Introduction: The world speaks in many different ways. And we have learned to listen. We often follow what the world tells us. This century alone, man has discovered the power of communication by way of the -
Newsprint, Telegram, Radio, Telephone, Televison, Internet
Think for a moment of all of the ways you are communicated to. People speak to us with their ideas almost every waking moment. Everyone is saying the same thing, "Listen to me...listen to what I say..."
They are either knocking on your door, or they’re calling you on the phone.
Everyone is wanting you to know -
1. who they are
2. what it is they (supposedly) can do for you
3. what it is they are wanting from you
Some of these things are good for us. But, the average person is bombarded from every direction with the things everyone else says will,
1. save you money - buy now, pay later, never before...get rich quick...
2. save you time - instant everything... In a hurry? We’ve got the answer! Ten locations (in Bloomington) to better serve you!
3. save the world - recycle everything...global warming is destroying our environment...
4. save your life - more calcium less fat...more exercise less cholesterol
Different causes and different companies compete all day long to get your attention. Or, to get your commitment.
They say they know how to make your life so much better.
People without God this morning are asking,
"With everything going so well in my life, why do I need God?"
The world is speaking and everyone listens.
The average man or woman is convinced that he is able to solve any and all of life’s problems.
The world speaks louder and louder. And still, God Speaks.
The world wants to save you money, save you time, save the environment, and save your live. All these voices are confusing our hearts.
But God is simply saying, "I am here to save your soul".
Jesus clearly puts all of this in perspective when He said,
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
God knows we hear what the world has to say. Hr knows how you live.
But when God Speaks, He is expecting us to LISTEN to what He has to say. Listen very carefully. Be ready to hear and respond to His voice.
Text: Luke 1:5 thru 17
Zacharius was truly a blessed man.
Consider for a moment all of the blessings God spoke into his life:
1. Righteous man married to a righteous woman
2. Both he and his wife (Elizabeth) are living in God’s perfect will.
Blameless before the Lord.
3. He is visited by an angel (in the temple). He wasn’t even in the holy of holies. And not just any angel, but by the angel Gabriel.
4. Gabriel assures his prayers have been answered. (Perhaps, this was an old forgotten prayer prayed many years ago when Zacharius and Elizabeth were still young, and wanting children)
Zacharius’ prayers were heard in heaven and weren’t forgotten.
5. Zacharius is promised a newborn son. Zacharius doesn’t even have to worry about coming up with a name.
6. Finally, Zacharius is going to receive joy and gladness into his life.
7. In fact many people will rejoice at the birth of this child.
8. The son will be a child of God filled with the Holy Spirit. Before John was even born, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
9. The son will eventually become the greatest evangelist of his time.
10. Verse 17 says the son is to be given "...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."
What a kid? What a promise from God? What more could a man want out of life? Zacharius has been given a godly family that loves the Lord.
That should be enough blessings for any of us.
But how many of you know, sometimes we think we need more from God?
Sometimes the Lord Himself can be speaking to us, (giving us promise after promise), and yet we sometimes find it hard to believe what He is saying.
I see this man, Zacharius, saying something we all have said to God from time to time. He said,
"How shall I know this?" The NIV says, "How can I be sure of this?"
So - What is wrong with asking God that question?
The answer is found in this same chapter. In verse 34.
Mary, the mother of Jesus had just been spoken to by the same angel, Gabriel. Mary has asked a similar question, but not quite.
She asks, "How SHALL this be?" "How WILL this be?"
Do you see the difference, here? Mary, with her simple and sensitive heart, knows this is God speaking into her life. But somehow, Zacharius didn’t.
Both people have been sent the same messenger of God.
This angel, Gabriel, has spoken by direct orders from God.
It is ironic that it was a woman that first blew it in the garden. But here it was the man that blew it this time.
Mary, (in her innocence and humility), was obedient when God spoke.
But Zacharius, in all of his righteousness, was hesitant and disbelieving.
The question Zacharius asked was not accidentally misstated.
The story of Zacharius should be reminding us all of how we have, at one time or another, questioned the Lord when He speaks. Perhaps many of us have asked God this same question. We find ourselves saying,
God I thank you for speaking to me today. But how can I be sure God?
Perhaps what we really mean is - God, I am not convinced You can do this.
We, like Zacharius, are faced with (what we think are) impossible situations in our lives.
