- Sermon Notes
Believe and Don’t Doubt
1. Milestones. When there is a special event in a child’s life we often call those moments “milestones”.
ILLUS – Teaching Malina how to pray to Father God.
Matthew 6:10, Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
2. That is a great prayer request not just for a child but for any adult as well.
3. But have you ever found yourself praying for God’s will while, at the same time, struggling with doubt?
3. Or, have you ever wondered what’s your part or responsibility when it comes to doing His will?
4. This evening, we’re going to look at an interesting passage from Luke’s Gospel and discover important principles about faith so that we may learn to Believe and Not Doubt God.
1. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are quite similar in content.
2. Since we just completed a verse-by-verse study of Matthew’s Gospel, we will take a different approach to our study of Mark and Luke.
3. First, the two Gospels will be harmonized in chronological order.
4. Then, we will study only those sections not covered in Matthew’s Gospel account.
5. Chronologically speaking, Luke’s starting point is earlier than that of Mark, so we will initially spend more time in Luke’s Gospel.
6. In order to orient us to Luke and his Gospel account, some context is helpful.
7. The Gospel of Luke was written between AD 58-60, likely before Acts; prior to the execution of the Apostle Paul by Nero and the fall of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70.
8. Luke was a Gentile and therefore, the only Gentile author of a book in the New Testament.
9. Luke was a physician, a man of science, who likely trained at a medical school in Rome.
10. Luke was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul.
11. It appears that the two met as Paul traveled through the Gentile cities, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
12. No doubt, Luke heard Paul speak about Jesus and became a born-again believer.
13. According to Acts 16:10, Luke joined Paul during Paul’s second missionary journey as he traveled from Troas to Macedonia.
a. How do we know that Luke joined Paul at that time?
b. Because Luke changed the personal pronoun from “they” to “we” in his account of Paul’s travels.
14. At some point, Luke decided to write an account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ; which is the Gospel we have before us.
15. Luke would then write an account of the early Church and how the Good News about Jesus Christ spread through the Roman Empire; the Book of Acts.
16. Both books were written to a man named Theophilus.
17. No one is certain about the exact identity of Theophilus, but it is interesting to note that his name means “friend of God” or “loved by God” or “one who loves God.”
18. Many believe he was a Roman official because Luke referred to him as “most excellent Theophilus.” (3)
19. What was Luke’s purpose in writing his Gospel account?
a. To strengthen the faith of his struggling fellow Christian, Theophilus, by giving a detailed account of the life and work of Jesus Christ.
b. To also reveal that Jesus is the Savior for Jews and Gentiles alike. (1-4)
Transition – And that’s our focus tonight, that we may Believe and not Doubt our God and His heart for us.
I. God Knows Our Story (5-7)
• God knows our strengths and weaknesses.
• God knows our victories and defeats.
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. Israel was living in troubled times.
a. Herod the Great was their king.
• Herod was a descendant of Esau; therefore, he was not a Jew.
• The Roman Senate selected him because of Mark Antony’s recommendation.
• Herod was known for his great accomplishments (i.e. mammoth buildings and victories in battle).
• He was also known for his small stature; about 5’ in height.
• Why did he build so many awe-inspiring structures? Because Herod wanted to make a great name for himself in history.
• In fact, the words “the Great” were given to Herod by none other than Herod himself.
• But Herod was far from great. He was a wicked, paranoid, cunning tyrant who killed one of his wives and many of his sons to protect his crown.
• He also murdered many rabbis.
b. In addition, Israel’s religious leaders were corrupt, with the high priesthood controlled by a Sadducee named Annas.
3. Now before Moses died, God promised to raise up prophets to lead Israel in His 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.
4. But there was a problem because there had not been a prophet in Israel since Malachi; God had been silent for 400 years.
a. Why the divine “silent treatment”? Because Israel wasn’t listening. God was silent until they were ready to pay attention.
b. What were God’s last words 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
• APPL – When you look at the timeline of history and discover that God had not spoken to Israel in 400 years, you can imagine the discouragement for Israel.
• What do you do when you’re living in dark times and so much seems to be wrong in the world?
• Israel was oppressed by Rome and Herod the Great only added insult to injury.
• No doubt it would have been easy for the Jews to just throw up their hands and say, “Well, we haven’t heard from God for 400 years, so what does it matter anyway? Maybe God has given up on us.”
5. Then we are introduced to a righteous couple from the tribe of Levi; Zacharias and Elizabeth.
a. Zacharias means “Yahweh remembers.”
b. Elizabeth means “My God is an oath.”
APPL – Their names were not a coincidence. Rather, their names were a constant reminder of God’s character.
• God remembers His promises.
• God keeps His promises.
