Zechariah's Prayer of Expectation

Can’t happen.

No way.


You gotta be kiddin’ me?!

Gimme a break.


Zechariah was an old man. A priest, yes, but old. Elizabeth, his wife of decades, must not have been far behind. She had been barren as a young woman. Now she was well passed child bearing age. No children had been born to them. No children would be born to them. So everyone thought.

God works in can’t and won’t. God overwhelms impossible and never. God loves the space between reasonable and unreasonable. God excels at reaching beyond possible into the impossible. God inhabits the realm beyond nature, the supernatural.

When God promises. You can trust it. 

When God says, “Can.” You ask, “When?”

When God says, “Will.” You say, “Yes!”

You can count on Him. He is God. He is Sovereign. He can do what He wants.

Zechariah is burning incense before God in the Temple. You can read this in Luke 1:5 and following. The archangel Gabriel appears. Awesome bunch angels are. They have to skip, “Hello,” and move straight to “Do not be afraid.” Gabriel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will have a boy. A boy to be named John meaning “God has been gracious.” Oh, yes, in spite of decades of barrenness God had a special, gracious plan. A miraculous plan. John will be a powerful prophet like unto Elijah. Preparing the way for the Messiah will be John’s calling.

“How can this be?,” asks Zechariah, “I’m old. My wife is old.”

Generally, we can agree to the aphorism that “no question is a dumb question,” but I wonder if we need an exemption for questions asked in disbelief of God’s Sovereign will? Our amended rule, not so succinct, would be something like this, “No question is dumb, unless God clearly says something to you and you just as clearly think God can not do it. You’ve just called God a liar. You are in BIG trouble now, Buddy.” That’s the new rule. We’ll call it The Big Trouble Disbelief Rule. You’d do well to follow it. Unless you wanna end up like Zachariah. 

Gabriel shut him up for nine-plus months. No speech. Read Luke 1:19-20. It wasn’t until John was born and taken to be circumcised on the eighth day that Zechariah’s tongue was loosed says Luke 1:64.

When Zechariah offers his amazing praying in song, the Benedictus recorded in Luke 1:68-79, he connects it with the miraculous baby-boy bearing promise of a Sovereign God from verse 13. Zechariah offers an expectant prayer. Expectant of the Messiah. Expectant of his own miraculous son’s role as the forerunner prophet.

Expectant prayers begin with God’s promise. Not hopes. Nor wishes. Not even dreams. But God’s promise. God announced through the angel Gabriel that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son. They did have a son.

What is impossible in your life? Who do you think will never change? What do you think can’t happen? That is exactly where God likes to show up. Seek His will. Pray in expectation of His answer. What has God announced for you? Act in faith as He guides you. Find God’s promises for you. Live in all the He has for you.

How can this be?

God said so.

To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

Read or listen to this Scripture from Luke 1 in YouVersion. This post is based on the second sermon in my series, The Prayers of Christmas. You can hear the podcast here or subscribe on iTunes.

Mary's Prayer of Faith

When life is easy—no worries, no troubles, no fears—when we’ve got it under control, we don’t need faith. Faith is what you need when you can’t meet your need. Faith is power when you have no power left. Faith is hope when everything seems hopeless.

Dear Mary, young Mary, virgin Mary was approached by the angel Gabriel. Who spoke to her. Called her highly favored. Told her she was pregnant. Child conceived by the Holy Spirit. To be named God Saves. To be known as God’s Son. To be a the never-ending Messiah King. 

If ever there was a need for faith. With one phrase after another, Gabriel multiplied Mary's need. 

Me? Really? Can’t be? Are you sure? I’m Mary. I’m common. I’m no one special. I’m a virgin.

“For nothing is impossible with God,” says Gabriel (37). I love it.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered (38), “May it be to me as you have said.” I love it even more. Wow! 

Humility. Obedience. Faith. Right there. In the midst of crazy uncertainty, Mary responded with humble faith. Don’t you love it?

Don’t you wish it was true of you? 

That you could say, would say, to God, “May it be to me as you have said.” And then do your part and trust Him. Simple, right?

We need faith in impossible situations. Mary's prayer reveals the origins of faith like that. Faith from a heart reverent to God (46-47). Faith from a posture humble before God (48-49). Faith fully trusting in God’s mercy and His might (50-55).

May we ever answer Sovereign God: May it be to me as you have said. 

Read or listen to this angelic encounter of Luke 1:26-56 in YouVersion. Parenthetic references herein are verses in Luke 1. This post is based on the first of my sermons, The Prayers of Christmas. You can hear the podcast here or subscribe on iTunes.

Prioritizing God

Have you ever had one of those times where it seemed as if nothing was going your way?

You worked hard. You did it right. You gave your all. Yet you got little in return.

You satisfy a need. Answer the request. Fill the bill. Yet it doesn’t seem enough.

You do everything you can. Everything you should. Dot every “i” & cross every “t”. Yet something unexpected happens.

You earn a good living. You get paid well. You have plenty of stuff. You even have stuff for your stuff. Yet you never seem to have enough money to meet the month. 

If you have ever had any of the above happen to you, then welcome to the Club. The Club of Misplaced Focus. Our membership goes way back to 520 BC, the second year of King Darius of Persia as Haggai addresses. You can read of these exact challenges—under-compensated, unsatisfied, unprepared, unfulfilled—in Haggai 1:6.

So what’s the problem?

Why don’t I get the expected return for my effort?

