Luke Chapter One

Luke Chapter One –

The first chapter of Luke’s story is not only amazing but I find it inspiring. A woman named Elizabeth is barren. She and her husband, though they had lived according to God’s plan for their life, had never been blessed with children and year after year they dealt with the disappointment of infertility but they remained faithful to God.

God saw, God knew, and as He is still, God is in the business of the miraculous. He took this simple man and woman of God, who had struggled for so long, and gave them a son named John that would become the one to proclaim the Messiah was coming. A cousin was coming, but He would be like no other for He was the Son of God.

Then we see a second story of an angel announcing a coming birth. This one to Elizabeth’s younger cousin, Mary. Again, God does the miraculous and Mary conceives a son, but this One was the long-awaited Messiah. And the story of love coming to earth begins.

As I read through this familiar story once again, there are always things that stand out.

Verse 3 – Luke tells why he is writing this letter - “It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

We all need a friend like Luke who wants us to know the truth.  And we all need to be a friend like Luke, too. He investigated everything carefully. He pored over the prophecies leading up to this moment. He studied all that had happened to make sure it was the “exact truth.” These words inspire me to know all the truth, the exact truth. And then to be that kind of friend that wants a friend to know that truth, too. I know it will require time, study, and effort, but I want to be that person who makes the time for the One who took the time to come and save me.

The second phrase that impacted me was in verse 37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”  And I wonder, how much do I hinder God from doing the possible because of my lack of faith, my fear, or my plain old disobedience?

God wants to do the miraculous in each of our lives and with Him nothing is impossible.  As we begin this Advent Season let us be ones to whom God finds favor. The ones who seek for the exact truth. The ones who walk with more faith, less fear and true obedience.

God bless you today and in this holiday season of the miraculous. 

Luke Chapter Two

This chapter is the most familiar to me, as we read the story of Jesus’ birth every Christmas eve as a child, and many times since. But now when I read it, I think of the time our daughter was two and a half years old, sitting in her feet pajamas atop a stool her grandfather had made her for Christmas. As her grandfather began to read the story, she became enthralled with it, repeating after him in an excited whisper, “a angel!”, “a baby”, “Momma, an angel”. Her little chubby hands clapping in delight and wonder at the words he was reading.



As I read the chapter this morning, I prayed to have that awe and wonder again. To read it with the faith of a little child, to see it with fresh perspective. The story becomes so familiar that it’s easy to skip over some of the really miraculous things that God did throughout this story. And since God skipped over sharing some of the details, it’s as if we’re reading the cliff notes of the scenes. He doesn’t tell us about the past nine months of waiting, when surely someone would have been aghast that Mary was pregnant before Joseph and she were formally married. Or the conversations between Mary and Joseph who had both been visited by an angel.


Instead we see that they traveled to Bethlehem for the census that was being taken. The hotels full up, they were apparently happy to find a room with a covering, even if it was the stable. Their story becoming even more unbelievable considering they were giving birth to the King of kings. Jesus was born in a lowly manger.


As for Luke studying and researching to find the “exact truth”, he sure skips a lot. There’s the host of angels singing praises about the newborn Jesus to a group of startled shepherds. Can you imagine the angel’s thoughts in all of this? For years, they must have wondered how God was going to reconcile mankind to Himself? How was He going to settle this long-standing conflict between sin and righteousness? And then God gives them a glimpse of the picture, He’s going to send a baby. And they sing for joy, that finally, there will be “peace among men with whom His is pleased.”

Luke continues with details of Jesus being taken to the temple to be presented to the Lord. What a unique moment that would have been, especially since we see John tell it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4, 14 Nasb). Leaving His place in glory with the Father, He came as a baby, dependent on others to care for Him, those whom He had created. I’ve often thought, being dependent upon our parents should have been good training ground for being dependent on God, but then, in our flesh we rebel. We want to do it our way. Even that darling daughter of mine, like most two and a half year old’s, would say, “Me do it!” Not this two and a half year old, Jesus “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Oh that we would pray for the grace of God to be upon our children and grandchildren. 

