We made it to the New Testament in our Journey to Jesus! Never doubt the faithfulness of God to go before, provide, and move according to His plan! This week we are going to see how God's Kingdom calendar was advancing as God once again spoke to men and women about the coming of the Messiah. Hang on, this is getting good!
DAY 13: Zechariah
The King. The Messiah. The Deliverer. He was coming. The people of God had heard about the coming of the Messiah all their lives. From the beginning of God’s story, a Savior had been promised.
A priest named Zechariah was chosen to enter the temple and burn incense before the Lord. Zechariah had no idea God was on the move! While in the temple, an angel appeared to Zechariah, and he was gripped with fear. The message the angel shared was shocking. Zechariah’s wife, who was old and barren, would give birth to a son! This son would point others to God’s Son.
Zechariah questioned the angel and listed why this could never happen. Let’s pause and consider Zechariah’s questioning heart. Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child for many years. They lived with the stigma of not having children in their culture. They were old and tired. Life had not turned out the way they planned. Yet, we learn in Luke’s account that Zechariah and Elizabeth were upright and blameless. I love that detail about their lives. In the midst of heartache and pain, disappointment and despair, Zechariah and Elizabeth kept pursuing the Lord.
When I read about Zechariah’s encounter with the angel, my heart goes out to him. He was scared and overwhelmed. He was trying to process a lot of news while talking to an angel!
The response of the angel to Zechariah’s questioning heart grips me. ”I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” (Luke 1:19) I love that God’s plan was unfolding even as Zechariah struggled. God was pursuing and providing even as Zechariah shared why God’s plan would never work out.
I wonder if this truth hits you in a personal way. During your pain, discouragement, and questions, do you know God is on the move, and His plan is unfolding in your life? This Christmas, let’s invite God to speak truth into our lives, and let’s be willing to believe Him!
DAY 14: Mary
Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph when she learned she was chosen to give birth to God’s Son. Mary had her entire life in front of her. Because of the traditions of Mary’s day, it’s hard to know how much planning she did for the future. One thing is certain: Mary never planned to give birth to the Messiah. While she looked forward to His coming, she never dreamed He would come through her!
Scripture tells us Mary found favor with God. I love that the original word used to describe Mary’s standing is often translated as grace. What a beautiful description of her life. Mary lived a grace-filled life! Two things are true at the heart of a grace-filled life: we can’t save ourselves, and we all need a Savior. Jesus came so God’s grace can be experienced in and through our lives. This happens through salvation as we place our faith (trust or belief) in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. It also happens as we daily turn from our plan and embrace God’s plan.
When Mary found out about her pregnancy with Jesus, she was young, talking to an angel, engaged to Joseph, and a virgin. All these facts made the plan of God seem crazy from a worldly point of view. But GRACE. But FAVOR. But GOD.
Mary’s story is unique. For sure, we will never be in the same situation, but don’t miss the fact that we can experience the same grace or favor in our daily lives. How do we experience it? We surrender to God by giving up our plan and trusting His amazing plan. Daily, we must remember that where planning (or control) stops, God’s amazing grace starts. Like Mary, we can give up control to the One who is ultimately in control of all things. That, my friend, will lead us to experience the favor of God in the everyday aspects of life. This Christmas, let’s surrender control and enjoy God’s amazing grace!
DAY 15: The Holy Spirit
The news Mary received from the Angel was shocking. She would give birth to the Savior. Clearly, Mary had questions. She wanted to know, “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34)
The answer Mary received from the angel was clear. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Maybe you are in a situation where you are unsure how it will be resolved. In moments like these, you know you “heard” from the Lord, but the instruction seems impossible considering your situation. I love that the answer Mary received to her question is the same answer we can cling to today.
The Holy Spirit lives inside of every believer in Jesus Christ. He provides the power of God in tangible ways. Take a moment and think about your confusing or overwhelming situation. Have you taken time to talk to the Lord about it? Have you asked, “How can it be?” Not with a questioning heart but with a trusting heart. You see, that is exactly what Mary did! She didn’t question the Lord with a doubting heart. She questioned the Lord with a trusting heart! A trusting heart asks, “Lord, show me Your provision... Your perspective... Your power in the midst of this moment.”
A trusting heart looks to Jesus rather than the situation we face. When we talk to the Lord with a trusting heart instead of a doubting heart, our lives are drawn into God’s plan. We will walk in the power and provision of God through the work of the Holy Spirit - All for the glory of God! This Christmas, let’s ask, “How can it be?” with a trusting heart!
