Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | October 25, 2018

“with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 1:1-25.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah;  and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.  Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord;  and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.  It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS  BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain?  For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”  The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.  But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them;  and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple;  and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.  When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.

After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”  Luke 1:5-25.

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In this comparatively long text for a daily devotion, let us summarize and focus on what the Lord said and did through His angel.  

The angel appeared to Zacharias.

The angel told Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son who he would name John and that he (Zacharias) will have joy and gladness.  The angel further told Zacharias that John would be full of the Holy Spirit and would “turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.  It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS  BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

When Zacharias questioned the angel about how that could happen because he and his wife were old, the angel identified himself as Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and who was sent to Zacharias to bring him this good news.

After Elizabeth became pregnant, she said:  “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”

I do this summary focus, because it helps us to recognize what is most important, namely God’s promises.  And yet, sadly, many go through their lives focused on themselves and their actions and are quite content to claim that they are busy as a sign of righteousness.

But, as Elizabeth recognized what is most important is how the Lord deals with us and whether or not He has favor on us.

Yes, Zacharias was righteous, but the angel identified that his “petition has been heard”, not Zacharias’s righteousness, as the reason why he and his wife would be given a son.  Moreover, although Zacharias would “have joy and gladness”, we can reasonably infer that Zacharias had been praying a long time for a son and yet was not given a son until late in his life.  Most importantly, the Lord had a specific mission for John which the angel told Zacharias.

We notice that Zacharias did not believe the angel Gabriel’s words and was rendered mute for a time.

Scripture encourages this focus on the Lord and His blessing on us and to believe that what God had promised, He is able to perform.

“The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”  Galatians 3:8-9.

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”  And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.  For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.  In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”  Hebrews 6:13-18.

So, are we going to search out God’s promises in Scripture, focus on them, believe them, dismiss our own weaknesses, and cling to God’s promises?

Or, are we going to search out on our own abilities and righteousness, focus on them, believe in ourselves, and dismiss God’s promises?

Are we going to be like Elizabeth who said:  “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” 

Or, are going to focus on our own way?

Let us follow the faith of our father Abraham.

“Without becoming weak in faith he (Abraham) contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;  yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  THEREFORE IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”  Romans 4:19-24.

“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.  In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.”  Romans 4:16-18.

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”  Hebrews 6:11-12.


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