HOW TO SPEAK YOUR CONVICTIONS

HOW TO SPEAK YOUR CONVICTIONS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

HOW TO SPEAK YOUR CONVICTIONS

Introduction: Let me share something before we begin – everyday I meet someone who is listening to our 2 radio broadcasts on Sunday mornings or someone who knows someone who is listening to our messages. I am truly humbled and grateful at what God is doing. We are in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning I am preaching a message starting in Luke 1:57 titled, “HOW TO SPEAK YOUR CONVICTIONS.” Many of us want to be bold about our faith and, at the same time, we don’t want to sound arrogant, obnoxious, and belligerent. In this message we will meet 2 people who will show us how to speak our convictions the right way.

Luke 1 57  Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son…59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.

Overall Background: As you may remember, Zachariah was a priest at the Temple and one day when he was burning incense (a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity), the angel Gabriel came to him and declared that he will be a father. Zechariah was up in age and so was Elizabeth and his reaction was “how shall I know this?” For that statement of unbelief, the Angel struck him with aphonia or mutism – he couldn’t speak anymore. Instead of remaining in doubt and fear, Zechariah and Elizabeth chose to trust God and, as you can understand, they did something about it (no virgin birth here). Nine months later Elizabeth gave birth to a son. There was no doubt in their minds that this baby was from God. But, for the neighbors and the relatives, it was another story. This is where Zechariah and Elizabeth shared with them what God had done in their life.

Sometimes we think that in order to share our faith in Jesus with our neighbors and relatives, we have to know every answer to every question in the Bible. We think that we have to be able to preach like the pastor or teach like the Sunday school teacher or read the latest book on the subject. All that is wonderful but an easier and more effective way is to invite people into your life, let them see what God has done for you, and tell them what he can do for them.

Application: Let me ask you – Are you speaking your convictions to your neighbors and relatives? Are you sharing with others what Jesus has done for you? Do you have a testimony to share? If not, you need to be saved before you can try to save others.

Let’s see from the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth how to speak your convictions:

1. REJOICE DURING TRIALS.

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 “When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.”

Background: When the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah, he not only promised that he would have a son but he promised something more Zechariah and Elizabethin Luke 1:14 “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Meaning: Your miracle will bring joy to others. Just as he promised, the neighbors and relatives rejoiced. But there are two words that we often skip over. “They rejoiced with her.” It’s because Zechariah and Elizabeth responded with joy and gladness that the neighbors and relatives also responded with joy. Let me ask you – how would they have responded if Zechariah and Elizabeth had been faithless, frustrated, and frazzled?

Let me clarify: To rejoice does not mean they didn’t have some struggles. I’m sure Elizabeth had the same struggles that any pregnant woman goes through? You think she had morning sickness, cried without reason, and had cravings?

Illustration: I remember one night when Nicole was pregnant with Rebecca. We were living in Georgia at the time and I was working at an automotive plant. I had to pick heavy barrels of fiberglass boards all day long and then wash them in these industrial size washing machines. My body would be sore and I had this incredible itch all over from fiberglass being all over my clothes. Needless to say, when I lay down, I was out. One night I had just lain down and I heard these words, “What time does Shoney’s close?” My answer – “Its 9:30 at night.” She continued, “What if we left right now? Do you think we could make it in time for me to have their hot fudge sundae?” Long story short – she had hot fudge sundae that night!

I’m sure that Zechariah and Elizabeth had the same struggles that any expecting couple goes through and maybe even more because of their age. But in spite of that, they chose to rejoice. It’s not fake happiness or keeping a stoic smile. It is an attitude of the heart. It’s a spirit of trust that God is in control of the situation.

As Christians we are to rejoice in all situations. Psalm 5:11 “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” Philippians 4:4-5   4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men.”

Application: How do you respond to trials in your life? Do you gripe, worry, get angry, blame someone, or even blame God? When you do that, you destroy your testimony before others. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” I’m sure Elizabeth and Zechariah struggled and yet they rejoiced. Are you rejoicing right now knowing that God is working all things together for good? Are people around you rejoicing because they see you rejoicing?

2. STAND TOGETHER IN BIBLICAL CONVICTIONS. 

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.

