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Monday, November 03, 2008

Early Christmas Thoughts from Luke 1

This morning, I felt an odd prompting to read the Christmas story in Luke. I fought the prompting a bit, telling God that I could probably quote the story by now. I then remembered we had a copy of The Message. The following thoughts are a result of my time spend with God and The Message this morning.

The first thing I noticed was the introduction. I am not new to the Bible, but the wording of the introduction cause me to look at Luke differently. Here it is . . .

"Most of us, most of the time, feel left out - misfits. We don't belong. Others seem to be so confident, so sure of themselves, 'insiders' who know the ropes, old hands in a club from which we are excluded. One of the ways we have of responding to this is to form our own club, or join one that will have us." Eungene Pierce goes on to remind us that Luke, himself, was an outsider and made a point to show how Jesus accepted the outsiders to himself. Very cool.

Luke 1:8-12 I got excited when I realized that these people were practicing the earthly version of what Jesus was about to do for us. At the time when one priest (this time it was Zachariah) went into the temple, the congregation was gathered outside praying. I can only imagine how strategic it was to have people praying/interceding while a lowly human walked into the Holy presence of God. It was serious business! Remember the stories of tying a string with bells to the ankle of the priest who went in so they could drag him out in case they were struck dead in the presence of God. (Does anyone else wonder how often that happened?)

We don't do that anymore. Yet we go before God regularly. In fact, we beg God to send down an increased presence. How are we able to do this?! Jesus. He became our intercessor, right? The sprinkling of His blood is what allows us entrance to the Father's throne room, but it is His intercession that keeps us safe while we are there. Those people gathered outside praying while Zachariah went before God was a foreshadow of how Jesus prays for us so that we can go before God. So cool!

"Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense." I love that Luke specifies that it was unannounced. I guess, since some of the other angelic messages were announced??

1:15-17 I think this offers an answer to the question, "How do we prepare people to meet with God?" Listen to how The Message words this, especially the last part.

"He'll drink neither wine nor beer. He'll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother's womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God's arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parent to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics - he'll get the people ready for God."

I guess my next questions is, how do you kindle understanding among skeptics? Or soften the hearts of parents to children? Maybe I should be praying for the strength of Elijah.

1:29-33 "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you." hehe I had to laugh at that wording. A slight understatement by the angel, perhaps?

1:36-38 "And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."

I am not sure why it hadn't occurred to me before. Maybe it was because this morning I looked at things from the prospective of inclusion. God made use of those most likely to be written off or ignored. Mary was "young and stupid." Elizabeth was "too old to be of much use." By the standards of this world, these two cousins were among the least likely Israelite people to bring about God's plan for redemption. I love that, with all of the other cool stuff He is doing, God also spans the generations, bringing unity to cousins separated greatly by age. It is just all very, very good.

Political Thoughts

I voted on Saturday and had a few political thoughts to share.

1) How did I vote? Very carefully! The most difficult office for me to vote on was that of President. Honestly, I don't feel that either of the main candidates are ready to lead our country. Then again, who is? The only way anyone should ever approach that position is with fear and trembling!

I listened to a recording from IHOP Atlanta that said no matter who the new president is, he will have a prayer target on them because they will be praying for God to speak and move in his life. And that is what helped me decide how to vote. I asked myself, "Which candidate is most likely to listen when God speaks?" Once I found the answer to that question in my heart, I voted.

Who did I choose? Possibly the same person you did. Maybe someone different. :-) I decided not to tell. Wouldn't want my decision to influence or condemn anyone else's choice.

2) I had a brilliant idea to get people to vote. I did absentee voting at the mall. I think, if they are going to offer voting at the malls, I think the malls should encourage people to vote by offering voting incentives. If you bring your voter receipt, you get 20% off your purchase, or some such thing. It might encourage a whole new demographic to vote!

I guess those are all my political thoughts for the moment. Be sure to cast your vote!