2004.) Luke 1:57-80

January 5, 2017

luke1-john-and-parents

Luke 1:57-80 (NIV)

The Birth of John the Baptist

57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”

“Zacharias writes down the name of his son” by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1490.

64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

According to recent statistics released by the Social Security Administration, the name “John” is #20 in the top 100 popular names for baby boys in the USA.  “Luke” is #43,  “Jesus” is #79,  and “Joseph” is #13. 

Zechariah’s Song

67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

The whole song naturally falls into two parts. The first (verses 68-75) is a song of thanksgiving for the realization of the Messianic  hopes of the Jewish nation; but to such realization is given a characteristically Christian tone. As of old, in the family of David, there was power to defend the nation against their enemies, now again that of which they had been so long deprived, and for which they had been yearning, was to be restored to them, but in a higher and spiritual sense. The horn is a sign of power, and the “horn of salvation” signified the power of delivering or “a mighty deliverance”. While the Jews had impatiently borne the yoke of the Romans, they had continually sighed for the time when the House of David was to be their deliverer. The deliverance was now at hand, and was pointed to by Zechariah as the fulfillment of God’s oath to Abraham; but the fulfillment is described as a deliverance not for the sake of worldly power, but that “we may serve him without fear, in holiness and justice all our days.”. . . 

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

. . . The second part of the canticle is an address by Zechariah to his own son, who was to take so important a part in the scheme of the Redemption; for he was to be a prophet, and to preach the remission of sins before the coming or the Dawn from on high. The prophecy that he was to “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (v. 76) was of course an allusion to the well-known words of Isaiah 40:3–

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.”

which John himself afterwards applied to his own mission (John 1:23), and which all three Synoptic Gospels adopt (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:2; Luke 3:4).

–from Wikipedia

76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

80And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

“St. John the Baptist” by El Greco, 1600 (Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, California)

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a beautifully simple musical rendition of Zechariah’s canticle. From the song site:

“The Song of Zechariah is popularly called the Benedictus because of the opening words in the Latin translation: “Benedictus Deus Israel”—”Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.” … The Benedictus is a hymn of praise which celebrates the redemption of God through Jesus, the Davidic Messiah. It celebrates the primary virtues of God as a covenant partner: his mercy-kindness in choosing his partners (Abraham, David, the people of Israel) and his fidelity to the covenant. It recapitulates the saving interventions of God in the past. … It is also a prophecy, as it points to the role of the prophet-precursor: the child John. But like anything else in the Gospel, the real point is Christological: it focuses on the “daybreak from on high” in whom God has visited his people and shown his mercy, namely, Jesus Christ, whose ways John will prepare.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
John and his parents.  (Sorry I do not know which movie this picture is from.)   https://static1.squarespace.com/static/542d5464e4b0b8e6564c9982/t/56655672e4b0843f55b7684a/1449481844802/
Ghirlandaio.    http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/58384/zachariaswritesdownthenameofhisson14861490
John signature.   http://www.sevenlivelyartists.com/McNulty/Images/Signature.gif
El Greco.  http://www.abcgallery.com/E/elgreco/elgreco77.html

2003.) Luke 1:39-56

January 4, 2017

“Mary and Elizabeth” by Carl Bloch

Luke 1:39-56 (NIV)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Mary may have thought that not many people could understand her experience with Gabriel and miraculous conception. If anyone could understand, it might be Elizabeth.

41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

"The Visitation" by James B. Janknegt, 2008.

“The Visitation” by James B. Janknegt, 2008.

Elizabeth, meet Jesus!
John, meet Jesus!
Joy, joy, joy!

42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby:

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
–Luke 1:45

In the kingdom of God, believing is a prerequisite to receiving. God spoke to Mary and gave the assurances He always gives when He assigns the impossible to His people. Everything was in place for God to act. Everything waited on Mary to believe Him. Once she believed, it was done! It takes an undivided heart to believe under such circumstances and a pure heart to see God.

This has always been God’s way with His people. Mary could not see all that had been arranged and assembled in the courts of heaven. She could not see the legions of angels prepared to protect her and her baby. She was unaware of the future and all that she and her child would face. All she knew was that God had spoken to her, and that was enough. So she responded, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word.”

