Believe and Not Doubt
ILLUS – Teaching Malina how to pray
Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
1. Great prayer… wonderful request! So why do we sometimes struggle with knowing God’s will and trusting that He is carrying out His will?
2. Coupled with this is another important question, what’s our part in following God and doing His will?
3. During our time together, we’re going to look at an interesting passage in Luke and discover some important principles about faith so that we may learn to Believe and not Doubt.
Read Luke 1:5-25
I. God Knows Our Story (5-7)
A. God knows what’s written on every page (5-6)
1. Even when it appears that God is not there; He is watching; mindful of our ways.
2. The nation of Israel was living in troubled times
a. Herod the Great was their king
• Descendant of Esau. Chosen by the Roman senate by the counsel of Mark Antony
• Great in accomplishments (buildings and battle) but small in stature
• He was a wicked, cunning tyrant who killed one of his wives and many of his sons to protect his crown.
Common saying, “It was safer being a pig than Herod’s son.”
b. Their religious leaders were corrupt with the high priesthood being led by a Sadducee name Annas.
c. Before Moses died, God promised to raise prophets to lead Israel in God’s ways.
Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”
d. Problem: No prophet in Israel since Malachi! God had been silent for 400 years! Here is Malachi’s last prophecy to Israel…
Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,”
3. In this context, God took note of His two servants from the tribe of Levi; Zacharias (“Yahweh remembers”) and Elizabeth (“My God is an oath”)
4. Like Noah in his day, Zacharias and Elizabeth stood out to the Lord as He surveyed the landscape of Israel
a. “Righteous in the sight of God”
b. “Walking blamelessly in all the commandments…”
c. They were not sinless, but they were a couple devoted to the Lord and His ways
APPL – It takes faith to live a godly life in a godless world! It takes a deep conviction to stand against the tide of this fallen world and for the things of God!
ILLUS – David before Goliath, Daniel after the King’s edict, those martyred by Isis or at Umpqua Community College without denying their faith in Jesus
B. God knows the cry of our hearts (7)
1. Zacharias and Elizabeth were right in the middle of God’s best and perfect will.
2. Yet they had no child!
a. Considered cursed by God; a death sentence.
b. A cause for public criticism and gossip!
ILLUS – Godly people who never get married or couples that can’t have children
• We must not conclude God is condoning our sinful rebellion when things go well!
ILLUS – A person telling me that “God approves” of her living with her boyfriend because they were so financially blessed!
2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
II. God is not Asleep at the Wheel (8-17)
APPL – Why do we become impatient with God? The Lord has been very patient with us!
2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
A. God has set a time for everything (8-9)
1. We saw this when Abraham waited 25 years for a son or when Israel was enslaved 430 years in Egypt!
2. Notice the hand of God in the selection of Zacharias
a. Of the 24 divisions, Zacharias’s division was scheduled. A division served 2 weeks each year.
b. Of the 750 priest in each division (18,000 total), Zacharias was chosen by lot to burn incense in the Temple (once in a lifetime honor)
APPL – God knows how to keep time! I don’t believe in coincidences! God is on the throne and is bringing all things together to reveal His magnificent wisdom, character, and will!
ILLUS – Walking down memory lane with my parents in California?
Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
B. God will reveal His plan at the right time (10-17)
1. It was 3 pm and all eyes were on Zachariasa.
a. He had memorized his duties.
b. For the first time in his life, he walked into the dimly lit Temple, alone! Or so he thought!
c. As he approached the altar of incense, an angel appeared next to the place he had to minister at!
2. Look at the proclamation of the angel (13-17)
a. “Do not fear” – God’s first words after 400 years of silence!
b. God has heard your petition – which one?
1. A son? A prayer from the past (v. 18)
2. The coming of Messiah! (Both answered!)
c. The child’s description
1. God given name (13) John – “Yahweh is gracious” (Time of favor)
2. Private and public response (14) – joy, gladness, rejoicing
3. Position and character (15)
• Great in God’s eyes
• No wine, but filled with the Spirit (devotion and urgency)
4. Mission – a prophet (16-17)
• Turn back many to Lord
• In the spirit of Elijah as recorded in Malachi 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord!
John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Transition – What was Zacharias’s response to this marvelous word? See verse 18…
III. God is Worthy of Our Trust
A. Don’t be a sign of unbelief
1. Zacharias looked at himself and his wife and said to the angel Gabriel, “Prove it”!
2. So Gabriel gave Zacharias a sign
a. Dumb – from his heart Zacharias did not believe
Matthew 12:43, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
b. Deaf (1:62 – “they made signs”) – Gabriel’s words were the last he heard for over nine months!
APPL – Could it be that unbelief has made us silent, deaf, and blind? Look at the witness of the early disciples…
Acts 4:19-20, “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.’”
APPL – Unbelief, sin, the worries of this world can silence us. They can blind us. They can deafen us!
ILLUS – Heidi losing her cell phone at Husky Stadium
B. Be a faithful witness
1. Zacharias was supposed to pronounce the blessing of Numbers 6 when he departed but was unable to do so
Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”
2. He had a message of God’s blessing; God’s grace; God’s peace but he had to wait 9 months to share it!
ILLUS – The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet.
God is worthy of our trust… He wants to strengthen our faith…