Advent YouVersion Devotional

What’s On The Other Side of Your “Yes”?

Mary makes it seem so easy. The angel Gabriel tells her that she’ll give birth to the Son of God, and she responds with immediate surrender to her role in God’s plan. What was Mary thinking? She had no assurance of a comfortable outcome. A virgin engaged to be married, she likely knew how difficult giving birth to and raising Jesus would be. The only assurance Mary received was God’s Word, and it was enough for her to say “yes.”

In 1 Peter 1, the apostle Peter says that through the trials we face, the genuineness of our faith is revealed. God frequently asks for our trust through difficult, uncomfortable, and seemingly impossible circumstances. But how often do we respond like Mary? It can be easy to let our questioning of God get in the way of what He desires to do in and through us. We may want to be refined, but are we willing to say “yes” to God and walk through the fire?

Mary couldn’t possibly understand all that was on the other side of her response to God, but she trusted Him. As a result, God brought Jesus to the world through Mary, offering us forgiveness for our sins and mending the brokenness in our relationship with God.

During this Christmas season, reflect on Mary’s response to God’s plan for the birth of Jesus. What challenging task has God placed on your heart? Whether it’s mending a broken relationship or stepping out in faith to walk in the purpose He’s given you, take heart in knowing that on the other side of your “yes” to God is an outcome greater than you can imagine.

Prayer: Father, I trust that Your will is perfect. I pray You will place Your desires on my heart, aligning my dreams with Yours. Thank You for the example You’ve given me in Mary. Please give me the wisdom, courage, and faith I need to say “yes” to Your plan for my life.

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WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD THE POOR?

If you do a word study of poor as it appears in Scripture, you will find that four categories emerge.

The first group consists of people who are poor as a direct result of indolence; that is, these people are poor because they are irresponsible. They are lazy. They refuse to work. The response of God to that particular category of the poor is one of somewhat harsh judgment and admonition. “Consider the ant, thou sluggard.” Go watch the ant and learn how to live. Paul takes a strong view in the New Testament: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). So the basic posture toward that group of people is one of admonition and a call to repentance.

Sometimes, however, people will oversimplify it and say that the only reason people are poor is because they are lazy. That’s just not true. There are a lot of people who are poor for reasons that have nothing to do with being sinful or lazy. So we come to the second group of the poor identified in Scripture, those who are poor as a direct result of calamity, disease, accident, and that sort of thing. Scripture tells us that it is the responsibility of the church and of Christian people to pour out their hearts in compassion and to give assistance to those who are suffering through no fault of their own, as a result of natural calamity.

The third group is comprised of those who are poor as a result of unfair exploitation or tyrannization by the powerful, those who are victims of corrupt governments or are the almost incidental casualties of war. In that situation, you see God thundering from heaven, calling for justice to be given to these people, and God pours out his indignation against those who would sell the poor for a pair of shoes and who would tyrannize them through illegitimate means. In that sense, we should be advocates of the poor and defenders of the poor.

The fourth and final group of the poor that we find in the Bible are those who are poor voluntarily; that is, they are poor for what the Bible calls “righteousness’ sake,” willingly sacrificing any worldly gain as a personal commitment on their part to devote their time to other matters. Those people are to receive our support and our approval.

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9 Photos of Scotland That Will Make You Want to Go Now

Slip away from the bustling cities of London or Edinburgh and you’ll enter the gorgeous countryside of the United Kingdom. Here you’ll find castles, verdant green valleys, and coastal cliffs. While there are many parts of the UK that draw admiration, Scotland’s landscapes are the stuff of dreams. Here are 9 photos of Scotland that will make you want to go now.

Old Man of Storr

Credit:1111IESPDJ/iStock

The Old Man of Storr stands impressively on the Isle of Skye, seven miles north of the town of Portree. With a 164-foot-tall petrified lava pinnacle, the Old Man of Storr seems otherworldly and offers a panoramic view of the Sound of Raasay including Loch Leathan, the sea, and stunning green glass slopes.

Mealt Falls

Credit: Lukassek/Shutterstock

The waterfalls in Niagara, Venezuela, and Yosemite sure are impressive, but Mealt Falls on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a spectacular sight to see. Water from the nearby Mealt Loch cascades over the cliffside to the rocky coast below — which makes for a dramatic

Hermaness National Nature Reserve

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The jagged coastline cliffs of Hermaness National Nature Reserve are beautifully covered in emerald green grass. Located on the island of Unst, part of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, Hermaness is a refuge for thousands of seabirds including puffins, which is why it was declared a national nature reserve.

Kilchurn Castle

Credit:Swen_Stroop/iStock

You’ll find many castle ruins in Scotland, but Kilchurn Castle mirrored in Loch Awe, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland is a perfect scene that will stun you with its beauty. Gaze on the still structure that remains from a time long ago and you’ll be convinced to take a Scottish getaway.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Credit:Roelof Nijholt/Shutterstock

If you’re a Harry Potter fanatic, you probably know that Hogwarts Castle is supposedly mysteriously hidden in the Scottish Highlands (unable to be seen by muggles), but did you know you can visit the Hogwarts Express in Scotland? The Jacobite Steam Train passes over Glenfinnan Viaduct, and was shown in the movies. The landscape you’ll pass along the way aboard the Jacobite will allow you to fulfill your childhood fantasies.

Glenfinnan Monument

Credit: David Gonzalez Rebollo/Shutterstock

The Glennfinnan Monument is a historical landmark on Loch Shiel honoring the fallen Jacobite clansmen. Also located in the Highlands near the Glennfinan Viaduct, this monument erected in 1815 is a pivotal point of remembrance for those who lost their lives. The views from the top aren’t too shabby either.

Arrochar Mountains

Credit: Targn Pleiades/Shutterstock

It’s not everyday you get to see a true highland cow. You’ll find these shaggy friends across the Scottish Highlands, particularly in the Trossachs, a nature reserve backed by the Arrochar A

Mountains of Skye

Credit: v2osk/Unsplash

A Scottish sunset is more magical than a sunset in the Caribbean with swaying palm trees. Don’t believe us? This photo of the mountains on the Isle of Skye will convince you otherwise. The golden hour over the green cliffs and rocky coastline is enough to make anyone empty their savings.

Neist Point Lighthouse

Credit: Mike Smith/Unsplash

Neist Point Lighthouse on the westerly tip of the Isel of Skye is a popular sunset spot for tourists. But no matter what time of day you visit, you’ll find this beautiful site surrounded by rocky cliffs and stunning views each way you turn.

You’ll find Marissa endlessly scrolling through Kayak to purchase a cheap, last-minute getaway. With a cup of coffee in hand, she prefers train-hopping with her large blue backpack and searching for handmade souvenirs by local artisans. Based in Denver, Marissa is an adventurous spirit who never gets tired of lengthy road trips out west.