The Third Monday in Advent


As moms, we often find ourselves surrounded. Spouses, kids, bosses, friends, school, organizations, and more. During the Holiday season, we have even more people surrounding us: church, extended family, and more. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and even scared. We worry we will be unable to meet the needs of everyone wanting something from us.

Today’s verse reminds us that we have nothing to fear no matter how many people are tugging on our sleeve. God is there for us, protecting us from all those demanding, or even asking, for something from us. We also have the Holy Spirit to keep us strong and joyful from within.

Never let anyone suck the joy out of you during Christmas. Rely on the strength and love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Tackle your tasks as you are able. Rest so you remain well. And celebrate the birth of our Savior with joy.

The Third Sunday in Advent

Lack of Faith Joseph

Lesson Verse Matthew 1:18-25


Joseph is often the forgotten person in the Christmas story. Yet, he played a very important part. From the beginning, Joseph was the figure in the background yet he had an impact on Mary’s life and on Jesus’. In the birth story, Joseph shows us what an incredibly faithful man he was. He was ready to stand by Mary in unusual circumstances even before the angel came to him in a dream. Joseph had faith even when everything told him to believe otherwise. Joseph cared for Mary during her pregnancy and then for her and the baby, keeping them safe and moving them away from harmful situations. To understand the importance of Joseph to the birth of Jesus, you must look at three aspects of the story:

Key Points

  • Joseph had no legal obligation to Mary
  • Mary would have been stoned if Joseph had denounced her
  • The angel came to Joseph in a dream (He came to Mary when she was awake)

Joseph had no legal obligation to Mary

Joseph was not yet married to Mary. They were only betrothed. As a betrothed woman, Mary was not under the protection of her father or her future husband. She was in limbo, with no one to speak for her, to defend her. Joseph cared for Mary and was considering his different options that would not cause Mary any harm.

Mary would have been stoned if Joseph had denounced her

Under Hebrew Law, Mary would have been stoned to death if it was found she had sex with a man other than Joseph. If Joseph was the father of the child, he would have been compelled to marry her. Joseph knew he was not the father because he had not had sex with Mary yet. He could have walked away and let the law deal with Mary. Instead, he was going to quietly break their engagement and send her to live with relatives in another town so Mary would not be shamed.

The angel came to Joseph in a dream (He came to Mary when she was awake)

I have always been fascinated by the fact the angel appeared to Mary when she was awake but to Joseph in a dream. I believe God wanted Mary to know beyond a doubt that an angel had appeared to her and what his message had been. In Joseph’s case, however, there had to be room for doubt. God need Joseph to decide for himself if he believed the angel and the message was real or only his imagination. Joseph could have awakened, only to decide the dream was just part of his overactive imagination. Instead, when he awoke, Joseph accepted the message as the Word of the Lord. He married Mary and prepared for their life together.

Faith Vs Fear

Joseph had to be concerned about the situation with Mary. He knew she was expecting a child that wasn’t his. He cared for Mary and wanted to handle the situation in a way that did her no harm. Then, an angel appeared to him in a dream.

Scripture says when Joseph woke up, he married Mary. It makes it sound as if he got up the next morning and immediately got married. Perhaps they did however, I believe Joseph needed to think a bit more about all that had happened. It’s easy for us to sit here now and think Joseph should have been ready and willing to marry Mary after the angel appeared in his dream. This was such an unusual situation, though, I can’t help but feel Joseph had to think a bit more. He need some time to process all that he had heard. He may even have needed time to consider whether or not he was prepared to raise the Son of God.

Joseph had to be afraid. This was a tremendous responsibility he was being asked to take on. I can see where he might need some time to think. Whether he needed a few days to mull over all these things or just a few hours, Joseph had enough faith to not only go ahead and marry Mary but also raise the Son of God as his own. What an incredible man!

For Today

Joseph could have walked away from his betrothal to Mary without any recourse. Joseph could have quietly sent Mary away to keep her from harm but she still would have been an unmarried woman with a child. Instead, Joseph married Mary and raised the child as his own.

You may find yourself in situations when it would be easy to walk away. You tell yourself, “it’s not my problem.” or “it’s not my place.” No one would criticize you. After all, why is it your problem?

It may not be your problem and you might have every right not to become involved. Yet, like Joseph, God may be asking you to step up anyway, to take control of a situation in a way only you are able.

Joseph may have had no idea how he ended up in the situation in which he found himself. Yet, stepping up turned out to be the greatest thing Joseph did in his life. You never know the outcome of any situation when God calls you. You may think the situation is one of the worst things that ever happened to you. It may only be years later that you are able to see how God turned it into one of the greatest things you every did!

Are there tasks God has called you to do and you felt it wasn’t your problem? How do you overcome that fear?

What is an area in your life where God is calling you but you hesitate to answer because you think it’s not your responsibility?

The Second Saturday in Advent

All by Myself

Some days, it feels like everyone is against us. We can’t seem to do anything right. Add to that the pressure of the Christmas season and it’s enough to drive us to bed, pull the covers over our head, and stay there until after the first of the year. When we feel everyone is against is, we become not only frustrated but frightened. It is scary when we are made to feel all alone even when we are surrounded by others.

