Advent 2017: Joy to the World: Day 17

Zechariah Struck Silent

by

Today's Text: Luke 1:18-25, Genesis 18:9-15, Luke 7:18-28, Romans 4:19-21

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:18-25, Genesis 18:9-15, Luke 7:18-28, Romans 4:19-21

My kids have never believed in Santa Claus. It actually didn’t ever really cross my mind to drum up enthusiasm over presenting them with gifts that I’d paid for but were “from Santa.” I think part of this pragmatic position came from having so many little people all at once. I didn’t want to risk stirring them up into a frenzy about anything, because I was so keen on calming them back down for bedtime—even at Christmas.

But I think some of them still believed in Santa anyway, because I remember the quiet, hesitant questions they asked one night as we sat around the fire, drinking hot chocolate. “Mama, did you hear sleigh bells outside…?” one asked, in spite of my sober pragmatism. I think they still wished there were a jolly old man with a twinkle in his eye who would come bearing gifts for them.

We are made for belief. We are born with an innate sense of something greater than ourselves. As parents, we try to pair our children’s desire to believe with the truth of the gospel. But as adults, we still get confused about where to place our own belief.

I guess Zechariah almost choked on the incense when he heard the angel’s message. “How can I know this?” he asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). The thing is, old people sometimes do have children—it’s rare, but it’s not that unbelievable. Plus, the message came from an angel, so you’d think Zechariah would have just believed it. But instead, the priest demands proof: “How can I know this?” He was literally in the temple praying when Gabriel came to him, yet he still wasn’t ready to believe.

Zechariah was silenced for his unbelief; the angel stopped his mouth from speaking even more unbelief. Zechariah asks for a sign, and the sign he gets is one of gentle rebuke. This is a great moment to admire God’s forbearance with us. When I object to His promises, when I am full of disbelief, He doesn’t strike me deaf and dumb right there on the spot. This is a mercy, because like Zechariah, I am keen for signs when I already have the answers.

However, by not being able to speak or share the angel’s message with anyone, Zechariah was better able to think. Matthew Henry insightfully suggests that Zechariah’s inability to share the news symbolizes the deficiency of the Old Testament’s priesthood, as compared with Christ’s priesthood in the New Testament, when He communicates the truth of the gospel.

The Old Testament teaches us by signs and gestures, giving us some picture of our salvation that is to come. But it is imperfect, like trying to get news from a man who has to speak using only gestures. In the New Testament, Christ speaks the gospel to us with His own lips and gives us the good news with His own flesh and bones.

We were made for belief, yet we are quick to disbelieve the most profound and resounding declarations of God’s own voice. Sometimes we have to hush our doubting lips for our hearts to find fulfillment and rest in God’s Word.

Thanks be to Christ for being both the Author and Finisher of our faith.

SRT-ADVENT-instagram17

  • This is very timely for me, as I have definitely been wavering in my faith lately. I am an entrepreneur and I know God has called me into a place to help minister and use my gifts to help other women birth dreams and things He has placed in them. But when things don’t happen my way, or as quickly as I hope – as I suffer in that – doubt starts to seep in. Am I good enough? Is this really what He said? Why am I suffering in wait so long? Why would He call me to this? – all the questions. Worry has added nothing but grief, doubt, a sick heart. But Jesus gracefully shows up with me each day. Giving me grace with Him as I go through the motions. Showing up throughout my times of need, again, and again. This reading just made me remember – I must remain faithful to Him. Shut my mouth. Silence my worries. And pay attention, for He us already at work. Thank you for this realization, reading and community! Praise God!

  • Amber Shipe

    Love the comparison of his silence to the OT priesthood. So good!

  • Tracy Sims

    Amen!!

  • Having just lost my voice today, this really resonated with me. I must be silent in order to truly hear….

  • Debra Taylor

    Luke 1:24-25 talks about Elizabeth hiding herself after she realized she was pregnant. My mind is imagining that she was so profoundly grateful and likely nestled up close to the heart of God in gratitude. When a deep heart’s desire and prayer are answered like that should draw great reverence from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head.

    So thankful for scripture.

