Advent

December 15, 2017 at 9:01 am | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 1 Comment
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s:
1. Incarnation
2. Advent

As we get older, it seems like December 25 comes faster and faster each year. The agony and expectancy of having to wait for the opening of presents and the sharing of goodies makes the period between Thanksgiving and “the big day” seem like an eternity to little kids. For us adults, who have full schedules and obligations, it seems like Christmas comes the day after Labor Day!

“Advent” means the arrival of something important, and it has taken on the connotation of waiting for something with the sort of longing that makes it seem like a long time in coming. In Christian theology, though, it has a specific reference to the appearance of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem (His first Advent) and His imminent return, for which we are still waiting (His second Advent). Christmas is a good time to explain to kids that faithful Old Testament believers knew what it feels like to wait with great anticipation for Christmas morning. The prophecies that a Messiah would come to save them from the punishment for their sins and to set them free to enjoy the favor and goodness of God began way back in Genesis 3:15 and continued for centuries and centuries. Kids who are antsy about the arrival of Christmas are the perfect candidates to hear about the stories of Simeon and Anna.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:25-38.

See also:

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

Next time we will take a look at the Condescension.

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When We Can’t Wait to Celebrate

December 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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When the prodigal son returned to his father, there is no doubt that he was exceedingly sorrowful over not just the deplorable, debauched, and destitute condition into which he had fallen during his season of sin, but he was even more sorrowful over the fact that he HAD sinned against both his father and his God.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

Just as the son is beginning to address his own unworthiness, though, we get the impression that he is cut off, midthought, by his father, whose joy over the repentance and return of his son demands a joyful celebration, not a recounting of past wrongs.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

New clothes, feasting, and merriment are what he wants, not a trial period of wait-and-see probation to determine whether the wayward boy is truly sorry, or whether he is just hungry and manipulative.

If we take the father’s exuberance as our cue, how much more should we be ready and anxious to celebrate when someone we know returns from wandering in the fields of sin and despair, and comes back home to Christ? Let joy and praise be our default mode, rather than skepticism and wariness, if we wish to imitate our Heavenly Father Who delights in repentance!

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:10

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18

Tempted, but not Wandering, in the Wilderness

November 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

At first glance it may seem very strange that Jesus would be led BY THE SPIRIT into a place of temptation rather than straight into His public ministry. Believers today receive the Holy Spirit upon salvation. One of the Old Testament pictures of our salvation was when the Israelites left Egypt and went out into the wilderness before getting to enter the promised land. That sequence may also have been arranged by God partly to foreshadow Christ’s foray into the wilderness after He received the Spirit.

In Matthew we are shown Jesus going to Egypt for safety the way that Jacob and his sons did after Joseph was taken there, but Luke did not record that event in His life.

Jesus did not go into the wilderness because He was being chastened for provoking God the way the Old Testament Israelites did. He did go into the wilderness to be tested, though.

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

Luke 4:2-3

Satan is always subtly playing to our pride. He knows the power of pride because it led to his own downfall. One of the reasons that the devil is often depicted today as this caricature in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork is because there was a time when it was thought that the best way to combat him was to attack his pride by making him look silly. The Bible does not portray him as being that easily defeated. Christ defeated Satan, and withstood his temptations, by exercising humility and proclaiming the Word of God.

Introducing God

November 8, 2017 at 11:11 am | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

Luke 3:1

The details found in the New Testament manuscripts really reinforce their historicity. Luke documented real people, who lived in a real time and real places, charged with real authority over real geographical provinces.

Luke Chapter 3 introduces us to the ministry of John the Baptist.

And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Luke 3:3-4

John was the herald who went before the King, making proclamations about His coming, and making sure the metaphorical roads were smooth for His appearing. He was baptizing people in the Jordan River. It was the custom to baptize those who had converted to Judaism. This baptism symbolized cleansing from defilement and sin, which helps to see why baptizing those who had been born Jewish would have been so scandalous to the religious leaders. Many of the people who came to John to be baptized, and who responded to his message of repentance, were harlots, publicans, open sinners – the outcasts of society. They had been told that the Kingdom of God was closed to them, so you can imagine their enthusiasm when they found out it was open to them!

