Posts Tagged ‘blessing’

Luke 24:50-53 — Here we are at the end of the Gospel of Luke. The end of another book of the Bible, another book of the New Testament. But it is not the end. The gospels are only the beginning. At the end of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ true majesty is revealed and we see the beginnings of His church. This passage is open ended even though it is the conclusion of Luke. The ascension is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. It is like leaving the movie when the credits roll and missing the outtakes. With its open ended ending, it is like these movies today that beg for a sequel by how they don’t really wrap up and resolve everything at the end of the movie. That’s the beauty of it all. This story is nowhere near over yet.

The first thing that you will notice here in the concluding passage of Luke’s gospel is that Jesus blesses them. He gives them benediction, a good word with which to be sent forth. Jesus lifted his hands to heaven to bless them. He was calling upon the glory of heaven to be marshalled into his blessing of these men that, though sometimes cowardly and clueless, had risked it all to be with Him for three years. It reminds me that Jesus will bless our obedience to His call. Many of us are overcome by fear and do not follow the call that Jesus has on our lives. We are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary. We are not willing to leave our comfort zone. Regardless of their failures, though, Jesus’ disciples had risked it all for the man they loved and admired and the man they believed to be the promised One. They had followed Him. They had worked with Him. They had spent nights sitting by campfires with Him. During their time with Him, they had seen the miracles. They had seen the evidence of God’s power and provision. For all their inadequacies and lack of formal theological education, they had risked it all to follow their call. And, here, we see Jesus blessing them. God blesses those who have a greater love for Him than they do for their own comfort. Are you following God’s call on your life? Have you made excuses for why you cannot? Have the trust of the disciples, my friend. Somehow they knew and trusted through Jesus that God would provide for them and their families. The Lord will provide and He will bless your humble obedience to His call. He will make a way for you. You simply must trust Him and follow. He will bless you.

The second thing that you will notice in this final passage of the Gospel of Luke is that Jesus returns to His glory in heaven. As Dr. Ralph Wilson says at http://www.jesuswalk.org about this passage,

“As Jesus ascends from the earth into heaven, he is ascending directly into the presence of the Almighty Father. As the Son of Man he appears before the Ancient of Days to receive an unshakable Kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14), reinstatement of his former glory (John 17:5), of which he had voluntarily “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7). Now it is fully restored.”

His ascension reminds us that He was and is of the same and one essence with the Father. He is one and the same with the Father. Now, consider this, Jesus walked the earth as a man and had set aside His full glory while here and lived as we lived. He felt things we feel. He experienced everything we experience. He lived the human existence. But now He is returning to His mighty glory. The combination of these two things is what make me love Jesus all the more. He is God and all that it entails. He is ageless, timeless, the Creator of all things, the possessor of all knowledge, the ruler of the universe. But at the same time, I know that He understands what its like to live every aspect of the human existence. I know that He is my advocate in Heaven. He knows what it is like to be in human flesh. He knows what it is like. He understands. Him returning to His glory equipped with His human experiences gives me confidence that when I fail and when I disappoint and when I need His comfort and His advice and His direction, He knows. He knows what it is like to live in my human flesh. He is all powerful and yet He knows.

The final thing that we notice here as we conclude Luke, the story is not over. It is not the end. Luke’s story seems open ended and begging for a sequel, much like many of the serial movie franchises that are out right now like the Hunger Games and Twilight. The ending of the movie sets up the hunger for the next installment. Here the story is not over. They returned to Jerusalem with joyful worship. The story is not over. It is just beginning. There is no sadness at Jesus’ ascension. He empowered them to go forth. They are ready and awaiting the next step. The final two words of Luke’s gospel are “praising God.” How fitting is that. The final verb is present tense. That means this is not over. They are praising. That is the point of everything to be in the present and praising God. The job is ahead of us and the point of it all is praising God. God is the point of it. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus came to earth to be with us, live among us, experience what we experience, and to be the sacrifice for our sins and is now our advocate in Heaven. Is there no wonder the disciples were joyfully worshiping and praising God. They have got the good news and they will spread it. The story is not over. It is our turn in our time to be joyful worshipers, praising God, spreading the good news. The story is not over.

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Luke 1:39-45 — Have you ever let jealousy ruin a precious moment in life? That could have been the reaction of Elizabeth in this situation but her humility is worth noting when she sees her relative, Mary.

