Christmas Week – The Cast: Elizabeth

I have been faithful, Lord,

 

and my husband

has been faithful

 

We are obedient

to You

our great YHWH

 

Descendants of Aaron,

blessed with a priestly heritage

 

But we were barren

and lived out our married life

 

childless

 

It was sad

and it was heartache

but we continued to obey

 

God, You never lost sight of us

You saw us

and You sent a magnificent stranger…

 

yet he was familiar…

for we know You, God

 

An angel from heaven,

Gabriel,

came to visit my mate – Zechariah

 

Fear gripped him

and he trembled

 

but the reassurance of heaven came

 

The angel spoke the words

we longed most to hear,

 

“Your prayers have been heard.

Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,

and you are to call him John.”

 

How unbelievable!

And it overwhelmed my husband

 

He questioned how it could be?

We were aged and we had never seen God work

this way…

 

Unbelief overtook my man

and he doubted

 

“I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God.

I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”

 

Silence and awe

 

And that silence continued….

for unbelief had consequences

 

My husband was struck mute

throughout my miraculous pregnancy

 

But I rejoiced

and I praised God

and I pondered His goodness

 

every

single

day

 

I never doubted

 

When in my sixth month

a relative came to visit

 

my cousin Mary!

 

I was so glad to see my kin

as I had been in seclusion

during most of my pregnancy

 

Mary walked into my presence

and the baby in my womb leaped for joy!

 

My precious child was filled with Your Spirit, God,

before he was even born!

 

My son and I had a miracle encounter

with God’s Son,

 

so small and growing

within Mary, His mother

 

And as soon as my baby leaped

I was thoroughly overwhelmed with Your presence, Lord!

 

I was filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

My God

had blessed me

with His very presence

 

and life would never again

be the same

 

for my son John would be born

as promised,

 

and he would boldly prepare the way

 

for His relative,

His cousin,

 

Jesus —

the Son of God

 

And I would continue to rejoice

and to believe

 

that God does

what He says He will do

 

I would trust His presence

and His promises

 

– Susie Stewart

 

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.  And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

 Wen Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

…Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”

– Luke 1:1-25, 39-45 (NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

Embraced

You

are wrapped in Light

 

You who trust God

 

He promises

to surround you

with Himself

 

And if you could but see

 

the Lord

with His arms wrapped

lovingly

 

around you

 

fear would be dispelled

and loneliness would fade

 

Trust Him

 

and know that His angels

also encamp about you

 

Know the enveloping

of True Love

 

Know your protection

in Him

 

Know your position of embrace,

beloved child of perfect God

 

KNOW

you are surrounded

by Him

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.

– Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

 

You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.

– Psalm 139:5 (VOICE)

 

In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of His eye,

– Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV)

 

You are my hiding place. You will keep me out of trouble and envelop me with songs that remind me I am free. 

– Psalm 32:7 (VOICE)

 

Just as the mountains around Jerusalem embrace her, the Eternal, too, wraps around those who belong to Him— for this moment and for every moment to come.

– Psalm 125:2 (VOICE)

 

For the Eternal One says, “Instead of a wall of stone, I will be a wall of fire protecting her all around, and I will be the shining glory within her.”

– Zechariah 2:5 (VOICE)

 

For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with Your shield of love.

– Psalm 5:12 (NLT)

 

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in and relies on the Lord shall be surrounded with compassion and lovingkindness.

– Psalm 32:10 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Fight!

 

What battle are you fighting?

 

There always is one

right?

 

A battle in your mind for purity

A battle in your home for peace

A battle at work for your witness

A battle in your heart for trust

A battle in your family for unity

 

And on and on…

 

And we often forget,

that at the root,

the battle is not with the people

 

The real battle is fought in the spiritual realm

 

 

The weapons we fight with

look like

 

Vigilance of mind

Prayer

Truth-seeking

Readiness

Faith

Steadiness

and

Standing firm

 

And too often

Jesus Followers surrender

 

We give in

when we need to fight!

 

There is an unseen world

swirling all around us

 

The battle is fierce!

 

And we approach it with

niceness

excuses

depression

cowering

apathy

fear

anxiety

defeat

 

The stance is casual and weak

in this intense battle

 

There is a clash of swords unseen

Light and darkness having it out

 

A struggle

between good and evil

 

And in the physical world

it feels like silence,

Deafening silence

 

But KNOW that all is not silent

It is unearthly LOUD

 

Our apathy

our surrender to evil

our cowardice

 

cause us to walk in limbo

or defeat

instead of victory

 

Let us stand up and fight, Warriors!

 

Better yet, let us get down on our knees

and fight

 

Fight for our purity!

Fight for our families!

Fight for our friendships!

Fight for our peace of mind!

Fight for our trust in God!

 

And may we not stand down

in our witness

 

For the battle belongs to the Lord

 

– Susie Stewart

 

He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

– 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NLT)

 

This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world.

– Ephesians 6:12 (GW)

 

David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—He’s handing you to us on a platter!”

– 1 Samuel 17:46-48 (MSG)

 

It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

– Zechariah 4:6 (NLT)

 

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

– Exodus 14:13,14 (NIV)

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

– Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart