Summary: The first coming of Christ was preceded by increased spiritual activity. As we celebrate His birth shouldn’t we also celebrate that same spiritual activity?
December 5, 2010
Text: Luke 1:11-17
Subject: The Announcement of John’s Birth
Title: Filled for a Purpose
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Don’t you just love this time after Thanksgiving? I mean, what more could a person want; a time to go out and fight the crowds over so-called bargains; the stress of making sure you get the right gift; the sadness of remembering those who won’t be with us this year… What’s not to like right?
Well, we could look at the season that way – many people do, or we could chose to remember what Christmas is really all about.
In many traditional churches this time of the year is called Advent. Advent is simply the time before the coming of Christ to earth. And in those churches Advent is a time of celebration and reflection about what Christmas really means. We’re not one of those Liturgical churches, but we do participate in the community Advent services. If you aren’t attending those you should consider it if you are able. This week it will be at the Baptist church on Main Street.
I think it is a good thing to consider beforehand what we are about to celebrate on December 25. In Japan as in America Christmas has become very much a time of materialism. It is about gifts and shopping and family and food. A Japanese TV reporter was out in the mall and asked a passerby what the real meaning of Christmas was. A young shopper replied, “I don’t know. Is that the day Jesus died?” How close to the truth is that? That is why it is so important that we think about the true meaning of Christmas beforehand and to let our young ones know the true meaning.
Now having said that I want to take you in the next couple of weeks to some of the events in the Bible that preceded the birth of Christ. The purpose is so that I can show you that there is more there than just a story of a baby’s birth. There is a truth that is intended to touch your life. Today we want to look at the angelic visitation in the temple with Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and see the things that were told about the baby he would bring into the world and how those things relate to the promises God has for your life.
You are filled for a purpose.
Read Luke 1:11-17; 80
Lord I pray for your anointing today as I share Your word. Lord bless those that hear today and let Your Holy Spirit teach the way Your word says He will.
I. YOU ARE FILLED WITH THE PROMISE As we begin today let me just catch you up with what is going on. Zechariah is a priest in the temple. It is his turn to serve. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are elderly and have no children. In a culture where children were considered to be proof of God’s blessing they had received none. But God wants them to know that regardless of their age He is not finished with them. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. Notice that this occurs at a time of what would be a significant spiritual exercise in Zechariah’s life. The priest that served in the temple only did so at specific times when they were chosen. Some may only serve once in a lifetime. It is what he had trained his whole life for. It was during that time that the Lord sought to speak to him. He wanted to get his attention. Have you ever wondered why God spoke to some in the bible directly and to some He spoke through and angel and yet others He would speak through a dream? Hebrews 1:1, 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways… God will speak to you in a way that you will understand. We recently talked about the ways that God speaks to His people. The number one and most foundational way He will speak to us is through His Word. The second most common way is through the inner man. Look what the writer of Hebrews says in verse 2. …2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. God couldn’t speak to Zechariah through Jesus… He hadn’t been born yet. He didn’t speak to him through the spirit man. He didn’t have any biblical guidelines to direct him concerning God speaking that way. So God spoke to him in a way that would be sure to get his attention. He sent an angel. Now, the reason God wanted his attention was so He could tell him specific information that would affect, not just his family, not just the nation of Israel, but the whole world and for all time. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. God never speaks just to hear Himself. He’s not like men. So when He does speak to us we should never respond with fear. The bible tells us that fear leads to bondage and perfect love casts out fear. What the angel says is enough to get his attention. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son… I can imagine Zechariah’s thought process. OK, I see an angel. I know that he is speaking God’s word to me. What he is saying has happened before according to the bible – with Abraham and Sarah. But that was then and this is now. God could never do that for me could he? We know that was what he was thinking by reading on in verse 20, And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” Look at the priority of the message. 1) it was for Zechariah but it really wasn’t about him. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth… 2) The words of the angel were about John but they looked beyond John. The angel tells us about how people will respond to John’s message … many will rejoice because of his birth… 3) What it really tells us is that John will have a special calling on his life. I want to look a little closer at this. The angel says that people will rejoice… John will be someone who attracts people and has influence over them. We know that the common people in Israel held John in high esteem. Our goal as Christians, those who are called by God, must never be to please people. In whatever ministry God has called you to in the church, if you priority is to keep people happy then you may be missing what God wants, because too many times God wants to call people out of their comfort zones and they don’t want to leave them. . 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Our primary focus must always be to please God. How do we do that? By believing his word and then acting on it. By being faithful to the work that HE has given you to do. If you ever get to the place where you want to please people more than you please God it’s time to step back and reevaluate. Later John would say concerning Jesus, “I must decrease; He must increase. The angel says John would be great… not from a worldview, but in the eyes of the Lord. What makes John special in God’s eyes? First it is his obedience to God’s command for his life. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink… he didn’t. Second, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Though the administration of the Holy Spirit was different then than it is now, the purpose was the same. When I say the administration was different I mean that before the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out for all believers, God sent the Holy Spirit to work a specific work in a specific individual. But the purpose has never changed. The Holy Spirit has always been given to empower God’s chosen people. Now look at verse 16 and you can see that the purpose then was the same as it is now. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is to have power to preach the gospel… to bring people back to God – the same as it was for John. You are filled for a purpose.