Learning from the Widow in Luke 21

We were in Indy last week visiting family, and we heard a really insightful short talk on a Wednesday night. The brother reminded us of a familiar passage in Luke 21 about the poor widow who gave her last two coins to God.  What the brother then said was to take out the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible and read the end of Luke 20 and then read about the widow in Luke 21. So I put the text here for you to read.

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 20:45-21:4)

The question was posed – I wonder how this widow ended up with only two coins? One really good explanation for the state of her poverty was that the Jewish leadership had “devoured” it. Instead of supporting the widows, they took advantage of them in their time of distress. Again, if you read the text straight through it sure sounds like that is the explanation for this widow’s condition. It also may explain how the “rich” in that context had so much excess of money to put into the treasury.

This concept of devouring widow’s houses is not just in Luke. Here are some other passages that address this social injustice (Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 7:6-10; Ezekiel 22:7; Amos 8:4-6; Micah 2:2,8; 3:1-3; Mark 12:40; 2 Timothy 3:6). These hypocritical, narcissistic Jewish leaders were even doing this garbage to their own parents (Mark 7; Matthew 15). When we take time to read passages like the ones in this paragraph, we can see how strongly God feels about it.

But that is not really the point of this article, nor was it the point of the brother who was giving that short talk. When you consider the state of things, the injustice that was going on, and the poverty of this woman, are you not impressed with her heart for God? Even in the midst of great poverty, knowing these two coins were “all” she had to live on, she still gave it all to God. Her heart was not filled with bitterness and rage against those who oppressed her, nor was she angry about her state in life. She loved God and was happy to give Him her all.

What a woman!

The GOD of the Towel–Day 2

This week, we are considering Jesus’ act of humility and service in John 13:1-17 in the context of our lives as men. Humility is the key word I am inviting you to meditate upon this week.

What does the word mean? Humility is a freedom from arrogance that grows out of the recognition that all we have and are comes from God. The Greek philosophers despised humility because it implied inadequacy, lack of dignity, and worthlessness to them. This is not so with God. God calls us to be humble and the “meek’ are the ones to be victorious in Him. Jesus is the supreme example of humility, and He is completely adequate and of infinite dignity and worth. Biblical humility is not a belittling of oneself, but an exalting or praising of others, especially GOD (John 3:30; Philippians 2:3). A humble person, then, focuses more on God and others than on himself. Biblical humility is also a recognition that by ourselves we are inadequate, without dignity and worthless. Yet, because we are created in God’s image and because believers are in Christ, we have infinite worth and dignity (1 Peter 1:18-19). True humility does not produce pride but gratitude.

With all this in mind, are we humbling ourselves with our women? Whether it be our mom, or wife, or sister, or girlfriend, or fellow Christian or even those ladies we come into contact with our eyes…are we elevating God in our life and therefore humbling ourselves so that we can serve? There are a lot of snares Satan lays before us to keep us from this way of living. What might that look like?

Do we find the “needs” of the very person who has nurtured us through life inconvenient or bothersome? Do we keep lists or wrongs or do we keep lists of “all we have done” and think in our hearts “why can’t they do as good as I am?” Do we find those special quirks that are part of a special being God created annoying and avoid rather than celebrate? Are we “bossing” more than “leading” or “serving”? Do we allow our lust to color our view of women so that we miss the most important part…their souls? Are we more interested in being served, or entertained, or pleased than we are in filling ourselves with the humility of God demonstrated in Jesus so much so that we can’t help but let it pour out to those precious ladies God has blessed us with or has put in our way for one reason or another?

I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have all this figured out? Even when I am doing my best, the snares Satan has laid before me are still there and if I lose focus, get tired, get annoyed, etc…that is when I step into one and it is a scary thing to be trapped by my own selfishness. In order to avoid this, my only hope is in Jesus. I need to abide in Him…fill my heart with His love and word, allow His Spirit to guide me while I continually commit myself to a heavenly perspective so that I can be a blessing today. God is both our Creator and Redeemer! Our existence…our righteousness…our ability to humbly serve the ladies in our lives is completely dependent on Him! (John 15:5; Acts 17:28; Ephesians 2:8-10).

Take some time and meditate on this today. Boldly go before your Father and ask Him to humble your heart and strengthen your service towards the women in your life. Be a blessing because you are blessed…and I am blessed in you. Lead on brothers!  Serve well!

The GOD of the Towel

By the time you get to reading this, the week will be already started and the pressures of time and responsibility will have started to push against you.  Thank you for taking time to consider these thoughts as we work in “Drawing Closer to God”.  To do so, I am thinking back to a sermon I have heard Brother Cicero deliver both to the general assembly and as part of a the first men’s leadership study I ever attended.  The sermon and lesson is titled “The GOD of the Towel” and provides great thoughts for us to consider as we reflect on our God, on ourselves and how we need to and can draw closer to Him through His Son Jesus.  The word to keep in mind as we do so and throughout our discussions this week is “humility”.  We are called to be servant leaders in our spiritual lives, in our homes, in the Body, at work, and as we interact with those in the world.  There is no greater example of a servant leader than that of Jesus and we read about it very clearly in John 13: 1-17.  I encourage you to take some time and look over these verses and I will reference them as I go.

