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A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this study…I want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.
“He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
Mary in Luke 1:49 (NET)
Do you long to come home—the place of love, companionship, rest, peace, and security? Perhaps this is the kind of home you can only long for, never having been able to enjoy such a place here on earth. Picture a home where Jesus waits for you. Will you choose to spend time there with Him? Although salvation is a free gift that we can never lose, believers do not always enjoy the blessings of being at home with Jesus on this earth. As you read His story, drink in His presence and enjoy His beauty, the beauty of God Himself. It is possible to come home while we wait to go “home”!
This week we look at Jesus’ early life and preparation for ministry. Although our lesson is long, covering more than three chapters of the book of Luke, the stories will be familiar to you. Attempt to read them as if you were reading them for the first time. Put yourself in the places of the characters. See the sights and smell the scents of first century Israel. Focus on God, and come home to all that He is!
Read Luke 1:1-4.
1. Luke outlines his reason, or purpose for writing this book here in the preface. What is it?
2. The NIV and the NET translations of the Bible use the word “fulfilled” in v. 1 where the NASB uses the word “accomplished”. What does the word fulfilled suggest about the events that Luke relates in his book?
Read Luke 1:5-25.
3. What prophecies are given to Zechariah about his son (vv. 13-17)?
4. How would you have felt if you were Zechariah? Why?
Read Luke 1:26-56.
5. What qualities do you see in Mary as you read through this passage? What does the text say that leads you to these insights about her?
Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-56, often interpreted as poetic or hymnic, are traditionally called the Magnificat, from the Latin for “My soul magnifies the Lord,” the first line of the song. Our memory verse this week is from Mary’s psalm. Begin to memorize it now.
6.Sharing question:Sometimes God asks us to take on difficult assignments, just as He did Mary. Life situations such as broken families, difficult employers, or failing health challenge our faith. There are times when God brings trials, which are not caused by our own mistakes or sins, into our lives. God does this for a reason, just as He asked Mary to be pregnant outside of marriage in order to bless the whole world. Share with your group a difficult situation from the past or one which you are experiencing right now that you did not bring about through your own doing. What do you learn from Mary’s example that could have helped you?
7.Responding to God: Write a prayer of praise based upon Mary’s psalm. In it, deal with a specific situation that you are facing today. Drink in the beauty of the Lord’s character, and see yourself at home with Him.
Read Luke 1:57-80.
Zechariah’s praise psalm is called the “Benedictus”, from the Latin of the first line.
8. Focus on 1:78-79. Describe Zechariah’s beliefs about what God would do for His people through the Messiah.
Read Luke 2:1-20, the often told story of Jesus’ birth.
9. Trace the various emotions of the shepherds from vv. 8-20. They were the first people to announce the Messiah’s birth.1
Read Luke 2:21-40.
10. What insights do these verses give you about Joseph and Mary?
11.Sharing Question:What one quality do you see in either Simeon or Anna that you need in your life? What can you do to strengthen that area?
12. What truths about Jesus did God reveal to Simeon and Anna?
Read Luke 2:41-52.
13. How would you have felt in Joseph and Mary’s situation both before and after they found Jesus?
14.Sharing question:Share one situation from the past or present with your group in which you experienced anxiety or unbelief because you didn’t understand God’s plan.
15.Responding to God:Write a prayer asking God to help you focus on His hope and His promises when your emotions and circumstances tempt you to unbelief. If you are dealing with such a situation currently, mention it specifically. God is waiting for you to come home to Him in faith.
Read Luke 3:1-20.
16. Describe John the Baptist’s preaching.
17. Write a definition of true repentance as you understand it from John’s message.
18. Read John 1:19-28. From Luke and John’s accounts of John the Baptist, what do you learn about his character?
19. How does the emphasis in John the Baptist’s message prepare the way of the Lord, fulfilling the prophecy quoted from Isaiah 40:3-5?
20.Sharing question:What one area of your life is not prepared for Jesus’ entrance so that you can truly be at home with Him? You may be refusing Him access so that you can run things as you please or simply because you think you can handle it. Perhaps you are harboring unforgiveness or bitterness against someone who mistreated you. It may be that you are gossiping about a friend or employer behind her back. Perhaps you are fearful about the future because you want it to be your way rather than trusting God for His way. Whatever it is, share your struggle. You may want to write the struggle down as your prayer request to share with your small group.
