Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel

Zechariah makes an important point most folks miss.

Luke 1:67-80 (ESV)

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

My favorite devotional is “Search the Scriptures” published by Intervarsity Press. It takes you through the Bible in three years – which seems a more productive pace than reading through the Bible in a single year. For each day’s reading, they provide a few questions to meditate on. They do not provide the answers.

I found their questions for this passage, known as Zechariah’s Song, to be especially penetrating.

What, according to this song, is the purpose of salvation? Is this your experience?

“Search the Scriptures” has been in print since 1949. It’s still widely available.

The genius of Search the Scriptures is the way it counts on the Holy Spirit to illuminate each student individually. By providing questions but leaving out the answers, it stimulates deeper study and meditation.

The genius of how the local church works is the same. It provides resources and leadership but the Holy Spirit provides the growth. Church leaders don’t control, only shepherd. So how can we help that?

One of the principle ways that church members can help build their church is though the local fellowship groups. They are key “growth centers,” where iron sharpens iron and the Holy Spirit deepens fellowship and discipleship.

First off, we need to lift up the group leaders in prayer. Pray for the leaders as they prepare lessons – that they will be kept from error. Pray for the members – that they will engage the lessons and pursue deeper understanding.

Secondly, consider how you can contribute. This is how many people grow in ways they never expected. If you’ve never led a study, you may get encourage to lead one. Don’t resist this.

Just because you can’t imagine yourself in a different role, doesn’t mean God isn’t planning that.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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