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SM131124/Christmas: The Story Before the Story

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2013 7:50 pm

SM131124/Christmas: The Story Before the Story

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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Harvest messages are brought to you by harvest partners to receive free email daily devotions or to become a harvest partners, please visit us Let's grab our Bibles were in Luke chapter 1 and word in a new series were calling God came there and were following the life of Christ chronologically through four Gospels. As I said last time.

It's sort of like Jesus and Quadra phonic to use a deeded term looking at how all these Gospels work together following the life of our Lord, event by event so here in Luke Morgan a look at the often sole, but often misunderstood Christmas story.

Nothing. For some, the message of the baby Jesus being born in a manger in Bethlehem with the brilliant star in the sky in the wisemen, valine, and all that is nothing more than just a fable, a children's story not unlike Santa Claus living in the North Pole or Rudolph the red nose reindeer are Frosty the Snowman. Frankly, I think somebody will know more about Rudolph and Santa and frosting than they know about Jesus, sometimes even people in church get the story confused about a little girl that what the Sunday school and the teacher told the Christmas story and the little one came back to her mom at the drawing she did from the story that was part of the assignment. She says mom. My teacher says I have the most unusual Christmas picture around the mom look at it and indeed it was different with the traditional manger scene with the star. The Angels was an airplane and the month is okay. I don't understand why you do an airplane. The little girl says mom it's a flight in the eject okay right I got that and what Wayne loses mean looking man in the cockpit. The girl blustered said mom that punches the pilot okay punches supply now mom starting to get it is a little Windows okay see Mary. I see Joseph I see the baby Jesus.

But in the back of the plane. There's this big fat man who said that men of the back behind Mary Kate.

You tell mom the little girl says that's around John virgin get it, rounding on virgin mother and child.

These are the chokes people are not very good. What we all will love the Christmas story, of course, but I want to look at the story before the story, the prequel, if you will. And this is from Dr. Luke's gospel not remember in my reply over of the four Gospels. I pointed out that each gospel is different in the way that it approaches the life of our Lord. Now, in contrast to Matthew and John were both eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Christ. Luke came along a little bit later that Luke was a physician became the feed from a non-Jewish background. So it was his desire to bring a record of the life and ministry of Christ that could be understood by those outside of the Jewish faith and culture. But Luke comes with the educated skill and attention to detail of a doctor because he was one by trade, but at the same time he comes with a great deal of hard and artistry and even a poetic touch as he writes the story of our Lord. His gospel is addressed to amending the awfulness which means lover of God. The awfulness was a believer wanted to know more about Jesus and apparently Theophilus was a man of means because he underwrote this project for Luke to go into all the primary research to bring this gospel into existence and Luke writes about that in Luke chapter 1 verse three says it seemed good to me. Also, having had perfect understanding of all things. From the very first to write to you and orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of these things in which you were instructed to the reason. Luke needed a right this is, there was a lot of false information floating around in the day a distortions fables the tabloids of the day, sort of like bloggers on the Internet today. You know, anybody can write anything they want out there and by the way, it's not true, just because it's on the Internet, writes, and so wanted to correct the record he was going to apply journalistic standards, so to speak, and produces orderly account because Luke recognized that a proper telling of the story of Jesus Christ would produce believed in its true and so he's doing this because he was sponsored by the opulence for the course we all benefit from it. The let's read now the story before the story. The story of the announcement of John the Baptist. It was the forerunner of our Lord. Luke chapter 1 verse five there was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of abide his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, her name was Elizabeth and they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, but they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years, and so it was while he was serving as a priest before God in the order of his division according to the custom of the priesthood is logical to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord of the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

11 then an angel of the Lord appeared before him standing on the right side of the altar of incense, and Zechariah's song was trouble and fear fell upon them and the angel said to do not be afraid, Zacharias. Your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, you will call his name John and you will enjoy in gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth and he will be great in the sight of the Lord will drink neither wine nor strong drink and will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb, and altered many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God and he'll go before him, speaking of the Messiah 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 a people prepared for the Lord. There is a fully get what was happening, we have to understand the culture of the time knows we read this Christmas story. Some 2000 years later, it has a certain romanticism to it and we can fail to see what was being said in its original context. For starters, verse eight he says in the days of Herod. This should be like saying in Germany during the days of Adolf Hitler are in China in the days of Mel St. John are in Iraq in the days of Saddam Hussein are in Libya and the days of Moammar Qaddafi get the idea okay so there was a dictator in charge of the people were oppressed, so that is exactly would look the same in the days of Herod.

