Hungry for Greatness

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Someone once told me that what they wanted most in life was to be seen and acknowledged for who they were. We can describe that desire as a hunger for greatness or, at least, a desire to be necessary. We all want someone to see who we are and what we have to offer. That hunger for greatness can be appropriate, such as our longing for someone to recognize the uniqueness of how God has made us (Psalm 139:13-14) and also the unique talents and abilities God has placed within our lives (Romans 12:4-8).

However, there are times when our hunger for greatness expands beyond what is appropriate. John Milton, in Paradise Lost, describes Satan’s great sin as “Monarchal pride,” signaled by his belief that it is “better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” The way of Jesus the Messiah is unlike this. He taught differently – “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27) – and He lived differently – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

The same sort of pride seen in Satan can infuse our human longings for great- ness. This is why Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Rome: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). Jesus Himself reminds us that we live in a world where hungers are often turned upside down. But in His Kingdom up is down and down is up: “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).

James the Apostle comments on this theme: “Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:6-8). Throughout this week in the devotional, we will explore what it means to have an appropriate hunger for greatness that does not expand into pride.

RESPOND THIS WEEK:
Each week’s practice will feature some aspect of the process Paul describes for us in Ephesians 4:22-24, where we are to TAKE OFF something from our lives that has become corrupted or distracting and PUT ON in its place something God wants us to do.

Take Off:Take note this week of the ways that you tend to seek attention or turn conversations with others back toward yourself. How many times do you interject or interrupt others with stories of how what they are sharing relates to you? When you dress in the morning, how much of what you wear is intentionally chosen so that you will be noticed? Use the space below to take note of your experience this week.

Put On: Find ways each day this week to celebrate and build up someone else in your life. Write them a note, throw them a party, brag about them on Facebook, etc. At the end of each day, thank God for specific people and how they have blessed you that day.

[This a devotional I wrote with Jim Caler as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]

Transfigured (discussion questions)

jesus-on-the-move-series-gfx_app-squareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Transfigured,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is part of our series, “Jesus on the Move.” The text for this week are from Luke 9:28-36.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you experienced real jaw-dropping awe in your life? What happened or where were you?
  2. We continue the series “Jesus on the Move” this week by looking at Luke 9:28-36. Before you begin this study, ask God to speak to you from His Word, and then read the text aloud.
  3. This story occurs after many miracles, as well as Peter’s declaration that Jesus is God’s Messiah (9:20) and Jesus’ prediction of His death and resurrection (9:21-27). Like many other pivotal events, this episode arises in the context of prayer. Why do you think that is important?
  4. Jesus’ physical transformation seems to be a ‘sneak preview’ of the glory of God found in Him. Moses and Elijah stand nearby and talk with Jesus. Read Deuteronomy 18:14-21 and Malachi 4:5-6. What would you say is the significance of Moses and Elijah’s presence here?
  5. Peter, John and James are startled to attention by this amazing sight. Peter wants to build booths, which may refer to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-44; Deuteronomy 16:13-17). Why do you think Peter says this?
  6. The appearance of a cloud over this glorious gathering is reminiscent of the glory of God covering His people in a cloud (Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14). What does the voice from the cloud tell us about who Jesus is; even who Jesus is compared to Moses and Elijah?
  7. Habakkuk 2:20 says, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Take some time in stillness and silence to reflect on the glory of the Lord.
  8. What is one thing that God is speaking to you personally through this study? If you’re on your own, take some time to write it down and share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, share it with one another.

  


Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we are arranging a weekday reading plan through this entire series with the Gospel of Luke. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Follow along with the reading plan below, through the Eastbrook app, or on social media.

Feb. 20           Luke 9:28-36
Feb. 21           Matthew 17:1-13; Matthew 3:1-3
Feb. 22           Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew 3:16-17
Feb. 23           Mark 9:2-13
Feb. 24           Acts 2:22-23; Deuteronomy 18:15, 18

Transfigured

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This weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series, “Jesus on the Move,” with a messaged entitled, “Transfigured” from Luke 9:28-36. This event conveys both the beautiful and dangerous glory of Jesus’ true nature as fully God and fully man. The silence of the disciples at the end of it all echoes our own call to silence before the only awesome God in Jesus Christ. As the prophet Habakkuk writes:

The Lord is in His holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the weekday reading plan for this series here.

The Glorious Unveiling (Luke 9:28-31)

Jesus’ glory

Jesus’ companions

Jesus’ exodus

 

The Glorious Overwhelming (Luke 9:32-33)

Shocked awake

Peter’s desire to build shelters

 

The Glorious Voice (Luke 9:34-35)

The cloud

The voice

 

The Glorious Silence (Luke 9:36; Habakkuk 2:20)

The awe-filled silence

The untold story

 

