Feeling a child moving inside you is indescribable. At first the sensation is faint, a mere flutter. Indigestion, maybe? No. You stand very still, holding your breath. There. Again.
Awe sweeps over you, as you press a loved one’s hand against your tummy. Here. Feel it? But only you can trace those tiny movements. In a few weeks that will change, but for now, this mysterious, miraculous gift from the Lord, this absolute proof of life, is yours alone to cherish.
It was different for Mary. She didn’t wait months for evidence that a child was growing inside her. She didn’t need an EPT or a fetal heart monitor or an ultrasound or a swift kick to her ribs.
Mary simply needed to visit her pregnant relative, Elizabeth, in “a town in the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:39), called Ein Kerem. Strap on your best walking sandals, and let’s join them.
Read Chapter Four: O Tidings of Comfort and Joy
Read Luke 1:39-56
Breathtaking, to consider how far Mary traveled to see Elizabeth. Seventy, eighty, or one hundred miles, depending on the route she took south from Nazareth. A ten-day trek across some pretty barren landscape.
Elizabeth had no clue her young relative was coming, let alone that Mary was pregnant.
But the Holy Spirit knew. That’s why, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).
I get serious chills here. A woman—a woman—was filled with the Spirit of God! And that same Spirit spoke through Elizabeth “in a loud voice” (Luke 1:42), ”
Back in Nazareth Gabriel told Mary she was “highly favored” (Luke 1:28). Now her relative—“cousin” in some translations—said the same thing: “God has blessed you more than any other woman” (NCV).
I love this about Elizabeth. She didn’t sing out, “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee,” and thrust out her sizeable baby bump. She didn’t say, “Let me tell you my good news.”
Oh no. She was far more excited about what was going on with Mary. And in Mary. Her next exclamation was a stunner: “Blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:42). Elizabeth discovered Mary was pregnant when the words poured out of her mouth. That was when Mary found out too. Woo hoo!
This classic painting is accurate as far as it goes, but in real life, these two women surely were lots more exuberant than this. I picture them exchanging first-century high fives and laughing until they couldn’t catch their breath.
“I know! Me too!”
“And then he said—”
“I know! Me too!”
Can you imagine it?.Whatever their age difference, it no longer mattered—not when they had so much in common. They both believed in the Almighty. They both trusted his heavenly messenger. And they both had sons in their wombs because of God’s love.
Not simply his love for them, but even more, his love for us.
God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus. (Matthew 11:10)
God sent Jesus to prepare the way for us. (Hebrews 9:15)
Grace for Elizabeth, grace for Mary, grace for you, grace for me.
Elizabeth is overwhelmed, wondering aloud why God had so blessed her “that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).
Read too quickly, and we might miss a big nugget of truth in this verse: “my Lord.” This was Elizabeth’s confession of faith—her “I believe that Jesus is the Messiah” declaration—and he wasn’t even born yet.
That’s not only having the faith of a child (Matthew 18:3). That’s having faith in a child.
Some of us struggle our whole lives to fully believe, to wholly commit, to truly call him Lord. We want proof, we want evidence, we want signs and wonders, we want miracles.
Show me, Lord.
So, he did. Christmas is God showing us who he is and why he came.
Immanuel—God with us—turns doubters into believers. It’s easier to resist a God you cannot see. But an innocent baby in a manger? An innocent man on a cross? Flesh-and-blood fact. Undeniable truth.
No wonder Elizabeth praised young Mary—still a child herself—for her childlike faith. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45).
Elizabeth believed what Gabriel told her husband. Mary believed what Gabriel told her in person. Maybe you’re thinking, “Lizzie, if an angel showed up and told me what God was going to do for me, then I would believe.”
Beloved, we have something these women did not have: the whole counsel of God captured between the covers of a book. Not on sacred scrolls stored in a synagogue, but in our purses, on our iPads, under our choir folders.
God’s Word is as affordable and available as a fast-food lunch, and a hundred thousand times more nourishing.
We also have something these women did have: the Holy Spirit. After four centuries of silence without angelic visits or prophetic utterances, the Holy Spirit was back in town in a big way.
When the Spirit filled Elizabeth, good news poured out. When the Spirit filled Mary, a magnificent song flowed forth, glorifying the Lord (Luke 1:46).
