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Zechariah’s Preparation (Part 1)

Zechariah is a godly man, blameless in the sight of God.

Unlike so many husbands in Scripture,

he had not taken another wife when Elizabeth was barren.

Only once a year did the high priest go into the Temple,

and Zechariah did not expect to see an angel.

But he did.


Philip Yancey says that angels never say, “Hi.”

They always say, “FEAR NOT!”

For even Gabriel, the angel of good news,

brought fear with His appearing.

He reassures Zechariah:

How many years had it been

since Elizabeth and Zechariah had given up praying for a child?

This was too much.

Unlike Mary, Zechariah doubts, asks for a sign.

Gabriel’s answer is swift and severe.

The consequences are high, as we will see.

Last week we had a good discussion about the difference

between punishment (to make you pay for your sin)

and discipline (to turn you into a great heart.)

God seems to put his best vessels through the hottest fires.

How will Zechariah respond to the discipline of the Lord?


This is the father of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord,

calling people to TRUE REPENTANCE. 

When the Pharisees came, wanting the respectability of John’s baptism,

John shouted:

“Who warned you of the wrath to come?

Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”

This is what his father, Zechariah, had done,

and this is what we must learn to practice so we

do not quench HIs Spirit

and become great hearts.

What is the difference between atonement, and bearing fruit worthy of repentance? Atonement implies you must pay a price for your sin, whereas bearing fruit worthy of repentance shows you know the price has been paid, and out of gratitude, you want to respond to the Lord’s loving discipline. 

You may remember the book/movie Atonement. The younger sister had told a lie that had ruined her older sister’s relationship with one she loved deeply. So the sister spent her life trying to make atonement for the damage she had done.


Likewise, I recently watched one of the better out of a very bad barrel of Hallmark Christmas movies called “Saint Maybe.”

Again, a younger brother has sinned against his older sibling. I won’t give away the plot-line should you want to watch, but the younger brother goes to “The Church of Second Chances” and asks for forgiveness, but the pastor told him it is not enough to say he is sorry. (John the Baptist would agree.) But he tells him he must make atonement by doing something very hard. Indeed, God may have called him to bear fruit worthy of repentance by doing this particular hard thing, but no one can ever pay for his own sin. Only one without sin could do that, and He did it.


When we trust what Christ did at the cross, we are fully forgiven, cleansed as white as snow, and beautiful in His eyes. Atonement has been made in full. So what are we called to do?

We are called to  respond quickly to sin with confession and TRUE REPENTANCE.

A failure to bear fruit does not cause us to lose our salvation, but it does quench His Spirit, hurts our fellowship with Him, and hardens our hearts. Let us consider, with Zechariah as our model, what it means to bear fruit worthy of repentance. For in doing this, God will restore the joy of our salvation, and sinners will come to Him. (Ps. 51) And what an Advent this will be!



1.What stands out to you from the above and why?


It isn’t easy to bear fruit worthy of repentance, because it means saying no to our idols the next time they call — and that always involves initial pain. But we are believing a lie to think our idols are our friends. Women released from prison often hear the siren call of drugs to return to them, but we have emphasized “play the whole tape through.” Indeed, those sirens, if believed, will cause their ship to crash.


2. In the same way, think about your siren call and then be ready to “play the whole tape through.” What will you say to your soul?



3.Read Luke 1:5-7.

A. What do you learn about Zechariah?

B. Christy posted this about this passage — would love your reflections on her reflection and also, to consider what hard thing in your life that was not your fault could be a platform for God.

Barrenness is not a curse, just as singleness is not a curse for me – a woman now in her 50’s.  God can work miracles within any circumstance. Barrenness for Elizabeth and Zechariah was the avenue that God chose to bring into the world the Forerunner of Christ Jesus. He chose this path because there could be no other explanation other than it being an act directly poured out of the hand of God. So…Elizabeth’s barrenness was not a curse —it was not a reflection of how blameless and worthy they were of receiving God’s blessing of children… it was the PLATFORM in which God used to bring about one of his greatest miracles.  It was HIS WAY of preparing the world for its Savior…..and it was the way of preparing Elizabeth for becoming the mentor Mary was going to need…and soon!



