God works in surprising ways.

God breaks into the world with amazing love in ways we never would have imagined or expected.

God might surprise you too, if you open your heart with anticipation.

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Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will call him, Emmanuel.

(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.

Matthew 1:22-25

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Today’s devotion is part two – if you missed part one yesterday, click on the archives in the menu and read yesterday's devotion now, then continue here.

Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years. Many were expecting an earthly king who would liberate them from the cruelty of Roman occupation. But God had other plans. Jesus was born not in a palace, but in a stable. Soon after, the young family fled to Egypt to avoid genocide. Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God, not an earthly kingdom. His radical ideas about love and justice got him executed. Many had a hard time understanding and accepting that this Jesus was indeed the Messiah. To help convince his Jewish readers, Matthew quotes Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and shows his readers how Jesus does fulfill them.

What are your expectations of Jesus? What kind of Messiah are you seeking? Spend some time this week reading the gospels to deepen your understanding of who Jesus really is and what it really means to follow him.

Tracy Hartman

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God, this Christmas season, help me to put aside my own assumptions about who you are and expectations about who I think you should be. Help me be willing to follow you and to model your radical and unexpected love to everyone I meet. Amen.

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Now go into the world with hope and anticipation, with your heart wide open to God’s ongoing work in the world.

Tracy Hartman

Tracy Hartman mostly recently served on the faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She enjoys coaching clergy and serving as an intentional interim pastor. She and her husband Jay live in Richmond, VA.

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