Anticipation: Love

Series: ANTICIPATION

Summary

Hey, so glad you're in the room. Thanks for joining us online. We've got to do something this morning that is going to involve a little bit of a hiccup in our Live broadcast. We need to pray about something.

We need to pray for one of our ministry partners. So I didn't say that part in the first service. And we had people calling from online being like, "What's going on?" Here's the problem; the issue that we're praying about specifically is sensitive enough that we can't have any evidence of it online.

So what we're going to do is, if you're watching online, you're going to get a graphic that's going to come up and then the audio's going to go away. Nothing is wrong. I just want you to know what's happening so that you're aware of that. And then when we're done, we'll bring you back in with us.

And I'm sorry to do that to you, but this is important and incredibly sensitive, and so we want to respect that. So we're going to go ahead and put that graphic up and kill the audio for our Live stream, and then we'll talk a little bit more in the room.

Okay. And that is how a bill becomes a law. No, I'm just joking. Again, I apologize to do that. Yeah. We want to make sure that we honor what needs to be honored in this process. We are going to jump into this sermon on love. And I've been thinking about...

Love is a funny thing in our culture. I think it's an overused word. And we say goofy things. People say goofy things. People say goofy things. In general, people say goofy things. They try to inspire you with stuff, or they're trying to explain, "It was the last one that I tried." Because it would be dumb if it was... "This one worked and then I tried three other ones that didn't work." That statement doesn't make any sense. People say goofy things.

Here's another one, this is one that people try to use to inspire you, "It doesn't matter if you fall down 100 times if you get back up 101." That's legitimately impossible. You don't have to get up 100... You just have to get up the same number of times you fell down.

So if you fall down 100 times, you only have to get up 100 times. You can't get up 101 times. I just think it's goofy what people say. And then I'm like, "Oh, yeah. I'm going to keep going now because your math sucks." Because the world needs better mathematicians. It's just goofy.

And when we come to this whole topic of love, people say goofy things. They say goofy things. I remember, I think it was late high school or early college for me, there was a group called The Tony Rich Project that came out with a song. And the last verse of the song, it goes like this, (singing).

And every woman that heard that was like, "Aww, that's so romantic." Nope. That's stalking. The line between romantic and crime is so fuzzy sometimes.

We say goofy things like, "I love ice cream." If that's true, you genuinely love ice cream, gluttony, it's a sin. You're free to like ice cream. By the way, do you know what gluttony is? People say that gluttony is, well, that's when you eat past being full. That's not gluttony.

Gluttony is when anytime, you could be starving, but it's anytime that you put food in your mouth simply for the taste of it. Now, that doesn't mean that your food can't taste good. What that means is if there's no nutritionally redeeming value to your food and you put it in your mouth, that's gluttony.

I give you ice cream. I love ice cream. Right? I love it. I love the scenery. I love the sea. I love the mountain. I love the trees, the water. I love whatever. I love the ocean. I love Disneyland. Love it.

Love is a funny thing. And it gets hard to wrap our mind around what it is. Advent season, the word advent is from the Latin word adventus, which means a coming or an arrival. But it's an arrival of something that is deeply longed for, something that I have longed to happen for a long time. And finally, the arrival happens.

And this is something that's worth celebrating. Right? And that raises a question for me when we're talking about love. What do you long for? Love's a little bit hard to delineate because you're like, "Is it an emotion or is it a decision?"

And I would say, yes, it's both of those things. Right? There is some emotional reality tied up in love. I feel drawn to something, it becomes the object of my affection. I am emotionally attached to it. But there are days that love is a decision, it's a choice, and I choose to long for the right things, even though I don't feel like it. Love is both of those things. It's not an either/or.

And where we land on that thinker/feeler spectrum, do I have a tendency to be more of a thinker and analytic? Or do I have a tendency to be more emotive, more of an emotional processor? Neither one of them is wrong, but where I bend on that spectrum allows me to lean one side or the other on what I think love is.

But love, it's what I long for. So do you long for ice cream? You might be like, "Yeah." Well, maybe we've made an idol of something, those things that we long for. We want to make sure that where we give our longing to is the right things.

I can tell you, sometimes people love what they feel like and sometimes they love... I don't know if you know this. I've been on a bit of a fitness journey over the last couple of years. I saw a Facebook memory that came through from two years ago.

We used to do those highlight videos from the previous week's sermon and they would post them on Facebook on the Southeast page, and I saw myself. I don't know why you guys didn't say something. I don't know what's rude or... But I remember, two years ago was when I was looking at myself in the mirror going, "Okay, something's got to change."

And so I started on this journey that's evolved and built on itself over time and that's great. But here's the thing, not one of those days out of the however many days two years is, not one of those days have I longed to work out. Not one of them.

But what I have longed for is the results of working out, and so I choose to do the right thing, knowing that it's... And sometimes love looks like that. Right? Sometimes love looks like a decision to... Because I long for the results of what love is. That's the way love works.

And so when we're talking about the Advent season, love is about the longing for the arrival of the Messiah. And we've been talking about this over the last few weeks. Yes, they're longing for... Because things are so bad, they're so hard for them.

And I've had multiple people throughout this series, and not in a critical way, but they're like, "Man, this series is really heavy. It feels like you're kind of sucking the joy out of Christmas." That's the way the Advent is supposed to work. The Advent is supposed to mirror the seasons. The days are shorter. Things are darker. Things are dying. It's colder. It's supposed to bring us low as we get into the new year.

And then we begin to come out of that low through Lent, and we have this culminating explosion at Easter with the empty tomb. That's how it's supposed to work. It's so funny. This is happy holidays, right? I've had a dozen conversations this morning with people that are like, "I'm so sick of Christmas." Right? "I'm just so sick of it. I just want it to be over. Happy holidays." Right? "It's the joy of the season." Nope. Nope.

Some people have the wonder of Christmas, and that's wonderful for you. But I think regardless... When we try to manufacture a pseudo joy, it winds up really becoming counterproductive, it becomes counterproductive to us, and that's hard. But it's supposed to bring us to this place of longing, this place of, "What do we long for?"

Do we really long for the arrival of Jesus more and more and more in our life? And then we have Christmas Eve where he shows up, and we light candles and we let the light spread as a reminder to go out and share the light.

So what I want to do with this sermon is I want to work through a long passage, a scripture. Luke Chapter 1. We're going to start in verse 5 and we're going to work all the way through verse 56. So we have 51 verses to read today. It's a chunk of scripture.

But I want to pay attention to what are the characters in this section of the story? What do they long for? And in light of everything else that they could be longing for, what do they long for? Okay. So I want to pay attention to this passage from that perspective.

Here's what it says, "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord."

Now, before we read on, I want to make sure that you understand and remind us how important it is when characters are introduced, how they're introduced. It really matters. So you need to pay attention to that because something is going on here that we need to recognize. Right?

The other thing that we need to know about this story in particular is why is this story even in here? These people don't seem like they're major players in the gospel. It's John the Baptist's mom and dad. So you can go, "Well, that's important." But I think there's another layer that's going on here, at least one, probably lots more layers going on here that's important.

Zechariah is a priest and Elizabeth is a Levite. She's from the daughters of Aaron, that means she's from the tribe of Levi. "They are righteous, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord." So we need to know that about them. Why? Because of the next sentence. "But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years."

Now, fundamental Hebrew theology in the first century is that God is good to those who are good, and he is bad to those who are bad. So how do I know if I'm being good or bad? Well, how my life's going. How are my circumstances? Right?

And we've been talking about how the truth of our life, finding peace and joy and hope, that has to stand outside of our circumstances. But for them, God is good to those who are good and he's bad to those who are bad, to which we go, "Well, that's terrible theology."

Yeah. But when life goes bad for you, what's the first thing you do? "God, why are you picking on me? What'd I do wrong? Are you mad at me?" We do it too. They were just honest enough about it to make it a whole theology.

Now, the rabbis taught that sometimes things could be going bad for you but not because God is mad at you, rather it was because God was trying to refine you. He was trying to help deepen your grit and your fortitude. He was helping you grow internally. And so God is doing that because Hebrews says, right, God disciplines those that he loves. And so it's that kind of a concept.

So sometimes things can be going bad, but it's not because God's actually mad at you. Now, there's two ways that you can know for sure that if this is happening in your life, God's mad, God's upset at you. Leprosy is one, barrenness is the other one. If you can't have children, it's because God's disappointed with you in some way.

So feel the tension in the life of Zechariah and Elizabeth. We're introduced to them as righteous, walking blamelessly in the commandments and statutes of the Lord. This is how we're introduced to them, but they don't have any kids and they're past childbearing years.

Now, I don't know what that age is specifically, but they got one foot dangling over the edge of eternity and the other one on a banana peel, right? They're towards the twilight of their lives. And they haven't had any kids.

This is something that culturally would have been so significant to have to figure out how to wrestle through it. Like, "Lord, I'm doing all the right things. What's the problem?" And God is silent. Now, here's the thing, God is saving them for something that is amazing. They get a privilege that not another human gets.

