Open for Praise (Advent 23, 2020)

Everyone was happy about a new baby!  All of Elizabeth’s friends, family, and neighbors gathered and shared her joy.  Never mind if they’d perhaps gossiped about her or derided her infertility during less charitable moments…

Luke 1:57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.  58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.  59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

Human tradition said to name John the Baptist after his father, but “Zechariah the Baptist” just doesn’t have the same ring.  Spiritual recognition says to name him John because that’s the name God gave him through the angel.  Spiritual recognition was a hard lesson for Zechariah.  He’d failed that one once and wouldn’t do it again.

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” 62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.

(Wow, way to support your friend and family, you neighbors and relatives of Elizabeth!).  As if she and Zechariah hadn’t worked that out to obey the angel this time because the last effort when Zechariah was flying solo was such a display of ingratitude and doubt.

63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. 67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us– 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel. (Luke 1:57-80)

Questions for further thought:

  • Imagine Zechariah mulling over the words of the angel, again and again, reliving every moment of his unbelief.  Do you think it made an impression on him, especially as he began to see the fulfillment?  How might his heart have reacted? 
  • Even after the heart change, the consequences remained as the angel had outlined.  Then, Divine Intervention! After being silent so long, is it any wonder his voice would be open to praise?
  • In what ways might some of this been rehearsed (in a good way to perfectly express what he wished he’d said before) and in other ways completely spontaneous (a pouring of his soul in the moment of total joy)?  Reread Zechariah’s words (above).

Oh Lord, when the circumstances of life rob us of words to speak, when we feel at a loss for anything that we could do, when the world seeks to steal our joy, to steal our peace, and to steal the life from us, remind us, Lord, that You are the way, the truth, and the life.  Remind us that You are sovereign, You are in control, and every opportunity is an opportunity to praise You.  We can praise You in health; we can praise You when we’re sick; we can praise You when we are rich; and we can praise You when You have provided for us in our poverty.  We can thank You for blessings that we have received. We can thank You for patience to wait for blessings that are still headed our way as the ancients are commended for (Hebrews 11).  Thank You for the beautiful fruit of patience and for this Advent season which is one of hopeful expectation as even pregnancy took nine months.  It’s a season to reminds us that both waiting and suffering produce fruit.  When You show up in Your full glory, we can and will continue to offer our voices in praise to You as if we’d been silent our whole lives and had our lips suddenly opened and voices inaugurated to praise anew!  Thank You Lord, that in Your mercy, You continually draw us to Yourself.  Thank You for salvation in Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray. Amen.

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Advent 2020 began Sunday, November 29th and continues to Thursday, December 24th as we celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and look forward to His Second Coming.  “Divine Intervention” is this year’s devotional study. By signing up on the sidebar of my Home Page you can receive these daily devotionals. Or they will be reposted on SeminaryGal’s Facebook page as well.

Together we will see how God has been actively involved all along as Divine Intervention for a hurting world and nations in tumult– Intervention for you and for me when our status as sinners required nothing short of a miracle.

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Acknowledging inquiries about an entire season’s devotionals for your study group’s planning purposes, Seminary Gal’s prior seasons’ Advent devotionals can be accessed via the archives to the right and are as follows: 

  • Last year’s Advent Devotional Series God’s Christmas list explored what might be on God’s Christmas list, learning what He wants from us. It began December 1, 2019.
  • Storyteller began December 2, 2018 and entered into the Christmas story through its telling.
  • The 2017 series Still Christmas, began December 3, 2017 and was the Advent complement to the Lenten series, Be Still and Know that I AM God.
  • The 2016 season devotionals were called Timeless: The Message of Christmas for All Ages” and explored how the message of Christmas is timeless truth, for all ages of people, and for all ages at all times.  Timeless hope, encouragement, grace, peace, and love as we looked into the Word, saw the face of our Lord Jesus, and experienced restoration in His presence.  His goodness and His Gospel are truly Timeless. The 2016 devotionals began November 27, 2016.
  • The 2015 season devotionals were titled Incarnation and involved digging deep–and yes, I mean deep– in this important mystery of Christian theology.  They began November 29, 2015.
  • Carol Me, Christmas! remains one of my most popular offerings and tells the Christmas story through our most beloved Christmas hymns and carols.  You can access all of the numbered devotionals from 2014 via the archives.  They began November 30, 2014.
  • The 2013 series was Emmanuel: When LOVE Showed Up in Person and examined the Prologue to the Gospel of John.  It began December 1, 2013.
  • The 2012 series focused on Expecting the Unexpected…the unexpected, unlikely, and uniquely divine qualities of God’s perfect plan outlined in Luke’s account of the Christmas story.  It began December 1, 2012.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 21, 2020

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