Your Banquet Invite

Luke 14

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

As life grows busier by the day, holidays grow nearer, preparations for travel are made, deadlines for school are due, or you find yourself putting in those time and a half hours at work, it is so easy to become all consumed in your own day to day life. The same was true in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 14, The Parable of The Great Banquet. As Jesus gathered around the table with the Pharisees and experts in the law, he spoke to them on humbling themselves and serving in the here and now, even when they are giving all and receiving none. He says that their payment will be paid at the resurrection of the righteous. At the mention of the resurrection, one man calls out, blessed is the one who will eat at the feast at the Kingdom of God. Jesus replies with a parable, explaining that a great feast has been prepared for many guests. When word spread that the feast had come, and that it was time to join, many of the guests were found to be caught up in their own world and did not attend with urgency. Excuses were made and the banquet was pushed off. “I just bought a field that I must go and see.” “I bought five yokes of oxen, I must go try them out.” “I just got married, I can’t come.” As a result, each of these guests lost their place in the banquet as they were not ready, not prepared, and were not willing to attend at the call of the host. 

This parable serves as a wake up call to many as it is important to work hard each day and do your best with what has been bestowed upon you, however this life is temporary and our focus should always be on what is yet to come. In the meantime, we need to make sure that we are pursuing our faith, building a relationship with our heavenly father, and implementing spiritual disciplines daily so that when the banquet, otherwise known as the Kingdom of God draws nearer, our hearts will be prepared and our focus will be set on the right priorities. 

As we enter into a busy holiday season, may we be present in the why. Why we celebrate, why we serve, why intentionality matters. Let’s not be a people who become so caught up in each day that we do not humble ourselves before the Lord and serve His great name, no matter the cost. 

Luke 14:11 

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

– Kayla Elwell

Reflection Questions

  1. What does it mean to you that the invitation to the banquet in the Kingdom of God has been extended to everyone in the roads and country side? Who had been included in the original invitation – did it include you?
  2. What excuses have you used when you were neglecting the most important things of God?

Make Every Effort

Luke 13

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” 

In thinking about one’s faith, how easy is it to get caught up in the motions of religion. “I go to church every week, I attend Sunday school, I make food for the potlucks, I give an occasional offering, I went to church camp as a child, etc…when the kingdom comes, surely I will be known and in relationship with the Lord.” 

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13‬:‭25‬-‭27‬ 

“Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’”

Thinking about where your heart is and what kind of faith you have takes courage, honesty, and oftentimes real change within our daily habits. 

Today is a perfect day to renew or strengthen your relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ. This looks different for all in many ways. When I picture a narrow door, I think of a door that not many choose to enter through. This “door” may not be the popular choice, the easy choice, or the fun choice. However, choosing to live a life that is pleasing to God is more rewarding than any earthly desire or temporary pleasure. I encourage you to take a moment today and consider one tangible way that you could get to know God on a deeper level this week. This may be through prayer, worship through song, spending time in nature, reading your Bible, serving others, etc. 

May we be a people who stand outside the door and are fully known as our hearts align to God through his son Jesus Christ. 

-Kayla Elwell

Reflection Questions

  1. Choose at least one way you could get to know God on a deeper level this week? When will you do it? Where? How? Why?
  2. How does “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door” work with Ephesians 2:8&9. Do you think Jesus would say that there are some people who rely too much on their works? Do you think Jesus would say there are some people who rely too much on God’s grace? How do you keep from being in either camp?

Store Your Treasures

Luke 12

Monday, December 19, 2022

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? Why are you here? What am I suppose to accomplish in this lifetime? 

I think it’s pretty simple yet we make it so complicated sometimes, or at least I do. 

Luke 12:22-23

Do Not Be Anxious

[22] And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. [23] For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

I am blessed because I rarely worry about what I am going to eat or what I am going to wear. If Jesus is telling his disciples not to worry about their essential needs, I highly doubt I should be worried about what others may think concerning the kind of car I drive, the shoes I wear, the house I live in, or even if I’m going to have enough money saved so I retire in 30 years, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is value in planning ahead and being wise with your money, but if you do it at the expense of being less generous, spending less time with family and friends, and most importantly getting so consumed that you forget about your relationship with God. It’s all in vain and meaningless. 

