Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent Bible study: The Road to Christmas, Week 2

I've just completed the second week of the Advent Bible study "The Road to Christmas" from Love God Greatly.  As I mentioned last week, the focus of the study is on some of the women who were included in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1.  This week's study deals with Rahab and then, later in the week, with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I may have gotten something quite different out of this study than others, but I did find that it challenged me to greater obedience to the Lord.  In the verses which I SOAPed regarding Rahab (Joshua 6:17, 22-23, and 25), the city of Jericho was about to be destroyed.  Everyone in the city would die, all but one family.  This was the family of Rahab the harlot, who had hid the men Joshua sent to spy out the city ahead of time.  They agreed to spare Rahab and her family when the city was taken, and instructed her to bind a scarlet cord in the window of her house and to be sure all her family was there in the house with her.  As these verses describe, Joshua sent the spies to Rahab's house before the battle to bring her and her family out to a place of safety.

Here is the application I got from this passage:  The spies had spelled out exactly what Rahab had to do to be sure she and her family would be saved when the city was destroyed.   She needed to bring her family into the house with her, and she needed to bind the scarlet cord in the window. 

In the same way, God spells out exactly what we must do to be saved.  He then gives us explicit instructions for living the Christian life.  We must follow His directions, first to be sure of salvation and then to walk with Him.  Obedience is of utmost importance if we are to experience God's richest blessings!

And then Friday, I SOAPed verses from Luke 1 -- verses 34-38, detailing part of Mary's conversation with the Angel Gabriel.  He explained to this young girl that she had found favor with God and would become the mother of God's Son.  Mary's first response was a simple logistical question.  How could this possibly be?  The angel explained that this miraculous conception would be the work of God's Holy Spirit.  He then gave Mary the news that her aged, childless cousin Elisabeth was also miraculously pregnant.  He reminded Mary that nothing is impossible with God.

These answers:
1.  The Holy Spirit will do this;
2.  Nothing is impossible with God
were all that Mary needed.  Her swift response was: "I am the Lord's handmaid.  Be it unto me as you have said."

Here is how I applied these verses to my own life:  Mary's willing obedience, at such a young age, is such a rebuke to me!  So many times I question why things happen,  or I hold back from complete obedience.  I fail to see God's hand in my circumstances.

From Mary's response and from her song that follows in verses 46-55, we see that Mary knew God's Word well.  Her song is filled with Old Testament references and is reminiscent of Hannah's song in 1 Samuel. 

Unlike Mary, I am blessed to have all of God's Word at my fingertips.  Like Mary, I have much of it hidden in my heart.   God is using His Word to help me grow continually in my understanding of His character and attributes.  And so, I really have no reason not to have a heart of willing obedience similar to Mary's.  I know God would have me to do so -- and I know He will enable me to do so!

Are you doing an Advent Bible study this December?  If so, please leave a comment and share some of what you are learning!

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