These were dark and difficult days in Israel's history almost as difficult as her bondage in Egypt under the Pharaoh.

Now they lived under the tyranny of Rome and its puppet governor Herod the great Herod was ruthless. He was vicious and he had no mercy. Add to that the fact that he was a jealous and paranoid man. He always thought just thrown was under threat and history tells us that Herod murdered his wife. Her brother, her mother and several of his own son.

There was a scene of the day that went along these lines, it's better to be one of Herod's pigs and a member of his family because he was so paranoid and that is why when Herod met those wisemen magi.

The men from the East who had seen that star directing them to the Messiah and they said we have seen his star and we have come to worship him was called the King of the Jews, and in Herod came unglued right. It says Herod was shook up in all of Judea with them and by the way their break can be transmitted.

He was also recoverable all your muscles who recover sanitation there. I don't know if he had a white jumpsuit on and he had a cape like Elvis but whatever was he was shook up. Why was all Judea shook up with them because as you will expression says when mom is not happy.

Nobody happy when Herod was freaking out everybody freaked out because someone was going to die, and indeed they did. Why because the wisemen said, we come to worship the King of the Jews. Did you know that Caesar gave to Herod the title King of the Jews so long come these four indignities a dignitaries that's of the wisemen were to worship the King of the Jews and they were effectively saying you and him body. He somewhere else of miracles in the wisemen gives me and finds out the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem and then he gives a decree that all those baby boys in Bethlehem are to be put to death. So in the days of Herod. To make matters worse, the people of Israel have not heard from God for 400 years.

No profits, no miracles, no angelic appearances. Justin icy silence from heaven excusing the seventh every time second service I apologize not. First third second service.

It's Greg's throat clearing moments salutes narrative finds Israel in the midst of a long night of spiritual darkness, but that is about to change because God had promised in Malachi 42 for those either revere my name the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays and you will go out and frolic like well fed cats.

The long darkness was about to experience a dramatic sunrise commentator R. Kent Hughes put it this way and I quote great plans laid in eternal ages past.

Now begin to activate Angel scurried around busily preparing for the dawn." God was not only promising the Messiah, but he also spoke about forerunner, who would proceed Messiah. Malachi 31 says I will send my messenger will prepay and compare the way before me.

Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come into the temple, the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord. So John he was a forerunner John was sort of the bridge between the old and the new Testaments. He was the last of the old testament prophets, and according to Jesus, also the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, you know sometimes people mistakenly think that there is a God of the old and New Testament, though it's often put as well, the God of the Old Testament. He's wrathful. He's angry. He's perpetually in a really bad mood, but the God of the New Testament is just loving and full of grace and ready to forgive all actually both of those views are incorrect. There's one God of both Testaments, one God, from Genesis to Revelation. He's just he's righteous. He's holy he's loving he's merciful he's forgiving. So now these two covenants are going to be tied together everything that the Old Testament is pointing to is going to be fulfilled in the new testament, and because this is such a big deal. God sends the mighty Gabriel. You know it's a big event if Gabriel or Michael show up going back to Luke chapter 1 again.

Verse 11 to 13. This is from the Phillips translation we read these words the crowded congregation outside was praying at the actual time of the incense burning when an angel of the Lord appeared on the right side of the incense altar when Zechariah saw him he was terribly agitated and a sense of awe swept over him but the angel said to them, do not be afraid, Zechariah's now Gabriel, the angel who were talking about your also appears a little bit later to Mary will look at that next time. Here's an interesting little tidbit of information. The last appearance of an angel in the Old Testament had been to the prophet Zechariah. Five centuries earlier.

So the last angel of the Old Testament came to Zechariah the first angel of the New Testament comes to Zechariah's and whenever angels appear they usually start with these words, don't be afraid right when Jesus appeared to the why are the shepherds keeping watch over their massive wisemen that wrong guys when he does appear to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. They say, do not be afraid. There is born unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord why did angels always say that when the appear because people were afraid to put it modern vernacular birthing and Angel would say is don't freak out. It's okay. I come with good news. And so Gabriel is appearing now to Zechariah's and that's interesting because the name of Zacharias means fittingly God remembers, and the name Elizabeth means my God is an old this incident in their lives would confirm the truth of both of these names you see God was going to keep it so.

