THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
Mark 16, Luke 1, Luke 2, Luke 3, and Luke 4:1-30 (NIV)
THOUGHTS FROM DENESE
I have to admit, when I began to study for writing this devotional, I was a little frustrated. The first scripture this week starts with is Mark 16, which covers Jesus rising from the dead, giving the Great Commission, then ascending into Heaven. The very next day takes us to Luke 1 with Jesus’ birth. I wondered how I could make that flow well since it was the opposite of how you usually tell a story. As I began to dive deeper, I felt like God wanted to remind us of how He usually operates in the opposite way of human nature – Jesus’ very life was a testament to that. The world sees power as a way to gain control over others and benefit themselves – Jesus chose to serve others.
As we move into Luke, it begins with the preparation for Jesus and the birth of our Savior. Once again, we see a story exemplifying the opposite of what we would expect. I think we would all agree that Mary had favor with God since we know how the story ends, but have you ever thought about Mary’s limited perspective? God’s blessing on Mary would lead to much pain, ridicule, and the rejection and murder of her son. On the surface, this sounds like the opposite of favor, doesn’t it? God’s favor may not always bring immediate success, but through Mary’s Son would come the world’s only hope for salvation. Luke also leads us through Jesus’ birth in a stable – again, the opposite of where you would expect a King to be born – to Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. We may feel that if the Holy Spirit is leading us, it will be “beside still waters,” but that is not always the case. Remember, He led Jesus into the desert for a long and difficult time of testing. Just like Jesus, when you face trials, ask God to strengthen you for the test and be sure to follow wherever He leads.
As we walk through our own “deserts” and try to keep our focus on doing what God called us to do through the Great Commission, there is one thing that stands true. Knowing and applying God’s Word, while sometimes doing the opposite of what seems normal, is the only way we will succeed. That is what we are learning to do through Set Apart – Set Apart from the world, Set Apart from the normal, Set Apart for Him!