Waiting game (Luke 2:22-40)

I’ve been growing really weary and restless recently. With things culminating, I begin to wish for things to happen already, or just to be over and done with. I’m starting to get a bit tired of waiting and “learning patience”. And in the middle of all this, the root of these thoughts, is a lack of trust. I struggle in trusting in something happening/coming through when it “takes too long”. I forget about the promises God has made and His faithfulness. Despite what it says in Eccl. 3:1 “Fort everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”. I begin wanting things on my own terms, in my own timing, at my own pace and comfort.

Simeon was a guy in the bible who was noted as “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25). Not only that, it was revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he dies. He was a servant who faithfully served God while waiting for that promise to come through. I can’t help to think as to whether he began to doubt at times whether or not it was actually going to happen. Maybe he began to think that he misunderstood what was revealed to him, and he wasn’t actually going to see the Messiah; or maybe he didn’t doubt at all, and knew that day would eventually come. From what I’m getting at, none of that matters in comparison to what he was actually doing. He was seen as a righteous and devout man, meaning he didn’t just sit around doing nothing; he wasn’t passive while waiting for this promise. He was doing something. He was being faithful to whatever it was that God had called him to.

Then one random day, he entered into the temple where Mary and Joseph had come with Jesus for the purification process. Being filled with the Spirit, Simeon realized who it was, and how that promise has finally come through. I don’t know how old he was during this time, but when I read his words “Lord, now you ar eletting your servant depart in peace”, it gives me the impression that it could have possibly been a long time. Either way, this guy waited it out. And during that time, he served faithfully.

Passivity is never an option, and neither is complaining. In fact, I think complaining is just the same as passivity, except it is now vocalized. There’s much to learn from Simeon’s attitude and character as he awaited that day for the Messiah to be revealed to him. The amount of joy and excitement that he had must’ve been insurmountable. As cliche as it sounds, God works things in His own timing, and we being His creation, His children, need to trust in that. Trust that we have a Father who loves us, and cares for us. One who is not waiting to smite us or trick us so that we live miserable lives, but rather bless, challenge, and mold us more into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. So let’s wait and be patient with whatever God has in store, for when that time comes for Him to come through, joy and excitement is to follow.

Interesting points:

Verse 34-35

  • It seems as though it’s really easy to forget how offensive Jesus’ message was. He came down and defied everything that was of the norm, and even called some out to be sin (such as keeping the law in such a manner that it became legalism). Not only that, He stated very political and (to some ears)”sketchy” things, such as claiming to be the Son of God. I’m starting to realize how I’ve sometimes watered down the truth simply to not let the message sound as offensive, yet when I do so, I belittle the glory of God and the cross. It’s a picture of me trying to remove some of the things Jesus went through, so that it can better fit the needs of myself/others. I need to pray for more boldness and courage to proclaim God’s truth both respectfully, and without apology.

Verse 36-38

  • woman prophetess
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Nothing is by luck (Luke 2:1-21)

I think about all the times I’ve used the word/phrase “I’m/you’re so lucky” and how it’s so predominantly used in today’s language to explain something that was completely unexpected to happen. Then I reflect about God. I’m reminded that nothing comes by luck/chance to Him, nothing catches Him off guard. He knows everything that’s about to happen; He is in control of all things. 

Reading through the birth of Jesus Christ, we find that in Luke 2, there is this decree that went out that the whole world would need to be registered; it’s almost as if it was out of nowhere. Apparently, the reason being for this was to help those governing the country keep record of all people so that they could be taxed, thus increasing money, which leads to an increase of power. So here we have Joseph and Mary, needing to take a long trip back to Bethlehem in order to be registered. Note, Mary was pregnant, and could possibly give birth at any moment. After a trip that would’ve lasted about 5 days (I think?), they reached an inn that was full. “Luckily”, they got room in a manger, which was where she gave birth.

Reading that, it sounds completely random that a decree was given, Joseph and Mary had luckily made it to Bethlehem in time before Mary gave birth, and coincidentally/by chance there was space for them in the manger. But that’s not the case. Instead, we see God’s blueprint and hand all over this. We first look at Joseph and Mary, two “random” individuals. We see that God found favour with Mary, and chose her to be the one to be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:28). Joseph, the one who was to be legally married to Mary, being part of the house and lineage of David, was used in order to help fulfill what Scripture says regarding the David’s throne will last forever. Despite whatever reasons that Caesar Augustus had issued that decree, it forced the couple to go into Bethlehem. This fulfilled what the prophet Micah spoke of in Micah 5:2 regarding how in Bethlehem, a ruler would come forth. Added on, since the decree was stated, it was highly unlikely that there would be any place for this couple to stay since everyone would be arriving from various places, yet God provides the needs of His servants.

