“Woman, Well, Worship”
Today’s reading is one of my favorite portions of the Word.
So much to glean.
Ask the Spirit to give you revelation, illumination, enlightenment and understanding.
Ask Him to speak to your heart...to your need.
The passage is somewhat lengthier than our normal, daily, synoptic reading.
Take your time.
Rather than comment as in the usual pattern, allow me to ask you to pay attention to the following as your are reading…
- why Jesus went
- Jesus’ physical state
- who Jesus encountered
- His response
- Her response
- How Jesus described Himself
- What Jesus offered
- How Jesus suddenly turned the conversation. Why?
- Her response
- This portion of the Word gives one of the most profound teachings on something that we are to do constantly…
This is an amazing encounter.
Meditate upon it.
Jesus went because He must pass through - led by Father.
Jesus was tired.
Jesus is Living Water.
Jesus quenches the thirst we all have.
She believed because of what Jesus had told her.
The town believed...firstly because of her testimony…but then because they had heard for themselves that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
The Jews resisted and rejected.
The Samaritans, despised by the Jews as being a corrupted lineage, heard and believed.
Jesus gives His greatest teaching on worship to a Samaritan woman.
Learn from Jesus the way to speak.
Learn the way to live.
We often forget that Jesus was a man.
He had emotions.
He had feelings.
He was tempted with fear.
He suffered hard things.
In these passages we see a hard thing.
John had been arrested. It would end in glory.
What did Jesus do?
He departed to Galilee.
To preach the Gospel.
Why did he depart to Galilee?
Because Father told Him to - John 17.
Jesus went “in the power of the Spirit”.
The news of His return spread throughout the countryside.
Matthew tells us that when Jesus heard of John’s imprisonment He went to Galilee.
Mark tells us that He goes to Galilee and proclaims the gospel of God.
Luke tells us that that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
John gives us insight into the politics of the situation.
- Jesus learned that the Pharisees heard that Jesus was baptizing more folk than John
- They had arranged for John’s arrest. Jesus would be next.
- We see that Jesus did not do the actual baptizing...I’ve been alluding to this the past couple of days...His disciples baptized.
- Jesus left.
Do you see the need to get the full counsel of the Word of God?
May we be as Jesus who did everything in the power of the Spirit.
“Superior To All”
So many things for us to see here.
Allow me to bullet point them.
- John was baptizing
- Jesus is baptizing (more later)
- Both were doing as God directed at the same time
- Some of John’s disciples had a dispute with a certain Jew concerning ceremonial washing. This was a common argument. We are told of this. They come to John and speak to him, not about the dispute, but rather about the one on the other side of the Jordan - Jesus. Curious. Did they use the dispute as an pretense to come to John to ask the real question? Probably.
- John’s disciples were worried. People were flocking to Jesus! What would happen to the “First Church of John”? Nothing changes. So many are motivated by fear, greed and jealousy within the Body. Let us learn from John’s reply.
How did John reply?
- one can not receive anything unless it is from heaven. That which was occurring with Jesus was from heaven.
- I told you I was not the Christ. You testify of that.
- I have been sent before Him.
- The one who has the Bride is the bridegroom.
- The friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens for him and rejoices when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.
- This is my joy.
- It is complete.
- He (Jesus) must become more important.
- I must become less important.
John the Apostle/Writer then gives these insights…
- The One from above is superior to all...stated twice.
- Jesus testifies about what He has seen and heard.
- No one accepts Jesus’ testimony.
- The one who does accept the testimony confirms that God is Truthful.
- Jesus, the One God sent, speaks the words of God.
- God does not give the Spirit sparingly.
- The Father loves the Son and placed all things under His authority.
- The one who believes in the Son has eternal life.
- The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on Him
It could not be clearer.
Whether from the mouth of John the Baptist or the pen of John the Apostle.
Believe in the Son unto eternal life.
Reject the Son unto eternal wrath.
Where is your belief?
Todays reading is from…
Jesus and His disciples traveled frequently.
Give close attention to their movement, the reason for the travel, etc.
The important point from this verse is this - Jesus spent time with the disciples.
They spent time with Him.
We learn, glean, grow only in time with one another.
It looks as if Jesus was baptizing...at least from this verse. But, wait before you draw conclusions. We will get the full counsel of the Word.
Do you spend time with Jesus?
Does He spend time with you?
Todays reading contains a very familiar passage.
Often a “spirit of familiarity” will blind us to truth.
John 3:16 is probably the “best known” verse from the Word.
Even the world knows it.
But, did we know the context of the verse?
Jesus spoke it during a profound encounter with Nicodemus, a Jewish religious ruler.
Nicodemus had sought Jesus under the cloak of darkness.
He had questions.
He also had a job, position and reputation to protect.