Luke 12:31

[31] Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

This sums up how we ought to live and where our priorities should lie. Seeking the Kingdom isn’t always the easiest decision in the moment, but it is always the best decision. Seeking the kingdom isn’t always the best financial decision in the moment, but it’s always the best financial choice in the end. Seeking the kingdom won’t always give you everything you think you need and want now, but it will give you everything you thought you wanted and needed and so much more when the Kingdom is revealed. 

I challenge you and myself to see how we can make a real difference for the coming kingdom now, and how we can store up treasure in heaven where no thief can steal and no moth can destroy! 

Luke 12:33-34

[33] Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. [34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

-Luke Elwell

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there a time when you where anxious about something? How else could you have reacted?
  2. What are some ways to seek the Kingdom? How will you personally seek the Kingdom today?

Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11

Sunday, December 18, 2022

In Luke 11 the disciples ask Jesus how to pray and he gives them the Lord’s prayer, which you probably heard before.

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins,   for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

There are several parts of this prayer that are important and that I think we sometimes miss.  First he praises God and asks for the kingdom to come.  I think it is important to start our prayers by focusing on God, because he deserves the respect and it helps to remind us that he is more important and greater than our problems.  Then it is important to remind ourselves that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and that we need to forgive others as well.  Also, when praying for ourselves we need to keep it simple, by only asking for the basics of our physical needs and for God to guide us spiritually.

Then later he goes on.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

God is very good at giving gifts, and he is not looking to hide himself from us.  If you need something then ask for it.  If you need more wisdom or patience to deal with an issue in your life, then ask God for it, and keep on asking God for it. Just make sure to check your motives as it says in James 4:3.  If you are asking for your own selfish reasons then you may need to rethink your request.  But if you are asking for something for the reason of helping to further the kingdom and the gospel then God is excited to give to his children.

-Chris Mattison

(Originally posted here December 14, 2017)

Reflection Questions

  1. Who has taught you how to pray? What have you learned about prayer? What do you think you could still learn about prayer?
  2. In what areas can your prayer life use another lesson from Jesus?
  3. Are there any sections/topics of Jesus’ short sample prayer in Luke 11:2-4 that you do not often include in your prayers? How could you remember these things better while praying?


Luke 10

Saturday, December 17, 2022

I think that Martha gets a bit of a bad rap. Today she might even be what we call a “Karen.” It’s easy to read this last little portion of Luke 10 and think, “Well, better not be her,” and move on. But the thing is, most of us do have a little bit of Martha in us. We all have tasks that need accomplishing, people to take care of, and work to do. And all these things, while completely worthy of our time and dedication, can all too easily become a distraction from a relationship with Christ.

I don’t know about you, but different days I find myself relating to different sisters from this story. Fortunately for us, either way works out, because you either have the affirmation to keep being a Mary, or a gentle nudge that you’re being too Martha. Jesus broke cultural expectations in this story, encouraging his followers to stop and be present, rather than allowing work and responsibilities, however noble, to be a distraction from what really matters. The Bible tells us that we are to be anxious for nothing.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Even when our anxieties are totally justified, we are not to become anxious, but instead find rest in God’s overwhelming peace. He is here for us, always, all we need to do is be with Him.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions

  1. Is your approach to a relationship with God and His son more like Mary’s, or Martha’s?
  2. Do you ever find yourself getting so caught up in working for Christ that you forget to just be with him?
  3. On days when you feel yourself drowning in work and overwhelmed with tasks, what can you do to remind yourself to pause, and refocus your day on God? How can you do this during the Christmas season?

Take It Up Daily

Luke 9

Friday, December 17, 2022

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:23-26

What does the cross mean to you? Today, it is often seen around us as a symbol of Christianity, a beacon of hope, and a reminder of God’s love. Sometimes in our culture, it is even used in fashion and design outside the church for its aesthetic appeal. It’s “cool.”

But in ancient times, under the Roman Empire, it was feared. The cross was a means of torture and death. To hear their Lord say, “Take up your cross daily” was a terrifying concept. Early Christians died for the cross; for what it meant. Sometimes they even took up their cross literally. They denied themselves at all costs to take up their cross and be a true disciple.

