Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to participate....

Each Post below is based on certain chapters and verses from the book of Luke which are noted at the beginning of each post.

Example: Post #1 Chapter 1:1-25. Using your own bible read those verses.

Return to the post and after reading what I learned from it, respond by leaving your own comments, thoughts or questions based on what you learned from the verses. Or how you intend to apply what you learned to your own life.

Post your thoughts and ideas at the "comments" button at the bottom of each post...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Who was Luke? Introduction...

Luke was a doctor, a Greek and a Gentile. He is the only known Gentile (non-jewish) author in the New Testament. Luke was a close friend and companion of Paul. He also wrote Acts and the two books go together.

Luke wrote these books from Rome or Caesarea in about 60 AD.

This is the most comprehensive Gospel. The general vocabulary and diction show that the author was highly educated. He makes frequent reference to illnesses and diagnosis. Luke stresses Jesus's relationship with people; emphasizes prayer, miracles, and angels; records inspired hymns of praise; and gives a prominent place to women.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

#1 Chapter 1:1-25 Zacharias & Elizabeth

Read Chapter 1:1-25...then come back..

After reading the account of Zacharias and Elizabeth, Johns parents, I was reminded of Abraham and Sarah and how God gave them a child (Issac) in their old age too. But Zacharias unlike Abraham didn't believe it, so Gabriel punished him "You will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you didn't believe"...

Ouch! I guess that was Gabriel's way of saying "shut up!"... I was also reminded of what Joyce Meyers taught in her book called The Battlefield of the Mind when she said we have to be careful what we let come out of our mouth, because we eat the fruit of it....Maybe Gabriel did it because he didn't want Zacharias to negate the promise? By speaking doubt and unbelief?

Not to mention what Zacharias must have been going through emotionally as he was going about his job of lighting the incense and looked up and saw the angel Gabriel standing there!! Apparently Zach fell down or at least stumbled, cause Gabriel tried to comfort him by telling him not be afraid...Poor Zacharias...If he was bored with his job I bet that woke him up!!

Can't you just see old Zacharias wishing he hadn't opened his big mouth? Trying but not able to speak? Opening his mouth and nothing but a hoarse croak coming out? If it weren't so sad, I would have to laugh..And then when he came out and the others realized he couldn't talk I bet they were glad it hadn't been their turn to burn the incense..:)..

But seriously it made me wonder how many times God has wanted me to shut my mouth?..How many times God thought about sending an angel to put a clamp on my tongue because I was speaking words of doubt?

And the wonderful announcement of a son to be named John and He would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mothers womb...This was truly unusual because in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was only given for short periods of time to empower someone to work on God's behalf to do a particular I guess we can assume that John the Baptist was the first one to be baptised in the Holy Spirit completely...Everybody else other than Jesus had to wait until the day of Pentecost for that to happen.

Gabriel said that John would be filled with the same kind of spirit or calling that Elijah the great prophet had....That's big time stuff.

The story also encourages me, because God used Zacharias and Elizabeth because they were devoted to God. (v6)" ...they were both righteous before God; walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless"

It encourages me not because I think I'm walking blameless before God, on the contrary, I blow it big-time every day, but I am devoted to Him and do trust Him to see me as righteous through my faith in the righteousness of Jesus.

I'm grateful we no longer have to live under the strict rules that the old covenant required. ...but instead I can boldly and confidently approach the throne of grace and mercy... Thank you Jesus..

What did you learn from the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

#2 Chapter 1:26-38 Gabriel sent to Mary

Read Chapter 1:26-38 ..then come back..

Have you ever really wondered what it must have been like for Mary when the angel Gabriel showed up out of the clear blue sky and started talking to her?

Other scriptures describe Gabriel as a huge and powerful angel, so he was no ordinary 5ft 8 guy...He was huge and probably lit up the place with the glory of God!

But then Gabriel began speaking to her (v 28-29) "Rejoice highly favored one!, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women!" and when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was"

I bet she was troubled...I hope she was sitting down...but in any case I would guess her knees buckled at least a little bit! After all she was only a young girl, probably no older than 15. She was poor, female and uneducated...not someone that most would think God could or would use especially in that day, and even today..

How many young girls in our own lives need someone to tell them they can do and be anything God tells them they can be and do?

Gabriel was pretty nice to her though because he said (v30-33)"Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God...and behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus...He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God will give Him the throne of the His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end"

Close your eyes and just think about what it must have been like for Mary...what was going through her mind?

I wonder if she really comprehended what she was being told at the moment? Did she really grasp the enormity of what had just been told to her?