Just like Zacharius,
- we have come to God’s house, today, to burn some incense (or, light a candle) with the hope something is going to change for us
- we may even have all the worshipers gathered around us, praying and believing God for breakthrough
Just like Zacharius, God may suddenly surprise you in His temple.
Out of no where His Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. He simply says,
"Fear not. I am going to answer your prayers."
We are standing head to head, toe to toe, eye to eye with God.
God is speaking to us. And then our response is,
"Really...God...How can I be sure about this? How will I know?"
Nothing wrong with asking God how HE IS going to do this.
Or, how WILL HE do this. We all need God’s confirmation in our lives.
God delights in confirming and proving His love and plan for our us.
What He doesn’t like is our questioning whether or not He can really do these things. God calls this doubt and disbelief.
Many Bible scholars have called this, Apostasy.
The dictionary refers to apostasy as the "desertion of one’s faith".
With the angel Gabriel in front of him, Zacharius deserted his faith in God’s ability to speak into his life. God is merciful. But His angel, Gabriel, wasn’t.
As a result of Zacharius’ disbelief, and the desertion of his faith, the angel, Gabriel, put the holy hush on him. Zacharius is silenced by God for disbelief.
For the next nine months, not a word is heard out of Zacharius.
Almost a comical story. Imagine a husband who can’t speak at all for nine months while his wife is pregnant.
This might not have been a good time for a guy to have nothing to say.
In a way, this was a cute story. What isn’t cute, although, is the desertion of one’s faith. Apostasy has always been a threat to the church of Jesus Christ.
It is cancerous and contagious. It has a terminal effect on God’s people.
It may cause you to think you can convince yourself (or others) with rational and logic.
Unfortunately, Christians will often chose to
- question God’s ability to change things
- question God and His plans and purposes
God doesn’t operate that way. God operates only in the realm of faith.
God is waiting for His people to believe and trust Him when He speaks.
There are a lot questions in my life that are unanswered. I can’t explain to you why this happens or that happens. I’m not so sure God expects me to answer all of life’s questions, or even wants me to.
Pastor Bill and I can only hope to lead this congregation, but what we cannot do is make your decisions for you.
Like Zacharius, we all can get impatient sometimes waiting on God.
God is looking for our faith and belief to conquer our situations.
When the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zacharius in the temple that day, no one of the Hebrew faith had heard God speak for over 400 years.
Not so much as a whisper from God.
The Jews were tired of waiting on the Lord to send them an answer to their prayers. Zacharius was not use to there being any words from heaven.
There weren’t any revelations, only religion. Not much to go on.
Only the - piles of Hebrew writings from the scribes
- Laws of Moses and the writings from the prophets of old.
How discouraged the children of God must have become.
The people of Zacharius’ time had many questions needing to be answered. Any one of them would have loved to hear God speak to them.
And just when all hope was fading, suddenly God Speaks.
God is speaking to you this morning. You have been waiting for so long.
Now He is speaking those same words, "Your prayer is heard!"
Take comfort in knowing that God has heard your prayer.
Listening when God Speaks is so important for you as a Christian.
It is important for us as a church.
All of the discipline and obedience Zacharius had to offer God that day meant nothing, if he didn’t have the ability to listen to God when He spoke.
Zacharius was a righteous man, but he needed a good dose of faith, if he was to fulfill the plan God had for his life.
Zacharius was to play an important part in the plan of God.
The Lord was to send salvation to the world and He had promised to first send the son of Zacharius. John the Baptist was to be,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
What God had to do with the son of Zacharius would be very important.
The role that Zacharius would have in the raising of that young impressionable boy, (John the Baptist), was to be very important.
Do you have questions or doubts in your life this morning?
Then listen very carefully to the voice of the Lord. He is saying,
"I have heard your prayers."
What God had to say to that old man, (Zacharius), is what He is saying to each of us today. I’m not through with you yet. You may be ready to give up on yourself, but God Speaks.
As a Christian and as your Pastor, I cannot ever question God’s authority or
His will. I can never desert my faith in Him.
I cannot allow myself to ask God the question Zacharius asked.
I must simply believe as Mary did when God spoke to her.
God I trust You that only You can do this for me. I will do everything I possibly can to do my part. But in the end, when it’s all said and done, I am certain that only You will have done these things.
My faith and my hope is not in the things that I can see, but God says in Hebrews 11,
"Faith is...the evidence of things not seen."