Text: Luke 1:5-14 June 21, 2009.
1) An ordinary day: “Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (Luke 1:8) To anyone and everyone, this is like any other day in the life of a priest, doing the routines as it has always been. Suppose you have never been a priest and never do a routine job of a priest. Unless this is the first time you do such a routine, there is nothing to be excited about. Zechariah might have done such routines for hundreds of times, that day was just another ordinary day in his life.
2) An extraordinary event: “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.” (Luke 1:11-12) In what appeared to be an ordinary day when Zechariah was doing same ordinary duties, God chose to appear to him through an angel to foretell that a miracle was coming to him and his family. In his popular book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said: “Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him. He appears when we least expect Him and always in the most illogical situations. The only way a Christian can keep true to Him is by being ready for the Lord’s surprise visits.”
GOD SPOKE IN ORDINARY DAYS:
1) God spoke to Noah: “Here is the account of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9) From the first part of Genesis 6, we learn that the world was very corrupt but Noah kept his faith in God and lived his own quiet life. Then suddenly “God spoke to Noah.” Nothing had prepared Noah to be the man to build the ark for the preservation of the world.
2) God spoke to Abraham: “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years and he died in Haran. The Lord had spoken to Abram.” (Genesis 11:31-12:1)After many years living in Haran Abram had accumulated great wealth and servants, (12:5) Out of the blue, God suddenly spoke to Abram to leave Haran and move to an unknown place later called Promised Land when he was 75. This was an act of covenant God intended for the Israelis later served as a symbol of God’s salvation of the world through faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
3) God spoke to Moses: “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within the bush...When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, Moses, Moses! And Moses said: Here I am.” (Exodus 3:2-4)Since he ran for his life after he killed an Egyptian and fled to Median, Moses got married to the daughter of the local priest, had children and a family, he had settled with the life of a shepherd. Just like thousands of ordinary days when he set out to tend the sheep of his father-in-law in the wilderness. But this ordinary day turned into a special day, a call of God to begin a revolution, leading the Israelis out of slavery into the Promised Land and a nation called Israel.
4) God spoke to Paul: “As Saul neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:3-5)Saul had been persecuting Christians in his hometown and surrounding areas for sometime, now he was on his way to a distant city to arrest Christians as he had done it many times in Judea before. But this was not just another ordinary day on his persecuting Christians, this was an extraordinary day when Jesus came and spoke to him to give him a new and better way to live—to spread the gospel message and save souls for God’s kingdom.
MAKE THE BEST OF ORDINARY DAYS:
1) Your day and His love: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Each day, how ordinary you may think, is in God’s love and faithfulness if we truly trust Him and allow Him to direct our path. Everyday in His love and faithfulness is a special day.
2) Your day and His strength: “As your days, so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25) This was a promise God gave to the Israelis as part of His covenant before they crossed over to the Promised Land. God promised to supply them strength equal or beyond the needs of their days so they would never be defeated or in despair. We can claim the same promise from God each and everyday of we life. He is always there to provide whatever we may need, strength or anything else.
3) Your days and His wisdom: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) After many years of faithful service to the Lord, Moses, at his old age, asked God to teach him, and all of us how to number the days of our lives so we may gain a heart of wisdom. According to Bible scholars, Moses was not asking God to help him count the days of his life. He asked God to teach him to count those day of his life in which he did things right in the eyes of God. We need God’s wisdom each and every day to do things right in God’s eyes so at the end of the day, we may count it with joy instead of regret. (Genesis 47:9)
4) Your day He has made: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) The focal point of this verse is “God has made this day.” Whatever day you may have, good or bad, and everything in between: God made it for you. So, we need to enjoy that day and be glad, be grateful, to God. We need to rejoice in His blessings in good day. We also need to be glad in bad days because He made it for our needs to grow: faith, patience, trust and dependency on His grace. Everyday in training is not an ordinary day.
AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY: (Luke 1:5-14, the story of Zechariah, a priest and father of John, the Baptist.)
1) Zechariah of Abijah: “In the time of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah.” (1:5) The fact that Zechariah was from a priestly family may have little to do with why God had chosen him. But it is quite safe to say that God had chosen him because of his closeness to godly background. We all know that for anyone to hear God’s word, he/she must be ready and sensitive to God’s calling. We may not have the privilege of being from a priestly family, but all of us certainly can live our life close to godly principles. This is preparation 1.
2) Zechariah, a righteous man: “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regula-tions blamelessly.” (1:6)To have a godly family background is not the same as to live a godly life. Zechariah’s choice to live a godly life, to observe (obey) all the laws and regulations of God made him a good candidate for God’s special favor. If you don’t have a godly background, you certainly can begin your own godly life style to be used by God for special purpose. This is preparation 2.
3) Zechariah had serious needs: “But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren and they were both well along in years.” (1:7)In Bible time, to have no children was a shame in the eyes of family, among friends and in the community. It was believed to be out of God’s blessings. This happened to Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and to Hannah, mother of Samuel. Some of us wrongly believe that if a man is righteous before God, God “must” bless him with everything he deserves. The truth is it is right for all men to live righteous life. And God doesn’t owe anyone to give him blessing because of his righteous life. There are righteous people who don’t have all the good things in life.
4) Zechariah, a faithful priest: “Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (1:8-9)Being faithful in doing his duties, Zechariah placed himself in the hands of God to receive a special gift, a miracle, a son. He must have done this routine many times before this day. No one would expect anything different on that day, much less a miracle. God always blesses those who are faithful in serving Him. In doing your faithful service and duties, God may come and give you a vision, a thought, an experience or a miracle that can change your life all over.
5) Zechariah, his prayers answered: “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and 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.” (1:11-13)This was John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This John baptized the first wave of believers and later baptized Jesus. He prepared the hearts of the Israelis for the message of salvation. An ordinary day had turned into an extraordinary day for Zechariah, his family and the history of God’s plans of salvation.
1) Are your days ordinary? Do you feel that there is nothing special in your routines of life: work, home, school, homework, cooking, doing laundry, hitting the keyboard, etc? Do you feel life is so boring without any excitement? Are you looking for something special from God to renew your life, give you new direction, value and purpose? Are you tired of doing daily devotional and getting nothing from it? What do you think God may speak to you in your routines, at the time and condition you least expect?
2) Are you ready for God? God is looking for people who are ready and prepared to listen to Him. He always has something special for those who have prepared themselves for extraordinary blessings. Learn from Zechariah and his life style. Stay close to God, obey His commandments and follow His lead. When you are in right condition, God will come and speak to you, give you extra vision and insights for extraordinary results.
3) Which side do you stand? You need to be on God’s side to hear God’s word, to receive His miracles and to be blessed with His grace. You need to start your relationship with God by believing in His son, Jesus Christ. Confess your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Then surrender your life to His direction and obey His leadership in your life. He will change your life from inside out to make you a new person for great purpose.