30 December 2011

Luke 3: 1-6

1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
   “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
   and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
   and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the see the salvation of God.’”

  We come to the section where we are no longer talking about what will come, but what has come and has been fulfilled.  Luke was a doctor; therefore, he wrote with detail that the other Gospel writers did not.  What a wonderful thing to know that the Lord uses us individually.  It is not right to think that we are all the exact same and should worship the same, in the same place, like the same music, or even like the same activities.  God created each one of us individually and therefore He will use that to glorify Himself in what way is right.  He knows that, not us.  Because of this detail we heard about the angel that came to Elizabeth and Mary projecting the birth of John and the birth of Jesus.  This was followed by some detail of the childhood of Jesus.  Now we are seeing the life of John and understanding his life was not something of an epiphany; rather, it was prophesied long ago by Isaiah. 

  What is prophesied about him?  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.  Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”  That is it.  That is all that is said about him.  The rest of the prophesy in Isaiah is about the Man whom he came to prepare the way for.  John was faithful to God and the call to repentance he was to make before the Christ would appear. 

  What we learn about Christ is that no matter how great or how lowly we may seem, the Christ is greater.  Whether we are on the wrong path or in hard place in your life, the Christ is greater.  Not only that, but everyone will see the Christ and know who He is.  We all know who the Christ is.  We will have no excuse when we stand before God for our sin.  The Christ has been prophesied in all of the Scriptures, by all of the prophets.  He came in the form of a man.  We know this.  If we turn to Him for the forgiveness of our sins then He is just to forgive us.  John taught this, he taught the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  How wonderful it is to know we can be forgiven!

28 December 2011

Luke 2:40-52

40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

  What an interesting bit of information we have here.  My focus has been to understand what we can learn from what the scriptures are teaching us and applying that to our lives, purposefully.  These verses are so filled with wonderful items that there is no way we can dive into everything we see.  SO, what can we take from these verses?  Jesus is God.  What a comfort this is to me in my daily life (as I hope it is to you too).

  First, v.40. 52 show that Jesus was young, fragile, and grew just as every man does.  God can relate to us in our lives.  Young men want to know how it is they are to act or where they fit in, Jesus was young once too.  Jesus did not struggle knowing how He was to act or how to fit in simply because He was committed to worshiping God the Father with everything in His life.  When we truly commit our lives to worshiping God the Father with our lives, we will know how to live our lives, He will show us.  Even though Jesus was a man, He did not sin but He WAS tempted as we are. 

  Mary and Joseph took their family to the Feast of the Passover every year.  We complain at times about going to families homes over holidays and such, can you imagine the trek it was from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year?!  This was not only the custom, but the expectation that the Lord put forth was to participate in the feast.  Mary and Joseph followed this word.

  Jesus also followed the custom by going to the feast at the appropriate age.  When He was there He went and hung out with the priests and religious leaders.  They were “amazed at His understanding and answers” v.47.  Furthermore, Jesus enjoyed being in “His Father’s House.”  Jesus not only followed the Jewish custom, but also enjoyed listening to the teachers, as well as teaching them what He knew (which is clearly more than they knew).  Jesus knew more than them, yet He listened.  Jesus was interested in talking and discussing His Father’s Word.  That was His business.

  Mary Rebuked Jesus.  Jesus was her child here on Earth, God’s only Son.  Jesus was no normal man, yet He SUBMITTED to His parents here on Earth.  As a child there is no excuse for not submitting to your parents.  You claim to follow Christ, then submit to your parents, even when you do not want to.  Do you think the best thing for Jesus was to not be in the temple?  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, He listened and obeyed His parents. 

  Just food for thought, the Catholic church teaches the worship of Mary (although they will deny such teachings).  If Mary was perfect as Jesus was then why did Mary rebuke Jesus?  One of them would have had to be wrong.  So is Jesus the perfect savior we have followed, who lived a perfect life, died a death He did not deserve, and rose again?  This would mean Mary was wrong to rebuke Jesus.  Therefore, Mary was not perfect and not anywhere close to where Jesus was.  We are not allowed fellowship with God when we sin.  This is why Jesus came.  Jesus had to come for Mary, His mother, too.

23 December 2011

Luke 2:36-40

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

  Previously we saw an old man, Simeon, who was waiting for the coming of the Lord.  Now, we see an older woman, Anna, who was also waiting for the coming of the Lord.  Anna was known for coming to the temple night and day to worship and fast.  What an example. 

  We look at the prophets and prophetesses in the scriptures with awe and wonder.  What we can take from Anna is an understanding of what was important to God in our lives.  She was devoted to the Lord as was Simeon.  The common ground for both was prayer.  Simeon saw the baby Jesus, took Him into his arms, and prayed a blessing to God about the child.  Anna saw the child and began speaking of Him to everyone who was waiting for the Lord to come. 

  These faithful worshippers of God not only followed when they saw the Lord being brought into the temple; but, they were faithful throughout their lives.  Anna was faithful to follow the Lord with the lot in life that she was given.  She was young, married, and then her husband died.  Through this we are not told of her struggles and trials from that experience.  What we are told about Anna is her devotion and dedication to the Lord in her life, period.  We cannot take a situation in life and assume that the Lord has abandoned us.  Anna came to the conclusion, just as Job did in Job 1:21, “… The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

  If we want to serve the Lord let us take the example of Anna and pray to the Lord with our words.  Let’s also bring praise and worship to the Lord with fasting.  Fasting is not something that we do in a begrudging manor.  Fasting is something we do as a devotion to the Lord through denying ourselves for a period of time.  Life is more than food.  So many days we set our days around food.  Our needs and desires the Lord will take care of as He sees fit.  When we come to know Christ we are deny ourselves, Colossians 1:1-4.  Fasting is a physical example of our spiritual submission to the Lord. 

  As Mary and Joseph leave Jerusalem to return to their town of Nazareth, we have seen three things that are not emphasized within some, if not most, churches today: Blessings, Prayer, and Fasting.  We tend to get into our routine of life and put the Lord on the backburner.  The first things to go are the things listed above.  Lord help us to return to You.  You have not changed, You are constant, we are wavering.  Praise God for who You are and what You have done for us.