John addressed the religious elite who came out to see what he was doing, and he told them that they were like snakes. His biting comment was that even snakes will crawl into the river to avoid a fire!

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Luke 3:7-9

John did not cater to the falsely secure or the hypocritically religious, but he also wanted to make it very clear that he was not the Christ.

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

Luke 3:15-17

The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in Scripture. Those who trust in Christ receive the Holy Spirit, and the process of practical sanctification begins. The “chaff” – that which is useless and unprofitable for the Christian’s spiritual growth – is separated out and blown away to be burned, the way a literal wheat thresher uses a tool (“fan”) to gather only the “fruitful” and useful part of the wheat.

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22

This is a shocking moment in the history of the world – and a fulfilling one for those who seek to know God. The “who is like God?” question from the Old Testament is finally answered, and light is shed on the mystery of the great “I AM,” as God reveals Himself to be triune – Father, Son, and Spirit – and indicates that what the Son will do in His incarnation will be our best look at the true character and nature of God.

The rest of Luke Chapter 3, beginning in Verse 23, is the genealogy of Jesus, going backwards, all the way to Adam. In Luke the humanity of Jesus is stressed, and the truth that Jesus is the Savior of gentiles as well as Jews. Matthew starts with Abraham, but Luke goes all the way back to Adam.

Growing up Perfect

October 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Even as the birth of Jesus heralded Good News for the helpless and the hopeless, Jesus Himself quickly became “the hunted,” as His earthly parents were forced to flee to Egypt for His safety. Luke did not record this event in Jesus’s life, but he did document the family’s observance of the Levitical rites of purification under the Old Testament law.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:4-8

Under these laws, a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth to a boy, and for 80 days after giving birth to a girl. Her separation from the Tabernacle had hygienic reasons and spiritually symbolic reasons, but why would a sin offering have been required? Not because having a baby is a sin, but as a reminder that our sin nature is transmitted by birth.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:21-24

The fact that Joseph and Mary went with the bird offering instead of a lamb shows that they were not wealthy, and that Jesus was not born with a silver spoon in His mouth, despite the claims of some of the prosperity preachers. (I don’t know if you’ve purchased a lamb lately, but they aren’t cheap!) This also shows the humanity of Jesus, and that one of His Divine missions was to fulfill all righteousness and to perfectly keep the Law of God.

Now we meet Simeon, another elderly person (like Zacharias and Anna) who had been praying and waiting for the Messiah.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:26

Most people tend to think of “Christ” as Jesus’s last name, but really it is a title: the Anointed (Messiah/Christos) of God. Jesus was God incarnate, and He was also sent by God the Father, to both the Jewish people and to gentiles.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Luke 2:25 (emphasis added)

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2:32

Here is what Simeon prophesied about the life of Mary:

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 2:34-35

This remark about a sword piercing her soul referred to the ongoing conflict of loving her human Son and of knowing something of His Divine calling. Try to imagine the tension of having a Son Who was sinless and Who would have recognized the sin of His earthly parents acutely, and still having the responsibility of exercising parental authority over Him.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Luke 2:39

Here, once again, the Holy Spirit had Luke emphasize Jesus’s perfection under the Law.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

This is a good picture of what parents should be nurturing in their young children. Growth is promoted by nourishment, exercise, and protection. Strength in spirit means spiritual “toughness” – learning the principles of faith and separation. Fullness of wisdom means intellectual instruction. The grace of God is given by God, obviously, but it is to be explained and illustrated to children by their parents.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke 2:41-50

Note the “must” and note the “business” to get an idea of the way we ought to view church attendance and ministry. As far I know these are the only two recorded questions asked by Jesus during the first 30 or so years of His earthly life, and they speak a world of information about our reason for living this life: carrying out our Father’s business, in community, and considering it unthinkable to do otherwise.

Helpless and Hopeless No More

October 9, 2017 at 10:55 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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Jesus came to save the helpless. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Luke Chapter 2 is where we find what is known as the “Annunciation” The Annunciation is the announcement of Christ’s Incarnation. In the Incarnation God became flesh. God the Son became man while remaining God.

