Originally published Sunday, 22 December 2013.
This past year I embraced a phrase in my life––a theme if you will––that I feel guided my personal journey of worship, prayer and Bible reading. Two years ago my life phrase was "RISE UP! and Make Jesus Famous" which then turned into the theme of my next book. This year my motto, my theme, was all about "seeking God's presence." These themes don't come out of thin air, but rather from taking time in prayer and in reading Scripture to discern what God wants me to focus on and wrap my heart around. It's all about constant conversation and growth in my relationship with Jesus. Much of it is about obedience. Obedience to allowing His Word to permeate my life and not just skim it to check the box every day. Obedience to listening to His most often still soft voice rather than siding with the loud screaming in my brain that leans toward my own pride or selfish desires.
Obedience is not always easy. Dare I say it is usually not the easy choice. Today, let's look at an example of one who listened to God (even after some heavenly reprimand) and then took his role in the unfolding of our Gospel story filled with Awe and Wonder.
Today's Scripture from THE VOICE Advent Readings: Luke 1: 68-79
Zacharias: May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. As was prophesied through the mouths of His holy prophets in ancient times: God will liberate us from our enemies and from the hand of our oppressors! God will show mercy promised to our ancestors, upholding the abiding covenant He made with them, Remembering the original vow He swore to Abraham, from whom we are all descended. God will rescue us from the grasp of our enemies so that we may serve Him without fear all our days In holiness and justice, in the presence of the Lord.
And you, my son, will be called the prophet of the Most High. For you will be the one to prepare the way for the Lord So that the Lord’s people will receive knowledge of their freedom through the forgiveness of their sins. All this will flow from the kind and compassionate mercy of our God. A new day is dawning: the Sunrise from the heavens will break through in our darkness, And those who huddle in night, those who sit in the shadow of death, Will be able to rise and walk in the light, guided in the pathway of peace.
Zacharias, a man. A man who's social and religious lineage has him in the Jewish temple. Not just in the temple, but in the Holy of Holies––the most sacred space where the very presence of God resided. That fateful day where his name came up on the religious roles to call Zacharias into his preistly duties which would never come again in his lifetime. Zacharias finds himself called out directly by God. Can you imagine? God called him to have faith and believe God when He proclaimed that Zacharias' long suffering prayers would be answered: his barren wife would give birth to a son. It didn't stop there though. This boy would be the forerunner of Jesus––would prepare the way for the ministry of the Messaiah. We read in Luke 1 some explicit instructions and proclamations from God via the angel Gabriel:
Zacharias, your prayers have been heard. Your wife is going to have a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you great joy and happiness—and many will share your joy at John’s birth...Your son is the one who will fulfill this prophecy: he will be the Lord’s forerunner, the one who will prepare the people and make them ready for God. (Luke 1: 13,14,17)
We then read how Zacharias at first balked at the heavenly proclamation and encounter with God's messenger. He balked out of disbelief. For that, Zacharias was rendered mute until the birth of his son, John.
Oh how we balk at God's truth and commandments out of fear and disbelief and distrust...we balk daily!
Yes, Zacharias made up for it and in our Advent Scripture reading for today we read his bold declaration and worship of the Lord. Obedience, a tough thing. Not always fun. Consequences happen when we neglect God's way and follow our own path.
But oh! the blessings that follow when we listen to the voice of God and obey!
Zacharias' blessing was the privilege of partaking in the Gospel––the good news of the birth of the long awaited Messiah.
Awe and Wonder:
Let us circle back to the greatest commandment proclaimed by Jesus: love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second, of course, being love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40) We can love God with everything we have by pouring out our obedience to Him. For Jesus Himself said,
If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. (John 14:15)
Obedience in reading His holy, God-breathed word and taking in seriously in every part of life. (2 Tim. 3:16) Obedience in believing we are who God says we are...we are children of the Almighty. Obedience in serving and loving others because God first loved us with His all, His Son. Obedience takes on many forms and in very personal ways. Where do you need to set aside your own pride, your own agenda and love God by listening to Him, by obeying Him?
What better way to worship the King during Advent than to do what He says? What better way to express your devotion than to obey?
Any thoughts? Leave a comment...let's chat!