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Summary: Peace of mind is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy, and one of the most difficult to attain. It is not difficult because it is not available, it is difficult because we do not seek it in God’s way.

Pray for Peace in God’s Path

Luke 1:76-79

Introduction

Peace of mind is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy, and one of the most difficult to attain. It is not difficult because it is not available, it is difficult because we do not seek it in God’s way.

During this Advent series called Christmas Rush we have listened to the prophets teach us about great matters of the heart.

Embrace Hope in God’s Promise (Jeremiah)

Look for Love in God’s Comfort (Isaiah)

Experience Joy in God’s Faithfulness (Ezra)

Today we enter into Luke’s Gospel to talk about finding Peace in God’s Path. More…to pray for it.

The text for today concerns a Jewish priest and his wife in Judea who were excellent and godly examples, but who had a heartache they could not resolve: they could have no children. They were well beyond the years when they could have children.

Because of the large number of priests and the system of choosing who will enter the Holy Place to light incense, this would be a once in a lifetime privilege for Zechariah. He and two assistants would walk up the long ramp to the great altar. One would take a silver spoon and scrape up some live burning coals from the altar into a fire pan. They would walk back down the ramp. Zachariah would take a gold bowl full of incense and they would walk up the twelve steps to the door of the sanctuary. They would enter the Holy Place - forbidden to all except the sons of Levi. One one side would be the menorah, on the other side the table of showbread. In front of them would be the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. In front of the veil was the golden altar of incense. One priest would take away the coals from a former offering, the other assistant carefully placed the burning live coals evenly over the golden altar. The two assistants would quietly leave and Zachariah was alone with the Lord, holy, sacred, once in a lifetime.

As he placed the incense on the coals, the perfume began to rise - a sign of the prayers ascending to God. Then a marvelous thing happened: on the right side of the golden altar, in the haze of smoke there appeared an angel of God. Gabriel told him that his wife was going to have a baby - but the priest couldn’t believe it because it was physically impossible. Gabriel told the priest that he would name his baby John, and that since he did not believe he would not be able to speak until the day this news took place. The priest’s wife, Elizabeth, did have a baby boy and on the 8th day when they were going to circumcise him everyone thought they would name him after his father. But Zechariah (who hasn’t spoken for 9 months!) asked for a tablet and wrote “His name is John”.

Luke 1:64 “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.”

He offered up a song of praise - a song of prophecy - Zechariah the priest said many things about how blessed he was, how wonderful God was, and how God always kept his promises.

I want us to focus on the last few verses of his song. He speaks of his son John and the Savior who comes after John. Luke 1:76 “And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways…” Zechariah points the way to peace … it begins with…

1. Knowledge of Salvation

Luke 1:77 “To give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”

The coming of Jesus is all about saving lost humanity. In Luke 19 is the story of Zaccheus, a short guy who climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him, and went to his house for a meal. The people said, “he has gone stay with a sinful man” but Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

A relationship with Jesus is about accepting the reality that he came, lived, died, and resurrected to bring salvation to a lost humanity. The issue at hand - the forgiveness of our sins. Everyone is a sinner - all of us fall short of God’s glory. But that’s not the end of your story if you don’t want it to be.

A man who called himself the ‘chief of sinners’ recalled when he gave his life to Christ. His teacher said to him, “And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” (Acts 22:16) and that’s what he did. Paul went on to plant many churches and write much of the New Testament that we read today by the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is about having the debts cleared, but also about establishing a relationship.

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