ElizabethBackground: In those days in Eastern cultures it was not impolite or out-of-the-way for neighbors and relatives to help in naming the child. In this situation the people were so happy for Zechariah and Elizabeth that they had a child in their old age that they wanted to name him after Zechariah. After all, Zechariah is not a bad name. It means “Yahweh has remembered again.” How can that be wrong? Their intentions were good but the angel Gabriel had already told Zechariah what the name of his baby should be in Luke 1:13, “and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” So listen to Elizabeth’s response in verse 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” Even though Zechariah was mute, he must have written the name down for Elizabeth. But the crowd was relentless – verse 61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Why did they marvel? Because Zechariah and Elizabeth were on the same page.

What a beautiful sight! Both husband and wife are in agreement. They share the same convictions. They’re not undermining each other. There is no “I’ll see what mom has to say or best buddy has to say.” How awesome for the world to see a family united! They may disagree over ball teams and favorite foods but when it comes to God, Jesus, and His Word, there is uncompromising unity.

Illustration: Nicole and I are different and yet we have the same convictions.

Ladies – follow your husbands in obeying the Lord. Men – lead your wives in the way of God, not with some legalistic mess that you learned from legalistic church or pastor. Instead, lead your family to turn away from sin, trust Christ, obey His Word, and walk in the Spirit. It’s a beautiful thing to the world.

Application: How do the people around you see you? Do they see you as a family that is together in convictions and faith? How do they see a church in their convictions? What better testimony can you demonstrate before the watching world? A family/church that is bickering and fussing is a poor testimony for the gospel.

3. BE OBEDIENT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.

What happened when Zachariah and Elizabeth were united in biblical convictions? 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. When a family or a church is united, God has the freedom to work. Unity opens the door for God to come in and do the miraculous.

What’s the result? 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; Our community needs some fear. I’ve been in this community forZechariah and Elizabeth 2 about 16 years. There is very little fear of the Lord. The way people talk about God, church, pastors, and church people is despicable! Why? Because there is no miraculous. Growing up in non-Christian country, even most non-Christians would show some respect for the things of God.

and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. Our community needs some discussion. Again, I’ve been in this community for about 16 years. People discuss everything from crime, politics, sports, and each other. There is very little godly discussion happening. Why? Because there is no miraculous. Start seeing people getting saved and discussion will begin.

Now this is important – 67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: Meaning: Zechariah is under the authority and direction of the Holy Spirit. He is submitted to the Spirit of God.

What we’re about to read is known as the Benedictus from the Latin first line – Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel – which is part of liturgies, Lauds and Matins.

68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,

In other words, Zechariah is sharing the gospel. In my opinion, this is the first gospel presentation in the New Testament!

70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Wow! Zechariah and Elizabeth shared the gospel with those around them in the power of the Holy Spirit. What a great example!

Are you sharing the gospel with people around you?

Do you know the gospel yourself?

PRAISE UNDER PRESSURE

PRAISE UNDER PRESSURE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

PRAISE UNDER PRESSUREWe are in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning I am preaching a message from Luke 1:46 titled, “PRAISE UNDER PRESSURE.” It is easy to praise God when things are going great – no bills, no pain, no bad news – but it is very hard to praise Him when things are tough. Many of us become obsessed with our problems, get discouraged, destroy relationships, and make bad decisions. But, when we deliberately choose to praise God, we not only please Him but we open the door for Him to take charge and work all things together for good.

Luke 1:46   And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is traditionally known as the “Magnificat.” It comes from “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” which is the Latin translation of “my soul magnifies the Lord,” the first line of Mary’s hymn. This song has been a part of liturgies, music, and art for centuries. Sadly, we have lost the real meaning and purpose behind it. Mary wrote it at a time when she was going through extreme doubt, worry, and fear. This was her song of praise and submission to God’s will.

