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Bible Verse

Mary Arrives at the Home of Elizabeth: Day 9

And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:41-45 (NKJV)

Geographic context

Although the name of the village of Elizabeth is not mentioned, it is thought to be Hebron, the village of the Levites because Elizabeth was a descendant of Levites.

The area was hilly and full of religious significance. The Cave of the Patriarchs was there and is still there today. 

Hebron, 1839. Thought to resemble ancient Hebron.

After a long journey, uncertain what she would find at her destination, Mary arrives at the home of her relative. Remember two of Luke’s themes are joy and the work of the Holy Spirit. We see both of those highlighted here in Mary’s initial meeting with and greeting of Elizabeth. Two extraordinary things happened when Mary arrived at the home of her relative Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah. Both showed the power and work of the Holy Spirit. 

  1. John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb
  2. Elizabeth cried out and blessed Mary as she recognized the Lord Jesus inside of her. 

Doing the AROMA Arrange Visual Verse Analysis helped me to see all that was going on in this passage. I  saw that Elizabeth was a prophet. God gave her prophetic knowledge and prophetic words in the blessings she proclaimed on Mary. All Mary did was greet Elizabeth and then, after being filled with the prophetic power of the Holy Spirit, she discerned and spoke God’s truth about Mary which we read today over 2,000 years later. 

Similarly, John the Baptist was also anointed by God to be prophet, even in the womb. The unborn John discerns the presence of his Lord Jesus and jumped for joy in the womb. His role as a prophet is established early. Surprising? No. God is the one who knits us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13) and the Bible tells of God anointing Jeremiah as a prophet from before birth (Jeremiah 1:5). 

Elizabeth set the example of humility before Jesus for her son John. She was happy to call Mary blessed and not demand special blessing for herself as the mother of a spirit-filled prophet. 

Elizabeth knew her son was important but not as important as Mary’s son. The importance of John’s role comes directly from God because he was chosen by God. In his ministry, John will confidently state that he is not the Christ, he only points the way to the Christ. He acknowledges that he is unworthy of Jesus.

Just as Mary wondered at the favor shown to her in Gabriel’s announcement, so Elizabeth wonders at the honor of having her Lord, Jesus, in her presence. 

Key Verse

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

This popular verse is used in many ways. The emphasis is often on the first part while the last phrase is neglected. This is not a “believe in yourself” verse. It very specifically states that the blessing comes in believing what the LORD said. This is more than just making up your mind about what dreams you want to accomplish. God wants us to be in relationship with him and know his Word so we can discern what he tells us. This happens when our relationship with him is so strong and true that we know who God is, a trustworthy loving Father who holds all power in his hands. The blessing comes as peace and joy flood your heart and mind no matter how long fulfillment takes or what happens while you are waiting. God’s favor rests on the one who never gives up the hope we have in Jesus Christ. 

Our ultimate hope is an eternal one because promised eternal life for all who believe in Jesus and follow him. God’s Word tells us of this future hope and he will fulfill it. Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2–3, NIV)

We are blessed because God will fulfill every promise made!

Prayer

Lord, 

Thank you for your faithfulness and your steadfast love. We are grateful that you never change. We can depend on you to fulfill your word to us just as Mary did. In the hard times, in the waiting times, help us to remember to keep our eyes focused on you. Thank you for blessing us! Amen.

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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 Verse Devotional

Today’s Work

For he does not think much about the fleeting days of his life because God keeps him preoccupied with the joy he derives from his activity. Ecclesiastes 5:20 (NET Bible)

Orient- Context

In this section, The Preacher, author of Ecclesiastes (thought by most scholars to be Solomon, son of King David), makes observations about the days and labor of man.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NIV)

Agree with God

It is not good for man to focus on the past or the future. The past is gone and can’t be changed. The future is unknown. Jesus says today’s concerns and duties are enough for us to work on. (Matthew 6:34)

This verse in Ecclesiastes suggest we should work with joy, intention and focus everyday. There is a work that God has for you TODAY. Do it well, with excellence and for the glory of God. Let the past go and give your future to God.

To paraphrase John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, should we not be able to trust our days in the hands of one who bled from those hands for us?

The Lord wants to fill our days with work and our work with joy. Will we agree with him?

Prayer and Praise

Lord, we worship you for being our Creator and the one who holds our days in your hands. Thank you for loving us. Help us to remember not to worry about the past or the future but to embark on Kingdom work every day in full confidence that you will bring us joy in all that we do as as we seek to glorify you. Amen.

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Bible Verse

Video- The AROMA Approach to Bible Study

Watch the video on the Arrange Engagement Point of the AROMA Approach. Video is from a presentation for NACWE.
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Bible Verse

Hearts on Hunger- Jesus Over Fear Series- Luke 12:29–30

Day 11

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

Luke 12:29–30, NIV

As I sit here contemplating a needed grocery store run, reading this verse jolts me out of my self-absorption. In this time of coronavirus upheaval, have I set my heart on thinking on getting the food I need for my family? Have I worried about our food supply? I don’t know about you, but for me, the answer is yes on both accounts.

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Bible Verse Devotional Jesus

Self Examination in Times of Distress

Looking at Our Sin

Looking at the sin of others without examining ourselves leads to wrong thoughts, attitudes and perspectives. It separates us from God’s will for our lives. It’s important to our Heavenly Father how we use our thoughts and emotions. Yes, we can have emotions (like anger) but we can’t allow them to cause us to sin against God or our neighbor. Ephesians 4:26

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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 Verse

Joy for Today

Lord, help me live with joy today confident that you will take care of tomorrow.

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Bible Verse Devotional Jesus

Watch Out!: Jesus Over Fear Series, Luke 12:15

Coronavirus, You and Jesus

Day 3- “Watch Out!” for…

“Watch out!” Jesus gives an emphatic warning as he teaches his disciples on the way to Jerusalem.

Watch out for what, Jesus?