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OPEN TO A MIRACLE

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Christmas is often referred to as the season of miracles. We love a good story that has a miracle of “Christmas” involved.
The reality is, Santa does not bring miracles, nor does a holiday season - but miracles do exist and they come down from the Lord.
The season of Christ coming to earth contained many miracles, and not just for Mary and Joseph -
Zechariah and Elizabeth - the aged parents of John the Baptist were also recipients of a great miracle that intertwined with the coming of Christ and the season of His redemption on earth.
As we continue to explore HOPE
H - Holding on...
O - Open to a miracle
Are you OPEN to receiving a miracle today???? Watch what you say yes to!
God wants to do the supernatural in the midst of his people and in our lives, but are we willing and OPEN to receiving those works of God in our lives?
Luke 1:5–25 NLT
5 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. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. 8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. 11 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. 13 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. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 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. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 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.” 18 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.” 19 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! 20 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.” 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 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. 23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Luke 1:39–45 NLT
39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Luke 1:57–66 NLT
57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

1. Preparing a Season for a Miracle

I want to first talk about preparing a season for a miracle.
How often do we approach God and ask him to do what is impossible in this natural world?
We ask the Lord to do something great in our lives or in that of our family, kids, marriage, etc. But we have never OPENED our lives in preparation for the Lord to do something significant.
We run to the Lord in the middle of emergencies and ask for stuff, but have we ever sought the Lord and committed to be consecrated to Him so we would be ready when He was to do the miraculous in our lives?
Zechariah was a priest unto the Lord, and was called on to be in rotation to go and minister at the altar of incense in the Temple. While others were outside the Temple praying - he was in at the altar of incense.
Do you know what the altar of incense was significant of - PRAYER AND BEING IN THE LORD’s PRESENCE!
It burned night and day and was significant to the Lord’s expectations of our prayers that would ascend to Him day in an day out - morning and night.
He was in the PRESENCE OF GOD.
Jesus made a way through the veil for us to be able to individually and corporately come into His presence and live daily before Him and seek after Him in prayer.
Often we only run to the Lord in a moment of need. We give little thought to being in His presence or spending time with the Lord in prayer. I am not saying that in God’s grace and mercy He won’t intervene, but we have a glimpse of the Lord doing something here.
I am pretty confident this is not the first time Zechariah used the opportunity of being in God’s presence to lift this need up to the Lord.
Like Hannah who cried and wailed at the steps of the tabernacle for a son - this time the heart preparation was made and God was ready to intervene.
In reality, the Lord had a plan all along. He knew these 2 devout people who loved the Lord and were full of faith would be His vessels to send the forerunner for the Messiah into the world.
The time had to be right, and so did their readiness.
v.13 the Angel tells Zechariah that God has heard your prayer!!!!
God has heard all of our prayers, my question is have we made ourselves prepared for Him to answer?
Have we OPENED our hearts in the presence of God and sought Him believing for that miracle we so desperately ask for.
A miracle is something we cannot make happen in our own ability. It requires the intervention of the ALMIGHTY and it is all for HIS GLORY!
The Lord would not only give a son to Zechariah and Elizabeth, but this son would have a purpose, he would have the power of Elijah and would prepare the way in the hearts of people to repent so they would be ready when Messiah stepped onto the scene.
When you ask God for a miracle, are you prepared for Him to perform it not for your benefit, but for HIS????
If we are not preparing for the season of His miracles in our lives, we will only want the Lord to do things for selfish reasons and desires.
Think back to when Hannah received her miracle child - she offered him back to the Lord and he became the first prophet and priest of Israel - Samuel
For Abraham and Sarah - they too longed for a child and at the age of 90 and 100 their miracle child came forth - not solely for their purpose, but for Gods honor and glory to bring forth a nation where the Messiah would come forth from...
Isaiah 55:9 NLT
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
The plans of the Lord will exceed our expectations and desires, have we realized that when He grants us the desires of our hearts it is to fulfill the desires of HIS HEART - and in order for that to be synonymous we must have our hearts prepared and OPEN to what He wants to do in our miracle.
If our plans are selfish for only our own desire and wants it shows we have not been in His presence yielded to the one who has a greater Destiny awaiting us.
We have to prepare our hearts to be OPEN to what the LORD wants to do in our lives and through the miracles He brings to us.

