That is why you fail

First off, I just want to say Happy Star Wars Day, and May the 4th be with you!

Now for a semi-inspired Star Wars lesson.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
-Luke 1:30-34

I read these verses and immediately one thing pops out at me. In the previous verses Zechariah struggled believing that Elizabeth would conceive and at a quick first glance it seems to some like Mary might be doubting as well. 

But let's think about it. Zechariah said, "How shall I know this?" (Luke 1:18), but Mary said, "How will this be?" (Luke 1:34). Notice the difference? Both are questioning God, right? But do both doubt? Zechariah was cursed for his doubt, right? 

Zechariah pretty much said, "How can I know this will really happen?" or "How do I know this to be true?". His doubt was in God. This priest who studied the scriptures and memorized at least the first five books of the Old Testament, (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) so he knew what God did. He knew it, but he didn't believe it.

Is this a reoccurring theme in our life? We know the scriptures, we have a head knowledge of it, but when it comes right down to it we don't believe? 

When Luke Skywalker landed in the dagobah system, he couldn't believe a little green guy named Yoda could train him. He knew this guy was a great trainer, Obi-Wan's spirit said so! But seeing a little green guy is different. Then after training with him, he is instructed to lift his crashed X-Wing out of the swamp. He couldn't. Yoda did. The picture below sums up the interaction.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
-Jeremiah 29:11-12 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28 ESV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
-Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
-John 3:16 ESV

You know these verses, right? But do you believe it? But Mary said, "I know and believe this will be, but how?" She knew the capability of God, and that He could do it! She knew he could, but just didn't know how. 

Do we know it with our heads, or hearts?


Shut your mouth

Yesterday we covered Zechariah, soon-to-be father of John the Baptist, being told he was going to have a son, and his son would bring the people back to the Lord. I personally think he was floored. He's old, and he's going to have a son. But he's also a priest of the Lord, and the angel told him that his son would bring his people back to the Lord.

Here's Zechariah's response:

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.”
-Luke 1:18-20 ESV

I think the birth thing was the easiest thing to disbelieve at first. He's old, and he says his wife is "advanced in years". I don't know much, but I do know this. Don't comment on a woman's weight, her make-up, or her age. Those are BIG no-no's. So Zechariah is saying, "Have you seen my wife? She is OOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDD." But what he's really doing is questioning God's ability to do something about his situation. 

I feel like we all get in situations like this. We read something in the Bible that says one thing about us and we deny in. We're called a "new creation" and we don't live like it. We can't believe it's true. We don't see things how God sees them. 

If Zechariah easily disbelieves the birth thing, which is directly tied to the bringing Israel back to the Lord thing, he disbelieves the bringing Israel thing too!

If I said you have a present and it had a million bucks in it, but you don't believe there's a present, what else don't you believe? Hmmm...

If you're told that Christ lived a perfect life, died for your sins, rose again, and if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that you'd be saved and it was by grace and not works,but you don't believe in Christ, you negate all of that. Or if you believe in Christ, but you believe you can earn salvation, then you negate everything he did! You're saying what I did is SOOOOOO much better than what He did! My attendance to church is better than Jesus dying on the cross?!? NO WAY!

So Zechariah, a priest of God, is doubting God and everything He could do. So God shut his mouth.


You're doing WHAT?

I feel lead to start another long series. I feel like nowadays people have a skewed outlook on who Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God are. So I want to take a good look at what the gospels says. At times things are going to get tough. They're going to be messy. Jesus will say things we don't want to hear. He'll say things that (if we didn't know Jesus said it) we'd reply with, "That's not very christian like."  So we're going to call this series (as of right now) the "Red Letters" series and we're going to discuss the tough things He says.

So lets start at the beginning. In Luke's gospel, he doesn't start immediately with the birth of Jesus like Matthew, which may surprise you, but it starts with a guy named Zechariah.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been 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 before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will 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, and he will 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 for the Lord a people prepared.”
-Luke 1:8-17 ESV

That little bit is cram packed with info. Zechariah is a jew, and because we see he's a priest, we know he's a Levite. The only jews allowed to be priests were those who were of the tribe of Levi. Priests should not be confused with Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees and Sadducees could be from any tribe. He also only served around 4 to 6 weeks a year. He served 1 week every 24 weeks, so that's about twice a year, plus the days of highly religious holidays, like passover.

This passage also talks about how the child to be named John, A.K.A. "John the Baptist", would be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the spirit (or attitude and presence, not the literal "spirit" or "soul") and power of Elijah. And John will turn the Israelites back to God and prepare the way for the Lord. John is often referred to as the forerunner to Christ.

This probably doesn't make Zechariah happy. He's a priest! It's like Gabriel the angel was calling him a failure! Like he's not doing his job! How would you feel in that situation? Zechariah doesn't believe this! He begins to question the angel, and not believe him. But we'll pick up with that tomorrow...