Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, appears and gives Zechariah some news. Gabriel comes to let Zechariah know that his prayer has been answered. Wow. Zechariah serves in the temple only twice a year, but only once does he get to assist in the daily offering by going into the holy place. Out of all of the priests (studies indicate that there were about 18,000 priests), today is the day Zechariah is in the temple, among people who are praying. His job this day is to offer incense, in the holy place, symbolizing intercession rising up to God. And Zechariah’s prayer is being answered. In the midst of worship, God moves.
God sometimes moves in a dramatic way when we pray. Miracles often depend on faith on the part of those who will benefit from them. Some of us respond in faith and obedience, while others may not believe. I know one thing, Zechariah was taken by surprise. I think I would be gripped with fear as well. I probably would have fainted. Zechariah responds, questioning the angel. Sometimes when we hear from God, we, too, respond with questions. Zechariah lacked confidence in God’s ability to act in a supernatural way.
God’s power is released through faith. “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV) We all have prayed, asking God to perform the impossible. Zechariah also prayed asking for the impossible. The bible says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God; that they walked obeying God’s commandments. But both were well advanced in years. Elizabeth was barren. Sound familiar? Abraham and Sarah?
But Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting one’s trust in God. God makes the impossible, possible. God is faithful. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV) When we pray and intercede, we can be confident that God will respond. Prayer embraces praising God for who he is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward with joy to what he has promised to do in the future.
Friend, we may never experience a visitation from an angel of the Lord to deliver us an answer to our prayers. But God will answer. He will bring you news. Faith relies upon God and His promises alone, and results in boldness and steadfastness in the face of difficulties. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) Let us believe that God is and He will reward us as we diligently pray and seek Him.
Lord, thank You that You know every need and desire we have. Thank You that You answer each of our prayers offered. Thank You that You come to us in the most perfect time. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when our faith waivers. Teach us through Your Word to remain bold and steadfast in the midst of our difficulties. Trusting and believing You, Lord, to make the impossible, possible. In Jesus Name. AMEN.
Don’t believe me, believe God!