This Christmas, I thought that it would be helpful to look at some of the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth in The Gospel of Luke. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story, the truths and the God of the Christmas story.
Today, we reflect on how we, as with the characters and events of the Christmas story, need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
You can listen to this devotional at:
‘At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.’ (Luke 1:39-41)
The presence and work of the Holy Spirit is a massive theme in the Christmas story. Earlier in the chapter, we are told that John the Baptist, “will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born”; that he will, “go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah.” The miraculous conception of Jesus in the virgin Mary is explained as, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” And, in today’s reading, we are told that, ‘When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.’
The Holy Spirit is God. He is God working among us. All that we read about in the Christmas story is made possible by the Spirit. In fact, even Luke’s writing of this gospel is inspired by the Spirit thus making it a part of The Word of God.
Luke highlights the work of angels and the Spirit in order to make the point that the events of Christmas are divine. God is at work in a new way after the prophetic silence of around 450 years since Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, who made the promise that:
‘“See, I will send the prophet Elijah [John the Baptist] to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”’ (Malachi 4:5)
We are in the era when John has prepared the way, Christ has come and will come again in judgement on the ‘day the Lord comes.’
Today, I simply want us to understand that the same Spirit that was working in these events and was inspiring Luke is at work among us. We need to rely on Him. We need His ministry if we are to be effective in continuing to make Jesus known before His return. We need Him to inspire and empower us each day if we are to enjoy and be fruitful in our relationship with God.
As with the characters and events of the Christmas story, need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The gospel of Luke is full of the work of the Holy Spirit. Luke through his gospel and the book of Acts which he also authored, wants us to expect to be be empowered by God’s presence and so live as God wants us to. Let’s pray:
“Holy Spirit, I thank you for your Word and your work. As you filled Elizabeth in this text, so fill me again. Give me greater revelation and power to treasure, ponder and share your good news. Amen.”
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
In particular, we have services on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th December 10:30am - 11:30am; Monday 25th December, Christmas Day Family Service
10am - 11am; and Sunday 31st December 10:30am - 12pm.
How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Worship together
Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.
4. Study and pray together
This Christmas, we will revisit in more detail some the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story.
Please be aware that we are producing devotionals to accompany this series and encourage you over the Christmas period.
Please read Luke 2:13-14
Why is it surprising and what is the message behind God appearing to shepherds specifically?
The angels promise, ‘Peace on earth’; what are the different kinds of peace that this refers to? (Try to find Bible verses that substantiate your thoughts).
What are the ways that one can enjoy the peace of God each day and over this Christmas period?
SIV - How would you being filled with God’s peace and being a peace maker make you an effective witness to the gospel?
SIV - How would you help a non-believer who pointed to war and suffering as a reason to doubt these words from the angels?
SIV - Do we have any recent stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’?
SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.