Monday, November 30, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day Two

Week 1 Day 2: Luke 1:26-38

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Luke 1:34-38 (NLT)

The angel announced to Mary that she had “found favor with God.” I’m not sure that Mary at this point thought that God was doing her any favors. This is an interesting phrase that we read again in Luke 2:52 referring to Jesus “finding favor with God and all the people.” The word favor, if you remember from the Living a Balanced Life study, is rooted in the word for “grace.” This may simply imply that she was in God’s good graces. But, I see something more.

God had chosen Mary for a mission that in all practical ways would wreck the course of her life. Her reputation, her betrothal to Joseph, and her future were at stake here. But, Mary had God’s favor. His grace helped her to accept this mission.

Mary’s biggest fear was rejection. Who would understand this circumstance? A young, pregnant, unmarried virgin – who would accept such a tale? God, in His grace, provided a companion to Mary in Elizabeth, who also received a miraculous pregnancy. Though not an immaculate one, it was certainly unexplainable apart from God. While everyone else might have regarded Mary with suspicion, Elizabeth could relate to the fact that “nothing is impossible with God.”

What rare experiences have you had? More likely than not there is someone who needs you to walk alongside them. That person needs your understanding. Even the painful or embarrassing parts of our lives can be used to comfort another. Ask God who you can serve, then pay attention to who crosses your path.

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day One

Writer's Note: Advent begins on Sunday, November 29, 2009. Different traditions follow different Scripture reading schedules. Some advocate a once per week reading. Others advocate a daily reading. Still others schedule four Scripture readings per day. I'm taking a moderated approach by choosing five Advent passages per week, then basing the devotional on the passage of the day. Some of these passage are longer, so I have provided a link to, so you may read the entire passage.

I hope that you are blessed this Christmas season.

God bless,
Allen White
Simpsonville, South Carolina

Week 1 Day 1:
Isaiah 11:1-10

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. Isaiah 11:2-4 (NLT)

Here we catch a glimpse of the Savior’s coming nearly 2000 years ago and His soon return. Isaiah saw the whole thing all at once. We haven’t seen leopards napping with baby goats or lions sharing a meal of hay with cows. That day is yet to come.

Jesus ushered in the start of this new era. We still experience it today. Jesus showed us a new way to be human. He showed us what it means to have a life empowered by the Spirit.

Isaiah prophesied that “the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him.” Doesn’t it seem unusual that the “second” member of the Trinity would need to depend on the “third”? Jesus is fully God and fully man. Why would the Almighty Son of God who created the Universe need to depend on Someone else to do His work? Because He came to save us and to show us the life that God intended for His followers to live. A life empowered.

We read in Philippians 2 that Jesus humbled Himself in order to fulfill His mission on the earth. He didn’t act on His own. He only did the things that He saw the Father doing. And, He performed these acts through the power of the Spirit. Then, Jesus tells His disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen” Matthew 21:21 (NLT).

What do you need to trust God for today? Maybe you have been exhausting yourself over solving a problem. Have you asked God what He can do? Men, have you found the great adventure that Perry talked about a few weeks ago? Ask God what adventure He has in store for you.

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmastime is Upon Us

I know that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but Advent officially begins on Sunday. So starting Sunday, I will be posting the daily Advent reading along with a devotional based on the passage.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Allen White