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. Luke 1:35
Mary, a poor teenage girl from a village far from anywhere important. God sends an angel to her to announce the most defining moment of her life. She is to mother the Son of God! The angel's words "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" and "overshadow you" have always seemed mysterious to me. I really don't know what they mean except that by the creative life-giving power of God, cells inside Mary began to divide and cleave and grow into God. When I was pregnant with my three kids, I loved getting to feel them move inside me. I loved imagining what they would be like and how life would go for them. Can you imagine knowing that for nine months, God himself is growing inside you. That it is God who is kicking you in the ribs, God who makes you crave ice cream and have a crazy sense of smell. The very bump that brings ridicule and judgement in her community is really her growing God belly. Now, we are not going to be pregnant with God, but what if we allowed him to interrupt our lives with his call and basked in his perpetual Presence as Mary did? How would that change your self-worth, your inner monologue, your responses to your family and community? It would sure change me, grow my confidence, and give me a peace that is solid despite the struggles of each day. I wish I could sit and chat with Mary and listen to her reflections on life with Jesus.
Lord, thank you for coming as a fragile baby, for taking on our humanity, for understanding us. We pray that you'd help us submit to your interruptions in our lives. Help us to let you fill us with your Spirit in re-make us into your children. May your Holy Spirit overflow us and ignite us with a passion for your life and purpose and glory. Help us to be more like Mary today.
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:3
Near the end of the book of Revelation, John sees the new heaven and the new earth. The old order of things has passed away and God is making all things new. From his throne, God calls out the words of our verse today. I hear echoes of our past devotion in this verse. God first dwelt with the people in the tabernacle, meeting with Moses there. The next sentence reminds me of our belonging to God and his belonging to us. Throughout this month, when I’ve turned my mind to “God and I belong to each other,” peace and calm and confidence wash over me. Our worth lies in that belonging no matter how poorly or well we perform in our daily tasks. The last two sentences of this verse take my thoughts back to Jesus with the shamed and forgotten. His compassion pours out to us. Oh, how I long for God to wipe every tear from our eyes and end death and grief and broken hearts. This season is yet to come. We are in still in what C.S. Lewis referred to as the Shadowlands, a valley mixed with painful grief and great joy. I am thankful that as we continue in this valley, we are not alone. Emmanuel understands our pain. He lived it. He offers us his compassion and love and grace and power. His presence is our peace and sure foundation.
Emmanuel, thank you for a glimpse at the new order of life! And thank you that while we wait in our tears and suffering, that you are with us. Thank you for understanding our pain and grief. We pray that you’d fill us with your joy and peace despite the circumstances that surround us.
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11
Just like yesterday, we have a story of a woman filled with shame being met with the compassion of Emmanuel. The teachers of the law drag a woman caught in the very act of adultery out before Jesus in order to trick him. They trap him between their laws and the Roman law. If he declares her worthy of stoning, he’ll have to answer to the Romans. If he doesn’t tell them to stone her, he’ll have to answer to the Jews for breaking the law. Instead, he bends down and writes in the dirt and says that those without sin should throw the first stone. When he looks up again, the mob is gone and the woman is left standing alone. He evaded their trap and could have gone on his way, but he chooses to interact with her. I imagine her standing in like a bedsheet or with a dress halfway hanging off her. Vulnerable, alone, scoffed at, used by the teachers to trick Jesus, utterly exposed. He looks up at her and talks with her. I imagine his eyes communicating a gleaming love and worth and value that she’s never experienced before. Compassion embodied. His response is grace and truth. He doesn’t comdemn her or condone her actions. He loves on her, showers grace, and shows her the way to proceed…leave the life of sin. How do you imagine her life changed after this horrible and grace-filled experience.
Jesus, thank you for loving us with your grace and not leaving us alone to deal with our messes. Thank you for defending us, for coming along side us. Help us to leave the life of sin that tries to pull at us. We pray for freedom from sin, grace in our condemning thoughts, and compassion in our brokenness. Thank you that with you is mighty power and that you are WITH us!
So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. John 4: 40
For the next few days I want to focus on Jesus being with people throughout his life. He is our Emmanuel. God became human and fully understood the human struggle, our cares, our joys, our battles, our grief and pain. Next week, we’ll focus on the nativity, but now, I want us to see Emmanuel in action!
Jesus and the disciples journey from a feast in Jerusalem back to Galilee. Most Jews avoided the route they took since it passed through Samaria, their “enemy”. In John 4, we get a clear view into Jesus choosing to be with people who others didn’t see as worthy. When they first arrive in Samaria, the disciples leave Jesus at a well to go into town for food. Meanwhile Jesus talks with a lonely woman who came to draw water at the heat of the day. She is clearly choosing to avoid the towns women in her shame. We find out that she has had five husbands and in currently living with a man. Jesus doesn’t rebuke her or shame her. Instead he offers her eternal life and declares to this foreign, shame-filled woman that he is the Messiah, for the first time. She brings out the town to see him and they beg him to stay. Not only is the one conversation against cultural and religious regulations, he has compassion on this village and stays with them for two full days. Ladies, Jesus is not just for the seemingly perfect church ladies. He is with us in our messes, in our shame and regrets. He lifts our faces and joins with us in our loneliness. He seeks out those who others cast off. Let us open our broken places to him and allow him to fill us with his living water!
Lord Jesus, thank you for seeing us completely and still loving us immensely. You know all the messes of our lives just as you did the Samaritan woman and you love us anyway. Help us today to loosen our fears and let you heal our most broken places. I pray we’d find freedom from shame and hope for the path and purpose you have for each of us. Thank you for being with us today, no matter what!
I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:12
In this part of the Old Testament, after explaining all the laws of Holy Living to the Hebrews, God begins to recite his blessings for them. I love these words…I will walk among you. Years and years before Christ, we have a picture of his walking in our shoes, along our roads, among us. God came near. God placed his dwelling with us…first in his tent of worship, then in Christ being with us, and finally through his Holy Spirit making his home in our hearts.
The second part of this verse speaks to me of belonging. I think we all long to be part of something that matters…a family, a team, a relationship, a company, a church… When we uproot and no longer feel our security in belonging to whatever we were a part of, we feel lost and long to latch onto something new. The God of our souls knows this need and I think he also has this need. Over and over in the Old Testament, God repeats…I will be your God and you will be my people. We belong to God. That part makes sense…he is our creator. The next part blows my mind…HE BELONGS TO US! The God of the entire universe, the Almighty, the Creator, he is ours. He puts himself out there for us to hold onto. More than the company we work for, the church we attend, the friends we have, we belong to God Almighty and He belongs to us. That to me speaks a security that satisfies, a soul rest in my Father’s arms. And yet, we are so human and forget and search for what’s right in front of us and lean on what this world has to offer rather than focusing on belonging to God. I know I sure struggle with this. Today, let’s spend some quiet resting in the Father’s arms, knowing He belongs to us and we belong to Him.
Father God, you are our creator, our Mighty God, and yet in your love for us, you understand our need to belong. Help us find peace as we focus on our belonging to You today. Thank you for making your dwelling with us and walking among us. Lord, help us to walk step by step with you today. In insecure moments, help us to look to you to satisfy, to fill us rather than reaching for the world’s quick fixes that increase the ache of our souls.
Hi. I'm Maggie. Current hats: Wife, mom, artist and starting this week, a devotional writer! Enthusiastic, creative, focused. I love chai tea lattes, and authentic conversations.