Monday, March 12, 2018

Luke 7

Today's reading...
Luke 7 (NLT)
1When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum.
2At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death.
3When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.
4So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said,
5“for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”
6So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor.
7I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.
8I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”
10And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.
11Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him.
12A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.
13When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.
14Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.”
15Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.”
17And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.
18The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples,
19and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
20John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ ”
21At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.
22Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
23And he added, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.”
24After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?
25Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces.
26Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet.
27John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
28I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
29When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John.
30But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
31“To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them?
32They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t weep.’
33For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’
34The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’
35But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
36One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.
37When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.
38Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
40Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
41Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other.
42But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
43Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said.
44Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet.
46You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
47“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
48Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”

50And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”


Thoughts...
He did not deserve it (1–10). “I am not worthy” was the centurion’s confession of humility; and his confession of faith was, “Say the word!” It is great faith when we trust Christ to work just by speaking the Word. We can never deserve His blessings, but we can ask for them in faith.

She did not expect it (11–17). Nobody knew that Jesus would arrive and break up the funeral! Never despair, because your Lord may surprise you at the last minute and do the impossible for you.

He did not understand it (18–35). When the Lord is not doing what you expect Him to do, tell Him about it and listen to His Word. You may feel that your ministry has failed, but you are not the judge. Let Jesus have the final word.

She could not hide it (36–50). The sinful woman trusted Christ and He saved her; now she wanted to express her love to Him. True faith cannot be hidden, and true faith shows itself in love and worship. Simon the Pharisee was blind: he could not see himself, the Lord, or the woman. He did not know the debt he owed!
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Luke 6

Today's reading...
Luke 6 (NLT)
1One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain.
2But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
3Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
4He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.”
5And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.”
6On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching.
7The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
8But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward.
9Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
10He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!
11At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
12One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
13At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:
14Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
15Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot),
16Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
17When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon.
18They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed.
19Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.
20Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.
22What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.
23When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
24“What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now.
25What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.
26What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets.
27“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.
28Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.
29If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.
30Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.
31Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!
33And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!
34And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
35“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.
36You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
37“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
38Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
39Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?
40Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
41“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
42How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
43“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
44A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.
45A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
46“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?
47I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.
48It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.

49But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”


Thoughts...
True liberty (1–11). People who live only by “Is it lawful?” cannot understand our Lord’s principle, “Is it loving?” The scribes and Pharisees had transformed the Sabbath from a day of blessing into a day of bondage, and Jesus deliberately healed on the Sabbath so He could challenge them. It is always right to do good and to meet human need (Mic. 6:8), for love fulfills the law (Rom. 13:8–10).

True values (12–26). In His ordination sermon for the apostles, Jesus emphasized the true spiritual values of life in contrast to the false values of the Pharisees (Matt. 23). Comfortable living is not always Christian living.

True love (27–45). Yes, God’s people have their enemies, even as Jesus did; and we must be Christlike in the way we treat them. We must be giving and forgiving; and we must pray for them, not that God would destroy them but that He would change them. The best way to conquer an enemy is to make him a friend. Keep your heart right with God (v. 45) and the Lord will produce the good fruit in your life.

True obedience (46–49). True obedience is not just words but deeds, and it involves hearing the Word and doing it (1 Thess. 2:13). Judas knew the vocabulary, but he did not do the will of God; and when the storm came, his house fell.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Luke 5

Today's reading...
Luke 5:1–39 (NLT)
1One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God.
2He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets.
3Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
5“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
6And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!
7A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
8When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”
9For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.
10His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”
11And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
12In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
13Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
14Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
15But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.
16But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
17One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus,
19but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts?
23Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?
24So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.
26Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
27Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.
28So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
29Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.
30But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
31Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.
32I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
33One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?”
34Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not.
35But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
36Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.
37“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.
38New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

39But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”


Thoughts...
Jesus responds to submission (1–11). If you had fished all night and caught nothing, would you be getting ready to go out fishing again? One reason Jesus called several fishermen to be His disciples was that they never quit! Peter may have thought he knew more about fishing than Jesus did, but he did what Jesus commanded; and the Lord honored his obedient faith. No failure is final if you come to the Lord for a new start.

Jesus responds to sickness (12–14). Lepers were not to approach people; but the man came to Jesus in desperation, and Jesus healed him. The offering Jesus referred to is described in Leviticus 14 and pictures the salvation work of the Lord. Ponder it.

Jesus responds to success (15–16). The crowds sought Him, but Jesus withdrew to pray and commune with the Father. He did not allow popularity to detour Him from the Father’s will. Vance Havner said, “Success can feather our nest so comfortably that we forget how to fly.”

