Have you ever been tempted to give up on a dream? You pursued it and it didn't turn out the way you thought, or is taking way longer than you ever imagined? We have all been through doubting our dreams and wanting to give up. This Christmas season I want to remind us about the beginning of the Christmas story. Not the one that starts with Mary and Joseph, but the one that is often forgotten. The one found only a few months prior. The Christmas story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. I believe this story holds truths that, if applied to our lives, can rekindle our dreams once again and help us take hold of the promises God has for our lives. Look with me at the Gospel of Luke, chapter one, and let's meet Mary's relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. Elizabeth is Mary's elderly Aunt, and Zechariah is a priest, and we know that they are childless. Luke 1:7, "they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old." Truth #1 Your Identity is Not Tied to the Promise. To have a child was everything at this time in history. It was such a big deal that men would even divorce their wives if they could not have children, and people believed barrenness was a curse from God due to secret sin in your life. If Elizabeth and Zechariah were everyday people like the rest of us, we could guess that questions like, "why is this happening? Am I cursed or in sin? Did I do something wrong? Is God mad at me?" would have gone through their minds. Decades passed. The window for having children closed, and doubt filled Zechariah's heart. Their dream of having a child was never going to be fulfilled. But what did they do wrong? The truth? They did nothing wrong. Actually, they had done everything right from God's eyes. The Bible says, Luke 1:6" They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully. " When God looked at them, he didn't measure them by how many dreams or promises unfolded in their life. He didn't define them by what had or hadn't occurred yet. Instead, he saw them as two people who loved him wholeheartedly. Sometimes, our dreams seem to be put off, days, weeks, months, and even years for reasons we don't know why. It's easy to look at your life in comparison to others around you and wonder, "Did I miss it? Did God lie? Did I fail him?" and so on. You see friends or family members all graduating, getting the job, getting married, having kids, getting the promotion, the house, moving on to the next stage of life, and yet your dream is still unfulfilled. The question of what is wrong with you may come. But the truth is, there is nothing wrong with you. From God's eyes, if you are in love with him, and trying to live righteously, then that is enough. You are exactly who you are meant to be. Elizabeth and Zechariah weren't in control of making the promise happen. The only thing they could control was how they lived and how they loved, and that is what God compliments them for. Too often, we care more about making the promise happen than staying in love. God will take care of his promise. He is in control. What he doesn't control is your love for him. He cares about us staying in love with him even when it doesn't seem like the promise will ever happen. You may look at your life and wonder, "what is wrong? Where is the promise!" Yet Heaven looks down at your life and says, "Look at them! They are lovers of God!" Truth #2 You are Not Lost in the Crowd. Luke 1: 8–9 "One day, while Zechariah's priestly order was on duty and he was serving as priest, it happened by the casting of lots (according to the custom of the priesthood) that the honor fell upon Zechariah to enter into the Holy Place and burn incense before the Lord. " Commentators say that there were twenty thousand priests in Christ's time. So the odds are twenty thousand to one that Zechariah would be chosen at this moment. For Zechariah, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he has waited for his entire career. Zechariah was entering the temple on behalf of the entire nation of Isreal to pray for their sins. If there was any moment for God to deliver a message to the whole country, it was this moment. Yet God didn't take this opportunity to talk to the crowd. Instead, he took it to speak to the one. If you got a chance to speak to the President of another nation on behalf of your own, would you expect them to want to talk to you about your own personal dreams and goals? That seems inappropriate. This is the moment to represent your country! But God didn't want to talk about the country. Instead, he wanted to touch the heart of an individual who forgot their dreams. Luke 1: 10-11"A large crowd of worshipers had gathered to pray outside the temple at the hour when incense was being offered. All at once, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing just to the right of the altar of incense." Many think God is "the big boss man upstairs." That he is too busy ending world starvation or poverty to deal with your personal dreams. Yet, in the Bible, that has never been the case. God has