Here’s the gist of the message – During times of pressure, you can either continue in doubt, worry, and fear or you can turn to God in praise. You can either get angry with people and be down at your circumstances and indulge in some destructive habit or you can “lift up your eyes to the hills – from where comes your help.” You can say with the psalmist, “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” When you do that, you open the door for God to step into your life and take charge of the situation. After all, He allowed it to come for a reason. When you praise Him, you invite Him to switch seats from the passenger to the driver. But let me also warn you – just because you praise God in the midst of pressure doesn’t mean your problem will disappear. It only means that God will steer your life to bring glory to His name.

Application: What trial or pressure are you facing this morning? How are you handling it? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Without Him you can try to be positive, optimistic, and even pray but you are lost like a sailboat in a storm. You need Him to be your Savior.

Let’s look at Mary’s song and see how we can praise God under pressure:

1. CONTEXT OF PRAISE

Luke 1:39   Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

Background: When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be pregnant with a child who is the Son of God, she was afraid and full of worries. A baby was growing inside of her and she had nothing to do with it. How would her family deal with this? She’s not married but engaged to a good man. How will Joseph deal with this? She comes from a priestly family. How will her community deal with her? Will she be stoned to death? So the angel suggested that she visit her relative Elizabeth who was also pregnant. Mary left immediately from her home in Nazareth of Galilee and travelled 80-100 miles to the hill country of Judea, South of Jerusalem. It probably took her about 3-4 days in journey. You can only imagine how exhausted she was. I doubt she had a full night’s sleep since the week before. Now she came to Zachariah and Elizabeth’s home. How will they treat her?

Picture – Mary, a young girl who was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.

Application: Have you ever been in that situation? Maybe it wasn’t as intense but it was exhausting. Maybe you are in that situation right now. How are you handling it? Are you getting angry? Are you discouraged? Are you afraid? Are you praying? Luke 18:1b “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” The antidote to losing heart is prayer.

How did Elizabeth greet her? 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Meaning: No condemnation, criticism, and condescension but only uplifting, encouraging, and faith filled words.

Application: Let me ask you – When people get around you, do they feel uplifted, encouraged, and faith filled. I guess the deeper question is – “Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?” “Is your life under His command and control?”

2. CONTENT OF PRAISE

Luke 1:46 And Mary said:

Background: Let me stop here for a moment – Some people mistakenly think that Mary immediately launched into her song of praise when Elizabeth finished saying verse 45Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” It is as if Mary was like – “I’ve been writing a poem all the way from Nazareth to Judea. It’ll make a great song one day. Tell me if it rhymes.” This is my opinion – I don’t think Mary wrote this song of praise until sometime in the last month of her three months with Zachariah and Elizabeth. It was after day after day and week after week of listening to Zachariah and Elizabeth that Mary began to jot down her thoughts and prayers.

Spiritual growth does not happen overnight. It grows in the crucible of suffering and pain. Some of the greatest melodies and lyrics were written when a person was going through a time of loss and pain. Charles Spurgeon said, “Pain makes every note come out with great effort, yet I believe God bends down His ears to hear such singing as that. I have known birds in cages sing better than those outside—and the Lord sometimes puts us in a cage on purpose that He may hear us sing the sweeter.”

Now listen to her words of praise – it can be divided into three sections:

  1. She focused on God – “My soul magnifies the Lord…

Meaning: This was not a song of self-determination and resolve. It was a song that magnified God. How do you magnify God? How do you make God great? It’s not like you put God under a microscope. It’s more like walking up to the Washington Monument and realizing how immense it is. Magnifying the Lord means drawing closer to Him and realizing how great He is in everything. It begins by thinking upon Him and His many attributes. Sometimes we focus so much on our problem that it is magnified more than it needs to be. Instead, the more you magnify God, the more you want to magnify Him. You may start to magnify Him in a whisper at the bottom of the hill but as you start climbing up and draw closer to the top, you find yourself shouting praises to His name!

When was the last time you focused on how great is our God?

  1. She returned to the basics – 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Meaning: As Mary begins to magnify God, she does not get into the deep things of the Christian life. She does not talk about pneumatology, eschatology, and ecclesiology. She does not get into the various views of sanctification. She goes back to the fundamentals. She rejoices in “God my Savior.” No matter how deep you grow in your knowledge of the Bible and no matter how much you understand the deep things of the Christian life, you never get too far from “God be merciful to me a sinner.” You might say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven” and that’s wonderful. At the same time, this same Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” At the end of the day, I’m just a sinner saved by grace.

