We’ve created an acrostic to help us remember some key points to turn this time of study into a time of spiritual growth and personal healing.
Digging deeper into these books will reveal truths that will change the way you view healing, and most important draw you closer to our Heavenly Father. May God bless you as you commit your time and heart to study His word.
Read Luke 1:1-25
He’s Got This
Luke begins his account of the life of Jesus by describing what happened to a priest named Zechariah (spelled Zecharias in some Bible translations) one day in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. The priests, who were all descendants from the Old Testament tribe of Levi, who were direct descendants of Aaron, Moses’ brother, were in charge of all of the responsibilities within the Temple. Luke described how on this particular day, Zechariah had been chosen by lot (like drawing straws) to burn the incense on the altar. The Altar of Incense, as it was called, sat directly in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies, the place where the Spirit of the Lord dwelt. We learn through biblical commentary, and historical sources, that because of the large number of priests in each division, each individual priest would burn incense at this altar only once in his lifetime, if he were lucky enough to be selected at all. So, it was a big deal that Zechariah was chosen to burn the incense at the altar for that day. (See commentary in NIV and Living Bible translation study Bibles.)
Luke then describes how, once Zechariah approached the altar to offer the incense, an angel of the Lord named Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and actually had an audible conversation with him. It’s so amazing that we get to hear what Gabriel had to say! When Gabriel told Zechariah he and his wife were going to have a baby, Zechariah was skeptical, to say the least, since he and his wife were well beyond child bearing age. In the next few verses we learn that the child that was going to be born is the man we know as John the Baptist, the forerunner to the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. (Note: The second scene in the movie called “The Nativity Story” produced by Temple Hill Entertainment and released in 2006 displays a moving rendition of Zechariah at the Altar of Incense).
In those days, having children was considered to be a direct blessing from God. To the contrary, being barren, or having no children, was considered to be a curse. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, despite having lived long lives as “righteous people who were obedient to God,” were barren and by all human description well beyond the age during which a couple could conceive. It seemed as though time had run out for these folks and they would remain cursed. But, we know that is not how the story ends. In fact, this couple’s child, John the Baptist, was the one to whom Jesus referred when He said that there was no greater one who had lived. (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). In one moment, Zechariah’s life changed forever.
The point is this: regardless of what our circumstances appear to be, we must trust that God is capable of all things. He can cause one priest, out of many, to be selected by “random” draw to go before the Altar of Incense on a particular day so that an angel can come meet him there to announce he would soon be a father, despite he and his wife’s “well beyond conceiving years.” Irrespective of our current circumstances, our God is able. Able for whatever. The “whatever” isn’t always as profound as delivering a baby to an old couple, it is often much less newsworthy, yet still miraculous and life changing! We don’t have to manipulate, orchestrate, invent or prevent—He is able to accomplish His plans when we are willing to let Him. Pursue Him and He will provide everything else. Rest in that promise, especially during times of trouble.
Read Luke 1: 25-80
His Plan, Not Mine
In today’s passage, we can learn an invaluable principle from the words of Mary. In response to Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would soon give birth to a child conceived by the Holy Spirit, she simply responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” (NIV). In essence, Mary was saying that no matter how outrageous this prediction appeared on its surface, she believed Gabriel’s words had come from her Heavenly Father and she would trust Him completely. She did not focus on what would likely have been natural responses, such as: “what will people think, my parents are going to freak out, will I be stoned to death, what if Joseph dumps me and I’m all alone, what if … etc.” Instead, she declared unequivocally that she would surrender her will to her Heavenly Father’s divine plan, despite the earthly consequences.
Perhaps this kind of response can encourage us today. Even though we may be suffering on many different levels and our circumstances seem confusing, we can declare to ourselves and to those around us that we will surrender our will in order that we may ultimately fulfill the purposes of our Heavenly Father. In other words, we can try to focus on the possibilities of how our suffering could advance His Kingdom.
