In Luke 1:5-25, we read of the Hebrew priest Zacharias’ encounter with an angel, foretelling the physically impossible birth of a son to Zacharias*. Zacharias expressed his unbelief, and so was struck mute until the day of his son’s circumcision. Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, he praised and prophesied.
Zacharias’ wife, Elizabeth, however, was not so reluctant to believe. When she conceived the promised child, she professed her faith:
“The Lord has done this for me.”
Several months later, upon encountering her cousin Mary, who was also miraculously pregnant with their long-awaited Messiah, Elizabeth gave voice to the first prophetic message from God in 400 years. (Luke 1:39-45)
Elizabeth worshiped God by recognizing who He was, testifying about His ongoing work, and believing the baby in her womb was a part of God’s plan. She showed humility by honoring the mother of the Lord, as well as encouraging Mary in her faith.
In Hebrews 11, we learn Elizabeth followed in a rich heritage of those who believed God’s word. They prayed, prepared, and put their faith into action. Today, our faith rests in Jesus, in His righteous life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection.
1 Peter 1:8 explains, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
And so, sisters, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), for as the resurrected Jesus declared after appearing to His closest followers, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)
When we truly believe, we will see evidence of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23) Through the ongoing work of His Spirit within us, He is shaping us into living stones, used to build His spiritual temple. (1 Peter 2:4-6)
As the Spirit of God dwells in us, He builds our faith through grace, just as He did for Elizabeth. Through faith, our hearts are justified before God. We offer praise, thanksgiving, and reverence, continuing to learn more about Him. (Psalm 8)
Just as Elizabeth blessed Mary, we’re commanded to bless and encourage others. Jesus encouraged and affirmed His follower, Peter, repeatedly throughout their time together. (Matthew 14:22-32, Matthew 16:13-20) Despite challenges and mistakes Peter made in his humanity, he eventually became a dedicated servant to God and leader in the early church. This is what encouragement can do! Encourage someone today. Bless others by telling them of the hope of salvation found only in Jesus Christ.
Humility is a heart attitude, not an outward demeanor. Jesus is our perfect example. He declared He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:45) We are most like Christ when we lay ourselves aside and pick up humility.
We can practice humility by:
counting others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3);
confessing sin and putting away pride (1 Peter 5:5);
being kind and forgiving of others, bearing with one another in love (Colossians 3:12-13);
humbly acknowledging God in all things, meditating on Scripture and praising Him. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
As we grow in humility and seek God through His word and prayer, the Holy Spirit will equip us for every good work to which our Father calls us (2 Timothy 3:16-17), including disciple-making. In His final words to His followers, Jesus commissioned them (and us!) to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:16-20)
Part of the work of discipleship includes testifying to God at work in us, by our words and actions. When we share our testimonies, it helps others build their faith and boosts our own faith, recalling all the ways God blessed our lives. Testimonies reproduce themselves when received in faith. When we share what Jesus has done in our lives, and we serve God, we reflect power and light to a dark world.
*Zacharias or Zechariah may appear in your Bible text; both translations of the Hebrew name point to the same man.
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