When God speaks about His plans, He does so with everything already in place to fulfill His word. God never speaks hypothetically. He knows exactly what will come to pass. He simply asks you to believe Him. You will experience great blessing when you place your absolute trust in Him. Mary could not have dreamed all that would result from her faithful obedience. Likewise, you cannot possibly imagine all that God has in store for you when you trust Him. He knows exactly what He will do to bring salvation to someone you have prayed for or to heal your friend or to provide for your need. God has everything in place. Will you believe Him?

This is the irrational season,
When love blooms bright and wild–
Had Mary been filled with reason,
There’d have been no room for the Child.

–Madeleine L’Engle

_________________________

Mary’s Song

46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Psalm 34:2-3 (NIV)

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,

Luke 1:28 (KJV)

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.

Psalm 103:17 (ESV)

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,

    and his righteousness to children’s children.

51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.

1 Samuel 2:8 (ESV)

He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honor.

53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”

Psalm 25:6   (NIV)

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.

56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Breath of Heaven,” also known as “Mary’s Song,” sung by Point of Grace.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Bloch.  http://www.carlbloch.org/Mary-and-Elizabeth.jpg
Janknegt.   http://www.bcartfarm.com/art/paintings/Visitation_hand_wLG.jpg
poinsettia.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/poinsettia208webcc.jpg

2002.) Luke 1:26-38

January 3, 2017
"Annunciation," by Sandro Botticelli

“The Cestello Annunciation,” by Sandro Botticelli, 1489 (Uffizzi, Florence)

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

“The Annunciation: The Flower of God” by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1862.

The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came

Basque carol, paraphrased by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame:
“All hail to thee, O lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee;
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk through-out the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”

38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

My daily prayer:

Luke 1:38 (King James Version)

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

“Head of the Virgin for Annunciation” by Pierre-Paul Prod’hun, 1811 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

The Annunciation
By Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent. God waited.

She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?
Some unwillingly undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.

More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

She had been a child who played, ate, spelt
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
only asked

a simple, “How can this be?”
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is my favorite rendition of “Mary, did you know?” sung by the incomparable Voctave and featuring Mark Lowry.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Botticelli.   http://www.jackygallery.com/images/ANNUNCIATION-1.jpg
Burne-Jones.  http://www.abcgallery.com/B/burne-jones/burnejones10.html
Prud’hon.  http://www.abcgallery.com/D/david/prudon4.html

2001.) Luke 1:1-25

January 2, 2017

St. Luke has traditionally been considered the author of both the Gospel of St. Luke and the Book of Acts.  These two books make up a quarter of the New Testament.

Luke 1:1-25 (NIV)

Introduction

How better to start a new year than to reread the story of Jesus? I pray that Luke’s account of the life of our Lord will be a blessing to you!

1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.

This may be a reference to the works of Mark and Matthew (most people think John was written after Luke),

3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke wanted to give a third account with an emphasis on comprehensiveness and order. Therefore, Luke is the most comprehensive gospel. He documents the story of Jesus all the way from the annunciation of John the Baptist to Jesus’ ascension.

  • Luke is the most universal gospel. In Luke, Gentiles are often put in a favorable light.
  • Luke’s gospel is the one most interested in the roles of women, children, and social outcasts.
  • The gospel of Luke is the one most interested in prayer. He has seven different references to Jesus praying that are found in this gospel alone.
  • Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on joy.
  • Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on preaching the good news (the gospel). This term is used ten times in this Gospel (and only once in any other Gospel) as well as fifteen additional times in Acts.

–David Guzik

"st. Luke" from a 15th-century altarpiece

“St. Luke” from a 15th-century altarpiece

Almighty God,

you called Luke the physician,

whose praise is in the gospel,

to be an evangelist and physician of the soul:

by the grace of the Spirit

and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel,

give your Church the same love and power to heal;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

8Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

Only priests from a particular lineage could serve in the temple. Over the years the number of priests multiplied (there were said to be as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus), so they used the lot to determine which priests would serve when. The lot to serve might fall to a priest only once in his life. To a godly man like Zacharias, this was probably the biggest event of his life, a tremendous privilege, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

–David Guzik

10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

“The Angel Gabriel Appearing to Zechariah” by William Blake, 1799 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

"Archangel Gabriel Struck Zechariah Mute," by Alexander Ivanov, 1824.

