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.

There is Joy

I am weary.  Yet joyful.

I am trusting.  And joyful.

I am broken.  Yet joyful.

I am thankful.  And joyful.

I am hurting.  Yet joyful.

I am prayerful.  And joyful.

There is joy.

There really is a joy that transcends circumstances.  A joy that - in the midst of tragedy - takes root.  Near unexplainable and completely palpable.  A joy that grows deep & spreads wide.  Fills the empty places in a grieving heart full of questions.

We buried the body of the heavenborn child of dear friends today.  Friends grown dearer through this shared experience.  It was hard.  So hard.  It hurts.  So deep.

But at the same time there is joy.  

Joy, hearing the unashamed, unassailable faith of this young couple.

Joy, witnessing their incredible, supernatural strength.

Joy, trusting the providence of our Loving Father.

Joy, knowing that this dear child is already living in Glory.

Joy, anticipating a heavenly reunion with this heavenborn friend.

Joy, observing the loving boldness of those ministering.

Joy, bubbling up from the streams of living water within.

Joy, feeling the prayers & support of so many dear ones.

Joy, experiencing love as a verb in countless actions & words.

Joy, walking this tragic path with inspiring Christ followers.

If I could trade this joy for that precious boy, you know I would.  But - trusting God's providence & receiving His grace - I'll accept this joy as a gift.  My gift.  One among so many from this child, our heavenborn friend. He has changed us.  Forever.

He has shown me real, uncircumstantial, divinely given joy.