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Posts tagged ‘Gospel of Luke’

Peace amidst difficulties…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” 
Luke 1:14

I remember two years ago when we had our second baby, when my wife Hannah went into labor, we arrived at the hospital to find that all the beds were occupied. So, they put Hannah in a bed in the hall, in full labor, with nurses scurrying around. We felt uncomfortable, angry, frustrated. We wanted to be in a private, clean, nice room to give birth to our baby.

I think about how uncomfortable that was – a very scary and painful experience. Then I imagine what it was like for Mary, in labor, no room at the inn. There’s nowhere for her to have this baby, which, especially in those days, was a very dangerous situation. And the best they could come up with was a stable out back.

There, Mary gives birth on a bed of straw. And Jesus is laid in a manger, a feeding trough, where the horses and cows eat. To make it ready for the baby, they had to clear away all of the dirt to make it as clean as possible for the newborn. There’s Mary with all of her injuries from having just given birth to a baby, and yet do you feel, when you read that story, any of the aggravation and anger I experienced when Hannah was giving birth? You don’t see that. You see this peace. You see peace in the midst of a very difficult situation.

Prayer: Father, when I read the Christmas story, every part of it is filled with your peace. No matter what the difficulty or challenge, your peace filled every heart that came close to the Savior. May my heart come close and find your peace in Jesus. Amen.

Devotion: What can rob your peace…and restore your peace…at Christmastime?

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“This Is Serious”.


So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Luke 2:15

Recommended Reading
Luke 1:26-38 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201:26-38&version=NKJV )

If a stranger announced that you were the winner of a giant sweepstakes, would you believe him? It is doubtful. But if the Publishers Clearance House team arrived at your home with an official van, balloons, video cameras, and a huge check, would your reaction be different? Yes, it would — but why? Because when important things happen, there is a need for verification, authenticity, and believability.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

Now think about the first Christmas. If a friend told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah … if a stranger told Joseph that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit … if one of the shepherds said to the others, “I think the Messiah was just born in Bethlehem” … if Joseph woke Mary up in the middle of the night and said, “I think we need to go to Egypt” — how believable would any of these scenarios seem? Not very! Instead, in all four instances (and throughout biblical history) God sent angels to declare the message, “This is serious.”

Thank God for “ministering spirits” this Christmas.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Hebrews 11-13

By David Jeremiah.

Christmas Relief.


[ Simeon ] took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word.”
Luke 2:28-29

Recommended Reading
Revelation 5:9-10 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%205:9-10&version=NKJV )

The American Heritage Dictionary says  relief  is “a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.” Relief is what Simeon felt when he first saw the eight-day-old baby Jesus. What was the “anxiety or distress” Simeon felt? It was the stress of waiting and watching for God’s Messiah to appear (Luke 2:25). Simeon was apparently an aged man. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah (Luke 2:26), and now he said to the Lord: “You are letting Your servant depart in peace.”

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

Simeon was like Abraham. God had promised Abraham a son through whom a great nation would grow, but Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety (Genesis 17:17-18) — they waited and God answered. God had promised Simeon he would see the Messiah but … and then it happened! He didn’t need to wait to see the Messiah’s kingdom — he only needed to know that the Messiah had come. He could depart this world “in peace.”

For the same reason, we can celebrate Christmas in peace. The Messiah has come. God has fulfilled His Word. All will soon be right with the world when the Messiah establishes His kingdom on earth.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Hebrews 9-10

By David Jeremiah.

5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Start Talking About.


Debbie Holloway

Remember Jesus’ words, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”? Many have looked at that verse and proclaimed that the Church is like a hospital. But doesn’t it sometimes feel more like a museum?

According to Zach Perkins at Relevant Magazine, there are 5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Start Talking About. 

“Paul urged the Church to ‘Bear each other’s burdens,’ so maybe with more grace and love we can turn on the light in the darkened rooms of each other’s hearts and let our churches become safe havens for the uncomfortable things we have to deal with.”

First Perkins cites Addiction and Sexuality as taboo topics that need to be more honestly and openly addressed, writing,

“…yes, in many churches, a person’s addictions can become fodder for gossip. However, if the Church were to first approach one another as family, then addicts in the Church might feel safer to be vulnerable about their struggles. Often, they just need to be loved and feel safe enough to know they can expose this part of themselves in a community where the addiction isn’t crushing them every second.”

He also notes that Church conversations about sex rarely move beyond, “don’t have sex until you’re married.”