Now it’s our turn to let God fill us, to let God use us, to praise his name—not just during Advent, but every day until he comes to take us home.
From the Study Guide
In the end neither Elizabeth nor Mary is the star of this chapter; rather, the Holy Spirit takes center stage. In John 14:26 we learn that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things.” In Acts 13:4 Barnabas and Saul were “sent on their way by the Holy Spirit.” And in Romans 15:13 we’re told we will “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life?
I know, I know: a risky question, when so many churches offer different teachings on the Holy Spirit. So, here is what I ask: Be kind to one another. Build up one another. Encourage one another. Agree, rather than disagree. Be humble. Listen, rather than judge. Love one another. Honor God above all.
As for how I would respond to this question, God’s Word tells us, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13-14) Don’t you love that heavenly stamp of approval?
When I start to doubt, the Spirit is quick to restore my faith. When I’m tempted to snap out at someone, the Spirit tames my tongue. When I mess up big time, the Spirit convicts, gently but firmly. When I study God’s Word, it’s the Spirit that reveals Truth. If I manage to do something right, the Spirit deserves all the credit.
He is like the wind, which cannot be seen or grasped, yet exerts great power. He is God’s breath in us, and God’s gift to us. He is “love, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). When you see those qualities in another believer, you’re seeing the Holy Spirit in action.
Now it’s your turn
- Was there something in Chapter Four that really spoke to you?
- What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life?
Kindly share your response under Post a Comment below. Your words truly matter and enrich our study together.
If you missed my earlier posts, you’ll find links to them below. Want your own copy of The Women of Christmas? You’ll find it here.
Can you believe we’re already halfway through our study? Thanks for reading, sharing, tweeting, posting, and encouraging your friends to join us!
Your sister, Liz
This is one of my favorite stories and Luke 1:45 is a powerful scripture to hold on to. I shared out of this passage this week at my Ladies meeting. It’s so encouraging. It builds your faith when you are floundering. These two women had such tender hearts toward the Lord and was quick to take Him at His word. They both personally experienced that “nothing is impossible with God” We can all share that testimony today. “He’s the same yesterday, today and forever!” Our God is faithful and is our great Helper. Thanks Liz. I enjoy reading your blogs every week. It truly gives me a lift.
It amazes me that Mary knew to go to see Elizabeth. Also, that she walked so far to get there. It was thrilling to imagine the two of them seeing each other and Elizabeth sharing with Mary that Mary’s child would be her Lord! Just think about how long these women had been and their ancestors had been waiting for the Messiah to come! Then, to have the Holy Spirit come upon Elizabeth when he(or maybe a she) had not been given to anyone yet! Wow! God does things in such interesting ways! How amazing that he blessed these two ordinary women in such extraordinary ways!
The Holy Spirit nudges me to speak to someone who needs encouragement and to hold my tongue when I may say something hurtful.he fills me with compassion for those in need. I am learning to be still and to listen!
The Grace of God spoke volumes to me! Gods grace is amazing! It was for Elizabeth and Mary and for us as well!
One passage from this chapter hit me hard…God provides for his people , practically, spiritually, emotionally, financially. Every time I feel lost, stressed, oipin despair, troubled, I see evidence that God does provide. Some times, ok….too often, I am bull-headed and stubborn and try to fix everything on my own. But I am stopping myself more and more and really turning everything over to God, to put my trust fully in Him. That doesn’t mean can live my life willy-nilly and go off on a tangent and expect him to just pick up after me! but I can seek his help to make wise choices and decisions and trust him to lead me in the right direction. When I do that, He definitely provides. At hose times, I always stop and realize that the Holy Spirit is in and around me, and it is a glorious feeling.
I didn’t realize, or maybe I just don’t remember, the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary. I found myself pouring over this chapter, re-reading and highlighting passes, and really examining the verses from Luke. Thank you, Liz, for sharing their relationship with me!
I love the thought of Elizabeth believing in Jesus even before he was born. There wasn’t any outward proof that Mary was with child. And even though she was, Elizabeth believed immediately when the Holy Spirit spoke to her. There was no doubt, no questioning the Holy Spirit, simple faith and believing the what the Holy Spirit spoke to her was the truth. It’s a beautiful thought that we all need to apply in our lives. When the Holy Spirit speaks: listen, respond and simply believe!