When was the last time you got on your face before God and said, “God be merciful a sinner.” Do you know what that does? It takes the pressure off of us and puts it upon God.

  1. She was grateful to God for everything:

– First, for her own self. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

During trials it is good to look back and thank God for how far He has brought you.

For e.g. Visiting a lady at the hospital and how she encouraged me to be thankful.

49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.

Meaning: When God shows His grace, He does not compromise with sin. Don’t ever think that grace means God overlooks your sins. It only means that God looks at Jesus instead of you.

– Second, for all people. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.

Anytime good things happen to people, it is God. He is the source of all good things.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. Meaning: The wicked rich He has sent away empty.

– Third, for God’s people. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Meaning: There’s a difference here in how God blesses all the people in the world and how He especially takes care of His people.

For e.g. If I see a child hungry, I’ll find a way to feed him/her. But, if it is my child, I don’t wait till I see him/her hungry. I have a purpose for his/her life.

Application: Are you going through a time of pressure, have you praised God? Have you thanked Him for what He has done for you, for others, and for His people? What are you magnifying in your life? Are you grateful for being saved?

3. CONSEQUENCE OF PRAISE

Luke 1:56  And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

She had to go back. We live in a time where people want to run away. Nobody wants to go back. Everybody wants to move somewhere else.

But, how did she go back – reluctantly, bitterly, or angrily? We get a glimpse of her new personality after the shepherds came to visit the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Luke 2 17 Now when they (shepherds) had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it (crowd) marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Another translation has it – “And Mary was pondering all these matters, trying to put them together in her heart.”

Meaning: She did not lose heart, bail out, get angry, feel sorry for her self, and wish she had another life. Like a servant, she knew that her Master knew best and she submitted willingly.

Application: How are you dealing with your pressures? Do you know Jesus?

WHEN YOU NEED THE HUMAN TOUCH

WHEN YOU NEED THE HUMAN TOUCH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When you need the human touchWe are in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels called – “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” This morning I’m preaching a message titled – “WHEN YOU NEED THE HUMAN TOUCH.” Nicole often tells me the story of her little brother who was scared to go to sleep. Their dad told him that God was with him and angels were guarding him and he had nothing to be afraid of. He replied, “I know but I want someone I can touch.”

Luke 1   26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!…31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS…36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren…39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is very familiar, especially during Christmas season – The angel Gabriel comes to Mary with the news of Jesus and she is shocked but he comforts her and she happily submits. All that is true but when we step back and look at this account in its overall context, we find a greater truth just beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered. The account of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel is couched between the accounts of Zachariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-25 tells us how the angel Gabriel came to Zachariah and Elizabeth, a couple who was righteous and blameless before God. Then, Luke 1:26-38 is about how the angel Gabriel came to Mary and gave her the news that she will be with child whose name shall be Jesus. We just read it. Then, Luke 1:39-80 is about how Mary went and stayed with Zachariah and Elizabeth for three months until John was born. Meaning: Zachariah and Elizabeth were very important in Mary’s life and the birth of Jesus. For e.g. Like a sandwich that has meat between two pieces of bread, we have eaten the meat but left the bread. Oh, we got the meat – Jesus – but we missed the sandwich.

This morning, the point of the message is – God’s Providence, God’s Promises, and God’s Presence are vital for us to go through life but so are God’s People. God wants us to connect with godly people who will bring wisdom and encouragement in our life.

Application: Do you feel like you are doing your Bible Study and having your prayer time and even going to church but there’s still something missing? Are you connecting with godly people? Do you have spiritual connection with other believers? Some people say, “Oh I go to church.” Unless you have the right connector, you are going in vain. Jesus is the connector. Without Him our churches are nothing but a club or a hangout.