They get to be the parents to a child born with the Holy Spirit. They're the only ones that get... So God is saving them for this really special task, but they got to go through a lot of pain and sorrow and suffering to get there. What are they longing for? She's barren. Only God can show up and fix this. Only God can. They're longing for that.

Now, while he was serving as a priest before God, when his division was on duty, what we know about that is that his division was on duty in the last week of May. It's when the division of Abijah served at the temple. That's significant because based on that, we can begin to date the birth of Jesus, which I hate to burst your bubble, it was not December 25th.

I know. We've wrecked Christmas. Doesn't mean you can't celebrate it on December 25th. We can celebrate it any day we want to because Jesus never asked us to remember his birth. He did ask us to remember his death. He didn't ask us to remember his birth.

By the way, most likely it was mid-September when Jesus was born, which is beautiful because it's right during the Feast of Tabernacles where God's presence comes in a temporary dwelling. And John 1 picks up on this, that the light became man and dwelt, he tabernacled amongst us. It was a beautiful little hint of what was going on there.

So why do we have December 25th? Well, because Constantine's father claimed to be Mithra incarnate. And December 25th was the supposed birthday of the God Mithra. And so they had this holiday where they celebrated the birth of Mithra on December 25th. The church took that holiday and tried to redeem it. They made it the day that we remember the birth of Jesus, and they called it the Christ's Mass.

That's why we have December 25th, because it was the church's attempt to redeem holidays. Is that wrong? Of course not. It's just, over time, traditions have a tendency to be "thus saith the Lords" and they're not. And that's really significant.

We can celebrate the birth of Jesus every day. So what we're going to do is you're going to be giving me presents all the time. Just messing with you. We have some freedom in that. There's nothing wrong with December 25th. But what that does do is it gives us some freedom in how we celebrate it and what we do. It doesn't need to be so rigid and narrow.

Okay. "Now, while he was serving as a priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by Lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him and fear fell upon him."

By the way, when people encounter angels in the Bible, there's this consistent theme. They don't look like the Precious Moments dolls. Right? They don't look like the blonde hair and big blue eyes and the wings and the white robe.

They look like seven heads and eyes all over their body and four tails and wings, plus there's just this presence with an angel, this presence of holiness like, "I've been in the throne room of God."

Remember, when Moses has been in the presence of God, he comes down off the mountain and his face glowed just from being in God's presence. What is it like for an angel that comes? They're with God all the time.

"So fear fell upon him, but the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid.'" Too late. I'm already afraid. "Don't be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord."

Okay. What? How many years has Zechariah prayed that prayer? How many nights have Zechariah and Elizabeth wept and longed for God to show up? Let's say it's been 60 years. It could very well be. "It's been 60 years, we've been praying, and nothing. And now all of a sudden... We haven't even prayed that prayer since she's past childbearing years. Really? Are you kidding me? Now? I don't have the energy to get up and run across the room. How am I going to have a baby?"

If there was ever somebody that was entitled to a question or two, in my opinion. "And must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

"And Zechariah said to the angel, 'How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.'" Which is a kinder way to say, "And she's a geezer as well. I'm an old man and my wife, well, the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be." He didn't say that. He could have. That would've been funny.

"And the angel answered him, 'I am Gabriel. And I stand in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.'"

Ah, that feels harsh, to me. I don't understand. If I'm Zechariah, there's a lot of baggage to this whole thing. Not just, "Man, we really longed for a kid," but all the shame, all the looking down on, all the stuff that went on with all the... And they're clergy, so consequently, they're like, "There's got to be some secret sin going on."

And it's not that. God's saving them for some really special purpose. But now the question is, Zechariah, which one do you long for? Do you long for the approval of God or do you long for the desires of your heart? Which one do you long for? Because for many of us, we would have given up long before Zechariah and Elizabeth, because all we care about is getting God to do what we want.

What do you love? Do you love God and his presence or do you love what God can do for you, as long as he does it?

"And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he'd seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute."

I don't know what signs he made to them. Maybe he told them to steal third. I don't know. I don't know what they did. But again, when I get to heaven, this is one of those scenes that I'm going to be like, "Hey, Jesus, show me the movie. I want to see that one."

"And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. And after these days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 'Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked to take away my reproach among people.'"

"God has taken away my reproach among people. No more shunning for me." Right? If I was her, I wouldn't have been hiding. I would've found the tightest robe that I had and been like, "Do you notice the belly?" I would've wrote songs all around the words "baby bump."

