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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Godly Fellowship At Christmas

Day 1: Godly Fellowship At Christmas

Morning Meditation (3-5 Minutes)

Begin by being still before God. Read Psalms 46:20 and meditate on the words.

Psalms 46:10 (NIV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

• Be Still.
o Clear your mind.
o Breathe deeply.
o Sit quietly.

• Know He is God.
o Feel his presence.
o Let his presence envelop you.

• He is exalted among the nations and on the earth.
o Feel his power.
o Surrender to his power.
o Claim his power.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.
Requests of the Christ Child

• Pray for the Christmas season.
o Pray for the Christmas worship services and celebrations in the community.
o Pray for your church and your Christmas celebrations.
o Pray for our Nation during this holiday period.
o List any specific events/concerns that need continued prayers.

• Pray for needs.
o Pray specifically for the people in your lives.
o Pray for your church.
o Tell God your concerns and needs.
o List any specific requests that need continued prayers.

Gifts from the Christ Child
• Think about your blessings this Christmas.
• Praise God for his blessings.
• List your top three blessings.

Gifts to the Christ Child
• Ask God to help develop that gifts given to anyone is a gift to the Christ Child.
• Ask God what gifts he wants you to give this Christmas.
• Prayerfully, fill it any gifts you plan to purchase between now and Christmas.

Ask for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out.

Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

Christmas is a time for fellowship. We fellowship with God, families, friends, and our church. God tells us, “It is not good for you to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Healthy loving hearts need fellowship. If we fellowship with God and open our eyes and look around, God will send us people with whom to have deep and intimate fellowship. We read his word to learn about Godly fellowship.

Background Scripture
The background Scripture is Luke 1:1-56. Open your Bibles to the familiar passage. Today’s devotion studies the fellowship between the two Godly women God chose to begin the very first Christmas. We will study how Mary and Elizabeth fellowshipped with God and each other. We will study the following aspects of their fellowship: Love, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus Christ.

God chose two very unlikely women. Elizabeth was too old to have a child. Mary was too young and innocent to have a child. They were both a “disgrace” by their world’s standards. Elizabeth’s disgrace had been her barrenness. Mary’s disgrace was that she became pregnant before she married.

Our Holy God loves to do the unexpected. The world judged them unworthy. God judged them most worthy. He chose Elizabeth to bear the son that would tell the world about the Christ Child. He chose Mary to bear His son.

Background - Elizabeth
Read Luke 1:5-7. Elizabeth had been married for many years to Zechariah. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were descendents of priests. They lived blameless lives. Zechariah was faithful to his priestly calling. Their religion taught them that children were blessings from God. People assumed the inability to have children was a sign of God’s punishment. Elizabeth and Zechariah were most likely the subject of gossip and/or questions. How do you think Elizabeth felt about being barren?

Read Luke 1:25: Elizabeth desperately wanted children. She pleaded with God and had faith he would answer. She waited and most likely held her breath each month. She probably felt shame and disgrace over her barrenness as the years progressed. Miraculously, God finally answered her prayers. How does she feel now?

Read Luke 1:16-17: God had planned her blessing for years. He gave more than she asked. Her child was special. What was her son’s purpose?

Background - Mary
Mary was a young woman with the same dreams that other young women had. She was faithful to God. We see from her questions to the angel that she was intelligent, confident, and faithful. She was a woman of honor and purity. Mary was engaged to a kind Jewish man named Joseph. She expected to follow in the footsteps of the faithful people that had taught her how to live and love.

Read Luke 1:29-31 and Luke 1:12-13: Again, God does the unexpected. An angel named Gabriel appeared to her, changing her plans. Gabriel had been very busy. He had also visited Zachariah, announcing Elizabeth’s pregnancy. What would your reaction be to a visit from an angel? Not surprising, Gabriel frightened both Zachariah and Mary. We can only hope Gabriel does not take our reactions personally. He seems to be used to the reactions because he had his response ready.

Read Luke 1:34: Gabriel told Mary that she was going to bear the son of God. Mary’s parents had obviously told her the “facts of life.” Why was Mary confused?

Read Luke 1:38: In the end, she humbly accepted the will of God. She even rejoiced in the news. What was her answer?

One can only imagine the conversation with Mary’s mother. “An angel said what?” Mary must have been tempted to ask Gabriel to come back and explain this situation to her mother. We do know that Mary left her home in a hurry. (Luke 1:39)

Read Luke 1:43-44: Mary went straight to Elizabeth’s house. Here we have one of the most beautiful demonstrations of love that is recorded in the Bible. These women shared their faith and joy. They quoted scripture and worshipped God as they talked. They encouraged one another. Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary’s arrival. What did she say to Mary?

Baby John was not going to be left out. What did he do?

Holy Spirit
Read Luke 1:41-42: True Godly fellowship includes the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Because the Holy Sprit was a part of their relationship, Elizabeth understood the situation before Mary even told her.

God, The Father
Read Luke 1:46-47: True fellowship includes worship of the Holy Father. Mary and Elizabeth praised God together as they sang and quoted scriptures. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savor.” Enjoy the words of their worship service.

Read Luke 1:42: The final piece of true fellowship is Jesus Christ. Jesus was the point of Mary and Elizabeth’s fellowship. What were Elizabeth’s words to Mary?

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1) Making It Personal
a) List the people with whom you will fellowship the most this Christmas. (write your answer)
b) Whom do you love? (write your answer)
c) With whom do you share Godly fellowship? Which relationships include the presence of the Holy Spirit, worship of God the Father, and the love of Jesus Christ? (write your answer)
d) Which relationships need improvement? (write your answer)
e) Ask God to help you improve your relationships.
f) What can you do to improve your relationships? (write your answer)
g) If you are lonely and need more fellowship, write a letter asking God to meet your needs. Ask God to send you one new person today. (write your answer)

2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a) Pray for those closest to you at lunch, dinner, and at bedtime:
b) Tell at least one friend how important they are to you.
c) Look for his answers throughout the day.

Ending Each Day With God

a) Ask God to help you with your fellowship with him and those closest to you.
b) How was your fellowship on this 1st day of the Christmas season?
c) Confess your failures and claim your victories.
d) Decide to apologize the next day, if necessary.
e) Praise God for his fellowship this Christmas.

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