Jesus responds to sinners (17–39). He forgave the paralytic, Matthew the publican,and Matthew’s friends who trusted Him because He is the “friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:19). He could not forgive the scribes and Pharisees because they would not admit they were sick and in need of new clothes!
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Luke 4

Today's reading...
Luke 4:1–44 (NLT)
1Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
2where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
3Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
5Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6“I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please.
7I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
8Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off!
10For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”
12Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
13When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
14Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region.
15He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.
17The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,
19and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
20He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.
21Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
22Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
23Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’
24But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
25“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land.
26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
27And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
28When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.
29Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff,
30but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
31Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day.
32There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority.
33Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting,
34“Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.
36Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!”
37The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.
38After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. “Please heal her,” everyone begged.
39Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them.
40As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one.
41Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak.
42Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them.
43But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.”

44So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.


Thoughts...
The Conqueror (1–13). You can be filled with the Spirit (v. 1) and obedient to God’s will and still experience temptations and trials. Because He faced the enemy and conquered, Jesus can identify with you in your temptations and can help you win the victory (Heb. 2:17–18). It is not a sin to be tempted, for Jesus was tempted; but it is a sin to yield. Satan’s promise is, “All will be yours” (v. 7); but in Jesus Christ, you already have all things (1 Cor. 3:21–23), and Satan can give you nothing.

The Preacher (14–30). The Spirit not only gives us victory, but He leads us (v. 14) and empowers us for service (v. 18). The text for our Lord’s message was Isaiah 61:1–2. It describes what Jesus came to do and what He is still doing in lives today. The people in the synagogue wanted a comforting sermon, not a convicting sermon. When Jesus mentioned God’s grace to the Gentiles (vv. 23–27), the people became angry and threw Him out! They forfeited His blessings because they rejected His word.

The Healer (31–44). Jesus fulfilled His commission (vv. 18–19) by bringing healing and deliverance to the poor and needy by the authority of His word. Had He not overcome the devil privately, Jesus could not have defeated him publicly. While the preaching of the Word was His major ministry (vv. 42–44), Jesus had compassion on the sick and healed them. We may not have the power to heal, but we can comfort and assist those who are needy; and we can do it in Jesus’ name (Matt. 25:34–40).
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Luke 3

Today's reading...
Luke 3:1–38 (NLT)
1It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene.
2Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
3Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
4Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!
5The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth.
6And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.’ ”
7When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath?
8Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
9Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
10The crowds asked, “What should we do?”
11John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
12Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”
14“What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
15Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah.
16John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
17He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
18John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.
19John also publicly criticized Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, for marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for many other wrongs he had done.
20So Herod put John in prison, adding this sin to his many others.
21One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened,
22and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
23Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli.
24Heli was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi. Levi was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Jannai. Jannai was the son of Joseph.
25Joseph was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Amos. Amos was the son of Nahum. Nahum was the son of Esli. Esli was the son of Naggai.
26Naggai was the son of Maath. Maath was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Semein. Semein was the son of Josech. Josech was the son of Joda.
27Joda was the son of Joanan. Joanan was the son of Rhesa. Rhesa was the son of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the son of Neri.
28Neri was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Addi. Addi was the son of Cosam. Cosam was the son of Elmadam. Elmadam was the son of Er.
29Er was the son of Joshua. Joshua was the son of Eliezer. Eliezer was the son of Jorim. Jorim was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi.
30Levi was the son of Simeon. Simeon was the son of Judah. Judah was the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Jonam. Jonam was the son of Eliakim.
31Eliakim was the son of Melea. Melea was the son of Menna. Menna was the son of Mattatha. Mattatha was the son of Nathan. Nathan was the son of David.
32David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz. Boaz was the son of Salmon. Salmon was the son of Nahshon.
33Nahshon was the son of Amminadab. Amminadab was the son of Admin. Admin was the son of Arni. Arni was the son of Hezron. Hezron was the son of Perez. Perez was the son of Judah.
34Judah was the son of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham. Abraham was the son of Terah. Terah was the son of Nahor.
35Nahor was the son of Serug. Serug was the son of Reu. Reu was the son of Peleg. Peleg was the son of Eber. Eber was the son of Shelah.
36Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah. Noah was the son of Lamech.
37Lamech was the son of Methuselah. Methuselah was the son of Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared. Jared was the son of Mahalalel. Mahalalel was the son of Kenan.

38Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God.


