Intro: Sometimes God allows life to stretch our faith. This stretching is always a spiritual blessing in the life of a believer even though it does not feel like one at the time. We must use our faith to lay hold of the promises of God; without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). God is wanting to get something good to us all the time. Therefore, we must believe he is a Rewarder of those who seek him and believe nothing is impossible for him (Matt 19:26). Our faith in the Father’s love and goodness is what sets Christ’s followers apart in the world.
In our passage from Luke, Zechariah knows what it feels like to have his faith stretched by God. As a priest, he would have continually prayed for the Messiah to come; but he and all of Israel wait patiently. As a man who wanted a child of his own, he would have continually prayed for a biological son. Zechariah is praying for the impossible—he and his wife are old and way beyond childbearing years.
While Zechariah is burning incense in the sanctuary, he is visited by an angel—Gabrielle. The angel tells Zechariah, “God has heard your prayer.” I think we can all testify we sometimes pray for things, but our faith is not engaged in real belief or trust that the prayer will be answered. We have facts and feelings that race in and cause us to entertain doubt.
Zechariah struggles, because none of it makes sense to his natural mind. Because of Zechariah’s verbal doubt, God silences him for nine months; he cannot speak until it is time to circumcise and name the child. However, in the midst of Zechariah’s silent times, his faith grows within him; he has learned a great deal about the God he serves while he is silent. His faith has been successfully stretched to welcome the impossible. In obedience, Zechariah names the child, John, as instructed by the angel. Joy unspeakable fills Zechariah as he steps into obedience and the first words he is able to speak are praises to the Lord. If you are praying for God to do something miraculous in your life, stay in peace and don’t lose hope. Bringing Joy to our hearts is God’s specialty.
Luke 1:57-66 (TPT) The Birth of the Prophet John
57 When Elizabeth’s pregnancy was full term, she gave birth to a son. 58 All her family, friends, and neighbors heard about it, and they too were overjoyed, for they realized that the Lord had showered his wonderful mercy upon her.
59 When the baby was eight days old, according to their custom, all the family and friends came together for the circumcision ceremony.[celebrating w/joy another child born under the covenant of God] Everyone assumed that the parents would name the baby Zechariah, after his father, 60 but Elizabeth spoke up and said, “No, his name is John!”
61 “What?” they exclaimed. “No one in your family line has that name!”
62 So they gestured to the baby’s father to ask what to name the child. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to the amazement of all, he wrote, “His name is John.”[name translates God’s gift]
64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again. And his first words were praises to the Lord.
65 The fear of God fell on the people of their village, and the news of this astounding event traveled throughout the hill country of Judea. Everyone was in awe over it! 66 All who heard this news were astonished and wondered, “Since a miracle brought his birth, what on earth will this child become? Clearly, God’s presence is upon this child in a powerful way!”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for stretching our faith and helping us learn to receive the many, many blessings you have awaiting us. You are so good to us and we praise you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.