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Read Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:5-25, and 57-80

For hundreds of years Israel had been waiting for God to send the promised Messiah. The prophets spoke of Him, ending with Malachi who prophesied the coming of Elijah before the day of the Lord. Yet, for 400 years heaven had been silent. So they waited, and hoped and, probably at times despaired, wondering if God heard their prayers or if He even cared.

Elizabeth and Zechariah also waited, not only for the Messiah, but for a child of their own. For many years, they must have implored the Lord in prayer, unsure, at times, if He heard or cared. They may have wondered if they had done something to displease God, in a culture that considered children a sign of God’s blessing and approval. Yet, Luke 1:6 describes both Elizabeth and Zechariah as righteous in the sight of God.

I grew up in the seventies and one year rabbit fur coats were all the rage among my preteen peers. Of course, I wanted one. Early one December Sunday, as my family prepared to leave for church, I was lamenting the fact that I was lacking this warm, fuzzy fashion statement. My daddy heard me, disappeared for a minute, and came back carrying the coveted jacket. I was delighted. As you might imagine, my mom was less delighted when she walked into the kitchen and saw me wearing the Christmas present she had carefully hidden away.

God is the ultimate gift giver. Even more than my earthly father, He hears my requests and cares deeply about my needs and desires. James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from our Heavenly Father. He delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17) and desires to bless us. Yet, like Elizabeth, at times I have waited a very long time for something that would seem to be in His will. Years may have passed without seeing Him move, causing me to question either His desire to bless me, my ability to please Him, or both. Luke 1:5-17 offers me another option: God’s timing is often very different from my own and, unlike my earthly daddy, my Heavenly Father is perfectly able to wait patiently for “just the right time” to unfold His amazing plan.

 

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Questions for Discussion:

In our world of instant gratification, do you find it hard to wait on God? What are some things that help you with this?

For some people, the holidays are accompanied by feelings of sorrow or despair. What are some practical ways we can love on them?

In recent years, Christmas decorations have begun popping up in October or even earlier. One reason for the rush is probably a longing for the warm feelings that are often part of the Christmas season. It’s understandable considering the bad news that bombards us daily in this broken world. How can we effectively share the ultimate Good News of Christ at this time of year?

Zechariah responded to God’s gift with a song of praise. What are some ways we can remind ourselves to keep thankful hearts all year in light of God’s great love demonstrated in the gift of His Son?

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