Monday, January 14, 2019


Last week, our computer crashed. We have someone trying to retrieve our data, and PTL we have this new computer. However, we are having to reconstruct our schedules, templates, etc.; so it may be next week before we get back on track with posting to our blogs. We are hopeful that we will be completely back on track by then. Please pray for us during this process, and pray that John is able to retrieve our data, especially a book we have been working on. Thank you!!!

Friday, January 4, 2019




We have decided to begin 2019 by looking at the words of Jesus, the words in red in many Bibles. We will follow that tradition by using red to denote words directly attributed to the God-Man, Jesus. We will present them in context with background information where needed. Then, in our usual Bible Study Ping-Pong style, we will discuss the passage, the quoted words of our Lord, and when appropriate, the applications we can make to our own lives in the 21st century since Jesus’s birth on the earth. We plan to keep the daily post brief, so some days we may simply give the background of the words of Jesus to be discussed in the next post. We hope you will join us for the next few months as we “Listen to Jesus.”


And he said unto them,
How is it that ye sought me?
wist ye not that I must be about
my Father's business?
Luke 2:49

Susie: Baby’s first words. We cherish them, record them in a memory book, and tell the story of how they came about to anyone who will listen. However, God the Father chose not to record His Son’s first baby words. After the stories surrounding His miraculous birth found in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, we are not given much information about Jesus’s early years. We read about the visit of the Magi to a house in Bethlehem when Jesus was probably a toddler, but if He spoke or was prompted to say, “Thank you,” for their gifts, we do not know. The first recorded words of the incarnate Christ are those of a boy on the verge of manhood in the Jewish culture. Let’s look at the passage containing these first recorded words of our Lord Jesus as the God-Man.

Luke 2:39-52 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Susie: After His dedication in the Temple and a sojourn to Egypt to flee the murderous Herod, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Nazareth where Joseph was a carpenter. There are no direct quotes from His childhood years, but we are given a snippet of important information about them.

Susan: Let’s look at this description of His boyhood in a modern translation:

Luke 2:40 (VOICE) There Jesus grew up, maturing in physical strength and increasing in wisdom, and the grace of God rested on Him.

Susan: All the Bible tells us about Jesus’s early years is that He was healthy, that He was educated and applied what He learned wisely, and that God’s grace and favor were apparent in Him in greater measure than other children.

Susie: When Jesus was twelve, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem for a festival, possibly the Passover.

Susan: At twelve, Jesus would have been nearing Bar Mitzvah which literally means “Son of the commandment” which is celebrated on the day a boy turns thirteen. This commemorates his passage from boyhood to manhood in the sense that he begins to take full responsibility of obedience to the Old Testament Law. He would have received instruction in the Jewish Law beginning at five years old. (see commentary at for more information).

Susie: Some commentators believe Jesus may have had His thirteenth birthday during the seven days of the Passover Festival. Joseph and Mary did not know Jesus intended to stay behind in Jerusalem and were worried when they discovered Jesus was not in their caravan. They returned to find Him having discourse with the religious teachers at the Temple. It would make sense for Him to present Himself to the Rabbis to question and be questioned since He was at the dawn of manhood.

Susan: This reminds me of defending my paper before my professors in the process of my seminary training.

Susie: I remember my paper defense as well. However, Jesus probably did not even own a scroll of the Old Testament. He had memorized passages by rote recital under the teaching of a rabbi.

Susan: The boy Jesus presented thought-provoking questions and answers to those who would normally be His teachers. This kind of wisdom could only be attributed to a supernatural impartation by His Father, God.

Susie: Mary and Joseph arrive on the scene having been extremely concerned because Jesus was missing and find Him calmly discussing the Law with the teachers. Mary basically demands to know what He was thinking.

Susie: In our next post, we will examine Jesus’s reply to His mother, His first recorded words as the incarnate Son of God.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018



Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Susan: Shepherds were the least esteemed of the working class in that day.

Susie: They were on one of the lowest rungs of society’s ladder. These particular shepherds may have been guarding the flocks used for sacrifices in the temple. This would include the Passover lambs that had to be completely without blemish or defect.

Susan: That God chose to announce the birth of His Son first to this group of people shows that He has no favoritism of class. His interest is solely in the hearts of humanity, not where they are on the socio-economic strata. Later, it would become clear that God’s grace extended to Gentiles as well as Jews. This borne out in the New Testament as the apostles saw Gentiles come to know the Lord. Peter testified to the Christian leaders in Jerusalem:

Acts 15:8-9 (HCSB) And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

Susie: He invited the shepherds who tending the sacrificial lambs to be the first to worship the perfect Lamb of God. 

