Hebrews 11 describes people God considers to be heroes of faith. When you think of faith heroes in your life, who comes to mind. The first person I think of is my friend Kirby. His example of faith to me in my life has been a tremendous inspiration. I also think of our coworkers, the Housleys. What they have done and are doing with starting Ramu Valley Academy is an incredible testimony of living by faith to me. How about you? Who are the great heroes of faith in your life?
As you think about their lives, how do they inspire you?
The Passage: Luke 1:57-80
Zachariah and Elizabeth had longed for a child and prayed for it for many years. By the time this story comes in their life they are well along in years, probably in their 60s. They were past the age of bearing children. Yet they still prayed in faith, believing God. This passage is riddled with examples of their faith lived out.
Zachariah and Elizabeth family and neighbors could see they were still childless. In Jewish culture, that was a big deal, and it would have been noticed. They probably shared their faith, and that they were praying, asking God to give them a child. So, when God answered, they recognized God at work. In Luke 1:58 it says, “when their neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had showed her mercy, they rejoiced with her.“ When their prayer was answered, everyone saw it as God’s answer, God’s work, and they came to celebrate God’s work in their lives together with them. (Luke 1:57-58)
Eight days after John’s birth, Zachariah and Elizabeth went back to Jerusalem with John for his circumcision (Luke 1:59). This was an act of faith in the perpetuity of the covenant that God made with Abraham. (Pentacost)
Part of the ceremony of circumcision was also the giving of the child a name. God had previously instructed Zachariah and Elizabeth to name him John (Luke 1:13). But, it was the Jewish custom to name a child after a relative. In faith, Zachariah and Elizabeth followed God’s instruction rather than their custom. As Zachariah and Elizabeth lived out their faith before their peers, their community, and before their religious leaders, God Himself was seen through them! (Luke 1:63)
When Zachariah, in faith obeyed what God said, his mouth was opened and he spoke for the first time in over 9 months! Those around them witnessed God Himself at work in and through Zachariah’s life. When they saw God at work in giving Zachariah his voice back, they grew in “fear” of God. They were seeing God’s glory revealed, and it caused them to worship Him. Luke 1:64-66)
In Luke 1:57-66 we see clear evidence of Zachariah living by faith. Then in Luke 1:67 it says, “Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.” In Luke 1:39-56 we saw the Spirit at work through Mary, Elizabeth and baby John. Now we see the Holy Spirit filling Zachariah. The result of the Holy Spirit in Zachariah was that, just like Elizabeth, God’s words started flowing out of his mouth.
There are 2 parts to Zacharias prophecy:
- Acknowledging how God has kept his promise to Israel and to David. (Luke 1:68-75)
- How God is going to use John and what God will be doing through John. (Luke 1:76-79)
In the words of this prophesy we see Zachariah living out his faith as he looks to the future, believing what God said in the past.
What was God doing? Why is this written?
In this passage we see the following evidence and result of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s faith:
- Zachariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child, even when it seemed impossible.
- When their prayer was answered, everyone saw it as God’s answer, God’s work, and they came to celebrate God’s work in their lives together with them. (v57-58)
- As an act of faith in the promise God gave to Abraham, they circumcised John on the 8th day. (v59)
- They followed God’s command in naming him John in direct opposition to their custom and the culture of the day. (v63)
- As they lived out their faith before their peers, their community, and before their religious leaders, God Himself was seen through them! (v63)
- When Zachariah received his voice back, those who witnessed his lives saw it as a direct work of God, and they gave glory to God for it. (v64-66)
- When Zachariah was filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit, he spoke the Words of God. When we walk by faith, we will see evidence of God Himself at work through us. And just like Zachariah and Elizabeth, our faith will result in others seeing God at work and cause them to fear Him. That reminds me of something David said in Psalm 69:29-33. Ps 69:29-33 (NLT) I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power. Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. What an awesome thing it is when those who witness our lives can see God at work and be encouraged to trust Him too.
What can we learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
Living by faith is believing what God has said in the past and living today, as though it’s true, regardless whether or not we see or feel the fulfillment of what God has said. What promises give you the motivation to keep going? Here’s a few for me:
- Eph 2:4-7 He is so rich in mercy, and loved me so much that even when I was dead in sin He made me alive together with Christ. He saved me by His grace alone. He raised me up with Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He did all of this so that when people witness my life, they will see the immeasurable riches of His grace in the kindness He showed toward me in Christ Jesus. I believe by faith, this is what God has done in my positionaly.
- Phil 1:6 By faith I also believe that the work at Calvary began His work of conforming me to the image of his son (Rom 8:29) in my daily life. He promises to continue that work until it is complete when I am physically seated with Him in in heaven.
- Rom 8:28-29 He promises that everything in my life is for that purpose. The good things, the challenging things and everything in between. He plans and orchestrates it all to make me more like Christ! I believe that He is doing everything with that same rich mercy and love that sent Jesus to the cross.
- Romans 8:32, 38-39 I believe that because He did not even spare His own Son but gave him up for me, how will He not also with Jesus graciously give me everything I need? I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me or hinder God from pouring out his love on me!
When I live that way, it will give me great peace. Ian Thomas said, “I am urging you simply become delightfully detached from the pressure of circumstance, so that it ceases to be the criterion in the decisions you make. You will not need to know what He plans to do with you … you simply need to know Him.”
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
- Living by faith is living based on what I know is true about God regardless of how I feel about it.
- When I chose to live by faith, I can inspire others by my example.
- God wants to empower me to live with confidence because I know I can trust Him to with the circumstances of my life today.