Today’s Scripture verse reminds us that it doesn’t matter who is against us because God is ALWAYS with us, no exception. Even if everyone we know is against us, if God is for us, He overcomes the opposition of everyone else. When God is for us, we are never alone, we have no need to be afraid.

We also may gather strength knowing Jesus is not only FOR us, He has lived among us. He understands how tough life can be some days. I’m sure Jesus got frustrated. I know there came a time when the majority of people were against Him. Jesus overcame all of that and came out victorious. He is always with us. Jesus is always on our side.

The Second Friday in Advent

Can’t Hurt Me

I talk about fear a lot. I’m not going to give a detailed breakdown on my message however, I want you to understand my feelings on guilt and fear. So often women, especially moms, talk about how guilty they feel about something. I don’t believe the problem is guilt. I think it’s fear. We just think that feeling is guilt. Now, let’s look at this verse!

Fear may be a big part of your life during the Holidays. You’re afraid you won’t get everything done. You’re afraid things won’t be right. You’re afraid what other people, especially extended family members, might think or say about you and the way you do things. It’s hard to remain confident when you are always concerned that others, especially other women are going to criticize you.

In the last few devotions, I’ve discussed not being afraid because the Lord is with you. He is never going to desert you. Not ever. This verse takes that reassurance a step farther. If you are taking time to listen to the Lord to help you stay focused during Christmastime. When you stay close to Him, when you listen to what He is telling you, when you follow His leading, then He is with you. He is definitely and completely with you. Not just close to you. He is on your side.

Now tell me, if God is on your side, if He is supporting you, if He is the one leading you, then what can people do to you? Sure, they can still criticize but you have the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing. Does this mean you can quickly point out to others that they are wrong because God told you what to do? Well, I wouldn’t advise doing that if I were you. No, you can just have the satisfaction that the Lord is pleased with you, He is with you. That is enough.

The Second Thursday in Advent

Just Today

During the Holidays, you might worry that things are going to fall between the cracks. It’s bad enough when something fairly small is overlooked but what if you forget something BIG? I create lists and then lists within my lists to help me remember all the things I want to do.

Focus is one of the keys to making certain you accomplish the tasks you must get done… or even want to get done. Here’s the problem: when you are worried about the things you need to do tomorrow, you lose your focus on the things you want to do today.

God is the God of today. When Moses asked God His name, He responded , “I am!” God wants to help you with all your concerns, your tasks today. He wants you to focus on today, not tomorrow. One day at a time. Take it one day at a time and you will find your tasks, your concerns, your life much easier to handle.

The Second Wednesday in Advent

Lead On!

OK. Maybe things aren’t so bad that you feel as if you are walking through the darkest valley. I do know, however, that you sometimes feel rather bleak. As the days go on in December, you life gets busier. When I feel overwhelmed, I often have trouble determining what I should work on first. I begin working on one project only to worry I should be working on another. So I abandon the first and jump to the second only to have doubts again. It becomes exhausting!

This verse is part of the 23rd Psalm. The passage tells you the Lord is your Shepherd. This verse assures you that His rod and staff will give your comfort. At one time, I thought the rod and staff should comfort me because the Lord could use them to fight off any enemies. Nope! A shepherd uses the rod and staff to guide the sheep They keep the sheep on the right path so they go where they need to go.

When it is difficult to determine which task should be done, which way you should go, that’s the time to spend some quiet time listening to the Lord. Let Him guide you, leading you the way you should go. He is ready to comfort you by helping you in all things, big or small.

The Second Tuesday in Advent

I Am Strong!

Let’s go over this again. God is telling you not to be afraid. In fact, in this verse, He goes a step farther, telling you not to be terrified! I know how it is. Waking up in the middle of the night, lying in the dark grinding on all the things that absolutely, positively must be done before Christmas. You barely have enough time in the day to do the usual things on your list or schedule. Now you have half again as many things to accomplish. Now what?

It’s simple, really it is. Be strong! How can I do that, you ask! You must remember that the Lord is with you. This verse tells you that He not only is with you. It says He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. Believe me, there have been many times when I felt the Lord had deserted me. I was WRONG! He never left me. I just refused to draw near to Him.

If you feel overwhelmed and alone, take a moment and determine just how far away from the Lord you have moved. If you are afraid, you need to move closer to God. You need to listen to Him so He is able to help you remain strong and courageous. He is with you everywhere, helping you tackle the things that come your way.

The Second Monday in Advent

Fear Not!

It is so easy to become discouraged. Life can be overwhelming. You try so hard to do things right, to be things done but it just doesn’t always work out the way you hope. If this happens over and over, you might be ready to give up.

Read today’s verse again. God doesn’t suggest you remain strong and courageous. He commands you to be strong and courageous. Now, I know this might seem impossible some days, especially during the Christmas season. There is so much to do. There are so many things going on. You begin to feel you are fighting a big battle and you are the only one on your side! Well, you’re not! God tells you not to be afraid, not to be discouraged because He is with you wherever you go! No matter how tired, frustrated, overwhelmed you might feel, you are not alone. Lean on the Lord and let Him give you the strength and courage you need to face whatever is ahead of you!

