Advent JOY #1: Don’t Give Up Hope – God Hears & God Answers

Don’t Give Up Hope – God Hears & God Answers: Lessons from Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Gabriel

Are you waiting for an answer to prayer or are about to give up hope?  Join us today as Zechariah, Elizabeth and Gabriel teach us this lesson: Don’t give up hope – God hears & God answers prayer.

Advent JOY

Welcome to the WRAP Yourself in JOY Podcast Season 2 – Advent JOY.  It is based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

The celebration of ADVENT often surprises me because it comes so quickly. How about you? It was just fall, then thanksgiving, and then within a week its Advent. So let’s prepare our thinking—our mind and heart with plenty of time to find the JOY of Advent this year.

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming.” When you hear the word “Advent,” you may  think that it refers to the four-week season before Christmas that  focuses on the coming of the birth of Jesus Christ. IT DOES! But the season of Advent is also meant for us to focus our attention on the present coming of Jesus in our own lives and on increasing our desire for His presence every day. So thanks for joining me on this Advent journey as together we reflect on the Scriptures that celebrate the joyful longing for our Savior and ask for more of his presence in our lives.

The People, Prayers and Events

In this podcast, we will discover the people, prayers, and events so important to Jesus’ first coming. You will meet Zechariah, Elizabeth, the blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the Angels, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the Magi. It’s as if we will travel with them and partake in the most meaningful events in their lives.  We will find three pairs of events related to Jesus’ coming, including two annunciations, two births and two circumcisions. Plus, we will pray the four great prayers of the Church, called canticles: Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55), Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 1:67-79), the Angels’ Gloria (Luke 2:14) and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32).   Our Joyful journey will take us back over 2000 years to some amazing places. Through the Word of God, Jesus wants us to meet His family and friends and the Holy Spirit will be our guide.

The First of Two Annunciations

For 430 years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, God had stopped speaking to His people because they had stopped listening to His prophets. Fast forward 430 years and we will drop in on the “first annunciation.” The term “annunciation” in Latin means announcement.  When God began speaking again, He sent announcements through His most important heavenly messenger – the Archangel Gabriel. In Luke 1, we read that the first announcement came to Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth served God, trusted him for everything, while they waited and prayed for children which overtime seemed more impossible (Luke 1: 5-7).

In  Luke 1: 8-25, we read that while Zechariah was a priest on duty in the temple, he drew his assignment, by casting lots, to offer incense in the sanctuary of the Lord.   Suddenly, Gabriel appeared and said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord… 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

But  Zechariah just couldn’t believe it and said to the angel, 18 “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is [advanced] getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur… 24After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived…” NRSVCE

Gabriel, The Might of God and No Puny Angel

Does Gabriel sound harsh to you?  We have to consider the circumstances: the GREAT Archangel Gabriel had been sent by God to Zechariah. But he responded with “It’s too late. I’m old and my wife is really OLD.” We get the picture—his faith was still strong but he was looking at the circumstances. His wife Elizabeth had passed her time for having children and he was too old too  (i.e. both were likely over 50 years old).  O poor Zechariah—the Archangel Gabriel just couldn’t take his unbelief. With what seemed like one sweep of his finger, he muted Zechariah for the next 9 months.

Gabriel is no puny angel –  “Gabriel” in New Testament Greek means “the Might of God.” In an almost humorous way Gabriel used his might to teach Zechariah an important principle. Since Zechariah’s name means, “the Lord remembers,” Zechariah would have a nine-month “silent retreat” to never to forget “the Lord remembers.”  There may be many possible reasons why Zechariah could not believe Gabriel, including the circumstances or his mental exhaustion from praying so long. Even the presence of a mighty angel didn’t help Zechariah believe.

Personal Reflection

I hope after listening to the podcast, you will reflect on the powerful message to Zechariah and Elizabeth and to us in the first part of Luke 1: God hears. God answers.  Don’t give up on God.

Have you ever prayed for something so long that you gave up? Have you ever received more than you expected – just as you were about to give up?  St. Jerome wrote about Zechariah: “Your prayer is heard…that is to say you are given more than you asked for. You prayed for the salvation of the people and you have been given the Precursor” [John the Baptist] (Souvay, 1910, The Catholic Encyclopedia – Zacharias). You see while Zechariah was praying and waiting and giving up on prayer all those years, he did not know that God was preparing Joseph and Mary and so, he had to wait just a little longer.

 Prayer Points

Consider these prayer points because Jesus wants to share His joy while you wait for His answers:

(a) Ask Jesus for a  new and fresh prayer encounter with Him. Ask for new joy and to experience His presence while you look for everyday miracles.

(b) Take Time. Make a point to take some quiet time every day to listen to the Lord, read LUKE 1 and stay connected to the joy of the Lord

(c) Converse. Share with Jesus what you are waiting for. Then keep an open attitude to receive heavenly surprises JOY. (For example, you could pray: Jesus, I have given up on… Please give me new insight. Show me the little places where I see your hand at work.)

(d) Start an ADVENT PRAYER Journal. Why not record your prayer and conversation with Jesus this Advent?  You may be surprised at the transformation to JOY you receive and will want to record during Advent.

(e) Thank God. Let the Lord know that you trust your life and circumstances to Him and Thank Him. For example, Dear Jesus, thank you for the beautiful example of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They waited and You answered. Thank you for the joy of Advent and your anticipated coming to earth. Thank you for loving me and remembering the important things in my life, even when I think you have forgotten me. Nothing is too difficult for you.  I give you my doubts, disappointments and lack of trust. Help me to pray always and never give up (Matthew 18: 1).  Help me to take the time to hear you speak in your Word. Come into my heart even deeper. Jesus, I trust in You.  In the Name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  Amen

Links

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from the Advent JOY Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

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