  • Sitting here in the silence of home. A fire burning and a cup of mulled wine, I realise these years have been my ‘struck silent’ time. I have been alone for so long, I have forgotten Gods promise to me.. or maybe just pushed it to the back of my mind… opening that box, from time to time in hope.
    I love Rebeccas words… ‘ we were made for belief, yet we are quick to disbelieve the most profound and resounding declarations of Gods own voice…’
    Hushing my doubting lips for my heart to find fulfillment and rest in God’s word and to hold on to the hope I have in Him…
    Amen.

    Praying a restful night for all. Xx

    • Sarah

      I pray you continue to hold on to His hope tonight. Sleep well.

      • anne jones

        Tina, I hear you and feel your thoughts/words. Your thoughts “opening that box, from time to time in hope” really speaks to me. Thank you for reminding us that God’s promises are there no matter when they may be fulfilled in us. Father strengthen my faith and hope -forgive me when I doubt you.

  • Amen , Natalie. Praising God for your trust and faith-filledness to Him. He has promised good to you and He will deliver… praying alongside you…
    Every blessing for a God filled, God promised. God with you Christmas. Xx

  • Crystal Mendez

    A good reminder to ponder what God has said and promised in our hearts before speaking words of disbelief and doubt. So thankful for His mercy as we go through our process!

  • Julie Swanson

    Made for belief! ❤️

  • Elizabeth

    My family was in the same boat earlier this year. My husband lost his job of 10 years and shortly thereafter I made the decision to quit my job because it was not a healthy place for me mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. And we have a 1 year old. When I was in high school, my dad lost his job and it sent me in to full panic mode. My mind immediately went to the worst possible scenario. When everything happened with my husband’s job and my job, just like you, I was at peace. God is faithful and He is the best provider! He opened doors and made a way and made that way clear. Praying for you and your family during this season.

  • Kelly Lemon

    I’m currently on a journey towards a family so this feels so timely . Due to medical complications – we learned it’s not wise for me to carry a baby. Which is a healing process on its own, but my cousin approached me and said she has felt on her heart that she wants to carry our baby for us! ( amazing!) so we thought this was God answering our prayers . But as we started this process this past week – learned just how expensive it would be ( and adoption wouldn’t be too different) and it literally is going to take a miracle from the Lord for these finances to come through. So it’s been a hard week and a baby seems so far out of our reach … but reading these words – makes me want to have a faith like Abraham. I want to have unwavering faith and confidence that we will have a baby one day… but I also know He never promised that we would have kids… but I have hope because He knows our hearts desires.
    Lord, forgive my moments of unbelief. Give me unwavering Faith – give us wisdom as we make big decisions… and guide us – so that we may walk in your will.

    • Sidney

      I am in a similar situation, we have been trying to conceive for nearly 4 years. The wait for something that you desire so badly is not easy. But I believe that God placed this desire in your heart because he will fulfill it in his time. I pray that the finances for you are taken care of so you can become a mom to many beautiful babies. Merry Christmas, Kelly!

    • Jennifer Anapol

      Kelly thank you for sharing!! I am praying that God will prepare a way for you to have a baby!! God bless!!

    • Danielle Barlow

      Praying for your eyes to be ever above on Christ and your heart to take comfort in knowing the Lord and his steadfast love for you.

    • Kristen

      Praying for God to open doors for you both. He tells us to take care of widows and orphans. I saw a post on Instagram about a site called helpusadopt.org. I don’t know what it’s all about, but thought I’d let you know.

      • Kristen

        I think the site should be in capital letters. I just noticed that. Sorry!

  • Alyssa KayMathisen

    Lord, help us believe even in our unbelief

  • Diane Huntsman

    “Sometimes we have to hush our doubting lips for our hearts to find fulfillment and rest in God’s Word”
    Such a good sentence. I feel I have such relatability to the father in Mark who said, “I believe help me with my unbelief!” There is so much I do believe but so much I struggle to claim for life and believe.. I’ve come to believe faith is such a gift.. to have strong faith without wavering in any way is so admirable and I long to possess it.. signs and wonders have already been done.. I need to simply believe and not argue about what He’s doing. Such good truths today!

