Mary and the Apostles, Part 1

Mary and the Apostles, Part 1

Luke 1 & Mark 9-10

The quality of HUMILITY seen in the teenage Mary radiates within the pages of Luke chapter 1. Quite a contrast from the apostle, as we’ll see. First, let’s review what we see in Mary’s Magnificat as she worshiped and prayed.

  • And Mary said, behold, (I am) the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word, 1:38. This is humble submission to God’s will and providence.
  • And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, 1:47. God saves the humble.
  • For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave, 1:48. God chose a humble teenage girl to mother the Son of God.
  • And His mercy is…toward those who fear him, 1:49. Reverence is the response of the humble toward God.
  • He has scattered the proud…and has exalted those who were humble, 1:51, 52.
  • He has given help to Israel His servant, 1:54. God hasn’t always blessed Israel’s pride and waywardness. But he always blesses them when they repent in humility. 

Fast Forward

Now, fast forward about 33 years. After Jesus spent nearly three years mentoring the disciples, we read of a scene that gives a stark contrast to the quality of humility seen in Mary.

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He (Jesus) began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ 

But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ Mark 9:33-35


Kingdom Life

The disciples had constant issues with pride. It shows up everywhere in the gospels. It could be rooted in the fact that they clearly understood Old Testaments references of the Messiah as establishing a kingdom on earth. Yes, these prophecies will come true when Jesus comes to earth in power and might and touches down on earth in magnificent glory and splendor. But Jesus came the first time as a servant, to suffer and die, (Mark 10:45).

The disciples were consumed with aspirations of kingdom life. They had given up everything to follow Jesus with the hopes that they had hitched their wagons to the powerful and majestic Messiah. Very soon, they thought, we will be rewarded for following Him in humility. Soon they will be placed into positions of power. When Jesus subdues the Romans and takes over the leadership of Israel from the Pharisees, then the faithful disciples will live like princes in the Messiah’s kingdom. That was their dream!

With that context, read this story in Mark 10:35-45:

James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.  (If you’re a parent, your children probably used a similar strategy when they wanted something they knew you didn’t want to give them). And He said to them, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?

They said to Him, ‘Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’ (He was speaking of the suffering and persecution He was to endure shortly). They said to Him, ‘we are able.’ We are able. Really?


The Means and the Ends

Mary began with the ‘means’ of humility; to be a slave of Jesus. And Mary said, behold, (I am) the bondslave of the Lord…and left the ‘end’ to God:  may it be done to me according to your word, 1:38.

James and John had a different approach. They began with the ‘means’ of self-exaltation: to be great alongside Jesus. ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You. Their ‘end’ (so they hoped) was pre-determined by themselves: ‘Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in glory.’


What a contrast!

Next time, we’ll dig in further into this stark contrast of humility and pride.

Father, subdue our pride and fleshly pursuits greatness. Instead, fill us with Your grace to serve and give ourselves away. There are many around us in need. Grant that we would have joy as we serve others as if we are serving You. May You be glorified in our simple acts of service and love. We are Your servants, and we are honored to do Your work here on earth. Amen!

The Magnificat

Mary and Elizabeth

And Mary said, ‘My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on, all generations will count me blessed. For the mighty One has done great things for me. And holy is His name. 

AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and He has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.  

He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever. 

And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home. 

Luke 1:46-56 

In the Latin translation of this verse, the first word is Magnificat, which means magnify. This is a prayer of praise whereby Mary magnifies, exalts, and glorifies the Lord. 

Silence No More 

This meeting of Elizabeth and Mary is pretty special. God shows up in a big way. He manifests His presence in a way that infuses Mary with the Spirit of God to speak, to worship, and to magnify the Lord. This is significant because Israel has been in a “silent period” for approximately 400 years. Malachi had been the last prophet to speak on behalf of God. You could say that God had ‘laid low’ for a long time. 

He breaks this period of relative silence with the appearance of Gabriel and the Spirit-drenched worship time between Mary and Elizabeth. 

