- Sermon Notes
Believe and Don’t Doubt
December 18, 2022
- Milestones. When there is a special event in a child’s life, often those moments are called “milestones.”
ILLUS – Praying with Malina to receive Jesus as her Savior.
Matthew 6:10, Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
- That is a great prayer request not just for a child but for an adult as well.
- But have you ever found yourself praying for God’s will while, at the same time, struggling with doubt about God’s will?
- Or have you ever wondered what’s your part when it comes to doing God’s will?
- This evening, we’re going to look at a fascinating passage from Luke’s Gospel and discover important answers to these deep questions so that we will Believe and Not Doubt God.
- The Gospel of Luke was written between AD 58-60, likely before Acts; prior to the fall of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70.
- Luke was a Gentile and therefore, the only Gentile author of a book in the New Testament.
- Luke was a physician, a man of science, who likely trained at a medical school in Rome.
- Luke was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul.
- It appears that the two met as Paul traveled through the Gentile cities, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- No doubt, Luke heard Paul speak about Jesus and became a born-again believer.
- According to Acts 16:10, Luke joined Paul during Paul’s second missionary journey as he traveled from Troas to Macedonia.
- How do we know that Luke joined Paul at that time?
- Because Luke changed the personal pronoun from “they” to “we” in his account of Paul’s travels.
- 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.
- 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
- Both books were written to a man named Theophilus.
- 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.”
- Many believe he was a Roman official because Luke referred to him as “most excellent Theophilus.” (3)
- 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 Your Story (5-7)
- God knows our strengths and weaknesses.
- God knows our wins and losses.
A. God knows what’s written on every page (5-6)
- Even when it appears that God is not there; He is watching; mindful of our ways.
- 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’ tall.|
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. It was said of Herod, “It was safer being a pig than Herod’s son.”
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.
- But there was a problem, 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 listen.
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 Israel’s discouragement.
- 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.”
- 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 and concern for His people.
- God remembers His promises.
- God keeps His promises.
- Like Noah in his day, Zacharias and Elizabeth stood out to the Lord as He surveyed Israel’s population. (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 a 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 King Nebuchadnezzar’s 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)
- Zacharias and Elizabeth were right in the middle of God’s perfect will.
- Yet they were both “advanced in years” and childless because Elizabeth was barren.
a. In that day, one was considered cursed by God if childless; a death sentence because it was widely held that 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 misinterpret 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?
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.
- I’m so grateful that God has been patient with me.
A. God has set a time for everything (8-9)
- We saw this when Abraham had no son. He waited 25 years for Isaac.
- We saw this when Israel was enslaved in Egypt. They waited 430 years to be set free.
- Notice God’s timing in the selection of Zacharias.A
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 reveals His will (10-17)
- 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.A
c. As he approached the altar of incense, the angel Gabriel appeared, standing next to the altar, where Zacharias needed to minister at.
- Listen to the Gabriel’s proclamation; God’s first words after 400 years of silence (13-17).A
a. “Do not fear. . .”
b. “for your petition has been heard. . .”
- Which one? A son? (18)
- Both were answered.
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 personal and public joy, gladness, and rejoicing. (14)
- He will be a man of great position and excellent character. (15)
- Great in God’s eyes.
- No wine (Nazarite), but filled with the Spirit from birth (i.e., devotion, power).
- His life mission – a prophet. (16-17)
- To 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.
Transition – What was Zacharias’s response to Gabriel’s wonderful revelation? 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)
- Zacharias looked at himself, then his wife, and said to the angel Gabriel, “Prove it.”
- So, Gabriel gave Zacharias a “sign.”A
a. Zacharias was “the sign.” He made Zacharias mute because he did not believe Gabriel’s words.A
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 makes us silent, deaf, and even blind to God’s promises?
- Yet, the reverse is true.
- Faith liberates 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, and the worries of this world can silence us, blind us, and deafen us.
B. Be a faithful witness
- 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.
- He also had a message of God’s blessing to share; but he had to wait nine months to share it. Messiah is coming, and his son will go before Him.
APPL – Guard your heart against doubt. Believe God 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 can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance over 30 feet. But if a wall three feet high is set before the Impala, it will not jump. Why?
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. Let’s pray. . .
Luke 1:5-25 NASB