Saturday, June 30, 2007

Luke #5 – Anything But That!

Luke #5 – Anything But That!

“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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” (Luke 1:14-17 – King James Version).

One of my favorite jokes is a stewardship joke. It’s not my favorite because it’s funny; rather because it is plain ‘ol dumb! Here goes: “The best way to handle your giving to God is to throw all your money into the sky. What stays up is God’s and what comes down is yours!” Now…isn’t that just silly?

Another story…hang with me…my brother and I were having a casual conversation while painting my daughter’s room. Somehow the conversation turned to prayer. I shared with David how life sustaining prayer was to me and some of my prayer habits. I asked David “Do you pray?” His reply was simple; “No.” I asked him why and David’s response was one that I’d never really thought of; he said, “I don’t pray because I am scared of what God might say to me.”

One more…I read (somewhere; please don’t ask where because I can’t remember) that during the Crusades many people were baptized on the way to slaughter Muslims by marching companies of people through a river. Many of the professional soldiers and knights were said to hold their sword arms out of the water because they did not want to surrender it to the Lord. They were content to give all to the Lord BUT their ability to kill on the battlefield. NOW…isn’t THAT silly?

Why do I say all this? More importantly, what’s it got to do with today’s Scripture? Good questions; thanks for asking! Here goes: God listens to and answers prayer. His answers will bring “joy” and “gladness” though not always immeditately. His answers will bring sacrifice and heartbreak though not always immediately. His answers will demand response…always.

Let me explain. The joy would come for Zacharias, but not for nine months or so. Though his prayer was answered, Zacharias still had to wait. I know how that feels. I want to become smarter, to know the word more, but it doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time. Many of your prayers may be the same.

Also, Zacharias would get that son that he prayed for but God got a herald. I am not sure if Zacharias lived to see the scrutiny that his son would come under; more than that, John the Baptist was executed for the moral stances he took.

Most of all, when God answers our prayers He expects a response. Imagine how you’d feel if God told you that your son would cause a nation to look inside themselves and see they need to change? We might say “Great!” but most likely the realization would sink in that that would be a heavy job for anyone. Zacharias was charged with raising a child that would do that very thing.

When we pray, God hears. When God hears, He answers. Are we ready to respond? Too many times we HEAR the Lord’s answer but we say “ANYTHING BUT THAT LORD!” Give up your sword arm. Give up your money. Give over your children to the Lord’s service. Respond.

God’s answer to Zacharias’ prayer was a good one. Zacharias’ son would be the fulfilling of the Malachi 3:1 promise. That’s an honor. It’s a tough honor, but an honor nonetheless. You may be praying “God use me.” Get ready, He will. You may be called to witness; call people to repentance; go to Africa; be a godly husband, son, father, wife, daughter, and mother; mop the kitchen floor at church.

What will we do? At first, Zacharias freaked out (1:18), and later he responded obediently (1:63-80). We may freak out too, but will we act in obedience? Will we even pray? Or, will we refuse to encounter God because we are afraid of what God may say to us? Will we joke our way out of obedience by saying things like “all the money that comes down is mine”? Will we say “Anything but that” while we hold our sword arm out of the water?

There was only one John the Baptist. You may be called out as David the God-ordained-welder. You may be called out as Lona the God-ordained-secretary. You may be called out as Care the God-ordained-teacher. Your answer may even be harder to hear than Zacharias’. What will you do? It’s okay…pray…even freak out (for a moment)…then obey. Don’t make it conditional; just respond. Some prayers are hard to make. Some answers are hard to hear. I’d rather hear a hard answer from the Lord than to not hear from Him at all. How about you?

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