In this passage of scripture, we have Jesus humbling Himself and washing the feet of the apostles as they are gathered together in the upper room, leaning around a U-shaped table and preparing for the feast.  What is an interesting amplification of the significance of what Jesus is about to do is what is on the minds of the 12.  Jesus, God in the Flesh, is about to wash their feet and the 12 are thinking about who will get to sit in the chief seats…further one of them, Judas, is thinking of betrayal.  Take a minute and apply that to your life.  As God works mightily in your life…do you find yourself self-centered or faced with the strong luring of a specific sin?  We all struggle and are not much different than the apostles in this situation from time to time…and it is no secret to God.  With the apostles (as with us)…Jesus knows all this, but still He proceeds and in what He accomplishes is the beginnings of the much need explanation of the bigger picture…of who Jesus IS and why Jesus is HERE.

So take time today and read these verses over and meditate on them with this thought in mind…Our God is a servant and He is working and preparing our hearts for service.  Reflect on your life and consider how He is accomplishing this.  Conider whether or not you are opening your heart to this transformation.  If you aren’t or are struggling, what is getting in the way?  Finally, consider how you might be a servant leader in all aspects of your life, with the responsibilities God has given you and the talents/abilities He has blessed you with.  Think on these things and let’s use this lens tomorrow and consider the women in our lives.  Lead on brother…and serve!

 John 13:1-17; NKJV

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.  2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”  8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”  Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”  10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”  12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Please, let us make a small upper room

And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” (2 Kings 4:9-10)

For today’s MDB, I want to go back to the verses we considered yesterday as we reflected upon the character of the Shunammite woman. This woman demonstrated great humility and contentment, and the Lord rewarded her for it. But for today, I want to consider her husband. Read the above verses and think about the relationship of a husband and a wife. Think about the fact that she could come to her husband with a request, that he listened to her, and he actively supported what she wanted to do.

He was approachable. There are men like Nabal (1 Samuel 25) that were not approachable, but not the husband of this Shunammite woman. They had the kind of marriage where she knew she could come to him with such a request.

He listened to her request. The man could have dismissed her, cut her off, told her her idea was silly or you fill in the blanks. That’s not what happened. They were a team in this marriage, a partnership. He considered her viewpoint, he took time to think about what she was asking. The husband listened to her dreams/visions/plans.

He supported her in what she wanted to do for the Lord. “Let us make…” implies that she wanted him to be a part of this project, too. She didn’t say, “Let me make.” They were a team. It wasn’t, this is “your thing” or “your project,” he was involved also. But to support our wives means more than just writing a check. We need to be emotionally and verbally supportive as well. If he rode her the whole way through the project reminding her of how much it costs and how much of a hassle it is, then that is not supportive, is it? Think about it, she asked her husband to take on a building/remodeling project for a man who would only occasionally come by. I’m sure he could have fired off several practical reasons as to why that wasn’t a good idea, but that’s not what he did. He supported her. That’s what we as husbands need to do, too.

This couple is like the Priscilla and Aquila of the New Testament church (Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19), who showed great hospitality and sacrifice for the church. They were a team and a partnership working for Jesus, and as husbands that requires that we have the kind of heart like his husband of the Shunammite woman. The heart to be approachable, to listen and to fully support our wives.

Some are givers, some are takers

Some are givers, some are takers…which one defines us? The passage we are going to look at today showed two very different agendas. The Jewish leadership was at the temple to take (steal, really). They had turned God’s house into a den of thieves, according to Jesus.

That day, Jesus restored the temple back to its original purpose. He drove out the corrupt money changers, and He began healing the blind and the lame. Children were running around praising Him as the Messiah. Because of Jesus, the temple once again became a place of healing, a safe place for the broken, and a haven of praise.

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ‘DEN OF THIEVES.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND NURSING INFANTS YOU HAVE PERFECTED PRAISE’?”(Matthew 21:12-16).

Some Are Givers, Some are Takers

Because Jesus came to serve, the blind and the lame found a welcome place in the temple. When our attitudes at the church building are all “me-oriented,” then the broken will not come to us. We wouldn’t even notice it anyways, because if we are “me-oriented,” the broken can offer us nothing.

So, when we go to worship services this Sunday, what is our agenda? Do we view it like a movie theater, we pay some money, sit down and are entertained and then go our way? Is my expectation for a perfect service, flawless music, awesome sermon, and for everyone to treat me perfectly? Are we full of ideas and critical of how the doers are doing things? If so, that’s a taker’s attitude.

Or do we see this as an opportunity to serve and to help heal? Do we come with our sleeves rolled up and ready to offer our assistance? Are we on the search for the brokenhearted? Do you look for new faces? What about taking a young college student or a struggling mom out to lunch? Take note of that widow who faithfully comes every time the doors are open, but doesn’t say much. Build a relationship with that dear elderly brother or sister. Notice that preteen who comes with her grandparents that may seem a little distant. Try to create conversation and show her you genuinely care.

Jesus came to serve, the other Jewish leaders came to take. Let’s decide to follow Jesus’ example.