Tag Archives: Bible Study

By Faith, Looking to Jesus

Note: I have not accomplished my goal of doing a blog every day, so I will take this last day of 2022 to finish Hebrews in One post.  Chapters 11-13 are rich with familiar scripture and passages., so I will take those that are familiar and give exhortation.  I pray this post, the last of the Hebrew series, is a blessing to you

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen

How powerful is my faith?  Is it really more powerful than the reality this world seems to give us?  I believe it is!  There are so many great verses on faith in the Bible that we must take this thing called faith very seriously.  Proverbs 3:5-6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Matthew 21:22, Romans 10:17, Luke 1:37, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 3329:11 all are verses that can boost our faith and they all teach us that God is with us, by faith.  It is one of the most significant traits we can have as Christians.  Faith can help us endure any battle we are facing.

When I was facing cancer, Proverbs 3:5-6 kept me through the whole trial.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”  I could choose to either trust God that He would see me through this battle, or I could wallow on dismay.  I chose to trust Him.  “Lean not to your own understanding.” I did not even attempt to understand why God would allow this into my life – I simply trusted it was for a reason, and it would be for my good. “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”  So I acknowledged that God had a plan in the middle of this trial and knew He would work that plan to my benefit.  “and he will direct your path.” He did direct me in so many ways.  This blog became more intense, I heard Him daily in the words of my poetry, a book was written, a testimony for the glory of God was brought forth, and all things came out wonderful!  What a mighty God we serve.  If you would like to view this testimony, click HERE.

Faith is the cornerstone of our salvation.  Deliverance, healing, guidance, peace, joy, hope, answers to prayer – they are all the products of faith.  If we pray without faith, what good is our prayer?  Everyone has the same amount of faith!  Romans 12:3 says we are all given “the measure of faith,” not a measure of faith.  Here I one measure of faith for all.   The difference between a Christian and any other person (even the atheist) is where we place that measure of faith. The Muslim places it in Mohammed, the Buddhist in Buddha, the Mormon in Joseph Smith and so on.  Even the atheist places their faith somewhere, whether it is in climatology, or astronomy, or astrology, or science.  Everyone ha that measure of faith that God gives.  Where does your faith lie? Our goal is to have our faith 100% in Him and His word.  And that faith comes by hearing the word of God.

Hebrews 11:6  Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

Don’t you just love the fact that God will reward us just for believing in Him and seeking Him?  Nothing more than that.  What are the rewards he is talking about.  In Psalm 103 you can find a list of benefits. He forgives our sins, He heals all my diseases, He redeems our lives, He crowns me with loving-kindness (grace) and mercy, He satisfies my mouth with good things, He executes righteousness and judgment in our favor.  Diligently seeking God has a better benefit package than any employer I know!  Add to this the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cpr 12:8-10), and you have life that is truly blessed!  Without that faith, none of these things will be yours.

Hebrews 12:1-2 has so much to say to us that I wish I had 10 posts to extrapolate it all.  But I do not and I must be brief.  So, I will paraphrase the verse in my own guided words. The bible is full of testimonies about people who trusted God and were victorious in their lives. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Ezra, David, Hezekiah; the list goes on and on.  But the greatest witness to our lives is Jesus.  We must lay aside everything that hinders us from following and seeking Him, and repenting of our sin, we must run this race of our human existence.  We must run that race with patience, because he has patience with us we must have that same patience with ourselves.

Then we must look to Jesus – set our eyes upon Him and wait for Him.  We must seek Him with everything we have. Matthew 6:33, Luke 7:7, Jeremiah 29:13 all speak of the necessity of seeking the Lord.  He gave us this faith, and he will bring that faith to a conclusion.   He paid the price for us, He is always going to be with us, and He will make sure our faith is rewarded.  There is no greater joy or peace than what we find when we seek Jesus!

Hebrews 12:15b “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and therby many be defiled.”