The truths that Jesus spoke changed Nicodemus forever.
“You must be born again!”
There is birth of the flesh and there is birth of the Spirit.
Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, did not understand.
Jesus gives interpretation to Moses being told to lift up the serpent in the wilderness.
So many Truths here… too many to examine in the confines of this format.
For today, consider what we learn about Jesus and God…
- from God
- performed miraculous signs
- God with Him
- Son of Man
- prophesied of His lifting up...death on cross
- everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life
- One and Only Son
- came not to condemn the world, but world would be saved through Him
- believe in His name
- Light come into the world
- sent Jesus
- with Jesus
- has a Kingdom, enter by being born again through Jesus
- God loved the world through this way - His Son
Therefore, are you truly born again?
Not just “believing”, rather, do you believe unto salvation?
“Play Not Along…”
The chief priests, the experts in the Law and the elders were always seeking to trip Jesus with religious questions.
They feared the people.
They feared how the people considered John to be a prophet.
They feared how the people were responding to Jesus.
They sought how to discredit Jesus.
Then, they sough to kill Him.
Such people do the same thing today.
They fear those who are truly functioning as the Lord empowers.
They seek to control and manipulate...under the guise of “leadership”.
They seek to exalt themselves while attempting to belittle the true Believer.
Jesus would not play along with the game.
When questioned this particular time He responded with a question.
They thought they could “out smart” Jesus.
We will see later that a time came when they asked Him no more questions.
Today, we see that they knew they were cornered with Jesus’ response.
Jesus revealed their motivation and their fear.
We should do as Jesus did…
- respond as Father leads
- refuse to play the game with religious rulers
- speak the Word of the Lord
- not entrust Himself to the people
- He knew all people
- He knew in Whom to trust
“Clean the House”
Read very carefully…
Do you have any questions?
Did you see anything curious?
Did you notice the chapter numbers?
There is divergence in theological circles in understanding these events.
Some believe that these four accounts all point to the same event - one cleansing.
Others believe that there are two separate cleansings of the Temple - one at the beginning of Jesus ministry, another at the end.
I believe there were two cleansings.
A clear, concise, simple reading of the Word supports this.
The argument for one cleansing is weak and requires twisting of the Word.
The account in John 2 is at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
- He had zeal for the house of the Lord
- Jesus despised the abuse of the moneychangers.
- Jesus claimed that the Temple was “My Father’s house”!
As often occurred, the Jewish leaders wanted a sign.
If Jesus claimed the authority to cleanse the Temple in this way, then He would have to prove it to them by a sign.
Jesus gave them a sign - “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”
Jesus was speaking of His Body.
How do I know?
Because the next verse tells us.
The disciples remembered this after He was raised from the dead.
They believed the Scripture.
They believed what the Lord had spoken.
The synoptic Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke - tell of the second cleansing which takes place in the last week of Jesus corporeal existence.
Here we see…
- Jesus states that “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are turning it into a den of robbers”.
- “My House”. Before it was “My Father’s House”.
- Mark tells us “a house of prayer for all nations”...that was profound for the Jews to hear. All nations would include Gentiles.
What does this have to do with us - New Covenant Believers?
We are the House.
We are the vessels of the Presence of God.
- We should be pure.
- We should not be consumed with the processes of the Moneychangers.
- We should not corrupt that which God is doing.
- We should be vessels of prayer, not a den of robbers.
Sadly, much of what the modern organizational church does has far more in common with the moneychangers than with a House of Prayer.
Let us change that.
“To the Feast”
Often we forget that Jesus was human/man.
He “had a life” as we do.
Yet, He did not sin.
Yesterday, we saw that He traveled with His family.
Today, we see that He went to Jerusalem for the “Jewish feast of Passover”
Jesus followed/adhered-to/lived the Law as given by the Lord.
Pay close attention to the mention of “feasts” and timing elements in the Gospels.
Very precise timing is given throughout the Gospels.
There is a reason...as we will see.
Press on in the Truth of the Lord.
Trust his timing.
“Marriage at Cana”
I’m uncertain as to the sequencing of today’s reading...don’t know why it is presented this way...but here we go.
The first three speak of Peter.
John speaks of the wedding at Cana. I believe this is the main point for the day.
Turning water to wine.
It is likely that we all know the account, but, did you pay close attention.
Read again asking “who, what, when, where, why, how”?
John 2 begins with “now on the third day”.
Reading back one sees that John is presenting a particular chronology.
There was a wedding
Jesus’ mother had been invited.
So had Jesus and His disciples.
A major social faux pas occurred.
One simply did not run short of food nor drink.
The same is today.
Mary brings the problem to Jesus.
She simply states the situation.
Did she think that Jesus could do something?
Was she aware of something?
