Luke! The books of Luke and Acts make up almost a third of the New Testament. 50 years after Christ, it appears, Luke wanted to make sure the early Christians were not led astray by rumors and false teachings. Two major obstacles confronted the early Christians. The first, to show that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. The second, to separate salvation from the church and put it squarely on Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke worked hard to overcome both of these obstacles.
The first obstacle was approached from two different angles. a) To show the miracles Jesus preformed. Even though many of the miracles Jesus preformed had already been exhibited in the Old Testament, the sheer quantity and consistency in their character demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah. b) To show the sinless and perfect character of Jesus. The Old Testament revealed the character of the Messiah and the authors of the New Testament pointed out clearly that no sin was ever found in Jesus. He met the requirements of the Old Testament Messiah perfectly.
The second obstacle was actually far more difficult to accomplish. So difficult it is hard to overcome even today. As you carefully study Matthew, Mark and Luke, you will find the illustrations and examples given went totally against the church. Not once in all the Old or New Testaments will you read where Jesus sanctioned the church or promoted it. That is what made the Pharisees so angry. Their precious church organization was not being valued as they thought it should be. The leaders of the church believed that salvation was through their church organization. Jesus showed that salvation was only through Him.
In his quest to assure the early Christian’s history was not lost, a “most excellent Theophilus” seems to have been Luke’s benefactor in supplying whatever it took to accomplish the mission God had put upon Luke’s heart. It seems as if Luke traveled extensively in order to interview those who had been eye witnesses to “the events that have transpired among us”. What really makes Luke and Acts so remarkable is the fact that Luke was a Gentile and not a Jew. A Gentile defending Jewish Christianity! Let us now take the journey with Luke as he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning”.
Luke 1:1 to Luke 1:80
Since many people have attempted to write an orderly account of the events that have transpired among us, . . .
Even at the time of Luke, many were attempting to write of the events that “transpired among us” as Christians. The life of Jesus was so powerful it touched the whole world. Many may have been writing novels about Jesus. Many may have written their own story of Jesus. Many keep looking for other books of the Bible today. Yet they refuse to live in obedience to the books God has already sanctioned and authorized to be in His Word. Are you searching outside of God’s Word, or diligently digging into what God has already given you to obey?
Way too many are sitting in church searching outside of God’s Word. They may be listening to a man talk about the Word of God, but that is not the same as listening to the “Word of God”. Do you “hear” God’s Word?
. . . just as they were passed down to us by those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning,
This is important to understand. Many other writings were circulating, but Luke wanted to make sure you understood this was not his own imagination or opinion, but an accumulation as “passed down to us by those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of the Word”. God was using Luke to make sure only legitimate sources were used. Also, they were “servants of the Word”. That means, they were diligent students of the Old Testament and lived in obedience to the Word. As such, they could be used by the Spirit of God. Are you? God could use Luke because he was a servant of God.
I, too, have carefully investigated everything from the beginning and have decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, . . .
“Theophilus is a male given name with a range of alternative spellings. Its origin is the Greek word Θεόφιλος from θεός (God) and φιλία (love or affection) can be translated as “Love of God” or “Friend of God”. Wikipedia. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were able to see the “Love of God” in us? Are you a “Friend of God”? How would anyone know?
Luke wants Theophilus to know he has “carefully investigated” the life of Christ through the accounts of eyewitnesses of which he himself was. Also, being a servant of God, the Spirit of God was able to direct his investigation so it would be accurate.
. . . so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
When we leave our churches and actually go to Jesus, by spending hours each day in His word, we begin to pick up “clues”. We begin to see continuity in the writers from Genesis to Revelation. This is what proves the Bible to be from one Author. Luke, in conjunction with the writer of Hebrews, declares that we can “know the certainty of the things you have been taught”. Faith is not to be built on wishes and dreams. “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see”. Hebrews 11:1. Did you catch that? “Sure” and “certain” of our faith. Faith isn’t about being wishy-washy and maybes. The devil has so destroyed our faith with uncertainty and doubt that Christians today have no idea what they actually have “faith” in. Luke is about to change that.