This morning we will see how along with God’s Providence, Promises, and Presence, we also need His People:

1. GOD’S PROVIDENCE

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

Background: In the 1800s many scholars denied the existence of Nazareth because there is no mention of it in the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, or Rabbinic writings. This all changed when archaeology revealed there was indeed a small town named Nazareth in Galilee. (Now there’s a reason why I’m dealing with this now and it will make sense a little later.) Nazareth was a very small village, probably just a caution light. As they say, if you blink, you would miss it. It had a population of 150-200. It was located in the hills of Lower Galilee and it was not a stop on any major route. When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, they did not even bother to mess with it. Who lived in this small town? Archaeologists found some inscriptions claiming that it was a settlement for Jewish priests in the third and fourth centuries BC. Hence, Mary was probably from a priestly, Aaronic lineage. And, how about the name Nazareth? It comes from the Hebrew word “Netzer” which means “a shoot.” It’s a reference to Isaiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stem of Jesse…” referring to the Messiah. Maybe, this small group of priests believed that the Messiah would come through them. Maybe, some of them had been connected to the lineage of David. How did other people think of them? Do you remember when Philip invited Nathaniel to come and meet Jesus? John 1 45 …“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” This was Nazareth. But, God in His providence saw Nazareth and He sent His archangel Gabriel to Mary.

Application: This morning – you might be in a Nazareth. You feel small, insignificant, forgotten, and isolated. But not in the eyes of God – He sees you. He knows your every problem. He is aware of your every need. His providential care is upon you. God knows and He cares for you. He hasn’t abandoned you. Trust His providential hand.

2. GOD’S PROMISES

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

Background: These people considered themselves to be the shoot of David. They thought they were the ones through whom the Messiah would come. But when it actually began to happen, fear came upon her.

Isn’t that how it is for us? We want God to use us, bless us but when He actually starts, we get scared. On second thoughts, “God – I don’t want to be used. Use someone else.”

The angel Gabriel starts reminding her of the promises of God – 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Isn’t it wonderful how the promises of God give us the courage to face life?!! Just when you think all hope is gone, the promises of God shine through like the bright sun on a dark cloudy day. For e.g. Adoniram Judson was a missionary to Burma. They hung him upside down for sharing Jesus. As human waste rolling down his back, someone asked – “So how does the future look?” He said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

Application: What promises are you claiming in your life this morning? The scripture is filled with them. Unless you know Jesus as your Savior, these promises are nothing but words on a page. Get to know Him and then claim His promises for your life.

3. GOD’S PRESENCE

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” By the way, there’s a big difference between Mary’s doubt and Zachariah’s doubt. Remember, Zachariah said, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” Mary was just a young girl and Zachariah was a priest before God. It’s one thing for a newborn Christian to say – “I don’t know how God can help me,” but it’s quite another for a church going, Bible toting, mature Christian to doubt God.

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Background: Gabriel promised her that the Holy Spirit Presence would take care of her.

Do you know that as a Christian you are never alone? Jesus said in John 14 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Application: Do you have the Holy Spirit in your life? The only way to have Him is through Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, then pray and ask His help in your life.

4. GOD’S PEOPLE

Mary in Nazareth36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” This is probably the most neglected verse in the Christmas narrative. Why did he do that? Was he just making small talk? No. In this small village of 150-200 people, it wouldn’t take long for people to figure out what’s happening and start talking. Can you imagine what they would do to Mary? Gabriel was telling her to leave and go to the godly couple Zachariah and Elizabeth. What happened when the angel left? 39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah…” This region was to the South of Jerusalem about 80-100 miles from Nazareth. It would have taken Mary about 3-4 days to get here. But she had to go.

Listen to what happens when she gets to Zachariah and Elizabeth’s home –

41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.Nazareth to the Hills of Judea

  • Godly people have the Holy Spirit controlling their lives. They are not led by their emotions, evil motives, and secret agendas.

42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

  • Godly people have a sense of spiritual discernment. This was no chitchat about the weather in Nazareth and how long it took.

43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

  • Godly people are constantly aware of God’s greater plan around them.

44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

  • Godly people are not ashamed to share what God is showing them.

Mary with Elizabeth45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

  • Godly people ignite and fan our faith in the promises of God. By the way, this is the first Beatitude in the Gospel.

Luke 1:56   And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Mary stayed until John was born and then she headed home. She had a difficult road ahead of her but now she was prepared.

