How Far Will God Go to Reach One Person?

As we continue our Advent journey, may our longing for Christ’s return increase. The following are reflections written by various authors, collected in Rediscovering Advent.

Monday–Luke 1.18-20,62-64. Zechariah experienced nine months of silence as a result of his unbelief at the angel Gabriel’s proclamation. “While there is a component here that is punishment, we can also see what nine months of silence did to Zechariah’s heart. It brought a fresh state of spiritual health, because the immediate thing that came out of his mouth when his son was born was an unleashing torrent of praise. His son, John will play a part in the preparation for the coming of the Messiah.” (Nancy Ortberg) How might God desire to shape you through intentional time in silence?

Tuesday–Luke 1.26-31. “Today as I read accounts of Jesus birth I tremble to think of the fate of the world resting on the responses of two rural teenagers. How many times must Mary have gone over the angel’s words as she felt the Son of God kicking against the walls of her womb? It seems as if God arranged the most humiliating circumstances possible for his entrance into the world, as if to avoid any accusation of favoritism.” (Philip Yancey)

Wednesday–Luke 1.32-38; Luke 2.33-35. Mary’s acceptance of her role in the birth of the Messiah was loaded with unpredictable outcomes for the young teen. She faced loss of reputation, relationships, and possibly her life. Had abortion been an option, she might have considered that. But, Mary had a different response. “Every work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain, and in her matter of fact response, Mary embraced both. She was the first to accept Jesus on his own terms, regardless of the personal cost.” (Philip Yancey) What does Mary’s reaction to the angel reveal to you about her character and her faith?

Thursday–Matthew 1.18-23. “How did Joseph first discover that Mary is pregnant? He either deduced it as he saw physical changes in Mary, or Mary told him herself. For Joseph, this is a moment of ultimate disgrace, one of the worst moments of his life. Then, at this point, the angel comes to Joseph. When Joseph likely feels the worst about his life, God is actually closer than ever. And it is in this moment when Joseph miraculously discovers that God is going to do something magnificent- that Jesus will save his people from their sins.”(Peter Chin) How might you have felt or reacted if you were in Joseph’s position?

Friday–Matthew 1.24-25. Joseph has a dilemma. His reputation is at risk. “But what if Mary is right, and the baby is a miracle baby? Sometimes the implication of listening to the voice of God is that we ruin our reputation in the public square. Loving God involves surrendering ourselves to God in heart, soul, mind, strength–and reputation. The minute we turn exclusively to the Lord to find our true identity is the day reputation dies. Joseph turns to God. The decisive act of Joseph is found in a simple expression: ‘He did as he was told.’” (Scot McKnight) How does Joseph’s costly obedience inspire you?

Saturday–Psalm 63.1-8. “To be thirsty for God is a gift indeed. During Advent, we commit to learning to long, even pant after Christ and his kingdom coming. Holy longing is a burden of the not-yet world: the world of Israel, as she craned her neck for a glimpse at the coming Messiah; our world as we watch for the Messiah’s return. The world is not yet as it should be, but Someone is coming for her rescue.” (Jen Pollock Michel) What causes you to “long” for God?