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
I was looking at the list of priests who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile during the days of Zerubbabel. It was a list of priests who “were the heads of the priestly clans”. Nehemiah 12:12. Among those listed was Abijah. If this is the Abijah Luke is referring to, Zechariah came from a worthy clan. Abijah was willing to sacrifice himself, and his family, by leaving a comfortable home in the land of Babylon to return to an unknown future. Jerusalem was in shambles and the temple was nonexistent. Many enemies were working against the Jews. Why go back? There was no guarantee of safety. Not only did he go back, but he stood up for what was right by signing a “binding agreement” Nehemiah had drawn up “to follow the Law of God”. Nehemiah 9:38; 10:7. Little did he realize that his brave and sacrificial life would lead one day to the forerunner of Jesus almost 440 years later. Are you sacrificing for Jesus? What example are you leaving for those around you and your posterity?
Both of them were righteous before God, having lived blamelessly according to all of the commandments and regulations of the Lord.
The churches, religions and denominations have all fallen. They all claim “You can’t live a blameless life”. Really! According to the Bible there were many mentioned who were blameless and holy. For every one mentioned I am sure there were at least a hundred more. And of course, what made them blameless? Living “according to all of the Commandments”. Are you? When Jesus rose from the tomb, we are told “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” Matthew 27:52. What made them “saints”? Saints are those “who keep the Commandments of God”. Revelation 14:12. It appears Abijah’s act of signing that “binding agreement” effected his future posterity.
At this point, it would be well to separate the Commandments from the regulations of the church. Since Christ, in this narrative, had not yet died and abolished the temple and religious regulations and laws, they were added in here. However, the only thing that makes us blameless is obedience to the Ten Commandments. Church doesn’t make you blameless. Zechariah was fulfilling his duties and obligations as a priest at the temple. That was required of God only for him, but not for salvation, as a representative of the Messiah who would become our High Priest and serve in a temple not built by human hands. Hebrews 9:11.
Most of the writings of Paul are actually centered on this battle that was taking place. Those who wanted to continue the church regulations, laws and traditions, and those who wanted to live as Jesus lived and taught, individually free to obey God. That is why people are so confused with the writings of Paul. He will be talking about doing away with the law, and then turn around and talk about upholding the law. In order to understand Paul you have to understand the Old Testament as Paul did. He understood what was essential for the world’s salvation, against what was temporary and only a shadow of the work of salvation and was only for the nation of Israel. Luke traveled extensively with Paul and understood the difference.
They had no children because Elizabeth was barren and because both of them were getting old.
How does God get the attention of the Jews to prepare them for the Messiah? They didn’t have TV, newspapers, phones, internet or radio. What would be so spectacular that it would draw the attention of the people to what God was about to do? Simple, you give a barren woman, who is old and past childbearing, a child. That would make the gossip rounds and draw attention to the work God was about to do. It is interesting to note, He did the same for Sarah, the wife of Abraham. He did the same for Rebekah. He did the same for the wife of Manoah who gave birth to Sampson. He also did the same for Hannah, the mother of Samuel. And now for Elizabeth, and soon a miracle conception for Mary. There is nothing like women to spread the word.
When Zechariah was serving with his division of priests in God’s presence, he was chosen by lot to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense, according to the custom of the priests.
Many people go around exclaiming how they want to work for God. How they are waiting for God to use them in some spectacular way. All Zechariah did was live a blameless life and do his duty. He served. Now here was a man God could use. Can God use you?
And the entire congregation of people was praying outside at the time when the incense was burned.
There are many congregations doing a lot of praying, singing and worshiping, but none of that is what God asks of us. He simply asks us to live the blameless, perfect, holy, sinless and Commandment keeping life. While congregations are making a lot of noise and hot air, God is working with those who are quietly doing their duty.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the incense altar.
Angels are also doing their duties, quietly working for God. You don’t have to be in any special place to meet an angel. They come to those who are doing their duties. Abraham was doing his duty when the angels met with him at his home. Even Jesus met with Abraham as he was doing his duty. God didn’t ask him to stop doing his duty. Every righteous person mentioned in the Bible who was visited by an angel, or Jesus, were simply doing their duties. Just do your duties and live as God commands: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping.
The angel standing on the right side of the altar represented the favor of God. But it had been a long time since any “favor” of God had been shown in the temple. The nation had turned its back on God.
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled, and fear overwhelmed him.