  • Carleejanae

    Today’s reading is full of much joy and hope. Our flesh will always betray us, even when our inner self wants different and known different. Yet, the key is to always turn to God with your thoughts and actions (read the word, listen to the word, pray, worship with song). For so long I wondered how do I give you my burdens Lord? How do I turn off the negative and focus on you? When God shows you the future, you must believe it is true. Stand firm in it with surrounding yourself with his truth and goodness. ❤️ whew, so good!

  • Almost two weeks ago my husband got fired. Can I tell you a secret ? Contrary to what you expect from someone being fired for the very first time in his life, from the only job he has ever work for, we are in peace. Yes he is looking for job constantly and our children are not going to have the gift they were expecting yet our fridge is full, we were able to pay the bills for the month and out of nowhere we received a money we were not expecting at all so thankfully we are able to pay rent next month. At first was a shock and yes we cried but we knew since that moment that God was and is going to take care of us. We believe in him and we have kept our unbelieving lips shut because we know he has a bigger plan. It’s the first time my husband is able to spend Christmas season with us in 14 years. We are enjoying this time, we are actually celebrating Christmas for what it really means to us. I just want to encourage those who are going through a hard time keep praying, trust in him. He has promised you and amazing life, full of joy and content and he knows the desires of your heart, you just have to believe. Believe in him, HE WILL DELIVER!! He WILL answer your prayers
    My husband has not find a job just yet but we know something better is there for him and we are going to be ok.

    • Terri

      I will join you in praying. I am excited to see what the Lord has planned for your family.

      • Natalia

        Amen! Thank you Terri. I’m excited too and I’ll share that with you all. Xoxo

    • Kathy

      This happened to my husband when our children were 4 and 8. (They’re both grown now.) He was out of work for almost a year, but in that time every need we had was met. We didn’t have a lot of extra, but there was food on the table and we had everything we needed. Almost a year later God provided him a job as a youth pastor. That was 20 years ago and he is still at the same church. God was so faithful. I will be praying for your family. Please let us know what happens.

    • Christina D.

      Natalia, I’m not 100% sure this is the same person/story but I remember a few weeks back (maybe in the parables study) someone sharing about their husband being suspended and potentially let go from managing a retail job. But what I remember (if you’re the same person and I apologize that I don’t!) was the same thing that strikes me from this post…your joy and hope and utter belief that the Lord is in control and has a plan for you, your husband, and your family. You’re an encouragement and conviction (in the best way) to me as your hope and belief outshines this circumstance. I was just praying for your family and your husband’s job. I’m so happy that your husband gets to spend the holiday with you and your children and just got the most beautiful vision of your kids saying in years to come, “remember that Christmas when Dad finally got to spend the whole holiday with us? I remember…” Continually praying that this season is so sweet for your family.

    • Julie H.

      “Give thanks in all circumstances.” This is what I see you and your family living out right now. And because of your grateful attitude, you have peace in the midst of your storm…and what a lovely thing to have! You have chosen to give thanks and look at the nugget you found: You are so thrilled to be able to have your husband home for Christmas! That in itself must be a lovely blessing/gift! May you continue to cling to our God, our Provider as you wait upon Him to lead your husband to his next job. May you be flexible and be willing to “pull up your tent stakes” if God calls for you to do so. May your peaceful and grateful heart be a balm to your husband and children and a testimony of God’s love to all you encounter. May God pour down his blessings as you walk in faith. Peace and joy!

    • Elizabeth

      My family was in the same boat earlier this year. My husband lost his job of 10 years and shortly thereafter I made the decision to quit my job because it was not a healthy place for me mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. And we have a 1 year old. When I was in high school, my dad lost his job and it sent me in to full panic mode. My mind immediately went to the worst possible scenario. When everything happened with my husband’s job and my job, just like you, I was at peace. God is faithful and He is the best provider! He opened doors and made a way and made that way clear. Praying for you and your family during this season.

    • songbird

      thanks for that Natalia!

    • Tina

      Amen , Natalie. Praising God for your trust and faith-filledness to Him. He has promised good to you and He will deliver… praying alongside you…
      Every blessing for a God filled, God promised. God with you Christmas. Xx

  • The Priesthood of Christ, how he both exceeded and fulfilled the role, so long held by mere men, is so beautiful to me.
    OT priests – followed laws and rituals, making sacrifices to “cleanse” the people of their sin before God, interceded in prayer on behalf of God’s people – some were righteous, many were self-serving
    NT Priest – Jesus- BECAME the sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins, once and for all, sat down (work complete) at the right hand of the Father and is now continually interceding on behalf of his people. Praise be to God!