Was Jesus unaware?
Mary tells the servant to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.
I think Mary knew that the time of her Son had arrived.
Jesus told the servants what to do.
The Father told Him.
Later Jesus states that He only did what Father instructed.
Fill the water jars.
Take to head servant for approval.
It was superior wine to that which had been served.
This was wine...not juice.
So much of the Word has been twisted and manipulated to fit the agenda of man.
Yes, we are told not to be drunk with wine.
We are also told to not be gluttons.
We are told that Jesus did this as the first of His miraculous signs.
In this way He revealed His glory
The disciples believed in Him.
Are we revealing the glory of the Lord?
Do people believe Him because of us?
“Follow Me and I Will Turn You…”
Upon reading the Gospel accounts we have a fuller understanding of how the Lord called some of His disciples.
They had previous interaction with the Lord.
Some initiated by the Lord.
Others were brought to the Lord by friends/family.
Here is the Truth for us today - when Jesus said “come and follow”, they did so.
Are we doing likewise?
In all ways?
Jesus was tempted as we are.
We learn from the passages how He handled temptation.
He spoke the Word of God
We are to likewise.
We cannot speak It if we do now know It.
Note that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.
Often we think that temptation is the sin.
No. It is what we do with the temptation.
We also see some things about the strategy of the evil one.
He comes when we are weak. Jesus was physically weak.
He seeks to speak to our pride.
He questions the truth.
He questions the Word of God.
He (evil one...just mak’n sure ) will use the Word of God.
Luke 4:6 gives an interesting insight.
The devil received his control of this realm because someone had relinquished it - Man.
Jesus stood upon the Truth and Word of the Lord.
He resisted the evil one and the evil one left...until a more opportune time!
Then, angels came to minister to Jesus!
Stand firm in the Word of the Lord.
“Our Family Tree”
The synoptic reading for today can be found…
Yes, we have read this before - “Generations”
Most of us can trace our family lineage no more than three or four generations.
God traces Jesus back to I AM.
Jesus knew Who He was.
We know Who He is.
We know who we are in Him!
If you are a Believer, this is your Family.
“My One Dear Son/Chosen One of God/Lamb of God”
Today’s reading is found in all four gospels.
We are to give close attention to every Word of the Most High.
Even more so when the Lord gives us four accounts.
John was hesitant to baptize Jesus.
They obviously knew one another.
John new the character and life of Jesus.
John was baptizing unto repentance.
This makes his statement “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” even more intriguing.
John knew Jesus.
John knew himself.
John also knew something else.
The Lord had told Him that the One that he saw the Spirit descend and stay upon is the One Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
John agreed to Jesus’ request.
John then received confirmation of that which the Lord had spoke.
The Spirit descended in bodily form, a dove, upon the Lord.
The Voice of Father spoke.
John saw the heavens splitting apart - exactly what is that?!
He saw the Spirit descend as a dove.
He heard the Voice declare that Jesus is the “one dear Son”. I like the KJV word “begotten”. It carries meaning beyond that which we associate with progeny.
Was this encouraging to Jesus?
I would think so.
But, the primary reason this occurred in this manner was so that John would see and have the testimony we read in John.
Remember what John had stated.
- I am not Messiah
- One is coming greater than I
- I did not recognize Him
- I saw the Spirit descend
- I testify.
Lastly, look at what we learn about Jesus…
- submitted to a baptism of repentance. Did He “need” to? Not from a sin perspective, but from obedience to Father.
- fulfilled all righteousness
- only begotten Son
- Father takes great delight in Him
- Lamb of God
- takes away the sins of the world
- greater than John
- existed before John (yet John was 6 months older?...speaks of Who Jesus is)
- baptizes with the Holy Spirit
- the Chosen One of God
This is Who we worship.
This is Who we serve.
This is Who has provided salvation.
This is Who takes great delight in You.
Our reading for today:
As we have previously seen, John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins
John did not stop there.
John did something that is rare today.
John confronted sin.
He did so at the highest level of political power.
John repeatedly spoke to Herod about Herod’s many sins, especially the one of taking his brother’s wife as his own.
Eventually Herod had John arrested. We will see the end of the story later.
We need more who will do likewise, who will address sin, who will speak as the Spirit leads regardless of the consequences.
Most of the church today refuses the leadership of the Spirit in such matter.
We speak of being “submissive” to leadership while we are cowering in fear and rejecting the move of God, all guised in a pseudo-humility manifesting powerlessness.
We wait for “someone to do something” while the Lord is seeking to use us.
Determine today to speak the Truth as the Lord leads.
Fear not the outcome.
“Not Me, Something Greater Is Com’n”
The reading for today…
The people were filled with anticipation.
They were awaiting Messiah - Salvation.
They wondered if John could be the Christ.
