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Our Advent devotional newsletter sends out a different Christmas-themed reading each day Sunday-Friday. Each devotional touches on a different aspect of Advent, from music to parables to theological reflections. Many of the devotionals also feature discussion questions and practical ideas for applying the insights to your everyday life.
What do the devotionals specifically look like? Here’s an example Advent devotional that was sent out last week. It’s taken from Nancy Guthrie’s Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room:
I Am the Lord’s Servant by Nancy Guthrie
It’s hard to imagine how frightening it must have been for teenage Mary to see an angel and hear him speaking to her. The Bible says that “Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored women! The Lord is with you!’ Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God!'” (Luke 1:28-30). We can’t help but wonder what the angel looked like and what he sounded like.
As frightening as it must have been to see and hear an angel speaking to her, it must have been even more frightening for Mary to process what the angel was telling her–that she was going to become pregnant, even though she had never been intimate with a man. This would be a scandal in her village. Everyone would whisper about her. She would be shunned and perhaps sent away by her fiance, Joseph, because he would think she had been unfaithful to him. And yet, even though she probably had a million questions and concerns, Mary responded to the angel by welcoming whatever God wanted to do. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38). In a sense she said to God, “I’m yours. You can do anything you want with me,” even though she must have known that this situation would be very hard for her, for Joseph, and for her whole family.
It’s easy to label what we consider “good things” in our lives as gifts from God and to welcome them with gratitude. But when difficult things happen, we don’t look at them as part of God’s good plan for us. Mary’s example shows us we can also welcome those things we would not necessarily label “good,” confident that God’s gifts sometimes come in perplexing and even painful packages. When we belong to God, we know he will use whatever he allows into our lives for good. Somehow, in God’s hands, these things also become gifts of his grace toward us.
It takes faith—faith to rest in who God is and his love for us; faith to be confident that he is doing something good in and through our difficult circumstances—to see the hard things in our lives as gifts of God’s grace.
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