My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46–47
Sitting in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful display of sixty-seven mosaics containing the words of Luke 1:46–55 in as many languages. Traditionally known as the Magnificatfrom the Latin “to magnify,” these verses are Mary’s joyous response to the announcement that she will be the mother of the Messiah.
Each plaque contains Mary’s words, including: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . . . For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (vv. 46–49). The biblical hymn etched in the tiles is a song of praise as Mary recounts the faithfulness of God to her and the nation of Israel.
A grateful recipient of God’s grace, Mary rejoices in her salvation (v. 47). She acknowledges that God’s mercy has extended to the Israelites for generations (v. 50). Looking back over God’s care for the Israelites, Mary praises God for His powerful acts on behalf of His people (v. 51). She also thanks God, recognizing that her daily provision comes from His hand (v. 53).
Mary shows us that recounting the great things God has done for us is a way to express praise and can lead us to rejoice. This Christmas season, consider God’s goodness as you reflect on the year. In doing so, you may create a mosaic of great beauty with your words of praise.
Father, we praise You for the great things You’ve done in our lives this year. We rejoice in Your mercy and care for us.
Make a list of the ways God has blessed you this year and reflect on it in silence. Then share stories of His goodness with someone.
The birth of Jesus was a miracle because the Holy Spirit formed the body of Jesus in the womb of a young virgin girl. That this information comes to us from Luke is significant, because Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) and understood the audacity of the claims of Jesus’s virgin conception and birth. But Luke first tells of another miraculous conception that predated Jesus by six months—that of John the Baptist (Luke 1:24–26). By human standards, his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were too old to have a baby (vv. 7, 18). But in both the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist we see the working of God for whom nothing is impossible (v. 37 nasb).
For more, see Mary and Joseph: Reflecting on the Wonder of Christmas at discoveryseries.org/hp074.
2 Timothy 4:9-18
A disappointing friendship is one area of life that causes great distress. Companionship is one of our essential needs, and when friends fail us, we feel wounded, rejected, and alone. We’ve probably all experienced this to one degree or another, and the apostle Paul was no exception.
Although he’d surrounded himself with friends and had sacrificed greatly to take the gospel throughout the Roman world, when Paul neared the end of his life, he was basically alone. As he spent his last days in prison, only Luke was with him.
Some of the apostle’s friends were ministering in other parts of the world, but others, like Demas, had deserted him. When Paul stood at his preliminary trial, no one supported him. In fact, everyone had abandoned him. To associate with Paul at this point was risky.
It would have been understandable for Paul to complain about friends who’d let him down in his time of need. But instead, he displayed a forgiving spirit by saying, “May it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). Although betrayal or abandonment hurts, we will never heal if we yield to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is our only solution.
Like Paul, we need an eternal perspective when facing disappointment. Nothing comes into our life without first passing through the hands of our heavenly Father, and no experience of ours is wasted. His ways may not make sense to us, but He uses every painful situation to accomplish His will in our life—and He’ll walk through it with us.
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)
Every genuine Christian knows that part of the salvation gift is the promise of being made “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). We sometimes have trouble, however, with the concept of present-tense holiness in our everyday lifestyles.
John speaks of the abiding Christian who “sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Indeed, such a Christian “doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9) because, John notes, the “seed” of God “remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Furthermore, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).
It’s accurate to translate those passages with the “continuing” implication of the Greek structure (i.e. “does not continue in [the practice of] sin,” etc.). However, the emphasis is on an obvious, continuous, clearly embraced lifestyle of righteous living!
The visible transformation from a worldly conformity (Romans 12:2) begins with a desire for “the sincere milk of [God’s] word” (1 Peter 2:2), fashioning ourselves after God’s holiness “in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:14-15). Neither are we to let sin reign in our bodies, but we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). HMM III
Here we have a letter to a lady and her godly family, towards whom John felt a fervent Christian affection. Her name we do not know, nor is it of any consequence, for the epistle will suit any believing household.
2 John 1:1, 2
John in his private letter does not mention that he is an apostle, but writes more familiarly as an elder of the church. The lady to whom he wrote was known to many, and beloved by all who loved the truth. The best and purest love arises out of common attachment to the gospel. Happy is that household which has gained the love of the saints by its zeal for God.
2 John 1:3
Such a blessing may the Lord pronounce on this family, and we shall be rich indeed.
2 John 1:4
The venerable old mans heart was more comforted by seeing family religion than by all else below the skies. How good and how pleasant it is to see a household loving the Lord.
2 John 1:5
John harps sweetly on this string. Being so aged a man none would misunderstand his affectionate words.
2 John 1:6
Obedience to Christ is love. “Be ye holy” is the most ancient rubric of the church; all lovers of God obey it.
2 John 1:7
The world is bad enough, but deceivers come into it from Satan, and try to make it worse by their errors. Modern scepticism is by some praised and petted, but it is to be abhorred by all who abide in the truth.
2 John 1:8
Faithful ministers fear lest their converts should disappoint them by not remaining firm in the truth. If they go over to error their ministers have laboured in vain.
2 John 1:10, 11
As he who aids and abets a thief cannot be an honest man, so he who encourages a false teacher is a sharer in his crime.
2 John 1:12
There are words of warning which are better spoken than written. In some cases it is wise even to make a journey to warn friends against insidious error.
Oh that near the cross abiding,
We may to the Saviour cleave!
Nought with him our hearts dividing,
All for him content to leave.
May we still the cross discerning,
To our Lord for comfort go;
And new wonders daily learning,
More of Jesus’ fulness know.
Walk in the light, so shalt thou know
That fellowship of love
His Spirit only can bestow,
Who reigns in light above.
Walk in the light, and sin abhorr’d
Shall ne’er defile again;
The blood of Jesus Christ thy Lord
Shall cleanse from every stain.
Walk in the light, and thou shalt own
Thy darkness passed away;
Because that light hath on thee shone,
In which is perfect day.
They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty. (Revelation 4:8)
It is surely an erroneous supposition for humans to think or to believe that death will transform our attitude and dispositions.
This is what I mean: if in this life we are not really comfortable talking and singing about heaven and its joy, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts! If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now, they will be tedious also after the hour of death.
I do not know that God is going to force any of us into His heaven. I doubt that He will say to any of us, “You were never very interested in worshiping Me while you were on earth, but in heaven I am going to make that your greatest interest and your ceaseless occupation.”
Perhaps, but in the heavenly scene John describes, the living creatures crying “Holy, holy, holy!” rest neither day nor night. My fear is that too many of God’s professing people down here are resting far too often between their efforts to praise and glorify the living God!
“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” Isa. 2:4
Oh, that these happy times were come! At present the nations are heavily armed, and are inventing weapons more and more terrible, as if the chief end of man could only be answered by destroying myriads of his fellows. Yet peace will prevail one day; yes, and so prevail that the instruments of destruction shall be beaten into other shapes and used for better purposes.
How will this come about? By trade? By civilization? By arbitration? We do not believe it. Past experience forbids our trusting to means so feeble. Peace will be established only by the reign of the Prince of Peace. He must teach the people by His Spirit, renew their hears by His grace, and reign over them by His supreme power, and then will they cease to wound and kill. Man is a monster when once his blood is up, and only the Lord Jesus can turn this lion into a lamb. By changing man’s heart, his blood-thirsty passions are removed. Let every reader of this book of promises offer special prayer today to the Lord and Giver of Peace, that He would speedily put an end to war, and establish concord over the whole world.