To take up your cross is the noblest thing you can do. Jesus was a cross-bearer, leading the way for all who wish to follow him. He took up the ultimate cross, and denied himself in the ultimate way, giving up his entire life for a world of undeserving people. Following in his footsteps doesn’t mean giving oneself up for crucifixion, but being willing to deny your own wants and desires and follow God’s calling for your life daily, no matter what that is.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions:

  1. What cross are you being called to bear? Will you make the decision to answer that call today?
  2. Even if you are in a season of unknowns, what is the universal cross we are all called to bear?
  3. Bearing a cross, while unimaginably fulfilling, can definitely come with difficulty and be a huge burden. In what ways can you find joy in taking up your cross, even when the endeavor you’ve been charged with is a challenging one?


Luke 8

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The words we see Jesus speaking in the Bible aren’t simply a set of rules for a better life on this earth. They are an invitation to accept adoption into the family of God. We see him referring to this family and clearly opening its doors to us in Luke 8:21.

“Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” ’ – Luke 8:19-21

Under the New Covenant, Christ opened up who a relationship with the God of Abraham is available to. To be part of the Family of God is no longer simply to be a Jew; it is free to be accepted by both Jew and Gentile. In this text Jesus is not dissing his earthly mother in any way, in contrast, his words flow from a place that embraces all and desires every person to take part in the family of God. At the time, the disciples assumed that Jesus would put his own family in a higher position than all the other people to whom he had no obligation. But in the following verse, he reveals that every human being can become a member of his family. Closeness to Jesus depends only upon “hearing the word and doing it.”

Those who hear the word of God and do it are disciples; disciples are followers of Christ; followers of Christ are Christians. Christianity is not something you must be – or even can be – born into. Even if one is born into a Christian family, to become a part of the family of God is something different. It’s a choice to be part of something bigger than yourself and this life. To become a true Christian is to embrace your identity as a child of God and follower of Christ. It does not require a specific gene or to be part of a familial bloodline. It does not require
anything, in fact, other than total commitment to the Gospel and a relationship with God.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you think that a relationship with our heavenly Father requires effort and nurturing, in the same way that your relationship with your mother, brother, or sister requires nurturing to grow and thrive?
  2. What must you do to accept a place in the family of God? Once accepted, what steps can be taken in order to keep your faith and relationship with God growing stronger and stronger? What about to strengthen your relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ?
  3. What might “hearing the word and doing it” entail? How will you make the conscious, deliberate decision to “hear the word and do it” as we approach a new year?

Amazing Faith

Luke 7

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

There are few instances recorded in the Bible that describe Jesus being amazed, but one of them is found in Luke 7. When Jesus came into Capernaum, word spread, and when a Roman centurion heard that the Messiah was in town, he didn’t hesitate to send help for his sick servant. Those who were sent attempted to persuade Jesus to come by attesting to the centurion’s worthiness, confirming that he loves their nation, and even built the synagogue. But that’s not why Jesus went with them. He went with them because he was astounded by the man’s faith; faith even greater than he had witnessed in his own people. He was astounded by the amount of compassion and love in the man’s heart. On his way to the centurion’s home, he received another message, this time the centurion was declaring his unworthiness to be within Christ’s vicinity, asking only for a simple word of healing. In doing so, he further displayed immense humility as well as abounding faith.

This soldier showed more awareness of Christ’s purpose and authority on earth than even the Jews. His level of faith is what we should strive for as followers of Christ, a humble and simple faith that doesn’t waver, a faith that even the Messiah can’t help but be impressed by. A faith that acknowledges Christ’s sovereignty in every situation, whether or not a request is fulfilled. Knowing in every scenario that we serve a God who is fully capable of supernatural, miraculous phenomenons, but that He is also good no matter how He answers our prayers and requests. Let us pray today that God instills within us a faith as deep and true as the faith modeled by the centurion over 2,000 years ago, and thank Him that we have so many examples of immense faith to reflect on and live by recorded in His Word.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions:

  1. Where do you find yourself sometimes initially looking for worthiness in the world?
  2. How do we know that God sees us as worthy, despite how much distance there is between us and Him?
  3. In what ways does the story of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant apply to your own life?
  4. How can you make it your first instinct to turn to God when facing difficult circumstances?

