Meditation (3-5 Minutes) Begin by being still before God. Read Luke 1:46-55 and meditate on the words.
Luke 1:46-55 (NIV) And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
1) Be still and know he is God.
2) Let your soul glorify the Lord.
3) Let your spirit rejoice in God your savior.
4) In all his glory, he has the time to pay attention to your humble needs. Think of the wonder of it.
5) The Mighty One has done great things for you. You are important to him.
6) His mercy is available to all who fear him. Surrender to his mercy.
7) He has performed mighty deeds with his arms. Surrender to his strength.
8) He has brought down the proud and lifted the humble. Stand straight. You are the child of a King.
9) He has fed the hungry. He will feed you.
10) He has blessed all descendents of Abraham. You are his descendent, adopted into his kingdom.
Prayer (5-10 Minutes)
1) Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.
2) Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1): a) Ask God to teach you how to worship at a deeper level. Write your request in Appendix 1. b) Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the Christmas Spirit as you worship him today. c) Appendix 1: Pray and update.
3) Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2): a) In Appendix 2, list the mighty deeds of God in your life. b) Fall to your knees in awe.
4) Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3): a) Glorify God. b) Sing your praises to God. c) Sing him your favorite Christmas carol. d) Appendix 3: Offer these gifts to him in worship. e) Appendix 3: Pray and update. Christmas is getting close.
5) Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out.
6) Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)
Do you worship Christmas or do have Christmas worship? The human race has always sought worship. Our dictionary’s definition of worship includes words like “reverent love” and “ardent devotion.” It is interesting that love and devotion are not enough. To count as “worship,” our love must be reverent and our devotion, ardent.
As humans, we need to worship. There are signs of worship in most civilizations. Over the centuries, man has worshipped many things. If no guidance is given, man invents objects or concepts to worship. Examples found throughout history include worship of statues, kings, the moon, stars, the sun, women, cows, and gods with many names and shapes.
To those that have read the Bible, the need to worship is no surprise. God created that need. The question is not if we worship, it is who we worship. Without guidance, our worship becomes pointless, unfocused, and even dangerous. God gave us the Bible to guide our worship. The Bible does not define worship, perhaps because God does not want to limit us. After all, he made us in his image. His creativity is in us. We have individual preferences based on our cultural background, personality, and spiritual gifts. It does tell us whom to worship. It also gives many examples of how to worship.
Christmas is a time for worship. This Christmas, do not let the business of the season force you to worship the season instead of the Christ child. The story of the first Christmas gives us many examples of personal worship styles. Slow down. Take the time and use them this Christmas.
The Wise Men
Read Matthew 2:1-2. God leads true seekers to Jesus. The Wise Men were spiritual seekers. The Wise Men were astrologers. Most likely, worship of the skies was part of their lifestyle. If the object of their worship had met their needs, they might not have sought the Christ Child. Our God of Wisdom used a star to get their attention. What title did the Wise Men give the child they were seeking? What did they want to do when they found him? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Matthew 2:3-6. One reality about truth is that it deeply disturbs those refusing to accept it. How did King Herod respond to their questions? Why do you think he took their questions seriously? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Matthew 2:7-8. Every religious practice has false worshippers. How did King Herod try to trick the Wise Men? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Matthew 2:9-10. What was the Wise Men’s response to seeing the Christ Child? What form did their worship take? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Matthew 2:12. After seeing and worshipping the “Truth,” the Wise Men had a new source of wisdom. Whose voice do you think warned them in the dream? (Write your answer in the journal.)
Read Luke 1:46-47. It is our privilege to witness a private worship service held by Mary and Elizabeth. Whom is Mary worshipping? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 1:48. What is Mary’s attitude during worship? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 1:67-79. Zachariah is worshipping God while celebrating the birth of his son. Look at verse 67. The Holy Spirit filled Zachariah as he worshipped. What spiritual gift is Zachariah demonstrating in these verses? (Write your answer in your journal.)
List the praises Zachariah offered to God. (Write your answer in your journal.)
What prophesies did Zachariah make as he worshipped? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:13-14. What a blessing. God gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly Host worshipping him. Like Zachariah and Mary, they first gave glory to God. What prophesies did the angels make through their worship? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:20. We see another aspect of worship. Like the others, the shepherds glorified and praised God. Then the shepherds leave the Baby Jesus and go into the world, praising God as they go. for what do they praise him? What impact do you think it had on the people they met? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:25. When we meet him, Simeon is waiting on the Lord. Describe his spiritual state. How is it similar to Zachariah? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:26. Simeon’s spiritual preparation enabled him to hear God’s voice. What promise had God made? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:27. How was Simeon obedient with his personal worship? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:28-32. Simeon saw the hand of God through his worship. What did God reveal? (Write your answer in your journal.)