Luke skips years ahead and tells a story of Jesus being left behind in Jerusalem on a family trip, only to be found by His frantic parents a few days later in the temple. A strange interchange happens and they set off for home, again. And “He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”


Oh, that we would take the time to treasure these things in our hearts this Christmas season. To remember what this baby accomplished, but to also remember that He would first have to grow up, “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” All of which He did by doing only what the Father told Him to do.


Let’s at least give that a try today. Let's set aside the “me do it myself's” and follow His leading. Certainly, let's walk in His grace, but let's also live out His plan with the faith and wonder of a child, determined to keep Him the focus of the season.


God bless you as you do.

 


Luke Chapter Three

“And all flesh will see the salvation of God.”



That was the purpose of Jesus’ coming, wasn’t it?


Jesus’ older cousin, known as John the Baptist, is visited by God and told to go baptize people. Baptism, of sorts, was already in practice among the Jews who would wash before offering a sacrifice at the temple. It was called mikva’ot (mikvehs). So, walking along the Jordan river and seeing a man baptizing people wasn’t that shocking of an idea for these Jews. However, while they were used to ceremonial bathing (a purification immersion before offering a sacrifice for their sins) this was different. For them, the sacrifice was seen as the covering of their sin, and they were quite content to just cover it up. But John was preaching to be baptized for the repentance of sins.

This may have been a novel idea to those passing by, religious Jews who knew the Law and what they were supposed to do under the Law. But to hear that they should repent, that was poles apart from their thinking. They marched to the tune of the Law and they did it by rote. John was calling them to repent from the sin that would require a sacrifice. He was proclaiming the need to change their thought toward sin, to turn away from it. He was calling them to do more than live out a religious existence. John wanted them to know of the coming Messiah. It would require something other than religion and lineage to follow after Him.


John wasn’t afraid to call sin “sin”. We see that boldness in the later verses when he reprimands King Herod for his brother’s wife, and all the other wicked things he had done. The King’s response was to add another wicked thing to the list and have John thrown into jail. Yet another reminder that just because God calls you to do something it doesn’t mean it will all go smoothly and easy. In fact, every biblical example we have tells us the opposite. Oh yes, He always blesses in the midst of it, but we still must walk through the midst of it! I’m not sure there is any greater “knowing” than to know the feeling His strength and power helping you through a trial. And, there are always trials, even when we are walking in perfect step with God.


Today I was speaking with a Doctor who was asking about our daughter. She was diagnosed with the dreaded “C” word last year, and his words were, “doesn’t seem fair, does it?” My response was that we never even thought about its fairness. This world isn’t fair. Life is hard. It’s filled with woes and sorrows, right alongside the joys and triumphs. She was triumphant, by the way. She also saw a doctor today and her lab work came out clean, to which I say, Praise the Lord! But you know what? I was praising the Lord even when she had cancer. Why? Because He revealed Himself time and time again, quite often through those that surrounded us. Blessings? Oh, there were unimaginable and wonderfully sweet ones. Some large, some small. The biggest being that God was with us, and ultimately, we have not only seen His salvation, but we have trusted it. Not for the physical well-being, but for our eternal well-being.  


As we’ll see in the rest of John’s story, though physically hard and really didn’t end as any of us would like, his eternal life was far better. And through the trials, he was blessed by the assurance of His Savior.


The lesson for us? Repent, turn from those things that take the place of God and what He has for you. Repent from just covering up sin in your life to moving the opposite direction from it.


I pray you are blessed by His assurance as you do that. He came so that all flesh would see the salvation of God. He is with you. He is for you. Even when, and even if.


God bless

Luke Chapter Four

Don’t you find it interesting in this chapter that Lucifer, Satan, the devil, whatever we might call him, taunts Jesus with “If You are the Son of God…” in the first part of the chapter, and then in the latter verses, as Jesus is casting demons out of people that each of them acknowledge that He is the Son of God before His power is even revealed?