How does bitterness spring up in a persons’ heart?  Here are many ways, but the most common is unforgiveness.  When we refuse to forgive someone, that hurt or wrong just festers in us like a canker sore, and the longer we go with it, the more bitter we become towards them.  It gets harder and harder to forgive the person and therefore our heart gets more and more bitter.  His is simply the enemy of our souls taking a stronghold in our hearts.  Why would Jesus put such strong emphasis on forgiveness, and on making things right with our brother?  Matthew 6:14-15 tells us that if we do not forgive our brother. God will not forgive us!  Matthew 5:23-24 says forgiving someone who has hurt us is more important than bringing our gift to the altar!  Matthew 5:25 says we should agree with our adversary quickly.  Why such emphasis and importance on forgiveness?  It’s really simple.  God forgave you – you should forgive others.  If you don’t, bitterness will coke in and can destroy your walk with God.  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Do it today!

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Aren’t you thrilled to hear this verse.  He; the same now as He has always been!  He same God who delivered and blessed Job.  The same God who blessed Abraham with an unexpected child.  He same God who parted the Red Sea, who dropped manna from heaven, who brought quail in the desert, the same God who led by a cloud during the day and a fire by night.  He is the same God who brought down the walls of Jericho, who equipped David to defeat Goliath, who gave Solomon wisdom and who helped Gideon defeat the Philistines with only 300 men.  Jesus is the same now as when He rose Lazarus from the dead, and when He fed the 5,000 and when He healed the leper and brought sight to the blind.  He never changes.  He will still do these things today and tomorrow!

Hebrews 13:15 “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name”

His is a kind of conclusion to the letter.  Offer the sacrifice of praise.  So many times, in Psalm, David says “I will praise the Lord.”  In the middle of a lament over His troubles, we see David say this often.  He makes up his mind to praise the Lord, no matter what the circumstances are.  We should do the same.  His is the fruit of our lips, not just in our heart.  IU heard someone say recently that our verbal praise is just giving back to God the breath that He gives to us.  I love that analogy!  We hold always have that attitude of gratitude, and should continually give praise to God, with thanksgiving in our hearts.  It is the very least we should do.

I wrote a song that was of great comfort to me when I was lying in that hospital bed during my cancer treatments.  I would sing it in the middle of the night when I could not sleep and was weary from the Chemo treatments.  I had written it several years earlier and always wondered why God would give m such a simple and powerful tune.  A friend of mine once said that perhaps God gave me this song so that it would comfort me at some future point.  He was right!  The words are:

I want to thank you, Lord, for your mercies in my life

I want to thank you, Lord, for your great sacrifice

You have given me your all

Help me give my all to you

I want to thank you Lord.

You deserve the highest praise

You deserve the highest praise

You deserve the highest praise I can give (REPEAT)

HERE is a link to my very simple rendition, I close with this, and pray you will learn to have faith, seek Christ, forgive all, and remember He is still working in your life, and in this world Happy New Year!


Hold Fast

Note: I am going to try and finish Hebrews before the end of the year so this post will be a little different than previous ones, covering a whole chapter rather than a few verses. Starting January 1, I will be following Alistair Beggs Bible Reding Calendar to read through the Bible in one year.  It has been several years since I read the Bible completely through, and I think this is a must every once in a while, for every Christian.  Hi blog will follow my progress when I have time to post.  Thank you for reading!

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

WOW!  Can I say that again backward? WOW!  Perfected forever!  That is what Jesus did for us.  No more offering for our sin, no more looking for a deliverer, no more needing a healer.  He has perfected us forever!  We talked in my last post about being sanctified, and now we see this beautiful verse that gives us all the assurance we need to go forth and tell the good news.  We are perfect in God’s sight when we walk in the sanctification He has provided for us.  Why?  Because He paid the price on the cross (Hebrews 10:10) and then sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).

When reading Hebrews, we always must keep in mind who this letter was written to and why Paul wrote it.  It is written to the Jewish people, who were still following the Old Testament sacrificial law.  Paul, in a brilliant way, is showing the people how Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the law for the forgiveness of sin, so they no longer need to sacrifice bulls, lambs and goats. Jesus did it once and for all (Hebrews 10:10).  By doing this, he ushered in the New Covenant which was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31. The Jewish people were very familiar with this passage of scripture, and they knew that this prophesy could only be fulfilled by their Messiah.  Paul has painted a beautiful picture in the first 10 chapters of how this can be.  I don’t know about you., but I would say his argument is quite convincing!