You must understand, God had not been in the temple for over a thousand years. The shekinah had been driven out of the temple long before by the wickedness of the church people. Ezekiel 10 and 11. Only the rituals, forms and ceremonies were being practiced, but God was not wanted. Therefore, Zechariah, who knew his history, “was startled” when he saw the angel. Our churches have also driven God out. Jesus says to our churches as He said to Ezekiel. “I am about to desecrate My sanctuary (church)—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection.” Ezekiel 24:21. Get out now before it is too late.
The angel could have met with Zechariah at his home. But God wanted the news to start spreading about the coming Messiah. This would get the attention of the Jews, and especially the leaders. The Jews were teaching and proclaiming a “Coming Messiah”. However, their understanding of the “coming” was not in agreement with the Word of God. So it is today. Very few have any understanding of the “coming” of Jesus and how to prepare for it.
But the angel told him, “Stop being afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.
I wonder how many of us have truly been “startled” when our prayers are answered. I really believe that down deep in our hearts we really don’t believe in God nor expect our prayers to be answered. We just go through the motions as if we are sleepwalking. It has taken time for me not to be “startled” when my prayers are answered. I now expect them to be answered.
You will have great joy, and many people will rejoice at his birth, because he will be great in the Lord’s presence. He will never drink wine or any strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
I wonder, if that had happened today would good church people have recommended finding a “Planned Parenthood” place to eliminate the fetus in order to protect the health of the old mother? Fortunately, back then, God’s people let God and nature take care of things. I call it, “The Natural Order of Things”. We need to work with God in every way possible. Therefore, when Zechariah was told how to raise the boy, he did not hesitate to obey. Raising children is a duty and responsibility God has laid on parents, not churches, schools or religious bodies. Parents are to raise (teach, discipline, instruct) their children to live in obedience to the laws of God. Oh, one more thing, God always brings joy and rejoicing. Let us do the same to all around us.
He will bring many of Israel’s descendants back to the Lord their God.
This is interesting. I wonder how Zechariah took that? Were not all Israel’s descendants, the church, being obedient “to the Lord their God”? Did it mean that some of Israel had apostatized and John was to bring them back to the “church”? Or had the whole church system apostatized and John was to bypass the church and bring them directly back “to the Lord their God”? Few read their Bibles slowly and with intent. Most just read words and off they go to more “important matters” of the world. Reading just to read is not studying diligently the Scriptures. We must be filled with the Spirit of God in order to properly study the Scriptures. Few are filled with the Spirit of God. And no, John was not to bring them back to their Sabbath-keeping, church-going, tithe-paying institution. He was to bring them “back to the Lord their God”. Where are you taking people?
He is the one who will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, and to prepare the people to be ready for the Lord.”
Understand, the church of Israel had apostatized. God told Ezekiel to preach against the church. Ezekiel 21:2. Zechariah had his own mission to preform. Not only in raising John, but in letting people know what John’s mission was. This was exciting news, the Messiah was about to come! Zechariah was a part of John’s mission in preparing the people to accept John’s mission. They had become disobedient and must return to the “wisdom of the righteous”. Righteousness, we are told in the Old Testament, is wisdom. Folly is wickedness. The whole church system had become filled with “folly”. Same today with our churches. Especially those who are tithe-paying, church-going, Sabbath-keeping people. None are “prepared” to meet their Lord. God called me to this ministry to prepare His people for the coming of the Lord. God is also calling you to facilitate this ministry in its mission. I thank God for those who are supporting and facilitating the mission of this ministry.
Oh, and that part about “turn the hearts of parents to their children”. Look at the world today. Parents don’t care about their children. Instead of making their children their first priority in training to be servants of God, parents are busy with their own selfish careers and hobbies and interests. The children are left to run wild and be raised on the streets, TV, games, schools and demonic religious organizations and churches. And of course, if the unborn is going to get in the way of your career, we will just abort.
I get letters from “good” church people who tell me over and over again how “not everyone” is lost. Well, I know that. The problem is, they only say that to appease their consciences. What they are really saying is, “I think I’m saved, so I’m OK”. No, you are not. Since only 144,000 righteous will be alive after the close of probation, probably, you are not. People love going to their churches to be reassured of their heaven-bound status, but refuse to go to Jesus for the truth.
Then Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this, since I am an old man, and my wife is getting older?”
Abraham doubted God. Jacob doubted God. Gideon doubted God. Thomas doubted God. Lot’s of God doubters in the Bible. However, they were not doubting the existence of God, only the “how” of God. Same word, two very different understandings. Thankfully, God is merciful and understands our human condition. Yet, eventually, they all surrendered and lived in obedience. Have you?
