03/20

March 20

Luke 1:57-80

Elizabeth, in Jewish culture, had been shamed by her inability to produce a child for Zacharias, a priest and servant in the house of God. Elizabeth was barren and well beyond child-bearing years. Have you ever noticed how God gets glory through someone’s life?

He finds someone with a need.
He finds someone who can’t solve the need on their own.
He supernaturally provides the need.

Do you want to be a vessel for the glory of God?
Be willing to become empty.
Be willing to cry out to God to be your source and strength.
Be willing to allow God to provide the need.

After Elizabeth gave birth, the other women acknowledged the mercy of God to this minister’s wife. The mercy of God is the deep, compassionate, and rich love of God. God’s power is motivated by His love.

Then the women rejoiced with her. True friends will weep when you weep and rejoice when you rejoice. In all things we look to God together, even in the darkest hour, and together, we cry out in reliance, together we become empty in obedience, and together we put our confidence in God’s promises – together.

John was no ordinary son. He was a gift from God, formed in his mother’s womb with a call on his life. John was moved by the Holy Spirit while an infant in his mother’s womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, entered into the room. John’s life began with a miracle, and throughout his life He experienced the anointing as he preached about the long-awaited Christ, and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. He was known as the Elijah to come, the prophet who turned hearts back to God. Multitudes of people returned to God, being baptized in water to show their surrender. He was known as John “the Baptist.” John was such an influencer that King Herod had John arrested to stop his ministry. John was not whisper in the night. He chose to obey God, giving up comfort to travel through wilderness to find people and to spread the news, prophesying the Messiah was coming.

What does it take for a miracle? Be willing to have a need and rely on God to the point of taking action. This is faith.

In verse 59, Zacharias and Elizabeth obey the law and honor a blood covenant by circumcising John on the eighth day. It was also a covenant act to name the child at his circumcision. Zacharias is still mute. Others want the boy to be name after his father; however, Elizabeth knew, and she said, “No, he shall be called John.” The name John means, “The Lord has been gracious, or shown favor.” John was named by God, a desire God had in preparing for the Messiah was a message of grace, not works. It was a message of relationship, not religion. It is by God’s grace we have been saved, not of works, so that no one can take the credit. Only God gets the glory!

People questioned Elizabeth, so Zacharias asks for a writing tablet and writes, “His name is John.” IMMEDIATELY, upon this action to his faith, God loosened his tongue and Zacharias spoke. When he could speak, what did he say? He used his mouth to praise God! The Holy Spirit was on him, and Zacharias delivered a prophecy, saying that salvation was coming. He prophesied that his son would prepare for the Lord for the remissions of sin through tender mercy. His message was not to condemn, but to perform mercy and draw men and women to repentance, a loving response to Jehovah who is preparing for the Messiah to come. He was to give light. John was to be used to guide people into peace, or perfect wellbeing (Greek, Eirene, 1515).

Why was his tongue loosed as he named his son? What is simply an act of obedient faith? No. This miracle had a purpose. In verses 65-66, God used this miracle to get the attention of people focused on Himself. The news of what happened was spread throughout the country of Judea. People recognized the miracles and considered God, pondering, “What kind of child will this be?

The Bible says that the hand of the Lord was with John. The hand of the Lord is the anointing. In verse 80, John grew strong in spirit, staying in the desert until it was time for his ministry to begin. In the desert, John must have spent preparation time in study and prayer because when he came out of the desert, he was ready to start his ministry.

Remember, preparation time is never wasted time!

Joshua 1-3

In chapters 1-5, Israel is prepared to possess the land. They are prepared by the choosing of Joshua as leader. They are prepared for battle by investigating the enemy, getting into military position, and being strengthened for war.

Joshua had a call on his life long before Moses died. Joshua served as Moses’ assistant all those years in the desert. If you are in a desert season, it could be that God is preparing you like He prepared Joshua. The name Joshua is Yeshua, the name we know as Jesus. The name means “Saved or Savior.” Is that coincidence? I don’t think so. Joshua led the people into a place of freedom and inheritance. He was named correctly. Jesus also led us into a place of freedom and inheritance, our Savior!

From this side of the cross, we can look with assurance, thankfulness, and joy, knowing that God performed His promise. Let’s remember that Joshua, forty years prior, was confident that God would give them the land. He had faith BEFORE he went in. Remember, Joshua was often by Moses’ side, assisting Moses. Now here we are at the Jordan, the time is now, and Joshua is forty years older.

God speaks to Joshua, giving him instruction.
God tells Joshua that HE is with him and will not turn on him.
God encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous when facing the battle.
God tells Joshua to obey His Word so he can be successful.
God gives Israel three days to cross the Jordan.

The people from the tribes of Rueben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had requested the land on the east side of the Jordan. However, they also promised Moses to fight with their brothers until all of Israel was established, and then return to possess their territory on the other side of the Jordan.

In chapter 2, Joshua sends two men to assess the enemies of the first city of Canaan they intend to conquer. The two spies stay in a public home with a prostitute named Rahab. It was a good cover because it was a place where strangers could stay. Rahab was the one person in all of Jericho who would be willing to help Hebrews. Rahab stayed with the Hebrews after the fall of Jericho, and she is mentioned in Jesus’ lineage.

The two spies learned that the people in Jericho had heard about Israel and the battles they had won on the other side of the river. The people were fainthearted because of Israel.

Rahab believed God would help the Hebrews to defeat Jericho. She not only believed that; but she also wanted to be on God’s side. She helped the spies escape by letting them out of her window with a scarlet rope. The spies told her to have that same rope hanging from her window so the Israelite army would know not to harm her or her home.

Israel crosses the Jordan in chapter 3. In verse 4, the officers communicate with the people to keep their eye on the ark of the covenant because “you have not passed this way before.” There are many times in my life where God asked me to go into places or situations that I had not known before. It was the Holy Spirit who navigated me through, leading me, giving me wisdom, providing the resources, supplying the relationships, and giving me peace. He is our guide into the unknown, those adventures we share together, possessing new territory.

In verse 5, Joshua instructed the people to sanctify themselves, or to set themselves apart for what is holy. I love this phrase: “FOR TOMORROW THE LORD WILL DO WONDERS AMONG YOU.” The principle is true today. When we set ourselves apart from the world, we prepare ourselves to receive the promises of God. His glory is seen when we consecrate ourselves or lay ourselves down in surrender and obedience.

The word “tomorrow” is special. It had been more than forty years of wandering. Before that is was 400 years of slavery. Now it is TOMORROW! Come on, somebody, and shout praise!

Moses had given the children of Israel instruction on how to carry the ark through the wilderness. It was a manmade box with items inside it. However, it was also in the Holy of Holies where the presence of God would manifest. If a priest, inside the Holy of Holies, was not properly atoned for, he could not live in God’s presence. They wore bells on their robes and rope on their foot so that he could be pulled out in case he died. It was the glory of God that made the box something to be respected. The box was carried by poles and the rest of the people stayed at a distance.

Twelve priests, one from each tribe, went before the people to carry the ark. As soon as their feet touched the water, the water was stopped up, like heap, and the people walked through. Another miracle is given, showing the people that God was with them as they entered into the territory they were to possess.

What has God given you to possess? What has He promised? God doesn’t want us to try to attain a promise in our own strength. God wants to work together with us, asking for our obedient faith. We lean on Him, doing our part, and we experience God doing His part. What a wonderful partnership! We partner together with God Himself!

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan

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