And God was remembering. But why did God set Zacharias apart for such an amazing task number one because Zechariah's was a humble man. So if you want to be used by God. Know this is looking for humble men and women contrasted with the powerful and frightful parent who wouldn't tightly cut down here is Zechariah's humble servant of God.

James 46 tells us God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. What does it mean to be humble doesn't mean you're so low-key you won't even use the word humble you drop the ancient you think I'm just a normal servant of the Lord also got a bit of a British accent.

Don't I mumbled you know, no, it's not that is outstanding in the corner and mumbling. Humility is just seeing yourself as you really are. It's our obsession with ourselves and is at the root of so many of our problems.

CS Lewis of that this when I quote the real test of being in the presence of God that you either forget about yourself.

Altogether, years or years or or you see yourself as a small, dirty object," you forget about yourself. Altogether I was Zechariah's. It was a country priest. Today we might call them a country preacher.

By the way, there were many priests at this time in Israel's history. Around 8000 to be a priest meant that you represented God to the people and you represented the people to God. The priest would interpret Scripture, he would counsel Haywood provides wise judgment for the people in each breeze would leave his vocal duties to serve in Jerusalem there in the temple twice for one week. So this was the representative of God and you know that's a pretty awesome thing. I recognize as a pastor I represent God to people and by the way you do to because you get to your Greg do a better job. John I'm working on that, which are God's representative know is Thanksgiving is coming quickly if you're a Christian and your family. If your family is not predominately Christian, you're probably going to be the designated prayer person right for the meal and on talking about. If your family is like the rest of ours have a lot of weird relatives right and so they're all gathered together and there's a lot of awkwardness in the home moment and they'll say well why don't you lead us in prayer and there is a good thing about being the personal needs in prayer. You have the floor.

My friends take advantage of. So you might just say all right will let let's give thanks for the meal everybody, let's all pray pray something like this other week. Thank you for this wonderful meal in front of us. I think you for this family.

Thanks for the wonderful country we live in the liberties you've given us the Lord. Most of all, thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and then to die on the cross for our sin and the rise again from the dead.

No one or heads of God and her eyes are closed. Maybe some of you would like to commit your life to Christ. Uncle Harry I'm talking to you.

I probably shouldn't do that, but you get the idea to an opportunity to share a little gospel message with your the representative of God by the way, were all called to be priest by the Lord. First Peter 29 says you are a chosen race, Royal priesthood, so you may proclaim the excellencies of him that is called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Zechariah's was a humble guy number two Zechariah's was a faithful man is our story begins. We just find this country priest Zacharias doing his duty.

This shows us an important principle.

If you want to be used of God. Just get out there and do something for the Lord God often speaks to his people when they're busy doing their daily tasks. If you ever notice that when God called Moses to lead Israel out of the bondage of Pharaoh. What was he doing while he was just tending sheet-metal when God called David to run and Aaron that would result in the death of the mighty Goliath in the Valley of Ila. What was he doing need to like Moses was tending.

She when Elijah was looking for a successor to carry his ministry on one of the fine alike should doing what he was up plowing the field when God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the tyranny of the Midianites. What was he doing what he was threshing wheat when Jesus called his disciples to change the world. What were they doing what they were mending their net see there were just doing what was said before, it's difficult to steer a car when the engine is not running. My point is just get out there and do something for the Lord because of your people in the little things, God will give you greater opportunities.

But if you're not faithful in the little things greater opportunities will not be coming your way.

You know some of us envision a great ministry for the Lord. Perhaps we might say it one day. I like to be a missionary and I like to cross the sea for Christ the Lord might say, would you mind my crossing the street first. Maybe talking to your neighbor that you never even introduced herself to guess what the mission field is all around you. The mission field is right outside of these doors. So be faithful and those little things because God is giving you spiritual gifts is a Christian when you come to Christ US the Lord to empower you with the Holy Spirit. He gives gifts of the spirit in Romans 12 says God is given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So God is giving you the ability to prophesy. Speak out with as much faith as God is given you. If your gift is serving others will serve them well. If you're a teacher teach well if your gift is encouraging others encourage that and if your gift is giving give generously lessen the gifts of God, don't come fully. This is why Paul wrote to Timothy stir up the gift that is in you by the laying on of hands, better translation of that would be down in the full flame. The God they kept the God is given you. So take that gift and start using it the way you become better at what you're called to do is by doing it a lot.

I told her the story before but I only have eight stories.