2. Ready to Receive

An interesting thing we see in this encounter with the Angel Gabriel is the questioning of Zechariah. He has prayed for this before, many a time, and here in the presence of God where no others are allowed to come, an ANGEL appears to Him, and he questions it!!!!
Zechariah saw all the road blocks to the miracle when he was having a divine encounter! Instead of faith rising up - he questioned can it really happen?
Gabriel responds by identifying his position and that He stands in the presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD who sent Him with this news. He sounds insulted to be honest!!!
Luke 1:19 NLT
19 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!
Obviously Zechariah was not ready to receive what God was about to do!
We can say, well, he wasn’t expecting it...
Well, he had prayed for years for it, but I guess maybe he had given up hope and was now surprised.
The miracle would not be a miracle if he and Elizabeth could just conceive naturally - they were beyond the medical ability at this point in life --
Delayed is never to late!!!! The timing was just right for the LORD’s PLANS!!! The season of Messiah had come, and it did not matter how old these two were, God can do all things - nothing is impossible with Him.
Gabriel did strike Zechariah mute - for his unbelief.
The Lord wants us ready to receive His timing for His miracles in our lives. We need to be ready to hop on board when the whistle blows!
I love the part where Mary comes to Elizabeth and John jumps inside of her -filled with the Spirit in the womb and Momma breaks forth in a prophetic word that Mary’s child was the MEssiah - exactly the confirmation that would help Mary with enduring in her situation.
Elizabeth’s words however end with -
Luke 1:45 NLT
45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Do you see the contrast to the now mute Zechariah who questioned the Angel? Yes, Mary had also asked the angel how can it be, or happen, but it was a clarifying question not one of doubt or else the Spirit would not have proclaimed this through Elizabeth to her...
We need our lives to be prepared and OPEN
We need to be ready to receive when the opportunity for the miraculous presents

3. Miracles are not Easy

Whether is was having to wait until old age to have your first child, or having your life turned upside down at the calling of God - His miracles in your life will never be easy...
Miracles are when the impossible in the natural become possible through God, but often that means the discouragement, heartache, or misunderstanding of others when that supernatural is taking place.
The lack of faith, judgment, jealousy of others may all show themselves, just like the pain of longing for something that seems withheld in your life, but rest assured, if God is to receive the glory, He must receive the glory!
The glory is not for us!!! It is for HIM!
I think some want miracles in their lives so people will look at them and say wow, that is so cool, I want that too, can I have one.... but no miracle comes without pain…if that is the pain of the problem that needs the miracle like Zechariah and Elizabeth or if it is the pain that follows the miracle like Mary...
I think many do not want to be open to receiving a miracle for fear the pain would outweigh the joy.
One thing I am aware of is the need to be committed and consistent when the miracle is released!
We see at the end of this chapter Zechariah agree with Elizabeth to call his son JOHN.
Custom of the day would be to give any child, especially one under these circumstances the name of a family member and most likely the father in honor!
Naming this baby JOHN was showing that the honor did not belong to these parents, but was for the Lord’s plans to be accomplished.
Sometimes the true pain is letting go so God receives all the glory!
This time of year we sing O Come Let Us Adore Him, and then we sing - We’ll give Him all the glory...
Will we???
We see Zechariah’s voice return the moment he wrote - HIS NAME SHALL BE JOHN…
He was surrendered to the Lord’s plan and glory for this miracle....not his own!

CONCLUSION

Today, I ask you as you look for HOPE this Christmas season....
Last week we spoke of HOLDING ON...
This week I ask - are you OPEN to RECEIVE???
Have you prepared the season for the miracle, are you available for God’s plan and will you give Him all the glory???
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