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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#963. He lived in the wilderness - Luke 1:80 (20/12/23)

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 unusual and often humble beginnings of His work and how we all have to endure wilderness seasons when God is working in us in order to work through us. 


You can listen to this devotional at:

 ‘And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.’ (Luke 1:80)

i. The child became strong in spirit

We are told that John, ‘grew and became strong in spirit.’ The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary  describes the meaning of this phrase: 

‘It means that he [God] develops the “inner resources for the understanding and performance of God’s will.”’ (Garland, David E.; Clinton E. Arnold. Luke - Zondervan Exegetical Commentary)

He, and we, need to develop the maturity and understanding to do God’s work.  Like David, in the fields with the sheep, John developed in obscurity. You and I need to grow. God continues, through the experiences of our lives to mature us for the work that He wants us to do. 

Added to this, a very important lesson from this is that If we are parents, we must help our children to grow ‘strong in spirit’. This is clearly not principally about material things. One grows strong in spirit by nourishing the spirit on the things of the Spirit. Parents are instructed:

‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.’ (Ephesians 6:4) 

Whoever we are, we are to learn from this that God is working in us to make us ‘strong in spirit’ so let’s listen and learn the lessons that He wants to teach us. John endured this, and even of Jesus we are told:

‘And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.’ (Luke 2:40) 

ii. He lived in the wilderness

We are told that John’s development happened in the wilderness. Like Jesus, John had a very humble and inauspicious start to his ministry. This is no ‘ivy league’ start to his life and calling. John’s beginnings remind me of Moses, whose ministry began only after forty years in the desert. David also comes to mind who also had to flee to the desert and a cave before he became king. Maybe, Ruth comes to mind who had to endure the death of her husband and becoming a beggar before she becomes the wife of Boaz and mother of David’s  grand father, Obed. God likes to remind us in His Word of how He chooses to use the unlikely to do great things but we often have to endure wilderness seasons and we are to endure these knowing that God is working in us in order  to work through us. 


Response

Today, we reflect upon the unusual and often humble beginnings of His work and how we all have to endure wilderness seasons when God is working in us in order to work through us.

God wants us to grow and become strong in spirit and we do this through the nourishment that the Spirit gives to us. Added to this, we often go through long seasons when we feel ‘in the wilderness’; let’s trust that God is with us and is being purposeful. 

This Christmas, there are many good things to spend our time on but few things truly nourish us. How will you ensure that you grow and become stronger in spirit this Christmas? 

 

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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