never been too busy to take a moment to speak to the one. He has not lost you in the 20,000 others. He wants to talk to you, one on one. Truth #3 God is Answering Your Prayers. Luke 1: 12-13 " Zechariah was startled and overwhelmed with fear. But the angel reassured him, saying, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God is showing grace to you. For I have come to tell you that your prayer for a child has been answered." It's very strange that the angel said, "your prayer for a child has been answered," for a few reasons. For one, Zechariah was not praying for a child at this moment. Remember, this was his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him to pray for the sins of Isreal. He was trained his whole life to say a specific pray in this exact moment. It is very doubtful he would use this moment to break protocol and bring up a prayer for a child. Also, Zechariah shows he wasn't praying for children anymore by his reaction. He argues with the angel! Luke 1:18 "Zechariah asked the angel, "How do you expect me to believe this? I'm an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child." If you are praying for something, you believe and hope it can happen. The fact that Zechariah says no way this can't happen shows he most likely wasn't actively praying for it anymore and believed it was impossible. So, what prayers of Zechariah was Gabriel referring to? The Greek verb here for "prayer" allows for a possible translation of "Your past prayers," or "the prayers you don't pray anymore." The "answered prayer for a child" would have been prayers he prayed years ago! God remembers the prayers we have forgotten! Did you used to pray for something, but because it never happened, you gave up? God remembers those prayers! Those prayers are just as present, valid, and important to God as the current prayers you pray. Don't lose hope in your dreams. Those prayers right now are sitting before the throne of God! Luke 1:13-14 "Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. His birth will bring you much joy and gladness. Many will rejoice because of him." Elizabeth means "oath of God," and "my God has sworn" John means, "God is a gracious giver." Even when you have forgotten or given up, God remembers what he has sworn, and he is still a gracious giver. This is the story of Christmas, God graciously gives to us, even when we give up. Enjoying this Post? Let's Get Connected! Truth #4 What You Say About Your Dreams Matters. Zechariah has so much doubt in his heart that he says he doesn't believe it and wants a sign! An angel showing up in front of him wasn't enough! If we aren't careful, we can become so hardened with doubt that we become the greatest cynic against our own dreams. Even if an angel appeared, we wouldn't believe it! Oh, the mercy of God! Even when we are faithless about our dreams, he is faithful to bring them to pass! The angel replies in Luke 1: 20 "But now, since you did not believe my words, you will be stricken silent and unable to speak until the day my words have been fulfilled at their appointed time and a child is born to you. That will be your sign!" God created our words to be powerful. Proverbs 18:1 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." God promises he will defend us against the voices of our enemies. So what happens when the enemy's voice comes out of our mouth? God still silences it. Zechariah's mouth was the enemy against his own dream. But, luckily, God cared more about fulfilling his dream than offending him at this moment or giving him temporary comfort. God did not comfort the enemy's lies on Zechariah's mouth. He silenced them. I don't know about you, but that puts a healthy fear of the Lord in my heart to watch over the words on my mouth. God cares about the promises over my life so much that he will even fight me if I get in the way of making them happen. We must silence the voice of doubt in our lives, even if the voice is our own. Truth #5 Not One Promise from God is Empty. The traditional story of Christmas begins when the angel Gabriel meets Mary, but even then, this story of Elizabeth and Zechariah is mentioned. Gabriel says to Mary, Luke 1:36-37 " What's more, your aged aunt, Elizabeth, has also become pregnant with a son. The 'barren one is now in her sixth month. Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!" There is it. Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!" This is the new confession we must begin to make this Christmas. Even if months, years, or decades have passed. Even if you forget the dream, God remembers. Even if the dream logically, biologically, financially, or statistically seems impossible, God can still make it happen. Remember these truths this season. Your identity is not tied to the promise, you are not lost in the crowd, God is answering your prayers, what you say about your dreams matters, and not one promise from God is empty. What About You? What promises are you believing God for? Which of these 5 Truths do you need to focus on this season? Comment below and let us know!