In a single verse Luke describes the 30-year upbringing of John the Baptist: “And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Luke 1:80). Nothing is said of the hard work of his parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth. But those of us who are parents know there is a world of work in that verse!
What an unusual child he was. His father had been told of John’s future work as the forerunner of Jesus, and that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” (v15). Knowing this, how did they take their newborn baby and raise him to become such a great preacher, as God wanted? He must have prayed every day for wisdom, and talked with his son regularly of what God had in mind. They lived in the hill country of Judah (v39), and it was in these deserted areas that John lived. He became a rugged outdoorsman and could exist by foraging. He would need these skills later in life because he would preach to crowds away from towns and cities.
We must admire his parents – both of whom were senior citizens – for their fine work raising John. They challenge us to work hard and sacrifice to raise our own children wisely, teaching them about Jesus Christ and what they can accomplish for God in this world. Our work doesn’t end when they move out on their own; they will need us for advice and encouragement for decades to come.
Years ago a teacher in Europe was asked why he bowed down to his students before class every day. He said one never knows who they will become.
Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights (Matt.4:1-2). I don’t know how a human being could accomplish such a feat of self-discipline, but Jesus did it. Perhaps his time alone in the wilderness was needed just before his teaching ministry began, thus he needed time to concentrate and pray. And into the midst of his solitude came the devil himself.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how hungry a man would be after fasting that long. A piece of bread must have seemed as valuable as gold. The devil challenged him to miraculously turn some wilderness rocks into bread, something Jesus could easily do. He wanted Jesus to prove Himself, that he was really the Son of God. Jesus refused. Continue reading
“And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”
– 2 Cor.6:18
I talked to three of my grandchildren on Skype last week. One in Ohio told me all about a visit to the local zoo – and included all the animal noises. Two more, in Tennessee, showed me some paper hats they decorated in VBS. I’m happy they love to talk to us, even if it’s just over the computer. They live too far away to have personal visits very often, so Skype is a blessing to us. When several of our sons and their families get together, they often Skype us to have a conversation. Continue reading
Peace seems impossible these days. We see a world without it on the news every night. Hatred and violence seem to rule in so many places. One conflict settles down and then another flares up overnight. Even in “peaceful” countries, people can feel a lack of it inside themselves.
Yet the New Testament speaks of peace and claims that anyone can have it. This elusive quality is not so elusive after all. Romans 5:1-4 tells us “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” then goes on to talk about experiencing tribulations. This means we can have peace even when we experience troubles. How is this possible? We find the answer in Philippians 4:6-7. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Continue reading