Summary: A Christmas message taught on a Wednesday night this year with parts of the outline influenced by a book called Handfuls of Purpose from 1943.
Intro: When it comes to the Christmas story, most…if not all of us, probably know the particulars of it by heart.
We know about the parents, the manger and the inn keeper.
We know all about the shepherds and the heavenly host inviting them to Bethlehem.
We even throw in the Magi, even though they probably didn’t appear for a couple of years.
But we often forget about some of the others involved in the story leading up to the story.
This evening I want us to read one of those stories and look at the scenario he found himself in and how it can relate to us during Christmas and beyond.
Read text and pray.
Zechariah found himself in a rough spot…unable to speak at a time when he probably wanted to speak the most.
He was going to be a new father and couldn’t tell a soul!
This was the result of his unbelief, and this unbelief came as a result of being so engrossed in his own trials.
Society expected many things, like today…and 2000 years ago an expectation was for a husband and wife to have a family; to not have a family could lead to feeling shamed and humiliated.
That is where Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth found themselves, and when he was told to expect a family…he doubted and he paid for that doubt.
There are going to be times when we ourselves face various afflictions…some times physical, sometimes monetarily, or maybe it will be spiritual in nature (not feeling like God is even there).
What should we do during those times?
Zechariah is an example for us.
1. Continue to serve
Read vs. 8, 11
We need to continue doing what God has called us to do, and He will reveal Himself and his will to us.
Moses was keeping his FIL Jethro’s flock when God spoke through a burning bush in Exo. 3:1
Gideon was threshing wheat when he heard from God in Judges 6:11
Elisha was plowing when the prophetic mantle fell on him in 1 Kings 19:10
David was tending to sheep when he was chosen to be king of Israel according to Psa. 78:70
And then there are the disciples of Jesus: Matthew the tax collector, Peter the fisherman…
Sometimes we need to get away from the hustle and bustle and find an alone time with God in order to hear from him…but more than likely we can and will find Him revealed to us in the day to day, in our routine service.
This Christmas when you seem over whelmed, just keep working and doing what you need to do…but be attentive to how God may be speaking to you.
The 2nd truth we learn from Zechariah is to…
2. Pray expectantly
Read vs. 13
This news of a child was staggering to him.
Chances are he and Elizabeth struggled and prayed for years with what seemed like no results.
But now they were both “along in years” according to vs. 7…meaning beyond child bearing years.
As they years went by, so did any hope of having a family of their own.
Yet I would have to believe something in Zechariah’s heart told him to continue to pray…maybe it was knowing the story of Abraham and Sarah.
When we pray, we need to pray expecting God to answer, and often in unexpecting ways.
It may not happen when and where we expect it or how we expect it…but expect it none the less.
Like the old adage says, “God works in mysterious ways”…Zechariah might agree.
That is why we need to remember what Gal. 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
3. Look for God Sized Works
God is able to do far more than what we can ask or even imagine.
We serve a very creative God…just look at creation.
Look at the duck billed platypus!
Zechariah hoped for a child, probably a son…a chip off the old block to carry on the family name and the family business.
Notice what God promised…vs. 14-15.
He would have a son worthy of the God who gave the son to him.
This good man and his humble wife were not going to be greatly rewarded for their many years of praying, serving and waiting.
God is always faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13)…and we should always wait on Him.
Isa. 40:31, “Thos who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Hab. 2:3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of an end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”