Lucifer knew exactly who He was, and exactly what He had come for. His whole desire was to do anything and everything he could to make sure Jesus did not accomplish the purpose He came for, that is, to be the Savior of the world, reconciling man to God. While you or I do not rate the personal attention of the ruler of this world, I’m pretty sure his minions, those angel-demons that are under his authority, have their orders to distract us and lead us away from following after God wholeheartedly, to do anything and everything to keep us from fulfilling our purpose, as well.


You did catch the fact that Satan is the ruler of this world (verse 5). While our supreme and sovereign God has ultimate control, He has allowed this world to be ruled by Satan who wanted to be like God. We can see by the mayhem and evil present in this world that God is allowing Him a long leash where it’s concerned. We can also thank the Lord that the time is short, and it will not always be this way. One day Satan will be cast away too. One day this world will be made new, with a truly wonderful King.  


So, what are we to do in the meantime? Follow Jesus’ example. He knew what to do. One, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Surrendered to His control completely. Allowing His responses to be guided by the Holy Spirit, not His own flesh. You have to know He was hungry, tired, and yet, none of that was used as an excuse for Him. Two, He knew God’s word so that He had a ready reply to Satan’s temptations. He welded that word as the sword it was intended. But that meant knowing the word!


For us, these are two very good places to begin. Our battles will come just as they did for Jesus, but if we are ready, if we are prepared, we, too, can stand firm. When we do, just as with Jesus, the miraculous can happen. You see, for Him, it wasn’t just a season of miracles, but His life lived out under the control of the Spirit was a miracle. God working through Him allowed miracles to take place daily.


Toward the end of the chapter, after the 40 days in the wilderness, after the temptations by Satan, after the miraculous healings and demons being cast out, the morning arrives and Jesus goes off to a secluded place, alone.  That’s the third thing that we need to be sure to do. Get alone with God on a consistent basis. Throughout Jesus’ life we see Him time and again going off alone to spend time with the Father. Have you spent time with Him today? Take the moments, as Jesus did. Get alone with your God. And then, be available for the miraculous.


God bless!

Luke Chapter Five

In the story of Jesus telling Simon and the other fishermen to go out to the deep and let down their nets, the men had such low expectations that they didn’t even want to give what He said a try. After all, they’d already tried it and it hadn’t worked! But Jesus knew something they didn’t know, and He proved it to them in a big way.


Bigger than a boat load of fish was the response. These tired guys had tried all night without any fish, how could this be? Simon knew it was nothing short of a miracle. Look at verses 8, 9 & 11. 'But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. '


A true sample of what happens when we try to make life happen on our own. Oh, we can get by, but why settle for that when the miraculous can take place? From healing a leper to associating with tax collectors, Jesus was constantly making miracles happen.


Simon Peter’s response to the bursting net load of fish was to recognize himself as a sinner unworthy of Jesus’ presence, yet the Pharisees, who should have known the prophecies of His coming more than Simon Peter, didn’t accept Him as the Messiah.


The Pharisees were an interesting group, big on judging and usurping authority, ignoring the miracles, they were quick to declare that Jesus shouldn’t be associating with tax collectors. But weren’t they themselves at the same dinner? That’s one of the traps of being religious, often holding others to a higher standard than they do themselves, being “above it”, as it were, instead of glorifying God for the miracles taking place they became jealous opponents, seeking to trap Him. Jesus had a way with words though, words that both made a point and set things straight. He didn’t hesitate to tell them who He was. But they didn’t believe. With all their education and status, they instead condemned Him. While the fishermen left everything to follow Him.


Is there something keeping you from believing wholeheartedly in the Savior? Or believing God has a plan for you? Are you willing to settle for life without the miraculous? I pray not. Our God is still in the business of miracles. And when you least expect it, He will be there saying, trust Me, do as I say. My prayer for us all is that our answer will be a ready “yes!”


My prayer is that this Christmas season we are knocked to our knees in recognition of who He is, and who we are not. That we become eager to see what He will do in our lives when we step out in obedience.