“There are strong believers struggling with their sexual identity, brokenness and frustration in churches across the world, and among their Christian friends and families, they don’t dare say a word about it.”

Next on his list is Sincere Doubt. In March 2013, “Is Doubting a Sin?” was featured byCrosswalk the Devotional.

“Jesus’ response to doubt was often, why? He proposed neither a condemnation nor an accolade, but a dialogue. Jesus cared about the hearts, motives, and fears of those who questioned him, who struggled with unbelief. Practically everyone to whom Jesus ministered expressed genuine doubt or asked provoking questions. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus answered their questions (John 3). Jesus told them things about themselves, causing them to look at life in a new way (John 4). When extraordinary faith was shown (Luke 7) Jesus was astounded and overjoyed. But he certainly did not condemn all others of lesser faith. He knew that it takes time for people to overcome cultures of fear and questions.”

In Ray Pritchard’s piece, “Faith and Doubt at Christmastime” he writes,

“Faith and doubt always go together. There is no such thing as 100% faith. After all, if you had certainty, you wouldn’t need faith at all. In heaven we will not need faith because we will experience ultimate reality. But between now and then, our doubts spur us on to greater spiritual growth. Doubt can be a good thing if it moves you to study, to think, to investigate, and to ask hard questions.”

Perkins’ list wraps up with the topics of Mental Illness and Loneliness. The Evangelical community recently faced a major reminder of mental illness when Pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew took his own life after a lifetime of struggling with depression and mental illness. In the aftermath, Warren shared,

“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it…But if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret… If your brain doesn’t work right, why should you be ashamed of that?”

Two additional issues that Churches rarely address with grace are those of Miscarriage andAbortion – specifically healing and recovery for women who have already had them (as many as 1 in 4 women have dealt with one or the other, or both).

Teske Drake and Kim Ketola have written several pieces for Crosswalk on this subject, including Carry Each Other’s Burdens: Ministering to those Enduring MiscarriageHope and Healing After Childbearing Loss, and Healing Abortion’s Guilt and Grief. In her piece Pregnancy and Infant Loss: A Biblical Stance for Support, Teske Drake wrote about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, saying,

“Despite the prevalence of loss and the progress made in terms of awareness and support, isolation –feeling as though ‘I’m the only one’ – is a key characteristic of women’s experiences with miscarriage and infant loss. Today, families throughout the world will publicly acknowledge the lives of their little ones who were gone too soon in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Communities will rally support and for a brief moment families will experience a sense of solidarity in the midst of their unique, yet often disenfranchised, grief. As Christ followers, shouldn’t our support extend beyond a designated month? How can we incorporate an awareness and sensitivity to this very real and prevalent issue?”

What do you think? Has your Church found ways to deal with these hard topics with grace and wisdom? What other issues would you say the Church needs to address more openly?

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com

Publication date: December 10, 2013

‘Tis the Season to Attack the Gospels?.


Dr. Jerry Newcombe, Truth in Action Ministries

Every year at Christmastime, like clockwork, you can expect the mainstream media to come out with some sort of “fresh” perspective on Jesus. We see this on TV specials and in magazines and reports. Since December has just begun, I thought I’d be pro-active in answering the critics.The basic questions are these: Can we trust the Bible? Can we trust the Gospels? If they were put on trial, as in a court case, how would they hold up?

One man who contributed significantly to Christian apologetics was one of America’s great legal leaders. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was a professor at Harvard Law School (1833-1848). He contributed a great deal to the school, expanding it, including its library.

Greenleaf wrote a major textbook used widely, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

Contrary to some accounts (even found extensively on the Internet, to this day), Greenleaf was not an atheist or agnostic converted to Christianity by the evidence for the resurrection. He was livelong, active member of the Episcopal Church. In 1847, Greenleaf applied his expertise as a pioneer in the area of trial evidence to the Gospels in a landmark book.

Greenleaf wrote The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospel Examined by the Rules of Evidence. The evangelists, of course, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As he applied the rules of evidence to the Gospels, he found them reliable.

Greenleaf says, “The foundation of our religion is a basis of fact—the fact of the birth, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection by the Evangelists as having actually occurred, within their own personal knowledge. Our religion, then, rests on the credit due to these witnesses. Are they worthy of implicit belief, in the matters which they relate? This is the question, in all human tribunals, in regard to persons testifying before them; and we propose to test the veracity of these witnesses, by the same rules and means which are there employed…” He answers, Yes.