The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you and to announce this good news to you.
Bringing people back to God is very good news. It is the greatest work that can be accomplished on the face of this earth. You, the reader, have the privilege to “stand in the very presence of God” in this great work of announcing “this good news” to all around you. Will you? This ministry, called by God, is waiting for all the help you can give.
But because you did not believe my announcement, which will be fulfilled at its proper time, you will become silent and unable to speak until the day this happens.”
Do we really believe? Jesus is constantly speaking in His Holy Word, but few actually believe. Most are “silent and unable to speak” because they don’t really believe God. There are always consequences when we do not believe. Which are you? Will you believe and speak up, sharing the good news with all around you? Or just go through the rounds of ceremonies?
Meanwhile, the people kept waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed in the sanctuary so long.
There are many standing around you wondering what is taking you so long to “come out” and share the good news. Why are you sitting in church remaining “silent and unable to speak” when millions are dying to hear the good news. Will you share it with them? Or are you the “silent majority” who will be lost?
But when he did come out, he was unable to speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them but remained unable to speak.
Will you share, even if you have to motion to them? Whatever your method of communication, do all you can to share the good news. That is God’s desire for you.
When the days of his service were over, he went home.
Do not go home until your days of service are over. Being a Christian isn’t just for a few hours on Sabbath. We are to be Christians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When our days of service are over, we will go home with Jesus.
After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. She said, “This is what the Lord did for me when he looked favorably on me and took away my public disgrace.”
Many Christians are living in “public disgrace” because they are barren. They have not given birth to disciples, new Christians or even fruit. But God will look favorably on you if you will live in obedience to Jesus and produce fruit, disciples and new Christians for Jesus. You may have to go into seclusion for a while in order to learn from Jesus and His Word. But don’t wait, time is short. Will you give birth, or abort?
Now in the sixth month of her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
God is looking around for virgins to engage with. Are you separate from the world? Are you a “virgin” when it comes to sin? Are you living in such a way that an angel from God could be sent to you? Or are you way too busy with this world?
The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!”
“Highly favored”. Mary was “highly favored” by God. Why? Well, there are only about six times in the Bible that concept is used. I think two were to Daniel and when the Father spoke to Jesus at His baptism. Why? Of Daniel it was said, “Daniel was trustworthy, and no evidence of negligence or corruption could be found against him”. Daniel 6:4. For Jesus, because He lived the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Are you “highly favored” by God?
Startled by his statement, she tried to figure out what his greeting meant.
I suppose she was. She did not realize how “highly favored” she was. Why? She was simply doing her duty before God. She was living as He had commanded her. She knew her “Bible” and what God required of her as a woman. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all who called themselves Christians would get out of their churches, go to Jesus and learn how to live as He requires them, individually?
Then the angel told her, “Stop being afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God.
When we live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life, our lives will find “favor with God”. Don’t go to church. Don’t belong to any denomination. Don’t let a religion define you. Go to Jesus and live as He commands: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. That is all you have to do to find “favor with God”.
Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus.
When we find favor with God we also will “become pregnant” and give birth to a new life. We will produce fruit for Jesus. Our lives will blossom with righteousness. As any new mother knows, your life will never be your own again. From moment one, you sacrifice your life for the life of the new birth. Are you giving birth to a new life?
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
Jesus means “Yahweh saves”, “to deliver”, “to rescue”. It was Yahweh who delivered, or saved, the Israelites from the Egyptians. Mary understood that the One to be born of her was the God of the Old Testament. She knew the prophecies of the Old Testament. All Israel was waiting for the coming Messiah. However, what the traditional church leaders were teaching was far from what Mary was hearing with regards to the coming Messiah. The church was looking for their Messiah to ride in at the head of armies to deliver Israel from their enemies. Mary was told He was to come from God through her womb.
Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen, since I have not had relations with a man?”
Mary didn’t doubt, simply asked “how”? The angel answered her question. Such sweet child-like trust and faith. It would be wonderful if we all lived in obedience as Mary was willing to do. Many times I have listened to God tell me something and then asked “how? But as I do what I am commanded, the “how” is revealed.
The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will surround you. Therefore, the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God.
