Living as People of Hope
Zechariah and Elizabeth – Luke 1:5-13
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Dec. 2nd, 2018
- This morning we are starting our Christmas series.Over the next for weeks, we will be inspired and taught to live as people of hope, love, joy and peace as we learn from the lives of our forbearers of faith from the opening pages of the book of Luke. The aim of this short series is that your faith will be encouraged and strengthened, your life will be enriched and deepened, and that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Luke was probably a Gentile (non-Jew) by birth, well educated in Greek culture, a doctor by profession, a companion of Paul at various times on his second missionary journey to his first imprisonment in Rome, and a loyal friend who remained with the apostle after others had deserted him. (NIV Study Bible). Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts as a companion book to the ongoing expansion of the mission and ministry of Jesus and the apostles. In the opening lines of the Gospel of Luke, Luke explains why he was writing.
Luke 1:1-4 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
- Luke was a contemporary of the apostles and eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus. He followed all these things closely and wrote to give an orderly account so that we may have certainty concerning the things that have been taught.
- He is a reliable, educated and thorough man who compiled from many eyewitness sources so that we can be assured that what we have been told is true. This helps us in our reliability of what is written and of the words that we possess. You can trust what is written is accurate and true.
- Christianity is based upon facts, places and people.It is not based on make-believe or pretend. It is not something that people make up in their mind, but factual information on real people, places, and times. It is written and reported as instructed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is reasonable and reliable, authentic and authoritative.
- The people and the passages we are going to read and examine from the gospels are true. God will use them to shape our mind, heart and lives.
- This morning we are going to look at first two people that are introduced to us in the Gospel of Luke: Zechariah and Elizabeth. We are going to learn from them how to live as people of hope. Here is a question I want you to consider. Will you continue to serve God and live rightly even when your hopes and prayers have not been fulfilled? This is a serious question and a test of us to see if we are really in the faith. It is a test that has been used to filter people over time. Many have failed the test while others continue moving forward in faith. Zechariah and Elizabeth are two that passed that test. Let’s read about them as we continue with the next verses.
Luke 1:5-7 ESV
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
- What do know about these two? They were living under occupation, they were both from the tribe of Levi (the tribe of the priests). They were righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. They were old and without children.
- Now it is one thing to be young and full of faith, and it is another thing to be old and full of faith. It is yet another thing to be old, righteous and still not to have your most deeply held desire and most prayed about issue unfulfilled.They were living these verses:
Phil 2:14-16 ESV
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life,
- To be labeled “blameless” means that they did all things without grumbling or questioning.Wow, that is a high standard – especially in their service to God! (Many people think that if they are serving God all things will go right . . . . all the time . . . which is not the case.) They shone like stars holding fast to the word of life. This brings us to the first point if you want to live as people of hope – we must trust in God’s word.
Trust in God’s word
- Do you trust what God’s says in His word or don’t you? This is the fundamental question if you are going to continue in your faith in the face of unanswered prayers and care of this world. Do you know the promise, and do you trust the one who gives us these promises?
- He said that He would never leave us or forsake us and that He would be with us to the end of age (among many others).
Heb 11:6 NIV
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- Do you believe that He exists (which is the starting point of faith)? And do you believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him? Will you continue to seek Him, serve Him and follow Him trusting that in due time you will receive your reward?
Heb 11:1-2 NIV
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
- This is the essence of Faith . . .holding on to hope when we cannot see and do not yet have the results. This is what the “heroes” of faith, the “ancients,” were commended for (See Heb. Chapter 11 – note what they endured while not yet receiving the reward that God gave to them).
- Zechariah and Elizabeth held on to God’s word which gave them the strength to continue to serve God and live according to His plan living as people of hope.
- Let’s continue to read about their story.
Luke 1:8-13 ESV
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
- Here you have it. They were old and continued to hold on to hope while they served God and lived for Him. They did indeed receive their reward (even in this life) “Your prayer – THE prayer – has been heard.” This then brings us to the second point of living as people of hope.
Take the long view
- Many people “lose their faith” because they demand from God and expect Him to do their will in their timeframe. If God does not deliver according to their will they walk away. Having this outlook then puts the person over God, verses recognizing God is over them. Never, never, never settle for the short view of things. Remember God does have a plan, and His view of what is long and what is short comes from the perspective of eternity. “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8 ESV).
- It is good for us all to remember these verses.
Hab 2:3 ESV
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Rom 8:24-25 ESV
Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Isa 49:23 ESV
those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
- Remember that if you are in “God’s Waiting Room” you are in very good company.
God’s Waiting Room
- Noah – for new life
- Abraham – for provision
- Joseph – for justice
- Moses – for instruction
- Job – for vindication
- Naomi – for redemption
- Hannah – for children
- David – for deliverance
- Daniel – for revelation
- Jeremiah – for return
- Elijah – for rain
- Esther – for favor
- Jonah – for another chance
- Apostles – for power
- Peter – for freedom
- Paul – for reward
- Creation – for renewal
- Believers – for resurrection
- Jesus – for His Father to say, “Go get your bride, the wedding’s today?”
- Choose to live as people of hope by trusting in God’s word and taking the long view.Keep serving and living for God even if He does not answer your prayers in your time frame. Continue to trust His plan and His heart- He will make all things beautiful in His time.