2023 Advent Devotional - Luke 1:34-38 (Day 18)

Scripture - Luke 1:34-38 “And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Observation - Several things stand out to me in this reading.  1) Mary questioned the angel of the Lord “How will this be…”. 2) God has a plan as the angel conveys in verse 35. 3) God provides us comfort through his people and other believers (v36). 4) Mary submits to the Lord’s will (v37). 5) My final observation came when I read in a commentary that “Mary” in Hebrew is “Miriam”. Miriam was also the name of the sister of Moses and Aaron.  Right after Miriam dies (Number 20:1) while in the desert, we learn that “now there was no water for the congregation” (Numbers 20:2).  This alludes to Miriam somehow being the source through which God brought water to the Isarealites in the desert.  Is it a coincidence that hundreds of years later another “Miriam” or Mary is the vessel that God uses to bring forth the living water, Jesus?

Application - Going back to my observations above: 1) Is it okay to question God? If Mary, who is the vessel by whom Jesus is brought into the world can question Him, it must be okay for us to do so too.   2) God ALWAYS has a plan for our lives.  Does he always reveal all of the details to us when we ask? No!  Mary had to be wondering, what does it mean that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you” or “the Most High will overshadow you”? Even though God through the angel did not reveal the step-by-step plan to Mary, He reveals enough for her to believe he has a plan.  I believe he does the same for us when we stop and listen (i.e. take time to read His word and go to Him in prayer). 3) I find this really neat and comforting!  God let Mary know not only that He was with her, but there was another person, Elizabeth, who she could turn to that understood or was at least part of His plan.  I believe that God still does that for us.  We need family and friends in our lives that are walking with God who can walk beside us in our mountains and valleys to bring us comfort and to help us see His plan even when we are struggling to do so. 4) Just like Mary, how can I submit to God’s plan?  Mary was obedient to God in bringing God’s son to earth.  This Advent season how can I be obedient to God’s command (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19) in spreading the good news of Jesus to those around me?  5) Finally, I can surrender to God’s will, like Mary did, by sharing the living water with others.  John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  In a Lenten Devotional from Concordia Irvine, Dr. Kurt Krueger wrote “Once our spiritual thirst is quenched – or is constantly being quenched – we are empowered to share “streams of living water” through our witness to God’s love and point others to Jesus, the One who restores and refreshes and gives eternal life to all people.”  

Prayer - Dear Lord, thank you for using an ordinary young woman like Mary to bring your son, Jesus, to earth.  Like Mary, help me to humble myself to seek your plans for my life and to be the vessel of sharing the great news of Jesus to the world, starting with my friends, neighbors, and family. Thank you for having a plan for my life, revealing to me what I need to know, when I need to know it, to carry out your plans.  Thank you also for friends and family who walk with you and remind me of your reassurances and sacrifice when I need to hear them.  Finally, help those around me see “rivers of living water” flowing out of my heart as I submit to you this Advent season and always.  Amen. - By Tammy Wiese

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