Time Alone With God daily devotional

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ Church

Thursday, December 1

Read: Luke 1:11-38

Luke 1:11-38
New International Version (NIV)

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “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. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Start:

Consider: Luke opens his gospel with two stories that are similar, yet lead to very different circumstances. Both are accounts of angelic visits. Both contain the promise of a child. Both will have similar outcomes. Yet something is different.

Zechariah responded, “How can I be sure of this?” (1:18)

Mary responded, “How will this be…?” (1:34)

It sounds like Zechariah and Mary are asking Gabriel the same question. And yet, God’s messenger had two very different responses. It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems like Zechariah is looking for proof—looking for a guarantee. When he asked, “How can I be sure of this?” it sounds as though he was asking for a miraculous sign. As a matter of fact, he did get a miraculous sign. Be careful what you ask for.

Perhaps Mary’s question was one of process. It does not sound like she was saying, “Prove it!” but that she was asking, “How will this transpire?” So Gabriel explained to her the process…

“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… For nothing is impossible with God.” (1:35, 37)

Mary’s reply was simple. Without proof, without any guarantees, she was willing to trust the call of God.

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (1:38)

Is God’s call enough for you?

Pray: “Lord, so often I want guarantees. I want to know that my commitment to you will bring me the things that I want. But today I repent of that kind of response to your call. Without proof or guarantees, I want to tell you that I am your servant. I’ll follow wherever you lead me.”

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