Her heart is full of joy, and she bursts forth with a song of praise that reveals her knowledge of God’s Word and the illumination of the Spirit. Most certainly, she was one of the young girls who sat every day in the Synagogue and actually listened as the scriptures were read in the extended readings. It’s one thing for a young person to hear the Word, but it’s another for one, such as Mary, to hear, to believe, to comprehend and recall. 

Pray that the Spirit will give you illuminating insight into His Word as you read, reflect, and write. 

I imagine that during Mary’s tender years of development, God was close to her humble heart, whispering words of clarity for Mary to comprehend. God kindly gave her understanding of the challenging depth and breadth of His Word as the Old Testament scriptures were read over and over; line by line, precept by precept. 

Mary draws upon the Word as she prays. The Magnificat is the Spirit-filled Mary praying scripture and drawing upon such verses as: 

  • O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. Psalms 34.3 
  • Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all our heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Zephaniah 3.14 
  • He has regarded the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer. Psalms 102:17 
  • The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous; the Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow. But He thwarts the way of the wicked. Psalms 146:8,9. 

 Mary’s song of praise, which is filled with Old Testaments quotes and allusions reveals that her heart and mind were saturated with God’s Word. It also reveals her clear understanding of God’s kind consideration of the humble. As I’ve stated before, Mary exhibits the qualities of one whom the Lord inhabits. 

But to this one will I look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word, Isaiah 66:2b. 

Father, we are reminded by Mary’s song of praise to pray through scripture. Cause us to passionately pursue the Psalms with a heart to pray through them ourselves and to read them with a heart to confess, to give thanks, to praise you and bring all our requests before You. What a gift Your Word is to us. May we read and prayer in Your Word often. Amen. 

Folks, for a wonderful devotional book that teaches us how to pray scripture, I recommend Praying the Attributes of God by Rosemary Jensen. 

Mary and Elizabeth, Part 2

Mary and Elizabeth

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord,’ Luke 1:46.  

In the Latin translation of this verse, the first word is Magnificat, which means magnify. This is a prayer of Mary that magnifies, exalts, and glorifies the Lord. 

The angel Gabriel, who sits in heaven in the presence of God, appears to Mary with a magnanimous announcement. Mary believes and embraces the news with faith. Gabriel vanishes and Mary is left with the most amazing and wondrous news – but who does she talk to now? Her faith is great, but she still has questions and concerns. What are people going to think? Joseph, her parents, his parents, siblings, friends, others in the village??? 

Yes, Mary replied to Gabriel, Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t overwhelmed. Who can she talk to? Who can calm her? Where can she get some comfort, encouragement? Who will understand? Who can help her make sense of all this? 

Gabriel was kind enough to mention to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age because of the work of the Lord; For nothing will be impossible with God, 1:37. In the wonder and bewilderment of the aftermath of her one-on-one with Gabriel, Mary realized there was only one person she should speak with. In haste, she journeyed to the town of Judah and greeted Elizabeth. 

The baby leaped in my womb

What happened at this meeting is a Spirit-infused, Spirit-covered, Spirit-downpour of grace resulting in an atmosphere of extreme love, joy, and the peace that surpasses all understanding. This grace was poured over Mary and Elizabeth in their time of wonderment over the awesome calling of God in their lives. At the moment Mary entered her home, Elizabeth’s son leaped within her, and both son and mother were filled with the Holy Spirit! 

At their meeting, Mary’s natural sense of fear and wonderment was turned into magnificent Praise. Elizabeth spoke Spirit-inspired words of blessing to Mary. Elizabeth spoke like a Prophet representing God the Father. She spoke words of comfort and blessing to Mary so as to embolden her to be at peace in the wake of her new reality; she is the mother of the Son of God. 


God is so kind to us! He gives us, at certain times and in various ways, in our time of a need, a friend, a confidant, a person of grace, to bring comfort and encouragement when we need it most.  

Yes, in the big picture of God’s work, the real story is all about the forerunner, John the Baptist and the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The heart of the book of Luke will be about these important figures in God’s eternal plan. After all, Mary and Elizabeth are only humble servants in the background of this magnificent story. Nevertheless, they are not just functional wombs that God uses. They are precious lives with souls and spirits whom God treasures. They are humble servants, yes. But to God, they are also precious beyond description.  