God bless as you do, and may His name be praised forever. 

Luke Chapter Six

One of the best things about Jesus coming and being our Savior is that He is also “the Lord of the Sabbath” (v 5) Under Levitical Law the Jews were required to take a day of rest, just as when God’s creation work was complete He rested on the seventh day. But an incredible thing happened with the coming of Jesus. He, being the Lord of the Sabbath has become our Sabbath rest, every day! We can rest in the work that Jesus completed for us. It was a work, after all, that we could not accomplish ourselves. We can rest in His Spirit to provide whatever we need for the day because He has provided, through His abundant grace, everything we need to live this life in a godly way (2 Peter 1:3). In Jesus there is complete rest, rest from worry and rest from thinking we must be perfect. He is the Lord of the Sabbath.



After Jesus had spent the entire night alone, praying to the Father, He came back to the large crowd that had been following Him and chose twelve men from among them to be His apostles, those who would be His closest confidants, those who would move and travel with Him, they would be witnesses of all He would do, and those whom He would entrust the task of sharing the gospel after He was gone. (Except that one who was chosen to fulfill prophecy, knowing that he would be a traitor and a thief. There were plenty of others like him, but Jesus chose Judas Iscariot.)


What a task these men would have ahead of them, and what a life of preparation they would see in the short few years they traveled with Jesus. Not only would they see the miraculous but they would be given power to perform miracles as well.


Jesus came down with these twelve men to the crowd of “people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all” (v. 17-19) Just to touch Him. Just to know His power and be healed. Ever been there? Whether it be in body, soul or spirit, He is the Lord of the Sabbath and available for us to reach out to touch Him, and find rest.


Jesus begins to preach the infamous Sermon on the Mount. A sermon that describes a happiness that only comes when we live like Christ did. As some have termed this list, the Be Attitudes, our attitude has everything to do with how we perceive life. It’s not about our situation in life, it’s about our response to it that can bring happiness, regardless of what it is. The word “Blessed” in each of these verses means “happy”, so, as you read through them, Jesus is saying, these are the things that should make you happy. It’s a list that is opposite to what the world tells us. And this list in the beatitudes can be misconstrued. It’s so very important to harmonize with other scriptures to get a complete picture of what God teaches.


What we take away from the Beatitudes is that it is better to be in the poor house and realize your need of God than to be rich and rely on your riches. It is better to look for satisfaction and comfort in the arms of Jesus than to take what this world offers. It is better to be hated by men and loved by God. It is better to love your enemy than to have hate in your heart. It is better to give than to receive. And on the list goes.


What Jesus is saying is that if we want to be happy, we need to keep our eyes on God. Not on the things of this world. Live the “Golden Rule” – treat other people like you would want to be treated. But above all… Seek God. Seek His help to live as you should. Seek His touch to be healed. And be aware of the Lord of the Sabbath.


There is much more to cover in this chapter, but as a take away, it’s a good reminder this holiday season that all the rest we need can be found in Him. The Lord of the Sabbath.


What stood out to you in this chapter?

Luke Chapter 7

Oh, there’s so very much in this chapter again. It seems I say that about every chapter, but Luke, in his thoroughness really wants to put in a lot of details and today is no different.


The faith that is shown by those who need Jesus’ help comes in all shapes and sizes. We see Jesus heal the slave of a well-known and loved Centurion. He raises a boy from the dead out of compassion for his mother. Many sick and ailing come to Him for healing.


Meanwhile, John the Baptist still sits in prison, and the time of confinement makes him begin to question his own life, and question whether his cousin really is the Son of God, the Messiah, and he sends some of his followers to Jesus to ask, just to be sure that He really is the One they were waiting for. Jesus’ reply was full of good news: “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” A resounding, Yes John, Jesus is the One! Even with all that good news John still sits in a dank prison cell, awaiting his fate. His purpose fulfilled.