Jesus, the God of the Old Testament, was to experience the birth process. He was to go through “birth” as we have had to experience birth. In all points He was to be made equal to man. Jesus had no advantage over man. He had to live as a man, rejecting all temptation to sin, in order to show man that it is possible to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. He showed us how by constant dependence on His Father. He laid down His “God-powers” in order to live as you and I are to live. If He had used His “God-powers”, than He could never have been our example in living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life.
And listen! Elizabeth, your relative, has herself conceived a son in her old age, this woman who was told be barren is in her sixth month.
Prophecy told that the Messiah to come would not only be Ruler over Israel, sitting on David’s throne, but He would also be Priest of the Most High God. That means He had to unite within Himself the tribes of Judah, the ruling tribe of Israel, and the tribe of Levi, from whom the priests came. This was done through Mary who was of the tribe of Levi and her husband Joseph, through adoption, who was of the tribe of Judah.
Nothing is impossible with respect to any of God’s promises.”
It amazes me how Christians, religions, denominations, churches and preachers can say “we can’t live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life” when God is very plain that “nothing is impossible with respect to any of God’s promises”. When God gives us a command, such as to stop sinning and to be perfect and to keep the Ten commandments to get our eternal life, those are promises that are not impossible with God. All we have to do is trust and obey. Put your will into action, live in obedience and everything will work out.
Then Mary said, “Truly I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me.” Then the angel left her.
Wow! Wouldn’t it be remarkable if Christians today let “everything You have said happen to me”? We would all be living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. What witnesses we would be to all around us.
Later on, Mary set out for a Judean city in the hill country. She went into Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
According to the map, and probability of area, Mary’s journey would have taken about two days. To put that in perspective, let’s say you heard of a relative going through difficulties, would you get into your car and travel for two days to help them? I am assuming that Mary was in her early twenties. Setting out for “a Judean city in the hill country” was not a social call. Mary was going to help Elizabeth during her remaining three months of pregnancy. How kind of her. No wonder God picked her to be the mother of His Son. Would God pick you?
When I came down with my illness, John, who lives in Missouri, told his boss he would be back, hopped in his car and drove two days to California to keep the ministry running while I in the hospital. God has truly blessed him. He was a man God could pick.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby jumped in her womb.
Interesting physiology. I would assume that the Spirit of God in Mary and the Spirit of God in Elizabeth “greeted” each other which caused John to “jump” in the womb. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had such a filling of the Spirit of God that when we met there were physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit?
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she loudly exclaimed, “How blessed are you among women, and how blessed is the infant in your womb!
These were truly righteous ladies. There was not one selfish thought in either of them. Both were only thinking of the other and their duties to God.
Why should this happen to me, to have the mother of my Lord visit me?
How humbled. How inspired. How unworthy she felt. This was not just any “Lord”, but the “LORD” of the Old Testament. She understood that her “Lord”, the living God, was in the womb of Mary. The Creator who formed Adam and gave him life was tucked inside Mary and being “formed”.
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
I’m wondering if we are not missing something very deep and profound in our Christian walk. I’m truly beginning to think that we are way too busy in our lives to jump for joy at the greetings God is sending us. I truly think we jump for joy over worldly things more than we do over godly things. Few jump for joy when they receive these newsletters. Few are jumping for joy to overcome the sins they love.
How blessed is this woman for believing that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled!”
Very few actually believe what is spoken to them by the Lord will be fulfilled. Most read the Bible, claim to believe in Jesus, but few actually show that belief in their lives. It is all about going to church, putting on a show and continuing sinful, unbelieving lives.
Then Mary said, “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord!
Today, few would praise God for the child within them. Most would praise the gifts they received at the baby shower. They would all sit around congratulating themselves and honoring themselves. But few praise “the greatness of the Lord” in their lives.
My spirit exults in God, my Savior, . . .
I think we exult in our gratifications. We exult our children, our vehicles, our 72” TVs, our homes, our jobs, our vacations, etc. I don’t see much exulting in God, “my Savior”. At least not as Jesus wants us to exult Him, by living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life.
. . . because he has looked favorably on his humble servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, . . .
You see, down deep, we really think too highly of ourselves and believe that God “owes” us eternal life. We don’t really think of ourselves as “His humble servant”. No, that is too humiliating. God owes us for the money we give Him, for the time spent in saying our prayers and doing church works. For our dedication to our church, denomination and religion. Doesn’t God know how much time and money I have given? He should be thankful for what I am doing. Not likely!
