Luke 1:1-25 – Are You Serious?

Read Luke 1:1-25

As we embark on the Book of Luke, we are just a week away from Christmas. I realize you may be reading this post some time in the future, not necessarily in December, and that’s okay. The Bible is always alive, and we can be “certain of the truth.” The message is always fresh and new.

Luke’s perspective of the birth of Jesus comes from Mary’s perspective, wherein Matthew’s account is from Joseph’s perspective. Today we see how God’s plan for bringing his son into the world actually started with Mary’s relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. God wanted someone (John) on the ground, setting the stage, to prepare the way for his son, the Messiah.

John’s parents were righteous and without children. We are told they were very old. I love when God uses the faithful, especially when it would be unexpected. We get a glimpse here of how priests did their work in those days. Was it by chance that Zechariah was chosen that day to enter the sanctuary? Or, had God been waiting to use that opportunity to make his move?

What was Zechariah’s response? He was “shaken and overwhelmed with fear.” I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing my response would have been much the same. We just don’t see angels every day. While we might hope for an angelic visit and a prophetic word from God, if it actually happened we might be a little afraid. At least a little.

What a message Zechariah heard. Quite unbelievable, I would say. What was running through Zechariah’s head? I’m sure his prayers for a son had ended long ago as they were now old. Now, to hear from God himself that the child you had longed for would be “great in the eyes of the Lord…filled with the Holy Spirit…a man with the spirit and power of Elijah,” all to prepare the people for the coming Lord. What a message! 

I can understand his moment of unbelief. It was all too good to be true. But his hesitation and doubt led to his not being able to speak…for months! That miracle is also incredulous, don’t you think? But what a bold statement God makes here.

God wants us to trust him and his word to be true, too. We should not question it. Even though we may not understand it, the message is from God, and that should be enough. What doubts are you struggling with today?

God can use us all for his purposes. Don’t we have the same assignment John did, to prepare the way for Jesus? It might look a little different, only because Jesus has lived, died and been risen again. Our story has even more dimensions than John’s would of at the time. Are you keeping it to yourself?

We must now prepare people for Jesus’ return. We don’t know when that will be, but we do know we need to be ready. That is what the season of Advent is all about. It’s placed before Christmas in the church liturgical year, but it is really something we should be proclaiming year round.

Advent means “coming” in Latin, so in church circles it is the coming of Christ. He has already come, and we wait for his second coming. I’ve also heard it said Jesus has come three times, once in Bethlehem, once into our hearts, and the last when he returns. Jesus does lives in us through his Holy Spirit, and we are empowered by the Spirit to do great things.

What are you doing for Jesus this day?

Let’s pray. Father, thank you for including me in your story of love and redemption. I marvel at how your plans are always so perfectly orchestrated. May I give you free reign in my life so that you work miracles through me. I don’t know what you have in store for me, but I look forward to each new day with anticipation and expectation. I pray for my children as they walk through life, that they will come to know you and appreciate all that you have done for them. May the wonder of the miracle of Christmas continue to grow in my heart this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

James 5:7-12 – Be Patient – He’s Coming

Read James 5:7-12

This is a lesson I need to hear every day. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not a patient person. I have gotten better over the years, way better. I don’t take an alternate route anymore when I see a red light ahead!!

The patience in today’s passage is a little bit more focused. Jesus is coming again, and we need to wait patiently for him. I think of all the saints who have gone before me, waiting their whole life for Jesus to return. Nobody know when he will come, although many have tried to guess and project based on clues they felt were given to us.

Rather than spin our wheels trying to figure out when, we need to embrace the assurance that it will be when God says so. His wisdom is far greater than any mortal’s, and whether it is in my life time or in the ages to come, I want to be ready.

For most of my life, I have been Lutheran Christian, and the church year has clearly defined seasons, known as the liturgical year. The season preceding Christmas is called Advent. As I write this reflection today, we are smack dab in the middle of Advent, a season of waiting and preparing for the second coming.

As I read this passage, it seems a perfect fit for Advent. How patient are you being at waiting?

[I’ll be doing another post or two on Advent in a few days, and then starting the book of Luke to take us into Christmas.]

The other focus of this reading today is endurance. There are so many distractions that divert our focus from the truth. These distractions can cripple us when we go through struggles and trials. If our life line to God himself has been clouded, we often feel hopeless, alone and our direction is lost. We are not able to endure on our own.

We can look to the example of Job. No matter what came his way, he never lost faith in the God who would redeem and save him. In the end, after losing everything and then some, he was rewarded greatly. We, too, can look forward to a great reward, whether we see it in this life or in eternity. Stay strong, stay focused, keep the faith!

My final thought for today is from the wisdom of verse 9.  Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” As we head into the holiday season, many of us will be surrounded with family and friends. Some of us will struggle with relationships, difference of opinion, and missed opportunities. Try to remember to take the high road – don’t grumble about or with each other.

There is so much joy to life that can be found if only we open our eyes. We need to wait patiently for our Lord to return. While we wait, our lives need to clearly reflect a life that is pleasing to God. Are you waiting patiently?

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your promise that you will return. May I wait patiently and with an expectation of hope. Thank you for the joy inside me that wells up at the thought of you living inside me, using me for your purposes, and giving me the assurance of life with you forever. I pray that you will help me find those people who don’t have that joy so that together we can fill them up, too. Help me to avoid diversions that are not helpful and keep my eyes focused clearly on you and your will for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.