Then comes one of my favorite stories. Although it bothers me to call it “stories” as its too easy for people to consider them as fairy tales, fables from old, when they are truth spoken for us to learn by, live by.


The woman, known as a sinner (a woman of bad reputation) brought expensive perfume (usually saved for a burial oil) and broke open the vial, poured it on Jesus feet and washed them with her tears and wiping them with her hair. What a sight, wouldn’t you say? The snooty Pharisees with their aspersions condemn her and Jesus along with her for associating with her. Then Jesus tells the parable about the two who owed debts. One owed a larger debt than the other, but both debts were paid. The one who recognized just how much had been paid loved greatly the one who paid it, while the one who only owed a little didn’t see the great significance of their debt being paid and only loved a little. How sad that any of us would not recognize just how much we owe Jesus. He came on our behalf, and the knowledge that only one sin would separate us from a relationship with God should be cause enough to live a life of gratitude to the One who died to pay our debt. Woe to us if we think our debt wasn’t large, or significant. It was large enough to send us into a lake of fire for eternity were it not for Jesus.


Our sins have been forgiven. All because of a Christmas miracle. A Savior full of compassion and power to change all of history. Relish in His love and compassion for you today. You’ve been forgiven. You’ve been made new. No longer are you the woman known as a sinner. You belong to Him! 

Luke Chapter Eight

I hope you’re reading the chapters for yourselves because there’s no way to cover all the different people and things that Luke is writing about. This chapter gives some of the details of Jesus’ ministry.


It begins with telling a little about the women traveling with Jesus and the Apostles. What a resume they have.


He tells the parable of the Sower and the Seed. (Just for reassurance, other scriptures confirm that each one of us have our own choice to make what our soil is like. The decision is ours regarding faith. God doesn’t make that for us, and neither can Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 is a great comfort “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” So, if you find yourself wondering how others cannot see the truth of who Jesus is, you can know, that because they would not believe the word.)

My prayer is that His word has found fertile soil in each of us. That we will settle for nothing less than a relationship that is growing and effective. Bringing fruit to maturity.


We are to take care how we listen.


It didn’t matter how many miraculous things the apostles and others saw Jesus perform, when something was affecting them, or happening to them, their fear took center stage. Short memories to the amazing things He had accomplished in their sight, they are scared witless during a storm on the sea. And then, Jesus is woken by them and speaks peace to the wind and waves. All is calm once more.


What wind and waves are at your door? Jesus is just as willing today as He was then to say, Peace, be still. “Where is your faith?” Those words must have silenced the men as fast as the winds obeyed His command to be still. Fearful and amazed, they had seen Him raise the dead, and were still caught off guard that He could calm the storm.


What about us? Are we surprised when He enters the situations of life and brings peace? Changes circumstances? Rearranges things in ways we could never have imagined? Have you heard His voice say, “where is your faith?”


He revealed His power over life, death, illness, demons, wind, waves, and yet, even today, I venture to say, that we forget the power He’s made available to us to face the situations, to be at peace in the midst. To deal.


Perhaps we are like the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve long years. It seems we will never be done with the circumstance we’re in. It just goes on and on and on. And yet, all it takes is faith. That faith may not remove the situation as it did for her, but that faith will carry you through. In this case, the woman simply reached out in faith to touch only the hem of His garment. She didn’t require a face to face, a one on one appointment, she merely wanted to touch the hem of His garment. And she was healed. Perhaps she was at a point when she had nothing else to lose. No where else to go. Desperate for healing. Desperate for acceptance and peace, that incredible peace of no longer being seen as unclean. I’m certain there was humility that caused her to seek the bottom of His hem, rather than to look into His eyes, or to speak to Him. I’ve been there. Have you?


To tie this chapter up, Luke tells of Jesus bringing a little girl back to life with the words, “Child, arise!” Words we’d do well to hear also. Child, arise, and recognize the incredible power of God. Regardless of your situation, your illness, your storm. Don’t fear. Have faith. He is with you.


Arise.

 

Grace to Joy

Encouraging women to know the grace of God and experience His joy!