I think that totally debunks the idea of there being any “chance” or anything happening by random. God is control of all things.

Interesting points:

The manger

  • I can’t help but think about the way God provides a place for Mary and Joseph to have a child. Upon this night of giving birth, I don’t think anyone would go into expectation that they would stay in a manger, yet alone, bear their child there. It reveals how God provides for our needs, and sometimes, what we really need may not necessarily be what we expect to be. Instead, it may be masqueraded as a “want”. 

The shepherds

  • The way God had revealed the good news to the shepherds was one out of nowhere. Here are shepherds out in the field, and then out of nowhere comes an angel proclaiming to them that today a Saviour is born in the city of David; and it doesn’t end there. Following is a multitude of the heavenly host giving praise to God. That must’ve freaked out the shepherds out of their mind. Yet their response, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. It hit me when I read “which the Lord has made known to us.” This was something, by God’s grace, that was revealed to the shepherds…people who were seen as unwanted or unacceptable; a lower class of citizens. God chose to reveal Himself to these types of people first. And how grateful they were upon seeing the Messiah (Luke 2:20)

Mary’s response

  • Upon hearing what the shepherds said, she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). Mary is constantly giving praise to God for the work He is doing through her. She doesn’t brag or boast, yet she remains quiet and meditates on these things. I think there’s a lot to learn through Mary’s actions…always remembering that everything comes from God.

 

 

A Harmonious Sound (Luke 1:57-80)

The time finally came for Elizabeth to give birth to her baby boy. Setting the stage was a crowd of people coming together with Zechariah and Elizabeth, celebrating that it was a work of God, by His mercy, that they were able to have this child. People knew that God was doing something; He was receiving the fame, the focus, the glory. When the time came to name the baby boy, people stated he should be named after his father; possibly maybe to do with continuing on a type of family lineage, I’m not sure. In response, Elizabeth stated that it’s not going to happen, rather, the boy will be named John. Being confused, the people questioned and even challenged her, stating that the name John isn’t even among her relatives. Why? Why name such a name? Where did such a name come from? Then came to Zechariah’s response on his tablet: “His name will be John.” Soon after, he his tongue was loosed (1:64) and the first words out of His mouth was praising, blessing, and giving honour to the One who deserves it; he was finally able to tell about this good news he had been forced to keep quiet about because of his lack of faith. People fell in awe, referent fear, about what was happening. Then came Zechariah’s prophesy.

Zechariah, being filled with the Spirit, comes and proclaims how God’s promise of redemption is drawing near. He is finally sending the Messiah (their Saviour) to come and rescue the, a “horn of salvation”. They no longer have to live in subject under their enemies (which at that time, I believe was to be Rome), but rather they will be delivered; they will live in victory. This Messiah would come to show the mercy the Father had shown to their fathers in the past; the Messiah would come back to remind them of the holy covenant that was made, and to stir them up into action. They would not only know and remember this covenant, but be drawn into obedience , serving the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness all their days.** 

What’s neat here is that this is the same (idea of the) message that the old prophets spoke of long ago. The amazing picture we see is how we have prophets that have never even met Jesus, yet they prophesy about Him. And when they do, none are in contradiction to one another, but rather only complements or help give a different perspective to what is going to happen. They all cry out a harmonious sound in unison. Only the work of God could accomplish something like this. To create a message that is consistent, without contradiction, throughout several years apart, and different individuals. 

 

**This is a powerful statement, being able to “serve the Lord without fear”. In the past, because of who God was, and His holiness, no one would ever be able to approach Him because of their sin. Anyone who did so, without the proper rituals and sacrifices, would be struck down and killed at an instant; God does not tolerate any sin in His presence. Yet the beautiful picture we see here is that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) has come to remove that fear. He has come to be the ultimate, fulfilling sacrifice of all time. We no longer have to do those rules and rituals, for Christ is our intercessor and mediator (Heb 7:25, 10:14)

 

Interesting points

What was so significant about the name John? 

  • Was it just out of obedience that Elizabeth and Zechariah chose to name him that?
  • According to the Amplified version, the name (I think) means “God is favourable”

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel”

  • John did not just become strong in the Spirit; it took time. He grew, and spent time away from the public. This seems to signify the importance of preparation in ministry. It doesn’t just come all at once, but it’s a overtime process.
  • There’s also the aspect of how he lived in the wilderness until his public appearance. Maybe this signifies to the importance of setting ourselves apart from the things of this world, so that we do not become weighed down and distracted by it. This way, we can better prepare our service to God. I think of Heb 12:1 that calls us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Surely, we are not to completely separate ourselves from the world, for we are called to be in it, not of it.