God comforts them through the bond between them. He unites them and equips them for all that is ahead. Through each other, they receive God’s comfort, confidence, boldness, and peace. Isn’t God good? Has God given you a beloved friend and encourager at some point when your heart and soul needed to be held and comforted? Do you have such a person? I pray you do. 

Kind Father, during the grueling times of life, You are kind to give us comfort and encouragement through others. Thank you! Also, we ask that You use us to represent You on earth and be a comfort and encouragement to others. May our speech be seasoned with grace and overflowing with words that lift up and bring hope; for Your glory to do Your work on earth. Amen!

Mary and Elizabeth

Mary and Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-45

Elizabeth is now six months pregnant. Her son will be John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. Meanwhile, Mary has just heard from the angel Gabriel that she will have a virgin-born son, begat by the Holy Spirit. He will be the Son of the Most High. Gabriel acknowledges the miraculous nature of this birth and affirms that nothing will be impossible for God, verse 38. 

39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Bless are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. 

Mary and Elizabeth knew that something significant was happening to them. How is it that two simple women of humble means could be right in the middle of the most significant event in the history of the universe? 

But to this one will I look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word, Isaiah 66:2b. 

The context of this verse in Isaiah is interesting. The people aspired to build a great and elaborate temple for God to inhabit here on earth. But the Lord said, Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? 66:1. The Lord tells them they are silly to think that they could build a temple that God would want to dwell in. So, God tells them where he desires to dwell?  

God is looking to dwell in the heart of a person who is humble and who is in awe of God’s Word. 

So, where is the Son of God to dwell as he develops within the womb? Within whose womb will the Messiah grow? Amazing to consider the Lord of the universe will develop within the womb of a humble Hebrew girl. 

Stages of Growth – Month 1 

As the fertilized egg grows, a water-tight sac forms around it, gradually filling with fluid. This is called the amniotic sac, and it helps cushion the growing embryo. 

The placenta also develops. The placenta is a round, flat organ that transfers nutrients from the mother to the baby, and transfers wastes from the baby. 

A primitive face will take form with large dark circles for eyes. The mouth, lower jaw, and throat are developing. Blood cells are taking shape, and circulation will begin. The tiny “heart” tube will beat 65 times a minute by the end of the fourth week. By the end of the first month, your baby is about 1/4 inch long – smaller than a grain of rice!
Source: Cleveland Clinic

God didn’t choose Mary because she was divine. Mary is not to be worshiped or exalted. God didn’t choose her because of grandeur or divine endowment or human greatness. God found a humble young lady who meditated upon God’s Word with awe and wonder. 

But to this one will I look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word, Isaiah 66:2b. 

We are not to worship Mary, but we can certainly look to her as an example of Christlikeness. When Mary heard what Gabriel told her was to happen, she simply responded with faith and humility. Elizabeth commended Mary for her faith.

 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. 

Father, we confess that we often focus on external ways to please you. Maybe not building elaborate and ornate temples for you, in a literal way. But we do sometimes drive ourselves through guilt to act religious, follow rituals or religious activities in order to earn Your favor. How silly we can be. Instead, Lord, remind us that You dwell in us by our simple faith. And You are able to use us for true service when we are most humble and are eyes are upon You and Your holy Word. Thank You that intimacy with You is not found in striving and in works, but in simple, heartfelt devotion to You. Amen! 

Never Too Late

Never Too Late

The angel said to him, your petition has been heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you will give him the name John. Luke 1.13. 

Here’s what strikes me about this: the child-bearing years had passed. Most likely, the prayers of Zacharias and Elizabeth had ceased. They who once prayed had certainly resigned to the fact that God wasn’t going to answer.  

Nevertheless, the angel affirmed Zacharias, saying, YOUR PETITION HAS BEEN HEARD! 

We pray, and in our minds, we usually assign a time frame to our prayers. Think about it. Even if it’s subconsciously, we assign a time frame of expectation. When we pray for healing, we want it before it gets terminal. Duh. We pray for salvation for another before they go to deep into sin. We pray for addiction recovery for a loved one until we feel it’s a lost cause? We pray for life-transformation until we – well — just give up. We always impose our timeframe perspective to our prayers. 

