Monday, February 19, 2018

A Study in Luke Ch 8

Luke 8:22-25 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

Two significant questions are asked in this story: Where is your faith and Who is this? Let’s take the second one first. The disciples had committed to follow Jesus because of the authority of His teaching.

Luke 4:31-32 He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.

Matt 7:28-29 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

But now, that authority was affecting things like: illness, death, demons, sin and now nature. What did that mean? They knew of only One who operated like that—God Himself. This took their thoughts about Jesus into a whole new realm.

Having just seen Him command the winds and waves, they realized He was superior to the forces of nature. Not only was His teaching powerful, but what He said happened. To them, Jesus was operating in God-territory. Doing what only God could do.

Moses told us about God-territory: Num 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  What God says, He does.

For the Jews, God existed and operated in a category of One. In the first commandment they understood they were to have no other God’s before Me. God didn’t say this in response to any threat of there being another God to take His place but it was a warning for the people to recognize His superiority and not minimize it by substituting something else higher than He was.

He had no rival, no equal to compete with. But He knew that, because of the frailty of their imaginations, unless the people intentionally acknowledged Him as God, accepting His sole position of being superior, they would let something else take precedence over Him. Most of the Old Testament is the struggle between Almighty God and His people’s failure to honor Him as such.

His words became the revelation of His character, His ability, His intentions and His ultimate plan.

In older days, a contract could be negotiated with a handshake. A man’s word was his bond, his guarantee that he would honor what he committed to.

God has always used His words as promises of His intentions. Not only did the words bind Him but they revealed the response He expected from His people. You could risk your life on them being true and hang your future onto what He said. Because what He said, He would do.

When you have unrivaled, ultimate authority, what You say carries ultimate weight.

Bring that into the New Testament: John said: John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. John was telling us that the same unrivaled authority God expressed from the beginning was now being seen in Jesus.

Realize what that meant to whatever Jesus said or did. When He spoke, God spoke. When He did, God did. Jesus operated from that same category from which God reigns – the category of One, superior to everything else. So what Jesus said, was a word from God. And what God says, He will do.

Which brings us to two unique words used to explain how God communicates to us:
·         Logos – the subject matter of what God wants to say. It is the content of the message. It is the Scripture from cover to cover.
·         Rhema – the portion of the Logos that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention. It is when God makes a specific application of His Word to us in our current situation, personalizing the message to us specifically.

For example: the Bible gives us the Gospel message, the mystery of a personal relationship with God that He has promised from before creation to this present day, written for all people. How do we know He intended it for all people? Paul says of God, the author of that message: 1Ti 2:4 He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

That Gospel message lies within Scripture. But when we hear or read the message, the Holy Spirit taps us on the head and says, “That message is for you.” The message suddenly becomes personal. The message is no longer a general statement to all men, it is a word to us that requires us to respond.

Paul writes: Rom 10:13, 17 "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." One day I read that and felt the tap on my head and realized that the whoever was me. So I called on the name of the Lord.

Paul says a few verses later: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. The Rhema of God: the personalized word from God to me.

Faith was not created by hearing. We are born with faith—the ability to trust. A baby absolutely trusts its mom. Young children trust everything to be good for them. We learn to discern as we get older but all of us have the capacity, the ability to trust. Throughout most of our lives that trust is misplaced as it looks for some satisfying hope to connect to, but faith is there. Spiritually, it is asleep until God speaks and it wakes up. God-awakened faith seeks for Him.

Initially, when the message of the Gospel becomes personal to someone, faith says, “I want to respond to that.” If they accept the message as truth for them and give themselves to it, faith has served its role in salvation.

Paul wrote: Eph 2:8 For by grace [God’s activity] you have been saved through faith [our response]; and that [salvation is] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Faith lets us respond to the message but once our salvation is established, that same faith then becomes our lifestyle.

Hab 2:4 The righteous will live by his faith. Three times in the NT is that truth restated.
We now live within the context of faith. We are people of faith. That means we trust God and act upon what He says.

So, you can understand Jesus’ castigating question to His disciples: Where is your faith?

“It’s in there somewhere or you don’t belong to Me, so where is it? Why isn’t it operational in this moment? Why are you falling apart, thinking you’re going to perish, instead of trusting? You have the ability to believe. Why aren’t you using that ability?”

What had He told them? Let’s go to the other side of the lake. Were they to the other side yet? No. Were His words still active? Yes. So a storm in the middle of a promise doesn’t change the promise. Where is your faith when you need it?

Back the movie up to the teaching before they got in the boat and started across the lake.

Luke 8:11-15 Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

The struggle Jesus spoke of is accepting the Word into our lives or acting upon what we know is true.
A youth leader in another church would say: I’m picking up what you’re laying down. The Lord is planting seeds of truth. Are we receiving those seeds into our lives?

James 1:21-22 In humility receive the word implanted…and prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

The obstacles are Satan, shallowness (or lack of interest) and distractions. When I realize the Word comes from the One who has the authority to speak His truth into my life then I must receive whatever He says as personal to me and trust what He says, He will do.

How do I know I have received that word? The fruit. Attitudes and actions produced from seeds of His Word that God has planted within me. Fruit happens when we receive the truth and by faith apply it to what we believe.

What is fruit? Evidence that God is at work in our lives.

So Luke goes on and tells us what Jesus said next: Luke 8:16-17 Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Light is an exposure device. It shows things we don’t ordinarily see. It could be a person who infuriates us in the checkout line and shows us our anger. It could be that car going slow in the Fastlane and shows us our impatience. It could be a storm that suddenly rushes over us and shows us our fear. The light doesn't cause these reactions, it exposes what's in our hearts. When the light shines on us, it will show the evidence of the fruit of our faith. Either that we have confidence in God’s goodness or we don’t.

Luke 8:18 "So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."

Has what? Faith. Just like working out strengthens muscles, using faith enlarges faith. So take care how you listen. Listen with the intention of trusting what God says. Because what He says, He will do.

If we listen to what the Holy Spirit makes personal to us when we read Scripture, hear what He whispers in our ear and receive God’s message to us, in whatever we face our faith will be enough. Why? Because it is placed in a God who what He says, He will do.

  1. A child of God cannot say he/she is without faith.
  2. Our faith may be small because it has been rarely used, but size isn’t the factor.
  3. Because a mustard seed amount of faith can move a mountain, we have more than enough faith for whatever we face.
  4. The question is not whether we have faith but whether we will exercise that faith to trust in God’s goodness or not.
  5. If a storm comes in the middle of a promise, it cannot change that promise.

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