  • Nicole Assamoi

    God is faithful. He NEVER fails! Thank you Father

  • I had a miscarriage in May 2016 and we’ve been hoping for another baby since that time. I know we haven’t waited as long as Sarah and Abraham, but oftentimes I want to lose hope like Sarah did. Just yesterday a coworker asked if my husband and I planned to start a family soon. Questions like that pierce my heart and make me doubt if we’ll able to start a family. Praying today that no unbelief will make me waver and for God to bless us with a child or to change the desires of my heart. I’m thankful that He is in control and that His ways are better and higher than mine.

    • Alisha

      Erin-
      Keep trusting that the Lord has a perfect plan for your family…much better than you could plan for yourself. I thought I would never be able to have children after several miscarriages and then no pregnancy for over 13 years. The Lord completely took us by surprise last December when I discovered I was pregnant. We now have a 4 month old miracle. It’s amazing what the Lord does in our lives when we give it to Him and just trust His plan. This is just part of my testimony to share with others about how Great our God is.

  • Caroline Stephens

    What a great reminder at a time of hustle and bustle: to hush our lips so our hearts can find rest in God’s Word.

  • Cassie Kendall

    I know some of you were praying for my dad, a melanoma survivor who was getting a lymph node biopsied since it was enlarged. Yesterday was his biopsy and they found no cancer! Thank you all for your prayers! So grateful for His love and promises today! <3

  • Lydia Petersen

    “We were made for belief” that gave me chills

  • So…I have about a 20 minute commute to work and decided that this morning I would turn off the radio and drive in silence and just listen for God. As I drove I began naming all the things that I know are true about God. He is holy, Almighty, powerful, merciful, loving, steadfast, faithful, my Rock, my Redeemer, Savior, trustworthy, faithful, gracious, kind, compassionate, The Lord of Armies, a mighty warrior, Prince of Peace, The Light, The Good Shepherd, The Door, Healer, Deliverer and so much more. Then, in the silence, it was as if I heard Him say, “Now, let me tell you about you.” Sisters, we are beloved, redeemed, made righteous and holy through the blood of Jesus. We are loved, rejoiced over, daughters of the Most High King. We are strong and we are fierce. We’re not just princesses, we are warriors. We are women who are well-loved. Praise Him!
    Be blessed today!

  • Karen From Virginia

    That’s right Natalie. Your story is still being written. You don’t know how these disappointments and delays and how waiting will unfold what God has planned. Nothing is wasted.

  • Karen From Virginia

    What great insight into God’s forbearance. I’d hadn’t considered this perspective. Grateful.

  • “Sometimes we have to hush our doubting lips for our hearts to find fulfillment and rest in God’s Word.” For months now my prayers have been “okay God, here’s what’s going on that I’m not happy about….” or “God I just can’t do this, please fix this mess”. What I’m really searching for is that rest and fulfillment in God’s Word but I’m talking too much, rushing around, fighting and questioning and drumming my fingers waiting impatiently for the healing and restoration of my broken heart to begin….No wonder I’m still waiting and drudging through the murk and darkness! Last night I asked the Lord to wake me up to spend time with Him this morning (depression/exhaustion has kept me sleeping 9 hours a night). This morning I woke up from deep sleep…1 minute before I had intended to wake up! With this timely reminder, today I will ask God less questions and just keep my heart quiet and focused on just one of His blessings instead.

  • Natalie AnnMarie

    I am currently in a battle with New York State for my teaching certification. It has been 3+ years of work and study to be denied the right to teach. I do not want my story to be one of works or disbelief. I want the words of Abraham spoken about me… she was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. How we think and what we say about the story he is writing in our lives matters because the pre-believers in my life are watching to see how God and I will handle this situation together. May you be fully convince of whatever promise God has spoken over you that has not come to pass yet.

    • Karen From Virginia

      That’s right Natalie. Your story is still being written. You don’t know how these disappointments and delays and how waiting will unfold what God has planned. Nothing is wasted.