God doesn’t live in our time zone 

This story reminds us that God answers prayer on His timetable, not ours. We think earthly; He lives in the eternal space! He will do it…in His way and in His time. 

  • God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age when they didn’t think it was possible. The same happened to Zacharias and Elizabeth long after they stopped praying for a son. 
  • Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after Mary and Martha gave up all hope. I mean, after all, he was dead. Jesus said to Mary and Martha, Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God? 
  • Jesus rose from the dead after the apostle gave up all hope. The disciples on the road to Emmaus said, But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel… Luke 24.21. Thomas said, Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. 

There’s a better way. 

Let’s be among those who maintain hope, even when the situation seems hopeless! Perhaps you have been the captain of your own ship, tossed about by every wind and wave of doubt. There’s a better way. Set your anchor of hope in the harbor of Jesus, knowing that the past, present, and future are in his nail-pierced hands. 

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 

Let us go before the Throne of grace in our time of need and pray, wept and plead with God. Let us then arise and live with the blessed hope that God hears us and is acting and will act ACCORDING TO HIS PERFECT WISDOM AND POWER. Let’s submit our prayers to His timing, not ours. After all, do you really believe your timetable is better than God?  

Father, we give it all to you. Every need, every hurt, every hope, and every prayer. We give it all to you because You hear, You care, and You act! Today, we surrender “time and timing’ to You. Today, we surrender the manner of how You answer our prayers, as well. Praise You for all things, in all ways and at all times! Amen!  

Humble Means

Humble Means

Luke 1:26 – 38 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant…Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 

And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ 

Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God. And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done me according to your word. And the angel departed her. 

This was a busy time for Gabriel: I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 1:19. Gabriel first appears to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist, and some months later, he appears to Mary to announce her virgin birth of Jesus. 

What would it be like to be one who resides in the presence of God, but then on occasion, has to go on a mission to earth? Might be like living in the beautiful Ozark mountains with the stunning scenery, cool breezes, and mild temperatures – and — then going to Houston in August for a business trip. I’m just saying… 

Seriously, one who stands in the presence of God — I can’t comprehend. I guess I can imagine, but whatever I conceive, even if I try to be as expansive in my thoughts as possible, I truly cannot comprehend the reality: to be in the literal presence of God. Yet, someday, I will behold Him, face to face. What a day that will be. Considering that day keeps me aware of the brevity of this life and the proper priorities I should keep before me. 

Ok, back to earth —- 

We are reading about the most significant era in the history of the world, the time of Christ upon the earth. The only rival era – not really a rival but a completion — in history, past or future, will be the Day of the Lord — His second coming and the events surrounding that period of time. But for now, we are plunging into the time of Jesus of Nazareth; living, breathing and walking among the men and women of Galilee.  

This is a special time – But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4.4. 

The fullness of the time came: within the administration of God’s perfect timetable, when the exact religious, cultural, and political conditions were in place, God sent His Son. The manner in which He sent Him, speaks to the manner of life He would live and the manner of life we should live as well. He was born into humble means, through a humble mother, to live His human life in humility and service. We should live likewise. 

Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus. 

What attitude is that? 

Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. 

So, He was fully God, equal to God the Father, yet, he took on the likeness of a man. Why? 

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 

It all begins with humble means, through a humble mother, in a humble manger, to live His human life in humility and service. In the future, on the Day of Lord, He will come as the mighty King, reigning and ruling. But His first visit to planet earth was as a servant. Someday, we will live in glory and honor ourselves. But for now, on the pilgrimage on planet earth, we are to serve, love, and walk humbly with our God.  

Like Mary, may we say, ‘Behold, (I am) the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done me according to your word. And the angel departed her.’ 

Father, when we set our mind on our future home in heaven, it helps us maintain our humility while on earth. We confess our human nature tests us and tempts us to pride, self-protection, and pleasure. But remind us daily, through Your Word, that before we reign with You in the future, we first are to serve, to love kindness and justice and to walk humbly with You, our God. Amen. 

God Sent an Angel!

God Sent an Angel!

Luke 1.13  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard.”

