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Screenshots and notes/questions from tonight’s lesson:

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Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.  Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
Luke 1:1-4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.1-4.NLT

Luke 1:1-4 Review
What was Luke’s purpose for writing this as described in verses 3&4?
The name Theophilus means “the one who loves God”. That is the commandment Christ gives us to fulfill, to love God. Do you think this book was just written to someone in history, or was it written to Christians?
Was it written to you? Are you the one who loves God?
Would people recognize that about you to describe you that way?

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Luke 1:5-7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.5-7.NLT

Luke 1:5-7 Review
Who is Zechariah?
What is his wife’s name?
How many people do you think are “righteous in God’s eyes”?
The Pharisees were also careful to obey the commandments and regulations, but Christ rebukes them in Matthew 23. What do you think is the difference?
What is the difference between outward compliance and inward obedience?
Does God keep a tally of our outward actions, or does He weigh our hearts?
If they were righteous in God’s eyes, why was Elizabeth barren, a thing considered shameful in their day and time?

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One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
Luke 1:8-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.8-14.NLT

Luke 1:8-14 Review
How uncommon is it for an angel of the Lord to appear before men?
Do you realize that it had been 400 years since the words of the last prophet Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, that the great prophets and signs and wonders had all but ceased within the nation of Israel. Looking at the last two verses of the Old Testament in Malachi 4:5-6, why do you think this was the time for such a thing to happen?
What was Zacchariah’s immediate reaction?
Do you think that if He was “righteous in the eyes of God”, that his fear was of punishment, or was the type of reverent fear and trembling that comes from knowing our position relative to an Almighty God?
What were the angels first words to him?
“Being afraid” paralyzes us, but reverent fear off God pushes us into changes in our actions – conviction and repentance. How often do we have to be reminded not to be afraid?

for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.  And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
Luke 1:15-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.15-17.NLT

Luke 1:15-17 Review
Why do you think he wasn’t supposed to drink?
Read Numbers 6:1-8. Do you think there is value to the world through the testimony of someone who is set aside for the Lord’s use?
Read 1 Peter 2:4-12. Do you believe that you have a purpose and a value to be set apart for the Lord’s use?
Do you remember the last two verses of the Old Testament Malachi 4:5-6? How does this prophesy from 400 years prior compliment verse 17?
How does this compliment what Christ will say about John over 30 years later in Matthew 17:10-12?

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Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
Luke 1:18-22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.18-22.NLT

Luke 1:18-22 Review
Who did we say earlierthat Zacchariah was?
Do you think that he had the head knowledge to understand the power and capabilities of God?
What was his immediate response? Clarity and belief? Or confusion and doubt?
What was the angel’s reaction? A merciful kiss or a instructional rebuke?

When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Luke 1:23-25 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.23-25.NLT

Luke 1:23-25 Review
Read Genesis 30:22-24. How does Elizabeth’s reaction mirror Rachel’s?
How does her response differ from her husband’s?
Read Genesis 18:1-15. How do Zacchariah & Elizabeth’s reactions differ from Abraham and Sarah’s?

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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail. ” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.26-38.NLT

Luke 1:26-38 Review
How does this parallel Gabriel’s meeting with Zacchariah? What is different?
In reaction to Mary’s confusion and fear, what does Gabriel say?
Mary is just a poor commoner, not a trained priest, when she similarly asks “How can this be” why do you think Gabriel’s resolve was different from the one to Zacchariah?
Does verse 38 give you an insight to her faith and belief at that surprising and unexpected moment, during what she might consider a trial?
Their responses may have sounded the same if we had been listening to both conversations only from the outside. Sheep and goats sound the same if we just listen to what comes out of their mouths,  but if we read Matthew 25:31-46, we see the importance in the using faith, obedience,  love. Do you think this was a valuable discipline/correction even for Zacchariah who was “righteous in the eyes of God”?
Do you think there is a valuable lesson for us?
How would you react to a heavenly messenger from God?
How have you reacted to the call upon your life to pick up your cross and follow in the footsteps of Christ?
Are you loving God?
What can change in your life so that you might be seen as Theophilus (the one who loves God) to those around you?
Do you even want people to recognize you as that, as set apart,  as different?
What do you need to pray for to see change starting right now?