Knowing that we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit” is a tremendous comfort. When I stray( and I have to my great sorrow) , the Spirit of God restores me after my confession. He is the agent of our sanctification. We stand in awe at the workings of God “in the fullness of time”, the exactly correct time for Christ’s birth. For John the Baptist, for Emmanual, for the Star. And on and on. All the prophecy of the Messiah were fulfilled in his birth, life and death and resurrection. The God off the universe which he created made it so!
Thank you Liz for teaching us more insight in this passage! You are also like Elizabethand Mary: filled with the Holy Spirit!
That is the coolest part for me today in this passage. Way before the book of Acts, these two women are filled with the Holy Spirit!! Amazing!!
Thankful for God’s Sprit too in me. He keeps me close to His will and purpose in my life!
Thank you so much for getting my mind moving this morning with such a great read/study! It just put a hand of peace over me as a reminder that he is always there and I really need to trust and remember that. Mary and Elizabeth never questioned a thing-yet myself and so many others are the buts, whys, how comes, when’s, etc… You have a great way to put things. Sincerely, thank you.
“In the delths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.” How blessed are we that our excellent, high and holy God delights in our praise–The Word says He INHABITS the praise of low-born, insignificant people like Mary…and me. As I read of this wonderful friendsip of two generstions, I was warmed by memories of the friendship God placed in my life with an older cousin. She was such a godly lady, ever about the Lord’s business. Neither of us could have children, and shared the blessing of adopted sons. We both faced health problems, often sharing the assurance that the Lord’s healing would come. About 15 years ago, God took her home for her ultimate healing, and I miss her so much. However, I know that today she offers petfect praise!
The Holy Spirit constantly reminds me that I am a child of God and gives me a nudge to start following God when I stray. He is there even with little things in my life. This Bible study is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given to us though Liz. Thank you Liz for the book and Bible study. The Holy Spirit has truly inspired you!
How blessed we are to have the Holy Spirit in us and for us. I pray I will listen as Mary and Elizabeth did and then believe. You have so encouraged me with this book; I am almost finished with it and know I will read it more than once. Thank you for letting the Holy Spirit use you to bless me and so many others!!
Liz, I love your description of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Romans 8 gives us so much insight on the work of the Holy Spirit. I especially love Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He takes our awkward words and puts them into something that the Father can hear. The work of the Triune God in our lives is truly amazing!
Thank you, Liz, for writing this book which has been such a blessing to me this Christmas season!
The Holy Spirit has been convicting me and empowering me to forgive. When I do this, in His power, I experience a peace that can only come from God. Thank you, Jesus!
Shirley, forgiveness will forever change your life. When I found the P31 website 18 months ago, I was drawn to forgive someone for a past hurt. Once I truly forgave this person in my heart I have become a new person in Christ. This was a person I could go to and speak one on one, but a God knows I have forgiven him. The acts of this person had changed my life for over 40 years and it was something I shared only with my husband after 14 years of marriage. God is great and forgiveness will heal your soul.
Oops, I should have said”this is not a person that I could speak to one on one”.
Thank you , thank you Liz for this !!! Today was a day of some shakes and ups and downs for me. My devotion today told me to let God’s presence override everything else in my life. I asked God to show me His presence today as I needed help with this. Gift upon gift came tumbling to me!! Your email came and the words SHOW ME jumped out at me. Thank you , thank you Father for using Liz in Your plans for me !!!!!!!
The Holy Spirit is the only way I can attempt to live out my Christian faith. Without the Spirit, I have no strength to resist the flesh. I may have all the desire in the world to walk with Jesus, but the Lord knew it would be impossible without a Helper. What an amazing Provider!
This was a retweet on twitter, what a blessing to me today! I’m very excited to continue to follow your blog. I remember well what life was like without the Holy Spirit and never want to go back.
thanks so much for such an encouraging and positive word – just what i needed today.
I have struggled with depression and negative thought patterns and the Holy Spirit has reminded me today to keep listening to Him and to be filled with the Spirit and to rely more completely in Jesus. He has shown me that when i let these negative things in i am not trusting in Him, but He is our hope and our joy and our reason for living!