Susan: They were allowed VIP access even before the Magi, the wise men, from the east.

Reformation Study Bible:

Shepherds were a despised class because their work prevented them from keeping the ceremonial law, and as they moved about the country it was common for them to be regarded as thieves. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give evidence in the courts.

Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

Susan: When angels appear, the first response is to fall on your face afraid.  (365 “fear nots” in the Bible) This is meaningful to me because there is one for each day of the year.

Susie: Imagine how you would respond if you were out in the middle of nowhere on a pitch-black night, and suddenly the sky lit up like daylight!

Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Susan: The fact that the good news was for ALL people would be most important to these shepherds who were considered second-class citizens. They were viewed almost as the homeless are today – dirty, unworthy, and possibly criminals.

Susie: The angel’s words signify that this message was not for the Jews alone but for the Gentiles as well.

Luke 2:11-12 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Luke 2:11 (VOICE) Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority!

Susie: Angels almost always begin with “Fear not!” because their appearance can be overwhelming. 

Susan: This angel declared he had something good to tell them. 

Susie: Joyful news of the Messiah’s birth. 

Susan: All three names – Liberator (Savior), Anointed One (Christ or Messiah), and Supreme Authority (Lord -used for God in the Old Testament) – were used to describe the baby that had been born in Bethlehem. The amazing thing to these men was that He was born for them! He was the Messiah of the underdog as well as the top dog!

Susie: To their astonishment, they were told that this Baby King was born in a stable and would actually be lying on hay where the cattle fed!

Susan: The shepherds themselves had probably been born somewhere better than a stable. 

Susie: The God-Man who would identify Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10) revealed Himself first to a group of shepherds. They, of all people, would eventually understand the words of the prophet Isaiah as they would apply to Jesus before Pilate and on the cross.

Isaiah 53:6-7 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Susan: The shepherds were told one sign that would help them identify the baby Messiah was that He would be wrapped in “swaddling clothes.”  In our research we found many things we did not previously know about “swaddling clothes.”

1.    They could also be used as burial clothes - - and these may have been strips of cloth carried by Joseph in case one of them died on the journey.

2.   It was the custom in the Middle East to wash the newborn baby in salted water and wrap them in swaddling clothes.

3.   We read that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were keeping watch over the lambs to be used for Passover sacrifices. When an ewe would be ready to deliver, the shepherds would take her into a cave and wrap the newborn lamb in swaddling clothes to prevent it from injury and deformity because the sacrifice had to be perfect.

Susie: These shepherds would understand the concept of swaddling God’s perfect Lamb. Many years later, some of them might have recalled seeing the newborn Messiah who became the perfect sacrifice for their sins wrapped in swaddling clothes like a sacrificial lamb.

Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Susie: I imagine the shepherds were now shaking in their sandals. If one angel was terrifying, how much more fearsome would an army of them be?

Susan: But this army was announcing peace, not war. Peace had come for all people who bring pleasure to God. You will have peace when you give God pleasure. When you are not at peace, the question is “are you giving God pleasure or are you breaking His heart because you are not being or becoming what He created you to be?” 

Susie: We need to ask ourselves, “What pleases God?” 

Micah 6:8 (VOICE) “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” 

Susie: Walking humbly with God would involve surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus, in other words receiving the gift of salvation with the full realization that there is no way you could ever earn it. But you may say, “we do not have peace.” Jesus did not come to bring “world peace” as we think of that term but the inner peace that endures in a non-peaceful world.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Susan: The shepherds were eager to go and see what the angel had reported to them, this awesome baby King.

Susie: They said to each other, “Let’s go right now!”

Luke 1:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Susie: The shepherds didn’t just talk about going to Bethlehem, they did it right away. They didn’t lollygag but traveled quickly. They found everything just as the angel had described it—Mary and Joseph staying in a stable and the baby wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying on top of fresh hay in a feeding trough.

Luke 1:17-18 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Susan: Then the shepherds became a holy news crew spreading the Good News to all who would hear them. They proclaimed that the angel had told them the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem, and they, the shepherds, were eyewitnesses to everything the angel had declared.