Paul now turns his attention to our walk with Christ.  Now that He has provided this sanctification, and we can walk with the law of God in our hearts, we must walk in full assurance of faith because He has touched our evil conscience and washed us with His word. (Hebrews 10:22).  We will see in the next chapter how important this faith is!  It is vital that we hold fast to professing this faith that He has given us. What does that mean?  It means that we unswervingly declare the Good News to others.  It means that we share our faith with everyone around us.  It may be with a friendly smile or with a brief prayer, or with a congratulations on a good job. We must share our faith.  This is especially true when we are with other believers.

Hebrews 10:25 says we should not stop getting together with fellow believers.  Why is this so important?  So many people stay home for church services on the television or radio, or listen to podcasts and worship music instead of getting together with other believers.  We all have heard that churches are losing people in almost all denominations.  WHY?  I believe it is because preachers have veered away from Professing their faith and have turned to a social gospel that leaves the message of the cross out!  Our sanctification is nothing without the cross?  Staying away from church and assembling with other Christians robs us of the accountable and fellowship we need to hold fast to this faith.  All of us, no matter how strong, need other people.  We need to be encouraged, uplifted, and yes, rebuked and exhorted.  We need each other.

In Romans 12, Paul talks about how the church body functions similar to the human body in that there are many parts but all are one body.  During my battle with cancer, I lost the use of my right shoulder due to some weird neurological thing.  Doctors could not explain it and physical therapy did not help it. They called it Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, which is typically very painful, but I had no pain.  I just could not use my right shoulder. Being right-handed, this made everything more difficult.  I had to learn to use my left hand for eating, bathing, support, writing – everything!  It was a great lesson for me in how important every part of my body is.  We take our shoulder for granted! I also had drop-foot In both of my feet.  If you don’t know what that I, I suggest you look it up.  His made it very difficult to walk without extreme caution.  We need every part of our body to function properly!

He church is no different. The local church needs you there You may bot know what part of the body you ae, but you are vital to the church being strong, and your profession of faith might just help someone else along the way.  Our presence in the service might be a blessing to someone you never met before.  Maybe you can’t carry a tune, but you sing anyway, making a joyful noise to the Lord.  His can encourage someone else to sing even though they can’t carry a tune.  Everyone can make a joyful noise!  I think all of us feel that Jesus is coming soon, and Paul says we should especially get together as the time approaches (10:25).  Oh, how we need each other!

Have you ever sinned willfully?  I must admit that I have.  I am not proud of this fact, but it is true.  I have fallen flat on my face before His cross and asked forgiveness for my willful disobedience, and He has forgiven me over and over.  He is a loving God, and I need to pay closer attention to the decisions that I make.  I do not want to be in a position to fall into God’s hands, and should have that fear always before me.  Sin will not be found in heaven, and neither will the Christian whose sin is not covered by the blood of Jesus.  We must never loose the confidence we have in His salvation (10:35).

We live by faith (10:36), and all that we do is derived out of this faith that he has instilled in us. I think of Ephesians 2:8-9 which says “By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourself.  It is the gift of God.”  Even the faith that we sue to ask for salvation comes from God., He has given all of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).  This faith is what allows us access to the Holy Spirit with boldness (10:19).  This verse is taken so out of proportion. People use this verse to think they can demand things of God.  That is not what Paul is saying at all.  He is telling us that we no longer have to fear asking the Holy Spirit to help and guide us.  In the Old Testament, the priest alone could enter the Holy Place, and only once a year. He entered with great reverence and awe before God, making sure that everything was done just right.  We fumble around and make all kinds of mistakes, yet we can still come boldly before God.  All of this because we live by faith (10:38).

Hold Fast to that faith.  Profess it for all to hear.  Why did healing come your way? Jesus!  Why did trouble get resolved? Jesus!  Why did you get a financial blessing? Jesus!  Whenever someone asks, Jesus is the answer we should give.  He is our source and our strength.  Make sure everyone knows that He is the provider of your life!

We Are Sanctified

Hebrews 10:1-10

10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

I am just about done with testing to renew my insurance license.  I have been selling various kinds of insurance for almost 9 years, and every three years I have to go through a mountain of material and take tests to get this renewal completed.  The law used to say that 18 hours of this had to be classroom time, but that was changed last year and I can take the courses all online without a proctor for the exam, and without sitting through classes.  I am glad for that change, because my memory is not as good as it used to be, and there is a lot of material to go through.  Once it I complete, the transcript will be sent to the state insurance office and I can pay to have my license renewed.  Then I have to send the information to the various companies I represent.  I have to do this every three years!  There is no such thing as a permanent license that does not expire.

My drivers’ license is a different story.  I renewed it in 2019 and will not have to renew again until 2027.  Because I am over 70, I will have to go in and have my eyesight tested, but should have no problem getting that renewal done.  If I was a fisherman, I would be eligible for a lifetime fishing license in the State of Iowa.  When you turn 65, you can purchase this for $65 and it is good for 100 years.  But there I an expiration date, although I doubt anyone will reach that date.

Everything on this earth will eventually expire or decay.  Food has dates that it should not be sold after, or used after.  Metal can rust, wood can mold, rubber and plastic can wear out.  There is nothing that is permanent and will not deteriorate with time.  Even the trees eventually fall, the mountains quake and tremble and the oceans and seas evaporate one day with fervent heat.  All of it is temporary.

In the Old Testament, God sent His Word to establish a pattern for all of us through the nation of Israel.  The journeys of this nation, and its’ history, are a picture of how our lives can be up and down, but God is always there to pull us through the hard times.  The system of sacrifices, the feasts, the priesthood and the day of atonement also show a pattern that must be followed in order for us to have peace with God.  This peace, the same peace on earth the angels spoke of to the shepherds that night, can only come into our lives when our sin has been forgiven.  God has not changed the requirement that blood must be spilled for the remission of our sin. 

But the pattern of the Old Testament was only a pattern for that time.  Jesus Christ came, from the line of David, a priest in the line of Melchizedek, to be the blood offering for all sin, for all time.  He was sinless lamb, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost and not through the fallen seed of Adam.  The pattern of the Passover was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The sacrificial law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The day of atonement was carried out for all time when He shed His blood on that cross.  The vail of the temple was rent fro top to bottom and the Holy Ghost was made available for all of us as a comforter and guide.  Never again will Christ have to offer His life.  It was a once in forever thing. Sanctified means set apart. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have ben set apart for God for all time.  What a glorious thing it is to be able to call on Him for help at any time!  What a wonderful thing to know He has a plan for us, and will speak to us and show us His plan.  What a freedom we gain when we put our trust in Him!  We are forever set apart for God!  Hallelujah!

A Star is Born

I love looking up at the stars.  To me, there is no greater majesty than these pinpoints of light that dot the sky at night.  I always loved getting out in the early morning hours, before the sun even thought about rising, and looking up to the heavens to see what they had in store for me that morning.  In Iowa, it’s easy to get to a place where there is little man-made light to interfere with the grandest display of God’s majesty.  I could walk away from the campground in the summer months, over to the blacktop road, and down a few hundred feet and the stars would brighten up like a 3-way lightbulb does as you turn the knob.  Glorious!

My favorite constellation is Orion by a long shot.  It rises in the Easter sky in the spring after a long winter hiatus.  On the horizon you see it smaller and less pronounced.  That rectangular shape with three stars in the middle slowly makes its way through the sky, getting larger and larger it seems as it gets higher and higher.  Called the hunter, he dominates the sky with his size and outstanding features.  It seems he is hunting right in your backyard.  But, in truth, the closets of those stars is estimated to be 693 light years from earth.  Or, to make the number a little more real to you, that is around 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from earth, and the farthest star away is almost double that.  I don’t even know how to pronounce that kind of distance. Yet, they look so close in the night sky, and so bright,

Even the planets of our own solar system are seen as lights in the sky, and often appear as stars to our eyes.  Usually, the most brilliant of those are Jupiter and Venus.  Venus is often seen in the wee hours of the morning just before the sunrise in the eastern sky.  The truth is, while the stars in the heavens are mostly just that and give off their own light, these planets are mere reflections of the suns light upon them.  This star we call the sun is so bright and gives off so much light, that even its reflection makes a dark place look bright to our eyes.  Yet the sun, which dominates our sky and light our way, is about 93 million miles away from us, and is a small star in comparison to many stars over our heads. Jupiter is 390 million miles away and Venus is 153 million miles away.  Yet they shine so brightly.

Have you ever heard of Louis Giglio?  He does an amazing job showing the majesty of God’s creation in two videos.  The fist is Called “How Great is Our God” and the second is “Indescribable”  There are longer and shorter versions of these videos, and I highly recommend them if this is of interest to you.  Incredible and vast are the heavens above us.  There is one more about something called Laminin that will blow your mind!

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that had a link attached.  This link led to an article in Forbes magazine about the appearance of what they called the Bethlehem Star.  In so many words, it explained how the confluence of planets coming together would form a more brilliant light in the heavens than is usual and customary.  Man has such a strong desire to explain the supernatural so that they can comprehend it. Scientists do this all the time because they just can’t believe the miracles that happen in the heavens or on this earth.  But science cannot explain a miracle.  Doctors cannot explain when someone is all of a sudden healed from a disease they said was terminal.  They cannot explain why many narrow escapes happen to people, or how they escaped an accident with little to no bruises.  Science can explain the natural, but not the supernatural. 

The star that night was supernatural.  Don’t let scientist fool you.  If it was a natural heavenly event, like every picture we see depicts it, all the people would have seen it and flocked to Bethlehem.  It would have been apparent to all that something amazing was happening when that overly bright star appeared.  But only three men saw it, and only three went to where it was.  The wise men said to Herod that they “saw His star in the East” (Matthew 2:1).  Then, in verse 9, Matthew writes “And behold, the star they had seen in the east went on before them, until it came to rest over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great gladness.  Why didn’t Herod send his men behind them if the star was so brilliant?  Why would Herod wait 2 years before going to kill all the firstborn? The Bible also tells us that the wise men want to the house, not to the manger, where we typically depict them.

It is nice to include the wise men in the story of Christmas, as well as the star. No one knows where the wise men came from, only that they travelled far.  Estimates range from 400 to 1200 miles and longer.  Some say they travelled 6 months, others 2-1/2 years, to get to Jesus.  The Bible says they saw the star in the East.  So, does that mean they were in the East when they saw the star, or that the Star was in the Eastern sky?  It makes a big difference which one of those is true, and we really do not know.  All we know is what the Bible tells us – they saw a star that no one else could see, and they travelled to a destination that no one knows in a year that we also do not know.

This star that they saw was supernatural, as it had to have appeared to only them.  No one else came to where the star was.  This star was more than just a star, it was a light that transcended the stars.  It guided three men from a far country to a very specific location.  That is what God does.  He leads us by a light only we can see.  Others do not know our path.  They do now know where God is taking our lives.  Only we can see the light that goes before us to the destination God has in store.  Do you see His light in the silence of the night?  Are you looking for His direction, and praying He will guide you?  He may not speak audibly to you, but deep in your heart the Holy Spirit will stir you to the right direction.  His light will shine on the path you are to take.

That Bethlehem Star was born just for the wise men, not the whole world.  It was born for them to see that night, and it guided them to their destination.  A Bethlehem Star can also be born for you if you ask God to light His path in your life.  No one else may understand or see the direction you are going because they cannot see that star – only you can.  Good men can give advice and wise counsel, but only you know where that star is leading you. God speaks to your heart and sheds a light on your path.  Let His light guide you to the Savior, because that is the final destination for us all. And when you get there, you can be that light to other.  Jesus said that our light should shine so bright that everyone would see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).  The star that appears to us should reflect off of us so others can find the light, just as the sun reflects off the planets and they appear as light.  We should be the beacons of light, the stars, that shine so others can find their way to Jesus! We should be 300-watt light bulbs not 25-watt night lights.  Let the Bethlehem star be born in you, and for you, this Christmas.

The Beauty of Silence

(As a disclaimer, I have been listening to messages by Alistair Begg that inspired me to write this piece, and I may use some of his material here without actually quoting him.  This thought came to me yesterday morning while listening to him and I felt it was worthy of sharing with you.)

Silence.  Some of us dread it, others rejoice in it.  Some will not allow it, talking incessantly just to keep from entering into silence.  They can’t stand the quiet moment of wondering who will speak next.  The air has to have noise for them to be able to concentrate. They play music in the background, or watch TV while doing other things, or they just talk to themselves when alone. They do not look forward to silent times.  I am one of these most of the time.  I like to have something going on TV, or the radio in the car, or someone to talk to. Silence is welcome at times, but not too many times.

Then there are those who relish silence.  They look forward to the quiet times to pray, or to meditate, or just to reflect and write in their journal.  They prefer not to have background noise when they are doing things.  I am like this when I write, whether it’s a blog post like this or poetry.  I need the silence to hear God speaking.  His voice is what guides me to write the things I write, I learned to listen in the silence when I was going through chemo treatments and stem cell transplants during the cancer months.  He spoke to me a lot, and the silence helped me to listen.  It still does today.

The nation of Israel was waiting for God to speak after almost 400 years of silence when they were in Egypt.  They were doing hard labor for Pharaoh and longed for a way of escape from this brutal taskmaster. God had told Abraham that they would face 400 years of captivity and then they would be set free.  But they could not believe this would happen under these circumstances.  Then came Moses, back from the wilderness after escaping death as in infant under Pharaohs’ rule.  God brought ten plagues on Egypt which finally convinced Pharaoh to let them go.  400 years a silence turned into the freedom of a nation.

The prophet Malachi spoke some stirring words at the end of his prophecy.  Malachi 4:5 says Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Then there was silence.  No prophets, no word from God.  Nothing to let the people know God was still with them.  For about 400 years the people of Israel waited and waited for God to speak to them again, but nothing came.  I am sure they thought God had abandoned them again, just like it was in Egypt.  This time they had come under Roman rule.  It was not as brutal as Egypt’s subjugation, but it was demeaning.  They longed to hear from God.

Zacharias was a priest of the Lord, and it was his honor this day to bring incense before the Lord.  He was an older man, and his wife Elizabeth was barren after years of praying for a child.   She was past the age of child-bearing now, and I’m sure they had given up hope, but continued to pray anyway.  Zacharias was a righteous man, walking in the commandments of the Lord, as any good Levite would do.  The task of bringing incense was a solemn task, and only given once a year to a priest of the tribe of Levi.  I’m sure he was excited and somber as he entered the Holy Place to burn incense to the Lord on the table of incense.  All the people prayed as he entered the temple, and they kept praying all the time he was in there, As he offered up the sweet-smelling savor to God, an angel appeared to him.  I am sure he was frightened by this sight because the first thing the angel said was “Fear not.”  He told Zacharias Elizabeth would have a son, and they should call his name John. The angel also told him that this child would be great in the sight of the Lord, and that the Holy Spirit would be in him from the time he was in his mother’s womb.  Then he quoted words that Zacharias knew from Isaiah the prophet. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zacharias did not know what to say.  These words spoke of the forerunner of the Messiah.  This could not be!  His wife was too old to have a child, and now the angel was telling him his son would prepare the way for Messiah?  Zacharias said to the angel “How will I know this?”  The angel replied that Zacharias would not be able to speak until the child was named and then he left.  Outside, the people were wondering what was taking so long.  Zacharias finally appeared, and I’m sure the people wanted to know what had taken so long.  But Zacharias could not speak.  He could not explain to them what happened.  He could not share with his wife what the angel had said.  For nine months, there was silence.  Then the day came when the baby was born. On the day of his naming, the usual practice was that he would be given a family name.  But Zacharias took something to write on and wrote that his name will be John.  Hen suddenly he was able to speak again.  The song he sang had much to say about this baby that had just been born,

Silence.  What a beautiful thing this can be.  How do you feel when God is silent?  I often wonder why, during a particular stretch of time, I do not hear God’s voice in the way of poetry and songs.  I do not think it was because He was not speaking, but rather because I was not listening.  The silence we hear is a silence of our own ears most of the time, because God is always speaking to us these days.  His Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of His children, guiding and directing them in the way they should go.  But there are times when God is quiet, and these are the times we should relish.  I believe God is doing His greatest work in us when He is silent.  He tests our faith so that it can become stronger.  He teaches us patience as we wait for Him to speak.  He watches from afar and sees whether we are true to Him or not.  This is all so He can speak once again and draw us closer.  He is a loving God, full of grace and truth, and will always draw us to His side.

Listen carefully when you pray.  Don’t make it a one-way street.  Give God time to speak to you in the silent time of your prayer.  The silence is the most precious time, because that is when God will come.  In our worship services, we err when we do not give time for silence, to hear God’s voice and to consider His mercy and grace in our lives.  He longs to speak to you.  He longs for you to listen to His words. Practice time of silence at least as much as you pray.  Give God room to speak to you, and I promise you will hear His voice.