. . . because the Almighty has done great things for me. His name is holy.
Oh, I see, we are to be His “humble servant”, not because of what we have done for Him, but for the “great things” He has done for me. Have we meditated on our past, reflecting on what God has done for us? I do it many times a week. I am on my knees thanking God for this ministry and what He has and what He is doing for and in it. I thank Him for every donor. I thank Him for every inmate who requests. It is all because of Him. I am nothing more than a “humble servant”. A klutzy, ignorant, stupid one at that.
His mercy lasts from generation to generation for those who fear him.
Yes it does! He has been so merciful to me, even though I do not deserve it. I love Him so much. I have sacrificed everything for Him. In return, He has poured out so much on this ministry.
He displayed his mighty power with his arm. He scattered people who were proud in mind and heart.
How true that is. Since the Spirit of God started this ministry, I have seen Him scatter people who were proud, those who didn’t think they needed this ministry, and those who thought they could use and abuse this ministry, and those who took it lightly. I have watched their lives scattered and destroyed. How sad. What a waste.
He pulled powerful rulers from their thrones and lifted up humble people.
Do we ever learn? We have been brainwashed into believing the Old Testament doesn’t matter for our salvation. Therefore, the devil has succeeded in keeping us from learning His-story. Jesus only taught from the Old Testament. Our churches are definitely not following Jesus. They are not of God. They are proud, arrogant, powerful rulers and refuse to live the humble life Jesus commands of us: to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life.
He filled hungry people with good things and sent rich people away with nothing. He helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful, according to the promise he made to our ancestors—to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
He has truly filled this hungry person with good things. I can attest to that. I thank each of you who have allowed the Spirit of God to touch your hearts to fill “this hungry person with good things”. We will be able to continue our mission as long as you let the Spirit work through you.
Now Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
By now, Elizabeth would have had the help she needed, and Mary must return home to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
All of life is an allegory of our Christian walk with God. We are all to give birth to a new life in Jesus. If you do, will your neighbors and relatives hear how the Lord has shown His great mercy to you? Will they rejoice with you? Are the fruits we bear bringing joy, or trouble to those around us?
On the eighth day they went to circumcise the child. They were going to name him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Absolutely not! He must be named John.”
Here again, since they were members of Israel, and God had not yet abandoned Israel as a nation, they were required to honor God by being obedient to all the national and religious rites and ceremonies God had required.
Their friends told her, “None of your relatives has that name.” So they motioned to the baby’s father to see what he wanted to name him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And everyone was amazed.
God uses unique situations to amaze people. He is trying to get our attention. For most, they are amazed by space flights, animation, CGI and movie technology. Therefore, God has to find a way to amaze us to get our attention before it is too late. He knew that all these unique circumstances would circulate around the nation of Israel and people would be watching.
Suddenly, Zechariah could open his mouth, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak and to praise God.
We need more people with tongues set free from the bondage of church, denomination, religion and political correctness. We need tongues that will begin to speak and praise God appropriately. Tongues that will share the truth that we must stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get our eternal life.
Fear came over all their neighbors, and throughout the hill country of Judea all these things were being discussed.
That is why, when we serve Jesus, we are never to worry but rejoice in all things. Even in apparent problems, like being unable to speak for nine months, God used it to His glory. People were watching. “Fear”, intrigue and amazement were turning people’s attention to what God was about to do. God is never in a rush. Everything He does is timed perfectly and will be acted upon at the perfect time. Just do your duty and wait on the Lord.
Everyone who heard about it kept thinking what had happened and asked, “What will this child become?” because it was obvious that the hand of the Lord was with him.
Can that be said about what we do? Is it “obvious that the hand of the Lord” is with you? How are you any different from the worldly people around you? How does your life show the love of Jesus and His Ten Commandments?
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! He has taken care of his people and has set them free. He has raised up a mighty Savior for us from the family of his servant David, just as he promised long ago through the mouth of his holy prophets that he would save us from our enemies and from the grip of all who hate us.
Understand, Zechariah is under inspiration. Jesus did take care of His people. He did set them free from Egyptian bondage and the Babylonian Captivity. But they allowed the enemy of sin to infiltrate them and grip them in hate. Jesus was coming to save them from their enemy of sin. Jesus was coming to save them from the grip of the church that was no longer teaching the people truth about the Savior.
