29 May 2011

Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

  A few things to note … First, Joseph and Mary were willing and did follow the direction the government put over them gave.  Having to travel like they did with Mary pregnant was no doubt a hassle and not easily accomplished.  We should follow the laws and decrees of the government put above us when they are not contrary to what the Lord directs us to do.  A census is not against what the Lord has directed us.  If our government ordered us to not pray, that would be against what we are directed to do.  Disobeying the government at that point is not bad.

  Second, when Christ was born the Lord did not have all the pomp and circumstance that most would think.  The people of that day did not take notice, but the Lord went to those who were seen with little importance.  The shepherds left their flock and wanted to see this Messiah that has come.  The people surely did not believe these shepherds when they spoke of what they had seen concerning the child.  The Lord uses what seems foolish to the world to shame the wise, 1 Cor 1:27. 

  Lastly, we should certainly note that the Lord does not need us.  He has given us life because of His grace.  His Word will live when we do not.  He will reign when we are gone.  If we accept His gift of salvation, we will live forever to Glorify Him, not us.  The Lord saw it fit to have the Messiah glorified upon His birth.  The Lord sent His angels to the shepherds whom He knew would believe.  Praise God for maintaining His Word and glorifying Himself.  It is not up to us, but up to Him. 

24 May 2011

Luke 1:67-80

  67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

  First of all … WOW!  What a prophesy about his son, John.  Zechariah recognizes that God the Father has kept His promise of The Messiah to save His people.  What a blessing event this had to be.  Imagine this: you are taught of the coming of the Messiah your entire life.  For generations He has been talked about, promised, and anticipated.  Now is the day when the Lord has given the one to make way the path of the Messiah.  It is here.  Generations have longed for this … and it is here!  It sounds a lot like what we are waiting for in the second coming.  For 2000 years we have been waiting for the Lord to come again.  He is coming!  Are we willing to put in the footwork that Christ wants us to while we wait?

  v.68 – v.70 show the praise that Zechariah is giving to God for the prophesies being fulfilled.  There are many prophesies in the Old Testament that show that God will send His Messiah to save His people.  Genesis 17 is where the promise to Abraham is made

  v.71 – v.75 show what the Lord is coming for.  He is coming to save His people.  He is coming so that we do not have to fear our enemies; for they are defeated!  God has shown mercy on us because we have accepted Him and what He has provided, a sacrifice worthy to take our sins.  We could never live up to that, only God could. 

  v.76 – v.79 show what this child, John, would be.  He would be a prophet before the Lord.  He would pave the way to point to Christ, and He did just that.  When people looked to him for answers he pointed straight to the Christ whom God had sent. 

  What a prophesy foretold by Zechariah.  He was a good man who was seeking to follow God with his life.  God blessed him to father John.  Zechariah in turn blessed God and did not seem to fear others around him, but was given strength to believe.

21 May 2011

Luke 1:57-66

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

  Sometimes we are given direction from the Lord that does not make sense to people.  Others, even though in our own church or friend circle will not understand.  They may even challenge this direction we are following.  This was the case with the child’s name.  Elizabeth and Zechariah were faithful and did not waiver on what the Lord had directed them to so.  What a wonderful example they have set for us! 

  This also brings up the thought of what we are doing with our lives.  Have we sought the direction of the Lord for our lives?  Do we pray for direction and wisdom when making decisions?  This can be a very daunting task when it comes to large decisions.  I am a very extreme person, so making a big decision is nerve wracking, but very defining for me.  For example, when I pray I talk to the Lord and tell Him what is in front of me.  “Lord, I have two paths I can take.  I feel you are leading me down path A.  If this is not where you would have me go, please slam that door shut so I know if You are in this or not.  I want your will for my life.”  There have been times after this prayer where I have had doors slammed shut; and, there have been times when the path has been made wide and easy to follow.  He will give us direction one way or another, the important thing is to seek His council and follow it once we receive an answer. 

  When we follow the Lord some people will not understand.  Look at the reaction that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors had when He began to praise and bless the Lord.  We fear what we do not know.  One of the reasons that the Lord does not seem to be present is a lack of faith.  These people did not ever expect God to have an impact in their lives; therefore, when He did do something they were afraid.  We are very much like this in the U.S.  We never expect to see the Lord work at all.  We expect to make our own fortune and luck.  The Lord moves the lot.  The Lord puts those in power whom He wants.  Why are we so surprised when the Lord works?  He is faithful and true.  If we are His people why do we not turn to Him?

  Lord praise you for the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth to follow Your direction for their son.

