Can You Handle the Truth About Jesus?

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CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Can You Handle the Truth About JesusWe’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and today our message is titled, “CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS?” When Jesus began His ministry, the first place He went to was His hometown. After all, He knew the place, the people, and the culture. What better place to begin than with your own?

Luke 4 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”…21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”…28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.

Overall Background: The passage we just read was very disturbing for me. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a sight where a mob of people has gone after one person. I have seen it many times and it is very ugly. I remember this one time I was coming home from a friend’s house and I saw this angry crowd of people. From what I could gather, they had caught a thief and they were letting him have it. Everyone who could was trying to slap, punch, or kick this guy. His clothes were torn and covered in dust. One of his eyes was swollen and his mouth was bleeding. I’m sure he was guilty but it was a horrible sight.

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Now imagine that person is Jesus. Listen again to verses 28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things…” It was fine that Jesus, the local boy had come home. They had heard that He was doing some wonderful things. He was at the synagogue on the Sabbath. They even let Him stand and read a passage from the Bible. All that was fine until Jesus claimed that He was the Messiah. At that point the whole mood changed. 28 (They) were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Why were they so angry? Because Jesus had disturbed their perception of Himself. They were all right with Jesus the local boy coming home but they could not accept Jesus the Son of God who had come to save them.

Application: Many of us are comfortable with our personal idea of Jesus. Jesus the little baby in the manger – I can deal with that. Jesus blessing the little children picture hanging on the wall of the Sunday School room – that’s alright. Jesus helping the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and preaching to the multitude – that’s alright too. But Jesus, God’s Son, who came to save you – a hell bound sinner, condemned to die – I don’t know about that. Jesus – once He is my Savior, I have to make Him my king and I have to obey His every Word – that’s taking it way too far! We’re no different than that mob in Nazareth that wanted to push Jesus off a cliff. We also try to kill the truth about Jesus when it doesn’t suit us, when it’s too costly, when we have to give up something.

The problem is – we want a Jesus we can manage, not a Jesus who manages us. As we walk through this message, ask yourself “Can you handle the truth about Jesus?” – Would you have pushed Jesus off the cliff? 5 reactions we will see in this passage:

 I. INDIFFERENCE

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.

Background: According to Luke, the first place Jesus went to when He began His ministry was his own hometown. Now let me clarify something – If you read Matthew and Mark, they bring up this episode somewhat later – Matthew 13 and Mark 6. Scholars have argued over who is correct and who is not and sometimes those on the outside have used that against us – “Oh, your Bible has obvious mistakes.” As I mentioned to you last week, when you study the life of Jesus systematically, the hardest thing to keep straight is the chronology – calendar of His life – when did He start His ministry, what did He do first, how long was He there, where did He go next, and so on. It’s easy when you are looking at just one gospel but when you put all four (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) side by side it quickly becomes complicated. Keep in mind that Luke is like a newspaper editor. He puts the headline right on the front page. This does not mean that it was the first incident of the week but it’s the highlight or the main topic of what’s coming up.

I used to ask God – “Why didn’t you make things more plain in Your Word?” “Why did You allow these questionable, debatable, grey areas?” “Why not just give a calendar of Jesus’ life?” God showed me a verse in Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” Let me illustrate – think about our Easter Egg Hunt – Why don’t we just give the eggs with candy to the kids? Why do we parents and adults hide them? Because its fun to watch them look for them! So also God wants us to dig into His Word. It brings Him great joy to see His children search after and discover the truths in His Word. That’s called Bible Study. It is very unique! No other religion has it. You’ll never hear of a Quran Study or Gita Study or Lotus Sutra Study. They may have readings but nothing like our Bible studies.

Either way, it was somewhere in the early part of his ministry that Jesus decided to go to his own hometown of Nazareth. But did you notice – nothing is said about their reaction to His coming. They neither restrict Him from coming nor did they send out a welcome wagon. In other words, they didn’t care. That’s how many people are – they are indifferent to Jesus. It doesn’t really matter. Jesus is not the most pressing issue on their minds. They have career, relationships, sports, hobbies, and entertainment on their minds. They don’t lose any sleep over Jesus.

Application: May I ask you? Are you indifferent to Jesus? Is He a priority to you? Sadly, the more familiar you are to Him, the less you think of Him. People like that care a lot about church, denominations, and values, just not Jesus. Here’s a test – how much do you read His Word? How much do you talk to Him? How much do you obey His voice?

II. CURIOUSITY 

16 …And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day,

Ancient Village of Nazareth

Ancient Village of Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his εἰωθὸς = habit. For us Christians – he went to church on Sunday. I often hear “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” May I ask you – “If Jesus gathered regularly with God’s people, are you better than Him?” Just like baptism He laid out a pattern for us to follow.