Susie: I’m sure the people were wondering, “Could this really be the Messiah?” 

Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Susan: Mary wanted to file these memories in her heart, perhaps to be able to recount these wondrous things to Jesus as He grew.

Susie: There were no “baby book albums” in those days, so Mary made a point to commit every occurrence to memory. She was probably still amazed at all that had transpired in her life those last few months since Gabriel had appeared to her.

Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Susan: The shepherds’ response was to glorify God. They did not chalk it all up to some kind of psychological breakdown but realized they had seen something divine and totally real. At some point they may have wondered, “If we tell people this, will anyone believe us, or are we going to be locked away forever?” 

Susie: But God revealed Himself to them in such a mighty way that they could not doubt the reality of the encounter. 

Susan: No matter what happened they were going to faithfully announce this Good News, wherever they went, no matter the consequences.


1.   Jesus was first revealed to a group at the bottom of the social strata. He came for all kinds of people. Think of a specific way you can share Jesus with someone this week without regard to race, color, or socio-economic status.

2.   Why was it significant that the shepherds may have been raising sheep for the temple sacrifices?

3.   The shepherds went “with haste.” Are you excited about worshiping Jesus? This Sunday approach your place of worship with a sense of wonder, awe, and urgency at the privilege of worshiping our Lord.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018



Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

Susan: Mary may have fled Nazareth to avoid prying eyes and whispering lips as her own pregnancy developed.

Susie: But I believe she wanted to see the miracle of Elisabeth’s pregnancy in person as well.

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

Susie: When Mary spoke a greeting to her relative Elisabeth, the unborn baby John jumped for joy!

Susan: Elisabeth was overjoyed as she was overcome by the Spirit of the Lord.

Luke 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Susie: John, who Gabriel foretold would be filled with the Spirit in the womb, leapt when Mary greeted His mother. 

Susan: An UNBORN baby was the first to recognize the Savior while HE was yet UNBORN. This is a strong argument for the fact that an embryo is already the person God is forming inside their mother.
Susie: Embryo John’s reaction, caused Elizabeth who was also filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment he moved within her to rejoice as well.
Susan: Elizabeth questioned her worthiness to be visited by the mother of the Son of God, but she boldly prophesied concerning Mary because the Holy Spirit empowered her.

Susie: Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord,” which says that she already believed Jesus would be the Messiah. No human had told her this. Mary had just arrived, so they had not had time to even discuss the fact that Mary was pregnant and all that Gabriel had told her (Remember: Mary could not phone ahead or send Elizabeth a Facebook message or Tweet about her pregnancy).

Susan: The Holy Spirit prompted Elizabeth to honor Mary’s faith in believing the Lord.

Susie: Somehow, in the moment that baby John moved excitedly in her womb, the Lord caused Elizabeth to know exactly what was going on with her relative, Mary. For this moment in time, the Lord was using Elizabeth as His prophetess.

John MacArthur Study Bible

1:46–55 Mary’s Magnificat (the first word in the Latin translation; see notes on vv. 68–79; 2:29–32) is filled with OT allusions and quotations. It reveals that Mary’s heart and mind were saturated with the Word of God. It contains repeated echoes of Hannah’s prayers, e.g., 1 Sam. 1:11; 2:1–10. These verses also contain numerous allusions to the law, the psalms, and the prophets. The entire passage is a point-by-point reciting of the covenant promises of God.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Susie: Mary broke out rejoicing in song, humbly praising the Lord for all He was doing through her.  This is known as the Magnificat because that is the first word of Mary’s praise song in Latin.

Susan: Mary says that her soul magnifies, exalts the Lord. She identifies God as Savior, highlighting the purpose for which Jesus was coming as a man. I think it is significant that the one chosen to bear the Messiah sees her own need for salvation and knows that God is meeting that need.

Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Susan: Mary viewed herself as God’s servant, his handmaiden.

Susie: She was probably poor, not significant in any way. Therefore, she realized she was extremely blessed to be chosen to conceive and carry her Redeemer in her womb. She acknowledged that this was not her doing but was the choice and work of God in her life.

