Dear Christian Sisters,
I know we haven’t gotten to Mary, yet, or how brave she was. But there’s still lots to learn in the story of the birth of John the Baptist.
We Say Chance—He Says “For Such a Time As This”
Now it happened that while he (Zacharias) was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
We as well as Zacharias might think that he was chosen by chance to perform the priestly duties that day, but God likes to do things on purpose.
There was a whole process for deciding when priests were to serve at the temple, hence “the appointed order of his division.” Then Zacharias was chosen by lot to enter the temple to burn incense. Today we would say that they “rolled the dice.”
From a human perspective, Zacharias was chosen by chance.
From God’s perspective, Zacharias was chosen for such a time as this. (“For such a time as this” is from Esther 4:14.)
Being chosen to burn incense was a big deal! A once in a lifetime opportunity!
Do you think that Zacharias told anyone? Of course he did! He told all his friends and relatives.
And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Considering the honor this was for Zacharias, the multitude would’ve included his family and friends, including Elizabeth, who were all celebrating the honor with him.
What do you think was Zacharias’ first prayer request?
Don’t Be Afraid of Angels
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias…”
When people are visited by angels, as recorded in the Bible, they are afraid. How do we know? Because the angel says, “Do not be afraid” as the angel Gabriel says here.
But are they afraid because angels are scary looking?
because angels are big?
because angels bring God’s glory with them?
…”for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
Zacharias asked and God answered!
Nazirite Vow—No Wine or Liquor
“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”
No wine or liquor? This may seem strange to us. Some Christians don’t drink wine or liquor, some only drink wine, and some drink both wine and liquor.
The Bible does not say do not drink.
The Bible does say not to get drunk.
You can read more about this on the GotQuestions website.
Why didn’t John the Baptist have wine or liquor? Because he was a Nazirite from birth.
Being a Nazirite is not the same thing as being from Nazareth. Jesus is from Nazareth, but He never took the Nazirite vow.
Any Jew could take the Nazirite vow, which included not drinking nor cutting his or her hair, for a time in order to dedicate him- or herself to the Lord. During the time of the Nazirite vow, the person is holy to the Lord. You can read about taking the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:1-21.
There were three people who were Nazirites from birth, as recorded in the Bible: Sampson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.
Preparing Others for the Lord
“And he (John the Baptist) will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Perhaps there was someone in your life who prepared you for the Lord. Or perhaps you are preparing others for the Lord.
Who prepared you? Thank them!
Who are you preparing? Your children (if you are a parent) may be the most obvious answer, but remember that everyone you meet, even while going to the grocery store, may be someone you are preparing for the Lord. (Read my blog post about being a missionary to McDonald’s.)
Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”
Not only did God answer Zacharias’ prayer, but He answered big!
Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us.
Zacharias was granted his request. The angel promised to give him what he asked for—and more!
Zacharias is in the temple. Zacharias is serving the Lord. Zacharias is praying. And yet he is surprised and doubting that his prayer will be answered because he asked for something that seems impossible.
That was me. I was a doubting Zacharias.
What I want, more than anything, is that not only would both my sister and my brother be completely healed of schizophrenia but that they would accept Christ’s sacrificial gift of love.
From a human perspective, schizophrenia cannot be healed.
- Medicine doesn’t heal schizophrenia.
- Counseling doesn’t heal schizophrenia.
- Natural health doesn’t heal schizophrenia.
But I didn’t ask God to heal my siblings until recently.
Many years ago, I did ask God to let me know if my brother was okay because no one had seen him for weeks (this was the first time that he was homeless). God answered in a matter of hours. He answered so quickly that I couldn’t help but ask myself why I asked so small.
Now I ask big! And I am believing that God will answer my prayer and answer big. Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose.
Are You a Doubting Zacharias?
Are you a doubting Zacharias?
Are you doubting that the Lord will answer your prayer because it seems impossible?
Or perhaps even though you have an impossible request, you haven’t even asked because you can’t imagine that God would give it to you.
What is your impossible request? Are you trusting that the Lord will answer your request?