Why did He become a man?
1. To represent us before God
2. To identify with us in our nature
3. To fully keep God’s Law, thus becoming the perfect sacrifice for people who had broken God’s law.

As humans, left to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own merit, we are completely helpless. Jesus came as a newborn baby, and babies are helpless. They can’t eat, they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they do not even know what to think. Spiritually, we are that helpless without God.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2:4

God providentially involved others in helping Jesus, including His earthly parents, and angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

He even used shepherds.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:20

Maybe you know someone who is poor and helpless (like Joseph and Mary). Maybe you know someone who is on the “outside” of society (like the shepherds). Maybe you fit into these categories yourself. Maybe you even feel shut out of Christianity because of your sin. If so, there is Good News: Jesus wants you to come to Him – to look on Him in faith. He became helpless Himself in order to be the Great Helper to the helpless. He gave hope to the hopeless.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22

The law of Moses pointed toward the Hope, but it did not give hope itself. You can not live a “good” enough life. You can not do enough “good” things. You can not bring anything to God in order to gain entrance into Heaven. Those attempts are hopeless attempts.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

You may know someone who has given up, but the hope of Christ is always available in this lifetime.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:36-37

You may feel hopeless because no one cares about you, but Jesus cares about you. God cares about you so much that He sent His Son to give you hope, and not to be a messenger only, but to BE your Hope Himself!

Luke’s Gospel

September 19, 2017 at 11:56 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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The Book of Luke is one of the four “Gospels.” The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are accounts of Jesus’s earthly ministry, and, to some extent, of His earthly life. The term “Gospel,” of course, also refers to the Good News of Jesus’s incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious Resurrection, and saving power, although, in common vernacular, “gospel” has come to mean “anything that’s true.”

The word “Gospel” is from the old English word for “good news.” In ancient Greek it would be called the Evangelion, combining eu (with the “v” now replaced by “u”) meaning “good,” as in “euphemism” (a “good” way to say a “bad” thing) or eulogy (a “good word” about a deceased person), with the word angel, meaning “message” (easy to remember because the “angels” are God’s messengers).

The Holy Spirit authored the Gospel of Luke through (obviously) a man named Luke, whose primary occupation had been as a physician. The Holy Spirit appears to have used Luke’s medical training and experience in order to cause Luke’s account of Jesus’s life and ministry to have an orderly composition, often with an emphasis on “medical” events, such as illnesses and healings, and to stress Jesus’s compassion on those who were hurting. It is not known if Luke had the typical doctor’s bad handwriting, but we can be sure that what he recorded was the accurate and infallible Word of God.

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Luke 1:1

At the time that Luke wrote down his Gospel, there were other scrolls circulating about, purporting to be accounts of the life of Jesus. The things most surely believed among “us” likely means that Luke knew he was recording true Christian doctrine and the real facts about Jesus, and that what he was reporting was for public dissemination, but mainly with fellow Christians in mind as his primary audience.

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke 1:2

Luke was part of Paul’s missionary team, and his personal physician, but he had not walked with Jesus personally while Jesus was on earth as a man.

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke 1:3-4

Luke’s statement about “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” also seems to indicate that he was aware of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Theophilus was probably a gentile who had been saved and converted to Christianity (known in Bible times as a “lover of God” or a “friend of God”). It is also likely that he held some official public position because of the formal nature of Luke’s address to him. Once again, Luke referred to “the certainty” of what he was writing, giving even more credence to the idea that he was aware of the Holy inspiration under which he was operating.

Next came the account of the announcement and birth of John the Baptist. He was the last Old Testament prophet, even though he’s found in the New Testament.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Malachi 4:5-6

The Holy Ghost closed the Old Testament with a reference to Elijah and the pronouncement of a CURSE, after which there was about 400 years of prophetic silence, during which God gave no (that we know of) verbal or written revelation, until John the Baptist came on the scene. He was the prophet who fulfilled – in a sense – the prophecy of Malachi 4:5. He was the prophet who himself fulfilled a prophecy.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:5-6

Zacharias and Elizabeth were considered righteous and blameless, although they were not sinless.

