The Blueprint

Luke 1:5-25  The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

The lining of the events in our lives are amazingly created by God. Our trials and what seems to be unanswered prayers should not define the presence of God in our lives.God’s silence does not signify his absence.He works in wonderful ways that even His silence can already be the answer to our prayers.

The story talks about How God remained faithful to His promise. Zechariah and Elizabeth were both very old, and with that fact alone we can already be hopeless with the situation but God remained with them and God fulfilled His promise.

To be honest I sometimes find it difficult to understand because somehow it appears contradicting to me to continuously pray for something while on the other hand, there’s a part of me thinking that if God already planned everything then there’s no need to ask for things from Him. Then again, I am reminded that God continuously writes and re-writes the events in our lives and this is the point where faith has to step in and all my doubts and worries fade as my faith takes the stage. God creates circumstances in our lives to make us closer to Him. It is through prayers that we talk to God, we seek for Him and at the same time we build a relationship with Him.

The problem with most of us is that we try to dictate the schedule and timing of whatever it is that we are asking for, forgetting that God works in His own timing and not on ours.

In the story, God used Zechariah and Elizabeth to teach us how to remain faithful, that even if we are faithless God is faithful. He wants us to realize that His plans and promises are true. We meet people in our lives not accidentally but because it is part of God’s plan for us. This story is enough testament to that. Looking closely:

The meaning of Zechariah = God remembers
The meaning of Elizabeth = The oath of God

God put them together because He wants to give a message that He remembers His oath.

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The goodness in our brokenness

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand 

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

For so many years I’ve always interpreted the bible literally. I never thought that the stories in the bible could have so many meanings and that even if it was written for ages, it always talks about the present and amazingly the future.

Looking back in my early years, here’s how I would have reflected on this story:

The bible talks about the Greatness of our Lord that even if we do not have enough, we just have to trust Him because He will provide no matter how difficult the circumstances are.

My Christian Living teacher would have graded me a 17 out of 20 maybe because I did not go into details. Although the reflection was correct but she would have appreciated a longer and more elaborate answer. We all know how it goes for essays, the longer the better.

And now that I have a different perspective how am I supposed to reflect on it?

Let’s see if there’s a difference:

The story talks about the different stages that we go through in our daily lives and how God works on it.

Stage 1: The Taking 

God takes us to different situations. Sometimes comfortable, sometimes difficult but what’s definite is that He took us and put us there for a reason. He’ll take us to places we never could have imagined. We are where we are because that’s where God wants us to be. When we don’t understand how God works, we start to question even doubt Him or His existence but we have to understand that all we need to do is trust Him and His process. There may be a lot of uncertainties and fear but He is God, no one and nothing can even be greater than that. The timing of the Lord is always perfect and only He can do that.

Stage 2: The Blessing

He takes us out of our comfort zone but even so His grace is with us. He takes us to a place where He can prepare us for His blessings because if we are not prepared to receive it, everything will be wasted. Jesus will not take us to a place where His grace cant keep us.

Stage 3: The Breaking

Imagine if God will ask all of us to choose from the stages where we want to be, I wonder how many of us will choose the breaking stage instead of the blessing stage. The word break or breaking can be associated with so many negative things even situations but ironically it is in the breaking that we recognize who Jesus is. It is during this stage where we grope for answers and we turn to God. We have to understand that God needs to break us not because He wants to harm us but because we need it. We need to feel the pain because God wants us to learn from it and be a blessing to others using our own experiences. If we look at the bible closely, He broke the bread so that he can give away. God breaks to give away. Challenging as it may seem but we have to remember that when Jesus broke the bread, the bread was still in His hands, just like how Jesus is with us. When God breaks us, understand that we are still in His hands. He will never forsake us.

Stage 4: Give away

I was moved by what my pastor shared about his life. He grew up not knowing his father, so he questioned God so many times and carried it as  a burden as he was growing up. He said he was blessed with a loving mother but God broke him and put him in that situation of not having a father. He shared about how difficult it was growing up not being able to join father and son activities at school. It even came to a point when he had to borrow his neighbor’s father so he can join one event. Fast forward, when he came to know Christ, his first assignment was to be a kids church pastor where most of the kids came from single parent homes. God wants to use us, God wants us to be a blessing to others.

God’s grace is sufficient. In all these stages, remember that God will never let go. Let us embrace God’s process and stop fighting the process. Let God give us away so that His name and glory will spread.  When we are uncertain, in doubt or in fear of anything, always remember what Jesus did in the story. He took the bread, blessed it, breaks it and he gave it away.