Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Gospel of Luke - Part 3

Only Luke writes about the Annunciation of Jesus, when the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her God chooses her to be the mother of Jesus. This event occurs some 1,000 years after the time of David and six months after Gabriel visits Zechariah. In Luke 1:26-38 we read Mary's response to Gabriel, perplexed but willing, humble and faithful, saying, "may it be". Mary hurries to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who we know is pregnant with John the Baptist. Upon Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's baby "leaps in the womb" in recognition of Jesus in Mary's womb. (Luke 1:39-45) After Elizabeth speaks a blessing, Mary's song of gratitude is recorded. (Luke 1:46-56). Luke emphasizes relationships with people, miracles and angels, records inspired hymns of praise, and gives a prominent place to women.

The Gospel of Luke is the most universal of the four gospels, confirming that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world who draws people to Himself from every race, culture, and social status.  Essential Bible Companion

In the first two chapters of Luke, we find 4 recorded songs: Mary's song of gratitude, "The Magnificant" [Luke 1:46-56]; Zechariah's song of praise and prophecy, "The Benedictus" [Luke 1:67-79]; the Angels' song announcing the birth of Christ sung the shepherds, "Gloria in Excelsis" [Luke 2:13-14]; Simeon's song of the long awaited Messiah, "Nunc Demittis" [Luke 2:29-32]. Luke includes many details to give us creative insight into the myriad of people involved with the birth of Jesus. Luke frequently includes the marginalized, the outcasts, the overlooked and records their experiences. The Gospel of Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man, as the Messiah who is bringing salvation but who also identifies with all of humanity. Jesus is the Savior who sees the weak, heals the sick, and seeks the rejected. -dho

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Gospel of Luke - Part 2

Luke, a great storyteller, gives us an account that is more comprehensive than any other Gospel writer, taking us on the entire journey from John the Baptist to the gospel message reaching the capital of the Roman Empire (Luke and Acts). Scholars say that Luke gives us the most complete story of salvation in the New Testament; yet, he is not very well known to most. In telling the accounts of Jesus’ life and purpose, Luke wants people to know, “We are just like you, we seek peace and keep the law and have high morals; we are good Romans!” The message is relevant for every century.

Michael Card describes the Gospel of Luke as a “bridge”. First, we see Luke as a Literary bridge, connecting the Gospels and the Letters in the New Testament. Secondly, we can find a connection between the eyewitnesses of Jesus and those who only hear about Jesus afterwards, a generational bridge. Thirdly, Luke describes a bridge of Christian leadership, between Jesus, the one, perfect leader, and many imperfect leaders in the faith. Fourthly, we discover a bridge between the Old Testament and New Testament, a time when faith means waiting and a time when faith means following.

Only Luke includes information about the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, the annunciation to Mary, the manger, the angelic visitation to the shepherds, and the Spirit-led responses of Simeon and Anna when Jesus is presented at the Temple. In Luke 1:26-38 we read about Mary’s encounter with the angel, Gabriel. Her response to an incomprehensible circumstance is, “May it be”. She replies whatever God is planning, "May it be!". This is an attitude we, too, can adopt and still always find room to spiritually grow. In situations we do not ask for or do not understand, our hearts can join God in what He is doing, can respond with humility and faithful obedience. -dho

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Gospel of Luke - Part 1

I am currently teaching a class on the Gospel of Luke. So, I thought I would share some of this with you between now and Thanksgiving. - Donna

Luke, a traveling companion of Paul, writes the Gospel of Luke around 60 AD. While not an eyewitness of Jesus, not one of the original twelve disciples, not even Jewish, Luke’s purpose is, “To write an orderly account that you may have certainty...that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4) Luke’s goal was to show that Jesus is not only the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews, but also the Savior of non-Jews. His efforts are to give a verifiable, credible, and accurate account of Jesus.

Luke, the only Gentile writer of the New Testament, is known as a physician, historian, companion, theologian, missionary, and evangelist. His keen observation skills and attention to detail give us deeper insights into circumstances and relationships. Luke stresses Jesus’ relationships with people, emphasizes prayer and miracles and angels; he records inspired hymns of praise and gives a prominent place to women. Frequently, Luke writes about the poor, the sick, the disabled, about those who society diminishes, those seen as less valuable.

The Life Application Study Bible calls the Gospel of Luke, “the most comprehensive Gospel.” John MacArthur writes, “No other writer wrote so comprehensive a history of Jesus and His impact. No other writer goes all the way from the John the Baptist to the gospel having reached the capital of the Roman Empire. He is the most complete story teller of the saga of salvation in the New Testament, and he is mostly unknown to us.” 

As we explore the Gospel of Luke, the longest Gospel and the longest book in the New Testament, let’s look for the details the writer gives, soak in the descriptive language, and consider the historical impact of the times. Hope you enjoy the journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem. - dho

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Eyes Open!

God loves us; not because we are loveable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.  C.S. Lewis

How like the blind beggar we are, sitting beside the road with life passing by us every day. So often we are 'blind' to the opportunities to serve, the weariness of others, even the prayers offered for us! We miss God's goodness all around us, the gestures of love by strangers and friends; we miss the loneliness of those we know.  

Read John 9:8-12

"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.
[The beggar] replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see." John 9:10-11

When God finds us, He offers us love; He delights to give us unconditional love. If we listen to Him and follow His instructions, our eyes are opened to His goodness and grace, to the needs around us, to the Spirit's leading. As we respond in faith, we find our hearts grow more compassionate, more loving, more giving ~ more like Him. 

Immanuel ~ God with us ~ You are with us even when we do not notice. You embrace us even when we feel unworthy. You carry us when we cannot move. You open our eyes to new possibilities. Thank You for more! Amen.  ~dho

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Piece by Piece by Peace

Previously posted on Breathing Room For My Soul in October, 2013 - Donna Oswalt/dho

To choose life is to love the LORD your God, obey Him and stay close to Him. He is your life... Be strong and brave. Don't be afraid... don't be frightened, because the LORD your God will go with you.  He will not leave you or forget you...The LORD himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forget you. Don't be afraid and don't worry.  

on our knees ~ 
We speak the Hebrew word Yahweh because it is Your covenant name, and we study Your promises to the descendants of Abraham. The ancient words recorded centuries before tell the story of humankind and all its frailties. Words translated from Hebrew tell of Moses and his obedience, tell how You always went before them, preparing the way.  

We call, LORD, because there are promises for us. The ancient words tell a living story of love and sacrifice and redemption; they tell of a new covenant ~ Christ. We choose life! Now, as then, You go before us, preparing the way.

We whisper, Adonai, for You are Lord; You are Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are both hope and light. Your Spirit dwells within us. Lord, only through You can we be strong and brave. We long to firmly embrace You. The world entices us, even when we try to draw near to You. Sometimes our journey is not clear, the path uneven, our steps uncertain. When we cannot see, help us remember the ancient words, the living words: The LORD himself will go before you. You are the Promise that chooses us; You are the Love that embraces us. Lord, hear our simple prayers.  Amen. ~dho