Christmas is less than a week away. Many of you have purchased The Gift of Christmas Present, my Advent devotional. (Thank you for doing so!) This week, I’ll be sharing a few excerpts from the closing pages of the devotional, all of which focus on joy. So if you’re looking for a free Christmas devotional to anchor you the next few days, we’ll have it for you here, as my free gift to you.

Here’s today’s excerpt, which includes a Scripture, reflection, journaling prompt and prayer. I’d love to hear your response to the journaling question in the comments!

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39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

(Luke 1:39-45, NLT)

Mary embarks on an adventure like no other: to bear and raise the Son of God. In the face of mystery, Mary chooses joy, rather than fear.

I love this chapter of Luke because it’s so radical. It was written into a patriarchal culture, to an audience that did not value women. And yet, both Mary and Elizabeth speak God’s truth with remarkable assurance and strength. There is no man-splaining allowed—in fact, Elizabeth’s husband John has literally been muted, struck dumb for his doubt.

Elizabeth feels the movement of her unborn child (who would grow up to be John the Baptist) and recognizes it as a jump for joy. The text connects joy with the Holy Spirit. She knows Mary’s news before her young niece can speak a word. She affirms Mary’s faith. She uses the word “blessed” three times: twice to describe Mary, once to describe her child. And why is she blessed? Because of her faith: “because you believed that he Lord would do what he said.”

We get it backwards, don’t we? We think if we get blessings, we’ll have more faith. But the opposite is true: we get blessings (including joy) from simply having faith.

We’re often seeking blessing, striving for God’s favor. But Mary has found it simply by believing.

Journal: We’ll read Mary’s response tomorrow, but for now, focus here. Where are you seeking God’s blessing? What situation do you need to reframe and believe that God will do what he promises?

Pray: God, sometimes my doubts destroy my joy. Today, I want to believe that you will do what you said.

Leave a comment below. Want to grab a copy of The Gift of Christmas Present? Find it on amazon.