I guess I'm returning to it. Some of you may not have heard that though that's probably unlikely, but to when I was a little boy growing up, my soul, aspirational life was to be a cartoonist. I love to drawing a little cartoon adventures like characters like to these little comic strips and one of the people that I admire more than anybody else was Walt Disney. I love Disneyland I love Disney movies and I love Disney animation.

So one day I kind a guy comes over to see my mom and she says this man is a Disney animator.

I didn't believe it needs is all I am a Disney animator said no you're not.

Says you want me to prove it. I suggest he pulls out a pencil and does a flawless argument from his Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. One of the two and was perfect and he said great. This is a magic pencil if you will take this pencil and put it on your pillow and go to bed go go away when you wake up in the morning you'll be able to draw like me. I ran up with a pencil. I was so excited something as I was 30 I really know so I go to bed now looking back in retrospect as an adult I can to get with the guy was up to write. He wanted my mom's little boy to go away so we can have time with her but I can hardly sleep that night.

It was so excited I would be able to draw like that when I wake up and I woke up all the pencil out from underneath my pillow went over to a piece of paper and drew the same way I had always drawn. There are no magic pencil you know you just have to take a gift that you have to develop it through use. The same is true of spiritual gifts. You might say will Greg I don't know what I'm gifted at, you know, sometimes the best way to find out what you're good at is to first find out which are not good at sometimes process of elimination can be helpful.

That's why a lot of times we look at life. We classify things as failures. In reality, they may just be learning experiences and we can benefit from those failures.

Realizing what, that's not where I'm gifted but where am I gifted because I guarantee you of some give you some abilities given to you by God's them coming back to Zacharias this man with people about God's supper for what was his job was to go to the temple he got to do that twice a year. By the way, there was a big deal to leave your little country parish and go to the big city in the Jerusalem to the temple into the holy of holies and offer a sacrifice on behalf of the people of God word about this couple number three, Zacharias and Elizabeth were godly and blameless people. Look at verse six. They both were righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless and quite a statement not to be blameless. Didn't mean they never sin, but it meant they had a good reputation. This is interesting because you see Zacharias and Elizabeth at a problem. She was never able to conceive a child back in this culture of a woman could not conceive a child she would be described as parent and unfruitful. And sometimes it was said that was a curse from God, all you can bear children. It's a curse from heaven, there might've been some people would say I don't know about Zacharias and Elizabeth mean after all she is barren, isn't she, and if she really was walking right with the Lord. Perhaps he would've had a child.

This point of course we know this is an incorrect view but it was a perception of the day of God was about to give them a child.

Not just any child. He was going to give them a profit for a child and not just any profit they were going to The greatest prophet who would ever live John the Baptist. What an amazing thing.

So I bring this up because sometimes a person may be suffering outwardly but inwardly are blessed and as time passes.

You're going to discover that God was preparing that person.

Now let me personalize it sometimes your suffering. But God is preparing you. You see, and there might be people that judge you and say oh you must not be doing well to go to that suffering, but in reality it's because you are blessed and God is going to do something wonderful in your life because now their prayers were going to be Herbert's 13th. The angel said don't be afraid, Zacharias. Your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, when you call his name John. God is not going to deliver on his promise of a Messiah, and the forerunner comes before the Messiah. Now it appears from the original language used here that God heard the prayers. Zacharias was praying at this very moment.

The old priest walked in there and said no Lord, I know, I'm here to do a job. I know in here to pray for the people and I'm to do that but I am after all, the holy of holies. So if you wouldn't mind a personal petition. Lord, give us a sign I I know were old but would you answer this prayer and give us a son.

Or maybe he prayed Lord we need the Messiah were still longing for the Messiah. Whether you can ascend the Messiah. The point is, as he prayed this prayer. It was heard in heaven and I want you to remember this, our prayers on earth are heard and have it.

