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Bible Study 1 Saying Yes to God – Luke 1:26-38
1. The only thing that Luke tells us initially about Mary is that she was ‘highly favoured’. In the Greek, this mean can two things:
i) God bestowed on her great grace in being chosen to bear His Son.
ii) It could also mean that she was charming and graceful of character.
2. The word for ‘perplexed’ means very anxious, troubled in mind. Throughout the Old Testament, the visitation of an angel was often distressing as in Daniel 10:4-11.
3.This was a technique Jesus used with the Pharisees in particular, when he turned their questioning of Himself into His questioning of them. It is the right of God to ask the questions as Judge and Teacher.
9. Miracles are evidence of a supernatural God. This opens up possibilities beyond our range of thinking as answers to prayer. It is important not to limit God by a refusal to see that sometimes God answers in strange and supernatural ways.
Bible Study 2 Mary’s Prayer – Luke 1:46-55
2. Mary was here remembering all the good things God had done for Israel when He had defeated their enemies so many times throughout their history. This was in response to God’s part of the covenant that He made with Abraham.
3. This is praise for what God has done for her, but also for the all the nation of Israel.
4. When a person praises God, they are speaking truth insofar as they are giving God the glory, not themselves.
5. Note our definition of ‘good’ is not always the same as God’s definition of ‘good!
6. It reminds us of how God works for the rescue of individuals and people groups, though this may not always come in the way expected.
7. One of Satan’s most powerful tactics is to make a person feel proud because of what they think they have accomplished, whereas Praise dispels the lie and puts the thanks back on God as source.
8. A sacrifice in the Old Testament was the very best a person could give. It is easier to give something you don’t really want to keep, it is much harder to give the ‘best’ you really want to keep. So praise is sometimes very hard because it is not easy, in the midst of suffering, to still acknowledge God as good, as Lord and as Deliverer when you see nothing and when feeling self-pity seems more appropriate.
Bible Study 3 Gifts Given - 1 Corinthians 12
1. These gifts are not given initially for personal advancement, but for the good of the Church. Hence, when considering our own ‘gifts’ of the Spirit our first thought should be concerning how they can be used in the service of our local fellowship.
2. God is an impartial judge, He treats all humankind with the same respect. Hence someone who gets much acclaim for their gifts (of singing, for example), will thereby get more praise than those who have no great gift. Paul tells us to rectify that situation and honour the ‘weaker parts’ even more, so they will be made to feel loved and cared for too.
3. The ‘more excellent way’ is that of God’s love (agape) which is met in 1 Corinthians 13. It is more excellent because it asks people to be like God in every way, not just in service, for God in His very essence is ‘love’.
6. It was when Jesus was ‘bruised for our transgressions’ (Isaiah 53:5), that he accomplished the salvation for which He was sent.
9. Loving others often means sacrificing our own desires in favour of another.
‘Taking up our cross and following Christ’ involves saying ‘no’ to ourselves and ‘yes’ to God. That can be a very painful road to take at times.