Bible Reference: Luke 1:13; 18; 24
Bible Text: 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
I believe that we read over the Christmas Story so quickly each year that there are aspects of the story that do not get the attention it deserves. For example, look at these two aspects of Zechariah’s part in this story and let’s see together what we can learn from him. In the link for the Bible Reference above, I have given you a few surrounding verses that will give you the context from which I have taken the verses for my text. Here are two things that caught my attention, because it quickly reminded me of where we might be in our relationship with God even today:
- Our prayers of expectancy – Our church prayer meetings are probably one of the least attended services that we have at our church, and I don’t believe we are that different to most churches today. However, I believe that most churches will acknowledge that they are a people of prayer! Regardless, let’s look at the experience by Zechariah: The angel revealed that this child of God was praying for a long time that his wife might bear a child. In verse 25 of this chapter, we are told by Elizabeth, that she felt somewhat disgraced in not having borne a child up to this stage in her life. So picture Zechariah approaching the incense altar, as he probably had done many times before, yet this time something was different, for there was an angel standing next to the altar. Knowing that he was in the temple all alone, yet to hear this heavenly being speak to him, and to speak specifically about an answer to a prayer item that he had pleaded before God on many occasions for, must have in itself be astonishing for Zechariah. But all of the same human feelings that we have today, came through in Zechariah, for he doubted. He just couldn’t believe that God was actually answering his prayer at a time like this, in he and his wife’s old age. Friends, why do we, like Zechariah, spend so much time in prayer, pleading our case before a holy and all-powerful God, yet never expecting our prayers to be answered? It’s like we pray hoping the best, but expecting the same old, same old – business as usual – everything remains unchanged. That truly is not the kind of God that we pray to friends? Why would our answer to prayer be any less of an expectation, when we consider all of the other miraculous things that God has shown to us through His Word, and that we may have been blessed to see by our ancestors of faith? Really, praise should be on our lips every day friends, for our almighty God answers our prayers every day. We may struggle to understand why a most powerful and awesome God would answer our prayers slightly different to the way we placed our order, but let’s remember that God knows what we need, if we need it, and when we need it. Let’s let Him be God, as we try harder to perfect our position as humble and obedient servants!
- Our dedication to the Lord’s work – Notice in verse 23 that even after this miraculous experience with the angel, and the awesome news delivered to Zechariah in the temple, yet he stayed on and finished up his week of service in the temple! Oh my, how many of us would ever have done that? Imagine an angel of God telling you that your blind son, whom you have been praying for his eyesight ever since birth, can now see. Can you even imagine staying the rest of the week to finish up your work around the church, or finish up the week of revival services you started? Of course with all of the new communication tools and devices at our disposal today, we would immediately get in touch with home-base to validate what thought we heard the angel say to us, but what if the angel’s message told you to wait until you returned home to see for yourself. What would you do with yourself friend? I believe there would be lots of doubt, but yet you would be very anxious to speak with your son to see for yourself if this was truly a message from God. Why do you suppose God ever answers our prayers, when there’s so much doubt by us even from the time our prayers leave our mouth?
May I encourage you, especially at this Christmas time, to look a little deeper into the scripture and see what God might want to say to You through His Word? Friends, we especially need folk with Zechariah’s dedication around our churches showing us that we don’t step aside from our God-given responsibilities for every little hiccup. We still need our Elizabeth’s who will go straight to rejoicing when they hear of miracles, even if they sound super impossible to her. Look for values in the other characters that we hear about at Christmas and see what God might be teaching you through their story, won’t you?
Father, Christmas-time is often a time that we remember all that You gave to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. However, stories like this one today has helped us to examine the character of others that You involved in this wonder gift that You blessed us with. Please continue to teach us to pray in great expectancy, and to praise You for the answers that You bless us with every time. We are reminded that often we pray for the benefit of others, but not necessarily ready to accept the answer that You might give in return. Zechariah was a humble man who prayed and prayed for his dear wife, yet was challenged to believe that You really answered his prayer at such an unusual time in his life. Lord, we have every reason to believe that You hear our prayers and You answer us every time in ways that You see best at that particular time. We were reminded just yesterday in our study, that You will answer our prayers not only when it is best for us, but at a time when the glory for the answer will be directed to You, the only possible explanation or source of the answer. Please continue to work on our patience to wait on You. Yes, ask as directed in Your Word, but always be willing to wait for Your answers. Lord, You are most awesome in every way, and I thank You for who You are! AMEN!
If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!