God promises that we call out to him, he will hear and answer some 3415 says the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. He's listening. I was at a family gathering yesterday. A lot of people I was having a conversation with a bunch of adults and it was pretty interesting with my little granddaughter Lucy came up and she grabbed hold of my energy said pop up when you come play with me just what I left all those interesting adults and ran off with Lucy because she has my heart to see she has my ear and so there's a lot going on in this world and a lot of people pray God hears you. God loves you. God pays attention to you and he says in Jeremiah 3313 call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know but know this, he will answer you in his way and in his time to this firm is going to be answered but ellipticity the Lord took his sweet time, but as time this week is because just as important as the will of God is the timing of God in Ecclesiastes 311 says he has made everything beautiful in this time. Sometimes we pray for something because we do not get an immediate answer. We falsely conclude God is not carrying our prayer. Please hearing it but he may be saying no and he may be saying wait and there might be some behind-the-scenes activity going on that you know nothing about is a fascinating story in Daniel 10 or Daniel is praying and a mighty angel appears before the prophet tells him this story says Daniel that prayer your brain. It was her 21 days earlier and an angel was dispatched with the answer to your prayer and a powerful demon tower stopped him. Identify as a Prince of Persia to God, called out his heavyweight champion angel Michael, who came to the Angels rescue and I bringing you the answer to your prayer right now.

That's my blowing this minute so you're praying for something to bring God's not caring nothing's happening in heaven listen a lot happening in heaven and everything is duly recorded in Revelation 8 we read about a bowl of prayers and have it we read in Revelation a 3 to 4.

Another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.

He was given much incense, that he should operate. Listen with the prayers of the same upon the golden altar that was before the throne of the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the Angels hand. So God hears and stores our prayers know prayer is wasted there duly mode noted, save for the right moment God is paying attention to this godly couple and now the prayer is going to be answered by the Lord everywhere.

Pray for something and it took the Lord a long time to answer it. Now let me ask you another question. Have you ever prayed for something. The answer came so quickly kind of scared to is the Lord.

I just pray that you would do this moment happens sometimes you don't even believe your prayer to be answered. That quickly that's why you need to pray about. The Bible says you have not because you ask not. And honestly, there might be a situation you're in right now. They can be changed by prayer, that medical condition that financial crisis. The prodigal child that hurting marriage you prayed about it is the Lord. I've tried everything else would actually I have not pray that you would supply me with the job. I am not pray that you would intervene and reach my child who's going to strafe five not pray that you would heal me right now. But Lord, I'm pray.

Now I'm not suggesting that will always answer your prayer immediately. What I am suggesting. Sometimes he will but in the book of acts.

The 12 chapters the story of James the apostle was beheaded. So Simon Peter was arrested by Herod and we read the constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

Got immediately answer that prayer. Send an angel in the prison.

The doors opened up for Peter literally so he can walk out. He goes to our prayer meeting where there presumably praying for his deliverance. He knocks at the door. A girl name Rhoda answers. She sees it's a great apostle in answer to their prayer. She goes back to the men of God were probably praying for Peter all Lord Lord deliver Peter G do anything guys why woman were pray all Lord deliver it to God I don't bother us for pray for me.

The Lord guys walked Peter, standing at the front door. The great Menefee said this crazy believe God can answer their prayer.

So was Peter. The liniment finally for Peter God to get them out of a prison, but Peter couldn't get himself into a prayer meeting will figure number four. This is very important Zechariah's was human and flawed. Just like us. He was human. The blood just like us to give verse 18 to 19. Zechariah said to the angel, how shall I know this for I am an old man and my wife is well advanced in years. Zechariah some credit is pretty diplomatic says I am an old man we did. Doesn't he doesn't say I'm married to an old woman. I am an old mamma my wife is shall we say, well advanced in years. Well done. Zechariah's no wonder he was married so long.

But imagine there's you he standing in the presence of an angel, not just in the angel Gabriel and all of his magnificence. Anything you know I'm not really sure about this. I mean, what kind of old and I'm not seeing how this is gonna really happen. Gabriel says verse 19 I am Gabriel, maybe even sent out loud. I am Gabriel know you're talking to Bonnie I stand in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you today and bring you these glad tidings, but behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place because you did not believe my words is the Zechariah's could've rejoiced, but instead question let's not be too hard on him, though, haven't we done the same thing.

Have you ever doubted God's work. How many of you have ever entertained out raising event that so many of you have never had a doubt about your faith at all. Richard, I'm glad no one raised her hand because I would've said then you're an idiot because doubt is not always so assigned to them in this wrong sexy assigned thinking. Sometimes we have to go to the foyer of doubt before we can enter the sanctuary. Certainly, and we freak out. Sometimes when our kids are pushing back a little bit because it meant sweet little children that believe everything you've told him and then they get to those preteen and teen years and they come up. It's a mom I'm not so sure that I believe the Bible is the word of God.

