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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional

Mary Learns of Elizabeth’s Pregnancy: Day 8

“Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.”

(Luke 1:36–40, NKJV)
Mary’s Journey to Elizabeth

Comfort and Confirmation

Continuing with Luke’s theme of God doing the impossible, the angel Gabriel informs Mary of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy. In doing so, he confirms that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the all-powerful miracle-working God who is getting ready to usher in a new era. Remember, Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the miracles of Jesus more than the other Gospels. We see this emphasized from the beginning of Luke’s narrative. It is only in Luke that we find this account.

Geographic Context

The O in AROMA stands for Orient. It is important to consider different types of contexts as e study the Bible. Geography is one type of context we can consider that adds to our understanding of a verse or passage.

Mary lived in Nazareth, a small, insignificant town in Galilee. Galileans were not respected among other Jews because they lived in proximity to Gentiles. Contrast this to where Mary is going, to Judah, the most important and exalted region for all Jews. Luke, in one of his themes that we discussed earlier, highlights God’s love and care for those who are considered low and outsiders. 

Mary journeys to visit Elizabeth. She goes with haste and the Greek word means “earnestly or with great concern”. I imagine that Mary was excited to share her testimony of God’s announcement through the angel Gabriel. In fact, she probably suspected that no one else would believe her but her cousin who had been similarly blessed by God. She was likely also looking forward to hearing from Elizabeth about her happy surprise and what God had done in her life. What a joy it is to celebrate God’s goodness with other believers! 

Mary had a far distance to travel to get to her kinswoman, Elizabeth, but she was determined to go and go quickly. The approximately 81 mile journey was an uphill one. It would have taken Mary 9 or 10 days to arrive at the home of Elizabeth. I imagine she set out on her journey, hopeful that God would provide for her and protect her on her way. She likely spent much of her time pondering all the angel revealed to her, wondering what she would find at her kinswoman’s home. God was faithful to devour her safely on her journey as we will see in our next lesson. 

Read: Parallel Translations 

One of the tools in the Read Engagement Point of The AROMA Approach to Bible Study is reading the verse in multiple translations. In this case, I used the Text Comparison Tool from Logos Bible Software and discovered something interesting.

Luke 1:37

NASB95 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

NIV For no word from God will ever fail.”

ESV For nothing will be impossible with God.”

NLT For the word of God will never fail.”

NKJV For with God nothing will be impossible.”

KJV 1900 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

LEB For nothing will be impossible with God.”

ASV 1901 For no word from God shall be void of power.

From the Text Comparison Tool, Logos Bible Software

What’s in a word? Mary’s affirmation of Gabriel’s announcement of God’s plan for her life is made more striking when we understand the precise word she used. Mary used the exact word that Gabriel used when he stated that God’s Word will not fail. This translation of “with God nothing will be impossible”, the most literal although perhaps not the most poetic, underscores Mary’s agreement with God through the angel.

The angel–  For no word from God will ever fail.” v. 37 (NIV)

Mary– “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. v. 38 (NIV)

Relationship 

Gabriel, acting for the Lord, used the miracle of Elizabeth’s pregnancy to reassure Mary and remind her of God’s miracle-working power. If God did it for Elizabeth, surely he could do one for Mary. It is in this way that the stories of Bible encourage us today. When we look at God’s mighty works in the Bible and throughout history, we build our faith. The Bible tells us many times to remember all that God has done. God knows we are likely to forget and need to remind ourselves, our children and one another of the power of God to do beyond what we could ask or imagine. He often works through our relationships and fellowship with other believers to remind us of who he is and who we are in Christ.

Response

Humble obedience describes Mary’s response to this strange, unsettling encounter with the Angel Gabriel. She recognized who she was, a “maidservant of the Lord”, because she recognized who God was. The only response to the holiness of God is humility. Remember Isaiah said he was a “man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5 ) and Peter said “depart from me for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8) when confronted with the holiness of God. Obedience flows from fear of the Lord and humility. Mary had both abundantly. Mary agreed with God. She fully submitted her will to God. 

Key Verse

 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1: 38 (NKJV)

The second A in the AROMA Approach represents agree, the most important part of any Bible study. This verse is a beautiful example of humble obedience to our Holy God. It is an excellent verse to meditate on and/or memorize.

Prayer

Lord, we humble ourselves before you. Take our lives and may your will be done. Help us to submit to you and obey you in all decisions, big and small. Give us faith to move forward in the journeys you appoint for us. Amen.

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Bible Study Bible Verse

Names and Roles of Jesus: Day 7

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

(Luke 1:31–35, NKJV)

Jesus is given several names in this passage. Let’s do a visual verse analysis to emphasize this. 