21.Responding to God:Write a prayer based upon the struggle that you mentioned in the last question. Confess anything that is sin and open your heart and yield this area to the coming of Jesus’ rule in your life so that you may truly know what it means to come home.
Read Luke 3:23-38, Jesus’ genealogy.
Read Luke 4:1-13.
22. Why did Jesus go into the wilderness to be tempted?
23. How did Jesus’ temptation, at this and other times in His life, prepare Him for ministry according to Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-15?
24.Sharing question:Share about a time of testing or temptation that God clearly brought into your life. Nothing you did put you in the situation. It may involve the temptation not to trust God or to reject Him.
Jesus was vulnerable to the first temptation because He had been fasting. The NET Bible comments:2
The reference to Jesus eating nothing could well be an idiom meaning that he ate only what the desert provided; see Exod 34:28. A desert fast simply meant eating only what one could obtain in the desert. The parallel in Matt 4:2 speaks only of Jesus fasting.
I find that fatigue can be a huge factor when I sin with anger, impatience, or speaking when I should have kept my mouth shut. Also, I am more prone to sin in my own areas of weakness, just as you are. Such things as materialism, pride, or the desire for love can open us up to temptation.
25.Sharing question:In what situations are you more vulnerable to temptation? How can being aware of these areas of vulnerability help you overcome temptation? What can you do to protect yourself from areas where you are more vulnerable to sin?
26. In your own words, describe the three temptations of Jesus recorded in the Scriptures.
27.Responding to God:Pray Luke 11:4c for those areas of your life that are vulnerable.
Today we continue looking at Jesus’ temptations—as well as our own. We have seen that His victory over temptation prepared Him for areas of His ministry.
Reread Luke 4:1-13.
28. What kind of response did Jesus give in every temptation? What does this teach you?
29. Read Ephesians 6:10-19 and answer these questions:
a. What part does God’s word have in resisting the enemy?
b. What other principles do you learn from this metaphor of armor about your own spiritual battles?
30. Often we are vulnerable to temptation when we stray from “home.” What principles of spiritual warfare do you learn as you look at 1 Peter 5:5-11? Although every verse does not mention the enemy, that is the context and it covers many ways that we leave home and become open to attack.
31. What parallels do you see in James 4:1-10?
32.Sharing question:Share with your group how one temptation that you have overcome has helped prepare you to serve God and His people.
33.Responding to God:Considering the principles that you saw in Ephesians, 1 Peter, and James, what specific action can you take to better stand against temptation? Write out a prayer asking for God’s strength to follow through.
The story that follows is Deborah’s true story of overcoming temptation by the power of God. I so appreciate the women who chose to share their struggles and temptations with you through this study. As you read these stories each week, think through how the principles of the lesson apply to the situation. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I did!
Although I came to faith at 13, some years after college I spent time playing by my own rules. After I prayed for spiritual direction, God surrounded me at work with Christians that were praying for me. I wasn't too concerned about what they thought of my relationships because their judgment would be on their head not mine. Then one day God made it abundantly clear to me that the relationship I had with this man I was seeing was wrong. I would have to give him up. It was difficult. I had an index card next to the phone that said, "No, I won't see you again." When he called I read the card. When he would try to convince me otherwise I knew that he didn't understand what kind of spiritual relationship I had buried within my heart. It felt so good to be home spiritually. There were many unresolved issues but I had to believe that since the Father had not abandoned me he would take me the rest of the way home.
Fifteen years have passed. This fall I had an opportunity to share with some women my journey. I wasn't proud of what I had done but was amazed by God's forgiveness and grace. I believe that sharing my experience opened the door for some women to share their burdens with me. They too are seeking God's will. I now pray for these women regularly. I consider it now a blessing to be able to share how patient and how far the Father will go to reach one of his own.
1 Messiah is the Hebrew word for the Greek word Christ. Both mean “anointed one.”
2 NET Bible: New English Translation, Second Beta Edition, (Biblical Studies Press L.L.C.), Note 15, p. 1803.