And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 2 Cor. 8:5
I think we, as church leaders, are guilty of making excuses for our people and their occasional luke-warm commitment to kingdom activity.
I did a radio interview last year about Trusting God’s People…Again, the book I co-authored with Debbie Williams. The interview request kind of caught me by surprise, since it had been a few years since we launched that book. I was grateful for the opportunity to do it, because that is still very much a topic about which I am passionate (people wounded by the church). Thanks, Shane Finch, for that fun opportunity!
It was one of the more interesting radio interviews I’ve done. Shane asked me a few questions I was not at all ready for (I’m hoping he had the mercy not to run my answer to, “What song do you wish you had written?”–wow, how embarrassing was THAT answer!). But one question really brought me under conviction: “What do you see the Lord doing through you in the year 2020?” I knew what my answer SHOULD be. It should be, “Whatever He wants to be doing through me.” That should be how all of us answer that question, because, as Christ-followers, we should all be do totally given to Him that He is doing absolutely everything and anything He desires to do through us.
That, I believe, is what Paul meant in his letter to the Corinthians about the Macedonian believers who had given so very much out of their poverty and persecution. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord… I think I have a pretty fair understanding of what …
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18a
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34
Studying Luke 1 last week and this week. Last week was Zechariah. This week is Mary. But the one constant character in both lessons is Gabriel, the angel. The other element common to both stories is the reactions to Gabriel. Both Mary and Zechariah asked the same question: “But, how?” But Gabriel’s response to that reaction was very different in each story.
Let’s not play word games here, and let’s not split hairs over how their reactions are actually different. If you were writing the story yourself and wanted their reactions to read the same way, you couldn’t write it any differently than Luke did. Their reactions to Gabriel were remarkably similar. Both of them asked the same question, showing the same concern for whether Gabriel really had all his facts straight. We can engage in all kinds of speculation about their respective hearts (i.e., perhaps Mary’s question was truly one of wonder, while Zechariah’s was one of doubt, etc.), but that is just speculation on our part. We cannot judge a person’s heart. No, in order to explain Gabriel’s very different response to each of them and their respective questions, we need not engage in questions of the heart. We can find a much easier critical distinction between Zechariah and Mary: Zechariah was a priest.
Zechariah was a Spiritual leader among God’s people and was doing a Spiritual thing in the most Spiritual of all places when Gabriel appeared. What kind of sad commentary is it that, upon entering the place where God abides, doing a thing God …