“Archangel Gabriel Struck Zechariah Mute,” by
Alexander Ivanov, 1824.

21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

_________________________

 Music:

HERE  is John Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music Can We Bring”  performed by the King’s College, Cambridge, in 2008. Because this story is pointing as much to the birth of Christ as to the birth of John.

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his powers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Robert Herrick  (1591-1674)

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
St. Luke icon.   http://www.northamptondiocese.org/Portals/0/St%20Luke.jpg
St. Luke altarpiece.   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_017.jpg
Blake.   http://assets.messianicbible.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/1080-William-Blake-Zecharias-and-the-Angel-Met-Museum-600×422.jpg?09019d
Ivanov.   https://uploads4.wikiart.org/images/alexander-ivanov/archangel-gabriel-struck-zechariah-mute-1824.jpg

2000.) Ephesians 3 New Year Thoughts

December 30, 2016

eph3-how-deep

Ephesians 3:14-21   (NRSV)

Prayer for the Readers

May I suggest that we pray this prayer every day in 2017!

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

Ephesians 3 kneeling man

Solomon prayed on his knees (1 Kings 8:54). Ezra prayed on his knees (Ezra 9:5). The Psalmist called us to kneel (Psalm 95:6). Daniel prayed on his knees (Daniel 6:10). People came to Jesus kneeling (Matthew 17:14, Matthew 20:20, Mark 1:40). Stephen prayed on his knees (Acts 7:60). Peter prayed on his knees (Acts 9:40). Paul prayed on his knees (Acts 20:36), and other early Christians prayed on their knees (Acts 21:5). Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees (Luke 22:41). The Bible has enough prayer not on the knees to show us that it isn’t required, but it also has enough prayer on the knees to show us that it is good.

–David Guzik

15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is."    --Ephesians 3:17-18 (New Living Translation)

 

The love of Jesus has dimensions and that it can be measured.

The love of Jesus has width. You can see how wide a river is by noticing how much it covers over. God’s river of love is so wide that it covers over my sin, and it covers over every circumstance of my life, so that all things work together for good. When I doubt His forgiveness or His providence, I am narrowing the mighty river of God’s love. His love is as wide as the world: For God so loved the world (John 3:16).

The love of Jesus has length. When considering the length of God’s love, ask yourself “When did the love of God start towards me? How long will it continue?” These truths measure the length of God’s love. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

The love of Jesus has depth. Philippians 2:7-8 tell us how deep the love of Jesus goes: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. You can’t go lower than the death of the cross, and that is how deep the love of Jesus is for us.

The love of Jesus has height. To see the height of God’s love, ask yourself, “How high does it lift me?” It lifts me to heavenly places where I am seated with Christ. He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

Can we really comprehend the width and length and depth and height of God’s love? To come to any understanding of the dimensions of God’s love, we must come to the cross. The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because …

–God’s love is wide enough to include every person.
–God’s love is long enough to last through all eternity.
–God’s love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.
–God’s love is high enough to take us to heaven.

–David Guzik

19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

eph3-god-is-able

Dear friends,

Today, the final blog of 2016, is also the 2000th DWELLING posting! Thank you for your support and readership over the years; I look forward to many chapters to come! I trust that this new year, as we are DWELLING in the Word together, will become one in which we all see more clearly how deep, high, wide, and long  the love of God in Christ truly is, forever and ever, Amen.

Love in Jesus,
Rebecca

_________________________

Music:

“The Love of God”  sung  HERE  by Mercy Me.  Frederich M. Lehman wrote the words in 1917 in Pasadena, California.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure–
The saints’ and angels’ song.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
how wide & how long.    http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/images/2013/09/ephesians-3-18.jpg?s=full
man kneeling.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/ephesians-3-kneeling-man.gif?w=450
roots.    http://brandonacox.com/wp-content/uploads/Roots-Slide-Title.jpg
God is able.   https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B21gBwLCMAA456R.jpg

1999.) 1 Peter 2 Christmas Thoughts

December 29, 2016

1p2-christ-suffered

1 Peter 2:21-25   (NLT)

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

“Seeing the Light” by Osnat Tzadok

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross:  He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.