18 May 2011

Luke 1:46-56

  46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

  At this point Mary, a young virgin of no significance in the world before a few days (maybe a few weeks) prior, has been told by the Angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Messiah (v.32 and 33).  She has been told her relative Elizabeth is pregnant even though she is past the age of child bearing.  Mary has gone to Elizabeth and Elizabeth has praised Mary as being the “mother of my Lord.”  What a couple of weeks it has been for Mary.  This could be a frightening time, an uncertain time, a questioning time.  It could be a number of things.  But, to Mary, this was a time of Praise to the Lord as we see here.

  Mary begins by praising the Lord by showing the following …

    - Her spirit rejoices in God as her Savior
    - God blessed her and she was poor
    - She will be called blessed by men
    - God is mighty
    - Holy is His name
    - God shows mercy on those who fear Him
    - He has scattered the proud in their thoughts
    - He has brought down kings
    - He has lifted up the humble and poor
    - He has provided for the hungry
    - He has turned away the rich
    - He has fulfilled His promises to Israel

  It is amazing to see … this is Mary’s reaction to the news that she will father the Messiah.  Nothing about “look at me,” “look at me.”  It is about how great the Lord is for fulfilling His promises, providing for His people, and crushing those who think they know more about everything than the Lord does.  God is truly good.  What an example we can take from this.  Mary is in a very scary situation and time, yet she does not look to what man would do to her, but what God has done for her. 

17 May 2011

Luke 1:39-45

  39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

  What an awesome interaction between Mary and Elizabeth!  There are few things to note about the overall interaction.  First: It says that Mary arose and went with Haste to Elizabeth; this means Elizabeth did not know she was coming and in turn probably did not know of the vision that Mary had seen and heard of.  Yet, Elizabeth spoke to Mary as though she knew exactly what had taken place. 

  The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth.  This means that before Christ died on the cross, rose again, and ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was here at times to fill people and guide them how the Lord wanted them to go.  This means that those in the Old Testament who were not spoken to specifically by an Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Lord, or some other way, could have been filled by the Holy Spirit while He guided them to do as God the Father wanted.

  Another thing is that when Mary spoke it states “the baby leaped in her womb.”  This is significant for a couple reasons.  The Lord spoke to Elizabeth and Mary on separate occasions and mentioned what their children would be in life.  This means we are designed for a specific purpose.  Second, The child “leaped” while in the womb.  Holy Scripture states that this was a child … in the womb.  If anyone wants to try and justify abortion you have no case if you believe the Bible is Truth.  Abortion is flat murder of a child, period.  Scripture shows that here.  

  Mary's child would be Elizabeth's Lord as she states herself.  Also, Elizabeth shows what is to be praised in Mary, her belief of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.  It is not Mary to be praised, but her belief.  
  Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your Word and the lessons we can learn from it.  Thank you for your prophesy about the Messiah and His coming to this world for a sinner like me. 

13 May 2011

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

  Mary is a sore subject for a lot of people.  She is worshiped and prayed to in Catholic churches.  She is all but exiled in many non-catholic churches because of how the catholic churches see her.  Realistically we should look at her as God has called her, “Favored one.”  She is the favored one that the Lord chose to bear Jesus as her son.  What an honor that is for a young woman to be called that and chosen to be the mother of the Messiah!  We need to recognize that for sure; but, this should not go any further into worship or prayer to her.  That is idolatry in every sense of the word. 

    - He will be called Jesus
    - He will be called the Son of the Most High
    - He will receive the Throne of David
    - He will reign forever
    - His Kingdom will have no end
    - He will be called Holy – the Son of God

  These 6 things are what Gabriel states about the child that Mary is to conceive.  What an amazing thing for Mary to hear!  She wants to know how it will happen so Gabriel explains this to her.  She is also told that her relative Elizabeth will bear a child in her old age.  Her last reply is simply that she is a “servant of the Lord.”  What an amazing reaction to an amazingly scary thing.  Here is a young woman who is set to be married to Joseph (v.27) and yet is told she will have a child now.  That could not have been an easy thing to think about.  Yet through all of her thoughts and feelings she has two things to say: “How”; and, “I am the servant of the Lord.”  God does not always give us the how, but we should always respond as Mary did here. 

  The prophesies of Gabriel are astounding.  All of these things have come to pass …

    - He will be called Jesus

Mark 1:24 … A demon called Him “Jesus of Nazareth.” 

    - He will be called the Son of the Most High

Mark 5:7 … A demon calls Jesus the “Son of the Most High.”

    - He will receive the Throne of David

Luke 20:41-47 … Jesus asks the people how the Christ can be David’s son, when David calls Him Lord?  This is denoting that the Messiah would come from the line of David, and yet, He would reign as Lord on the Throne of David.

    - He will be called Holy – the Son of God

John 1:34 … John the Baptist states that he “has seen and borne witness that this [Jesus] is the Son of God.”