DAY 16: God
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) I think about this verse and how it applies to every aspect of the Christmas story as well as every aspect of our lives. Two impossible things were recorded in Luke's account. Elizabeth, who was barren, was in her sixth month. Mary, who was a virgin, would give birth to a child. How were these things explained? God. That is how. He makes the impossible... possible! What can we do with our impossible situations? We can trust God. We can believe in God. We can watch God make a way.
I am so thankful for the beautiful example of biblical community we see in the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary. These ladies were in uncharted territory. God was gracious to provide the encouragement of “one another” as they walked their unknown journeys... together. When we are walking a difficult or uncharted road - a road that seems impossible - we can trust God to provide others to be ”in it” with us. In every way, God is the One who makes the impossible... possible!
This Christmas season, what impossible situation are you facing? Who is God sending into your life to serve as a friend, sister, and prayer warrior? This Christmas, let’s watch for God’s move and always remember that nothing is impossible for Him!
DAY 17: Mary’s Reply
Mary recognized that she belonged to the Lord. She was ‘all in” with God’s plan to give birth to the Messiah. Mary replied, “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) No argument, no objection, no desire to throw out other ideas. Instead...surrender. Even though it was uncomfortable, the timing was wrong, and her life would be forever changed, Mary said, “Yes!”
How should we respond to God and His plan? We should surrender and obey. (So simple, yet so hard!) God desires hearts that say, “Yes, Lord,” even before we know all the implications of the request. He wants our simple obedience. He wants us to be ready to say, “Lord, wherever you tell me to go, I will go. Lord, whatever you tell me to do, I will do.” No excuses. No second-guessing. No loopholes.
Our daily goal should be: Simple obedience even when life is hard or does not make sense.Simple obedience even when we do not feel qualified to answer the call. Simple obedience even when the people around us don’t understand. Simple obedience - let’s walk it out each day. Why? Because in God’s economy, a surrendered life has so much potential! This Christmas season, what does simple obedience look like in your life? Let’s celebrate Christmas by saying, “Yes, Lord!”
DAY 18: Elizabeth
After Mary’s angelic encounter, scripture tells us she got ready and hurried to the home of Elizabeth. (Remember Elizabeth was barren yet expecting a child.) As soon as Mary entered, a special moment took place. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognized that Mary was chosen to carry the Messiah. Elizabeth proclaimed a blessing over Mary. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” (Luke 1:45)
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for the next three months. Can you imagine the girl talk that took place as they processed their pregnancies and their futures? Luke 1:46-55 records a beautiful song of praise from Mary’s heart. I encourage you to read it.
As you read it, think about the picture of a young, humble Jewish girl recounting the mercies of God to an unlikely group of people. A people that came through a man named Abraham with the promise of a coming Messiah. Mary had heard the story her whole life. Now, she was living the story in a new way.
The Old Testament accounts of the establishment of God’s people, the move of God among His people, the rebellion of the people, the faithfulness of God to defend the people, the discipline of God among the people, and the consistent prophecies that pointed to a Messiah.. all of it must have rushed through Mary’s heart and mind.
Right now, we can take a moment and, like Mary, remember the faithfulness of God to His people, which includes us! We can proclaim, “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.” (Luke 1: 46-48) Christmas should produce many actions on our part, and worship should be at the top of the list! This Christmas, let’s worship by thanking God for His faithfulness to us and all generations.
DAY 19: Joseph
The Gospel of Matthew discusses Joseph and his response to Mary’s pregnancy. “Because Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) An angel appeared to Joseph and told him God’s plan. In the dream, Joseph learned he had an important role to play. He was to take Mary as his wife, and he was to name the baby Jesus... “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Joseph was a Jewish man who loved God. He was a man of character. A carpenter by trade, Joseph worked to support his family. The most important detail about Joseph’s life was his marriage to Mary and his earthly role as father to Jesus. In many ways, Joseph is a quiet figure in the story.
I am thankful we can learn about Joseph and his character from the brief description found in scripture. The Bible describes Joseph as a righteous man. This word implies a commitment to God that led Joseph to walk with God. As a result, Joseph listened to God, protected his family, and allowed God to rearrange his life. Being the earthly father of the Messiah required a constant openness to God and His plan. Imagine raising the Messiah! Imagine the weight of protecting and providing for the One who would ultimately protect and provide for you. What an interesting life Joseph was called to live.
I love that Joseph was a strong figure, even though he was a quiet figure. His actions far outnumbered the words recorded about him in the Bible. What a great reminder for all of us. Our actions can speak louder than our words and reveal our character along the way.
Like Joseph, we can be open to God rearranging our lives. This Christmas season, let’s allow our actions to speak louder than our words. Let’s embrace the opportunity to be a “quiet figure” in God’s story by being strong in love, obedience, and faith.
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