Category Archives: Bible Studies

Bible Studies for women

03. Living God’s Word: Teaching our children day by day

As mothers, our first responsibility, and God’s #1 commandment to parents, is to love God supremely. We’re to live and teach God’s Word to our children day by day, moment by moment.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart….” (Matthew 22:37).

Our First Responsibility

As mothers, our #1 responsibility is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might. Jesus crowned all the commandments with this one. And this is God’s first commandment for parents in Deuteronomy 6:5.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

We will not be perfect parents. There will always be more we could have done. But if our treasure is in God all along the way, we will constantly look to Him for leadership.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

We are to love the Lord supremely, and keep obedience to God foremost in our hearts. We are to teach our children that God is to be #1 in their lives also. We are to talk about obedience to God’s precepts throughout the day at every opportunity. God is to be so much a part of our lives that our love for him flows naturally into conversation and action.

He knows what he has planned for each child. He knows we have already missed the mark of his perfect plan. That’s why he sent the Savior to redeem those who will look to Him.

Only he knows the way from where our children are to where he wants them to be. We may lead them in general terms, but only God knows how to get there from here. The Holy Spirit will impress upon us that little extra we are to do at this moment to help that individual son or daughter to see God more clearly.

We are to teach our children the Word of God. We are to read it, talk about it, love it, honor it, reverence it, obey it, memorize it, and treasure it. We should tell our children often that, while we may not have many earthly riches to give them, we give them a gift far greater than all the riches in the world, our most valued treasure, the Word of God.

Our Promise

What an inheritance we give them! And we have this promise: Every nugget from God’s Word that we put into our children’s minds and hearts will not return void, but will accomplish God’s purpose in their lives.

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

What a promise!

Day by Day

The Bible says we are to teach our children little by little as we go through the years with them. Little by little, year by year, day by day, moment by moment. We may only have moments that are ours to teach our children God’s precepts. But let us make those moments count.

“Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule ; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:9-10, NIV).

“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10, KJV).

God Will Do It

The God who fed a multitude with a little boy’s lunch (John 6:8-13) will multiply our moments also if we do the best we can to raise our children for God in the moments he gives us!

Were it up to us to make sure our children did not depart from the training we give them, what hope would there be? But God is the one who has called us to train them in the way they should go. And God is the one who has promised that they will not depart from our training. And God is the one who is faithful. God will ever remind them of the training we’ve woven into their lives.

The further they stray, the more he will call to mind what we’ve taught them about him. God will never let them go.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

What a mighty God we serve!

Application

Give God the #1 place in your life today. Begin to teach your children God’s principles little by little, day by day, as you go through everyday life with them. Ask God to help you and trust him to guide each step of the way.

Thought to Remember

The further our children stray, the more God will call to mind what we’ve taught them about him. God will never let them go.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is God’s #1 commandment for parents?
  2. How do our shortcomings as parents affect God’s promises?
  3. How do we know the way each individual child should go?
  4. What is the most important thing we are to teach our children?
  5. How are we to train our children?
  6. Whose responsibility is it to make sure our children do not depart from the Scriptural training we provide?
  7. Where can we get the wisdom we need to train our children?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

02. Finding God’s way: Help for parents

Help for problems facing parents: The first step is do what God shows you, then he will show you more. Start now. Don’t wait until you understand it all, or can do better.

What is the first step?

The Problem

“He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

Timothy’s father couldn’t lead his son in the way he should go, because Timothy’s father wasn’t walking in the way he should go himself. The first step is that we line our lives up with the way God would have us to go.

In order to do this, it helps to look back at Adam and Eve. At first, Adam and Eve did everything according to the way God would have them to go. But enter the serpent and the apple. After that, they could never again measure up to God’s plan for them. Neither could their offspring, because their offspring would inherit the flawed nature and pass it on down through the ages to all mankind. Adam and Eve were remorseful, but they were also helpless.

The Promise

God gave the first glimmer of hope when he promised a Savior for Adam and Eve and all their offspring in a conversation with the serpent:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

–Genesis 3:15, 21

God still cared for Adam and Eve. In his compassion for them, God made coats of skins to cover their shame. But Adam and Eve had spoiled the perfect creation of God.

After that no one could walk totally in the way he should go, but down through the ages God continued to promise a Savior. God revealed more and more about himself and the Savior he would send. God led those who would believe his promise of a Savior in the way they should go. And those who believed were willing to follow God’s leadership.

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). What the Bible says of Abram was true of all those who believed God: God later changed Abram’s name to Abraham which means “father of many nations.” Abraham is the name he is usually known by today.

This promise was renewed over and over to the people God had chosen to spread the good news about the coming Savior–the Jewish race. Finally the Savior arrived. And when He arrived, God had something very special to reveal about the Savior: the Savior was God’s own Son! No one else could qualify.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Rejection

But the Bible says His own people, the people who had been given the promise, did not receive the Savior:

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12).

This is incredible! First God promised a Savior. Then He sent his own Son as the Savior. But the very people He had been preparing to receive the Savior did not even recognize Him.

The world today for the most part does not recognize the Savior either. Our instinct and our conscience tell us we are missing something, that we are not all we should be. We try to do better. We try to fix our spoiled nature by being religious, by giving to the poor, by participating in ceremonial rituals. But we continue to have this guilty feeling that somehow we are not complete. God sent the Savior to “fix” us, but we don’t even notice.

The Solution

Still God’s love can not be thwarted. God continues to offer everyone the opportunity to receive the Savior. And those who receive His Son come into God’s family and become God’s very own children. This is more than the prophets could ever imagine!

Today, God still leads those who believe in His Son, the Savior, just as he did before Christ came. And those who believe are willing to follow God’s leadership just as then.

What a great God, to give His own Son for us when we were disobedient to his plan. This thing is bigger than you and I can fathom! We cannot imagine what He has in store for us when we become his own children. The prophet Isaiah knew the prophecy he proclaimed was more than even he could understand:

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

The Apostle Paul commented on Isaiah’s words:

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

–1 Corinthians 2:9-10,12,14,16

The Bible says it is only as we receive God’s Spirit that we can even begin to understand the magnificence of all of this. The Bible says the natural man–the spoiled human race–can never receive these things because they are foolishness to him.

The Time

The first step is to determine not to wait until we understand or until we can do better to get started. It is simply to receive the Savior right now by believing that he died on the cross to pay the price for our sin (going our own way instead of following God). Then we will be willing to follow as God leads us in the way we should go. Only then can we begin to understand. Only with his help can we “do better.”

Application

If you have not already done this, take time right now to tell God that you don’t want to live according to your way any more, but according to the way God would have you go. Tell him you believe in the Savior he has sent, and that you are ready to receive this Savior into your life.

The Scripture quoted above from 1 Corinthians describes the miracle that will happen for you then. You will receive the not only the Savior, but also the Spirit of God. God will begin to help you understand things the natural man–the spoiled human race–can never understand. Things that seemed foolish before will become very precious. Verse 16 says you will actually have the mind of Christ to guide you!

God has provided a way to give a new start to those who will receive the Savior. Talk to him now. Tell him you are ready to receive the Savior and to receive a new start. He wants to become your Savior, and He is waiting for your invitation!

We’ve gathered some materials to help you with this important step. If you have just had this conversation with God, or if you’d like more help, please visit our Seekers page.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is involved in getting this to work?
  2. What is the first step?

Thought to Remember

The first step is to start now. Don’t wait until you understand more, or can do better. God has shown you what to do now. When you do that, he will show you more.

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Train a child: Just one will do

An unbelieving spouse, grandparents, sick parents, incarceration, jobs, divorce, foster parents, adoptive parents, visitation rights, guardianships, and custody situations influence training children at home.

“Train a child in the way he should go….” (Proverbs 22:6).

Circumstances

Circumstances sometimes prevent us from being able to train our children as we wish.

There are single parent homes whose children spend time with other parents out of God’s will. There are divided homes where one parent out of God’s will lives in the home. There are grandparents who have the grandchildren part-time. There are sick parents, parents in prison, parents whose jobs call them away from home. There are foster parents, adoptive parents, visitation rights, legal guardianships, and child custody battles.

Circumstances, unfaithfulness of others, and situations beyond our control do play a part in the development of our children. Negative influences may encourage them to take wrong paths sometimes. But if one Christian parent or guardian adheres closely to what God tells that individual parent to do, no matter what other influences in her child’s life, that child will not depart from what that parent taught him. Gods Word says so!

Promise

The Bible says: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The New International Version indicates “train” can even mean “start”. Moses’ mother only got to start Moses in the way he should go. Samuel’s mother the same. But look what great men of God these sons were!