The same is true today.
Folk are longing and looking for salvation, for rescue.
Some place their hope in the end of the world.
Heard of someone like that today.
Today my wife and I met a lady who told us she is attending a funeral.
A friend had died at his own hand.
He had placed his trust in the world ending with the end of the Mayan calendar.
The world did not end.
He took his own life a couple of days later.
He was “raised Catholic”, turned to atheism, search out a shaman in South America…
He was retired, wealthy...all that so many seek.
Yet, he ended it.
If we place our hope in anything other than Messiah we will fail.
People are searching.
They are looking.
Do we point them to the Lord?
We must do as John did.
- proclaimed good news to the people
- walk in humility…”unworthy to untie sandals…” too much of the church point to themselves, their organization, their leadership, their good deeds rather than to the Lord.
He told them that he was not Messiah, but that one coming is.
Look how he described the coming Messiah.
- will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
- will judge…”winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.” This is yet to come!
A group had been sent by the Pharisees to question John.
We can expect the same type of questioning and resistance from the “religious leaders” of our time.
- proclaim the coming of the Lord...past and present
- exhort people
“What Should We Do?”
Our reading for today is Luke 3:10-14
What an exciting passage!
The people were confessing and repenting of sins.
People from all areas of life...crowds, soldiers, bureaucrats.
We see an amazing truth here that is so often ignored in today’s “church”.
True repentance, confession and subsequent salvation will result in the individual desiring to change and to “do something”.
What we see today is not folk asking “What then shall we do?”, but rather, folk being told to do this, do that, to be a part of our group.
There is a difference.
Now, note what John told them.
Remember this. If you have extra of something...food, clothing, shelter...it is given to meet needs of others, especially the Body of Christ.
- collect no more than required
- no violence
- no false accuastion
John spoke to the specifics of those who inquired.
The principle we see is this.
A true transformation will be reflected in all areas of our life.
We are to manifest the Power of the Lord as we are going…
As we are going! So often we defer to the organization to meet needs.
As we are going!
Watch for such opportunities.
If it crosses your mind to pay for the groceries of the one in line behind you…
If you see someone who needs something...and you have extra of such...provide.
What then shall we do?
Just do it.
“Fruit of Vipers”
As we saw yesterday, John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Many of the people responded.
They confessed their sins and repented of them.
The religious rulers saw this and worried.
They did not want to lose their control over the people.
They did not want to lose their leadership to some locust eat’n wilderness dwelling vagabond.
They decided to “play along”.
They came to be baptized by John.
They came to profess repentance and confession of sin.
John called them what they were - offspring of vipers, children of Abraham.
John was letting them know that just a public profession of repentance of sins was not the true evidence of repentance. A change in the fruit of life was the evidence.
So, if they were truly repentant, then it would be evident in their life.
John then addressed the issue of their heart.
They thought that since they were children of Abraham, then the Lord would not cut them off.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
God can raise up children for Abraham from stones. (Interesting thought to dwell on.)
God, even at that moment, was laying the ax head to the root of the tree.
Lineage would not suffice.
We see the same today.
So many think they are in correct relationship with God because they regularly participate in organizational church activities, yet, they are not of the Organism of the Body of Christ.
So many think they are in correct relationship with God due to family heritage and past faithfulness of previous generations.
It is only be grace that we are saved.
Each individual must repent, confess and call upon the name of the Lord.
Each individual must produce fruit which shows evidence of a transformed life.
Where do you stand?
“John the Baptist”
John the Baptist - the last of the Old Covenant prophets.
We learn much about him in the passages…Luke gives precise historical timing.
- He proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”.
- He was the one whom Isaiah the prophet spoke
- voice of one shouting in the wilderness
- prepare the way for the Lord
- make His paths straight
- preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins
- lived in the wilderness
- clothing of camel hair
- leather belt about the waist
- diet consist of locusts and wild honey
- people from all around the region were going to him to hear message
- baptized as they confessed their sins
- Jewish leadership checked him out
The gospel of John gives some interesting insight.
The Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites to question him.
Religious leaders always resent someone else drawing a crowd.
By John’s answers we can glean the inferences of the questions.
“I am not the Christ”
“I am not” (Elijah)
“I am not” (The Prophet)
“I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
So, John knew that he was fulfilling the Word of Isaiah.
Yet, he said he was not Elijah.
The Jews were expecting Elijah...still are.
Remember this as we go through the gospels.
Jesus will give us more understanding later.
This is a good example of the need to procure the full counsel of the Word.
John prepared folk for the coming of the Lord.
The Lord will return soon.
Are you ready?
Are you preparing folk?
Today’s reading is from Luke 2:41-52
Jesus’ parents were faithful to the Word and instruction of the Lord.
