Summary: Our Lord replaces fear with joy, changes doubt to faith, and welcomes our service that flows from faith in Jesus. Parts: A. The Lord has ransomed you from fear B. The Lord drives out your doubts with his word C. The Lord enables you to serve him with joy

Text: Luke 1:68-75

Theme: Join Zechariah’s Praise to the Lord

A. The Lord has ransomed you from fear

B. The Lord drives out your doubts with his word

C. The Lord enables you to serve him with joy

Season: Christmas 2

Date: January 3, 2010

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Luke 1 records the Word from God which Holy Spirit gave Zechariah to speak at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. These words point us to Jesus, whom John prepared the way for.

"Praise to the Lord the God of Israel! For he has looked upon his people, ransomed them, and raised up for us the horn of salvation in the house of his servant David, just as he said through the mouth of his holy prophets long ago -- salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy among our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, in order to grant to us that, having been rescued from the hands of enemies, we fearlessly serve him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." (Luke 1:68-75)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A. The Lord has ransomed you from fear

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address in 1933. There’s some truth in those words. As the nation faced the Great Depression, fear could paralyze the efforts needed to move the economy forward.

You know the paralyzing effect of fear. Fear of failure prevents us from trying helpful things. Fear of the future, which we call worry, wastes away the present. Fear of disappoint stifles hope.

Maybe that’s why Zechariah didn’t believe the angel Gabriel when he told him his wife Elizabeth would have a son. They had tried for so many years. Why get his hopes up only to face the fear of disappointment? Fear can make ourselves our own worst enemy.

But let’s face it. There is also more to fear than just fear itself. Wickedness and evil infect this world. The old evil foe is hard at work. Death clutches at each of us until it finally drags us into the grave. In fact, we don’t even have to look past our own hearts to find evil.

Blindly ignoring this fear leads us into evil’s arms as if we were good friends. Evil can put on a friendly face, but he aims to hurt, harm, and torture you. He is the enemy. Swallowing our fear and doing our best to battle evil leaves us helpless and hopeless, for we are no match for the devil and his forces. A newborn chick has a better chance of surviving a pack of wolves. Fear at least sees the truth that we cannot stand against the forces of evil or the prince of this world. Until we see that, Zechariah’s praise to the Lord will seem like boring words or meaningless piousness.

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68 NIV). A little child plays innocently in a park. Suddenly a man grabs her from behind and drags her into a van. She’s gagged. A bag’s pulled over her head. Dust stings her eyes. The smell of sweat and cigarette smoke twitch her nose. The tightening ropes cut into her wrist. Fear overwhelms her. What will happen to her? Will she ever see Mommy or Daddy again? How horrible that cold, dark night, alone and terrified! But the next morning, when those van doors open, her tears turn to joy. There stands Mom and Dad, ready to take her home. She’s free! Why? Because the ransom had been paid. "He has come and has redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68 NIV). He has redeemed you, dear friend. His blood ransoms you. Praise to the Lord, our God!

The rhino calf was taking a drinking at the water hole. The tiger leaped at it. Soon the calf would have been ripped to shreds. But the mother rhinoceros charges out of the tall grass and drives the tiger away with her horn. "He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David" (Luke 1:69 NIV). So Jesus came from the house and line of David, born in Bethlehem, the town of David. He came to drive Satan away before that predator devoured us. Jesus saves you. Praise to the Lord, our God!

So see your real enemies. The sin that your inborn nature craves wants to re-kidnap you and steal you away from your true Father in heaven. But you have already been redeemed, bought at a price. Why sell yourself into slavery to sin again? Satan’s icy fingers long to pull you back into his thrall of death and hell. But Jesus is mightier than Satan. Praise to the Lord, our God! For he was worked "salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us" (Luke 1:71 NIV).

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