The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
8Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Before Jesus’s arrival, God sent John the Baptist to prepare us for Christ’s arrival on earth (could anything really prepare us for that?). God knew that the people had to get their hearts right before they would be receptive to the coming of their Savior – a Savior Who, it’s important to note, was not going to look or act the way they expected. John the Baptist had an important role: turning people back to God and preparing their hearts for the coming of Christ. Who prepared you for Christ’s arrival in your life? Who encouraged you to take those first steps of turning to God?
Oftentimes we quickly forget our spiritual heritage. And oftentimes we forget that we’re even on a journey! We tend to forget that this turning to God is something we have to do daily, hourly, each moment (Luke 9:23, for example). We have a shared Biblical history of amazing men and women who have implored us to turn our hearts back to God. Many of us also have histories of such people in our own lives. Who is someone who has encouraged you when you’ve strayed during your journey? Who has reminded you to turn to God and confess and rededicate yourself? Who has God used as a prophet to speak to you?
Today, please pray for this person who has significantly impacted your walk with Christ by reminding you to turn to Him and rely on His mercy. Pray for this person’s own walk with Christ and for God’s protection and encouragement of this person as she (or he) helps you and others in your walks. (You might also consider calling this person — or writing a card — to say “thank you.” My guess is that this person gives out a lot of encouragement, and would probably consider it a huge blessing to get some back — especially from someone she has encouraged in the past.)
And remember: God’s arrival on Earth didn’t look the way people expected. How do you expect God’s presence to look in your life? And how might those expectations hinder your experience of Him? What do you need to do to prepare your heart for Christmas this year? Do you need to repent of a sin? Offer forgiveness to someone? Rely on God, instead of yourself, for provision? Encourage someone else in his or her walk with God? How will you become ready for the arrival of your Savior?
Previous Christmas Post: (becoming) a good gift-giver
Start of the Christmas Posts: (becoming) peaceful
Wife Posts: (becoming) a godly wife
Fully-submitted Posts: (becoming) fully submitted