We’ve got your daily encouragement, written by Lindsey Strickler.
“Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’ For the hand of the Lord was with him.”
Whenever I approach a passage, I love using a technique taught by one of our past True Strength coaches, Spencer Arnold. He taught us to observe, interpret, THEN apply what we’ve read. It’s super tempting for us to go straight to the third step, application, and wonder how the passage applies to us and is relevant to our current situation. But when we do that, we miss out on the richness a passage could contain.
Some things we can observe in this part of the Christmas story is :
- The neighbors and relatives heard that Elizabeth had a son. They heard that God had shown great mercy to her and rejoiced with her.
- The community had seen how Zechariah was mute, but as soon as he named his son John, a name that was not expected by the culture, he gained his voice back. Instead of cursing God for taking away his voice for nine or so months, he praised God. It freaked out the neighbors.
- Everything that happened spread through the region as people talked about it and it impacted their hearts. They were seeing how God was at work.
You want to know what the biggest observation I had was? Elizabeth and Zechariah had a relationship with their community.
This is where we can start getting into some interpretation action. Not only did this couple have a relationship with their community, but it wasn’t dependent on if they liked that community or how that community served them. If you read through this whole passage, it’s pretty apparent that the relationships weren’t the greatest for Elizabeth and Zechariah. They also shared their life and testimony with their community. They shared the intimate ways God was working in their lives.
The result is that people talked. Elizabeth and Zechariah made waves.
What’s our takeaway here? It’s pretty obvious now, right?
The other day I talked about how we need to be in community so that we can thrive in God’s calling for our lives. But there’s another reason we need to be in community, so we can point others to Jesus. By sharing our lives with them, they get an intimate look at how a relationship with Jesus impacts lives. If we don’t pursue relationships with the people around us, no matter how well we “jive” with them or not, how else are they supposed to observe your daily testimony?
Father, there’s people around me that I need to step into community with. It’s probably going to be uncomfortable for me, but I ask that you give me the boldness I need and help me get over my fear of any awkwardness. Show me today someone I should call or strike up a conversation with. In your name I pray, amen.
Talk to someone in the gym next time you go, that you normally wouldn’t talk to. Maybe take it a step further and invite them to get coffee after class this weekend, or grab dinner after a class next week.
To receive the Faith Workout of the Day every morning, please sign up here.