4. Be alert today to bear fruit worthy of repentance and share what happens.

5. Read Luke 1:8-17.

A. What is the sacredness of the setting and why? (verses 8-10)

B. How did Zechariah respond to the sight of Gabriel? (verses 11-12)

C. What was God’s plan for Zechariah’s son? List whatever you find and anything new you see.

6. Read Luke 1:18 and describe Zechariah’s response. Contrast it with what Elizabeth told Mary in Luke 1:46.

7. In what area do you need your faith strengthened in order to resist the siren call of your idols?


8.  How is Zechariah to be disclplined according to Luke 1:19-20? How hard do you think this would have been and why?

9. What happened when he came out of the temple according to Luke 1:21-23?

Here is a Children’s Version of this account. I think it is pretty good — but you see what you think:

10. Thoughts on the above?


11. Read Luke 1:57-66

     A. What was the disagreement about in 57 to 61? Why, do you think?

B. How does Zechariah show his faith and the fruit of repentance in verse 62- 63?

C. Reading between the lines, how can you see that Zechariah was deaf as well as mute?

D. How can you see that he and his wife had still communicated?

E. Why do you think his tongue was unleashed at this moment?

F. What was the impact on the crowd?

12. What did Zechariah need to repent of? How do you see the fruit of repentance?

Friday: David’s Repentance after Sexual Abuse and Murder

13. Read Psalm 51:7-17

     A. How does this prayer show a real desire for a changed life?

     B. What does God want according to verse 17?

     C. What will happen when we truly bear fruit of repentance (verses 12-15)

14. Have you been able to bear fruit worthy of repentance that you can share? Have you experienced some of what David says will happen? If so, share!


15. What is your take-a-way and why?





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  1. Friday: David’s Repentance after Sexual Abuse and Murder

    13. Read Psalm 51:7-17

         A. How does this prayer show a real desire for a changed life?

    The verbs implore powerful, desperate, yearning, distressing actions.

    “cleanse, wash, let me hear and rejoice, hide, blot out, create, renew, do not cast or take, restore, grant me, sustain me, etc.”

    David stands on his sorrowful ground of wanton wickedness/sin and squarely looks to his Creator for forgiveness and mercy.  David adopts God’s view of his life.

         B. What does God want according to verse 17?


    “a broken and contrite heart”

         C. What will happen when we truly bear fruit of repentance (verses 12-15)


    We will experience joy in our salvation.  We will be given a willing spirit to sustain us.  We will teach transgressors God’s ways and sinners will turn back to God.  We will be saved from bloodguilt.  We will sing of God’s righteousness.  The Lord will open our lips and our mouths will declare His praise.


    14. Have you been able to bear fruit worthy of repentance that you can share? Have you experienced some of what David says will happen? If so, share!

    I’ve shared about my marriage before–for 15 years I thought our lives were mostly normal.  It turns out they were normal in the sense that we were both hiding rotten cesspools of sin from each other.  Now I know that an exhausting and shallow duality is a symptom of unconfessed sin.  I asked him 3 times for a divorce. (Please understand that my life is unknown to you and yours to me, sharing my journey is not a comment on any issues related to what is appropriate for “Christian marriages”).  That was about 5 years ago now.  We’ve been involved in lots of counseling.

    He would not agree to divorce and I began to feel like a prisoner.  The only real change for me in the counseling was that I could be open about my thoughts and feelings toward him instead of stuffing them as I had been for so long.  My areas of sin involve self-righteousness, disrespect, and intentionally hurtful words/actions.  So you can surely imagine the monster I was as 15 years of all that ugliness poured out.  I am very ashamed of my behavior.  But, I knew that God wanted to restore our marriage and that restoration was at least partially dependent on my apologizing and asking for forgiveness for all that behavior, including the divorce parts.  I held on to that for a long time –I didn’t want to give up my “only exit” from the prison I felt I was in.   There’s sorrow for me when I think about my selfishness during that time.  But, eventually, Jesus just kept pressing me on this issue and I squeaked out some words of apology one night and mumbled about forgiveness.  I remember telling Jesus that my husband won’t care about what I say–that apologizing is just another tool he’ll use against me.  But I felt a burden lifted and this man has chosen to forgive me.

    We don’t have a fabulous marriage now.  The main fruits of repentance in my life are between me and Jesus in my heart.  That duality I used to live in is gone–completely gone.  There’s no striving for appearances of goodness and I feel real pain when I make any attempt to pretend I have a “good Christian marriage.” I’ve learned that God wants to share all of my life and I am not too awful for Him.  He really does want to “make His home with me.”  John 14:23.

    Moving forward, I recognize my tendency to duality much more quickly now.  That’s a real fruit in my life that God has blessed and multiplied in several areas, including with others.  And God is working in my husband and our marriage.  I have hope.  There have been painful effects on relationships with family and friends.  I had to apologize to my kids, too.  As I look back over all this, I think the fruit of repentance I really cherish is forgiveness from my husband and Jesus.  There are three of us in this relationship now and I’m so grateful for them.