And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Luke 1:7-10

This burning of incense was a major event in the life of the religious Jewish people each year.

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Luke 1:11-13

One can only imagine the fear that overcame Zacharias! Elisabeth would be related to Jesus through Mary. The couple’s first-born son would be named John, not Zacharias Jr.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:14-15

John would be under a Nazarite vow, as an angel had also informed Samson’s father Manoah, and his wife, and like Elkanah’s and Hannah’s son, Samuel. Elijah was yet another Old Testament example of someone under a life-long Nazarite vow – meaning he was not to touch grapes or dead things, and not to cut his hair. Another similarity between John the Baptist and Elijah is that much of their lives would be spent as outcasts from society, living in the wilderness. John the Baptist had the amazing distinction of being filled by the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb.

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:16-17

John would be instrumental in turning the hearts of children back to their fathers – and to their HEAVENLY FATHER. He would have a spirit like Elijah’s and be endued with the power of Elijah, but he would not be Elijah reincarnated. This announcement was so astonishing to Zacharias that he disbelieved the Word of God, and thereby lost his voice until it was time for Elisabeth to have the baby.

Wary Watching

February 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Usually when we see the word “watching” in the Bible it refers to something more than just idly looking at something. It typically has the connotation that we think of in connection with a night “watchman,” someone who is actively trying to stay alert, awake, and on guard, keeping a lookout for some sign that could mean either trouble or glad tidings.

Because the Bible sometimes uses the metaphor of farming in connection with Biblical evangelism, we have already noted that good farmers are concerned with planting, watering, and weeding. It would be nearly unthinkable to imagine a farmer, whose livelihood depended on a successful harvest, planting with care, watering diligently, pulling up weeds with zealous regularity, but failing to keep an eye on his crop, being oblivious to harmful insects, marauders, bad weather on the horizon, or sundry other forms of trouble that might befall his fields of produce. Therefore, we might apply the same principle to evangelism.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:35-40 (emphasis added)

No one likes to get caught loafing. Because the Lord has given us a serious responsibility, and because we know the time to accomplish it is limited, and because we know that the day of accounting could come unexpectedly, we need to be serving Him faithfully, diligently, actively, obediently, and warily.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis added)

We do well to pray, but our custom of praying with our eyes closed must not be a hindrance to our engagement in the reality of spiritual warfare.

praying-with-eyes-closed

Faithful farmers hope that God sends rain, protection, and favorable conditions, but they also know that He expects them to be on guard, prepared to spring into action at the first signs of infestation, unexpected trouble, or the ripeness that means it’s time to harvest.

Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)

June 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Luke | 6 Comments
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If I were to ask you to tell me a good place in the Bible to find out about Jesus, what would you say? The first four books of the New Testament are probably what come to mind. “The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” would probably be a common answer. But let’s see what Jesus Himself had to say:

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

Luke 24:13-15

This happened right after Jesus’s Resurrection.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

One of the first things Jesus wanted to do after His Resurrection was have a Bible study. He showed these two disciples on the road to Emmaus all the places in the Bible where He could be found, going all the way from Genesis through the end of the Old Testament.

Then Jesus went to show His closest disciples that He had come back from the grave.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Luke 24:44-45

This is very important because the Bible is very important. As a Christian you are responsible for not just reading the Bible, but for understanding the Bible.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, and they did not like Jesus – in part because He told the truth, and the Truth was that He was the Son of God, and that, because He was the Son of God, they would have to submit to Him. So they were always trying to get Him to do something to prove He really was from God, thinking that, when He failed, they could disprove Him. Here’s what Jesus said to them:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:39

It was as if He said to them, “You are supposed to be the Bible teachers! And you don’t even know what (Who) the Bible is about?!”

I said earlier that you are responsible for understanding the Bible, and that should concern you, because it’s not always easy to understand. In some places it’s almost like a code. Here’s a simple code to illustrate the point:

I w2nt 2ll the 2l2rms in 2tl2nt2.