6. Like Noah in his day, Zacharias and Elizabeth stood out to the Lord as He surveyed the landscape of Israel. (6)
a. “Righteous in the sight of God”.
b. “Walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord”.
c. They were not sinless, but they were devoted to the Lord and to keeping 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 – Like David before Goliath, or Elijah before the priests of Baal, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at the fiery furnace.
• It takes faith to not get bitter and cynical.
• It takes faith to walk steadfastly, serve faithfully, and love sincerely; to keep praying to God even when it feels like He is not listening or is not there.
Psalm 37:7-8, Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
B. God knows the cry of our hearts (7)
1. Zacharias and Elizabeth were right in the middle of God’s perfect will.
2. Yet they were both “advanced in years” and childless because Elizabeth was barren.
ILLUS – There are different degrees of “old-ness.”
a. In that day, one was considered cursed by God if childless; a death sentence because a person “lived on” through their children.
b. It was also cause for public criticism and gossip. That’s why Elizabeth, after she realized she was pregnant, kept saying the Lord had looked upon her with favor and had taken away her “disgrace among men”. (25)
APPL – It’s easy to wrongly interpret our circumstances.
• We must not think that God has rejected us when our dreams remain unfulfilled, or our prayers seem unanswered.
ILLUS – Godly people who never married or couples that never had children.
• We must let our faith in God define our stories, not our circumstances or what others say about us.
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 Never Sleeps at the Wheel (8-17)
• Have you ever been impatient with God?
• I’m so grateful that God has been patient with me.
2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow about His promises, 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 had no son. He waited 25 years for Isaac.
2. We saw this when Israel was enslaved in Egypt. They waited 430 years to be set free.
3. Notice God’s timing in the selection of Zacharias.
a. Of the 24 priestly divisions, his was scheduled. A division only served two weeks each year.
b. Of the 750 priests in each division, 18,000 total, Zacharias was chosen by lot to burn incense in the Temple; a once in a lifetime honor.
APPL – God knows how to “keep time”.
• I don’t believe in coincidences. God is on the throne.
• He knows how to bring all things together to reveal His magnificent wisdom, character, and will.
ILLUS – Seeing where my parents met for the first time.
Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
B. At the right time God will reveal His will (10-17)
1. It was 3PM and all eyes were on Zacharias.
a. He had memorized his priestly duties.
b. For the first and last time in his life, he walked into the dimly light Temple, alone… or so he thought.
c. As he approached the altar of incense, the angel Gabriel appeared, standing next to the altar, where Zacharias needed to minister at.
2. Listen to the Gabriel’s proclamation; God’s first words after 400 years of silence. (13-17)
a. “Do not fear” …
b. “for your petition has been heard” …
• Which one? A son? A past prayer. (18)
c. Your son will have a special calling.
• A God-given name, John, which means “Yahweh is gracious”. (13)
• He will be a source of private and public joy, gladness, and rejoicing. (14)
• He will be a man of great position and excellent character. (15)
o Great in God’s eyes
o No wine (Nazarite), but filled with the Spirit from birth (devotion and power).
• His life mission – a prophet. (16-17)
o To turn back many to Lord.
o In the spirit of Elijah as recorded in Malachi 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord.
Transition – What was Zacharias’s response to Gabriel’s wonderful revelation? Faith? Look at verse 18, Zacharias said to Gabriel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”
III. Trust in the Lord with All of Your Heart (18-25)
A. Don’t be a sign of unbelief (18-22)
1. Zacharias looked at himself and his wife and said to the angel Gabriel, “Prove it.”
2. So, Gabriel gave Zacharias a “sign”.
a. Zacharias was “the sign”. He made Zacharias mute because he did not believe Gabriel’s words.
b. It also appears that Gabriel made Zacharias deaf because according to Luke 1:62, the people had to make signs to communicate with him.
c. So, Gabriel’s words were the last words Zacharias heard for over nine months.
APPL – Unbelief will make us silent, deaf, and even blind to God’s promises?
• Yet, the reverse is also true. Faith releases us to see, hear, and speak of the great things God has done.
• Look at the witness of the early disciples when they were persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
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 phone at Husky Stadium
B. Be a faithful witness
1. Zacharias was supposed to pronounce the blessing when he left the Temple but was unable to do so. What blessing was he supposed to pronounce?
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 also had a message of God’s blessing to share; but he had to wait nine months to share it. Messiah was coming, and his son was going before Him.
APPL – Guard your heart and be a faithful witness.
Proverbs 4:23, Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
ILLUS – The African Impala
APPL – The Lord wants tonight to be a milestone in your life.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
• Believe and Don’t Doubt.
Luke 1:1-25 NASB
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things [a]accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named [g]Zacharias, of the division of [h]Abijah; and he had a wife [i]from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in [j]years.
8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear [k]gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will [l]give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit [m]while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in [n]years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who [o]stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept [p]making signs to them, and remained mute. 23 When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she [q]kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”