Thoughts...
Prophecy. God’s message did not come to any of the “great leaders” of that day. It came to John the Baptist, the last and the greatest of God’s prophets. John’s ministry was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (vv. 4–6; Isa. 40:3–5). John was a prophet who was the subject of prophecy!

Ministry. John was privileged to prepare the nation for the Messiah and then present Him to them. John preached against sin and told the people to repent. He gave specific instructions to his converts on how to put their faith into practice. He was inspecting fruit (v. 8), getting to the root of sin (v. 9), and warning about wrath to come (vv. 7, 17). Would you accept that kind of ministry?

Mystery. The Son of God is baptized; the Spirit lights upon Him like a dove; and the Father speaks His approval from heaven. Never forget that all of the holy Trinity is involved in your salvation (Eph. 1:1–14).

History. The genealogy (vv. 23–38) is that of Mary whose father was Heli. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, though that was what people assumed (John 1:45; 6:42). The genealogy of Joseph is found in Matthew 1. It was unusual to pay attention to the genealogy of a woman, which shows Dr. Luke’s concern for neglected people. Gentile history (v. 1) and Jewish history (vv. 23–38) are in the hands of almighty God, fulfilling His purposes.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Luke 2

Today's reading...
Luke 2 (NLT)
1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.
4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
5He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
8That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,
10but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
17After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,
19but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
20The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
21Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
23The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.”
24So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him
26and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
27That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,
28Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.
30I have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared for all people.
32He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him.
34Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.
35As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
36Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years.
37Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.
38She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
39When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee.
40There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
41Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
42When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.
43After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first,
44because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.
46Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
47All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
50But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Thoughts...
You cannot escape Jesus Christ.

His birth affected Caesar’s politics (vv. 1–3), the ministry of the angels (vv. 8–15), and the activities of common men (vv. 15–20). In that day, shepherds were looked upon with disdain; but God singled them out to be the first human messengers of Messiah’s birth. His coming touched worshipers (vv. 21–38) and even scholars (vv. 39–52).

The angels sang about Him, and He is still the theme of the greatest music. Luke wrote about Him, and He is still the subject of the greatest literature. The shepherds hastened to behold Him, and He is still at the center of the greatest art. Teachers listened to Him and marveled, and He is still the focal point for all truth and wisdom.

In His development, Jesus was perfectly balanced: intellectually (wisdom), physically (stature), spiritually (in favor with God), and socially (in favor with man); and He is still the greatest example for childhood and youth.

He alone is worthy of our worship!

Oh, come! Let us adore Him!
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Luke 1

Today's reading...
Luke 1:1–80 (NLT)
1Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us.
2They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.
3Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus,
4so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
5When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron.
6Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.
7They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
8One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week.
9As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.
10While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar.
12Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.
13But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.
14You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
15for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.
16And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.
17He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
18Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!
20But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long.
22When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
23When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home.
24Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.
25“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee,
27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
28Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
30“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
33And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
36What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.
37For the word of God will never fail.”
38Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
39A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town
40where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.
41At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.
43Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?
44When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
45You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
46Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.
50He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.
51His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.
55For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
57When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son.
58And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.
59When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father.
60But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
61“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.”
62So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him.
63He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.”
64Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
65Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills.
66Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
67Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
70just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
71Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
72He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—
73the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
74We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
75in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
76“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
78Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

80John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.


Thoughts...

Serving (1–25). His disappointment at not having a son did not keep Zacharias from serving the Lord. Be faithful; you never know when God’s angel may arrive. Zacharias had the faith to keep on praying; but when the answer came, he did not have the faith to accept it. He looked at his limitations rather than God’s great power. Unbelief produces silence (Ps. 116:10; 2 Cor. 4:13); faith opens your mouth in praise to God.

Submitting (26–38). What an honor to be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah! Mary humbly submitted to the Lord because she had faith that He would keep His promise. Her decision would bring her sorrow and suffering, but she willingly yielded it. She was “blessed among women” because of the grace of God given to her (vv. 28, 30). All who trust Christ as their Savior are highly graced by the Lord (Eph. 1:6).

Singing (39–80). A pregnant Jewish girl from Nazareth, engaged to marry a poor carpenter, what did Mary have to sing about? She sang about the Lord, what He did for her (vv. 46–49), for all who fear Him (vv. 50–53), and for His people Israel (vv. 54–55). God gives power to the weak, thrones to the lowly, and food to the hungry; but the strong, the rich, and the mighty go away empty.

Zacharias praised God for what He would do for His people, Israel. It was the dawning of a new day (vv. 78–79) because the Messiah was about to be born. God keeps His promises and is faithful to His covenants.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)