Week 19 Sunday

How Can I Be Sure?

Today’s scripture selection: Luke 1-2

Key Verses: Luke 1:18

You would think that if an archangel suddenly appeared to you – you would believe whatever such an impressive messenger had to say.

Luke tells us one such messenger – the one known as Gabriel – came to Zechariah one day.  Now, who is this messenger?

Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament. He appeared to the prophet Daniel delivering explanations of Daniel’s visions. It was Gabriel who appeared to Mary and Luke, announcing the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.  Gabriel is not called an archangel in the Bible, but is so called in other sources like the Book of Enoch.   In the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel are considered saints.

In other words, he’s pretty high up on the heavenly “pecking order.”

So – you might think Zechariah, a priest, would have accepted Gabriel’s messages without question.  But actually, he doubted.  When told that in his old age he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (John the Baptist) the first words out of his mouth were words of doubt.  “How can I be sure…?”

I guess we can chalk it up to plain old human nature.  No matter how dramatic, or clear, the message from God – we humans have a tendency to doubt first and ask questions later.

One of the great challenges of our faith is also one of the simplest.  When God speaks, we have to believe.  Only then can we align ourselves with the great purposes he has in mind for us.

So, if you find yourself doubting your faith at times – don’t feel too bad – even some of those closest to God have had that very same problem.

On the other hand, look at the extraordinary things even the most “ordinary” of people have done when they took God at his word and faithfully acted on His instructions.

Doubt is part of human nature.  But with God’s help, faith can be too.

Prayer:  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.  AMEN.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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