Messiah (discussion questions)

jesus-on-the-move-series-gfx_app-squareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Messiah,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is part of our series, “Jesus on the Move.” The text for this week are from Luke 9:18-21.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do people in society at large or in your relational sphere say about Jesus?
  2. We continue the series “Jesus on the Move” this week by looking at three brief but incredibly important verses. Before you begin this study, ask God to speak to you from His Word, and then read Luke 9:18-20 aloud.
  3. Background: This brief passage is one of the most significant moments in Jesus’ self-revelation and the disciples’ grasp of His identity. It comes after much teaching (6:17-49), many miracles (8:22-56; 9:10-17) and the sending out of the Twelve apostles (9:1-6), but before the transfiguration (9:28-36).
  4. This episode happens in the context of prayer. Why do you think that is important? Where else do you see prayer as important in Jesus’ ministry and life in Luke?
  5. Jesus asks His disciples who the crowds say that He is (9:18)? What sort of answers do they give (9:19)? Look at Luke 8:25 and 9:7-9 for background on the thinking of the crowd.
  6. Next, Jesus asks the disciples about their own view of Him (9:20). What do you think Jesus’ intention was in turning this question from the crowds to the disciples?
  7. Peter responds that Jesus is “God’s Messiah” (NIV) or “the Christ of God” (ESV) [the word christos is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word messiah]. What is significant about this response from Peter?
  8. If Jesus asked you the question, “who do you say that I am?” how would you respond?
  9. What is one thing that God is speaking to you personally through this study? If you’re on your own, take some time to write it down and share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, share it with one another.

  


Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we are arranging a weekday reading plan through this entire series with the Gospel of Luke. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Follow along with the reading plan below, through the Eastbrook app, or on social media.

Feb. 13           Luke 9:10-17; John 6:14-15
Feb. 14           John 6:25-40
Feb. 15           Luke 9:18-22; Matthew 16:13-20
Feb. 16           Luke 9:23-27; Mark 8:31-9:1
Feb. 17           2 Timothy 2:3-13

Messiah

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What do we see when we see Jesus?

This is the question at the center of my message, “Messiah,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church.  This was part of our series, “Jesus on the Move,” where we have been looking at the ministry of Jesus in northern Israel in the first half of the Gospel of Luke. Unlike other weeks where we combined several passages together around themes, this message focused on three verses in Luke 9:18-21.

You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the weekday reading plan for this series here.

Seeing Jesus through the Eyes of the Crowds (Luke 9:18-19)

Jesus the Prophet:

  • like John the Baptist
  • like Elijah
  • like a prophet of long ago

The distance between Jesus and the view of the crowds

 

Seeing Jesus through the Eyes of the Disciples (Luke 9:20)

Jesus the Messiah of God

  • like Moses
  • like David
  • like other revolutionaries

The distance between Jesus and the view of the disciples

 

Seeing Jesus through Our Own Eyes

 

Compassion (discussion questions)

jesus-on-the-move-series-gfx_app-squareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Compassion,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is part of our series, “Jesus on the Move.” The text for this week are from Luke 8:40-56 and 9:37-43.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you experience compassion from someone directly or observe it in someone else?
  2. We continue the series “Jesus on the Move” by looking at three stories from Luke 8 and 9. Before you begin this study, ask God to speak to you from His Word. Then, whether you are alone or with a group, read Luke 8:40-56 and 9:37-43 aloud.
  3. In these three stories, Jesus encounters three different types of people and situations. Take a moment to compare and contrast the three different groups of people he is spending time with: who are they?; what is their predicament?; why do they seek out Jesus?; what else do you notice?
  4. Jesus’ first encounter is interrupted by the second encounter with a woman suffering from a bleeding problem (8:43-48). What do you find most surprising about this story? What do you notice most about how Jesus responds to this woman and her difficulties?
  5. The delay with this woman apparently keeps Jesus from reaching his destination in Jairus’ daughter (8:49). What does Jesus do in response to this news? What is different about Jesus from everyone else here?
  6. Have you ever had a time when you felt afraid to approach Jesus like the woman or like Jesus didn’t show up on time as with Jairus’ daughter? What happened?
  7. The third story takes place immediately after the transfiguration, where Jesus’ glory is revealed. What is notable about Jesus’ response to this situation in contrast with His disciples’ response?
  8. What is one thing that God is speaking to you personally through this study? If you’re on your own, take some time to write it down and share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, share it with one another.

  


Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we are arranging a weekday reading plan through this entire series with the Gospel of Luke. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Follow along with the reading plan below, through the Eastbrook app, or on social media.

Jan. 30          Luke 8:40-48; Mark 5:21-34
Jan. 31           Luke 8:49-56; Mark 5:35-43
Feb. 1             Luke 9:37-43
Feb. 2             Mark 1:40-44
Feb. 3             John 3:16; 1 John 5:1-11

Compassion

jesus-on-the-move-series-gfx_app-wide

This weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series, “Jesus on the Move,” with a messaged entitled, “Compassion” from Luke 8:40-56 and 9:37-43. These three stories from two chapters in Luke show us the wonder-working power of Jesus, but that wasn’t the focus of my message. Instead, I called us to step back and see the compassionate love of God wrapped all through and around Jesus’ interactions with people.

You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the weekday reading plan for this series here.

Compassion that Stops (Luke 8:40-48)

Unclean

Touching Jesus

Trembling turned to peace

 

Compassion that Goes (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56)

Broken

Pursuing and welcoming Jesus

Grieving turned to joy

 

Compassion that Comes Down (Luke 9:37-43)

Troubled

Asking and approaching Jesus

Unbelief overcome with deliverance