How can I trust it, dad. I'm not so sure of. I believe all these things about the Christian faith. How can you say Jesus is the only way to God's iPhone know where we got gone wrong. Your children are learning to think so helping to sort these things out and give them answers, but doubt does happen, even among the most godly men. Even John the Baptist is being prophesied of care had momentary down.

You see, John emerges on the scene.

He's almost like a rock star in his day preaching there by the Jordan River. The throngs are listening. He's baptizing people he's telling them to repent for what was John's job it was to point people to the Messiah.

John John's job description was very simple. It was basically to prepare the way and then to get out of the way so when his cousin Jesus arrives on the scene that the Jordan and us to be baptized. John baptizes them and effectively says to his disciples follow him. Now, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world boys. My job is done, and then John's arrested and thrown in the dungeon noticed on heart that would be for anybody but especially John.

John was an outdoorsman. John love to be out under the blue sky. He loved to live off the land he he love the ministry got to give it up so he's taken from this ministry of massive popularity and is sent into complete obscurity in a dungeon, basically a hole in the ground almost and then he starts hearing news about Jesus.

He's expecting as most of the time for Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and establish his kingdom then and there, but instead the word on the street is Jesus is out having fun. Jesus is having dinner with listen of this, sinners wait a second. This can't be right. So John sends a message to Jesus as the proportional pond to contact them. Can email him. He sent a message.

I watch as Jesus a question for me, as Jesus, are you the one or should we look for another believe that. So here's our Lord out about ministering someone comes and says we have a message of John.

Yes, he wants to know if you're the one or should we look for another.

Jesus said that's fine. You tell, you told John this the blind see the depth here that are raised to life and the Porgy of the gospel here the poor hear the gospel preached to them. You tell my brother or my cousin John rather that everything's going according to schedule. In the word of God is being fulfilled and then he commends John and he says would you go out into the wilderness to see a man in soft clothing or a re-blowing in the wind. Let me tell you some about my cousin John of been born among women.

There is never been a greater than John the Baptist. So not only did he not rebuke John for his doubt. But he commended him for his faithfulness. So here's my point.

When you have a doubt, here's what you do call out to Jesus. That's a John did. Here's my question. Lord, Lord says, good question. Here's my answer so you bring your dog you bring your question what world Zechariah's. He doubts now he's going to be struck with the inability to speak until the day that the child would be born so meanwhile outside of the temple of throng is gathered because he's been there for a long time. They were Zechariah's should to be done by now the God kill him.

I don't want to go in there and get out. Where is he finally this speechless priest appears he cannot say a word, they can only pantomime if you will. What is just happened to him and time passes and of course Elizabeth conceives Elizabeth carries the child the term and now that the child is born, the B was able its name of Zacharias after his doubt that the custom in God gives Zacharias the ability to speak again and he says you name him John because that's what the Lord told him to do so. It's an amazing story, and now John would be the forerunner of our Lord and I love John's motto if you will be said in John 330 he must increase and I must decrease, or literally, he must become greater and greater. And I must become less and less.

By the way, that's a great mission statement for us all to live by.

He must increase and I must decrease. John was not called to go out there and prepare the way for the Lord. So what we learned from the story closing will number one learned that if we want to be used by God.

We need to be humble and we need to wait on the Lord and serve them where we are just doing God has set before us to be faithful in those little thing. Also in the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth we learn the importance of praying and not giving because your prayers are heard and there remember we also learned that we should believe what God says to us in act in faith, not feeling we need to believe our believes and we need to doubt our dad in of the problem is, sometimes we look at these men and women of God and the Bible. We put them on pedestals and we forget that they were people just like us as we make our way into the Christmas story and we learn more about Mary and Joseph understand we call them the holy family. But the Bible doesn't call him that Mary and Joseph.

They were normal people.

The only perfect person in the Bible is Jesus.

But in their defense, they obeyed God.

You see, Elizabeth Curtis had noted that Zacharias could have said no, Mary could have said no, Joseph could have said no. After the angel said to him I want you to take Mary as your wife, and Joseph knew exactly what he would have to deal with throughout his life he knew we would have to go through life with people thinking. His wife had been in people to him before they consummated their valves. His wife basically would be accused of having sex before marriage any time in ages that I know I'm out and I would do that them will live with that.

