Daily December Devotional — Day 19

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:67-75

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and
redeemed them.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David

(as he said through his holy prophets of
long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us –

to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father
Abraham:

to rescue us from the hand of our
enemies
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before
him all our days.”

Today’s Questions:

What does “redeem” mean?

Why did God come to redeem us?

To __________ mercy to our ancestors;

To _______________ his holy covenant;

To _______________ us from the hand of our enemies; and

To _______________ us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness.

Do you live like you have been redeemed – like you have been rescued and like you have been enabled to serve God without fear? Or, do you live like you are still waiting to be rescued and enabled?

Today’s Prayer:

Thank you, Lord God, for coming to redeem us! Thank you that you have redeemed me – that I am now in your hands, bought back, rescued, freed, and able to serve you without fear. Forgive me when I forget and live as if you never came, as if you never purchased me with the blood of Jesus. Forgive me when I act out of fear or wear my old rags instead of the righteousness of Christ. Help me get back on track when I get fuzzy on the mission – to serve you. You redeemed me so that I am able to serve you. I live to serve you, Lord. Use me. Empower me.

Daily December Devotional — Day 18

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:59-66

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

The name “John” means “The Lord is gracious” or “The Lord shows grace.”

Today’s Questions:

Why do you think it was important that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son be named John?

In Luke 1:17 Zechariah was told that John would “bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God” and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” How might understanding or seeing God’s grace make us ready to turn our hearts toward him?

Can you identify the last time you were astonished or awed by an expression of God’s grace in your life? What was your response?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, let me see your grace. Keep my heart ready and free my tongue to praise you. If you need to shut my mouth and make me silent, do it. If you need to bring me low or break my heart, do it, Lord. Do whatever it takes if I turn away from you. Prepare the way by your grace for my return.

Daily December Devotional — Day 13

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:39-45

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Today’s Questions:

What do you make of the fact that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit just after she heard Mary’s greeting and her baby leaped in her womb?

What particular promises during this season of your life do you need to remind yourself to believe the Lord will fulfill?

Is there someone in your life you could encourage because they took a step of faith, believing God for their future, their healing, their material needs, or something else?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, my heart soars as I read the story of Mary and Elizabeth. How blessed they must have felt as you filled them with the Holy Spirit and fulfilled in them so many prophecies spoken hundreds of years before. Thank you that your promises are true. I pray, Father, that you would give me eyes to see the ways you have blessed me and those around me. Help me remember your promises and believe them. How often I forget, or get distracted! Give me words to encourage the people I know who have exercised courage and taken steps of faith in their lives. Please bless their faithfulness.

Daily December Devotional — Day 8

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:34-38

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Today’s Questions:

Compare Gabriel’s response to Mary’s question and his response to Zechariah’s question in Luke 1:18-20. Why and how do you think Gabriel concluded from Zechariah’s question that Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s words, but Mary did believe Gabriel’s words to her?

Why do you think Gabriel told Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy?

Can you identify any words in Scripture that you need to write down or memorize so that you remember “no word from God will ever fail”? What words?

How do you think you would have responded if you were Mary to Gabriel’s description of what was going to happen to her? What does her response reveal about her?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, help me to believe your words, those you speak in Scripture and those you whisper into my heart. When I doubt you, your goodness, your love, your presence, remind me of the ways you have blessed me, loved me, and revealed yourself to me in the past. Help me to respond to you the way Mary did. After all, I too am your servant, and I pray that the words you speak to me are fulfilled, whether they seem impossible, difficult to believe, or contrary to my desires.

Daily December Devotional — Day 5

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:23-25

When [Zechariah’s] time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown me his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

During this time, priests were required to serve for one week at the temple every six months.

Today’s Questions:

What must it have felt like for Zechariah to receive the news that he and his wife would have a son, but then finish out his service time at the temple instead of being able to go home immediately?

How must Zechariah and Elizabeth have responded when they learned that she was pregnant?

How quick am I to attribute good things that happen to me to the Lord’s favor upon me as opposed to my own effort, “good luck,” or coincidence? Does it matter?

As I look back over my life, are there any “disgraces” that I can see God has taken away or from which he has saved me?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, God, I want to be a person who recognizes your favor upon me. I could identify a hundred times you have poured out your favor. There are the unexpected little things you have blessed me with that I can’t imagine you would spend your time on, but you did. There are the impossible things that you accomplished that just make me shake my head and fall to my knees in awe and humility. Oh, and the things you have saved me from, Lord! Some I know, some I’ll never know. Thank you, you have done these things for me. Thank you.

Daily December Devotional — Day 4

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:18-22

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

Today’s Questions:

Why did Zechariah respond the way he did to the angel’s news about his coming son?

Has there been a time in my life when God has spoken to me, either through his Word, another person, or an impression in my spirit? How did I respond?

What words come to mind as I think about what it was like for Zechariah to be unable to speak during the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy?

What would it be like for me to be unable to speak to anyone as I awaited the one thing I’d been wanting my whole life?

Today’s Prayer:

God, I am often just like Zechariah, wanting proof and assurance that it is you at work in a particular circumstance in my life. Help me to know your voice and respond without delay or doubt. I know you are capable of accomplishing the impossible, I have seen it with my own eyes. In the rest of my days, Father, I pray that as I await what you have promised, I turn to you first with every thought, every worry, and every word of thanksgiving.

Daily December Devotional — Day 3

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:11-17

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to [Zechariah], standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Today’s Questions:

What would it have been like for Zechariah to walk into the Most Holy Place for the first and only time in his life and be greeted by an angel of the Lord with the news that he would have a son?

If I had the opportunity, like Zechariah, to enter into the Most Holy Place, would I have prayed as I replaced the incense? What would I have prayed for?

Is there any area in my life in which I am responding with fear? Is it possible that God would say to me, as he did to Zechariah, “Do not be afraid”?

According to the angel, what characteristics would make people prepared for the coming of the Lord?

Today’s Prayer

Father, open my ears to hear you when you speak to me. Dispel all fear from my heart. I trust you. I trust you to do what I believe to be impossible. I trust that you hear every prayer I pray and have ever prayed. The desire of my heart is to be prepared for the day Jesus comes again. Remind me of the wisdom of righteousness and give me the strength to walk according to your ways.