(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Luke Ch. 1 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-4) Unlike the other three Gospels, the author Luke presented his gospel account in the form of a letter. Luke is a Gentile (the only non-Jew writer in the Bible) and he worked as a physician (Colossians 4:14). It is traditionally believed that the former book referred to in Acts 1:1, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach…”, is the Gospel of Luke.
In the Gospel of Luke, verses 1 through 4 describe the author’s intent of writing this letter and how Luke himself had carefully investigated everything in detail to write an orderly account so that Theophilus, the recipient of the letter, may know the certainty of the things he has learned. It can be inferred that Theophilus may have had a basic understanding of the gospel and have already been pursuing the truth. Once again, let us read through the account of Luke and review the Gospel of Jesus with a humble and respectful heart.
(vv. 5-80) The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke describe in great detail the background history of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. After an analysis of the overall content in this passage, some verses were found to be symmetrical:
|Luke 1:5-25||The angel Gabriel, the messenger||Luke 1:26-38|
|Greetings of the two pregnant mothers (vv.1:42-45)||Luke 1:46-55
|Luke 1:57-66||Birth, circumcision, naming||Luke 2:1-21
Luke 2:13-14 (angel’s praise)
|After the birth of a child||Luke 2:22-40
|Luke 1:81||Growth of the child||Luke 2:41-52|
Gabriel, the angel who “stand in the presence of God” appeared to Zachariah (vv. 1:5-25) and Mary (vv. 1:26-38), respectively, foretelling the messages regarding the birth of John the Baptist as well as the birth of Jesus.
First, let us dive into the story of a priest named Zechariah. One day he entered the temple of the Lord to serve before God and burn incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord who told him that his prayer was heard and that he would be given a son. However, Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both advanced in years and they had no child. While not knowing how long this couple had been praying about this, their prayer was finally heard by God and they will be blessed with a son who shall be named “John” according to the message of the angel.
Zechariah could not believe this unexpected message. Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Hearing his response, the angel answered him, “…you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” Zechariah was speechless from that time until John was born. After the birth of John, Zechariah’s song of praising God was recorded in verses 68-75, which contained the prophecy of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.
After that, the angel of the Lord came to Mary with an even more shocking message. Mary was a virgin who was about to be engaged with Joseph. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” She tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son whose name shall be called Jesus. The angel also said this child will be called the Son of the Most High and be given the throne of King David and his kingdom there will be no end.
Then Mary, being honest, asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her again with this explanation, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” The angel informed her that her relative Elizabeth in her old age had also conceived a son. And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Mary even praised God, which has been known as Mary’s Song of Praise.
Zachariah is a priest who served before God at the Temple of Jerusalem. When the angel of the Lord spoke to him, he could not believe that his long-standing prayer was about to be fulfilled. Mary had been just an ordinary woman waiting for her marriage. The angel appeared to Mary with a message that could potentially make her subject to suspicion, doubt, or ridicule. However, she responded with praise letting God’s word be fulfilled.
No matter what kind of ministry you are serving at church, regardless of our roles and abilities, let us humble ourselves and learn from Mary with her obedience to God. Let us come before God every day and remember His words in our hearts. To constantly reflect on God’s words and obey His words willingly. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” When God’s will be done to us in our lives, we will become one of the vessels of God’s work and we will bring all glory and praise to God!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)