AROMA Approach Arrange Visual Verse Analysis

The Name That Saves

  1. JESUS is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Joshua. The name means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation” (Lexham Bible Dictionary)
  2. Son of the Highest- in some translations called the Most High, is a name for God, Yahweh, see also Ps 21:7; Acts 7:48.
  3. Son of God- this restatement of “Son of the Highest” follows the reason why Jesus will be called the Son of God. He will be born from the Holy Spirit and God coming upon her. Gabriel leaves no doubt that this child will be the Son of God.

The Role of King

His role in eternity is also described. He will be the King of kings in contrast to his earthly ancestor David. David was great but Jesus will be greater. David died, ending his reign as king. Our King Jesus will live into all eternity and his rule and reign will never end. The angel’s declaration of the Kingship of Jesus is the fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah (2 Sa 7:16; Ps 89:3, 4; Isa 9:7; Jer 33:17; Da 2:44; 7:14, 27; Mic 4:7; Heb 1:8). One of these is in Isaiah 9:7 gives us a good example of the kingdom propephecy-

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

The Work of the Spirit

It is no surprise that Gabriel announces it will be the Holy Spirit along with the power of Yahweh who will accomplish the miracle of conception. Both were present at the creation of the heavens and the earth at the beginning. John says Jesus was present at the beginning of Creation (John 1:1) so it is fitting for his entry Into the world to live as man on earth will be accomplished in this way.

Key Verse

““How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”” (Luke 1:34, NIV)

Mary asks an obvious question that you or I would have asked in her situation. The angel of the Lord has pronounced what seems to be impossible. Did he not know that she was a virgin? Does he not understand basic human biology and how women become conceive?

How many times have you and I reacted with such questions to God? I admit, for me it has been too many times. Often I forget that God can do the impossible. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Why should I doubt what a God like this can do? I don’t know why but I do that I have a God who loves me and will patiently remind me who he is and how much he loves me. His answer to my questions is always “I will do it by my Spirit and my power” just as the Angel Gabriel explained to Mary.

Prayer

Lord, help us to remember that you are an all-powerful God who loves us more than we can imagine. Bless us with confidence in you and who you are as we read these wonderful stories in Luke. May our faith in your ability to do the impossible be strengthened as we study your Word. Amen.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Jesus

Flowers and Faith-Jesus Over Fear Series-Luke 12:27–28

““Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”

Luke 12:27–28, NIV

Jesus gave this series of teachings in Luke Chapter 12 on his way to Jerusalem. We can imagine that he passed meadows of wildflowers on his way. He may have referred to the scene as he elaborated on his admonition not to worry but to trust in God’s provision.

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Bible Study

Jesus: You and Your Enemies (Part 3 of my series on Dealing With Enemies)

Confused or surprised that enemies are coming against you?Jesus said that his followers will have enemies in this world. His prophetic words came true for his first followers, most of whom were martyred.

It was important that Jesus warn his followers of the trials to come. He didn’t want them unprepared. Jesus wants us to count the cost of following him just as a man plans the costs of building a tower (Luke 14:28-29).

Opposition from enemies will come from many places.

  1. Jesus said the world will hate his followers. The world signifies those who are not preoccupied with the things of God, those whose affections are on the things of this world, the things we can touch, see and hear.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19

  1. Even those closest to you, those who should have the most fierce love for you and protect you will turn against you. God’s natural plan for family is distorted by anger.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Matthew 10:21

For I have come to turn

“ ‘a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:35

For deeper study

Jesus echoed Micah 7 which also gives the answer to dealing with these enemies:

For a son dishonors his father,

a daughter rises up against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,

I wait for God my Savior;

my God will hear me.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!

Though I have fallen, I will rise.

Though I sit in darkness,

the Lord will be my light.

Micah 7:6-8

  1. Jesus said in summary that you will be hated by “all”, meaning many, even those in unexpected places.

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13

Where is the good news in this guarantee of enemies?

  1. We are like our beloved Master, Jesus, when we suffer at the hand of enemies.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20

Suffering at the hands of enemies is a privilege. Our Master, Jesus, went through the same thing. We are blessed to be united with him and we will have to be part of his suffering because of this blessed unity. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ and dealing with enemies is one way God uses to get us there.

  1. We are guaranteed ultimate triumph over our enemies because we have eternal life with God. Jesus elsewhere said that his apostles should not fear those who can only kill the body (Matthew 10:28) but rely on the keeper of the soul and the One who can destroy it.

…the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13b

Jesus brings comfort in the face of enemies by reminding his followers that those who endure the suffering that lasts for a moment, will ultimately experience the salvation of eternal life and joy in him.

Stay tuned for the next section of this discussion and we look at the ways Jesus tells us to deal with our enemies.

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Bible Study Bible Verse gratitude Jesus Quote Images Thanksgiving

Jesus and Thanksgiving Part 3-The Last Supper

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:17–19, NIV)

The scene is a somber one but filled with love. Jesus knows he must leave his beloved apostles soon. He yet has much to share with them.

