Summary: A call to faith in the light of evidence

The Questions of Christmas (1)

The Question of Zechariah:

How Can I Be Sure?

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:5-25

A great philosopher once said,

“Somewhere deep below the surface, the story of our lives as human beings is one long, hopeful quest for certainty.”

That philosopher’s name . . . is Bob Hostetler.

Good morning. I’m Bob Hostetler, and I made up that quote, because I was sure some wise person had said something like that, but I couldn’t find it! So, as a man who makes his living writing books and articles, I thought, if I can’t find a quote that says what I believe, I’ll make one up. And so I did.

Let me give it to you again:

“Somewhere deep below the surface, the story of our lives as human beings is one long, hopeful quest for certainty.”

I thoroughly believe that to be true.

We all want to know

that there are some things we can know.

We all long for certainty in life;

we crave some assurance that the things we’ve been told are true,

that the things we believe are real;

we long to say, in the words of the Jars of Clay

song, Liquid, “This is the one thing,

the one thing that I know. . . .”

or, for you Baby Boomers, as the group Spandau

Ballet sang, “I know this much is true. . . .”

And we are not alone in that desire.

This morning at Cobblestone Community Church we begin a new four-week series of messages from the Bible, entitled “The Questions of Christmas.” And through the course of those four messages, we’re going to encounter some of the most basic,

most searching,

most revealing

questions that any human being has ever asked.

So, if you would, please turn in your Bible to the Gospel of Luke, the 3rd book of the New Testament

—Matthew, Mark, LUKE—

Luke, chapter one,

and we’re going to meet a man named Zechariah, and discuss the question he asked,

a question that has been a part of the Christmas story for two thousand years now . . .

Now, let me pause briefly here to say,

if you worship here regularly, I encourage you to get in the habit of bringing your Bible with you so you can read for yourself

with your own eyes

from your own Bible

what’s being taught up here at the front.

If you’re here without a Bible of your own this morning, please feel free to use on of the copies we provide for you in the center of each table.

And if you don’t own a Bible of your own, please take one of ours home with you. . .

free of charge,

no strings attached,

no obligation,

no money down,

no interest charge,

no payments—you get the idea.

So, where was I?

Oh, yes, that’s right,

Luke, chapter one,

It’s on page ___ if you’re reading from one of the

table Bibles today . . .

And our study of God’s Word this morning will extend from the fifth verse of that chapter through the 25th. So I invite you to follow along with me in your Bible as I read aloud from mine, beginning at Luke 1:5:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well on in years.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

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