Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Faith Like a Child

In Luke 1:9-22 Zacharias is serving in the temple and the angel, Gabriel appears to him and tells him that he will have a son. This is astonishing because Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth are old and she is barren, but impossible for God? I think not. Still, Zacharias doubts Gabriel and was struck mute until the child was born. If you'll look at verse six it says that Zacharias and Elisabeth were righteous, walking in the commandments of the Lord.

They were righteous and old, they had spent their lives serving God. Heck, Zacharias was a priest! Yet, he doubted. Perhaps this doubt stems from the years of desiring and not receiving a child? Perhaps that seeming unanswered prayer diminished his faith in some aspect that even when an angel sent by God Himself to Zacharias comes that the years of hoping for and not receiving a son became a stumbling block to him? Surely he must have known that God can do anything, even give him a child in his advanced age. Surely he knew the story of Abraham and Sarah. Even they laughed at the idea of them having a child in their old age. Yet, true to His word God delivered them a son. Surely Zacharias knew this story, yet he still doubted. Whatever the cause, he didn't have faith in that moment.

Moving on in Luke we come to the angel's proclamation to Mary. He appears to her, and tells her that she will bare a child. Now, that is one heck of an announcement considering the fact that she'd never been with a man before and according to their customs of the time if she had been she could be put to death because she was betrothed to be married. So, if she's not currently having sex, and cannot without sinning, how is this baby supposed to get made? These are things that would flash through my mind, as I am sure they did her's. Yet, despite this she trusts. She accepts what Gabriel tells her and offers herself as a servant to the Lord's will.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

Historians say that Mary was probably somewhere between 12 and (on the very latest end of the spectrum) 15 at the time. She is very young. She is a child and her faith in this moment reflects that. She hasn't become jaded to the world yet, her heart is still soft. As children we find it easy to just believe, our hearts are wide open because they haven't been hardened by sin yet. Mary, in this moment is a living example of having faith as we are called to - faith like a child.

Luke 18:16-17 (Mark 10:15) references entering the Kingdom like a child. We are to keep our hearts soft and open to God; to have faith as a child would have faith. Perhaps this is why Hebrews 3:12-13 tells us to encourage and exhort each other daily, to keep our hearts soft and free from sin. After all, if we hardened our hearts to God our faith will diminish and without faith we cannot "come boldly unto the throne of grace," (Hebrews 4:16) we cannot expect to receive mercy without having faith that God will grant mercy unto us through His Son. It is in our best interests to do everything we can and submit everything we can to Christ. I believe it is in doing this that we can remain as children.

We often want God to move in huge miraculous ways in our lives, yet we doubt Him. It is easy for us to trust God when all is going well, but it takes a real faith to trust and wait upon His leading when things don’t seem so great. Christ tells us that if we have faith AND do not doubt, that we can move mountains (Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21). So, why is it we expect to be able to move the mountains while full of fear and doubt and distrust?

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)

We get so caught up in our fears and our pains that we forget we have God’s word to stand on. If He makes a promise, He will follow through. But it will be in His time. If He tells you you’re going to have a child, you better start looking for cribs. If someone hurts you, and your heart is clean in it, what do you have to worry about? God promises to avenge His own and to repay each of us what is due. If we believe He is truly perfect and righteous what do we have to fear? All we have to do is trust and walk in His will. He will bring us through our valleys. Have faith, beloved, He comes quickly!

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:24-27)

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. (Deuteronomy 32:43)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

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