Sparta Baptist Church

Advent Day 9

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“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Yesterday, we watched as an angel’s visit altered everything about a young girl’s life.  Think about it.  Her plans for the future, how she viewed the past…everything was changed in light of all the angel had said.  She must have wondered if she had been dreaming or if she had heard him right, and being a woman (even a young one), she must have longed to tell someone.  So she hurried to her cousin Elizabeth; she hurried to see the truth of what she had been told and to tell someone else of all the things her heart was holding.

Read Luke 1:39-45.

Imagine the young girl walking down the road, the hope in her heart hurrying her feet over the rocky terrain.   At times, her pace probably slowed as she grew weary on the way but sped again as she remembered the promises she’d been given. From Galilee to Judea, Mary crossed much of the country, arriving to receive much more than confirmation.

Upon entering the house, Mary was met with words of affirmation and encouragement.  Oh, how wonderful it must have felt to have someone call her “blessed” when it’s possible other people in her life would soon consider her anything but.  When she had probably been struggling to believe what the angel had said, Elizabeth affirmed her faith.

Can’t you just imagine some of the conversations that must have passed between them?  Elizabeth probably told her how she hoped the baby would have his father’s eyes, while Mary sat and contemplated how the face of God could be made man.  As Elizabeth prepared to give birth, Mary began to have more than just hope that she would be a mother; she began to see physical signs as well.  It seems she stayed with her cousin long enough to see Elizabeth holding her own little miracle before heading back home with hers on the way.

We might wonder which was harder:  the journey to Elizabeth’s home or the one back to her own?  She had sought out Elizabeth at a time when she was filled with excitement and trepidation.   She saw God working miracles in her cousin’s life and was encouraged to believe he was working them in hers as well.  Though she probably went home wondering how her family and friends would find the faith to believe, Mary knew God would make a way.

Worship:  Read Philippians 2:1-11.  Consider the women in our study today.  Both were blessed.  Both were obedient.  Both were humble.  Elizabeth could have resented Mary, whose son her own would only prepare the way for.  She could have expected things to be all about her. After all, she’d been waiting many years for a child; it certainly made sense that Mary should visit her, right?  But remember she said, “Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  She considered Mary better than herself and served her, encouraging her in the faith.  As followers of Christ, we are to follow his example, the one of humility, and be obedient.  Who can you serve today? 

Family Focus: Talk about encouraging others and make a plan as a family to encourage someone today.  Perhaps you can make Christmas cards for people who need to know someone remembers them this holiday season.  Maybe your family could visit someone in the nursing home, bringing a little love into their lives.  Maybe you have a friend who just needs a visit.  Call or visit them today!

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