He has shown mercy to our ancestors and remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham. He granted us deliverance from our enemies’ grip so that we could serve him without fear and be holy and righteous before him all of our days.
Jesus has granted us freedom from our “enemies’ grip”. Churches, preachers, ministers, denominations, religions are all holding firmly to their “flock” in a deadly grip. They do not want to lose any of them to Jesus. But Jesus wants us to “serve Him without fear and be holy and righteous before Him all of our days” by living in obedience to the Ten Commandments. That is how Jesus did it. He tells us to follow Him. Are you?
And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, because you will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his way . . .
Jesus has always existed. He was with the Most High before anything was created. John was called to go “ahead of the Lord to prepare His way”. People needed to be awakened to the sacrifice the Lord Jesus was about to make. Not just on the cross, but in His life a living sacrifice. He gave up all Heaven and took on the human form for eternity. He became a human to reach us in our degraded state.
. . . and to give his people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Jesus can’t save one person. However, He can “give His people knowledge of salvation” by opening up to them a way for them to have “salvation through forgiveness of their sins”. Sins can be forgiven when we repent, turn from them and live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. The knowledge that we can stop sinning, live the perfect life of the Ten Commandments is empowering. Without it, we are lost in our sins.
Because of the tender mercy of our God, his light from on high has visited us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death’s shadow, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
How tender the mercy of God is. He didn’t have to give us the knowledge of salvation. He could have left us to die eternally. But He loved us so much He “visited us” in order “to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death’s shadow”. He wants to guide our feet to the life we can live: perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping in order to find the “way of peace”.
Now the child continued to grow and to become spiritually strong. He lived in the wilderness until the day he appeared in Israel.
God is in no rush. When He started this ministry I had no idea where it was going. I still don’t. But I do know that He is guiding it, instructing it and helping it to grow and become spiritually strong until the day He calls it to appear to the world as His messenger. I’m living in the wilderness doing my duty until then.
Prison Mission Report
Hi,You have asked us to write you a five page letter explaining to you how this wonderful book has impacted my life. It has done just that for me. It’s got me reading the Bible from Old and New Testaments in a new light. Thanks to your book for the understanding your book has shown me.George, MS
Dear Brother Ronald,As always, it is good to hear from you. You and Duke’s encouragements are a blessing. I received the “Book of Matthew with Commentary”. I’ve read part and will go over it again slowly to get all I can from it. I have an obligation to apply what the Lord is teaching me. That all His ways are good and just and that I must live my life in the pattern of His. I will keep learning to be a missionary so I can help God’s will be done. I just want to be the kindest, most lovable person I can be. Darren, LA
Dear Ron,A friend of mine received your pamphlet titled, “Jesus Christ Prison Ministry”. It is the Introductory Issue. In it was a paper to fill out requesting your book. I’m sending it along with this letter. I was really inspired by your testimony and what you revealed about how God is working in your life. I just want to thank you. I hope the Lord will continue to use you to reach others who are seeking a relationship with the Lord, or others who may just need to hear a few words of encouragement. In any case, may the favor of the Lord follow you as you follow Him.Hector, TX
Dear Ron,I just completed reading the pamphlet on the history of JCPM and absolutely must read “Change Your Life Biblically”. I do not know if I was to include stamps. I am very excited to study the truths in your book. I’ve always considered the Sabbath on Saturday because Jesus did. I have been a follower of Christ long before I entered prison, yet I truly was one of those men Peter described in 2 Peter 3:16. I know the Holy Spirit has led me at the perfect time to your ministry and book.Nick, CO
Testimony for God's Children
Over the past 23 years, this ministry has been pressed by the Spirit of God to put out His truth. It has not been easy. When I see souls surrender to Jesus my heart rejoices. However, most have either rejected the testimonies, or have played their little games pretending to accept the truth, but their hearts have been in the world. How sad. I have watched the difference in the lives of these individuals. Those who have accepted the words of the Spirit of God have found their lives truly blessed. Those who have not have been plagued with trouble, pain and sorrow.
