December 14 Devotional
Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.
Opening Prayer: Yes, Father! Yes! And always Yes! - Francis de Sales
Scripture Reading for the Day: Luke 1:5-25
Reading for Reflection: Our lives are full. Oh, maybe not full in the qualitative sense (as in all the fullness of God - Ephesian 3:19), but full of other, not so quality things. We are full of doubt, full of fear, and full of insecurity. We are full of activities, full of responsibilities, and full of stuff to do. We are full of disappointment, full of groaning, and full of pain. We are full of voices - full of demands, full of distractions, and full of expectations. We are simply full! And if we are totally honest, the biggest thing we are full of is ourselves. No wonder there are so few times when we actually feel full of God. How could we? We are so full of other things that there is simply no room. There must be an emptying take place in order for any new kind of filling to be a possible.
Elizabeth was full of disgrace. She had lived for so many years being called “barren.” What an awful thing to be called. Look at some of the definitions of that word: not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile: unproductive; unfruitful: without capacity to interest or attract. The Greek word used here is steira, which means hard, stiff, or unnatural. If you are a woman, I’m guessing it is not the type of word you would want to be known by. It is probably not a name you would want to be called. It is a name that points out your inabilities as a woman. And so Elizabeth, because she was barren, was filled with disgrace. But God was about to change all of that. He was about to take away, or empty, her of all that disgrace and fill her instead with favor. What a great word. God was about to fill Elizabeth, not only with the child she most deeply longed for, but with something much, much more - His favor.
So God birthed something new deep in her body, as well as her heart and soul, and she was completely overwhelmed. So much so that she had to ponder all of this, she had to take time and reflect on the magnitude of what had happened to her, in order to nurture this new birth that had just taken place within her - both physically and spiritually. So instead of running around showing everyone that God had taken away her disgrace, she went into seclusion for five months. She immediately went into silence, where she knew this new birth could best be cared for, nurtured, and grown before it was ready to be seen by the world. I wonder what those five months were like for her. And I wonder if she was a totally different person when the time in silence - just her and her God - was complete? She had received a gift from God and had to make it her own before it would be of any value to anyone else.
I’m really drawn to Elizabeth during this season. I’m drawn to her emptying and to her filling. I’m drawn to the silence she goes into in order to nurture this new life of God within her. Elizabeth is such a great guide for us during Advent. What emptying needs to take place in us? What new life does God long to plant within us? How will we pay attention to and care for and nurture this life in order to allow it the space and the time to become all that God desires it to be?
Reflection and Listening: silent and written
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Bobby and Teresa LaDage are working with Redeemer City to City (the church planting arm of Redeemer Church in NYC) envisioning, equipping, and mentoring church planters and their wives in order to see gospel-centered churches reach the major cities of Eastern and Central Europe. Pray today for wisdom, guidance and health for Bobby and Teresa as they meet with church and mission leaders to plan new church plants.
Logan and Melissa Keck are building relationships and meeting with a core group for the purpose of discipling, training, and equipping leaders as they are planting Christ the King, JP/Roxbury in Boston. Pray today for families in their neighborhood as they deal with a recent shooting of a teenager. Pray for Logan and Melissa as they minister to these families and share hope with them during the Christmas season.
Closing Prayer: I have heard your call, my Lord, and respond with a yes that arises from the depth of my being. I know that if I follow close to you, nothing shall be able to separate me from your love. Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job)