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Bible Study Christmas Devotional

Jesus is Named & Presented

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord ” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:21-24 NKJV

Bridging the Gap

Circumcision

Jesus’ life represents movement from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He lived, died and was resurrected to usher in a new way for us to have forgiveness of our sins. The temple curtain will be torn, the veil between God and man destroyed. The law of Moses is fulfilled through Jesus. His participation in Mosaic legal requirements is the beginning of this role. Now, reigning at the right hand of the Father, the risen Jesus completely fulfills the role of high priest, see Hebrews 8.

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Bible Study Devotional

Shepherds Visit Baby Jesus

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Luke 2:16-20 NKJV

Receiving Visitors

Mary and Joseph, after their long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, were unable to find a proper place to stay. Instead, they are in a stable area with the animals of the household. In this uncomfortable arrangement, Mary’s time comes and she gives birth to Jesus.

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Bible Study Devotional

Zechariah’s Prophecy, Part 3

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Luke 1:76-80 NKJV

Luke’s Details

Luke gives us more information about Mary and Zechariah than any other Gospel. His account includes details not found elsewhere in the Bible. This corresponds to what Luke stated at the beginning of his narrative. He promised to shed light on “all things from the very first”. Luke seems to have firsthand information from sources like Mary and Zechariah so that these beautiful songs are preserved for us today. Did they make you feel more certain about what you believe as Luke stated he desired for his readers?

Salvation

John’s message would be one of the necessity of salvation because of the sins of the people and the provision of salvation through Jesus Christ. John’s words were both challenging and comforting. It is because of the great mercy of God towards his people (literally translated “bowels of mercy”) that he saves. God loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to earth for our salvation. (John 3:16)

Although the word for salvation can have the sense of health or wellness, in this case, the fact that salvation is spiritual and not just political or physical is alluded to as Zechariah describes the role of remission of sins.

Breakthrough

Dayspring. A word we don’t use anymore but it is a picture of dawn. Dawn is daylight springing forth from darkness. The word in Greek, anatole, means “east”. It is used to convey the sun rising in the east as in the dawn. Interestingly, the ancient Jewish Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek translated the Messianic word Branch as anatole. Why? Possibly because both have the sense of a Messiah “breaking forth” or “breaking out”. The sun breaks out into the sky at daybreak and a branch breaks out from the root. Both metaphors reflect the breaking into human history of a deliverer and redeemer, Jesus.

Greek scholar Bill Mounce writes that the compass direction of orientation in the ancient Near East in the time of Jesus was east just as we use north in compasses today. Jesus, our Savior, Redeemer and King, comes from the exalted direction, the east. This Dayspring is also Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus graced the world with his presence for us!

Jesus didn’t come quietly or in a subtle way. The whole world was irrevocably changed when Jesus came on the scene in human form, as a helpless baby. He broke into our humanity with its sin, shame and death, to bring light. The light of Jesus is the glorious light of salvation.

Jesus in his own words confirmed Zechariah’s prophecy. He spoke of being light. “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”” John 8:12, NKJV

Luke in writing about the Dayspring also brings to mind the vigorous and victorious image given to us by the prophet Malachi:

“But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.” Malachi 4:2, NKJV

Zechariah’s words echo Isaiah’s prophecy (also repeated in Matthew 4:16):

“The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2, NKJV

The light of Isaiah’s prophecy looks forward to our great hope in Jesus.

Prepare a Way in the Desert

John’s father summarizes his childhood in the final verse of this section. John grew spiritually as well as physically during this time. Zechariah tells us that John was in the desert until the start of his public ministry. This fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah said:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the LORD;

Make straight in the desert

A highway for our God.

Is 40:3 NKJV

Key Verse

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” NLT Luke 1:78-79

Prayer

Heavenly Father, We thank you for the glorious light of Jesus, the one who came to earth to save us and redeem us! Thank you for faithful prophets like John the Baptist and his father Zechariah who led the way for you. Fill us with fresh wonder about the miracle of Jesus being a born a baby, fully human and fully man, to live among us. What a wonderful, precious gift! Amen.