I would've been like, "Take that!" Right? "All the times that you made fun of me, all the times you speculated about what my spiritual condition was, all those times, take that." But what do you long for? What do you love? The presence of God or being vindicated? Are you willing to be wrong so that God could be glorified?

"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.' But she was greatly troubled at the saying."

Okay, wait. What? An angel just came and said, "You are favored by God. He's with you." And she's like, "I am really bothered by that statement." Right? Now, the question is, what is it about that statement that bothers her?

There's a lot of answers to that. And I don't know what the right one is because the text doesn't say. Maybe it's because she just was like, "No, I'm not favored. I'm poor. I'm a female in a culture where females don't have a voice. I'm nothing. I'm simple. I don't have any abilities. There's nothing special about me. I'm not favored. If this is what favored looks like, everyone's going to be really disappointed."

"Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you." I don't feel like God is with me. I feel alone.

"She was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid, Mary.'" Stop saying that, Gabriel, it's too late. "For you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. And he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."

"And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom, there will be no end."

"And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I'm a virgin?" Now, here's a question, how come she gets to ask a question? That doesn't seem fair to Zechariah.

I don't know the answer to that. Here's my speculation; she's probably 13 years old-ish. Give or take a year or two, either direction. So she's not had enough time to really live life. She's not had enough time to grow and mature. Zechariah has been in the game for a while. He should have the depth of spiritual integrity to know better. She's just a kid. That's my opinion. Maybe it's something else.

"And that angel answered her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.'" Hear that.

"And Mary said, 'Behold, I'm the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your Word.'" By the way, she knows this isn't going to go well. She's going to have to face all kinds of ridicule. The timing here is terrible. She's stepping willingly into [inaudible 00:33:02]. But what do you long for? Do you long for God's presence or do you long for the approval of people? What do you love?

"And the angel departed from her. And in those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country." That means she did it really quickly, which raises a question, did Mary have morning sickness? That is something... The Son of God. I don't know. I don't know. These are the questions that plague my mind.

"To a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'"

"'And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.'"

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.'"

By the way, what we've come to know now as Mary's Magnificat is full of quotes from the Psalms. Why? Because she's taking time to remember where God has been faithful in the past. These passages of God's faithfulness keep coming to her mind and she's quoting them as she is reminded of God's faithfulness.

"'For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm.'"

This is the symbol of power in the ancient world. Anytime that somebody wants to be described as strong or a god, even the Roman sculptures when they have an emperor or a god, they'll have their right arm raised with a scepter in it and scrolls in their left arm like this.

This is all the way back into the Egyptian Empire. In hieroglyphs, I know almost nothing about Egyptian hieroglyphs, I know three things. One of them is that the Pharaoh or the God that they're talking about is always depicted right arm up, scepter, left arm with scrolls. This is the scrolls of life and death, the books of life and death.

So in Revelation, it's pulling from a metaphor of culture. We have the books of life and the books of death. These books of judgment. "I hold the power."

Domitian when he built his tower in Ephesus built a 24-foot statue of himself on top of the tower facing the sea. And he's standing with his right arm raised with a scepter, and scrolls in his left arm. Right?

I decided to maybe give you an image of something somewhere around New York. Listen, it's us making a statement to the world about where we believe our power comes from. And I just want to be clear. I love Liberty, but Lady Liberty is not the security of America.

I love freedom. I love democracy. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. For all of you that are like, "You're trying to make us socialist." No. Nope. I think you ought to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go to work. I think that's how you should do it.

But this is not where our power comes from. Some trust in chariots. We trust in the name of the Lord our God, that's it. That's it and that's all. Sorry, I had to get that all off my chest.

"'He's scattered the proud in their thoughts of their hearts. He's brought down the mighty ones from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate. He's filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.' And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home."

So Elizabeth is pregnant six months. Mary goes to see her and stays three months. That gives her nine months. And then the baby's delivered, and then Mary goes home to face the music. She has to face the music now. It's not going to be pretty.

They're going to sleep in a stable because of this. But what do you long for? For them, they longed for God to show up and deliver his people more than anything else. Doesn't matter what role I play in it. I could look good, I could look bad. As long as God shows up and delivers his people, that's okay.

So I have some implications for us this morning. Implication number one, we long for God to show up and deliver his people, even today in today's world. We long for God to show up and deliver his people. And I know for many of us... I love a lot of things about this life, but more than anything else, I just want to go home. I just want to go home. We long for God to show up and deliver his people.