Listen to what happens next“…and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Those verses are from Isaiah 61 and 58. Isaiah 61 was the message of God’s deliverance to the exiles. They were about the year of Jubilee when debts were cancelled and slaves were set free. Isaiah 58 was God’s rebuke against those who were being cruel towards those in need. Again, in the year of Jubilee if people did not set the captives free, God would not accept their fast and sacrifices. Hint! Hint! The Messiah had come to set the cancel the debts, set the captives free, and where Israel failed, He would do right.

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. They still did not run up and hug Him or worship Him. They were intrigued and fascinated by Him. They were just checking Him out.

Application: There are a lot of people out there who are just intrigued by Jesus. They are just curious about Him. Let me ask you a question: Are you just fascinated with Jesus? That’s wonderful but that still does not mean that He is your Savior?

III. CONDESCENSION 

21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.

Grotto of St. Joseph, Nazareth

Grotto of St. Joseph, Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Now Jesus went a step further and claimed Isaiah 61 and 58 for Himself. This was the moment of truth. Their initial reaction was one of amazement but when those words sank in, they realized what He was really saying. They were the POOR, BROKENHEARTED, CAPTIVES, BLIND, and OPPRESSED in sin. Now listen to their response: “And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” There is a tone of derision and disdain in that statement. Isn’t He that illegitimate boy whom Joseph adopted? They were being condescending to Him. They were talking down to Him. They were insulting Him to His face. WOW!

When the Holy Spirit begins to convict our hearts, it can go one of two ways – either receive the words with humility or reject the words with some excuse.

Application: How do you receive the truth about Jesus? Are you humble? Are you willing? Are you arrogant? Are you looking for some excuse? Do you look down on the presenter? Does this church offend you? Does this pastor offend you?

IV. ANGER

Luke 4 23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.

Background: Seeing the hardness of their heart, Jesus lays out their future. It will only become worse. One day some of them will stand at the foot of the cross and mock Jesus.

Every time you reject the Holy Spirit, your heart is hardened and your destiny is sealed.

But Jesus goes on tells them something else25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

Meaning: You look down on the Gentiles. Guess what – they will come to know the truth but you won’t. Show me a person who looks down on someone because of their skin color or background, it’s just an evidence of a deeper problem.

28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.

Application: How do you respond to the truth? Do you receive it with humility? Do you receive it with joy? What emotions rise up when you hear about Jesus?

V. REJECTION

30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

One of the saddest verses in the Bible.

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others Thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

Refrain

Savior, Savior,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others Thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy

Find a sweet relief,

Kneeling there in deep contrition;

Help my unbelief.

Refrain

Trusting only in Thy merit,

Would I seek Thy face;

Heal my wounded, broken spirit,

Save me by Thy grace.

Refrain

Thou the Spring of all my comfort,

More than life to me,

Whom have I on earth beside Thee?

Whom in Heav’n but Thee?

 

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Sacrifice The Missing Link

This morning we are in the gospel of Matthew chapter 1 for our series on the life of Christ from all four Gospels. Today’s message is titled “SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK.” If there is one thing lacking in our culture today, it is sacrifice. We do what is expected of us and maybe a tad bit more but that’s it. Sadly, this is also true of many Christians. In today’s message we will see from the life of Joseph what true sacrifice looks like.

Matt. 1   18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Overall Background: The passage we just read has been rejected and ridiculed by some people. They ask – “How can a virgin give birth? It is physically impossible. Miracles don’t happen.” Richard Dawkins, a self-proclaimed atheist, said, “The Virgin birth, the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children.” In other words, miracles like the virgin birth are for the naïve and uninformed. A German NT scholar Gerd Lüdemann, who does not believe in miracles, put it in a witty and terse statement: “The tomb was full and the manger empty.”

How do you convince people like them that miracles are possible? The place to begin is by asking, “Do you believe in God?” If you can believe that there is a God who created nature, then you can also believe that nature is subjected to Him. Miracles are simply nature being subjected to its Creator. He can do whatever He wants to. Not only did God perform the miracle of the virgin birth but He is still in the miracle working business. Do you believe that? He is still healing the sick, answering prayers, making the impossible possible, and the greatest miracle of all – changing a sinner’s heart.

According to the Pew Research in 2013, 73% of Americans believe in the Virgin Birth.

But there is another issue in this passage that often gets overlooked – it is sacrifice. In this passage we come across Joseph – an unsuspecting spectator who became part of the greatest drama in history. Like Mary, he too had to sacrifice his reputation, comfort, and goals in life for the coming of Jesus. Sadly, we’re living in a time when people cut corners, do the minimum, play it safe, and bailout early. More sadly, it is even among Christians.