He goes on from there to highlight the four Gospel writers:

*Matthew (also called Levi), the tax-collector and one of the twelve, an eyewitness of the Gospel events. Writes Greenleaf: “Matthew was himself a native Jew, familiar with the opinions, ceremonies, and customs of his countrymen; that he was conversant with the Sacred Writings…”

*Mark (also known as John Mark) was essentially Peter’s scribe in his Gospel—from the early Church comes the consistent report that Peter’s recollection of the Gospel events are found in the second Gospel. Mark went on to preach the gospel in Egypt, where he was martyred.

*Luke, believed to be a physician, traveled with Paul. Says Greenleaf, “If…Luke’s Gospel were to be regarded only as the work of a contemporary historian, it would be entitled to our confidence. But it is more than this. It is the result of careful science, intelligence and education, concerning subjects which he was perfectly competent to peculiarly skilled, they being cases of the cure of maladies.”

*John was a fisherman of Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. Greenleaf says he wrote his Gospel after the other three, recognizing their truthfulness, and added things not found in the others.

Greenleaf notes a great unfairness shown the Evangelists in modern scholarship: They are somehow guilty until proven innocent. They are viewed as untrustworthy for no cause, until they can somehow be corroborated by some outside secular source. (If it was true in Greenleaf’s day, how much more is it true in ours—despite the wealth we have of additional archaeological and manuscript evidence in favor of the Gospels’ veracity.)

Says Greenleaf: “But the Christian writer seems, by the usual course of the argument, to have been deprived of the common presumption of charity in his favor; and reversing the ordinary rule of administering justice in human tribunals, his testimony is unjustly presumed to be false, until it is proved to be true.”

Greenleaf adds, “It is time that this injustice should cease; that the testimony of the evangelists should be admitted to be true, until it can be disproved by those who would impugn it; that the silence of one sacred writer on any point, should no more detract from his own veracity or that of the other historians, than the like circumstance is permitted to do among profane writers; and that the Four Evangelists should be admitted in corroboration of each other, as readily as Josephus and Tacitus, or Polybius and Livy.”

He affirms: “their honesty…ability… the consistency of their testimony…the conformity of their testimony with experience…the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. Let the evangelists be tried by these tests.” He does and finds them trustworthy. He also answers common objections, such as the miraculous elements found in the Gospels.

So, be prepared, when you see the TV specials coming up about “the true story of Christmas” or the like, when they attack the Gospels. The Gospels have been put on trial, and they have passed the test.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Library, a spokesman and cohost of Kennedy Classics. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book that Made America and (with Dr. Kennedy) What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Peter Lillback),George Washington’s Sacred Firewww.truthinaction.org.

Favor With God.


And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with GodLuke 1:30

The greatest message of the advent of Christ into this planet are the words “fear not.” Why? Because you have found favor with God.

The God of all creation came to earth with the specific purpose of revealing Himself to you. If you are born again of God, you are on your way to heaven; you have been made righteous in God’s eyes; and favor is part of your covenant right.

The literal translation of the word “favor” is from a Hebrew word meaning “cause for rejoicing, exultation, exuberant joy, and gladness of heart.”

The precious blood of Jesus paid the price for your sin and made God’s heart glad. He sits on His throne and rejoices, because He knows you will be in eternity with Him. Fear not; you have found favor with God.

Jesus, allow me to walk in Your favor,
being fearless and bold for You.
I long only for Your favor
and grace. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

Why Should We Study the Genealogies?.


At first glance, the beginning of Matthew is a less-than-exciting literary starting point of the New Testament. It is a list of “begats” tracing Jesus‘ lineage back to Abraham.

What this beginning lacks in literary punch it makes up for in theological significance. Among other things, the genealogical tables of the New Testament place the gospel squarely on the plane of history. Jesus was born “in the fullness of time”—His ministry is defined and interpreted against the background of Old Testament history.

The New Testament provides two genealogical tables for Jesus, one by Matthew and one by Luke. These tables differ at significant points. Matthew was writing for a Jewish audience and Luke for a Gentile audience. Matthew was concerned to show that Jesus legally descended from David and was therefore a descendant of Judah to whom the messianic kingship was promised. Matthew treats the legal descent of Jesus and limits the lists to three groupings of fourteen generations, allowing himself to make omissions.

Luke follows the natural descent with greater detail. He takes the list back to Adam, as it was a central theme in his Gospel to set forth the universality of the gospel. Jesus is indeed the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, but He is also the new Adam who comes to redeem not only Israel but men and women from every tribe and nation.

Taken from “Tracing the Genealogy of Jesus” by Ligonier Ministries (used by permission).

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