They celebrated the Feasts of the Lord as He commanded.
It cost them. Travel. Time. Resources.
They took Jesus to Jerusalem when He was twelve years old.
The last year of “childhood”.
The next year He would be a young man.
(The concept of “teenager” we accept in our society is non-biblical...a recent development. In the Word and in most of history one sees children and young men/women.)
Jesus was maturing.
His parents believed Him to be traveling with the group for family and friends.
There was no mistake here.
There was no sin.
Jesus tells us what happened.
He must be about His Father’s business. KJV
Of course, the parents were concerned.
Of course, they had wished they had known.
Note what Jesus was doing.
Jesus’ parents did not understand all that was happening, but Mary pondered the happenings in her heart.
Jesus continues to increase in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man.
May we be parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that manifest obedience, holiness and righteousness before our family - as Joseph and Mary.
May our children hunger as Jesus did...to His praise,honor and glory.
“Filled and Favor”
The reading for today can be found in…
It is often said that we know very little about the upbringing and growth of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps this is true in some ways. But, we do know profound truths.
Joseph had been told by an angel that it was safe to return from Egypt.s. Yet, when Joseph heard that Archelaus had followed his father Herod as King over Judea, he was fearful. He then received another dream telling to return to the region of Galilee.
Another Word from the Lord.
Another act of obedience.
Joseph settled in Nazareth.
Jesus lived in Nazareth.
Thereby the Word of the prophets was fulfilled.
Messiah would be called “A Nazarene”.
How is Jesus described as a child?
He became strong.
He was filled with wisdom.
He had the favor of God upon him.
Thus the desire of my heart for my children, grandchildren and the greats to come.
Let us live in a manner that will lead our children to such.
Today’s reading is from Matthew 2:13-21.
In this passage we see continued fulfillment of prophecy about the Lord Jesus.
Jewish leaders had struggled with these prophecies…
How would Messiah be “out of Egypt”?
How would be Messiah be from Bethlehem?
How would he called a Nazarene?
How could all these, plus many others, be fulfilled in one person?
I continue to be struck with the obedience of Joseph.
Four times he was instructed by an angel in a dream.
Most of us would give no heed to such.
Most Believers do not believe that God will speak in such a way.
So, “after they had gone”?
The Wise Men.
Joseph immediately packed up his family and headed to Egypt...either “that night” or “by night”. I suspect both.
This was not a small journey.
How did they have the resources to make the trip?
They had been living in the area for several months. Certainly Joseph had been working. Also, the gifts of the Wise Men would come in handy.
We are to be obedient.
An evil event occurs.
Most do not consider this when reflecting upon the birth narrative of the Lord.
We have just experienced a similar thing in the past holiday season. Evil murdered several children/adults.
A mass murder occurred here.
Herod killed all the boys aged two and younger in “Bethlehem and the surrounding regions”. The KJV says “coastlands”. This would have likely been several dozen young boys.
This was a governmental atrocity.
This was approved by the powers that be.
This was carried out by evil using inanimate objects.
I wonder if today’s Believers would allow/approve/endure/etc. such action because “we must submit to the powers that be”? (Do some research. Discover how many children are dying on a daily basis due to convenience. Also, how many are dying in the execution of a “war on a tactic”. Evil, foolish folly of man.)
Nothing is new.
A great cry came forth from Ramah.
Weeping for the children.
Comfort was not desired. They would not be comforted.
Did the Lord God know of this?
Did it break His heart?
The question is always asked “How could God allow such?”
His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
His ways are beyond our comprehension.
Evil bears fruit.
The day of avenging is drawing near.
I do know this.
These boys that were killed by Herod are in the Presence of the Most High God.
The coming of Jesus in the flesh...the first time…is not as “cutesy” as often portrayed.
As the Lord fulfilled every prophetic point in His first coming, He will do likewise in His return.
We would do well to know what has been revealed about His return.
This is one reason why we are about to begin a study on the book of Daniel - online only. (You can participate via computer, tablet, smartphone, cell phone, land line)
Join us. Go to http://precept.org/poc and join the Precept Online Community. Look for online courses and find Dale Moore Online Classes.
“Spirit-Led Prophetic Confirmation”
Our synoptic gospel reading today is from Luke 2:21-38…
The amazing confirmation of the child continues.
Can you imagine holding Jesus, The Messiah, The Savior of the world in your arms.
Joseph and Mary were faithful in adhering to the Law according to the Word of the Lord.
In the process, they had two poignant encounters.
- looking for the restoration of Israel
- Holy Spirit upon him
- Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ
- directed by the Holy Spirit
- followed the Holy Spirit
We as Believers have the Holy Spirit.
Do we live in the same manner as Simeon?
Do we heed the guidance of the Spirit?