Why can’t I seem satisfy my nagging need?

Why aren’t I ready for everything, try as I might?

Why doesn’t my income cover all my expenses?

Could my problem be the same as those of God’s people that Haggai prophesied to? Misplaced focus? Unprioritized God? The Nation of Judah had been carried off into exile in 586 BC. Was freed to return home by the Edict of Cyrus in 538 BC. And home they went. Restored their homes. Worked to get things back to normal. And got back to life without an oppressive, foreign overlord. Yet they forgot God. 

God asked about their misplaced focus citing that they were living “in paneled (translate, ‘nice’) houses, while this house remains in ruin?” (1:4). “This house” wasn’t just any house. It was His house—the Temple—His dwelling among His people, THE place where His people could worship Him. 

“Give careful thought to your ways,” God said in Haggai 1:5. Your ways. Your focus. Your priorities. They had taken care of themselves. Yet they neglected God. He alone was their Covenant Father, Redeemer, Provider, and the One, True God.

Priorities. It may not always be the case—but it certainly could be the case—that my circumstances of being under-compensated, unsatisfied, unprepared, and unfulfilled are as a result of God trying to get my attention in a language I understand. God speaks Human. He knows selfishness is our native language.  

Don’t misunderstand me.

It’s not wrong to expect a fair return for your labor.

It’s not wrong to desire satisfaction from any pursuit.

It is not wrong to want to be prepared for anything.

It is not wrong to make a good living to provide for your family and others. 

It is wrong to forget God in the process of living the very life He has given me. God speaks human. God will get my attention. Sometimes using ways that make me uncomfortable. 

Do not forget God. Honor Him. Worship Him. Thank Him. Serve Him. Prioritize Him.

Read or listen to all of Haggai here on YouVersion. It’s only 38 verses. And consider these questions:

  • Where does my personal relationship with God rank in my current priorities?
  • How can I place a sharper focus on my love relationship with God?
  • What has to change in order for prioritizing God to really happen? What do I have to start or stop? 

This post based on Haggai is the tenth post from a series of twelve, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. Please share this post using the link below or subscribe to this site via email at the top right. You are welcome to leave your comments below as well. To hear the related sermon, subscribe via iTunes or visit here next Monday.

Exercising Sovereignty

What is the biggest challenge in your life?

What are you tempted to think even God can’t do? 

In the 7th Century BC, the nation of Judah knew that God had sovereign power over them. They were His people. He’d created them, called them His own, and cared for them through the centuries. He’d even warned them, sending prophets to tell them they would be judged for following after false gods. And they were judged. Even as Nahum prophesied to them, they were under subjugation to Assyria.

Yet it seemed that God’s people were not quite so sure that God was truly sovereign over all nations. Yes, God could allow or cause Assyria to judge them. But, would God judge Assyria, a foreign nation who were not His people, for their wickedness as well. Nahum pronounced it.

“The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” Nahum 1:3a

We know little of Nahum himself, but we know plenty of the situation he spoke into. From biblical & extra-biblical sources we know specifics of the rise and fall of the wicked Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians who practiced despicable, defiling acts against other nations. The Assyrians who were so hated that 100 years earlier the prophet Jonah had refused to go preach there lest they repent and be spared. The Assyrians did repent, but apparently only shortly.

Nahum does not prophesy to them but about them. He preached between 663, when the Egyptian capital of Thebes fell (Nahum 3:8), and before the Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell to Babylon in 612. Using colorful language and engaging style the poet laureate of the Minor Prophets, Nahum, describes the soon-coming downfall of Nineveh. It was most powerful city in the known world at the time with unrivaled architecture and unparalleled wealth. With an eight-mile long wall, encompassing 1850 acres, with 15 gates, and encircled completely by an impressive mote, Nineveh seemed impregnable. Nahum called it.  

Nineveh was so utterly destroyed by the surprising, conquering Babylonians and Medes that it was never rebuilt. It's known today by an Arabic word meaning, "The mound of many sheep."

Amidst the prophesied destruction, we see God’s amazing compassion and tender, gracious care for his people as well as the Assyrians. Remember Jonah, the God-given, whale-born missionary God had sent to Nineveh a century before. In addition to compassion, we clearly see God’s sovereignty. God, confounding normal human thinking, is both a righteous judge and a compassionate father. 

Nahum teaches that God is sovereign—in absolute, able control—over all people. Individual or nation. His people or not. Here or there. This language or the other. God is sovereign.  

No matter what you face.

No matter how great.

No matter how long.

No matter how hard.

Nothing stands versus the sovereignty of God.

Take hope, Dear Friend. Where human power or ingenuity ends, God’s begins. He is sovereign. 

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

This is the seventh in my series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. Feel free to share this post or subscribe to follow this blog. Illustrated by The Prophet Nahum by James Tissot, 1888 watercolor.

Traffic Light

Pine Lake.

Old Cheney.

Highway 2.






Every cross street.

With a traffic light.

On my way to work.

Where I stopped.

This morning.





Gave me time to think.

How often, when I wanna zoom through life my foot on the pedal going my direction with no plans but my own in mind, does God have a traffic light?





Psalm 139:16 says, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

God created you.  He knows you.  He loves you.

Seek Him.  Trust Him.  He will answer.

Next time the traffic light of life turns red, don't speak out in frustration, don't tap the steering wheel in impatience, and certainly don't run it, but stop to ask God what He wants you to know.