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December 5—Advent 2013 Devotional

Advent Cover 2013“And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:36-37 

When someone complimented J. Hudson Taylor on founding the China Inland Mission, the pioneer missionary replied: 

It seemed to me that God had looked over the whole world to find a man who was weak enough to do His work, and when He at last found me, He said, ‘He is weak enough – he’ll do.’ All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them.

Similarly, the Apostle Paul observed how in the ways of God He delights in choosing “not many who were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth… so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (I Corinthians 1:26,29).

So when the Lord Most High seeks for just the right woman to bring forth the Savior of the world, He seeks out the lowliest and humblest of virgins in despised Galilee.

The young, poor peasant virgin, Mary, dared to believe Gabriel’s message to her. Although she does not ask for any sign to guarantee the angel’s words, the angel does give her a sign in the pregnancy of her aged relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a descendant of Israel’s first high priest, Aaron, and “was barren, getting on in years” (Luke 1:5).

Gabriel informs Mary of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy as a sign of God’s ability to do the impossible. It was just as humanly impossible for barren Elizabeth to conceive in her old age, as it was humanly impossible for Mary to conceive as a virgin. If God can do that for Elizabeth, He can do what He promised to Mary. Gabriel likely mentions that Elizabeth is “in the sixth month” because that is when she would feel her baby, John the Baptist, stirring and kicking within.

Gabriel seeks to reassure Mary by alluding to the angel’s words to elderly Sarah (Genesis 18:14) when she was told that she would bear a son: “For nothing will be impossible with God”. Literally, Gabriel’s words can be translated: “For no word of God shall be powerless”. God’s Word will accomplish all that God promises. Whether God’s Word to Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, or God’s Word to you, the point is clear: no Word of God shall be powerless.

J. Hudson Taylor observed that, “There are three stages in any great work attempted for God: impossible, difficult, done.” Which stage might you find yourself in today as you dare to do God’s work?


  • What is the ‘impossible’ thing that you might be facing in your life? Name it to God in prayer.
  • Countless people of God have faced the impossible and prevailed. Spend a few moments pondering these words of the prophet Jeremiah 32:17, 26:
    Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
    “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me?’”
  • What “Word of the Lord” do you sense God speaking to you today?

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