Christmas Devotional | Day 1
December 1, 2017
Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 | A Strange Beginning
God's ways are often very different from our ways.
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
If you were writing a story about history's most important birth, a birth that would cause armies of angels to explode in praise, a birth that would be good news for all the peoples of the world, then the opening scene probably wouldn't include an older woman who was unable to have kids. But, then again, you didn't write the Christmas story. God did.
It looked as if Zechariah and Elizabeth had been forgotten by God, particularly in a culture where children were viewed as a sign of God's blessing. Was there a secret sin they were hiding? Or had God simply abandoned them? What was the problem with this couple?
Luke's Gospel tells us the problem wasn't with this couple. Zechariah and Elizabeth were "righteous before God," and they walked "blamelessly." That doesn't mean the couple was perfect, but it should keep us from concluding that God was punishing them by not providing a child. The years of painful longing were serving another, much greater purpose, though neither Zechariah nor Elizabeth could see it-not yet, at least. We can hear them crying out with the psalmist:
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)
Even though this faithful Israelite couple must have felt abandoned, God was right there. He saw every tear, and, as we'll soon see, He was conspiring for their joy.
Zechariah and Elizabeth weren't perfect, but they loved God and obeyed His commands. However, God had not given them a child. And now that Elizabeth was too old to have children, she and her husband probably wondered why God seemed to be silent. They had no idea God was going to use them in His plan to bring salvation to Israel and to the entire world.
Have you ever felt as if God was ignoring you or that He had abandoned you? What promises of Scripture do you turn to when you feel this way? (Ex: Romans 8:28)
For Kids: Sometimes it seems that no one is listening when we pray. How can we be sure that God hears us? (Parents, remind your children that we can believe everything God tells us in His Word. He hears the prayers of those who are trusting in Jesus as their Savior-see 1 John 5:13-15.)
Thank God that His promises are sure, regardless of how we feel or the circumstances we face.
For Further Reading
Read Psalm 13 to see how the psalmist deals with his feelings of abandonment.
". . . you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Practical Response - Pray for the Unreached
Take time this week to pray for those around the world who are unreached with the gospel. Unreached peoples and places are those among whom Christ is largely unknown and the church is relatively insufficient to make Christ known in its broader population without outside help. Pray for believers to be sent to proclaim the gospel where it is not now known. To find out more about unreached peoples and places, visit the following websites:
peoplegroups.org | joshuaproject.net | operationworld.org
Devotional credit: Radical, Inc.
The end goal of this devotional is for you and your family to listen to Scripture and rejoice in the God who sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of sinners like us. What better way to spend the Christmas season?