Mary, yourself, would have to have the reputation of being an immoral woman, and the irony is this is a woman that was so committed to the Lord, but still a sinner would bring this up so we can appreciate what God did these people were hopelessly human remarkably on remarkable. They were available and obedient to the Masters call. What made them stand out was Christ living in the why was John the greatest of the Old Testament prophets did John ever write a prophetic book. No, did John ever perform a miracle that we know of will. Why is John the greatest because of his nearness to Jesus. Initially a person impresses you visit. While that this man of God that something that's God shining through them not just a person is understood what John was saying when he said I must decrease and he must increase, I read an article in the paper a while back about a 1964 Aston Martin that sold for $4.6 million. That's a lot of money for old Aston Martin 282 hp to go hundred and 45 mph at top speed why they get so much money for this Aston Martin answered it was a car. The James Bond drove in the film Goldfinger and thunder ball has all the usual options course a license plate that rotates investable ejector seat next to the driver so you know if your wife driving you crazy, or if in your home. The wife drives in the husband's about the dirt your husband driving you crazy flip that switch with some of them out, they go for some of those features work with the reason the car was so viable as this is a guard James Bond drove a more significantly, Sean Connery portraying James Bond drove so it was Sean Connery.

She wishes one I'm sure I everything like Shirley. Sounds like this so the value of the car is not in the car itself. The value is in the one who used right, the disciples greatness was not because of who they were.

It's because of who called and used in the same is true of us.

The Bible says that God is placed his treasure in an earthen vessel in a jar of clay. Reciprocal translation puts it. Second Corinthians 4. This priceless treasure we hold so to speak in a common earthen were aware jar is to show the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us, were handicapped at all sides were never frustrated or puzzled, but never in despair were persecuted, but we never have to stand alone we may be knocked down but were never knocked out a love that translation.

Seek God's taken residence in your heart and that is where it comes from. So as we look at these ordinary people that God did extraordinary things through. It gives hope to us that we can be used of God wherever we are. God wants to invade your ordinary life and do something amazing when you stand by and say, not me.

I'm out or will you say here I am Lord, send me all this is pointing to the big event and what's the big event subvert life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That's what this whole series is about never calling God came there so will make our way to the birth of the Savior in the manger. And then this perfect life on earth and in his voluntary death on the cross of Calvary and we see them rise again why so we can come and live in our hearts as Savior and Lord and asking clothing, closing or clothing out.

Clothing you're not in clothing, you really need to listen as you might be watching at home on your computer and you're still in your PJs.

I don't know, Alyssa, and ask you, enclosing is Christ himself. Let that's all I can remember isn't this funny. Woody said if you're in clothing. Okay Jesus Christ wants to live inside of you as your Savior and Lord have you estimate your life you you know, here you are listening to this message and I assume most of your Christians what some of you probably are not. You've never had that moment will you browse God to forgive you of your sin that can happen for you right now, but you must ask for his forgiveness and receive Christ in your life. The Bible says, for as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God are going to close in prayer phenomena give you an opportunity to pray and ask Christ to come of your life and be your Savior and Lord. If you've not done that yet do it right now or ever. You are as we pray together. Let's all bow our heads everybody frame father, thank you for your word to us. Thank you for your love for us.

Thank you for sending Jesus to this earth to be born to die arise, Lord Jesus, thank you for coming. Thank you for all that you've done and thank you for your offer of forgiveness and now we pray for any listening that you will help them to see their need for you. We pray your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their sin and help them to turn from it now about a hedge about her eyes are closed or are praying together. Maybe you would like Jesus Christ to come in your life you would like him to forgive you of your sin. He would like to be certain that when you die you will go to heaven. That's a case of you want Christ to come in your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin, and ask you wherever you are, to stand your feet nominally doing a simple prayer wanted to just stand up if you want Jesus Christ to come in your life in a Legion with a simple prayer of your just stand up wherever your seeing me wherever you're hearing me stand your feet will lead you in this prayer publish stand your feet publish you, summer standing, you can join stand now.

You want Christ to come of your life. Maybe you fallen away from the Lord, you need to come back to him again your prodigal son or daughter you stand your feet nullity join this prayer publish anybody else than your feet outside up in the overflow building their harvest Orange County. There are satellite campuses stand your feet East mail Woodcrest wherever you are, stand up Emily Juniper one final mode. If there's anybody else stand now. You want Christ to come in your life right all of you that are standing pray this prayer out loud out for me and this is where you're asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray this after me, Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I think you for dying on the cross for my sin. I turned from that sin.

Now I choose to follow you from this moment forward to my Savior and my Lord, my God, my friend. Thank you for calling me and accepting me in Jesus name I pray, amen

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