Luke 1:41

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:41

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Luke 1:41

After her visit from Gabriel, Mary prepared herself to visit Elizabeth who lived in the hill county of Judea. “Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40.  She was anxious to visit her relative in order to see what the Lord has done for her.  Gabriel told her that Elizabeth would conceive a son in her old age. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” Luke 1:36. In fact, as noted in the verse 36, she has been pregnant for the last six months.  What an opportunity to see the hand of God working in Elizabeth’s life, which could well give evidence that what the angel said is true for her as well.

When Elizabeth heard Mary, a couple amazing things happened.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:41.  First, the baby within her leaped in her womb.  This baby, who would be named John, responded to the fact that the Messiah, who was now in the womb of Mary, was nearby.  This, I believe, was on account of the second event, which was the infilling of Elizabeth by the Holy Spirit.  However, it was not just Elizabeth who was filled by the Holy Spirit.  Back when Zechariah, a priest in Israel, was performing his priestly duties, he was visited by an angel who prophesied saying, “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14. And now the next verse.  “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:15. Not only was Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, so was John, and this was why he leaped in the womb.

Then Elizabeth, after being filled by the Spirit. Prophesies over Mary.  “And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  Luke 1:42. She declares that Mary is blessed of the Lord, and the baby in her as well. Then she reveals something that only God could have told her.  “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:43-45.  She was not there when the angle talked to her, and there was no way Mary could have sent a message to her this quickly.  For she knew that the Lord had told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah.

Then Mary spoke out in praise and gave glory to God.  “And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55.  What a great declaration of the mighty and great works done by God.  Mary, after all this, remained with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. What is worth noting here is that God not only told Mary, and previously to Zechariah and Elizabeth, what was going to happen, but He also gave them evidence of what He declared.  And God will do the same for us when required.  He did this via the first meeting between John the Baptist and the Messiah, when both were in their respective wombs.  God always make clear to all what He is going to do, and what He has already done in the lives of His people.  It is up to us to accept and believe what He tells us.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Ephesians 4:30

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 4:30 

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30     

I want to begin this discussion by illustrating the concept of grief.  First, we grieve when someone we love passes away.  This past January, I received a call from my aunt that my mother had died.  She had been ill for some time; however, it finally took its toll.  I had been separated from her for years, with her living in Washington State and myself residing on the U.S. east coast.  But our separation grew as she refused to talk with me: and it seems this was due to mental and physical issues that affected her behavior.  I flew up there for the funeral, and I learned that she had broken off communications with practically the entire family.  However, I was saddened by this, and it was nice to speak with family and old friends who comforted me.

However, there is a second type of grieving that can be just as difficult.  The best way to describe this is through an example.  A father is called down to the school by his son’s teacher.  She informs him that her son has become very unruly.  He steals from other students, and fights with many causing much injury to them.  He brings him home and tells him he is angry at him for all this bad behavior.  However, because he loves him so much, it hurts him so much to hear about all his son has done.  He is grieving over knowing who his son has become. 

This second example shows how we grieve the Holy Spirit.  I love the way Charles Spurgeon puts it, and I think this describes it wonderfully.  “for grief is a sweet combination of anger and of love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense.”  (From the Sermon “Grieving the Holy Spirit” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, October 09, 1859).  God loves us so much that it grieves Him to see us acting in ways He has taught us not to engage in.  And just as the father loved his son, who did horrible things in school, did not reject him, neither will God reject us.  We may reject Him and walk away, but He will not reject us.   

Isaiah describes an example of this.  “For He said, “Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely.” So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy, He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.” Isaiah 63:8-10.  God, who declared Israel his people saved them, and in His love, declared them His people.  But then they rebelled against Him, grieving the Holy Spirit.  After this, they remembered His mercy of old and they cried out to God.  “Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation: Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.” Isaiah 63:15. And how did God answer?  “Thus says the LORD, “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’ So I will act on behalf of My servants in order not to destroy all of them.”  Isaiah 65:8 Those who remember and come back, God would act on their behalf.

When we purposefully act in ways that are found in Ephesians 4:25-29, we grieve the Holy Spirit, just as Israel did in the above example in Isaiah.  We must remember that because the Holy Spirit enters us at salvation, we are sealed by Him through the Holy Spirit.  “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9 and because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have the possibility of grieving Him.  However, He loves us so much, He will work to bring us back to the relationship we had before we grieved Him.  He has not rejected us, but if we do not repent and become who God has called us to be, we will have rejected Him.  I encourage you, and pray heartily for everyone including myself, that we give ourselves wholly and completely to God, desiring to be who He wants us to be, and committing to live a life of complete obedience to God.  This will help us be pleasing to God and refrain from grieving Him.  It is a beautiful way to live and honor the God who created us, loves us, and saved us so we can be with Him for all eternity.  What more could we possibly desire?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.