Make Scripture Real

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Years ago, when the Lord called me to write, I was engaged in a group Bible study of the gospel of Matthew. As I read each lesson, I found myself lingering over each character that came along, wondering what the rest of their story might be.

Sometimes a whole incident was told in two verses. I wanted to say, “Whoa, who is this leper? What did he do for a living?  What was the initial separation like for he and his wife and children knowing that they could never see each other or touch each other again?

Then Jesus healed him! Jesus even touched this unclean leper. Amazing. Oh the gratitude he must have felt. Did his family know about Jesus? Were they cautious, even afraid to accept him back in the household?

I found myself asking questions and thinking about the characters Jesus met all along the way. I wanted readers of Scripture to wonder as well. For I found that asking questions leads you to seek answers.

We might not always get it exactly right, but as we dig into other similar passages or Bible notes, these characters can come to mean more to us. They become the real people they were.

Let’s take John the Baptist for instance. Matthew tells us,

John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Don’t jump over the phrase that tells of his two-part message—the call for repentance and the message that heaven is near. In other words, the Savior is coming.

This is he who was spoken of  through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.’ “ Matthew 3:1-2

So, John knows the ancient writings of the prophets all the way back to Isaiah and he equates the “voice” as himself  and the “Lord” as the Messiah, the coming-soon Messiah.

      

We read a little farther and discover that John wears camel-hair clothing with a leather belt and eats locusts and wild honey—a desert man for sure. That gives us a glimpse of the ruggedness of this man.

People went to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and from the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:5-6

Clearly he was effective, in spite of his desert-man ways. Again, a two-part result—confession of sin and the commitment of baptism. Thus, he was known as John the Baptizer or John the Baptist.

In the first chapter of Luke, we find out about his miracle-boy birth. 

My point is, we must read slowly, think through the pieces we are given, and look for other references that will give greater insight.

Then wonder…

What took place when he was out there in the desert during his preparation years? How did the Spirit reveal so much to him? Was it similar to Jesus desert experience? What do we learn when we’re in  those wandering “desert” times? Hmm.

~ Joyce ~

 

Christmas – Elizabeth Receives a Visitor

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Meanwhile, back to Elizabeth…

Tradition says that Elizabeth had a sister in Nazareth named Anna. In Elizabeth’s sixth month, she heard the story of her sister’s daughter (Mary) and the special baby she was carrying. Mary, likewise, heard about Elizabeth from the angel, Gabriel, and decided to travel to Elizabeth’s house where she might find comfort and safety from public tongues wagging.

Mary entered Elizabeth’s house and called out a greeting.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41

Elizabeth had yet another affirmation of how God had set apart her own child and blessed Mary’s child with holiness.

In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:42-44

Notice, a loud voice! Elizabeth was overwhelmed with excitement and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Another important factor was that Elizabeth recognized that Mary believed what the angel told her. Elizabeth said,

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:45

I had not keyed in with this verse before. Elizabeth had been reminded, for six months so far, about Zechariah’s doubting attitude. He still couldn’t talk. So it made an impression on Elizabeth that Mary readily believed the angel. 

Both women were filled to the brim with emotion and the spirit of God. Mary began her praise;

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” Luke 1:46-47

Mary stayed on until Elizabeth gave birth. Her neighbors and relatives shared in her joy.  On the eighth day, it was time for the circumcision ceremony and the naming of the child. Elizabeth told the officials that he was to be named “John.” Oh, but this was not traditional. After all, there were no relatives named “John.” So they went to Zechariah to get the straight of it. But remember, he could not talk. They made signs to him to try to communicate. Finally, he called for a writing tablet and declared,

“His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:63

In fact he was so filled with the Spirit that he began to prophesy in a twelve-verse song of praise. It became quite evident that he did hear the rest of the angel’s declaration six months earlier and understood, at least in part, the destiny of this special son. (Luke 1:67-79)

The neighbors were filled with awe and told about it all over the hill country of Judea. Their burning question was,

“What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. Luke 1:66

We, too, stand in awe of the great things God can do with simple people like Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Mary. It is a reminder that He can use even the likes of us to accomplish His purposes, great or small, if we believe and are willing. Amazing, isn’t it?

~ Joyce ~