Fighting the Spirit of God
Those who have a spirit of opposition to the work that for twenty-six years we have been pressed by the Spirit of God to do, and who would break down our testimony, I saw are not fighting against us, but against God, who has laid upon us the burden of a work that He has not given to others. Those who question and quibble, and think it a virtue to doubt, and who would discourage; those who have been the means of making our work hard and of weakening our faith, hope, and courage have been the ones to surmise evil, to insinuate suspicious charges, and to watch with jealousy for occasion against us. They take it for granted that because we have human weaknesses it is a positive evidence that we are wrong and that they are right. If they can find a semblance of anything that they can use to injure us they do it with a spirit of triumph and are ready to denounce our work of reproving wrong and condemning sin as a harsh, dictatorial spirit.
That could have been written yesterday, not in the 1880’s. The spirit of questioning, quibbling, discouraging and weakening faith is still as strong today as it was back then. There are those who tell me to stop “pushing” them into righteousness. I love them so much, but they refuse to listen and their lives have been a mess. Their hearts are with the world. I would be worn out by now if it were not for the refreshing Spirit of God.
But while we do not accept their version of our case as the reason for our afflictions, while we maintain that God has appointed us to a more trying work than He has others, we acknowledge with humility of soul and with repentance that our faith and courage have been severely tried and that we have sometimes failed to trust wholly in Him who has appointed us our work. When we gather courage again, after sore disappointment and trials, we deeply regret that we ever distrusted God, gave way to human weaknesses, and permitted discouragement to cloud our faith and lessen our confidence in God. I have been shown that God’s ancient servants suffered disappointments and discouragements as well as we poor mortals. We were in good company; nevertheless this did not excuse us.
Boy, can I relate to that. I have made many mistakes over the past 23 years. I have had many trials and disappointments. I have “permitted discouragement to cloud our faith and lessen our confidence in God”. All true. I am constantly battling myself in order to do the appointed work He has given me. Through it all, my faith, my trust and my dependence on God has grown. However, there is much growth still to be accomplished.
As my husband has stood by my side to sustain me in my work and has borne a plain testimony in unison with the work of the Spirit of God, many have felt that it was he personally who was injuring them, when it was the Lord who laid upon him the burden and who was, through His servant, reproving them and seeking to bring them where they would repent of their wrongs and have the favor of God. I have prayed and prayed for God to send a “son” to sustain me in my work and stand by my side to help me. Those whom God has given the privilege to work here have all fallen away. Most preferred prison to working here. It is very hard here. Very hard.
Those whom God has chosen for an important work have ever been received with distrust and suspicion. Anciently, when Elijah was sent with a message from God to the people, they did not heed the warning. They thought him unnecessarily severe. They even thought that he must have lost his senses because he denounced them, the favored people of God, as sinners and their crimes as so aggravated that the judgments of God would awaken against them. Satan and his host have ever been arrayed against those who bear the message of warning and who reprove sins. The unconsecrated will also be united with the adversary of souls to make the work of God’s faithful servants as hard as possible.
How true! “Satan and his host have ever been arrayed against” this ministry and me. If it had not been for the power of God, I would have been defeated long ago. But God, in His great mercy and grace to me, has been long suffering towards my ignorance and upbringing and has sustained me through it all.
If my husband has been pressed beyond measure and has become discouraged and desponding, if we have at times seen nothing desirable in life that we should choose it, this is nothing strange or new. Elijah, one of God’s great and mighty prophets, as he fled for his life from the rage of the infuriated Jezebel, a fugitive, weary and travel-worn, desired to die rather than to live. His bitter disappointment in regard to Israel’s faithfulness had crushed his spirits, and he felt that he could no longer put confidence in man. In the day of Job’s affliction and darkness, he utters these words: “Let the day perish wherein I was born.”
I have asked the Lord for the same. I look around and wonder, “Why”? I don’t really see the sense in all this when it appears to me that so little has been accomplished. But then, letters will come in from inmates who would not have had the joy of finding Jesus if it were not for this ministry. That revives my soul.
Those who are not accustomed to feel to the very depths, who have not stood under burdens as a cart beneath sheaves, and who have never had their interest identified so closely with the cause and work of God that it seems to be a part of their very being and dearer to them than life, cannot appreciate the feelings of my husband any more than Israel could appreciate the feelings of Elijah. We deeply regret being disheartened, whatever the circumstances may have been. 3T 260-262.
I want to thank each of you for your love and support. Without you allowing your hearts to be touched by the Spirit of God, none of this would be possible. Every time a donation comes in, my heart rejoices for I know we will be able to reach a soul who is reaching out to Jesus. Thank you.