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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#962. Prophet of the most high - Luke 1:76-79 (19/12/23)

This Christmas, we are revisiting some of 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.   


Today we reflect upon the truth that when the Spirit is working, we experience and help others to experience salvation through the tender mercy of God. 


You can listen to this devotional at:


Parents often have ambitions for their children. These ambitions are often around things like good heath, good career, happy marriage, children, long life… today, as we look at Zechariah’s prophecy, we hear a father who is prepared to desire that his child’s main task in life - a task that will end his life early - was to prepare the way for Jesus. 


‘And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ (Luke 1:76-79)

As we continue in our reflections upon Zechariah’ prophecy, having spoken about Jesus as redeemer and King, Zechariah, now speaks about the ministry of his son John. He foretells that John will be the forerunner who will ‘prepare the way for Jesus.  Luke describes his ‘way-making’ ministry in these terms: 

‘…you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…’ 

In The Gospel of John, we see another example of John evening pushing his own disciples toward Jesus rather than, as is too often the case, being ambitious for himself:


‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”’ (John 1:29-31) 

Like John, may we help to continue to prepare the way for Jesus to those around us. May it be our ambition for ourselves, and for our children if we have them, that we be signposts to Him rather than to ourselves. Do we see that our lives and ministry are about Christ and His glory? 


Zechariah continues in his prophecy by comparing Jesus with the rising of the sun on a dark and dead place. If we know Jesus, the darkness has been dispelled and light, life and forgiveness through the ‘tender mercy of our God’ are flooding our lives. This is a present reality that will be fully realised at the return of Christ when sin, death and darkness will be no more.


Response

When the Spirit is working, we experience and help others to experience salvation through the tender mercy of God. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. When we are inspired by the Holy Spirit through prophecy or to prophesy, we help to bring people to Jesus in order to find hope in this dark world. Let’s pray together:

“Holy Spirit, I thank you for revealing salvation through the forgiveness of my sins. I’m amazed at your tender mercy that has brought me into light and the path of peace. Help me to experience these things more fully and to help others to come to Jesus. Amen.”
 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

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. 


2. Icebreaker

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 are revisiting some of 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. 


Prayer to begin

To begin, please read Luke 2:19 and pray for one another in light of this text


Please read Luke 1:39-56

  1. What is the great theme in verses 46-48 with which Mary begins her song, and what does this teach us about how we are normally to begin our worship and times of devotion? 

  2. What are the various things that she praises God for in verses 49-55? 

  3. How is Bible study and memorisation crucial in the development of our ability to worship? 

  4. David, also sets us a great example of worship from the mind and soul. Please read Psalm 103:1-5 and list the truths that David praises God for. 

  5. SIV - How does rich personal and corporate worship make us more effective in our evangelism? 

  6. SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  7. SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV. 

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