When I was a young girl, our home was filled with rich Christmas traditions. From the decorations and food to family and activities, each memory is dear to my heart. I can still recall the aroma of my mother’s sweet potato soufflé drifting through the house and the scent of fresh-cut pine filling our living room.
These cherished memories prepare my heart to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the day when God gave this world the greatest gift of all—His Son, Jesus Christ.
There was no stress that day in Bethlehem’s manger. No one rushed about to make sure the greeting cards were sent or the decorations were put up just right. The sole focus on that first Christmas was a precious baby in the arms of His mother. That baby brought the greatest joy of all: salvation to the world.
As you read this devotional, I hope that you will take a moment to quiet your heart from the busyness and demands of this season and let the Lord speak to you. I pray that you will respond in praise to Him this holiday season—the way the shepherds and wise men did: “They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy … and they fell down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:10–11).
Cissie Graham Lynch
Week 4: Sing praises to God
Do you ever think about how Mary must have felt after the angel Gabriel appeared to her? She was a virgin and promised in marriage, but Gabriel told her she would become pregnant and give birth to God’s Son.
We cannot imagine the fear that probably swept over her. How lonely she must have felt, and how scared she must have been to face the next day. Who would believe her? How would Joseph react? She would be a disgrace to her family. What would people do to her? How could she bear it?
God chose Mary. He chose a poor, young girl to be the mother of His Son, the Messiah. He chose the least of these to be the mother of the King of kings. Even though she was selected by God to carry out an honorable task, this announcement would bring her ridicule and much pain. It would be years before her name would ultimately be cleared and lauded. This chosen girl, however, willingly submitted to God’s plan.
We read her response to God in Luke 1:46–55, “Mary’s Song,” also known as the Magnificat.
Even in the depths of uncertainty and loneliness, Mary sang praises to God:
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations
will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the
thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mary recognized that God had a plan for her. She submitted to His authority and called out to Him, shouting and rejoicing. We, too, should sing praises to God this Advent season. We can rejoice that He sent His Son once to this earth and that He will send Him again (see John 14:3).
What other reasons do you have to sing praises to God this season?
Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise Your holy Name. Jesus, Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, Jehovah, Elohim, Yahweh—we lift our voices and hearts and proclaim that there is no one greater than You. God, help to soften our hearts so that we can fully receive You and hear Your voice when You call to us.
More praise readings for week 4
2 Samuel 22:2–4
1 Chronicles 16:34
1 Peter 1:3–9
Mary had faith in God above all else. Believe in the God of miracles today.
Cissie Graham Lynch is the daughter of Franklin Graham and granddaughter of Billy Graham. She is a ministry spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Cissie and her husband, Corey, have two children and live in Florida.
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