22 He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.

_________________________

Music:

HERE is a beautiful Celtic rendition of “The Lord’s My Shepherd.”

2. Shepherd - Simon Dewey

Psalm 23 (The Message)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
 Christ suffered for you.   http://cdn.knowing-jesus.com/wp-content/uploads/1-Peter-2-22-You-Have-Been-Called-For-This-Purpose-beige-copy1.jpg
Osnat.    http://www.osnatfineart.com/art/abstract-paintings/5793-Seeing-the-Light.jsp
The Lord is My Shepherd by Simon Dewey.   http://ldsbookstore.com/Shared/Images/Product/The-Lord-Is-My-Shepherd-Print/the-lord-is-my-shepherd-simon-dewey.jpg

1998.) Philippians 2 Christmas Thoughts

December 28, 2016

The Face of Christ — detail from the Crucifixion from the Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1512-16

Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

A hymn of praise to Jesus!

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

phil2-newborn

Jesus took “the form of a bond-servant being made in the likeness of men” (2:7b). Paul could have said that Jesus took on the form of a human being. That would be humiliation enough for God. There is a general Greek word for humanity that Paul could have used here, or he could have used a word that means a male as opposed to a female. But Paul uses neither of these. Instead, he chooses the more specific term doulos, which means “slave” or “bond-servant.” In other words, Jesus became a particular kind of man, a slave, the lowest position a person could become in the Roman world. He wasn’t born in a mansion or a king’s palace, but in a dirty stable among the animals. The Almighty God appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The King of the Universe, the Lord of glory, voluntarily became a pauper for our sake. He had to borrow a place to be born, a boat to preach from, a place to sleep, a donkey to ride upon, an upper room to use for the last supper, and a tomb in which to be buried. He created the world but the world did not know Him. He was insulted, humiliated, and rejected by the people He made. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation. Jesus went as low as He could possibly go. This means no matter what you go through, no matter how low you may get, you can never sink so far that Jesus cannot get under you and lift you up. He can identify with you in any situation, no matter how hard: poverty, loneliness, homelessness, rejection, you name it.

–Keith Krell (senior pastor of Fourth Memorial Church in Spokane, WA and associate professor of biblical exposition at Moody Bible Institute–Spokane)

8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

phil2-nail-and-cross

Jesus descended the ladder and arrives at the bottom rung in 2:8. This verse reminds us that Jesus “humbled himself.” No one humbled Jesus; He willingly and graciously offered Himself to death. The implication is that you and I should do the same. As you read this verse, it is easy to sense Paul’s astonishment. He can’t believe that Jesus—God Himself—died! But to think that He experienced “even death on a cross” is mindboggling! The Romans reserved the agonizing death of crucifixion for slaves and foreigners, and the Jews viewed death on a cross as a curse from God. Crucifixion was a horrible way to die. The weight of the victim’s body hanging from his wrists caused his joints to dislocate as he tried to push up on his feet to breathe and keep from suffocating. Eventually, the victim was no longer able to push himself up and finally suffocated. Jesus endured that horrible trauma, not to mention the spikes through His wrists or the pain of the cross’ rough wood scraping against His back, shredded from the beating He had received with a cat-of-nine-tails. Jesus suffered as no one else, but it wasn’t the physical pain that caused Him the most suffering. Neither was it the taunting and humiliation He endured from His enemies as they watched Him die. The agony Jesus endured on the cross was the abandonment He suffered as God the Father turned His back on His son (Matt 27:46). The price that Jesus paid for humankind is staggering. Paul urges you to ponder the wonder of Jesus. As you reflect upon Him today, may you be overwhelmed by all this great God has accomplished for you.

–Keith Krell

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Isaiah 43:11 (ESV)

I, I am the LORD,
   and besides me there is no savior.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Chris Tomlin and “Name of Jesus.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
The Face of Christ.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/222497257ethe-face-of-christ-detail-from-the-crucifixion-from-the-isenheim-altarpiece-circa-1512-16-posters255b1255d.jpg
obedience of Christ.  http://www.tracts.com/slave5.gif
baby boy.   http://www.courtneydickersonphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/NolanWEB-3-of-271(pp_w850_h566).jpg
nail and cross.   http://www.klarionkall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/nail-and-cross.jpg