Susan: She needed the Seed of God she carried as much as the world He would be born into needed her Baby.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Susie: Mary may have had several passages from the Psalms in mind. We looked up “them that fear him” on and came up with these as well as others: Psalms 25:14, 33:18, 34:7, 34:9, 85:9, 103:11, 13 & 17, 111:5, 145:19, and 147:11. Psalm 103 has been a favorite of mine (Susie’s) for a long time:

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

Luke 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Psalm 103:5-6 (KJV) Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Susie: In Jewish thought, riches were a reward from God, which in essence they are. However, they believed the opposite was true as well, that poverty was a curse from God. Mary espoused the truth that God would bring down the proud and boastful and elevate the poor and downtrodden.

Susan: In the Magnificat, Mary was announcing prophetic reality that God would bring forth, in the fullness of time, the bringing down of the proud and elevation of the humble. God’s salvation would be for all people who believed.

Luke 1:54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.

Susie: God would fulfill His promise to Abraham to redeem His people. 

Susan: The time was drawing near for the Messiah to be revealed. The baby Mary was carrying was the long awaited Anointed One promised to Abraham and Sarah, the Savior descended from their son Isaac.

Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB) “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Susan: Mary stayed with Elizabeth her final trimester of pregnancy and probably until John was born.

Susie: Then she went back home to Nazareth.

1.           John was filled with the Spirit even while in his mother’s womb.
2.           John jumped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice because he recognized by the power of the Spirit that she was carrying the Messiah.
3.           Jesus was recognized by John even though Mary was probably not even showing yet, even though by today’s modern medical standards He would not be “viable.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


(excerpt from Ten Women of Christmas)

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Susie: Six months after he gave Zacharias the news about Elizabeth’s pregnancy,

Susan: God sent the angel Gabriel on another mission, a second divine assignment.

Susie: Gabriel was dispatched to the small town of Nazareth to make an announcement to a virgin girl named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph who was in the lineage of King David, but they had not yet married.

Susan: They were betrothed, which was legally binding; and any infidelity would be considered adultery against the future spouse.

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Susan: Gabriel told Mary she was to be unique among all women, specially chosen by God.

Susie: He explained that God was present in her life. Mary was favored in the sense that God extended grace to her for the assignment of bringing forth the Redeemer of the whole world.

Luke 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

Susie: Mary was a simple peasant girl.

Susan: She was confused and in wonderment at this greeting from the angel.

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

Susie: Gabriel gave Mary the shocking news that she was going to become pregnant and have a son.

Susan: She was to name this son Jesus which means “Jehovah is generous, Jehovah saves.”

Susie; Jesus is a derivative of Joshua or Yeshua and was not an uncommon name, but the angel’s next statement made clear that this would be no common baby.

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Susie: Gabriel told Mary that her son would reign on the throne of David FOREVER.

Susan: That throne would continue eternally because Jesus would be the Son of the Most High, the Son of God.

Susie:  A descendant of David was not on the throne at this point in history, for Rome had appointed Herod the Great as Israel’s king.  Herod was not a Jew.  His father was from Idumea, and his mother was Arabian.  Both Mary and Joseph were in the line of David, but they were poor peasant people. So this news was shocking.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Susie: Mary, understandably, was astonished at the news that she would be pregnant since she and Joseph were not married yet, and she was a virgin. 

Susan: She must have been terrified and confused. Also, she would have no one to share her troubles with since probably no one would believe her. 

Susie: Keep in mind, this was a private conversation between Mary and Gabriel. 

Susan: If Mary shared this with anyone else, surely, they would have deemed her crazy. 

Susie: Or worse, stoned her as unfaithful to her betrothed.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 

Susan: Gabriel answered Mary’s question by explaining that this was not going to be the normal exchange between a woman and a man. God was going to personally, miraculously, impregnate her with His Son in the form of an embryo.

Susie: He assured her of God’s power to perform this miracle in her by telling her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, miraculous because of her advanced age. I find the statement in verse 37 in the Voice translation particularly comforting: "So the impossible is possible with God." AMEN.

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Susan: Hearing the angel’s answer to her question, Mary submitted and committed herself to the process of conception, pregnancy, and birth of the Redeemer Jesus in accordance with the Father’s will. 

Susie: She must have known she would be subjecting herself to ridicule, gossip, and even the possibility of stoning or banishment, either of which would have been within Joseph’s rights to demand. 

Susan: At the risk of all these things, she humbly submitted anyway.

Susie: Surely, she had an understanding that God was able to do what He was proposing, including protecting her and the child.

PONDER THIS: Mary's response to God's plan for her was humble.  When God uses you in a mighty way, remember to give Him all the glory and credit. You are just the vessel to carry His blessings to others.