Another Victorious Testimony 

Do you ever felt discouraged when God doesn’t answer your prayer? I believe every Christian has experienced this discouragement at some level. For some of us, the discouragement has been excruciating. We feel that our heartfelt petition (for a good thing) is being ignored. 

We feel especially discouraged because we see God answering prayers for others and not us. That should be encouraging to us, but we secretly may whisper, ‘that doesn’t happen to me.’ Often, others give testimony at church and tell of amazing answers to prayer. It is supposed to encourage us and give us hope. But it often causes within us an opposite emotion.  

Yes, we know that it can happen to others, but what about me? It’s always others who win the drawing, the lotto, the award. It’s always others who have testimonies of answered prayers producing happiness, renewal, revivals, freedom, healings, the salvation of loved ones, etc. 

In Luke 1, we find God answering the prayers of another specially-chosen couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth. Well, this story has a little different twist. Maybe this narrative will have a better effect on our doubts. Perhaps this narrative will bring us encouragement regarding the long-lasting endurance of our petitions? 

Let’s look at the context of the angel’s words of good news (your petition has been heard) to Zacharias. You might be surprised!!! 

In the time of Herod the Great, Roman king of Judea, Zacharias served as a priest. He was married to Elizabeth. What do we know about Zacharias and Elizabeth? Well, there’s good news and bad news about what we know. 

Good NewsThey were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. Luke 1.6 

Believe it or not, there is a lot of rich theology in this brief verse.  

They are righteous before God, and no one is righteous in the sight of God without being saved. They were saved; not by following the law of Moses but by faith. People before Jesus and after Jesus were saved by faith; never by obeying the law. Just like Abraham, who believed in the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousnessThat is justification. Also, they walked and lived out their righteousness and in a practical manner. This is the process of sanctification.  

This is rich, rich Theology regarding how God saves us and keeps us.  

Bad NewsBut they had no child because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Luke. 1.7 

Most likely, Elizabeth prayed the way Hannah prayed nearly a thousand years before. (1 Samuel 1) Hannah was barren and prayed for a son.  

She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly…’ O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…’ I Samuel 1.10ff. 

Elizabeth knew this story well, no doubt. It may have been her favorite text from the scripture. God answered Hannah’s plea and gave her a son that would alter the course of the nation of Israel. God gave Hannah, Samuel.  

By faith, Elizabeth held this story of answered prayer close to her heart and continued to pray for a child. But the son never came. Now she is old. 

Hannah had a son during her childbearing years. God answered her prayer. But not Elizabeth. How do we know? The text in Luke 1.7 says they were childless, and now both of them are old and advanced in years. The time of giving birth to a child was gone for Elizabeth. 

  • More bad news! Elizabeth was barren, AND God didn’t answer her prayers, heal her barrenness, and give her a child. Once they grew old and past child-rearing age, I assume they stopped praying. Wouldn’t you? We all would. The time had passed. God said no. Accept it and move on. Right?  

Meanwhile, back at the temple 

In this context, Zacharias was chosen to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. While he was in the temple alone, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. We’ll look into this further next time. 

Father, You are about to do something amazing for Zacharias and Elizabeth long after their hope had dissipated. We are about to be reminded that ‘nothing is impossible with God.’ When our hope is diminished, and our spirits are crushed, You make Yourself known in the most wonderful ways. Our faith is sometimes weak as we look at our immediate situation around us. Instead, may we look up to You, with our eyes fixed on You, and maintain our hope. For nothing is impossible with God! Amen! 

Do Something, Part 2

Do Something, Part 2

Luke 1.1-4 

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,  

2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,  

3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;  

4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. 

The beloved physician Luke is the human author of the Bible book before us. Luke opens with a formal prologue addressed to a Roman dignitary. I tend to think that Luke intended the books of Luke and Acts for wide circulation but addressed it to a Roman dignitary as credibility. Regardless, he stated that it seemed fitting for him to write it. He decided to use his experiences, his relationship, and his God-given skills and gifts to provide a sweeping account of the early days of Christianity. God blessed his faithfulness to take action and serve us by writing this wonderful account of Jesus. 

What about you? 