Even Your Enemies

Luke 6

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Luke 6 is an instruction manual for Christ-followers; if you desire to live for him, these scriptures lay out how to do it. However, a lot of his words of guidance completely contradict what our instincts tell us, and what the world around us accepts as the norm.

We’ve all heard it many times before: love your enemies. Three words so commonly spoken within the church, but rarely fully absorbed. By habit, we show abounding love and affection towards the people in our lives who are close, and easy to love; to our family, our friends, the people we “click” with. But when it comes to the people we face who are difficult to even be around, how do you know how to begin showing them love in the same way we show love to those with whom it comes naturally? It often goes against every fiber of our being. But that’s the world in us, not God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

As children of God, we live in this world, but we are not of it. To step out of the patterns of the world and into the lifestyle described in the Bible is to free yourself from the enslavement of sin. Because we are in such close proximity to ideas and actions that contradict God’s will for us, it’s so easy to fall into the trap that pulls us farther away from God. But we are not of the world, we
are of God, and our God is a God of love; He is the very definition of Love. To embody true, pure, godly love is to love all people, and to show it in your actions, in how you speak, and in everything you do. God’s love knows no bounds, it is limitless. It seeps into every space that allows room for it, and fights to get into every space that is full, flowing endlessly in every direction. It’s a love that isn’t “fair,” it isn’t earned. It isn’t exclusive, and it never runs out.

This is the love that we are to allow into our lives, the deepest form of love that cannot be found anywhere outside of God. And when we have that love in our lives, we are to show it to everyone around us, no matter who they are, whether friend or foe. It’s a light that doesn’t go out and never stops shining. By this love, Christ lives in us.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions

  1. What does Luke 6:35 mean to you? Does it fill you with hope and enthusiasm?
  2. How can you show God’s love to those you don’t normally feel obligated to show love to?
  3. What are some differences in how “even sinners” love (Luke 32-34), versus how we (as sinners, but also followers of Christ), are to love?

Look Inside

Luke 5

Monday, December 13, 2022

Looking outward rather than inward is a common tendency among mankind. I cannot stress the importance of making the decision to accept our downfalls and repent instead of continuing on in a faux form of oblivious happiness. It’s difficult in our fast-paced, always moving lives to make enough time to stop and reflect on some of the crucial lessons given to us on this topic throughout Jesus’ ministry, and Luke 5 has so many of them.

In verses 1-11 we see Jesus go before Simon Peter and his fishers who had no luck with catching fish all night. Jesus commands them to cast their nets again and a miracle occurs where every net is filled so heavy the boats began to sink. While this is an extraordinary story and example of Jesus’s ability to perform miracles and convert crowds, there’s a powerful underlying message within the conversation between Simon Peter and Jesus. When Simon sees the miracle, his first reaction wasn’t to shout in joy or surprise at the amount of fish he was just blessed with. It was to repent. Simon Peter acknowledged at that moment the truth of God and the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, and found himself unworthy. Jesus, however, does not judge or criticize Simon Peter, but instead gives him a purpose and a promise; the promise of the kingdom as long as he followed him and made fishers of men. Many times we come to expect blessings from God without realizing the greatest reward is already promised. In the same way, Simon Peter understood how he was not worthy of the miracle granted to him, and repented.

We too must come to understand the price of our sins and how we are unworthy of God’s grace. Without repentance of our sins, we can never truly come to accept why we’re unworthy of this reward, and why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, forming a New Covenant under which all our sins are freely forgiven. So in all that we do, repent and show thanks to God for the sacrifice of Jesus and the promise bestowed upon us.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions

  1. What can you learn from Peter in Luke 5:1-11? What can you learn from Jesus in this passage? Which message did you most need to hear today?
  2. What do you see when you look inward? How does it make you feel? What does it make you want to do? Pray about it?
  3. What purpose and promise do you think Jesus sets before you?
%d bloggers like this: