Elizabeth’s Gift

Sometimes I think that if Elizabeth’s story had happened back in the Old Testament, we’d spend much more time on it than we do and be much more amazed by it than we are. Instead, we kind of tend to regard her as a footnote in the Christmas story, overshadowed by the story of Jesus’ incarnation.

And I’m sure Elizabeth is totally fine with that. Like her own son said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

But Elizabeth’s story is a rich gift to Christ’s birth narrative, adding wonder and awe to the divine beauty of the tale. It is also God’s gift to us as Christian women, giving us a sister in Christ to look up to and learn from.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Luke 1:5-7

Elizabeth was righteous before God. She walked blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Like you and me, she wasn’t perfect. She still fell into sin. But because she loved the Lord, she repented, and strove to live her life to please Him.

But Elizabeth also knew sorrow. She and Zechariah had no child. She had been barren for all of her childbearing years, and now she was elderly – some scholars estimate at least 60 years old – and long past menopause.

If you or someone you know has ever experienced the heartbreak of infertility, you know just how painful that is. And in biblical times, culture added insult to injury in a lot of ways. It was assumed any infertility was a problem with the woman, when today we know that men can also be infertile.

Because children are a blessing from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is a reward, and because God sometimes closed the wombs of certain women in Scripture as a result of sin – it was often assumed that if you weren’t having children you were cursed by God, or your barrenness was some sort of punishment for sin.

And in addition to all of that, in that day and time, women were “low man on the totem pole” so to speak. They were regarded as less than men in practically every way- intelligence, abilities, worth, and so on. They couldn’t testify in court because their testimony wasn’t considered credible. And, maybe you’ve even heard of the daily prayer that Jewish men still say today, thanking God for not creating them a gentile…a slave…or a woman.

So, practically the only way women of that time could achieve a modicum of respect and status in society was by marrying well and by having sons. And, though she did marry well, Elizabeth didn’t have any children.

Try to imagine being a woman of Elizabeth’s time, having all of that on your shoulders, and having virtually no power to do anything about it.

Do you think you might be a little bitter toward God?

“Lord, my husband’s a priest! We can’t go around having people think you’ve cursed us.”

“We’ve been serving You all these years, and all we’ve asked for is a baby. You
owe us.”

“You’re not going to give me the one thing I want most in life? Forget it – there are plenty of other gods to worship. I’ll go serve one of them.”

But not Elizabeth. Elizabeth just kept getting up day after day, trusting the Lord, serving the Lord, obeying the Lord.

And let’s not forget, we know the rest of the story. We know God is going to miraculously open Elizabeth’s womb and she’ll be the mother of John the Baptist. We know she’s going to be one of the first people to learn the good news of the Messiah. We know she’s going to be celebrated and famous across the world once her story gets into Scripture.

Elizabeth didn’t know that. For all those years faithfully following and trusting the Lord, she didn’t know any of that. For all she knew, she was going to die childless and in obscurity, quickly to be forgotten even by those who knew her. And yet she still chose to walk faithfully with the Lord.

Elizabeth was faithful to God because of who God is, not for what she could get out of Him. She served God to get more of God, not to get the goodies.

But look what happens next…

Now while [Zechariah] was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense…And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense…the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:8-9,11,13

Zechariah has the great honor of entering the temple and burning incense. Suddenly – a miracle! Gabriel, who stands in the very presence of God Himself, has brought the amazing news that Elizabeth – barren and past her time – is going to give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah.

And Zechariah doesn’t believe it.

But Elizabeth does

Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.

Luke 1:25

Elizabeth believed God.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:39-45

The newly pregnant Mary comes for a visit. The Holy Spirit reveals to and through Elizabeth that the baby Mary is carrying is the Messiah. And, once again, in great humility, Elizabeth believes Him: “Who am I, that my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth wondered.

Indeed – who are any of us, that our Lord should come to us?

Elizabeth did not seek out Jesus. He came to find her. So, we who were dead in our sins and trespasses did not seek Him. He came to us, to seek and to save that which was lost.

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.”

Luke 1:57-60

It’s a boy! What a joy-filled day it must have been. This wasn’t just any birth. It was God’s promise fulfilled. It was God’s mercy to Elizabeth, His blameless – yet not sinless – and undeserving child. It was God’s blessing to Elizabeth, His faithful servant. The same kind of mercy and blessings He shows us, His faithful, yet undeserving sons and daughters. The same way He fulfills His promises to us.

The time quickly came to circumcise and officially name the baby. Tradition dictated that he be named after Dad: Zechariah. But Elizabeth believed all that God had revealed about this baby to the point that she put her foot down, broke with tradition and insisted, along with her husband, that the baby be named John. It wasn’t about what she wanted. It wasn’t about what others thought was best. It was all about God, and what He wanted.

All of these unbelievable things happening to Elizabeth, yet Elizabeth believes God. Obeys God. Trusts God. She trusted and obeyed God all of those years when He said no, and she believed and obeyed Him after He said yes.

May we, as godly women, be daughters of Elizabeth: Believing God through the unbelievable. Trusting Him in times of uncertainty. Obeying Him in the face of opposition.

What a legacy this dear sister has left us.

What a gift.

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 8

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Mark 6:1-29:

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.And he marveled because of their unbelief.

And he went about among the villages teaching.

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her.18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider

1. What are the three major sections this first half of Mark 6 can be divided into? What is the general theme of this passage and how do each of the three sections teach it?

2. Verse 1 says, “He went away from there…”. Where did Jesus go away from (see Mark 5)? Which town was Jesus’ “hometown“? (1)

3. Compare and contrast verses 2-3 with Mark 1:21-22,27-28. What are the similarities and differences between the questions and statements the people made? How were their reactions to Jesus different, even though both groups were “astonished” at His teaching? Having known Jesus from childhood, as well as His humble family, why would the Nazarenes have been offended by Him now? (3) What did Jesus mean in verse 4? Which three groups of people does He say a prophet is without honor among? How did most of Nazareth being offended at Jesus affect His ability to do miracles there? (5) Does verse 5 mean Jesus’ supernatural ability to heal was suspended or that the people shunned Him and would not listen to Him or ask for healing?

4. Examine verse 6 in light of Matthew 7:6. Why did Jesus leave Nazareth and go to other villages to teach?

5. Read verses 7-13. Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out two by two when they could have reached twice as many villages if He had sent them out one by one? (7) Compare Jesus’ two by two policy to the need in ministry today for accountability, encouragement, collaboration, sharing the workload, etc.

6. Why did Jesus instruct the disciples to travel with minimal luggage and supplies? (8-9) How does this point ahead to the New Testament church era and the practice of congregations supplying their pastors’ material needs? In Jesus’ time, it was customary, almost required by decent society, to invite traveling strangers into one’s home and show them hospitality. How would this hospitality, and providing for the needs of the disciples (or refusing to), have been an indicator of whether or not a town would receive the disciples? (8-11)

7. What were the two ministry activities the disciples were to engage in? (12-13) Which one was the primary objective? (12) How does the word “listen” (11) and the message they proclaimed (12) help us understand that the disciples’ main mission was to preach the gospel and that the miracles they performed were to identify them with Jesus, credentialize them as being authorized by Him, and authenticate the message they preached?

8. Notice the chronology of verses 14-29. Which events happened first, those in verses 14-16, or those in verses 17-29? Could verses 17-29 be characterized as “back story”? From what you know about John the Baptist’s preaching, Elijah’s miracles, and the Old Testament prophets, can you see why Herod and the people compared Jesus to them? (14-16) Why do you think Herod opted for a resurrected John the Baptist? (16) What was the central theme of both John’s and Jesus’ message? Which would have been more convicting to Herod, more preaching like John’s, miracles, or prophecy? (18, 20) What can we learn about Herod’s spiritual state from verses 20, 26-27?

9. What are some things we can learn about godly marriage and parenting from Herod’s and Herodias’ ungodly example? Compare verses 17-28 with these Scriptures.

10. In Mark 6:1-29, we see that Nazareth rejected Jesus, that presumably, some of the villages the disciples went to rejected them and their message of repentance, and that, ultimately, Herod rejected John’s (and by extension, Jesus’) message of repentance. Why is the gospel so offensive (3) and rejected by so many – then and now? Why don’t people want to repent and trust Christ as Savior?


Today’s passage is a study in the rejection of the gospel. Have you ever been rejected by family, lifelong friends, strangers, church members, or someone in authority over you, for sharing the gospel and calling them to repent? Write a brief paragraph examining why people reject the gospel and commit to pray over the next week for the person who rejected you for sharing it.

Suggested Memory Verse

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
John 6:34

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 2

Previous Lessons: 1

Mark 1:1-20

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the background and setting of the book of Mark from lesson 1 (link above).

2. What two titles does Mark ascribe to Jesus in verse 1? What does the word “Christ” mean, and why is it an important title for Jesus? What does it mean that Jesus is the “Son of God“?

3. How many times does Mark use the word “immediately” in chapter 1? How might the repeated use of this word have given Mark’s audience – first century Gentiles – a sense of urgency about Jesus’ mission and their need for salvation? Does it give you a sense of urgency about these things as you read?

4. What was John the Baptist’s mission as prophesied by Isaiah? (2-3) How did John “flesh out” that mission? (4) How did John’s message of repentance and the baptism of repentance help “prepare the way of the Lord” – “prime the pump” or get people’s hearts ready – for the gospel Jesus would preach? (5, 7-8) What can we learn about John’s character from this passage?

5. How does John’s message of repentance preceding Jesus’ message of the gospel demonstrate that repentance is a crucial aspect of saving faith in Christ? (1-15) Would God have sent John to preach the message of repentance if He did not consider it a vital part of salvation? What does Mark indicate was the theme of the message Jesus preached? (15) Some people say repentance is not necessary for salvation- that only belief in Jesus is necessary. Did Jesus consider repentance to be part of the gospel? (15)

6. Examine verses 9-11. Since Jesus was without sin, why did He take part in a baptism of repentance? How does Jesus’ baptism set an example for believers to follow Him in being baptized? How does this passage reveal the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) to us? How does this passage refute the false teaching of modalism/Sabellianism and show us that God is one God in three Persons?

7. Who led Jesus to the place where He would be tempted by Satan? (12) Can we surmise from this that it was God’s plan for Jesus to undergo temptation? Why?

8. What two main characteristics did Simon and Andrew, and James and John, have in common? (16,19) Today, we might call them “blue collar” or “rednecks”- why do you think Jesus chose simple, uneducated fishermen as His first followers? (16-20) What message might this have sent first century Gentiles hearing, for the first time, about Jesus and His disciples? What did Jesus mean when He said He would make them “fishers of men”? (17) Considering what you know about them from the rest of the New Testament, did Simon, Andrew, James, and John become fishers of men?

9. What is the overall theme, purpose, or main idea of Mark 1:1-20?


Imagine yourself as a first century Gentile in a polytheistic society. You have little, if any, knowledge of the God of the Jews or the Old Testament, but you’re curious about this Jesus and why some of your Jewish and Gentile neighbors have begun to worship Him. Make a list of five to ten questions you’re going to want answered about Jesus so you can decide whether or not you want to worship Him, too.

Keep your list of questions handy as we study Mark. As you discover the answers to each question, write them down. Be reminded of who Jesus is and why He is worthy of your faith, worship, and obedience. Share what you’ve discovered with an unbelieving friend who needs to know Jesus.

Suggested Memory Verse

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14-15

Christian women, New Testament, Obedience, Sunday School, Women

Miraculous Inceptions: Elizabeth and Mary ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 10-5-14


These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 40 ~ Sep. 28- Oct. 4
Nehemiah 8-13, Psalm 126, Malachi, Luke 1-3, John 1, Matthew 1-3, Mark 1
Miraculous Inceptions: Elizabeth and Mary

1. 424 – 6 B.C. The Intertestamental Period- Nehemiah 13 and the book of Malachi record the last historical events and the last prophecy, respectively, of the Old Testament. Over 400 years would pass between those events and and the opening of the New Testament. Although God was still at work in the world and in the lives of His people, Scripture does not record anything from this time period. There was no prophetic word from God during the Intertestamental Period, thus, it is often called the 400 years of silence.

2. 424-334 B.C.- Israel remained a Persian territory for about 100 years after the last recorded events in the Old Testament

3. 334-331 B.C.- Alexander the Great conquers Persia and gains control of all Persian holdings, including Israel. Greek rule is established by 332 B.C.

4. 301-198 B.C.- After the death of Alexander the Great, his generals vie for control. General Ptolemy I Soter sets up the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt (later demanding to be made Pharaoh). Ptolemaic rule of Israel begins.

5. 198 B.C.- Another Greek, Antiochus the Great defeats the Ptolemaic dynasties and takes over. He persecutes Israel to the extreme, not allowing them to keep the Sabbath, forcing them to offer unclean sacrifices, and eat unlawful foods.

6. 166-142 B.C.- Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons lead the 24 year Maccabean (named for Judas Maccabeus, the oldest son and leader) Revolt against Antiochus. The Jews eventually won their independence (though they still retained many Greek ways), and Mattathias set up the Hasmonean dynasty of priests (unbiblical since priests could only come from the family line of Zadok, and his family did not) to govern Israel.

7. 63 B.C.- Rome takes over the known world, including Israel.

8. 37-4 B.C.- Rome sets up Herod the Great as king of Israel. He is still king when Jesus is born.

The stage was set. After four hundred years of silence God was about to speak again, act mightily on behalf of His people again. And it all started with two godly women.

Luke 1:5-24

It’s helpful to remind ourselves right from the start that, although we know something amazing is about to happen, Elizabeth and Zechariah had no idea. They were just regular people going about their daily lives.

5- Zechariah was a priest, but Elizabeth was also from the priestly tribe. (And what did the priests do? They minister before the Lord; just what John would do.) They were likely respected in their community and what we would consider “upper middle class,” at the least.

6 (John 9:3, Romans 9:10-16)- Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were godly people. “Blameless” doesn’t mean “sinless,” it just means that they loved the Lord, desired to obey Him, and kept His commands and statues the best they could, repenting when they sinned. It’s important this fact was mentioned before Luke went on to say that she was barren. Barrenness was often seen as a punishment from God for sin. Sometimes it was, but that wasn’t the case here. As Jesus would later say as he healed the man born blind, Elizabeth wasn’t being punished for sin, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in” her.

But by the same token, Elizabeth did not earn this honor God was about to bestow on her by living blamelessly. There were probably thousands of other godly Israelite women living at that time. Why Elizabeth and not one of them? That answer is found in the mind of God alone. It is, as Hebrews says, “not because of works but because of him who calls.”

8-13- The angel appears and begins telling Zechariah what’s about to happen. This is an answer to prayer (13) for Zechariah and Elizabeth. Scripture doesn’t say this, I am only speculating, but it would not surprise me if they had stopped praying for a child long ago. Elizabeth was not only barren, both of them were “advanced in years” (7). Maybe they thought God had said “no” when He had really said “not yet.” But now was God’s perfect timing. Can you think of any other Bible characters who conceived when they were old and/or had been barren for years? Several of our Old Testament heroes came into the world this way: Hannah (Samuel), Rebekah (Jacob), Rachel (Joseph), and Mrs. Manoah (Samson) were all barren until God opened their wombs. But Elizabeth’s pregnancy in old age after years of barrenness would probably have reminded her community most of Sarah (Isaac). All of these miraculous Old Testament births after barrenness would certainly have alerted Israel that John would be one to watch.

Also notable is that, while the angel may have appeared and spoken to Zechariah, it was Elizabeth that God would use to bring John into the world. God is God. He could have dropped John out of the sky or grown him out of the ground like a tree. But He didn’t. He chose a woman to work through. It’s just another example of the way God values and uses women as He accomplishes His purposes.

24-25- When amazing things happen to godly people, godly people respond in godly ways. There’s no doubt Elizabeth was overjoyed that her prayer for a child was finally being answered in such a miraculous way and with such a child. But she responded humbly and modestly, staying in seclusion -possibly as an act of gratitude or to ensure a safe pregnancy- for five months. She also responded with thanks and acknowledgement of God’s grace and power in answering her prayer.

Luke 1:25-38

Mary and Elizabeth were cousins of some degree, but their lives were very different from one another. Mary was young, probably in her teens, while Elizabeth was older. Elizabeth was from a priestly lineage (Aaron). Mary was from a kingly lineage (David). Elizabeth had been married many years. Mary was only engaged. Elizabeth was not a virgin. Mary was. Elizabeth and Zechariah were financially comfortable. Mary’s family was poor. Elizabeth had been praying for a child for years. The last thing Mary would have wanted at that point in her life was a baby.

26-30- There was nothing special about Mary. She was a regular girl from a regular family growing up and about to get married.

“O favored one” literally means “full of grace.” It is an expression used elsewhere in Scripture as a general reference to a Believer. Luke called Elizabeth blameless and righteous and simply called Mary a Believer. Likely this difference was to drive home the point that Elizabeth was not barren due to sin. Also, Elizabeth would probably have been more mature in the faith since she was older and had access to a live-in priest.

As with Elizabeth, we see that God chooses whom He will for His own reasons. Mary was a godly young woman, and God was pleased with this, but she was a sinner just like everyone else. She had not “found favor with God” or earned her position as Jesus’ mother because she was somehow holier than other young women like her. God’s favor rested on Mary because He chose her, not because she earned it.

34-37- Both Mary and Zechariah were confused and questioning when an angel showed up and announced an unplanned pregnancy. So why was Zechariah rebuked while Mary was merely given an explanation? First, Zechariah was a priest, and knew the Scriptures intimately. He knew there was precedent for his situation (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, etc.), had even prayed for a child, and should have known that God was capable of doing the same thing in his own family. There was zero precedent for Mary’s situation. She hadn’t prayed for a child, wasn’t married, and a virgin birth was unheard of. Though she undoubtedly knew some of the Scriptures, she certainly wouldn’t have known them as well as a priest. God knows the heart, and He knew that Zechariah’s question was born of doubt, and Mary’s was born of confusion, ignorance, and a desire to understand.

38- Once again, a godly woman responds in a godly way. She didn’t express what was probably a very real fear– that she would be accused of adultery and possibly stoned, or that Joseph would divorce her (which he nearly did). She simply trusted that the God who was about to do this amazing thing was big enough to protect her from whatever might come her way. Whatever God wanted to do with her was fine. She was His servant.

Elizabeth, Mary, and Me (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The God who said “My power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Cor.) has always delighted to show Himself glorious through weak, sinful, ordinary people from all walks of life like Elizabeth, Mary, and each of us. Though God will probably not do something as major in my life or yours as He did in Elizabeth’s and Mary’s lives, He is still at work in our lives, accomplishing His Kingdom purposes. And that is what is important.

Too many Christians these days wear themselves out running around asking, “What’s my purpose? What’s my purpose?” when what we should really be asking is, “What is God’s purpose for His Kingdom, and how can I be obedient to Him so He can accomplish His purposes through me?” Mary and Elizabeth both considered themselves nothing more than God’s slaves, and humbly submitted to whatever God wanted to do in their lives, whether it would bring joy or hardship. Will we do the same?

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Mark 1



Mark 1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying,“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.