Read Luke 2
70 Miles On A Donkey
Everyone is familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus in this chapter. Familiarity, sometimes, can cause us to gloss over certain details in a story; details which may be very helpful to us during our healing journey. There’s many of those in this account, but let’s focus on one. Mary, a very young Jewish woman who was engaged to be married, conceived through the Holy Spirt of God, and is carrying in her womb the Son of God! Joseph is a righteous, Jewish man, who has lived his whole life following God’s laws and is supporting his espoused wife and undoubtedly, and constantly, defending Mary and her reputation to the community over the last several months. And, in general, all aspects of daily life are hard for the Jewish people while under Roman rule. Wasn’t that enough to deal with? No, it wasn’t. Now, we learn that Mary and Joseph are being required by the Roman government to travel over 70 miles to Joseph’s hometown just to be counted! The census was declared by Caesar Augustus while he sat in his palace, all high and mighty, no doubt taking advantage of every comfort available to mankind at the time. To top it off, their only means of transportation is one little D O N K E Y! Great fun, especially for a woman who is nearing time to give birth. But, that’s what was required of Mary and Joseph, the highly favored and chosen couple, the earthly parents of Jesus.
Notice that, although certainly capable, God did not float them over to Bethlehem on the back of Gabriel’s wings; not even a nice bedded carriage pulled by a strong team of camels. Nothing, nada! Who could blame them if there were times in which the couple questioned the goodness of God, His plan for their lives, and whether He even loved them at all? Well, He is good, He did have great plans for them and He loved them more than we can comprehend, but, He did NOT spare them from suffering. He may not spare us from suffering either. However, suffering never means that He is not good, that He has forgotten His plans for us, or that He doesn’t love us. We simply have to trust Him, trust Him, and then trust Him some more.
Read Luke 3:1-22
Who’s That In The River?
Let us never cease to be amazed that God has allowed us easy access to events that forever changed the course of humankind! Today, we are eye witnesses to this: Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River! Take a moment to focus on this event intently. The scripture says that John had been living in the desert, but now had come to spend time by the river preaching about the soon coming of the long-awaited Messiah. John was clear as he declared, “One who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire?” (Luke 3:16). After many others were baptized, Jesus steps forward to join in. Although Luke pens less details about this moment than John the Apostle does (See John 1:29-34. See also Matthew 3:16-17 and Mark 1:10-11), he describes the same response to Jesus’ baptism. Luke wrote: “[a]nd as he [Jesus] was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Imagine yourself as one in the crowd that day hearing the voice of God declaring for all of mankind the truth of who Jesus really is! Is there anything more that we need?
Now that we have been assured that Jesus is who He says He is, we can confidently rely and trust in all of the things He said and promised, right? Of course, we can, and we should. Especially during a time of trouble, we must remind ourselves to rely on the One true source for guidance and comfort —the One and Only Son of God!
Read Luke 4:1-13
It Is Written
Matthew, Mark and Luke write of Jesus being tempted by the enemy immediately after His baptism. The scripture tells us that Jesus was led into the desert to spend time alone before He began His full-time ministry. In this region, if one travelled away from a water source, he/she was setting himself/herself up for some serious suffering! Jesus was there for 40 days. He was hungry, thirsty, and tired. And, His enemy, the same enemy as ours, repeatedly tried to get Jesus off course during a time when He was so physically vulnerable. Satan said things like: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread,” when He was really hungry; “I will give you all the [referring to the kingdoms of the world] authority and splendor,” and “throw yourself down from here…” when Jesus must have physically been completely exhausted. Satan even used parts of scripture in his temptations!
Isn’t that what happens to us sometimes, too? When we are physically sick, tired, exhausted or just weary in our journey, our enemy seems to speak the loudest, “Just give up, give in, step on off the cliff.” But, we know what we must do in these situations. We must follow Jesus’ example, and speak the Word back to our enemy. The spoken Word will fight the battle for us and it will always win. Jesus said repeatedly, “It is written… .” Jesus knew that we would need His example many times in our lives and He sacrificed His comfort so that we could know what to do in times of great temptation. Let’s don’t let His suffering go to waste. Combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God’s Word.