Luke 1 tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth – an elderly couple who loved and served God, and couldn’t have children. God sent a message to Zechariah that they would have a son, and were to name him John – we know him as John the Baptist. Understandably, Zechariah seemed to struggle to believe that this could be true. Firstly, God had been silent for about 400 years in the nation of Israel, and secondly, he and Elizabeth had probably long given up hope of becoming parents. I’m sure if I was in his shoes, I would have had the same response: “How can I know this for certain?”! Yet, nothing is impossible with God.
The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah “Now listen. You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:20 (CSB) “
Sure enough, Zechariah was on mute. He couldn’t speak the usual priestly blessing over the people as he came out of the temple. He couldn’t tell his wife (at least in words) what had happened. He wasn’t able to shout for joy when his wife became pregnant, or talk about plans for the baby room. In fact, the text suggest he may have been made not to hear too!
I began to think about how doubt can silence us. Zechariah and Elizabeth had been holding the line. They were descendants of Aaron, in the priestly line. They walked a long obedience in the same direction. SUDDENLY, God brought an unexpected word, disrupting the norm. Zechairah, was faced with a choice: to PICK A LINE, either of doubt (unbelief) OR Faith (trust) in what God said.
Like I so often do, he picked a line of doubt. “God that’s great, but how can I know that it’s really going to happen? God, that’s unbelievable. God, that’s impossible…”
Yet, God is his grace, doesn’t say: “Your doubt has disqualified you, I’ll find someone else”! However, Zechariah’s doubt does delay his praise. His silence (and possibly deafness) persisted until his son was born and named John on the 8th day. Finally, the first words out of his mouth after 9 months of being on mute were praises to God. In hindsight, praise may have been the wiser line to pick at the start!
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:64 (CSB)
Doubt delays your praise
Every moment of every day, we have the choice to pick a line of doubt, or pick a line of faith. I think that when pick the line of doubt (which is usually the easier line), our mouths become silent, our hearing becomes dull, and the blessing of others stops. DOUBT stills our mouths and increases the sound in our minds. On the other hand, FAITH stills our minds and increases the sound of our mouths in praise
DOUBT stills our mouths and increases the sound in our minds. FAITH stills our minds and increases the sound of our mouths
No matter how unbelievable it may seem, when you pick your line, God with what God said, and then hold that line irrespective of what comes next!
For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37 (CSB)
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her! Luke 1:45 (CSB)
What has God spoken to you? Have you picked a line that is aligned with his Word? Are you holding that line? If not, maybe it’s time for a course correction!
Here are three practical steps you can take in picking a line of faith:
1. Grow in hearing God
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17
Here’s a simple idea: Put your Bible next to your bed, open it ready for the morning, and when you wake up, just start reading until something catches your attention. Ask God why this has caught your attention, and how it applies to your life. Before you know it, you will find God actually is speaking to you!
2. Have Grace for yourself
For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Rom 7:15 (CSB)
Recognize that your core desire may be different to your current desire. If you follow Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit, and your Spirit led core desire would be to go with what God said. However your current desire, in the moment, might be to doubt. Don’t beat yourself up if this happens. Take courage from Paul’s wrestle with the same thing in Rom 7:15-25 and take this tension to God and let him help you settle your doubts and fears by his grace.
3. Find community
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (CSB)
Having people around you that can encourage you and that you can encourage is so helpful and necessary! We really are better together. Join a small group or open up your home on Sundays (#Powerof10) and invite others in to experience the church together.