Category Archives: Christmas Lights

0. Christmas Lights: Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story – Contents

Christ is the light of Christmas: He came to dispel the darkness. Find light from Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story in Luke 1:5-25 to illuminate the season.

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28).

Lessons from Luke 1:5-25 (Contents)

01. Are you SAD? Celebrate light this Chirstmas

02. Someone cares: God speaks to those who hear him

03. Chosen by the creator of the universe

04. God takes notice in our daily grind

05. Elizabeth’s light helped Zechariah in his blindness

06. God brings fulfillment in our wait

07. Comprehending the Darkness: Have you experienced the beginning?

Begin with first Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

07. Comprehending the Darkness: Have you experienced the beginning?

If you are overcome with darkness, could it be you’ve not experienced the light source? Have you missed Christmas? Let’s start at the beginning.

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5).

The story of beginnings

Read the story of beginnings in Genesis 1:1-3 and John 1:1-13.

We’ve been talking about Zechariah and Elizabeth and the baby God promised them. Baby John was a special baby. He was sent to prepare the way for God’s own Son. The world had been waiting. When would the promised Redeemer come? Finally God’s Son arrived, but few people noticed. John proclaimed his glory.

Notice especially John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

As I write this it is Christmas Eve here in the central U.S. An ice storm is predicted for our area, and much of the US tonight. It is supposed to worsen over Christmas and the day after, making travel difficult. The dark gloom of sadness falls as some realize they will not get to be with loved ones as planned.

Others have lost family members, and their hearts are heavy with loss this Christmas. They wait. When will the darkness go away?

How does darkness understand light?

The world waited for the birth of Jesus long ago. Most people missed it when it came. Today, some of us are still waiting. Oh, yes, we know Jesus is the Light of Christmas. But how do we comprehend or understand the Light through this darkness?

The best way I’ve found to comprehend the Light is through God’s Word.

“In the beginning…God said…” (Genesis 1:1,3).
“In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1).

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1).
“He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:2-3).

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2).
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5).

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4).

Experiencing the beginning

Have you experienced the beginning?

John 1:11-12 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

Oh, yes, you’ve read the Christmas story. You’ve imitated other Christians. You’ve said all the right things. You’ve tried hard to measure up. But you fail. Over and over again, you stumble.

You’ve tried to convince yourself that the light you have is real. But why is it so dim? Could it be merely the reflection of light from other Christians who are sharing their light with you? Have you missed the real Light Source? Have you missed Christmas?

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-11).

Are you struggling to understand the Light? Stop struggling and receive Him. He has freely given you the right to be born of God. That same light that was born in Bethlehem in human flesh so long ago can be born in your heart right now. Receive Him like this:

I’ve been like those Paul wrote to Timothy about, “having a form of godliness but denying its power…” (2 Timothy 3:5). I don’t want to stumble along in the reflected light of someone else any longer.

I keep trying to stay in the Light, but I keep losing it. I want the Light to be born in me so I never again have to be without it.

Lord, I don’t understand all this means, but I believe Jesus is the true Light. I know I’ve been living in darkness and rebellion, away from God.

I believe you when you say I can be born of God. I don’t understand, but I believe. Please forgive me for my rebellion against your desires for me. I receive you, the Light, into my own heart right now. I’ve waited so long for this. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, or if you need more help with this, please visit our Seekers page.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

06. God brings fulfillment in our wait

We can let waiting make us miserable, or we can plan to enjoy it and be happy. Waiting is inevitable. Why not learn to love the wait and experience the abundance of God’s fulfillment?

Lord, teach us how to wait in your joy.

Our life has not stopped just because we wait

Christmas lights. Aren’t they pretty?

But for those of us in divided homes, who’ve waited so long for God to intervene, it’s sometimes hard to see the beauty of the lights. We long for the light of a home completed in God’s union and love. We wait.

It is interesting that as I have been developing studies from the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth on Christmas Lights, we had a guest preacher in our church Sunday night who brought a message on the same story. Read the story here.

Our guest preacher discussed the fact that John and Elizabeth had waited so long for a child. They were well past the child-bearing age. I can relate to the desire for a child. It took my husband and me 7 1/2 years to get our first child. There is a longing and emptiness there for those who want a child that no one can understand unless they have experienced it.

John and Elizabeth had to wait. Did they fret about the wait? Were they frustrated? Likely so. They were human. But they learned to wait in God’s fullness.

The preacher (who is in his seventies himself) went on to say that he has found a wonderful blessing in being God’s child, and could not want anything more. But there is one additional blessing, according to him, that will give us even more joy than we receive by being God’s child alone. He says he has found the secret to this special blessing. His secret? “Learn to love to wait.”

What? Learn to love to wait? You got to be kidding! Who would love to wait?

He said that he plans to wait. He decides ahead of time what he will do in waiting lines at shopping centers, or other situations. He told us that he often seizes the opportunity when others are disgruntled at waiting to speak a word of calmness and find a way to talk with those in line. He has often turned it into a witnessing opportunity.

He suggested the possibility of carrying Scripture memory cards with us that can easily be pulled out to memorize Scripture in waiting situations.

He mentioned traffic situations where we are slowed down getting from one place to another. Use it as a time to observe others, learn how people react, and show them an example of Godliness and courtesy. Make being courteous in these situations a fun project, a contest to see how long you can be considerate and kind when everyone else is upset in the traffic.

Doesn’t sound like fun? He said the only way we can accomplish this is to pray about it and ask God to help. He also reminded us that waiting is inevitable. We may as well learn to love it because it is going to be a part of our lives. Since we know it is coming, we can let it catch us off guard and be miserable, or we can plan to enjoy it and be happy.

Think of all the time you are wasting being miserable in waiting. Why not determine to enjoy the wait and provide yourself a lot more joy in your life?

That, ladies, brings us to the hardest wait of all. Some of us are waiting, waiting, waiting…. We wait for our homes to be repaired, shaped, strengthened. We’re tired. We don’t want to wait any longer.

Lord Jesus, help us learn to enjoy the time we wait. Our life has not stopped just because we wait. You have fulfillment for us in this wait.

We are determined to experience the abundance you brought us and walk in your peace. We are determined to stop longing for what we’ve lost or what we have never had. Instead, we are going to make the most of this moment you have given us. We are going to live life more abundantly just like you promised we could.

We need you to do it for us. We are determined, but helpless. Lord, teach us to wait in your joy. Amen.

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

05. Elizabeth’s light helped Zechariah in his blindness

Elizabeth didn’t concentrate on the inconvenience of her husband’s weakness. She was a light to him as she rejoiced in the fulfillment of the Lord’s provision.

‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said (Luke 1:25).

How did Zechariah tell Elizabeth?

Read the passage we’ve been looking at in this Christmas Lights study here.

We can only imagine the conversation when Zechariah arrived home:

“What happened to you, honey?” Elizabeth asks, frightened.

Zechariah motions reassurance to her. He finds a scrap of paper and begins to write the story of what has just happened to him for his wife to read.

“I wasn’t even in the Holy of Holies where God has been known to speak to priests in days past. No, I was just burning incense in the Holy Place.

“As you know, honey, the incense represents prayers of God’s people. My heart was heavy because I knew how much having a baby would mean to us, and especially to you. I was asking the Lord in earnest to give us a son.

“Then, even as I spoke, an angel appeared by the altar of incense, and dear, the angel told me that my prayer had been heard. He said that you are going to have a baby and his name will be John.”

“A baby boy! Oh, Zechariah…can you imagine it! A little one in our home at our age. And God sent an angel to tell you, just as he sent an angel to tell Abraham that his wife Sarah would have a son in her old age!”

Elizabeth believed, yet she didn’t criticize Zechariah for doubt

We can’t know for sure what Elizabeth may have said. But there is no evidence that Elizabeth showed unbelief. God had recorded in the book of Genesis that Sarah laughed when she heard the news that she was going to have a baby. Likely he would have recorded a lack of faith in Elizabeth as well, had it been there.

Though both were devout, and Zechariah was a spiritual leader of the people as well, it appears that Zechariah may have had a weaker faith than did Elizabeth. The Bible says: “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years'” (v.18).

On the other hand, the first words God records from Elizabeth in this story are words of praise to God for what he was doing in her life: “‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people'” (v.25).

Zechariah’s penalty for his doubting was present the whole 9 months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. What an inconvenience it must have been for Elizabeth that her husband was speechless throughout her pregnancy. But she didn’t concentrate on the inconvenience her husband’s weakness had caused. Nor did she criticize him for his weakness. Instead, she rejoiced in the fulfillment the Lord’s provision had brought.

Dear ones, your husband’s weakness or lack of faith may be causing inconveniences for you. But God will always be there for you. We are not to let our minds dwell on our husband’s weakness. Rather let us rejoice in our God’s sufficiency! He came to earth that first Christmas to meet our needs. He can still meet our needs today.

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. God takes notice in our daily grind

Zechariah’s encounter with God in the temple was probably more life-changing than fathering a child in his old age. Pressures of the everyday workload faded when he met God.

God wants to spend time with you today.

When no one else appreciates us, God still cares

Read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth from Luke 1:5-25 here.

Work was hard today. I am so tired, I don’t know if I’ll ever get rested. I want a job like Zechariah’s where you only work two weeks a year. The NIV Study Bible says that each priest was responsible for a week’s service at the temple every six months. Sounds great anyway. But I am sure Zechariah worked year-round, just in a less prominent area.

Zechariah became a father and his wife Elizabeth became a mother in their old age. But I wonder if the encounter with God in the temple was even more life-changing for Zechariah than fathering a child in his old age.

Sometimes we go through life in daily routine jobs and we aren’t really appreciated. No one notices the good that we do. No one cares. Our husbands and children may not seem to appreciate what we do for them either. But God takes notice.

God took notice of Zechariah and Elizabeth. The pressures of the everyday workload faded as Zechariah met God face to face.

Have you met God face to face today? He is waiting for you. He wants to speak to you through his Word. He wants you to share your heart with him in prayer. Can you squeeze in about 15 minutes after the kids are in bed to read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth here? Ask God to show you something special in this story for your situation.

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

03. Chosen by the creator of the universe

God had been silent 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. Now shared good news with the priest Zechariah at the altar of incense.

God is directing your lots.

Chosen by lot or by God?

Read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth again in Luke 1 here.

Notice especially verse 9. Zechariah was chosen by lot to go to the temple and burn incense. Now do you really believe that for one minute? Well of course he was chosen by lot, the Bible says so, and the Bible is always true. But do you believe he was really chosen by lot? Yes they did cast lots and Zechariah was the one chosen by lot. But the one who chose Zechariah was God.

The fullness of time was near

God had something special to share with Zechariah. The temple was the place where he had spoken to the priests in days gone by, and there he had given them a special message to share with the people. God had been silent for 400 years between the Old and New Testaments, but now God had wonderful news to share. It was time to speak again. However, not just any old priest would do. The Bible says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son (Galatians 4:4).”

God was going to send a baby into the world to prepare the way for his Son who would be our redeemer. He chose the devout Zechariah to be the father of this special forerunner of Jesus. Circumstances would have us believe Zechariah was chosen only because the lot fell on him, but God directed the lot. God had already chosen Zechariah.

God has chosen you

God is directing the lots in your life too, dear sisters. There is no “chance” with God. God has a wonderful plan for us. Even if we mess it up, he can redesign it again when we turn it back over to him.

Whatever situation you are in, know this: God loves you and you are chosen to be his. You are also paid for with the blood of his Son. That is what Christmas is for. It is for you — to make a way for you to come home. You are chosen, loved and precious in his sight. You are cared for and cherished by the creator of the universe.

All he asks is that you turn your life completely over to him. Give him the right to do with you as he chooses. He wants this right, not to make things worse. No, he loves you. It may for a time seem he is making a mess of your life. But he just wants you to learn to trust him so he can bless you. He can’t fix things for your good as long as you are holding onto the lots. Give him the lots and let him cast them. He will always cast them for what is best for you.

Trust him, precious sisters. Take heart, even in this time of struggle and divided houses. Don’t let your hope be divided. Thank God for every struggle, for God is using it to teach you his love.