Luke 1:78-79

  • This paints such a beautiful picture in my mind. The imagery of light shining down upon people who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. It’s as though they are living a life of complete hopelessness, whether they are in a position where they don’t want to live anymore, or their life is headed towards nothing but destruction. And here comes the light, Jesus Christ the Messiah, come into their presence, filled with hope, guiding feet into the way of peace. This was (and still is) us. We are the people Jesus came to bring light to. Some of us have tasted and caught a glimpse of it, and are now living in response. Others may not have seen it, or choose to live in ignorance of it.

We’re not ready (Luke 1:26-38)

I find it quite amusing the way God tries to get his message across to his servants. So far, Gabriel has been just appearing kind of out of nowhere to God’s servants (eg. Zechariah and Mary). Every time he does so, he has to greet himself saying “Don’t be afraid! I’m here to give you good news.” But aside from that, here we have Gabriel appearing to Mary. 

Gabriel states that Mary has found favour with the Lord, and precedes to explain how Mary is going to be taking part in God’s redemptive plan. 

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end….therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.

Luke 1:31-33, 35

So…Gabrile basically just dropped a bomb on Mary; she’s going to be giving birth to the Son of God. Her response: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” I didn’t really realize this until now, but the more I think about it, the more amazed I am to see Mary’s response. She, a woman who hasn’t even been married yet, was just told she was going to have a child. Not just any child, but the Son of God, the one whom the prophets had been prophesying about in the past. This is the One, the Messiah, the one who was going to save God’s chosen people; and God chose His servant Mary as the one responsible for this task. That’s a hefty, weighty task. And Mary’s response? “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Basically, “K, well I’m God’s servant. Let Him do what He needs to do.” It’s as though the idea or thought never crossed her mind regarding whether or not she was “ready” to take on this task/responsibility. She didn’t hesitate, she didn’t try to argue with God about what was going to happen; she just accepted it. She knew the God whom she served, and what it meant to be a (bond)servant; her life belonged to the Lord, and whatever His plan was, she knew it was better to follow through with that instead of her own.

I can’t help but think about the excuses that everyone makes nowadays, mostly claiming “I’m not ready.” But here I see God calling a young woman who isn’t even a wife yet, and not even close to being a mother, yet she goes and says Let God do what He needs to do. The truth I’m realizing is that we’re never really ready. God doesn’t go around looking for the person who is most fit and capable to do the job, but rather He goes and does the one who you’d least expect; the one who’d go “I’m not ready.” 

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God

1 Cor 1:27-29

God is most glorified when He accomplishes something that could’ve only happened if He did it. And I think that’s what He did in the case of Mary, in the case of Gideon, in the case of David, in the case of Moses. In all their insufficiencies and problems…all the reasons why they shouldn’t of been chosen because of what they’ve done, or where they were at (in the moment), slowly became the reason for why God chose them. In the end, people would look at what just happened, and get blown the heck out of their mind. 

A lot of the times, we also deem ourselves unready because we view readiness in the perspective of the world. “I’m not ready because I haven’t read my bible yet.” “I can’t do this because I haven’t had enough training/experience.” “I’m too young/I’m too old.” etc. God deemed the people He has chosen as ready not because of what they did, nor because of their abilities, but because He saw the condition of their heart and what He could accomplish in them. The reality is, I don’t think we’re ever ready until God calls us. And when He does, we better not try to argue our way out, lest He decide to move on and choose another servant; for God’s plan to accomplish what He wants cannot be thwarted.

Silence (Luke 1:1-24)

“And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time…After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden” (Luke 1:20, 24)

Both kept quiet, yet for different reasons. Both were involved/part of God’s answered prayer, yet both responded differently. Zechariah and Elizabeth were a godly couple, who faithfully served the Lord (Luke 1:6). Despite doing so, they were held back from having a child because Elizabeth was barren. Culturally, this was a big deal. If you couldn’t give birth to a child, it was seen that you did something wrong, and this was your deserved punishment. Not only so, it meant that you wouldn’t be able to continue your family line (but even in this case, I don’t think it made a difference because John never got married anyways. Ha.).

But what comes to mind is, if I was in that position, I can’t help but find myself questioning and asking why is this happening? I’ve served the Lord faithfully, yet why am I being withheld something that others are not? That being said, I think I can totally relate to Zechariah’s response when he’s in the temple burning the incense, and an angel of the Lord appears to him. The angel then precedes to tell him that both his and Elizabeth’s prayers have been heard and will be answered: You’re going to have a child! First thing, an angel appearing out of nowhere would definitely be startling (to say the very least), and second of all, Zechariah and Elizabeth were old, “both were advanced in years (verse 7). So for Zechariah to question the legitimacy, I almost feel like it’s understandable. But here is what’s interesting.

Zechariah gets punished for his lack of faith and belief. He hears this amazing (somewhat crazy too) news, and he isn’t able to share it. Similarly, you have Elizabeth who finds out she’s conceived (and which I’m sure is great news), but she chooses to remain quiet as well. Both under the same situation, both acted differently, and yet both responded in the same way: silence. 

I can’t help but think that sometimes we talk too much. We just talk and talk, as if we’re not able to be still and quiet for a bit. We’re so busy and fast paced that the idea of silence and solitude has been seen as “a waste of time”. Yet, I imagine for Zechariah, during this time of silence, he must’ve learned to see and realize God for who He was on a deeper level. Zechariah was finally in a position where he couldn’t argue or question God; he was forced to just be quiet, still, and in awe, watching God’s plan unfold before his eyes. Elizabeth, during this time deliberately chose to keep quiet (vv 24-25), where she spent time praising God and in awe of how He has answered their prayers.

Silence and solitude has a huge role to play when it comes to our own walk with the Lord. Take it from Zechariah and Elizabeth; one learned it the hard way, and the other the easy way.

 

Interesting points

Verse 15

  • John couldn’t drink wine or strong drink…what’s up with that?
  • The bible says that the Holy Spirit was in John while he was in his mother’s womb…I’m still trying to figure out how to phrase this my question regarding the Holy Spirit being in John before he even has placed his faith in Christ; this is neat.

Verse 17

  • John is going in the spirit and power Elijah…he has the same focus and goal, and that’s to preach repentance; it’s also a pretty powerful reminder that the God who backed Elijah up when he called out the false prophets and brought down fire, is the same God that is backing up John as he goes and does his ministry
  • Aside from requoting Malachi, signifying the continuation of what was prophesied, what does it exactly mean to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children”?

Revelation 21-22

I remember when I was in elementary school how naive and ridiculous my thinking was. I thought a lot about heaven and eternity, and I always had a fear of heaven. I feared that because it was eternal, I might get bored of it. I feared that I would not be content with heaven, but rather, I thought I the life on earth was pretty satisfying. Yeah, there were times of boredom, but there also times I really enjoyed being here. There were even nights that I cried out of fear, that I was sick to the stomach. There was even one point where I contemplated to ask God if I went to heaven, “could I go back to earth again?” Or (an even more crazy question), “could you make everything happen again, so that earth would come back?”…in other words, could you make the fall occur again?

Up to this day, I still can’t believe I had that contemplation, that thought, those questions. I think there was such a strong desire to seek out the things that came out of this world and to live for it…thinking that I could do that, while being with God; friendship with the world and friendship with God. The bible says that’s impossible. Either I’m going to be siding with the world, or siding with God. And reading Revelation from start to finish consistently, helps paint a greater picture of that reality. God’s Holy character is constantly played out when seeing the second coming of Jesus. The wrath and punishment that comes upon the earth does not counteract His character of holiness, but rather it reinforces it. He is giving people the just punishment deserved. And then at the end, we come to the final two chapters, placing everything into perspective; showing the result of everything. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:3-4

This has become one of my favourite passages to read. It’s one of many beautiful descriptions of what heaven looks like; of what like will look like with God forever in eternity.  When I first read it, it changed my perspective and the thoughts I had when I was younger, but even though to this day, I sometimes struggle in thinking how being eternity in heaven with God will be, whether or not it’s something I’ll end up becoming “bored of”. It’s something I’ve come to accept that I won’t be able to truly understand its greatness until the day comes when I enter into its gates. It’s a place where the streets will be gold, transparent as glass (Rev 21:21). It’s a place where there will be no outside source of light, such as the sun or moon, for the glory of God will be our light (Rev 21:23). We will finally be able to see Jesus’ face and be in His presence (Rev 22:3-4).

Yet with all of this before me, there is still a call to action. There is still a call to go forth and tell people about the gospel, aka the good news so that they can share in this. Who are the people in life that we all so desire for them to know Christ? What are we going to do about it? Will we just sit and be stagnant, or will we go out with a passion and desire to see these people come to know Christ? Imagine the day coming, when we are up their in heaven, with God, and with those people we have on our minds, and we are all singing praises to God, giving Him glory, together. Beautiful.

Revelation 19-20

I can’t help but see a bittersweet, ugly-beautiful picture here. Heaven rejoices as things are coming to completion; they declare the greatness of God as He wipes out evil and brings forth the proper vengeance for the blood of His servants. And the praise keeps coming and coming. Not only that, but now comes the time when we (the church) will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Matthew 26:29 “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink ti new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” It’s (I think) a time where we will finally be having a feast with Jesus. Wow. What an amazing day and time that will be. It’ll be the time when Satan has been defeated, and we will no longer be living in sin. We will be in heaven in our new heavenly bodies. 

Yet at the same time, though beautiful, there is the other side of it; not everyone is going to be there. “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:14-15). It’s a time to rejoice because those of us who have put our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ are going to be in the presence of God, but for those who haven’t, they meet their second death. How important it should be then for me to continue to hold onto the urgency to exalt Christ in my life for others to see. That there will be evidence of me being a witness to others so that they can see the testimony of Christ in me; that they can see the my light shining from the reflection of my Saviour. 

Revelation 17-18

I’m always marveled and blown away when seeing how God makes things happen because it always ends up in ways that really messes with you; it occurs in such a way that God had to be the one at work. We see work of the prostitute as the angel shows John what will happen to her. We see her affect (whatever she may symbolize [apparently it is a type of false religion within Babylon in my commentary…I think]) on nations, MANY nations. We also see the rising of the beast with seven heads and ten horns carrying her. The beast representing the anti-Christ, the seven heads representing kings who have (and will) fall, and then ten horns signifying authority figures holding powers (of some sort I think). All this was built up to war up against God, yet in the end, they still fail to prevail (Rev 17:14).
But what sort of blows my mind is the way that God has them break down the great city of Babylon, the prostitute. “And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” (Rev 17:16-17)
God is still in control of every situation. God has the power to do things and work things in such a way that we would never expect or imagine. And you know what, we can know that His reign and power is true; it’s legitimate. As it says in Eccl 3:14, “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” There’s a reason God is God. It’s because what He says will happen, will happen. And no one and nothing can stop it, no matter how fearful or powerful they/it is.

Revelation 15-16

As the wrath of God continues, I’m reminded by God’s holy character and what an understanding of it entails. His wrath is coming to an end; it’s now the time where seven plagues and bowls come. Yet as the plagues are about to happen, we have a multitude of people singing out praise to God for who He is. 

Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Rev 15:3-4

These guys understood who God was. They understood His character, His holiness. And because of that, they could freely cry out and sing that He is truly great and amazing. That even though His wrath is being poured out, He is still Just and true. Everyone will fall before Him in fear and reverence, and give Him glory. All will come before him and worship Him for who He really is. Not only so, as I read in Rev 16:5-7, after the third plague is poured out, the angel in charge of the waters cries out 
” ‘Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!’
And I heard the alter saying,
‘Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!’ “
Vengeance belongs to the Lord, not us. It belongs to the perfect and just judge who has committed no wrong, not to those who have been tainted with faulty judgment due to their sinfulness. It’s a reminder that when we try to take justice into our own hands and bring forth vengeance by our own means, we fail to trust God that He is able to bring forth a just vengeance. God, in His timing, will do what needs to be done. Prov 16:4 “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

May I constantly remind myself of who God is, of His character. Let it never fade away or grow weary, lest I end up trusting in myself, lest I lose focus on what I need to do. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Prov 16:3

Revelation 13-14

There’s a call for endurance and faith of the saints. People of God who are still on earth during the process of the second coming need to hold on. There’s nothing signifying it’s going to be easy, but rather from the looks of it, it’s going to be far from that. There’s going to be a “beast” that rises out of the sea. The world will follow it, and will follow its commands. They will be blaspheming God. Christians will be enemies. Christians will be warred against and even conquered over. 

A second beast will come from the earth, and it will (from my understanding) make living even harder. He will bring forth a way of marking those who are of the earth, everyone who wants to buy or sell (make a living) will have to be marked by the mark of the beast. Following into chapter 14:9-10, those who have that mark are going to drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured FULL strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire an sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Once again we see the call for the endurance of the saints in Rev 14:12. We gotta push on. We gotta look and focus on what we have ahead of us; what God has promised to be in store for us.