Shine! Christmas Devotion #1

5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

Perhaps you remember singing that song as a kid, where the lyrics went like this: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!” Luke 1:5-20 

Do you remember singing that? You’re welcome, by the way, for me getting that song stuck in your head! 

I started a new sermon series last Sunday in light of the Christmas story, called “Shine.” 

Jesus who is the light of the world tells us to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give God the glory. 

We will be looking at three different scenarios in the Christmas narrative this season and how God moved so radically in their lives, they were left with nothing but praise. They shined forth God’s light in their world of darkness. 

Our reading today is about a godly couple who struggled with having children. As Zechariah was in the Temple, we can only imagine the weight he was carrying for himself and Elizabeth, his wife—living with that burden for many years and praying that God would change your social status by giving you a child but have no answer from heaven.

Barrenness was about the worst thing that could happen to a married woman. The barren woman would be shunned, looked down upon, in some cases. Yet God’s promise to Zechariah was that they were going to have a child.

This is an amazing promise that has been given to Zechariah on two accounts .

One, Elizabeth was going to be with child, though she was advanced in years and classified as barren. She was too old and barren to have a child, but God has made provision. 

Secondly, this child was going to do amazing things, turning people back to the Lord. 

He was going to be the forerunner of the Savior of the people of Israel, of the one who would come to deliver his people from their sins. 

Like Zechariah, you have this need in your life; you’ve been given this promise BUT …

“How can I be sure?” -Zechariah 

His disbelief was huge. If God couldn’t open Elizabeth’s womb, how could he make a way out for his people? 

But how many of us have been in their situation?You can imagine Zechariah’s situation, then, which is, “It has never happened before, so why should I expect it to happen now?”

“How can I be sure? After all when you look at it scientifically, I am an old man now and my wife is also well along in years.”

Perhaps you’re feeling “advanced in years and barren,” metaphorically speaking. You have a need for God to come through for you, but it has never happened before so why expect for it to happen now?

So this story really does speak out to so many of us because I know that we need God’s provision. We need God to act, to work, to provide…we need him to come through. 

Like Zechariah, how can we be sure? God does’t call us to find comfort in sureness; he calls us to find comfort in him, his Son. 

Perhaps we’re in a place where it has never happened before, so why should we expect it to happen now? 

Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.

Though difficult, finding ourselves in extreme circumstances should not be a surprise, as God has often times led his people into those circumstances as an opportunity for him to demonstrate his faithfulness and grace. 

The Christmas story is filled with the miraculous, and if God can change the status of Zechariah and Elizabeth, he can certainly change yours.

Perhaps your question isn’t so much “Can God change this?” but is “Will God change this?” Of course I cannot answer the latter question, but my point is for you to hope in the fact that he can and for you to trust that he will.  

After Elizabeth delivered their child, Zechariah told his story, and as a result of him praising God, his entire neighborhood marveled over the news (cf. 1:64-66). 

This is where the application comes. When God comes through, give him a shoutout for what he has done. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, but let it shine so that all in the house may see!