Jan 21

Rev Gav

Messenger

Luke 1:8-15. God speaks to us today and still uses signs – sometimes big and sometimes small.

Luke 1:8-15

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 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. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

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.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

Reflect

It was Zechariah’s turn to perform some priestly duties in the temple, and this meant he had to enter an inner room to burn incense. He was alone and everyone else was outside. There’d have definitely been a sense that the priest might have a spiritual encounter, but Zechariah wasn’t prepared for a visit from an angel.

Angels are messengers from God – in fact the word angel means ‘messenger’. The first thing angels usually say to people is something along the lines of, “Don’t be afraid.” I suppose this kinda makes sense. After all, who wouldn’t be afraid if a supernatural being showed up with a message from God for you?

When the angel visited Zechariah, he said, “Don’t be afraid” and then he launched into his message – a message that Liz and Zechariah were going to have a baby.

In the Bible, when old people were going to have a baby, it meant God was doing something special. It happened to Abraham and Sarah, and the famous characters called Samson and Samuel both had parents that were old. In other words, the old age of Liz and Zechariah was in itself a sign.

God still speaks in signs today, and these signs appear in the ordinary lives of those that follow God. We might not recognise them as signs and they might not come complete with an angelic message, but these signs may well be there; little ways in which God is showing us his presence or his leading. A sign could be anything, for example, a timely phone call or text message, an encouraging word from a friend, or something that jumps out at you from a Bible reading or study notes.

Do

Today, pray that God will encourage you on the right path – and perhaps give you a sign that he’s with you and leading you.

Pray

Holy God
Thank you that you still speak today.
Amidst all the noise and bustle of life,
help me to hear your voice,
and see where you’re at work.
This day and forever.
Amen.

Think

What does it tell us about God that he’s prepared to use an old couple like Liz and Zechariah?

Lisa-Dawn Johnston Sep 8 1:46am

That God was prepared to use an old couple tells me that we don’t “time out” when doing God’s work. It is never too late to be a messenger, and that all of us are of value, regardless of our age. And by using Liz and Zechariah, whom I guess were past the normal child bearing age…God performed another miracle. A message itself.

“Help me to hear your voice Lord,

And to see where you’re at work”…. And inspire me to do your work, and be your messenger… Amen.

Rev Gav Jan 22 13:42pm

Responding to Lisa-Dawn Johnston:

That God was prepared to use an old couple tells me that we don’t “time out” when doing God’s work. It is never too late to be a messenger, and that all of us are of value, regardless of our…

This is so true. Often older people are dismissed when they have so much to offer — even just being themselves. I remember a 97 year old woman in a rest home I used to visit. Her hands were crippled with arthritis and a nurse would have to place a plastic beaker in her hands and she would use a straw to be able to drink. When I arrived one day, I asked her if she was all right. With a pained look she shook her head and said, "No." I knelt down next to her wheelchair and held her hands as I mustered all the empathy and compassion I could for this old woman. As I knelt there, she beckoned for me to come closer and she whispered in my ear. "I'm half left!" It took me a moment (or three) to realise just how naughty she was being and we both burst out in laughter. Just brilliant! Here was I, visiting her to cheer her up and she cheered me up! What a blessing. x

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Lisa-Dawn Johnston Jan 24 15:14pm

My eyes welled up with compassion, and then like you- I burst into laughter!! Not tears!!

God bless our 97 year old cheer leader!! x

What beautiful story! x

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