THINK: When people are trying to prove a case - like in court - what kinds of evidence do they look for? When people are confirming a story for a news article or non-fiction book, what sources do they value most? Ideally, they look for eye-witnesses who can provide a first-hand account of events and confirm facts surrounding these events. Only then can they assemble the most complete and accurate story. As all of the Holy Spirit-inspired authors of Scripture, Luke did just that when he wrote his account of the good news - the Gospel - of Jesus. As a result, his is the Bible's most comprehensive and extensive record of Jesus' unique life and powerful ministry. (For further details, see the Introduction to Luke, p. 1379.)
RESPOND: Why is it important that the biblical record of Jesus' life and ministry is based on carefully investigated eye-witness accounts (cf. v. 2-3)? In what ways had Zechariah and Elizabeth demonstrated faithfulness and devotion to God? In what ways would John's birth and life be unique? (See John 1:15 notes.) In what ways would John help turn people to God and prepare them for God's purposes? (See 1:17 notes.) Why is the relationship between fathers and children so important? (See 1:17 second note.) What does this indicate about God's intentions for the family unit? What are a father's responsibilities in regard to his children?
PRAY: Give God thanks for making His Word available to you. Pray that your heart will always accept God's purposes, regardless of how impossible they may seem. Also, ask God to strengthen your family relationships.
ACT: Talk to someone about your first-hand experience with Jesus. Also, do something deliberate and practical to enhance your relationship with a family member - preferably for your father or mother, if that is possible. Show them proper respect and do what they ask of you. But you may also help a brother or sister with a task or write a personal note of appreciation to family members.
THINK: How do you think you would have responded if an angel appeared to you with the news he brought to Mary? Would you have believed and accepted the message? Scholars and historians speculate that Mary was a young woman - likely still a teen - when the angel brought this message to her. Age is not an issue with God. Throughout the Bible you can read numerous accounts of God revealing His message to people in their youth. And some of the greatest missions of faith were accomplished by youth. God still works like that today.
RESPOND: What was Joseph and Mary's relationship at the time the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary? (See John 1:27 note.) What did the angel mean when he said that Mary was "highly favored" (v. 27) and that she had "found favor with God" (v. 30)? (See 1:27 note.) What does it mean that God's Son would also be King David's son? (See 1:32 note.) As a virgin, how would Mary conceive a son? (See 1:35 note.) What would this mean for the child who would be born (cf. v. 35)? What does Mary's response to the angel tell us about her? (See 1:38 note.) Who inspired Elizabeth's blessing on Mary (cf. v. 41)? According to Mary's song (vv. 46-55), whom does the Lord bring down and whom does He lift up (cf. vv. 51-52)? What do Mary's word's in this passage reveal about her personally in relation to God? (See 1:47 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you live in such a way that you "find favor" with Him. Pray that you remain humble and dependent on Him through times of both blessing and suffering. Ask God to help you take Him at His Word.
ACT: Has God asked you to do something which you have not yet done? Perhaps He has shown you something directly from His Word but you've not take it at face value and acted upon it. Ask God to forgive you for a lack of faith, then take immediate action. If there is any area of life in which you've harbored ungodly pride, ask God to help you learn and demonstrate humility. Try writing your own song of blessing and praise to God.