Look at what Simeon revealed about the Lord…
- God’s salvation
- Prepared by God in the presence of all peoples
- a light
- a revelation to the Gentiles (an amazing proclamation considering the moment!)
- for the glory to God’s people Israel
Joseph and Mary were amazed.
Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary.
Simeon then told Mary…
- this child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a signed to be rejected.
- as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed
- a sword will pierce your own soul as well.
Not the type of things one would expect to be said to the mom.
Anna had been faithful to the Lord worshipping, fasting, praying.
She gave thanks to God.
She told those awaiting for the redemption of Jerusalem about the child.
So, for us…
Are we walking in the Spirit?
Do we follow the leadership of the Spirit?
Are we faithful where the Lord has placed us?
Do we speak of the child to those awaiting redemption?
“Rich and Noble/Poor and Plain”
We continue to see the amazing things that occurred in the birth of the Lord.
Wise men from the east came to worship Him.
They were following a star.
This was not some “planetary conjunction” or the like.
The star stood over the house where Jesus was...a rather precise event.
They came to find the King of the Jews.
Of course this upset King Herod.
We rarely give heed to the political climate of the day. Turmoil. Chaos.
There was a tremendous expectation of Messiah.
There was also the rule of Rome.
Herod feigned interest in worshipping the King. His true interest was in destroying the King...we will see that later.
Note the things that occurred…
- prophecies fulfilled
- dreams that warned
- stars that led
- men from pagan lands that came to worship (I suspect they came from Persia and were influenced by the Jewish population/writings remaining from the time of Daniel)
- gifts were given
- worship was given
We see that they found the Child in a house.
It was a number of months past the time of birth.
Yes, most “Christmas creches” are in error.
The shepherds were among the lowest in societal structure.
They were living in the field, keeping watch over the flock.
Note the things that occurred…
- angelic visitation
- the glory of the Lord shone around them
- proclamation of the gospel: the Good News - a Savior is born
- they received a sign: the baby wrapped…
- I like this translation…”a vast heavenly army appeared with the angel” praising!
- the shepherds hurried and found the family as they were told
- the shepherds praised and glorified God
- treasured and pondered these things in her heart
- what must she be thinking?
- what must she be feeling?
Jesus came to the Rich and Noble, the Poor and Plain.
He came to seek and save the lost.
Spread the Word.
“Salvation Comes In A Taxing Time”
Today’s reading is from Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7
We live in a blessed time.
We live in a time of increasing difficulty and evil.
This is nothing new.
One thing we do know.
Evil will increase…
2 Peter 3:2-4
2 I want you to recall both the predictions foretold by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.
3 Above all, understand this: In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges
4 and saying, “Where is his promised return? For ever since our ancestors died, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Joseph and Mary also faced difficult times.
Can you imagine the chaos resulting from a governmental decree that all return to their hometown to register?
Apparently there was not mercy upon those about to give birth.
The decree must be honored.
Apparently Joseph had a difficult time in believe that which Mary must have told him. Joseph was contemplating divorcing her privately - putting her away.
But then, an angel speaks do Joseph in a dream.
Then, a Savior is born.
In a poor circumstance.
In a time of political chaos.
In God’s perfect timing.
So will be His return.
Today’s synoptic gospel reading is from Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38.
Too often folk just “blow through” the varied genealogies of the Word.
This is a mistake.
They are there for a reason, a purpose.
Here we see that Jesus had the earthly, genealogical qualifications that was expected of Messiah.
He also has the heavenly, genealogical qualifications.
One also see some intriguing phrases that confirm some things…
- Jesus was the son (as was supposed) of Joseph. “As was supposed”? People assumed. They did not believe the account of Mary. Later on we will see that the religious leaders held this against Jesus. Called him illegitimate.
- The Luke passage traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam, then calls Adam the son of God. Hummmm.
- There are several timing elements in the passages - 14 generations, deportation to Babylon (before and after)
Matthew is revealing Jesus as Messiah to a Jewish audience. His genealogy supports this.
Luke is more oriented around all mankind...therefore tracing back to “son of God.”
In all this we see the Lord’s hand and plan.
Likewise, He has a plan for us and our “genealogy” - past, present, future.
Let us work His plan.
“Mercy - New Birth in Late Life”
Todays reading is from Luke 1:57-80.
Remember, we are doing a day-by-day synoptic view of all four Gospels. The past couple of days have been from Luke. Luke is the only Gospel writer that provides this information.
Birth of a son.
God’s great mercy manifest.
Have you noted how prevalent mercy is in the birth narrative of the Lord?
Mercy upon individuals.
Mercy upon man.
Mercy: “unmerited favor”.
Obeying the Word of the Lord the baby was circumcised on the eighth day - Genesis 17:10-12
Upon naming the baby the mother proclaimed “he must be named John”.