If we as individual parents do all we can to train our children to follow Him, God says they will not depart from our training. The home should be a Spiritual incubator to nurture our children to Spiritual maturity. But even in our sin-sick world where homes are divided and our children sometimes take wrong paths, we have this promise: Our children can never get away from the Spiritual principles we instill in their minds!

Timothy

Consider the example of Timothy’s family:

“He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1).

Timothy’s mother was a Jewess. The Jewish nation believed in the one true God, although they did not always follow him and sometimes even worshiped pagan gods. Occasionally someone from the other nations would believe in the one true God also, but this was rare. The rest of the world for the most part served only pagan gods when Timothy was growing up.

Acts 16 says of Timothy, “whose father was a Greek.” The Apostle Paul wrote this to Timothy:

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Paul excluded Timothy’s father from his reference to the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. These Scriptures indicate that Timothy’s father did not believe in the one true God.

Timothy’s father probably led him according to pagan ways. He probably taught Timothy to follow the world. But Timothy’s mother and grandmother had the faith to believe that if they trained young Timothy in the way he should go he would not depart from the training they gave him. They did not sit around and pine because Timothy’s father was an unbeliever. They simply did what God said to do, and that was enough. The ideal is that both parents lead their children in the way they should go. But if one parent doesn’t, this does not cancel God’s promises to the parent who does. God will honor his promise if one parent will do what God says to the best of her ability!

What is involved in getting this to work? This is what we will discover from Scripture during the upcoming days. God’s part is to keep His promises to us, and he always does. We will talk more about this, and we will also talk about how to do our part. In the next session, we will start with the first step.

Application

God always has something very special to give you when you open His Word. Pray now and ask him to show you what he has for you in this Bible study.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3.)

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does the Bible mean by the word “train?”
  2. Who does the Bible say must do the training of our children in order for them not to depart from the way they should go?
  3. If a child is exposed to the wrong training consecutively with the right training, does this negate the promise?
  4. What is the “right” training?
  5. Does the phrase, “when he is old” indicate he might “sow his wild oats” first?
  6. This sounds good, but I don’t have an ideal home. Will this work in my circumstances?

Thought to Remember

They simply did what God said to do, and that was enough. The ideal is that both parents lead their children in the way they should go. But if one parent doesn’t, this does not cancel God’s promises to the parent who does.

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

00. Called to be a mother: Introduction

Between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope, I found faith to know that God was working in my children’s lives in ways I couldn’t see just yet.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry!

Author’s Preface

These sessions were written in the mid 1990’s, between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope. My last child was a teenager then, and we were going through some rugged times. I went to God’s Word for help, and this Bible study is the result. From the beginning, I wrote it in a format to share, because the things God was showing me were too wonderful to keep to myself. As I’ve moved them to our new site in March of 2009, I’ve added sub-headings and made minor editorial changes for clarity.

Chapters 1-19 were written while my son was home. He moved out a few days before he turned 18, and chapters 20 and 21 were written about three years later as I continued to wait for God’s answers. It was not until my son was in his early-to-mid-twenties that I first saw God’s transformations in his life. But, all along, I knew he was working in a way that I couldn’t see just yet.

My son will be thirty this year. He is a committed Christian, a great father, and a productive citizen. He is married to a former missionary from Turkey, and they are serving the Lord together.

My oldest, a daughter, is also serving the Lord. Her work as a CNA gives her many opportunities to show God’s love to the patients she cares for. She is a mother, and we have done this “Called to Be a Mother” Bible study together with local friends several times.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry.
Lois

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Alone in Moab

Naomi may have grieved to leave God’s promised land, but she followed her husband to the heathen Moab. As a result, she became great-grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Christ.

“The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son'” (Ruth 4:17).

God’s Plan for Women

Today many women are finding themselves alone, rejected and vulnerable. The Women’s Libbers of the 1960’s will tell you that we’ve made great progress in correcting this. But Women’s Lib has done more to destroy the true liberation of women than anything else in history. God says:

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

God’s desire is for women to be very important members of society. He has provided an especially protected position for us. God desires that women be productive, but also esteemed highly by their husbands, fathers, and other male kinsmen/protectors:

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7)

Man may fail to do this. He may leave a woman vulnerable, or even abuse her himself. But, oh, the protection a woman of God has at this time! No longer is she dependent on the mercy or care of the man. If she has been faithful to follow God in submission to the authority he has placed over her, God himself will step in to intervene for the woman who is betrayed, rejected, deserted, or abused.

God intends her to be cherished and protected. As long as she follows him in faithful obedience, he will move heaven and earth if necessary to be her provider and sustainer. He will cherish her and protect her in his own watch care and love.

Rachel

“Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years” (Genesis 29:30).

Ladies, would you choose to be Rachel or Leah? Any woman would chose to be Rachel, the most loved wife. But Look what God did for Leah. In light of eternity, he gave her the far better position!

When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children

–Genesis 29:31-35.

When Leah lived, a woman without a man was basically outcast and helpless. To have male sons secured a woman’s future. Without male sons, she had little protection or hope in society if her husband died.

Leah’s child Ruben was Jacob’s firstborn son. Rachel’s womb was barren for the first few years. God enabled Leah to have the first sons. Why? Verse 31 indicates God saw her plight and intervened.

God chose Leah’s son Levi as priest to for special communication between God and the people. All the priestly line, the Levites, were offspring of her son Levi.

By the time Judah came, God had used her faithfulness and obedience to grow her in peace regardless of her second-rate position in her home. She was able to say with joy, “This time I will praise the Lord.”

The most glorious blessing of all, one that every Hebrew woman craved, was given to Leah, not to Rachel. Leah’s son Judah is the father of the tribe from which Jesus, God’s son, would come!

If you are a despised, rejected, lonely woman remember: Jesus especially looks after the woman whose plight is this, if she honors him and is obedient to his will. He made woman to be protected. He himself will be her special protector and will cherish her with tenderness when the man she is in submission to fails to provide that!

Naomi

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there” (Ruth 1:1-2).

Naomi was one of God’s chosen people. Suddenly she found herself alone in Moab.

There is no evidence from Scripture that God told Elimelech to leave the promised land and go the the heathen land of Moab. No, God had promised the children of Israel that he would supply all their needs in the land of promise that he had given them.

Apparently Elimelech decided that God needed some help in this. When the famine came, instead of trusting the promise of God, he moved his family to a heathen land for sustenance.

Naomi went with her husband. She was submissive to her husband’s leadership. Possibly her own heart told her this was not the best solution. Her tender womanly spirit may have made her grieve at leaving God’s promised land to go to a heathen world. But she was obedient to God’s command to follow her husband’s leadership.

It is very possible that Elimelech went to Moab in disobedience to God and that Ruth went there in obedience to God.

What did she get for her obedience? Her husband and sons died and left her totally alone in a heathen land. She had no means of support, no family except these two heathen daughters-in-law that her sons had married. Anyone not of the chosen race of Isarel was considered heathen. But were her daughters-in-law really heathen?

Obviously they both cherished their mother-in-law. Naomi must have shared with these two women about God and the promised Messiah. Ruth trusted in this promise. She trusted enough to leave her home and country and return to the land of promise with Naomi.

God honored Ruth’s faith by providing a husband for her. He provided a son to “heathen” Ruth, a son who was ancestor to King David, and ultimately to the Messiah himself!

What happened to Naomi who was left alone in Moab because of her trust in and submission to God?

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!

He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

— Ruth 4:14-17

The child was not even a blood relative of Naomi: “Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz” (Ruth 2:1).

Ruth was her daughter-in-law from Moab. Boaz, the one Ruth married and father of their son Obed, was a relative of Naomi’s husband Elimelech.

Yet the Bible says the women proclaimed: “Naomi has a son.”

In God’s eyes Naomi has a son too, just as if he were from her own blood line. God overruled the blood line to bestow upon Naomi the honor of being considered the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus himself!

What About You?

Are you alone in Moab? If you went there of your own choosing, Jesus bids you to turn, come back to his promised land. But if you followed God to Moab, you can rejoice. You are not rejected. Do not be afraid. Trust in God, and he will bring you all the way home.

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, `You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9-10).

Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, that we have such a great and mighty promise, and that as women we are so loved and cherished and protected that you provided this special place of watch care near your heart.

Thank you that you will never leave us vulnerable as long as our hope is in you.

Thank you for the promises from your word Lord and the stories in the Bible of God’s faithful women.

We ask for grace, Lord, to be God’s faithful women that will live for you in all circumstances and we thank you that you will bring us safely all the way.

Amen.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

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.

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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.

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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.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted