthew 19:22 Amplified Bible).

All Things Are Possible

When the disciples heard this they were utterly puzzled (astonished, bewildered) saying, “Then who can be saved [from eternal death]?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25,26 Amplified Bible).

Heavenly inheritance is not given as earthly ones are given, but according to God’s pleasure. * Seek God with your whole heart.

Prayer: Father, help me seek you with my whole heart. Selah.

Questions: When you think about this rich young man, what possessions, habits, anything else hold you back from seeking God with your whole heart?

*Matthew Henry, ewordtodayChristianity.com

God’s Perspective on How to Live

Eyewitness: pp. 152,153
NASB Luke 12: 16-32
The Message: Luke 12: 16-32
Amplified Bible: Luke 12: 22-34
In Your Bible: Luke 12: 16-32

Jesus spoke to the Twelve and possibly the Seventy, yet still in hearing range of the multitudes around him. He cautioned them about greed and worldly entanglements. They also learned about success and the best way to embrace it. Jesus shows us God’s perspective on how to live.

Parable of a Successful Farmer

Jesus told them this parable, “The land of a rich man was very productive” (Luke 12: 16 NASB). The farmer decided building more barns to keep this crop and have a party was best and obvious choice of what to do. But this Jesus told them was the wrong choice.

Jesus disclosed the key to the mistake in the first few words. “The land of the rich man was productive.” The farmer failed to embrace the increased produce as a gift from God also failed to give God the glory for it. In his mind, the farmer could do whatever he pleased with (his) resources.

God’ Focus

Next, Jesus focused on what success all about. In today’s terms, we keep our focus on God and his righteousness, do our best, and give him the glory. Be benevolent – help others. Our treasures come from God and we acknowledge him for it.

Steep Yourself in God’s Perspective

Jesus said pointedly, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 The Message).

Jesus said, “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People, who don’t know God and the way he works, fuss over these things. But you know God, and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions . . .The Father wants to give you the very Kingdom itself” (Luke 12:29-32 The Message).

Jesus then warned them, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every form of greed; for not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions” . . .For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12: 15 and 34 Amplified Bible). He shows us God’s perspective on how to live.

Prayer: Father, thank you for being the source of all things, being the giver of all things, and the meaning of all things.

Questions: Why is it hard when you work on a project or task to give God credit for working with you to achieve it? What would you add to the note below?

Note: This is a life-long process:

  1. Keep God first, love the Lord with all your heart, listen to him, read his Word, and seek what he wants to be done,
  2. Sell or give away possessions you no longer needed
  3. Give to charity, give to those in need
  4. Protect your assets with living wills, trusts, etc.
  5. Yes, keep God first, seek him, and he will look after you

The Disciples Learned How To Pray Part III

Eyewitness: p. 146
Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 6:9-13
NLT: Matthew 6:11
Amplified Bible: Matthew 6:13
In Your Bible: Matthew 6:9-13

Jesus gave an example of how to pray. The believer first must honor, revere, and praise our Father God. After these honest statements of how great our God is, humbly he can make petitions. The disciples learned how to pray.

Daily Bread

Jesus continues teaching, “Give us today the food we need . . . “ (Matthew 6:11 NLT). This refers to the manna God provided daily for the Jews in the wilderness. Today we must also ask for provision of daily needs—not wants. This is a believer’s rightful request.

Forgiveness

Believers must ask for forgiveness of our sin. Jesus Christ paid for the sin of mankind by death on the cross. Jesus paid it all. To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition only the power of the cross can provide the believer. *

Temptation

Jesus went on to say “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13a Amplified Bible). Evil can come from without, from within, from friends and loved ones.

Commentaries * guide us to the fact that the best defense against evil is the presence of Jesus Christ. The living Presence of Christ empowers the believer.

Kingdom

Some translations add the following statement to the prayer: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:13b Amplified Bible). In this powerful teaching, Jesus guides believers to enter into Kingdom thinking (not our normal thinking). Indeed the disciples learned how to pray.

Prayer: Father, what a wonder you are. Jesus taught us our prayers should include praise, esteem your holiness, and honor you above all else. Thank you. Abba Father.

Questions: Have you asked for the bread of life from God’s Word? How would that impact your understanding of these verses? In what ways are you under temptation?

Ponder this from the book Jesus Calling: When you worship Me in spirit and truth, you join with choirs of angels who are continually before My throne. Though you cannot hear their voices, your praise and thanksgiving are distinctly audible in heaven. Your petitions are also heard, but it is your gratitude that clears the way to My Heart. With the way between us wide open, My blessings fall upon you in rich abundance. The greatest blessing is nearness to Me—abundance Joy and Peace in My Presence. Practice praising and thanking Me continually throughout this day. **

* The Daily Bible Study Series, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, pp. 219-228.

** Jesus Calling, Enjoying His Peace and Presence, Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, 2004, p. 195.

Disciples Learn How To Pray – Part II of III

Eyewitness: p. 146
Eyewitness Stories: Mathew 6: 9-13
NLT: Matthew 6:9b
In Your Bible: Matthew 6:9-13

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. His first powerful words must have shocked the Twelve. These words should also impact us when we fully comprehend them. This model prayer is intended for all believers. The disciples learned how to pray.

Yes, Our Father

Jesus’ intimacy surprised the disciples when he started with Our Father (not my Father), the Creator of all! He then guides them to keep the Father’s name holy and revered. *

God’s Kingdom Come

He appeals for God’s Kingdom to come quickly. For those receiving Christ, truly believing in him will be filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. Their inheritance will be the Kingdom forever.

God’s Will be Done

Next, Jesus affirms the Father will prevail . . . your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:11 Eyewitness Stories). All the surviving inhabitants of the earth will eventually do God’s will. Jesus taught that as disciples learned how to pray.

Prayer: Father, what a wonder you are. Your Son gave us a glimpse of your holiness. Help me grasp it and cling to your side.

Questions: How would you explain to others the excitement of the first two verses of the disciple’s prayer? Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9,10 NLT.)

Ponder this statement by Philip Keller: “Our view of God is often too small – too cramped – too provincial- and too human.” **

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary in one Volume, Matthew Henry, Regents Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, pp. 1228,1229.

** From A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Philip Keller, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1970, p. 16.