How did Simeon demonstrate an eternal perspective through his worship? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:33-35. Simeon also used prophesy in his worship. What prophesy did he give? How did Jesus’ parents receive it? (Write your answers in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:37. God blessed Anna by calling her to full time worship. She spent her days and nights worshipping and praying. We see another form of worship. What is it? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Luke 2:38. Like the others we studied, Anna gave thanks to God. She was also a prophet. Who was the recipient of her message? (Write your answer in your journal.)
As we study these beautiful passages of worship, we begin to notice trends. People are overjoyed and lift their voices in praise. Filled with gratitude, they shout their thanks to God. Filled with awe, they fall to their knees in worship. Their peace enables them to face their future. We see gifts given to the Christ child and personal sacrifice through fasting. We see the Holy Spirit filling those who truly worship. Much of the Christmas worship included prophesies.
We also notice that actions follow worship. After Zechariah worshipped, he had a son to raise and people to minister to. After the Wise Men worshipped, they were given the wisdom to avoid King Herod. After Mary worshipped with Elizabeth, she returned home to an uncertain future. Simeon was old. He worshipped and became willing to face his impending death. The shepherds’ job was to tell the world about Christ. They rose from their worship ready to accept their mission. Anna’s job was to speak about the Christ child to all who would listen.
This Christmas, fall to your knees in awe. Shout your praises to God. Open your treasures and give gifts. Worship the true God. Worship his son. Worship through the Holy Spirit. Listen. Then obediently, go into the world and follow God’s instructions.
Mesa Verde: Worship Gone Wrong
Humankind is imaginative. Without boundaries, elaborate and even dangerous worship styles tend to develop. Many religions have included sensuality and human sacrifices as a part of their worship. People have a strong need for fairness that creates a need for sacrifice. Throughout history, most religions incorporate sacrifice of some kind into their worship practices. Often the sacrifices are of “the innocent.”
Anthropologists belive that in the 13th century, the Puebloans at Mesa Verde worshipped in something called the Sun Temple. Like the Wise Men, they studied the stars, sun, and moon. They watched the changing conditions. Their cliff dwelling lifestyle depended on water. Being logical, they paid attention to the extraordinary astronomical events that took place when they had plenty of water. Droughts were disastrous for them. They watched for things like supernovae, sunspots, and eclipses to insure water.
Being a spiritual society, they performed prayers or ceremonies to their gods in an effort to insure that the good conditions repeated themselves. When the normal prayers and rituals were unsuccessful, the Puebloans sacrificed young women to appease their gods.
By nature, man is also superstitious. When prayers and rituals failed to bring the much-needed water, the Puebloans began looking for the cause. They would become sure that a witch lived among them. They became suspicious of each other and went on witch hunts. They brutally executed many suspected witches.
After trying hard work, worship of false gods, prayer to false gods, human sacrifices, and murder, the Puebloans gave up and simply left their homes. They moved to another cliff in the same dry and cold climate and started the process all over again. Is it true that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results?
Application (5-10 Minutes)
1) Making It Personal a) Describe your personal and preferred worship style. (Write your answers in your journal.) i) Do you begin by glorifying God? ii) Do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit? iii) Do you fall to your knees in awe? iv) Do you wait with anticipation on the Lord? v) Have you tried fasting? vi) Do you shout or sing your praises to God? vii) Do you lift your voices in thanksgiving? viii) Do you easily give and/or receive prophesies (a fresh word from God)? ix) What else is a part of your worship? b) Whose worship style from the Christmas story most resembles your preferences? Why? (Write your answers in your journal.)
2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17) a) Worship God throughout your day. b) Stop and listen to the Christmas Music. Lift your voice in thanksgiving. c) When you see presents under your tree, offer them to the Christ Child in worship. d) Find a private time to fall to your knees in awe. e) Glorify God to all who are willing to listen. f) Ask God to send you a fresh word from him today.
3) Ending The Day a) Did you worship God today? If not, confess and ask for help. b) Did you experience wonder in your worship? If not, confess and ask for help. c) Did you hear the voice of God through your worship? If not, ask God to speak more clearly. d) Praise God for Christmas.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to
www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.
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