You can probably figure it out, but if you were stumped, you would need the “key” to understand the code, so I would give you the key: 2=A. And that makes it simple!

So where is Jesus in the Bible? Remember, at the time that Jesus said these things that we have read in Luke and John, there was no Luke and John, or anything else in the Bible after Malachi. But to the question, “Where is Jesus in the Bible?” the answer is, “Everywhere!”

We will look at some specific examples in lesson 2.

The S.H.A.R.K. Priniciple (lesson 1)

March 31, 2014 at 10:18 am | Posted in Luke, The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One of my greatest joys competes with one of my greatest fears. I am fascinated by, and terrified of, sharks (especially the great whites that breach up through the surface), but I love swimming in the ocean. I know it is not very likely that I will be devoured by a 2000-pound predator fifty yards from the shore, but I am still haunted by the knowledge that, while swimming, I am technically sharing the same space (the sea) where these creatures live, and there is the nagging sense of danger that comes from not being aware of what might be coming to get me.

In our spiritual lives, thankfully, we do not have to be unaware. Satan would like to destroy us, but we do not have to be ignorant of who he is or how he operates.

S.atan
H.
A.
R.
K.

Satan is a real “person” – a real being. You may have heard the theological statement that the devil is a “personal” devil. He’s not “personal” like a secret that is only between friends. He’s personal because he has a personality. He thinks thoughts. He has plans. He has feelings. He was made by God to be a creature with a will and a spirit. He’s not a fairy tale or a boogie monster, and he’s not just a symbol for evil. How do we know? Because Jesus said so.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Luke 10:17

Jesus had sent out 70 disciples, and they were excited because they had seen Jesus proven right. While they were witnessing for Him, God gave them power to subdue demons.

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:18

Satan was originally an angel named Lucifer, but he rebelled against God, so God threw him and one-third of the angels (the ones who had taken Lucifer’s side in the rebellion) out of Heaven. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was there to see it happen.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:19-20

In these lessons I will say some things about Satan that may sound complimentary, but we must be careful never to give him any praise or adoration. Nor do I advocate making jokes about “beating him up” (a staple of the “Word of Faith” televangelists) or telling him to “go sit on a tack,” as I’ve heard in some children’s songs and lessons. We praise God for His victory over Satan. Only because of Him are true Christians on the winning side.

The S in S.H.A.R.K. is for Satan, and you stand as much of a chance against him as you would against a great white shark in the middle of the ocean – on your own. Thankfully, if you have trusted Christ, you are not on your own.

S.atan
H.ates

A.
R.
K.

I said before that Satan has a personality, which includes the idea that he has feelings. One of his most prominent feelings is hatred. His most prominent is pride (which tends toward hatred of others). One of the reasons why he is so often portrayed as this red-bodied, cartoonish figure with a pointy tail and a pitchfork is because at one time people thought the best way to combat him was to injure his pride. Therefore, they tried to make him look silly. Ironically, this is the way most people (inaccurately) think of him today.

God is a loving Being. Satan is not loving. But hatred is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Neither God nor Satan are indifferent. Satan’s hatred is focused on robbing God of glory and destroying the creatures God loves.

He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

John 15:23

Jesus was speaking about the Jewish leaders who rejected Him.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:24

Those that hate and reject Jesus hate God also. We know that Satan hates Jesus because Jesus came to save those whom God loves, and to bring God the glory that Satan would like to steal by accusing God of unjustly forgiving sinners. God was both just and loving in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is why Satan tried so hard to stop Jesus from going to the Cross.

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

John 15:25

Jesus didn’t give anyone a valid reason to hate Him or to crucify Him. It was done because we are fallen sinful creatures, and we loved sin more than we loved God. In the same way, God justifies those who trust in Christ “without a cause” – in other words, without finding anything in us worthy of justification.

Sharks don’t hate people until they have some motivation – hunger, territoriality, self-defense, mistaken identity. Satan doesn’t have much reason to hate you unless you love God. If you start glorifying God, you become his target. Of course, if you are not right with God, you have a bigger problem than Satan. You are in trouble with God and need the Savior.

Next time, we will look at the A. in S.H.A.R.K.

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