January 15th

Faith Challenged

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13But 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. 14And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15For 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. 16And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17He 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." 18And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." 19And 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. 20But 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 NKJV

Zacharias is an example of a person who is faith-challenged.  It had been hundreds of years since God had spoken to anyone in Israel. The angel spoke amazing things about what God was about to do, and yet, Zacharias doubted the words.  Because Zacharias did not believe, Gabriel muted him.  

When Jesus worked miracles, he often noted faith as the key ingredient.  He was unable to do amazing miracles in his hometown due to the people’s unbelief (Mark 6:5-6). Gabriel may have muted Zacharias so that he could not share his doubt with his wife or anyone else about the amazing miracles that were to take place.  God chastised him for his lack of faith. 

Each of us should examine our own hearts to see if we are faith-challenged like Zacharias.  God has given us some awesome and mighty promises.  For example, Romans 6:6-11 NKJV gives us promises that can free us from sin’s bondage: 

6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we combine our faith with God’s word, the promises begin to manifest in our life.  They may not happen instantaneously, but they will happen!  Did you read the above scripture and say, “That’s great and all, but…..,”  or did you read it and say, “Lord, I believe that these promises are true, may it be as your word has said” ?  

One of faith’s characteristics is that it believes in things that are not yet seen.  Your current circumstances may tempt you to feel like you have no hope of overcoming the sins that hold you in bondage.  True faith comes to life when you envision what God’s promises say will happen when you believe them -  i.e. that the old self has died and the new person in Christ is alive to God.  

Declaring our belief in God’s promises is a powerful way to backup our faith.  An excellent scripture to declare each day is Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (NASB). 

Questions for further thought:

 Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for the awesome and powerful promises you have given me in your word.  Lord, I believe that I am created to be a new creation through Christ.  Please help me eliminate any unbelief that I may be struggling with.  I invite the Holy Spirit to strengthen my convictions to walk in purity and reveal any sin in my life that needs to be dealt with.  Thank you Father that Jesus lives in me and I live by faith in him.  I praise you for your great love for me!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”