The Second Sunday in Advent

Lack of Experience Mary

Lesson Verse Luke 1:26-38


The Father was preparing to send His Son into the world. His Son was to live the entire human experience, including childbirth, being born. This meant He had to chose a woman to give birth to His Son. He selected a very young woman named Mary. Mary was, as her cousin, Elizabeth said, “Blessed among all women.” While this was a tremendous honor, it didn’t mean things would be easy for Mary for some small reasons and one very, very big reason.

Key Points

  • Mary was very young
  • Mary was unmarried
  • Mary was not anyone special (or was she?)

Mary was very young

Such a very young woman to have such a large responsibility placed upon her. I would think most young women would have been out of their minds with fear when told they were carrying the Son of God. Yet Mary was such an incredible woman that she accepted the call God had place upon her with grace and tremendous faith. Elizabeth accepted her pending motherhood with grace in spite of her advanced age and Mary also accepted motherhood in spite of her young age. The Father chose a young, unmarried woman so there would be no doubt this child was a miracle.

Mary was unmarried

This is very important. In Mary’s day, women were not able to speak for themselves or defend themselves in any way. They had no rights of their own. A woman need a man to speak for her. Mary had her father however, she had recently become betrothed to Joseph. During the time of betrothal, Mary was in limbo legally. Her father was no longer able to speak for her and Joseph had no legal obligation to speak for her.

When it became known that Mary was expecting a child, by law, she would be stoned for having sex outside of marriage. Mary was in a very dangerous position. You might think God had poor timing. He should have waited until Mary and Joseph were married. Yet God’s timing is always perfect. This betrothal time is exactly when He needed events to unfold. There would always be those with questions about the father of Mary’s child. Mary, however, had no doubts and ,eventually, neither did Joseph.

Mary was not anyone special (or was she?)

I have often wondered, “why then?” Why was Jesus born at that time? There were other times in the history of Israel when things were bad, very bad both before Jesus’ time and after. What was different about that time?

While there may be many factors, I believe one of the most important is Mary. Elizabeth was right. Mary is blessed among ALL women. Mary was the one chosen, out of all the women of all time, to be the Mother of the Messiah. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that God chose us in Him before the creation of the world. Before God made anything, He knew exactly what would happen, when He would send His Son, and who was to be chosen to be His Mother.

Yes, Mary was very, very special indeed.

Faith Vs Fear

Imagine how frightening it must have been for Mary to be called to carry and give birth to the Son of God. She had to know what people were going to think. She had to know the risks involved. Yet she didn’t argue. She had complete faith in God, stepping up to accept her call without any questions or fear. Well, she did wonder how she could have a child when she had never known a man in the Biblical sense. When this was explained to her, she had no more questions. She had no fear. She was filled with tremendous faith and courage, ready to face whatever came.

Mary faced many challenges as the mother of Jesus. Years later, when Jesus was an adult, a comment is made about Him being born in Nazareth, that nothing good ever comes out of Nazareth. The people mocking Him knew the story about His birth. They knew His mother was pregnant when she got married. All her adult life, Mary probably came across people that knew her story, that talked about her behind her back. She knew the truth. Her Son knew the truth. God knew the truth. That is all that mattered to her.

For Today

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. Mary had every reason to be concerned about the opinion of others. Their opinion could have gotten her put to death yet she stood up and told God, “Here I am!”

God called Mary to do something that she felt she was unqualified to do. Still, Mary stepped up and answered God’s call even though it might have cost her her life. God may be calling you to do something special. You might not recognize the feeling. It often comes as a restlessness, a feeling there is something you need to do but you might not be certain just what that something it. Take time to listen to God the way Mary listened to the angel.

You might understand what God is asking you to do yet you feel unable or unqualified to do the job. Would God call you if He didn’t know you were able to do what He asked? True, you might not be ready right now. When He called me to ministry, I wasn’t ready. It took years of study to prepare myself for the task at hand. The Lord provided me with everything I needed to do the job He wanted. Even today, He still provides so I am able to focus on the work ahead.

Like Mary, you must have faith that the Lord would never call you if He didn’t know you were able or would be able to do what He asked. Even if you can’t have faith in yourself right now, have faith in Him. Keep listening to His call, moving forward one step, one day at a time.

How can you have faith in God’s call when you feel unqualified?

What can you do to help increase your preparedness?

The First Saturday in Advent

You Are Not Alone

It’s very easy when we feel overwhelmed to feel alone. Oh we may have all sorts of people around us but we feel they don’t understand what we want or need. Perhaps we think they are too busy to be bothered with our problems, too busy to help us get ready for Christmas. These thoughts and feelings can leave us feeling dismayed, just like the verse says. Eventually, we become afraid we might not be able to accomplish everything we need to get done by Christmas.

In the verse, God tells us not to be afraid. He reminds us that He is always with us so we are never alone. He tells us that He is providing the strength we need to complete the tasks before us. He even says He will help us! And if we feel we can’t go on, He holds us up! This is the promise we must remember and rely on whenever we feel overwhelmed. We are never alone for the Lord is always with us!