    - He will reign forever
    - His Kingdom will have no end

These two are speaking of the Kingdom of Christ that is to come and has come in many ways.  Jesus stepped down from the throne, became a man, and as a sinless man died for our sins that we may be with Him forever.  That is the Gospel.  That is the Good News that Christ has given to us.  The resurrection of Christ is the power.  If Jesus were to die and not be raised then there is no power in His death, it is in His resurrection.  Revelation 22:5 speaks of Christ regning forever Isaiah 9:7 speaks of His Kingdom having no end. 

  It is very clear that Gabriel, when speaking to Mary, is talking about her conceiving the Messiah, the Holy One of God, who will reign forever.  He is telling Mary that she will be the mother to the Son of God. 

08 May 2011

Luke 1:5-25

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
  Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were “righteous before God.”  This does not mean they were perfect or without sin, it simply means the Lord was pleased with this couple and how they lived and devoted their lives.  This being the case, Elizabeth not having children would have been a source of shame since it was considered a blessing from the Lord to have children.  See Psalm 127:4-5

  One of the most interesting things to be in the New Testament is the casting of lots.  It is such a foreign concept for those today in our society to leave things up to chance.  I mean, we are a logical society.  We can think things through.  We do not need to consult a lot for a decision right?  Perhaps we are looking at this wrong.  Maybe the Lord needs His hand in things?  I would think so!  Something to consider for sure.

  Zechariah went to make the offering of Incense as was the custom talked about in Exodus 30.  While in there, and Angel came to speak to Zechariah.  After speaking and promising things from the Lord to Zechariah, there was doubt in his mind.  Zechariah then questioned the angel as to how it is that the things he has said would happen with much doubt.  Look at the difference between v.18 and the doubt that Zechariah shows and v.34 and v.38 where Mary receives a message from an Angel that she would conceive.  There is a stark difference there.  Mary too questioned how it would happen, but there was no doubt in her question.  We can learn from this that when we receive direction from the Lord we need to listen and accept.  We do not necessarily need to understand how things will happen.  We need to be willing to accept what the Lord has in store for us. 

  Another thing to note when comparing these two responses to the angel of the Lord … look at who responded how.  Mary, a young woman who has little experience in the world responded as a servant of the Lord.  Zechariah, who was in the Holy of Holies making an offering for the people, clearly a man of God and one that Luke states was “blameless” in all things of the Lord.  Both devoted and yet the young person responds better.  This does not mean young men and women always respond better, but can be a lesson to us that youth does not automatically mean ignorance when it comes to spiritual things.  Make sure to respect the youth in the church who follow the Lord.

03 May 2011

Luke 1:1-4

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

  To set the table for the book of Luke we must review a few things.  The first is who wrote it.  The second is when it was written.  The third is the purpose and how the book was written.

  It has been accepted that this book was written by Luke.  Acts is also written by Luke.  They were both written with the same style and basic language.  Luke has been said to be a physician (the same Luke as Col 4:14).  The extreme detail that is used shows this, as does the fact that he wrote to a man Theophilus, who would appear to be his master.  It was common in that time for a particular slave to be the physician for his owner.  It would seem Luke was that slave.

  When it was written is important for the validity of its authenticity as well as its relevance to what is being written.  If a book about Jesus is written 100 years after his death then this would seem to possibly have less weight as one that is written within 50 years after his death.  Jesus was about 33 when he died.  The year was A.D. 33.  Luke is commonly accepted to be written before A.D. 70.  There are a few reasons for this belief.  First, Luke did not write about the death of Paul.  Since he was in contact with Paul and traveled with him on some of his missionary journey’s Luke would surely have written had he known of Paul’s death.  Second, Luke did not write about the fall of the Jerusalem.  This happened in about A.D. 70.  Because these events were not recorded in a book of great detail on the events it does record, it is hard to believe this was written after these two very large events.

  What is the purpose to writing this book?  As we discussed earlier, it would seem that Luke is the author and a servant of Theophilus.  He is writing the book to inform Theophilus of his investigation, v.3.  Luke has had eyewitness accounts given to him.  He has had those who walked with Jesus given and account to him.  Luke seemed to want to make sure that the thing written were not doubted.  It is very important that the things written were accurate to the detail, that there could be no doubt that the truth was being written.  That is clear from these first four verses.  Theophilus was uncertain of what he was taught about Jesus and the account thereof; Luke is here to put that to rest. 

  From this point on I will refer to the author as Luke, although the book never explicitly says such.  Heavenly Father, please give me wisdom and understanding as to how I can read your Word expositionally.  To dissect your Word to take meaning that would be beneficial to me as well as those who read my study.  Praise your name for all that You have done and continue to do in my life.