Jesus with the twelve apostles prepared to celebrate the Passover meal, sacred because it commemorated God’s great power in freeing his people from Egyptian slavery.

But God was soon to perform an even greater miracle. Through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, the whole world might be saved.

It is in the midst of this sacred scene that Jesus gives thanks to his father. Before passing around the cup of wine to be shared, Jesus gave thanks. Similarly, before passing around the bread to be shared, Jesus gave thanks.

In this foreshadowing of his death, offering up his body and blood, gratitude flowed from the heart and mouth of Jesus.

Facing the most difficult time of his earthly life, Jesus took the time to give thanks.

Do you thank God in the midst of trials? I have found that doing so allows me to shift my focus off my trial and to all that God has provided me.

Jesus gave thanks in the presence Judas, the one who would betray him and send him to a painful, humiliating death.

Even in the presence of your enemies, thank God for who he is and all he has done.

Thank like Jesus did.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Encouragement Quote Images

Call on the Lord- He Wants to Show You Things

Are you willing to admit what you don’t know? Or do you want to lean on your own understanding?

If you humble yourself and call on God, he will show you great things you cannot know.

Put your hope in the God who desires to reveal mighty things to you.

Praise God his ways are above yours and his thoughts beyond yours!

Rejoice that you serve a mighty God!

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Bible Study Bible Verse

Podcast- Jesus and Thanksgiving Part 1

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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional Quote Images

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV)

Background and Setting

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:1–13, NIV)

The Master’s Plan

After healing many, Jesus was followed by large crowds because of his miracles. He asks a provocative question of his disciple Philip. “How will we feed so many followers?” Sometimes, God asks you a stretch question, designed to get you to go beyond your comfort zone and what you know you can do. The question was based on Jesus knowing what HE was going to do because he has all power. Andrew, another disciple, dares to come to Jesus with a tiny amount of food that can not come close to feeding the crowd assembled. But did he have a mustard seed of faith that maybe, just maybe, Jesus could perform a miracle with a little bit of food? I think so.

Calm in the Midst of Crowds

In the behind-the-scenes with Jesus, tensions were mounting. What about this idea of feeding all these people? What good can the small amount of food from a small boy do? Meanwhile, the multitudes are waiting for Jesus to continue doing his miracles. In the midst of this, Jesus takes his time. He tells the crowd to sit down.

Jesus is in front of a large crowd of hungry people. The situation seems desperate. What will happen? The people are restless, the disciples are worried. But Jesus will not be rushed. He will do things decently and in order. Thanks must be given before the miracle occurs. Jesus will lead them in giving thanks to the One who provides their daily bread.

The text says that Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to do a miracle and feed the 5,000. Again, moving patiently and methodically, Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the loaves that miraculously multiplied. He did the same before he distributed the fish. Jesus thanked God in faith for the miracle before it happened.

Jesus Our Example

Thankfulness for food may have been part of Jesus’ daily routine. Is it part of yours?

As you approach Thanksgiving Day, make sure to order your Thanksgiving Day celebration to make time to give thanks. Don’t rush it. Give all in attendance a chance to express their gratitude as well. God’s provision for us is miraculous. Take time to remember that every day, not just on Thanksgiving, each time you set down to eat of the food God provides for you.

It is God’s will that we be continually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, each day becoming more like him. Christ was thankful. Pray that you become more thankful to the One who provides everything for your nourishment.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional Encouragement

The Lord is the Great God

For the Lord is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:3-5

Look around this beautiful earth that we live on and remember who created it and sustains it. There is no God like our God! None can compare and none even make the claims of our God.

Psalm 95:3-5 expresses the completeness of God’s power and creation in the way typical of ancient Hebrew poetry.

The first two lines, a couplet, are the background and explanation for the following two couplets. Because the “Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.”, everything is made by him and belongs to him.

The next two couplets explain the breadth of God’s power and possessions. Just as in English we say “From A to Z” to explain something that is comprehensive, so these verses beautifully describe God. The verses are repeating the fact that God created everything but using different examples.

Both the “depths of the earth” and “mountain peaks belong to him.” So too “the sea is his” and “his hands formed the dry land”.

What does this mean for your everyday life? The God who is above all things and created all things has the power to intervene in your life. Whatever problem you are facing, God can create a solution for you.

Knowing that you are loved and forgiven by the Ruler of all brings freedom, peace and joy. So no matter the trials of your life, keep praising God and his power to rescue you.

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Bible Study Bible Verse

The Lord Reigns Forever

The Lord reigneth; He is clothed with majesty. The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself. The world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old; Thou art from everlasting.

Psalm 93:1-2

The Lord rules and reigns over the earth he created. He is strong and cannot be moved, forever and ever. You know you can trust a God like this. He is in control and you can lean on his strength and his steadfastness. God is on his throne and he’s not going anywhere!