You also have experiences, relationships, and God-given skills and gifts. Are you using them to serve and God and others? For many years, this was a question that I avoided. As I was pursuing business success, I never fell away from God, per se, but I wasn’t serving God fully and faithfully with the gifts He had given me. 

You are reading these words because my pastor, Jeff Wells of Woodsedge Church, The Woodlands, TX, challenged me. His challenge to me came both personally in private conversations and from the pulpit. He first challenged me hard to one thing: spend daily time with God. Daily means every day. I pushed back, but he relented, and I evidently agreed. I began doing it daily, and after 60 days, I developed a wonderful habit and ritual that has transformed my life: daily time with God in His word, praying and reflecting and then writing out a summary and application of the text. I began to grow in my faith when I intentionally began to do it daily

Several months later, Jeff preached a sermon about fully utilizing the gifts God has given us to serve others. I realized that I should use my gifts to serve and encourage others. I reluctantly (resisting God’s calling at first) determined that God gave me basic skills in research and writing that emerge from my daily time in God’s Word—and that I should share them with others. I began to share them with a few friends and have since attempted (stumbling and failing at times) to follow God’s guidance as He opens doors for service and ministry. 

Be Intentional  

Take an inventory of all that God has given you. Then take small steps to use your relationships, opportunities, and skills to serve others. Just take small steps and let God open the doors (or close doors) in His time and according to His purposes. Consider this an adventure. Fight the nagging thoughts of self-doubt and fear and with small steps, begin to follow Luke’s example. 

In the words of Luke, may it seem fitting to you as well—to use your gifts to serve God. 

Father, You are the giver of all things. You have given so that we might give as well. Help us rise to the challenge of Luke’s example to use our relationships, opportunities, and skills to advance Your Kingdom and influence others for Christ. We are weak, but with You, we are strong. May we be faithful and begin with small steps toward our future life of serving You by serving others. Amen! 

Do Something, Part 1

Do Something, Part 1

Luke 1.1-4 

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,  

2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,  

3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;  

4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. 

These opening verses form one long sentence, written by Luke, in polished and literary classical Greek. The rest of the book is written in the basic Greek language of the common people. This is the opening line of a two-volume set, Luke and Acts, that chronicles the sweeping history of the founding of Christianity.  

Luke is writing to the most excellent Theophilus. This title indicates Theophilus was a Roman dignitary. Who was Theophilus? We’re not sure, but it may be one of the Roman officials who were converted to Christ through Paul’s ministry, (Philippians 4.22). Whether Theophilus commissioned Luke to write the two-volume set or Luke choose to send it to him, is unsure. I lean toward the later. Perhaps he sent it to Theophilus to establish credibility, but I suspect he envisioned his writings would go well beyond one person and reach and influence many. However, He undoubtedly had no idea the scope of the influence his writings would ultimately have. 

It seemed fitting… 

Luke acknowledges that others have compiled various accounts of the life of Christ. Nevertheless, he sensed a calling to use his relationships, his experiences, and his skills of research and writing to produce a carefully documented body of work as well. 

  • Relationships and experiences: he spent thousands of hours with the Apostle Paul and no doubt, took notes on the words Paul spoke, both private and public. Luke also, no doubt, had a close relationship with some of the other apostles and personal eyewitnesses of the life and times of Jesus. 
  • Skills: he was educated and obviously skilled and diligent in research and writing. 

It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order. 

Luke was compelled to take action 

Luke was compelled to use the relationships, his opportunities, and skills to serve and minister to others. He doesn’t say that God spoke to him and told him to do this. God compelled him, and Luke was sensitive to the leading of God.  

What about you?  

Are you faithfully serving God by serving others with the relationships, opportunities, and skills that God has given you? There is a calling upon your life as well! Luke was faithful to obey and considered himself a steward of what God had given him. What about your calling? 

We are going to dig into this a little further next time as I share my stubbornness to take action and serve God with the gifts had has given me. I might challenge you with your calling, as well. 

Father, You have given us much. May we be faithful and diligent to use the relationships, resources, and skills that you have given us to serve You and serve others. This is the hallmark of one who has a noble heart! Cause us to love You with all our heart, soul, and mind. And in loving You, may we love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.