Summary: Learn how to live a more effective Christian life by learning what the Lord wants from us and how to have the right attitude as a disciple.
What’s one of the first things that a person asks when they come to Jesus Christ? What do I do now? How is life in Jesus different from life in the world? What does the seasoned believer ask continually: how can I live my life in a way that glorifies God continually? I think the answer to those questions can be found in Luke 17. Though it might appear as a bunch of separate stories, I think Luke is weaving for us a picture of discipleship, how to grow and mature in our relationship with our risen Savior.
Here is the statement about discipleship I see in this chapter: "Encourage spiritual growth, not sin. Extend forgiveness, have simple trust, and the heart of a servant, extend the kingdom invitation to all who have faith, and live in expectation of His return at any time, realizing that His kingdom exists now in the hearts of believers and will soon exist physically in the world."
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Our behavior matters. You may have heard me say a number of times that we can’t make ourselves holy on our own-that’s legalism. The goal is to become like God-free from sin and reflecting His character at all times. Sin (the word means "stumbling block" but may come from "trap stick" like a bird trap) is anything that keeps you from reflecting the character of God.
God recognizes that we are in process, and that while still in the flesh there is a battle going on inside of us. Temptations will come our way to do, think, and say things that are not in concert with God’s character. But there are two things that Jesus brings up here that are key in those situations.
The first is that you should make sure you are never the source of the temptation. The word "cause" is a Greek word for causing a hindrance that causes someone to fall into sin. How does that happen? Of course there is the obvious-that is a person who you trust literally tempts you to sin. I have seen this happen even with Christian leaders who have tempted some in their flocks to do things that are of a sexually immoral nature. Don’t stand too close to those people in a thunder and lightning storm.
God takes a dim view of people who directly lead others into sin. But it can also happen sort of indirectly. If you teach something that is contrary to God’s Word, but claim it is from God, and someone acts on that knowledge, it is the same thing in my opinion, as leading someone into sin.
A millstone was a large stone piece of basalt that was placed on the ground. The upper millstone was placed on top and a donkey or old horse would pull it around in a circle as grains of wheat dropped between the stones. A small one could weigh 400 pounds. With one of those tied around your neck you would have no hope of ever surviving a drop in the sea.
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Faith - being convinced of something based on evidence. We want to do big things so we think we need to drum up big confidence. But what we really need is big trust that God can perform it through us, and not we ourselves.
The key is John 14:12-14
John 14:12-14 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. NIV