The Holy Spirit – the Comforter – how could we even function sometimes without it! Not only do we receive comfort, direction, strength and intercession but we also receive companionship to share not only in our times of trouble but also in our joys and mountaintop experiences. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, Father.
The Holy Spirit is inside ….so close….giving guidance,comfort,helping us LIVE the fruit that is only HIS….love,joy,peace,patience,kindness,goodness,faithfulness and self-control. We could not be a people like this without Him. Liz, this was an amazing chapter, amazing study….you,by allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through you, have given us a wonderful gift….we need to be WOMEN who are sensitive to the ways and workings of The Holy Spirit. Thank-you for this marvelous gift during this delightful Christmas season. My heart is leaping for joy to be reminded of these truths. Such HOPE!!! 🙂 <3
the only right way to listen is through the power of the Holy Spirit,lots of times i hear but i don’t listen what i’m supposed to.these two womans,Mary and Elisabeth were fully listening the holy voice of the spirit and they were expressing that in making powerfull confession
I loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Even from the womb, Jesus was changing the culture. ”
I L-O-V-E this statement…how powerful the Holy Spirit is that before He physically walked on this earth, He was revealing Himself in a mighty and awesome way.
When I am blessed to experience the Holy Spirit., it is the ultimate adrenalin rush!
This book/ study is preparing my heart for this wonderful time of the year! Thanks Liz!
I feel the same about Jesus still in the womb and was changing the culture!!! I am really enjoying this book. Thank you Liz.
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her”, Luke 1:45 jumped out at me because just this past week I had found the Amplified Bible version of Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God
shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment!” Mary and Elizabeth believed with their whole hearts and had faith in what they were told would come true. The Holy Spirit gives me that assurance! I have God’s word in my hands to know His promises and the power in those promises to be fulfilled in my life. I pray that I will be filled and overflowing each day with Jesus as I believe in the fulfillment of those promises!
Dearest Liz, this book is fabulous. The Holy Spirit is with me always; sometimes nudging me a little late, as when I speak words that are stupid or just not correct for the situation. I start every day asking God to bless my heart and my mouth, so that I will not regret words spoken. I depend on the Holy Spirit for many things,especially now as I was offered a new position at work and am not sure if I should take it. My husband asked me about it the other day and I responded, “it’s in Gods hands and he will lead me in the right direction.
This chapter spoke to me about the faith of these women! I kept thinking how would these events would play out in today’s society ? Would it be the same as what Mary was potentially facing…telling her betrothed, her family and others that she was pregnant, yet still a virgin. How would you take that if your daughter came to you with those words or your son’s girlfriend. It’s scary. It makes me step back to reconsider my own faith. Is it the times we live in or a lack of a truly deep faith that the Holy Spirit can do such things. You leave me wondering, but wanting to know more. Thanks and Blessings to you.
This Christmas I find myself looking for people who believe – who truly believe that God came to us in a baby. I pastor people who question the very basics of Christianity and there are times when I wonder if anyone is still faithful. Do people still worship him? I feel like Elijah crying out that he’s the only one left… which is so far from true. Reading about these women being filled with God, believing His promises and having fellowship with one another in their pregnancies gives me hope and a desire to see the same in our church. So, I will hold firm to what I know is true. I will rejoice in these advent stories and I will quiet myself to hear His voice. Because I think He wants me to see the work He is doing in those who believe in Him all around me. Praise Him.
I think that until I read this, it never occurred to me that the Holy Spirit was upon Mary and Elizabeth in the moment of that greeting. It is a reminder of how the Holy Spirit works behind the scenes, and I so often and easily miss Him at work.
What an awesome chapter. Several truths spoke to me, but to sum it up, I’ll just say that I am so thankful God has a plan for every life He has created. I once heard someone say that ignoring God’s call might leave the world without the next Billy Graham, the researcher who would discover the cure for cancer, or the one who would be the chain breaker of a family rooted in sin. Elizabeth and Mary both submitted…when it was hard, unrealistic, and unpopular to be bold and different. In our generation, it is very easy to become wallflowers, letting someone else make all the decisions. (Just look where that has gotten us!). It has become “politically correct” for Christians to keep our opinions and lifestyles under the radar so as not to offend anyone. Yet, that is not why God created us. He created us to GO share his gospel with a lost and dying world, not worrying about what others think of our “fanatical” views on loving, praising, worshipping, and serving Jesus. I’m going to challenge myself to live bolder, believe higher, and take ownership of my royal heritage! “If people talk, so what?” (p. 72)
The seal really spoke to my heart. This week I was operated on with breast cancer. The left breast. They marked the breast so that they would operate on the right one. This mark they made will go away, but the seal of God is forever and ever and ever. Never to be washed away. I am His and He is mine. Thank you Liz
Health, healing and love to you Joanna.