I'm sure that she was aware of the ages old promise and desire all the Israelites had for a Christ, Savior..the Messiah, but did she immediately put 2 & 2 together and realize that she was the one who would give birth to this Messiah?

Can you imagine what it must have been like for her? To believe that even though she was a virgin she would become pregnant...that SHE would be the one used in such a miraculous way? What she was being asked to believe was unbelievable...It was IMPOSSIBLE! ...I want that kind of faith that believes anything and everything God says I can be and do. Nothing is impossible for our God!

Unlike Zacharias who was an important Priest, you would think he should be FULL of faith didn't believe but this young little girl did. She believed God could and would do what He had said He would do.

In today's world it's still not uncommon for women to be considered unworthy or unable to be used to do anything of any great importance. I am reminded here of the scripture that says that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the mighty.

From the worlds point of view it may seem foolish for God to use us in wonderful ways. He uses what the world considers weak to put the so-called wise and mighty to shame!! I love that!!

The next time God tells me that He is going to use me to do something...I'm gonna believe Him!

What did you learn from reading about Gabriel's visit to Mary?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#3 Chapter 1:39-56 Mary & Elizabeth

Read Chapter 1:39-56...then come back

The angel Gabriel had also told Mary that her Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Zacharias had conceived a son too. Which would make John the Baptist her cousin. Making John a second cousin to Jesus.

Mary either went to escape the ridicule she received because of her unwed pregnancy or simply compelled by the Holy Spirit to visit her aunt and uncle where she stayed for 3 months. When she got there John leaped around in Elizabeth's womb. Other gospels say that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mothers womb. So he was already in there preaching the gospel :) excited about his role in bringing attention to the Messiah who would soon come into the world.

John and Jesus were already connected spiritually via the Holy Spirit. They had to have been on some level aware of each other even before they were born. Isn't that cool?

And both Mary and Elizabeth must have been connected spiritually as well, because when Mary approached and spoke Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied to her and said (v42)"Blessed is the fruit of your womb" It would seem that some really wonderful and miraculous things were happening here...more than meets the eye...

(v45) "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord" I wonder if Elizabeth was used by the Holy Spirit to comfort Mary? Maybe Mary was still a little confused and needed further confirmation of this strange thing that was happening to her?

If so, it worked because she broke out in a wonderful diatribe of praises to the Lord in what is called the "Song of Mary" her heart was full of faith, thanksgiving and praise.

What did you learn from the story of Mary and Elizabeth?

Monday, June 15, 2009

#4 Chapter 1:57-80 John the Baptist is born!

Read Chapter 1:57-80..then come back..

So finally John has been born and they are about to dedicate him. This would probably have been something like when we dedicate our children or have them christened. All their friends and family would have gathered around...

Zacharias was a Priest, so you can be sure some pretty important folks were there. And apparently it was customary that sons were named after their fathers, so as they were about to name the baby after Zacharias...Elizabeth speaks up and says No way!

Let's not forget that Zacharias has been mute during the whole pregnancy, so he grabs something and writes "His name will be John"!! and by doing so unlocked the punishment that had been put on his tongue...the lock on his mouth was off now...His faith in the promise had unlocked it.

Just a little tidbit of information;..the name John means the Lord is gracious. And unlike other children God Himself named John..had given him that name on purpose.

Zacharias is finally released from the punishment for his doubt and unbelief..and it freaked the people out, they all knew the story of how old Zacharias had come out of the temple 9 or so months ago not being able to speak...So now that he could talk all of a sudden, they all realized that there must be something pretty special about this baby John and the gossip started...

So now that Zacharias can speak again, the first thing he does is start praising God! He was finally realizing the full impact of what this child, his son John was destined to do, and that John would be instrumental in getting the world ready for the Messiah.
Like Elizabeth the Holy Spirit came upon him and he began prophesying that the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings...the promised Messiah was finally coming.

According to the angel Gabriel's message earlier John must be sanctified and set apart from society so when he was old enough to leave his mother he was sent to the desert to live apart from the world so he wouldn't or couldn't be influenced by it.

He would need to be completely dedicated to the role he had in preparing the path for Jesus. It might have been something like living in a monastery in today's world. Away from anything worldly including the religious leaders and politicians of that day.

And apparently it worked because John would come later not caring about what anybody thought of him and preaching boldly against sin! Thus preparing the way for Jesus and His message of the Kingdom of God and the righteous life he would teach about.

I'm obviously not called to do anything as enormous as John was, but God still tells me even though I live in this world I am not to be like this world. That Iam not to participate in what God says is sin. That even when the world around me rejects Gods call to righteousness, I must be like John who calls sin a sin...

