Hi there! Can you believe there’s only ten days to Christmas? I’m slowly checking off my list! I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas shopping. I love thinking of gifts that will delight the receiver, but I hate the stress running around, shopping, hiding and wrapping brings and the distraction these activities can be from resting in the Lord and delighting in Him. Do you struggle with that too? Perhaps getting back to the gift of God’s word will help us all set our minds on Him and what He wants to give us not just now but all year round. Let’s see what our next three gifts are.
Gift Four – “…for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (verse 13b).
TRUTH: God hears and answers prayers.
In those times when we’re waiting on God, do we trust He hears us? When we’re praying for that thing we desperately want or need, do we equate His delay as disinterest?
God repeatedly assures us He’s listening and answers. The question is: do we believe Him when the evidence we can detect with our eyes says He’s not even listening?
QUESTION: Do I believe God is listening and answering?
Gift Five – “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:15-17).
TRUTH: God’s purpose for us precedes our birth and is fulfilled in His timing in our lives.
Just as God had a specific plan and purpose for John the Baptist, so He has a plan and purpose for me and you! Consider the words of Psalm 139:13-16:
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Before you or I were every an embryo in our mother’s uterus, God already knew our substance and every day of our lives! His plan and purposes precede our very creation.
QUESTION: Regardless of my circumstances, do I believe God has a purpose, plan and perfect timing for me?
Gift Six – “And Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.’ And the angel answered and said to him, ‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time’” (verses 18-20).
TRUTH: Unbelief has consequences; it makes us “mute.”
When Zacharias asks, “How shall I know this?” the word in the Greek is ginōskō, which means “know absolutely, allow, be aware of, feel, have knowledge, perceived, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.”[i]
What he’s really asking God is: “How can I know absolutely? I mean seriously Lord, how can I be sure? Have you seen my wife? Shall I show you the date on her birth certificate? How can I have knowledge of this and be sure? How can I possibly perceive of this, speak of it or understand?”
He’s looking for faith by sight. God’s word through His angel right in front of Zacharias’s eyes and to his ears isn’t enough. He doesn’t quite believe and wants more proof.
Because of his unbelief, he becomes mute, which in the Greek is the word siōpaō for “silence, i.e. a hush; properly, muteness, i.e. involuntary stillness, or inability to speak.”[ii]
I don’t know about you, but nothing paralyzes or silences me faster than unbelief! Nothing chips away my confidence in Christ and my boldness to obey and speak His truth than unbelief.
Like the father in Mark 9 whose son had a mute spirit that would throw him down and cause him to violently convulse, when Jesus tells us, ““If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (verse 23), we can answer Him, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (verse 24).
QUESTION: Is unbelief silencing me in any area of my life right now?
Are you taking time to sit with God’s truth each day, answering each question as honestly as you can? It can be uncomfortable, can’t it? It’s hard to look at scripture and have it act as a mirror that reflects the truth about us, our thoughts and heart attitudes. But when we surrender to God as a loving Father who wants nothing but His best for us, He grants us the gift of repentance, forgiveness and an overwhelming knowledge of His love. As He reveals what He wants to change through Christ in us, He also shows His faithfulness to bring about the changes He desires. This brings me incredible hope!
We have just three more gifts from Luke 1:5-25. Join me tomorrow as we wrap up this passage (I know, I know…roll thy eyes…the puns!). But don’t go anywhere! Next week, we’ll see what truths we can dig out from verses 26-65 and the rest of the chapter.
Do you know someone who needs some encouragement in the Lord this Christmas season? Will you share this message with them or on your social media? Let’s spread some real holiday cheer, the kind that can last the whole year long! Also, if you’d like new posts to come directly to your inbox, you can enter your email up at the top right of this page where it says “Sign Up!” For this series, you may receive an email every day, but after this series closes with Christmas, you’ll only receive one email a week (and only when there’s something new to share).
[i] “G1097 – ginōskō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 12 Dec, 2016. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1097&t=NKJV>.
[ii] “G4623 – siōpaō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 12 Dec, 2016. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4623&t=NKJV>.