I lived many years without really knowing anything about the Holy Spirit…. But then….I like Elizabeth was filled with HIS presence and I too begin praising HIM in words that came from HIM. I have realized that the Holy Spirit is a person. I can’t touch Him but I sure can talk to Him. He is the best Christmas gift…..Immanuel, God with US!
I was really encouraged this am, by this study Liz, and became aware again I can trust The Lord with all my heart, as Mary and Elizabeth did and believe He will never leave or forsake me. Since walking thru a difficult time with my husband in the hospital I need to believe He is with us and will see us thru. Thank you for your study, I do not have the book but have followed all your studies and really receive from them. Love you much and followed your “Christmas at Ann’s on the farm” so precious. Jannie
This is the most amazing story of Mary and Elizabeth. Thank you for showing me some new things in the Word I hadn’t seen before. His Holy Spirit is number ‘one’ in my life. How can anyone really be who they are supposed to be, and follow Jesus, without the Holy Spirit! He is all you mentioned and more to me! He even reminds me of things I want to remember! Not just the Word! 🙂
May we all feel His Presence just a little more deeper this Christmastime.
Blessings to you!
Oh Liz we do need the Holy Spirit in our lives more than ever now. There is so much unbelief and strife in this world–and just like a reader said before me-we should not care what others think of what we believe-we need to do what -Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. KJV. Thank you Liz for this study.
I was very excited to read in chapter four, that God choose a young girl just twelve years of age, not a woman of position of experience to become the Mother of Jesus! It gives us women the chance to know to at We can be used of God where We are, and not think “Wait I have to go to Bible College first or be trained under a pastor” to be used of God in a ministry. <3….
I love you Father, I love you Jesus and I love you Holy Spirit. That has become my mantra in life. All Three offering unique aspects of our relationship to me. I have the Father I desperately needed. I have Brother and Savior in Jesus who shows me how to live and guarantees me Heaven at the end of this journey. I hasten to say an undeserved and un-earnable guarantee. And My best friend, companion and lover of my soul, the Holy Spirit who walks with me and whispers guidance, encouragement and acceptance to me each minute of each day. The Holy Spirit guides me every day. trying to help me look more like Jesus and reflect the Father’s love. Sometimes expressed in a a nudge to talk to someone, near misses in my travelers which could have been fatal. When I listen, heed His voice I do well. When I fluff Him off, I am consistently regretful. Gratitude for God’s daily forgiveness and the chance to start anew is overwhelming. Thank you God!
The Holy Spirit is always there. Giving me encouragement when I do not know that I need
It. Merry CHRISTmas
I am simply amazed And never noticed Before how Elisabeth profetized about Mary And Jesús. Never noticed Before that she didnt knew that Mary Was pregnant. It Was God revelation. I love this book liz!
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
The role of the Holy Spirit in my life… amazing that countless moments slip by and I am seemingly oblivious (distracted, overwhelmed by a busy life) by the power of the Holy Spirit residing IN ME. And then, WOW- Sometimes a whisper- sometimes a roar- & every hair on my arms will stand up as my heart leaps and I truly experience His presence!
My Sunday school class has been studying the women of the Bible this year we are on Elizabeth this week and I have been asked to teach the lesson. Your book has been so wonderful for me to use to prepare. I love the story of Elizabeth as I had my last baby at 35 old for this time and I have a friend who had her first at 43 and second at 45. We were mature mothers and mature grandmothers.Elizabeth’s maturity and her faithfulness was a blessing to
Mary and to John as she raised him to be the messenger for Jesus. Love this book and will treasure it.
I felt the Holy Spirit fill me big time during the Alpha Course Weekend when we asked Him to come and fill us. I felt this incredible feeling of love for God and for everyone else. What a difference it has made in my life – I have a different outlook – looking through the eyes of love.