In first century Palestine, a woman’s value was largely measured by the children she bore. Barrenness often lead to personal hardship and public shame. When she found out that she was going to have a baby, it was a long-awaited answer to years of prayer. She would no longer have to hear the whispers as she passed by others. She also knew that her future was secure through her coming son. She also knew from her husband’s encounter with the angel of the Lord that her son was going to be special. He was going to be the one that paved the way for the long-promised Messiah. It was news that just had her giddy with excitement and feelings of blessing. I am sure that we have all experienced those times where we know that we have been given a great blessing. It just makes you feel as though all your years of faithfulness to the Lord have been rewarded. It gives you a feeling that yeah, I really have done the right thing following Jesus all these years. It is a moment of joy and satisfaction. It gives you a moment of pause when you realize when there is a blessing that you know can only come from the Lord. Have you ever received a blessing that you know was only possible through the grace of God? It made you feel especially loved and favored by God. I am sure that Elizabeth felt this way too. There are times when we feel especially blessed. It is the sweet spot of all sweet spots when you realize that God gave you a blessing specifically. Not your neighbor. Not someone you hear and see about on stage at church. Not something you read in a devotional or see on a TV program. It is you that has been blessed. You!

Imagine then Elizabeth meeting Mary. This encounter is when you really realize that Elizabeth is a true woman of God. We read earlier in a previous passage that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous people in God’s eyes. Now, from the scene in this passage, we know it for sure. Have you ever had one of those situations where you had a story that everyone was in awe of but then someone chimes in that they have an even better story than that. Everyone listening then turns their attention to the “better story” and then you are left alone as everyone then follows the person with the better story. We have a modern day example of this from my favorite football team, Clemson. Cole Stoudt is a senior and has worked hard over the past four years and waited his turn to become the starting quarterback. His faithfulness to the Clemson program is astounding. It is a story worthy of praise. He certainly has a story to tell about faithfulness and hard work and believing in yourself. However, he just happened to have a freshman phenom quarterback to be recruited whose talents are far above his. Everyone makes over DeShaun Watson. He is the next four years of Clemson football. What about Cole? He is left behind. His faithfulness had been rewarded. But along comes someone with far greater talent. Cole could have pouted. However, he stuck around and became a man. He could have let jealousy destroy him. However, without Cole over the past three weeks, while Watson has been injured, he has been a steadying force. Jealousy could have derailed a team’s season.

In the same light, Elizabeth could have been jealous of Mary. She could have felt like the kid who had the less great story. She could have reacted the opposite of Cole Stoudt. She could have, in jealousy, been angry with Mary. Elizabeth’s story was a miracle. She was advanced in years and finally was pregnant. And not just pregnant, pregnant with a special child. She encounters Mary whose son they both knew was going to be greater than Elizabeth’s precious long-awaited child. She could have been one of those people who start vicious rumors about those who seem to be more blessed that we are. She could have rejected Mary in jealousy. But that is not what we see from Elizabeth. Amazingly, Elizabeth shows her true humility. The statements about her and Zechariah are true. They are righteous people humbly serving their Lord. Instead of jealousy, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy that the mother of the Christ Child would come to visit her. Have you ever envied people who seem particularly singled out for special blessing? Are you jealous of those at church who have positions of authority over you? Instead of being petty and jealous, let’s us rejoice for those who have been blessed. Instead of talking gossip about those in authority over us, let us be humble and realize that those in authority over us have been given that position because God ordained it and we often don’t see their behind the scenes faithfulness to the Lord. Let us rejoice and take the Elizabeth approach and not the jealous approach. Elizabeth knew that her son would serve the Lord and serve the one in Mary’s womb. She was a servant of the Lord not the servant of her own ego. We all are here to serve Jesus. We are all here to tell the story of his great gift of salvation and of restoration. Let us serve the Lord together in the capacities that He has given us right now at this place at this moment in time. All of us are servants. We must serve and work in our positions that we hold no matter how high or how low as if we are working for the Lord. God has you right where He wants you right now because this is where He needs you in the position you hold. Let us be humble like Elizabeth and realize and submit to the Lord.

Father, help me to have an Elizabeth attitude about life. Help me to realize that you bless me daily and give me what I need not what somebody else needs. You personally know me and love me. I should not compare my blessings to others. You are doing a work in me that is unique to me. Help me to have a vertical mentality rather than a horizontal one. Help me to keep my eyes on you and how you sustain me personally rather than comparing myself to how you bless or don’t bless others. My relationship with you is vertical. You are my King and I am your servant. I need to remember that I serve to glorify you and not gain glory from others. Help me to be Elizabeth humble. Amen.