Application: Do you have such godly people in your life? I go to church will not cut it. It is knowing Jesus that joins us together. Do you know Him as your Savior?

WHEN IT’S HARD TO WAIT

WHEN IT IS HARD TO WAIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When it is hard to waitWe are in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels called – “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” This weekend I’m preaching a message titled – WHEN IT’S HARD TO WAIT.” Most people quit in the last quarter, the last 25%, of the race, whether in marriage, ministry, education, business, or some other goal in their life. They give up, give in, compromise, take shortcuts, and quit. This morning’s message is not just to teach us to wait but to teach us to wait for God.

Luke 1:5-11  5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

Overall Background: Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke introduces us to the extended family of Jesus. In the passage we just read we meet some relatives of Mary, the mother of Jesus. These were not any ordinary relatives. They were to become the parents of John the baptizer. Now, Luke could have just given us the names of John the baptizer’s parents and focused on the coming of Jesus but, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he chose to give us more information about them. It’s almost as if he went off on a tangent. But I’m sure you will agree – in the geometry of the Holy Spirit, even tangents come together. Luke chose to tell us more about Zacharias and Elizabeth to teach us the value of waiting on God. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. In other words, they were waiting.

Here’s the purpose of this message– Any time God wants to do something supernatural, He makes us wait. That’s just his way. By making us wait He ensures that we will not interfere or claim credit. By making us wait he ensures that only he will get the glory and only His purpose will prevail. In other words, waiting is not a punishment but a preparation for God’s great purpose.

Application: Are you in that holding pattern right now? Have you prayed for something and work hard for something and have questioned why nothing is happening? You’re not in a bad situation. In fact, you are right where you need to be. But here’s a warning – while waiting, some people have the tendency to give up, give in, compromise, take shortcuts, and quit. If you do that, you lose what you’re waiting for. But here’s something very important – there’s one thing you don’t have to wait for. You don’t have to wait for your salvation, your forgiveness of sins, and your eternal life. You can receive Jesus right now and have that this instant.

Let’s see through the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth what to do while you wait for God:

1. BE BLAMELESS 

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias…

Background: There’s so much that is packed in this one line. For starters, in the days of King Herod the priesthood of Israel was in terrible shape. As you know from the Old Testament, priests belonged to the tribe of Levi and had to be descendants of Aaron. Through the centuries, priesthood in Israel had continued a downward spiral. In 174 BC, a man by the name of Jason had bribed Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king, to become the high priest. Three years later, a man by the name of Menelaus, who was not even a Levite, also bribed his way to the position. After that, the Hasmoneans family of priests controlled the position. Then in 37 BC, with the coming of Herod the great, the high priesthood became a political appointment under Rome’s supervision. Gone were the days when holiness and righteousness and integrity where the qualifications for the priesthood. Now it was political savvy and power plays and big pockets. This was the reason why some Jewish people actually built a temple in Leontopolis, Egypt; this was the reason why some Jewish people left to form the Dead Sea community at Qumran; this was the reason why Jesus preached against the Temple and even cleansed it at one time. In short, the people went to the temple but inside they knew it was corrupt.

Now listen further – a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. Abijah was, of course, a descendent of Aaron but he was the chief of one of the 24 orders of the priesthood as set up by David the king. They had earned somewhat of a bad reputation because they did not return immediately after the exile. They were missing for a while.

Let’s summarize: the priesthood was corrupt and his own lineage was a disgrace.

But there’s something more – His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Meaning: Zacharias’s wife, Elizabeth, was also from a priestly line.

But the real point that Luke wants to bring out is in verse 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Background: I think there is a play on words here. The Sadducees controlled the Temple, claiming to be descendants of the high priest Zadok from the time of David and Solomon. His name comes from the Hebrew “sadok” which means righteous. So, the Sadducees are the righteous ones going all the way back to Zadok, the righteous high priest. But if you remember, Jesus had nothing but negative to say about the Sadducees.

Zechariah’s and Elizabeth were the true zadoks – the righteous ones before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

What a testimony! While everyone around them was compromising and corrupted, Zechariah and Elizabeth were walking blameless before God. As God was preparing to send his Son and he looked around to see who was righteous, guess who he found?