Number two, we long for God to show up and right the wrongs of this world. We long for God to show up and right the wrongs of this world. God, we want you to show up and deliver. The brokenness, the oppression, there's stuff that's wrong in this world.

We treat people poorly. We have people that are breaking the law, that are hurting other people, even knowing that it's wrong. Beyond that, we have mental illness. I want God to right that wrong because it's not right. It's not how it's supposed to be. Death is not how it's supposed to be.

We're not supposed to live in that world. I want God to show up and right the wrongs of this world. And I know that he has the power to do it, which raises the question, why hasn't he?

And that leads me to my third implication. We learn to love God because of his faithfulness even in our questions. And here's what I want to say; we did a lot of things wrong as parents. And my kids are going to have to go through a lot of therapy. But one of the things that we did right was to give our kids permission to question God.

Here's what I'm convinced of; if we're honest about our relationship and our faith with the Lord, there are questions to be wrestled with. And here's what I want to say to you; God is okay with your questions, and his shoulders are broad enough to take it.

People smarter than all of us in this room put together have been asking questions of God for centuries, and yet here we sit. God's okay with your questions. And when we refuse to question or allow ourselves to be honest with the questions that we have, we develop an inauthentic faith and it becomes full of platitudes.

It becomes anecdotal. It becomes shallow because we can't go deep, because we're not willing to go down to those places that we don't understand. We learn to love God because of his faithfulness even in our questions.

Here's our fourth implication; we learn to love God when we recall the ways that God has kept his word in the past. Remembering is the key to loving him well, to be reminded... It's one of the reasons why the Bible is so important is because it shows us what God can do.

This is what our God can do. This is what our God can do. The Bible is so significant because it gives us those stories. So when we say, "But then why are you not?" The same God that shows up there is the same God that's not showing up here. So the question's not, "Why don't you do it for me? You did it for them. Don't you love me? Me, me, me, me, me, me, me. This is about me. And obviously, I'm doing something wrong."

God's like, "This is not about you. It's about my glory." We learn to be faithful in those spaces because we know that he can, so we trust that if he isn't, there's some other story that needs to be told right now. Remembering is the key.

I can't wait for next week. I can't wait for you guys to see online. Don't show up here. I mean, you can show up here, but you'll be all by yourself. I can't wait for you guys to watch the video just remembering the last year. Because one of my core values is that we never forget.

Because we can show up in a space and we can forget how much God was faithful in the process, and we start taking that space for granted. God's been real good to us. And I'm so excited for you guys to see the journey of just the last year, all the things that God did along the way to allow us to be here. It's been incredible.

But remembering is so important. If we're going to learn to long for the right things, then we've got to remember what it was like before we had some of the good things along the way. We've got to remember the stories of God's faithfulness, his authority, because this is what our God can do.

Then we can rest when we're sitting in those spaces of questioning. And we long for more of the presence of God, but we don't long for the things that are fleeting, which for me, just for me personally, it's this great segue into communion because I have this tendency to get... I'm too driven. I'm too goal-oriented. I want to accomplish, I want to conquer things. I don't care what it is. I want to conquer origami. It doesn't matter what it is. I just want to conquer. Here's the thing, in the conquering, we can start to wonder like, "God, why aren't you letting me conquer?" And for me, I get distracted and forget God has cleared a path for his glory, not for mine, not so that I can say I dominated something, but so that we can make much of his name. So it's easy for me to get distracted. So as we prepare our hearts for communion this morning, I would just offer you this question to think about what's distracting you from longing for God's presence more. Let's talk to the Lord about that as we get ready for communion. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread and he broke it and he said, "This is my body which is given for you. So whenever you eat this bread, do it in remembrance of me." Let's remember him together. And then after the dinner, he took a cup and he said, "This cup, this is the blood of the covenant which is shed for you. So whenever you drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me." Let's pray. God, thank you that you show up. Thank you that you show up in your time and your way, and it's always better than what we would come up with on our own. And Lord, thank you that history is full of examples of your showing up, and that we know that we can rest in the confidence that you will show up at exactly the right time and exactly the right way. Thank you that Christmas invites us to this reminder that you show up. In Jesus' name, amen.

Speaker: Aaron Couch

December 19, 2021

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Follow Along with the Message


Luke 1:5-56 English Standard Version

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn  the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And 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 making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Implications:

  1. We long for God to show up and deliver his people.
  2. We long for God to show up and right the wrongs of this world.
  3. We learn to love God because of his faithfulness even in our questions.
  4. We learn to love God when we recall the ways God has kept his word in the past; remembering is key to loving him well.

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