Silent Faith

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 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. (Luke 1:18-22)

The Scripture above is part of the story that tells us about an angel of the Lord telling the father of John the Baptist of his upcoming conception and birth. John’s father, Zechariah was a priest. The angel came to him as he was doing his duty in the temple. Zechariah’s disbelief was met with an inability to speak. This scripture spoke to me. I don’t see this inability to speak as a punishment but a gift. Not only was Zechariah left alone with the ability to only communicate with God, but his doubt was also kept to himself and away from those who looked up to him as a priest.

 [In Scripture silence was the prelude to extraordinary events. It was a sign that God was about to work… he could not be allowed to take his doubt out to the people.  It was thus not just a punishment. It was a chastening with a purpose. – Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible]

[When this realization struck home, the crowds knew they he had seen a vision in the temple and that God was about to do something marvelous in their midst (v. 22).- Bible.org]

            Many times, in midst of our troubles, we run to earthly comforts. It might be a substance or people. In doing this we run the risk of turning away from a God that uses troubles to draw us to Him. He wants us to rely on Him so that He can groom us for our purpose. “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 13:6) When we run to other things to comfort us we leave God out of the process He is drawing us to in our trouble. I feel the silence of Zechariah represents our tendency to pour out our hurt, doubt, disbelief, and frustration to the people around us who God desires to influence with our faith and obedience. God wants the people around us to see His work in us. Don’t be quick to spread your doubt and hurt to anyone around you. Seek wise counsel from other believers to speak the truth of God to you in your difficulty. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;  let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope (Lamentations 3:25-29)

 for when our faith is weak, and we throw out many obstacles, the truth of God, in continuing to flow toward us must, of necessity, break through them with a kind of violence – Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible

Changed By The Spirit

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                Many people who come to know Jesus as their Savior feel that once they’ve accepted Him, they have reached a point of completion. In terms of salvation their faith has brought them into relationship and reconciliation with God. It is sad when they stop at that point and miss out on the opportunity to submit to God and let Him take control of the life He created for a specific purpose, greater than they can imagine. They don’t acknowledge the new life given to them through Jesus. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Reconciliation to God through faith in Jesus tears down the house we’ve built for ourselves with the fleshly materials of this world and allows the construction of a Spirit based house on the foundation of our Savior. The problem arises when we try to build that new life in our own power. For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:18-19) We must rely on the Holy Spirit of God to bring lasting change to our lives. We fall victim to legalism and religion when we try to do God’s work for Him. As we dwell in this world we only have access to worldly materials to build ourselves. It’s important that we let God sanctify our new hearts and draw us out of the slavery to this sinful world. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:9) The laws that guided people in the Old Testament to rely and focus on God are just shadows of what we have in the light of Jesus Christ. I’m not referring to the moral laws that Christ fulfills in His call for us to love God and our neighbors. I refer to the sacramental and ritual laws that kept eyes and dependence on God until His chosen could be reconciled through faith in His Son. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24) Don’t fall backward into trying to work for God. Humble yourself to His will and what He wants to do in your heart. Let His infinite power create lasting change, and let that power fight these battles to completion. Live by the Spirit and let your works honor God because of His love, not to attain the love you already have. Let God do the work in your heart and your life that you are unable to accomplish because we were designed to live in reliance on our Creator through faith and love for our Savior. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)