The problem with many people who are waiting is that they are not righteous, not blameless. Instead, they have compromised and indulged in some habit, some sin, some corruption, and have become vessels of dishonor.

Application: Let me ask you a question – when the eyes of the Lord come upon you, what does He see? Does He see a young person who is involved in some sin? Does He see an adult indulging in some bad habit? Does He see a couple or a family, behind closed doors, living a life of hypocrisy and disobedience? If so, you are disqualifying yourself from the waiting process.

2. BE FAITHFUL

8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 

Background: Historians tell us that there were as many as 18,000 to 20,000 priests and Levites at the time. As I mentioned earlier, the priest were divided into 24 courses and each course had to serve two weeks per year and the major festivals. Most of the priests lived in other towns and villages and they came up to Jerusalem when it was their time. They had normal jobs and occupations to support themselves along with their priestly responsibilities. It could’ve been very tempting to forget about their Temple responsibilities and focus on their job or business. After all, many of them struggled to make a living.

9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. Because of the large number of priests, they used the custom of casting lots, which occurred twice a day, to decide who will burn the incense for the whole burnt offering. This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Why do I bring this up? Zacharias could have dodged his responsibilities, blamed the corruption, stayed home complaining his back or his knee was hurting, or some other excuse but he was there when it was his time. In other words, he was faithful and God made the lot fall in his favor.

In a parable in Matthew 25:23 Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Application: As you wait, are you faithful? I’m talking to those in full-time ministries and those not in full-time ministries. Are you waiting for God to drop the answer to your prayers in your lap while you are asleep? Are you waiting for God to open the door for you while you’re busy fooling around?

3. BE FAITH FILLED

You know how it happened – the Angel appeared to him; Zacharias was afraid; the Angel promised him that the answer to their prayer had come; Elizabeth would bear a child and they shall call his name John; he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah.

What was Zechariah’s response? Verse 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” Even though Zacharias was a man of integrity and a man of faithfulness, his faith was running low. Even though he was a godly man he was saying to the angel – “Come on let’s be realistic. Bible study, prayer time, good messages, serving the Lord, and all that is wonderful but we got a be realistic.”

Folks – what is realistic? What you know or what God says in his Word?

How did the Angel respond to this? Verse 19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. In other words, Gabriel is ticked. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

As an individual, as a family, as a church, if you want to please God, you have to believe God. The worst way to dishonor God is to doubt God and doubt his Word.

So what is the consequence? 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Application: If there is one point I want to stress more than others, then it’s this one. Do you trust God? Are you trusting him right now in your life? Are we as a church Clearview trusting God for future? When there is no faith element, there is no place for God to step in. Are we trusting God for big things? Someone might say – “It’s hard to trust God at times, especially with money.” One time someone asked R.G. LeTourneau, “If you know a thing is the will of God and you do not feel you have the faith, what do you do?” He said, “I go ahead and act like I have the faith.”

4. BE HUMBLE
Luke 1:23
  So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

Background: What amazes me about the Bible, the Word of God, is not only what it says but also what it leaves unsaid! Imagine what happened when he got home. Elizabeth sees him walking towards the house and she walks out and greets him – “So honey how was Jerusalem? Lot of people at the Temple? How was your journey?” I can visualize Zachariah – “Elizabeth – pull up a chair. You won’t believe this.” Then he goes on to tell her everything. If I could I would love to get a picture of her face at that point. “Does that mean we have to…?” “I think so…the Angel didn’t say anything about a virgin birth.”

You get the point! They had to trust God’s word and now do something about, just like Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Manoah and his wife, they had to do something by faith.

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Why did she hide herself? She understood that this was no ordinary child. He was the Herald, the messenger, the forerunner of the Messiah. She spent those five months preparing herself to be the mother God wanted her to be.

Application: When you wait upon God, he not only gives you the desires of your heart but he gives you so much more. Don’t rush out there and start bragging about it. Spend some time basking in his glory. Spend some time thanking him for his mercy. Spend some time asking him to prepare you to receive his blessing.

What have you been waiting for God to do in your life? Are you still looking to him in faith? Have you ever received God’s gift of Jesus Christ?

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