Because this is what the angel had told them - Luke 1:13
They were obedient to the Word of the Lord.
Have you noted the importance of obedience in the birth narrative of the Lord?
A little side observation.
They “made signs to the baby’s father”. Does this mean he was deaf and dumb?
Upon proclaiming “John” Zechariah’s mouth and tongue were released.
He had believed.
This declaration of belief before the people set him free.
What was the reaction of the people?
- filled with fear...throughout all the hill country of Judea
- kept talking about these things
- questioned as to who this child might be
Then, this great statement - “for the Lord’s hand was indeed with him.”
Then Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.
Mary and Elizabeth had lifted up proclamations of the glory of God.
Rarely is this prophecy of praise examined, meditated upon, taught, preached.
Take a moment.
Allow the Spirit to reveal…
Ah, amazing is it not.
- Raised up a horn of salvation
- Spoke through prophets
- Saves from enemies
- Has done all this to show mercy!
- Has done all this to remember His holy covenant
To what purpose?
That we might…
- serve Him without fear
- serve Him in holiness and righteousness before Him all of our days
Zechariah declares that John..
- will be called the prophet of the Most High
- will go before the Lord to prepare His ways
- would give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins
Because of God’s tender mercy (there it is again!)
The Dawn will break upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
- fear not
- receive/rest in the mercy of the Lord
- serve Him without fear
- serve Him in holiness and righteousness
“Blessed Are Those Who Believe”
Today’s reading is from Luke 1:39-56
Note the sequence of events and the reaction of all involved.
Mary went to see Elizabeth.
When? “In those days…”
In the days of the pregnancy of both. After the visit of the angel.
Mary greets Elizabeth.
Immediately Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Then Elizabeth proclaimed the following, apparently before Mary had told her anything…
- blessed are you among women
- blessed is the child in your womb
- blessed is she (Mary) who believed what was spoken by the Lord would be fulfilled
- who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me
We then see when/how she understood all this…
The instant the greeting of Mary reached Elizabeth’s ear the baby in Elizabeth lept for joy.
This tells us much about babies in the womb.
Then, again, she states that Mary is blessed for believing the Word of the Lord.
A principle for us: blessed are we when we believe the Word of the Lord.
How does Mary respond?
She breaks forth in what is often called The Magnificat, A Hymn of Praise and Magnifying God.
She exalts and rejoiced in the Lord.
Look at the truths of the Lord she proclaims…
- He had looked upon her
- He blessed her
- He did great things for her
- He name is Holy
- He is merciful to those who fear Him
- He demonstrates His power
- He scatters those whose pride wells up
- He brings down the mighty
- He lifts up the lowly
- He fills the hungry with good things
- He sends the rich away empty
- He helps His servant Israel
- He is mercy
This is the Lord that saved us.
This is the Lord we serve.
Let us rejoice as Mary, Elizabeth and John!
Pray for the family of Mary Roberts...at this moment she has made a turn toward glory.
“Nothing Is Impossible”
Today’s reading is found in Luke 1:26-38.
Again, Luke is the only gospel that gives us this information - note that the Matt/Mark/John columns are blank.
Here we have the proclamation to Mary from the angel of the birth of the Lord Jesus.
So much here…take a moment and reread...ask the Lord to reveal. Listen. Ponder.
As you do, note the “timing elements” involved...
- sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy
- Mary will be...
- Mary had yet…
- He will be great...
- He will be called…
- The Lord God will give Him…
- He will reign...
- His Kingdom will never end…
Mary had found favor with God.
One element was not in her control - she was a descendant of David.
She was of the correct lineage.
Another element was in her control - she was God-fearing, righteous and moral.
She was a virgin.
She was chosen of God.
She feared God.
How do I know?
By her reaction.
Remember yesterday we saw that Zechariah had a similar angelic encounter.
He questioned what the angel said and was mute until the child was born.
Mary questioned also, but her heart was different. She simply did not understand how she could bear a child outside of the normal patterns of life. The angel provided the answer. The Holy Spirit would come upon her. The power of the Most High would overshadow her.
The angel gave a her some confirmation information by telling about Elizabeth.
I believe there is a pattern of faith here for us.
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us?
Do we allow the power of the Most High to overshadow?
Or, do we pick-and-choose what we believe/receive?
Mary’s response should be our response…
“I am your servant”
“Let this happen to me according to your word”
I believe it was at this moment that she conceived - we simply do not know when.
One last thing.
Reflect upon what we learn of the Lord Jesus from this passage.
He is great.
He is the Son of the Most High.
The Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. (David is “His Father”? The Lord said to my Lord… )
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.
His Kingdom will never end.
He is conceived by God.
He is holy.
He is the Son of God.
Did you catch the phrases “forever”/”never end”?
A time is soon coming, and is now, when the Lord will reign forever.
Why do we fear?
Why do we dread?
We should be rejoicing.
Forget not the great truth - “for nothing shall be impossible with God”.
Live that way today.
Nothing is impossible with God.
He abides in each Believer.
The Faithful Received the Promise
Today’s reading is Luke 1:5-25.
Note that there is no other gospel account…
Here we have a brief insight into the life of a priest of Israel.
Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were from the priestly line of Aaron.
Both were righteous in the sight of God.
Both followed all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
They were faithful.
Yet, all was not perfect.
They were barren.
This was a disgrace among the people - verse 25 states such.
This is hard for many in our culture to understand.
We prefer to “play god” when it comes to children.
We “have them” when we want.
We dispose of them if inconvenient.
Great judgment awaits.
Still, Zechariah and Elizabeth pressed on in faith.
They were faithful.
In performing his day-to-day, cycle-by-cycle duty as a priest Zechariah was chosen by lot to offer incense in the Holy Place (not the Holy of Holies...just outside the curtain at the Table of Incense).
An unexpected turn came during the offering - an angel of the Lord appeared.
Think for a moment…
What do we anticipate in worship...corporate and private?
Are we prepared for the unexpected encounter with the Lord?
What the angel said was profound. He began with usually declaration - “do not be afraid!”
Then this - “your prayer has been heard”.
The prayer for children.
Were Zechariah and Elizabeth still praying for a family?
We simply do not know.
In the natural Elizabeth was past childbearing age. Conception was impossible.
Apparently Zechariah was unable to sire (v. 18)
Was the angel referring to prayer in the past?
I suspect so.
We learn something here.
The prayers of a righteous man has great effectiveness. James 5:16
We learn something else.
God’s timing is not our timing.
Perhaps it had been years since the time of prayer for a family, but God had not forgotten...in His time…
So, the angel tells him what will happen…
- to be called John
- he will be great in the sight of the Lord
- he will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God
- he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah
- he will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children
- he will turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just
- he will make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him
Zechariah questions the physical limitation of such.
Think about this for a moment.
The progression of life is unrelenting.
Zechariah says that he and his wife were both old.
How could such occur?
It takes no imagination to understand what is being said.
His question revealed a lack of faith?
Later on we will see that Mary asked the same question, yet without lacking faith.
Zechariah would be unable to speak until these things were to take place.
The birth of a son.
Last thing...think on this.
Zechariah went home.
“After some time” physical intimacy occurred that had not likely happened in some time.
Conception took place.
Can you imagine how Zechariah and Elizabeth were?
Giddy in the moment?
Filled with anticipation during the act?
- think not that it is too late
- God is faithful
- determine today to be faithful
- determine to rest in the Lord and what He has planned
- He is gracious
- oh yeah...visions do take place, angels do appear, God does what we call “miracles” - doubt not!
- be faithful
- receive the promise
With the beginning of a new year many often determine to seek to know the Word of God better.
This is good.
Often, we set forth a path of reading through the Bible in a year.
This is good.
If such is your goal, press on.
In our local/online Bible studies we have been examining the Bible in its entirety.
We have covered the Old Testament.
We will begin the New Testament on January 22...a 10-week overview.
Personally I am seeking to do something new/different this year.
I seek/plan to read through the Gospels synoptically.
What is that?
Join me and see.
I will be using the NET Bible Synopsis of the Four Gospels as primary resource.
It can be downloaded (free!) here -
Here is today’s reading.
Read each passage.
Each of the Gospels has a prologue that is highly reflective of the purpose of the particular gospel.
Matthew speaks of the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ - the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Mark declares the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Luke seeks to write an orderly account of that which has been fulfilled (previously prophesied) to the purpose that we can know for certain what we have been taught and what we believe.
John brings forth profound truth about the Lord in his extended prologue.
Give close attention to what we learn about Jesus from these passages:
- Son of David
- Son of Abraham
- Son of God
- Has a Gospel
- Fulfilled prophecy
- Was in the beginning
- Was with God
- Was fully God
- Word was with God in the beginning
- All things created by Him
- Apart from Him not one thing was created
- In Him is life
- Light of mankind
- Shines in the darkness
- John testified of Him
- Was in the world
- Created the world
- Not recognized by the world
- Came to His own, but they received Him not
- To all who receive Him/believe on His name He has give the right to become God’s children
- Became flesh
- Took up residence among us
- His glory...of the One and Only, full of grace and truth
- Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ
- Has made God known
Remember this truth.
God can only be known through Jesus Christ.
We can only be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
Think on these things.
Allow these truths to transform you.
Allow the Lord to conform you to His likeness.
This daily walk through the Gospels will change us.