Lesson One: Elizabeth’s Sacred Encounter
Scripture: Luke 1:1–24; 39–45
“Available for God’s Purpose”
As you read this first blog in a series of nine, I hope you have your copy of the new PW/Horizons Bible study Sacred Encounters: The Power and Presence of Jesus Christ in Luke-Acts close-at-hand or on-order. I am sure you are excited to delve into each lesson with your circles, and I hope that you find great meaning as you study together. As the author of the study, I was challenged and inspired to research and write each lesson.
While Luke-Acts appears as two separate books in our New Testament, it was originally written as a composite work. Luke-Acts was written as two volumes of the same work; it is generally accepted that Luke was the author of both books. As I travel throughout the country to present the Bible study at gatherings and events, I encourage PW groups to read through the gospel of Luke and the book of the Acts of the Apostles as one book. As you read through the two books you will discover that the gospel of Luke anticipates the book of Acts, and that the book of Acts reflects on the gospel of Luke. The gospel of Luke ends this way:
Then [Jesus] led [the disciples] out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God (Luke 24:50–53).
Luke continues the story in Acts 1:1–5 with:
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Sacred Encounters begins with the story of Elizabeth. Luke shows how an unlikely person like Elizabeth encounters the power and presence of Jesus Christ. God chose Elizabeth for an important purpose, and she made herself available for that purpose. As you study this lesson, think about your own purpose. How can God use you to make a positive impact? How can God use you as an instrument of peace and love?
I believe that our purpose changes over the course of our lives. And while that can be a daunting concept, it is also an exciting one. If God can use Elizabeth in her mature years and God can use Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ) in her youthful years, then God can use us at any point in our lives. It does not matter where we are located, at what age or stage we find ourselves, or even our physical ability and how strong or weak we may seem, God can use us for God’s honor and glory.
How will you make yourself available for God’s purpose?
author of the 2023-2024 PW/Horizons Bible Study
This blog is the first in a series of nine blogs written by the study’s author Olive Mahabir. A new blog will be posted every month between now and April 2024.
Presbyterian Women in the PC(USA), Inc. publishes an annual Bible study. Sacred Encounters is the study for this year. You can purchase a Sacred Encounters Bible study book (HZN23100) and study along with us. Call 800/533-4371 or order online.