Your request may not be big like healing my siblings of schizophrenia. Maybe your request is about your career. I have requests like that, too.
My first book will be launched in January, and I have several others in my head. Oh how I would love for these books to be so moving to readers that they become best sellers and my readers more like Christ.
What’s Your Impossible Prayer Request?
So, what is your impossible request? Are you ready to trust the Lord to answer and answer big?
Now might be a good time to ask God if you are being a doubting Zacharias.
Now might be a good time to ask God for forgiveness for being a doubting Zacharias. “Lord Jesus, take away my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)
Now might be a good time to ask God for that impossible request in complete faith that He will grant your request and answer big.
What do you have to lose?
Try this prayer:
Lord, my Rock, my Salvation, You can do anything—far more than I can ever imagine or guess or request in my wildest dream (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I’m sorry for being a doubting Zacharias.
Thank You for answering my little prayers. Now I’m coming before You in humbleness to ask big.
Lord, carry out Your purpose and do super abundantly far over and above all that I dare ask or think—infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams in the name of Jesus so that You are glorified.
Dear Christian Sisters,
How do you handle life’s challenges?
If you’ve read my testimony (see the links on the “About” page), then you know that both of my siblings have schizophrenia. The first time schizophrenia affected my life, I turned away from God and made bad, life-changing decisions, including abortion.
The second time schizophrenia affected my life, I pressed into God and learned how not to worry.
Thirteen years later—one-and-a-half years ago—my brother disappeared from his apartment in the Twin Cities. My mom and I live on the east cost. My dad lives in Minnesota. But we were on the phone together, heartbroken.
I wasn’t worried. Honestly, I wasn’t. I remember taking an inventory of my feelings because I can still today be detached. I was heartbroken. Just heartbroken. I guess I truly did learn not to worry.
“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
Matthew 6:27 NASB
We searched. We followed paper trails. We contacted people. But we couldn’t find my brother.
What could I do but praise God?
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms 118:24 ESV
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Hebrews 13:15 NASB
I praised God by singing the “Doxology”:
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
I remembered the “Doxology” from my church upbringing. Singing it brought me peace. I made it my go-to praise song.
I was still crying. I would sing while crying.
Then I remembered “The Lord’s Prayer” in song. My dad used to sing it. He really likes a version with an African beat, but I like Malotte’s, which is what I remember him singing when I was young.
I found a phenom, Jackie Evancho, on YouTube who sings “The Lord’s Prayer’ beautifully and pretty much in my range. I listened to it over and over. And when no one else was in the car, I sang along with her.
Can you guess what I felt?
I felt peace! Peace that passes all understanding.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NASB
I was still sad. I was still heartbroken. But I trusted that the Lord was watching over my brother.
In the last year-and-a-half, the Lord has called me into His plan for my life. It was if the Lord said, “Okay, good. You understand how to respond to life’s difficulties. Now, pick up your cross and follow me.”
God sent me to Uganda on a short-term mission trip. While there, He convicted me that I needed to change the conversation about abortion.
In the last year, He has sent me to speak on abortion and sex outside of marriage both here and in Uganda.
I learned to obey Him in this last year-and-a-half. I learned to worship him in all circumstances.
Honestly, I am on fire for the Lord. I’m so on fire for the Lord that I am annoying to my friends. They are going through difficulties, real and big difficulties. My encouragement? Sing a praise song.
But guess what? Life is still difficult at my house, too.
So, I have to take my own advice and sing a praise song. Sometimes I turn on Christian radio in every room of the house to shower my house with praise.
And the atmosphere changes.
Then three weeks ago, something amazing happened. I got a phone call from a psychiatric hospital that is an hour away from me here on the east coast. My brother is there!
My brother left the Twin Cities on his own accord and ended up one hour away from me.
God did that. Only God could do that.
Things are not perfect. It’s not like my brother is suddenly healed of schizophrenia. But he has a roof over his head, he has clothes, and he has food for the time being.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
I continue to pray for my brother’s complete healing. I praise God as we wait to see if my brother will make good decisions or become homeless again.
I praise God because it’s good for my soul.
What’s your go-to praise song?