Application: Would you describe yourself as a selfish or as a sacrificial person? Even better, would others describe you? How will people describe you when you’re gone? “He always got his way.” “She always got what she wanted.” If someone compels you to go a mile, do you go two? If someone tried to take away your tunic, do you also let them have your cloak? Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ? Are you willing to lay down your life so that someone else may find Jesus Christ? By the way, have you truly understood the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross? Until you do, your standards of sacrifice will be too low.

This morning as we look at the example of Joseph, let the Holy Spirit challenge you to sacrifice your life for others. If you do not know Jesus Christ, receive His sacrifice for your sins today.

1. HE SHOWED MERCY WHEN HE DIDN’T HAVE TO.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Background: Mary was pregnant and Joseph her fiancé was not the father. This was not good. The penalty for adultery according to the Old Testament was death by stoning but the Romans had abolished all Jewish capital punishments. The worst they could do was divorce, public humiliation, and shunning. Mary would probably never marry again. She could live in the community but as a pariah. Also keep in mind that she was Nazareth, a tiny community of 150-200 people at the time, mostly of priestly lineage, the holier than thou. Do you remember Nathaniel’s remark to Philip – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Even Jesus felt their hate when He came to teach in their synagogue. In Matthew 13 they said, 55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son? (They did not even deem it worthy to use Joseph’s name.) Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark 6:6 even adds, “And He (Jesus) marveled because of their unbelief.” Even God was shocked at their hateful and unbelieving spirit.

So you can only imagine what Mary was up against in Nazareth. They would have looked down on her, shunned her, called her names, and Joseph - a just mandone every evil behavior imaginable to her. Joseph could give her a public divorce and cleared his name but he decided to put her away quietly. I can imagine his family and his friends telling him, “Joseph, she isn’t worth it. Why are you staking your reputation over her? People will think – you did it. Make it public. Let her suffer. Let her be an example.”

Application: If you were Joseph, what would you have done? Would you have listened to the crowd? Would you have publicly humiliated Mary? Or, would you have compassion on her? It is natural to look down on others and judge them. The first step to a life of sacrifice is to do what doesn’t come naturally. That’s what God did for us.

2. HE BELIEVED WHEN IT WAS HARD TO.

20 “But while he thought about these things…” What is Joseph thinking? I know I can leave this girl and move on with my life. No one is going to blame me but what will this do to her? How does God want me to handle this? Will He be pleased by my decision?

Application: Do you think about what God wants you to do? Do you think about the decisions you make? Do you think about how your decisions impact the lives of others?

NativityAs he was thinking – 20 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Now, let me clarify – by Virgin birth, we’re not talking about the Immaculate Conception or the Perpetual Virginity or the Assumption:

  • Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb as a sinless being. This idea was an invention of the medieval church and even the Catholic Church did not recognize it until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it. It is not a biblical doctrine.
  • Perpetual Virginity or “aieparthenos” teaches that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life. This idea has been held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since the seventh century. It is not a biblical doctrine either.
  • Assumption of Mary teaches that Mary was taken up into heaven before she died. It is also not a biblical doctrine. Neither is the Dormition of Mary that teaches that Mary died and after three days she rose again.

By Virgin birth, we are referring to the virginal conception. It simply means that Mary became pregnant with the baby Jesus without any relationship with any man. It was a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? To prove that He was sinless, to prove that He was both fully God and fully man, to prove that He came through the Holy Spirit, to be a sign as prophesied by Isaiah. Someone asked me – “Do you have to understand the virgin birth to be saved?” No – the thief didn’t know it. But if someone were to explain it to you as a Christian, you better believe it.

What was Joseph’s reaction? 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, Joseph could have dismissed the dream and gone about his life but he submitted himself to God’s plan. Many times we cannot understand God’s plan. We want to take the easy way out but there’s so much peace in trusting God’s plan. It is a sacrifice that is worth it.

Illustration: Dad refusing to go to the big church in order to take the small church in an obscure part of the country. Why? Because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Application: How would you have responded to that vision? Would have taken God at His Word? Would you have taken the narrow road? There’s so much joy in saying – “not my will but Your’s be done.” The buck stops with the Word of God.

3. HE STAYED WHEN HE COULD HAVE BAILED OUT.

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Background: We read that verse so quickly without thinking of it. The angel had commanded Joseph in verse 21 And she will bring forth aJoseph naming baby Son, and you (Joseph) shall call His name JESUS (Yahweh is salvation)…” Joseph could have hung out until Mary had the baby and then slipped out. It’s too much. It’s not what I signed up for. He had to stick around and give this baby who was not His own, the birthright of being the first-born.

People like to say – “I’m just not going to promise anything. That way, if I don’t show up, you can’t blame me for it.”

Application: Do you sacrifice for your family, church family, lost, and others?

We can never sacrifice too much. Jesus did that!

Do you know Him? Have you received His sacrifice for your sins?

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?

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