    • Emily B.

      How we think and what we say about the story he is writing in our lives matters —Love this! Thank you for sharing your heart this morning.

  • Lord, please give me faith like Abraham.

  • Churchmouse

    In the New Testament God speaks to us with His own lips… All the more reason to pursue knowing Him through His own words and actions. So glad that SRT is following this study with a study of the gospel of Matthew. Who doesn’t want Good News in the new year? (the study guide arrived yesterday – so many great extras and I am happy to see questions included.)

  • Lord hush my doubting lips – thoughts – that I may find rest in your word.

  • Almost a decade ago, God finally found a way to speak loud enough for me to hear him over the noise of my sins. I was the victim of a bad car accident, and God used my forced physical quietness to still my body and my mind. While I was broken and despondent, He was talking to me. While I was struggling to heal, facing one setback after another, He was soothing me. It took me a long time to recognize His voice, but when I did, of course I realized He had been there all along. Indeed, He had been there my whole life, but I was too busy and noisy to hear Him. He used the quietness of my broken body to show me that He had been with me always. So you see, I can relate to Zechariah. I too was too busy listening to myself and our culture to hear the Truth. God did not cause my accident but He used my recovery to increase my faith, and to quiet my mind enough that I would hear Him. O Father God, thank you for never giving up on me, even though I could not hear Your loving voice. Amen.

  • “We were made for belief” — so good! Lord I do believe, help my unbelief.

  • rosebergamot

    I had to laugh because Zechariah asked for a sign and he certainly got a sign. Just not the kind of sign he was expecting. Lol. It never occurred to me until this devotional that maybe God is sometimes saying that I should just shut my mouth and have a little faith in the God that holds it all together.

  • Julie Lee

    “We were made for belief”… I love that.

  • I crave silence and solitude. It may be because I spend my days with high school students making art. Some days there’s silence in my room because for just a moment they’re all totally focused on art. Sometimes there’s so much creative juices flowing that the room is buzzing with it. And sometimes it’s just deafening because they’re teenagers and they have no idea how to use their inside voices! All of that to say, that so many days after the last bell rings I just sit and soak up the silence. This devotion today has made me look at my love of silence and solitude differently – more like I believe God looks at it.
    What happened to Zechariah was a huge thing – silence for 9 months. They didn’t have note pads and pens he could write with so he could only communicate with gestures. God used this silence to speak into Zechariah’s life. God was the only one he could communicate with. So many times I put demands on my silence before God, instead of just being still and letting Him be God. My prayer is that I will be like Zechariah and let God speak into the silence – no demands for answers, no “tell me what I need to be doing, going, being…” Just letting Him be God.
    Be blessed today, sisters!

    • Mari

      I had to laugh! I. I work in kids care at the school where my daughter goes and where my son graduated from. Mainly I work with kindergartners and I know how noisy it can get in there. It’s music to my ears as these children are away from their parents all day long. Some get there before I even get there and are still there when I leave. And as I’m leaving they look at me and say “Huggies please.” But when I get home I do enjoy the silence LOL

    • songbird

      haha I can so relate to this :) funny

    • Lynn Dombroski

      I got a blessing from your comment. You caused me to think…maybe more than the original post. I’m a talker but there is value in our silence so many time it is hard for me to “be still”.

  • Tochi Heredia

    “…he was fully convinced that what God has promised, he was also able to do.” –Romans 4:21

    Am I convinced? Do I trust that He will do what He has promised? I want to say yes, but I get distracted quite often and loose track of what really matters. Specially during this season, it’s easier for me to focus on my loneliness, illness and being so far away from home.
    This morning’s reading made me realize that I have to put those feelings aside and focus on what God requires of me –instead of what I want Him to do for me. What He requires of me is trust and faithfulness, simple as that.

    Father, I’m fixing my eyes on You. Help me in my unbelief!