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

02. Someone cares: God speaks to those who hear him

God hears your prayer, your cries and your pain. Jesus is near. Spend time in the light of God’s Word and your answer will come.

God was mostly silent, but he heard Zechariah’s prayer.

Zechariah and Elizabeth

I spent my 15 minutes “in the light” today in the book of Luke. I saw some things I’d never seen before about Zechariah and Elizabeth as I studied this part of the Christmas story again.

Read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth from Luke 1:5-25 here.

Who were Zechariah and Elizabeth? Zechariah and Elizabeth were both descendants from the priestly line of Aaron and the Levites. They were devout and upright. The Bible says they observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. That doesn’t mean they were perfect. It does mean they set their heart and intent to follow God and submit to him in every way.

When God was silent

Zechariah was chosen to burn the incense on this day. The altar of incense was inside the temple, just outside the Holy of Holies where God came down to speak with the priest. The incense represented prayer.

At this particular time in history, God was mostly silent. In times gone by God had given the Israelites mighty manifestations of his power and glory and had spoken to the priests as they were inside the Holy of Holies.

The original purpose for the tabernacle and later the temple was for the priests to make appropriate sacrifices to represent the sacrifice that the Savior would some day make. But even more than this, it was to a place where God could be among his people. As God spoke with the priest and the priest revealed God’s words to the people they had a little part of God with them.

However the people were rebellious throughout the ages. God would forgive them and help them and they would soon be in rebellion again. Finally, about 400 years before the birth of Christ, God decided to remove his presence from them. He still spoke to anyone who would hear him, but he no longer sent prophets to warn the people of their wrongs and encourage them to return to him. He allowed them to go through their religious rites, but they were only making a mockery of what he had established. They were practicing rituals yet their heart was far from God.

God spoke when Zechariah prayed.

Then comes Zechariah. The Bible says he was devout. God sent an angel to tell him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.”

All God wants is for us to be sincere in our devotion to him. He is reaching down to you right now saying, “Do not be afraid. I want to help you. I hear your cries and your pain. Your prayer has been heard.”

Take heart, my sisters. We will share more about Zechariah and Elizabeth later. But for now, just know that someone cares. His name is Jesus. He is with you even now. Don’t give up.

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Are you SAD? Celebrate light this Christmas.

Are you SAD this Christmas? Light therapy is used for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but our source of illumination is not a lamp. Our light is a person.

Just 15 minutes a day with the Light

Celebrate light this Christmas season

If the word “sad” describes you during the winter months, you are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or cabin fever, affects a half a million people in the United States according to an American Academy of Family Physicians article.

Research shows that in September when the days start getting shorter, many people begin to feel symptoms of sadness, fatigue, and sleepiness. This seems to be connected to the lack of light due to shorter days. Research shows that sunlight or specially made light boxes often relieve the symptoms.

However we can’t write off the knowledge that the holiday season brings increased depression for reasons other than lack of light. At Christmas time, we remember the good times we’ve shared with family and friends. Times change. We can’t live in those past memories and that brings a special sadness.

For those of us in houses divided, especially, there is a deep feeling of loss that no amount of light can overcome…or can it?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'” (John 8:12)

Therapy for people with the physical symptoms of SAD includes viewing the light of a specially made light box for 15 minutes to two hours per day. We have a Spiritual Light Box and our therapy is the same. Our Spiritual Light Box is the Word of God. The Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is our source of strength and renewal.

Christmas is the time we get SAD because of lack of light. Yet this is the very season that celebrates the light we have:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
— John 1:1-9

The Light was coming, and the Light has come! Let us look to our light in this holiday season. We do not have to be Spiritually sad.

The people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
— Matthew 4:16

Our light has dawned. Let us rejoice and be glad. Let us spend time with our Light, the Savior who came that first Christmas night to bring hope and healing to us. He will lift us from the Spiritual sad we are prone to feel. Our hope is in his Word.

Will you commit just 15 minutes a day to spend with the Light during this holiday season? 15 minutes of God’s light can dispell the darkness and stay with us all day. Let’s do it!

Next Christmas Light

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted