Christmas Reflections..God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of Unbelief

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.   And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.  And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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.”

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time. – Luke 1:11-20

Zacharias may have thought that it was by lot that he was chosen to go before the Lord and burn incense in the temple.  But instead Zacharias had a divine appointment with God.
Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed for many years to have a child, yet God was silent.  Perhaps now their prayers were more out of habit, rather than out of belief that God could still give them the desire of their heart.  God may have been silent, but He had indeed heard their prayers. 
Now, at the appointed time, God would answer their prayer and give them a son.  A son who would be great in the sight of the Lord.  One who would be filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth.  Their child would have the privilege of preparing the way for the Lord.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to announced what God would do, Zacharias was filled with fear.  He questioned how it would be accomplished.  Did Zacharias have his eyes on circumstances and human limitations?
God is not glorified, nor pleased, with our unbelief.  Unbelief is what kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Zacharias’ unbelief resulted in him being struck mute and silent until after the fulfillment of God’s prophesy about John’s birth.  Thankfully, God’s miraculous work was not contingent on Zacharias’ belief. 
As Zacharias emerged from the temple, he beckoned to the people so that he could tell them about the angel’s glad tidings.  But Zacharias was speechless…and would remain mute for the next 9 months.  Can you imagine hearing the best news of your life and not being able to share it? 
When Zacharias returned home, God was faithful and answered their prayer.  He brought forth a child from a barren couple well advanced in years.  God can do the impossible with that which is weak, frail and even as good as dead.
As I read about Zacharias and Elizabeth, I’m reminded that I am called to persevere in faith, continue to trust God and know that He is able to accomplish much more than I ask or imagine.  When I pray, am I willing to wait upon the Lord and trust His perfect timing?  Do I view my problems from my vantage point or do I look at them from God’s perspective, knowing that nothing is too hard for God?

Only Believe

If I had believed those who told me

It’s God’s will that you never marry

Would I have ceased to pray

Never more asked God to grant me the desires of my heart

If I believed that the chapters yet to be written

Would never be different

From that which had gone before

Would my faith have failed me

If I believed the lies of the enemy

Doubted the goodness of God

Would I have presented my requests to Him

Confident that He is able

If I had never asked

God to bring me a godly husband

Would I have ever donned a wedding gown

Or felt your hand in mine

If I had not risked

Being embarrassed

Feeling the failure

Would I have gathered the courage to asked others to pray

If I had not heeded

The still small voice within

Would I have lacked the vision

To only believe

By Susan Bunts

September 3, 2008

Can We Talk?

Hey there my Abba Father…my Daddy. Do you have a minute? Can we talk?

It seems like the last couple of weeks I have been so busy…I’ve been racing around doing a lot of stuff…even good things but haven’t made enough time for You.

I feel like You are doing a work in my life. I’ve had some extreme highs and lows these last two weeks. On those mountain top highs…I feel like floating on cloud and will never come down and my faith has never been higher.

Before I know it the next day or next hour…doubt creeps in and my faith fails me. That which I believed You were doing is now in doubt. Lord…if the work You are doing in my life and if answering my one and only prayer is based on my faith…I might as well pack it up. But if it’s based on Your goodness and mercy towards…albeit so very undeserved…then my prayer will be answered.

You know Father…when I go to Bible Study Fellowship each week I never know if I’m going to be convicted or encouraged in my spirit. The last couple of weeks…I must confess were conviction. Both times…I barely made it to class on time…and both weeks…completing my lesson had been put off until the very last day…and I was writing down my last answers before I got into the car to go to class. I start out good by reading the notes the first day…then I’ve been getting off track after that.

Last week…I wasn’t sitting in our group for more than a few minutes when You dealt with me. The new girl shared how hard the first few lessons were so hard for her to complete. That she only was able to do so by praying and relying upon Your Holy Spirit to guide her. If You would have hit me upside the head…I don’t think I would have felt it more. I realized that I take for granted completing the lessons. I’ve been in BSF now for a number of years. Even when don’t take the time to genuinely see what You are saying in your word…I can come up with the “right answer”. But in doing so…in studying the Bible based on my own wisdom and knowledge, by failing to come to You in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit guide me…I’m missing it. I’m missing You Jesus.

It’s kind of like going so see a friend, to talk and catch up…but instead I’m looking out the window, not paying attention and not listening to a word they say.

I’m sure it was my guilty conscience that caused me to feel like you were punishing me by making me sit in the back row. You know how much I love to sit in the front row…no distractions…I can focus. I felt like You were saying, “Susan…you put Me in the back row this week. Now tell Me, how does it feel?” You know what…it doesn’t feel good God.

To top it off…I was distracted. Focused on the girl that offended me when I walked in. I know she didn’t mean it that way. I do know that…but You had me working on issues of forgiveness while I listened to the lecture. You know how they say hindsight is 20/20…well ain’t that the truth? If had been quick to forgive the offence, and quickly come to You and asked for forgiveness for putting You in the back row…I would have been able to concentrate and hear what Your word had to say to me that night.

On Monday night…You had another lesson waiting for me. They always seem to take me by surprise or are from the most unexpected sources. Sometimes during the lecture…sometimes in class when sharing our answers.

I guess I could analyze why I didn’t answer the question right…but bottom line…it never even crossed my mind. I’m the one that missed out because I didn’t seek You, I didn’t make the time to study diligently Your word so that I could know You better.

Jesus…how could I have missed it? How? The question…what are your treasures stored up in heaven? Obviously I knew that my salvation is secured in heaven because of Your sacrifice on the cross. I thought I was being humble when I dared not presume to state what treasures I have stored up in heaven. How dare I…I don’t even deserve to be there.

But I missed it….You Jesus are my treasure in heaven. How could I have missed that? As soon as I heard it…I knew it!

Jesus…now for the hard question…did I not know it because I have failed to make You my treasure here on earth?

Jesus…I don’t want to do that ever again. I don’t care if I get every answer wrong on my lesson…as long as I find You that is all that I want.

Jesus…this week You revealed Yourself to me in the most marvelous way. Words can not describe it. I have never in my life felt Your presence like I did Sunday night. I bathed in Your glory and I never wanted to leave.

I’m tired of letting the distractions of this world bid me to set You aside for them. Now I’m not saying I want to go live on some mountaintop and live a life with no demands competing for my time and attention. But I want to make time for You each day…in prayer…in the study of Your word. I don’t want to rush through a lesson in order answer all the questions…only to miss The Answer.

But I can’t do this on my own. The demands of life will keep nipping at my heals demanding attention. Now Jesus…You dealt with this when You walked this earthy…so I know You know the pressures and can help me.

God…why did You choose me before the foundations of this world? One who is so weak and such a failure? I feel like such a hypocrite just like the Pharisees. I put on a good act on the outside…but there are times when there is little going on within me.

Jesus…I don’t want to miss You. Will You hold on to me and promise to never let go? Because I can’t promise I’ll do the same. I am so weak. I want to bring You glory…I want to do good…but I can’t do it on my own God. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit…and never, ever let me go. In Jesus holy name I pray…Amen!

Broken Heart & Answered Prayer

Oh dear Lord, I pray,
Protect my heart,
May I not go down that wrong path again.

For my broken heart,
My soul,
Still bear the scars.

Wounds that once bled,
Now healed,
Through the touch of Your hand…filled with grace, mercy and love.

Like Sarah and Hannah of old,
I know,
The ache and longing of desire unfulfilled.

May I balance,
Stepping out in faith,
With pursuing Your perfect will.

May Your delay,
Not be a denial,
But instead the working out of each fine detail.

May my life, my story,
Be a testimony,
To Your unfailing love.

May those who have written me off,
Said never will it be,
Be silenced…as they see You are God who still answers prayer.

Susan Bunts
October 9, 2007