  • songbird

    This devotional came so timely for me. I am a bit devastated as yeterday I got turned down for a job. Everyone around me thought it would be so much more suited for me than what I’m doing now and that it would make me so much happier. And I seemed so suited for the job, too. But hey, there were more suited candidates and they chose another… It’s such a grave disappointment. Looking at my siblings (I am from quite a big family) they all found jobs that are just so well-suited to them. They are buying houses or having children and getting jobs they couldn’t be happier about. And here I am, at the end of a year in which (again) I had to say goodbye to some of my deepest hopes and wishes. Also just turned down by a guy that, well, I wasn’t in love with, but I saw some potential there. And talking about houses: I truly have no idea if I’ll ever be able to get something grown-up and nice before I’m 40….
    I do see how God strengthens me through all this. However it is hard to see why he chooses one of these children (out of my family) to suffer so many more disappointments than the others. (And it’s not like this is only my perspective, my siblings have also said they’d hope things to turn out a wee bit better for me as well).
    And after all, God didn’t give me a promise like Abraham and Sarah…
    This reading is encouraging though. It is the same God en there must be a reason why I get through all this.

    • Tina

      Songbird. Sending you a hug in your disappointment.

      But God…
      He has a plan for you. Yes you siblings all have what they require now, but do you know what will happen tomorrow? What I’m saying is do not compare yourself to them, they are your siblings yes, but you are not similar you are each of you unique inthe way you speak, look, move, are, even the way you learn. God has a plan and He will make a way in His time. Meanwhile trust Him. Hold fast to Him and believe His promise to be with you on days like yesterday. He has not forsaken you, He is preparing you for the best to come!
      Also, I hurt a tad, to read your words that ‘God didn’t give me a promise like Abraham and Sarah’ my dear, God gives you promises everyday! The promise of love, the promise of grace the promise of forgiveness, the promise of mercy. He promises to be faithful each and every day…
      Do not be downcast and resigned, Songbird, what happened does not and should not define you, you are not the ‘Allocated’ disappointment person of your family, you are Gods child and Gods children will inherit the earth..
      Believe.
      Trust.
      Hope.
      In Him.
      He is good.
      Amen..

      Sorry for the missive!
      Love wrapped hugs, in orayer coming your way, dearest. X

      • Verna

        Well said, Tina! I always love to read your comments!

      • Wendy

        Thank you Tina for speaking to all of us in our own situations. Reminding us of that “God gives us promises every day”.

    • Carli

      Hang in there, Songbird. The waiting can be so hard but God does have good plans for you. I wonder you might be encouraged by Sheridan Voysey’s book “Resurrection Year”; it’s his story of how God took his broken dreams and birthed something new.

    • Lynnae

      God is good all of the time even when we are clouded with disappointment.God wants you to live in his riches and blessing, to pour heaven out apon you! You are loved and blessed child of the most high! My prayer is that this truth is not clouded by how the big enemy is trying to make you feel. Blessing !

    • Kristen

      I have wondered why I’ve had to go through different things that my friends haven’t had to go through. But then I thought that God’s plans are always good and there’s a purpose and reason for everything. I am trying to think like this…He’s God and I’m not, so I’ve had to walk through these things for a purpose. (Some things I brought on myself too.) Remember that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. But He loves us and promises to never leave us. Also, all His promises are yes and Amen through Christ! Please be encouraged and one day you will look back and understand that His way was best. My mom in law and I just discussed this. Or maybe we will see in Heaven why this or that happened or didn’t happen. Either way He is good and pursuing you with love!

    • Linnea

      I can so relate to what you are feeling especially in the sibling comparison department! I often struggle with the false thought that there is a formula for living that should ensure everything, or at least most things, will work out, or at least protect me from harm if I do this and this and this. But thankfully God doesn’t promise a formula- He promises that All things will work for our good for those who love Him…..His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways and He sees the masterful tapestry He is weaving out of your life and you can only see the threads hanging from the underneath….. I pray you will feel wrapped in that beautiful tapestry that is God’s love for you and know you can never be separated from His love and that your story is working out just the way He wants it to to complete your unique and perfect work of art!

  • Silence is the greatest way to hear God at times. As it is said in Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let the whole earth be silent in his presence. “

    • Jenny Walls

      Love this, Monica!

    • Mari

      Monica, this is exactly what I needed to hear. The Lord is silent and He must be doing a work in my life for me and my family. I totally trust Him . I am weak but I trust Him.

Further Reading...