Instead I'm to be set apart for God's use and to tell others about my wonderful Jesus who has come to save us from our sin.

Maybe all christians should be like John?..Telling about and preparing peoples heart to recieve the precious Jesus...

What did the story of John's birth teach you?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

#5 Chapter 2:1-20 Jesus the Messiah is Born !!

Read Chapter 2:1-20...then come back..

Here we have Luke's version of the REAL CHRISTMAS STORY...

The first thing Luke brings to our attention is the way God the Father is using the powerful Roman Government Officials to orchestrate the prophesies surrounding the birth of His Son...

Caesar Augustus the greatest Roman Emperor was compelled to institute a census which required all citizens to return to their home towns to take a census so they could collect their taxes, and it must be done "now".

Perfect timing Huh?...Just in time to make sure that Joseph and Mary who lived in Nazareth had to make the 70 mile trip to Bethlehem, where we know of course it was prophesied in Micah 5:2"But for you Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah. From you One will be ruler in Israel, His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity..."

So off they go on their trek to Bethlehem because the Messiah must be born there....I wonder if they knew that the prophecy was being fulfilled? I have a feeling they might not have. They were probably just going about the business of obeying the law in spite of the fact that Mary was about to give birth.

And we all know the story that when they finally got there Mary did give birth and because of the great influx of people traveling there, there was no place for them to stay. So they must have found some kind and generous person to lend them their stable to stay in. Can't you just see God's hand in this too?....making sure His servants Joseph and Mary and of course His Son would be taken care of even in these chaotic circumstances?

I did find as I was studying a little tidbit of information; That the wooden structure of a stable that is normaly seen depicted on the front of our traditional Christmas Cards is not correct, but it was most likely a cave in the side of a mountain.

So here comes God's version of a Birthday Party for His Son!! The birth of His Son was a pretty big deal so He made sure all the angels and all the hosts of heaven attended the celebration!... They were the ones who made the big announcement and brought attention to it.

I find it wonderful that instead of going to all the so-called important people in town the announcement was made to shepherd's out in the fields...Isn't that just like our Father God to reach out to those who would commonly not be important in a worldly view? He has and always will reach out to the meek with His love, and this time was no different.

The angels came and of course it freaked the shepherd's out! Can't you just imagine them sitting around the fire that night or tending their sheep and all of a sudden the Great glory of the Lord God lit up the sky...!! All the angels began singing praises and dancing joyfully! Our God really knows how to start a party don't He? No body can say we serve a boring God!! :) smile..

The angels once again knowing that humans really aren't used to this kind of thing say "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ..the Lord"

We've all heard that verse before but really stop this time and think about what it must have really been like for the shephards to see these things and hear these words first-hand and up close...

I wish I could have been there, can't you just see all the shepherds scattering and running and rejoicing and praising the Lord!!....and of course started on their way to Bethlehem to see this Savior child the angels had told them about??

Mary and Joseph must have been exhausted, especially Mary, from the trip and then the birth. But here are all these strange people who have come looking for their son. But what a blessing too, because once again God was confirming to them the great privilege they were the recipient of...To be the surrogate parents of the Messiah! The bible says that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart....

Luke chose to leave out some of the parts that other gospels include. Things like the star and the wise men, but I like this simpler story too...Just short and very sweet.

I love Christmas and celebrations surrounding the birth of our Savior, but in the process of studying here it gave me new incite into what that day must have really been like.

I especially liked the reminder that God uses both Emperors and common everyday people for His purposes and causes even ordinary circumstances in our lives to bring about what He has planned for us. He's got it all figured out in advance, all the little details...down to the precise time and place..

I have a new perspective on my own everyday life now. God really is in control. He really does know what He's doing even when it makes no sense to me whatsoever...He knows where I'm gonna wind up at the end of each day, week, month and year...and plans it out and leads me down those paths. I really do need to relax even more...

I am reminded of the scripture that says "Man makes his plans, but God directs his path"...I may make plans but if God has a better idea and sends me in another direction, I can rest in the assurance He knows what He's doing...Ok Father! You're will, not mine...

I have a newer level of trust now...after all if He can cause Emperors to move on His behalf, He can certainly cause people and circumstances in my life to turn out just right every single time.

And I am so glad He sent Jesus to us...Thank you God for sending our Savior. I am so glad He came and was born so I can be saved from my sin. Thank you Father..You're Awesome!! Thank you Jesus...I love the story of your "Birth"day party!!

What did the story of Jesus' birth teach you?