    1. Thank you for sharing this honest but hopeful testimony of God working in your marriage, Karen M. May God continue to restore.

    2. Karen, Thankyou for your honest sharing. The fact that you say “I have hope” is a testimony to God’s work in your life. There is no hope apart from Him.  Also even “good Christian marriages have some very real struggles and have to lean hard on Jesus. We have an enemy who wants to divide and tear apart and every marriage has two imperfect people involved.  I have been married over 50 years in a Christian marriage and I have to say “But for God!”

      He will be faithful to you.

    3. Karen-you are so precious in your honesty and vulnerability. God indeed is a God of much, much patience with us. Thank you for sharing.

    4. There are 3 of us in this marriage now – that’s exactly how it is here. I love how the LORD steps in as we make room for Him .

      Is it perfect? No but I give us both the grace to be His work in progress. That is so freeing .

      1. Thanks everyone for your encouragement and kind comments. I grow in love for Jesus through your daily insights.  This Bible study has brought me joy.  Thank you, Dee.

  2. We have been at the ICU with my sister in law , she had a serious bout of pneumonia , touch and go for 3 days. Happy to say she is doing well. I’ve been following along being blessed by all your insights and encouragement.

    Have you been able to bear fruit worthy of repentance that you can share? Have you experienced some of what David says will happen?

    10 Make a clean heart in me, O God. Give me a new spirit that will not be moved. 11 Do not throw me away from where You are. And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Let the joy of Your saving power return to me. And give me a willing spirit to obey you.

    I think about this often , how  David says ” take not your Holy Spirit from me. What a terrifying thought to have that happen ! But I know that we are sealed when we put our Hope in Jesus .

    My fruit of repentance is Peace , God’s peace. I took anti – anxiety medications for 17 years and still Suffered from anxiety. Six years ago the LORD  said ” Enough ”

    I came to realize my sin was of not Trusting Him. Not one bit. This is not what He wants for His Children. He offers us Peace , real peace and real rest. God is faithful to His covenant with us , to His promises for us. Peace is a promise but I needed to trust in the One that was offering it. We have to have receptive hearts to what He offers us , He does not force us.

    God is so generous in His mercy to us , it was a tough battle but I was continually reminded that we don’t battle on our own.

    I still have anxious situations , like the last 8 days but the Holy Spirit was powerfully present , He reminds me all the time that He is in control . I think there was one point on Wednesday that He gently called me a ” silly sheep ” and said I was worried and upset about many things but like Mary I should choose the only thing that was needed and that is My Lord.


      1. Dee , I didn’t even see my own sin until He uncovered it layer by layer in my heart and soul. Such patience He has for us !

  3. Sue, I echo Dee’s words here- Not trusting Him and running elsewhere is the sin beneath the sin.  The enemy is very tricky (he has been busy with me lately) and am thankful God for His patience with us in convicting us of sins in our lives. 

    1. The enemy is so deceitful, I try to remind myself that when my thoughts don’t sound like Jesus talking to me then it’s the enemy lying to me.  I am praying that He makes us all smarter than our enemy, by the power of His Spirit.

  4. This was an important verse for me as I replaced my idol of anxiety with Jesus.


    Psalm 66
    Come and see what God has done,    his awesome deeds for mankind!6 He turned the sea into dry land,    they passed through the waters on foot—    come, let us rejoice in him.7 He rules forever by his power,    his eyes watch the nations—    let not the rebellious rise up against him.

    8 Praise our God, all peoples,    let the sound of his praise be heard;9 he has preserved our lives    and kept our feet from slipping.10 For you, God, tested us;    you refined us like silver.11 You brought us into prison    and laid burdens on our backs.12 You let people ride over our heads;    we went through fire and water,    but you brought us to a place of abundance.


    16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;    let me tell you what he has done for me.17 I cried out to him with my mouth;    his praise was on my tongue.18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,    the Lord would not have listened;19 but God has surely listened    and has heard my prayer.20 Praise be to God,    who has not rejected my prayer    or withheld his love from me!

  5. I just found this page.  I recently read a book of yours while at a friends house in Nebraska.  I instantly felt a connection to you & Kathy Traccoli.   The honesty and openness,  I felt was refreshing and comforting.  I am a widow. I can see and understand both perspectives, & at this point not knowing if God has someone for me, or if I will remain single, can be frustrating.  But I have determined to be happy & content regardless.  Thank you for sharing both of your hearts.