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Bible Verse Devotional

Zechariah’s Prophecy 2

That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Luke 1:71-75 NKJV

Victory in Jesus

Jesus came into the world to conquer sin and death that we too would find victory over that which keeps us from God. Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. We recognize that our primary adversary is Satan. He stands against us as an accuser and opposes everything that Jesus stands for. Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy but Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

Promises Fulfilled

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of God. All the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). God promised that through a descendant of Abraham all the world would be saved.

“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”” Genesis 12:3, NKJV

“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” Genesis 17:7, NKJV

Tissot- God's Promises to Abram
Tissot- God’s Promises to Abram

Saved to Serve

Jesus saves so that we can serve. We are set free from sin, death and shame so that we can freely serve God and man. Perfect love, God’s love, casts out fear so we are free to live righteous despite risk. Yes, we may be misunderstood, hated and persecuted but if we live in holiness, we need not fear. We will be able to walk in holiness all of our lives and “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Psalm 23:6.

Key Verses

To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Luke 1:74-75 NKJV

Prayer

Thank you, Lord for freeing us from the bondage of sin and death and the accompanying fear. Help us to boldly serve you all the days of our lives. May we seek you as we desire to live in holiness and righteousness. Guide us today and every day for the rest of our lives. Amen.

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Bible Study Devotional

Zechariah Joins Elizabeth in Naming John: Day 13

And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:63-66 NKJV

A Second Chance

God gives people a chance to repent of sin, make up for a wrong deed or bad decision. Zechariah sinned against God by doubting him. God then made him unable to speak. Now, Zechariah is given again the opportunity to obey God in faith. This time, he acts in accordance to God’s will. He says that the child must be named John as the angel commanded. We can act like God in our relationships. When a child, spouse or friend wrongs us, we can choose to stay in unforgiveness or anger or we can give the person a chance to try again and do better. That’s called grace. God gave it to Zechariah and he lavishly gives it to you and me. We should be generous in giving this grace to others.

Overflow of the Heart

God knows our hearts. But actions demonstrate to a watching world who God is through those who worship him. Zechariah’s repentance and obedience were seen by the congregation of the faithful although his sin was before Gabriel and God only. Once Zechariah’s heart changed to faith and obedience, his public actions reflected his repentance. God then enabled Zechariah to speak. Through this episode, Zechariah has seen firsthand the power, majesty and mercy of God. His lips must praise the God who makes all speech possible. He can not restrain his praise. The praise of his heart ❤️ overflowed to his lips and God was glorified in the presence of the people.

The Encouragement of Praise

When God redeems is, picks us up and puts us back on the right path, all we can do is offer praise for his great mercy and love. Zechariah praises God with the voice God gives him. All the people see God’s power in this miracle and are encouraged and blessed by the praise flowing from Zechariah.

Let us take time often to praise God in the midst of others, especially when he delivers us. It will encourage and strengthen our fellow believers and can even bring souls to God.

Key Verse

And the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:66(b)

The hand of the Lord is with you. His mighty outstretched hand upholds you. When you stumble like Zechariah did, God will lift you up. God’s hand protects, provides and comforts. Guidance and discipline are in the loving hand of God. Praise God for not withdrawing his hand from us!

Prayer

Lord, Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. We praise you for your mighty strength and power and wisdom. With your hand you uphold the world. Yours are the hands that held back the Red Sea for Moses and we thank you for your hands clearing the path and making a way for us today. Help us to boldly obey you in faith knowing that your hand is always with us. Amen.

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Bible Verse

The Word Became Flesh- A Christmas Devotional

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)

Introduction

The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.

John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.

In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.

Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:

1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus

Eternity

Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.

Fellowship

Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.

Divinity

Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.

In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.