A encouraging Christmas sermon on waiting in hope while waiting for the promise.
Introduction: We all have dreams and goals in life. We are waiting for a breakthrough to happen, we want a situation to turn around etc. But when things do not happen as we want them to be, most of us get frustrated and lose our joy in life.
Are you waiting indefinitely for something? Have you ever asked God for something very genuine and you seem to get no answers for it?
Well, we have come to yet another season of Hope. Christmas is round the corner. There is a message of hope related to Christmas in the opening pages of the Gospel of Luke. Here, we find an elderly couple waiting indefinitely for an answer from God.
Luke 1:5-7 5In 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. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
Zechariah and Elizabeth believed and followed God. They did everything right and walked blameless in God’s presence; however, they never had a child. Weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, and years turned into decades. Now they are very old and absolutely no hope for a child.
Their request to God had been a simple prayer that every married couple has prayed at one time or the other – “Oh! Lord, grant us a child.” But for some reason, God had remained silent on this issue.
Today, maybe you are praying for a breakthrough to happen for a long time. You are saying, “Lord, 2014 is ending, but I still find no change in my situation.” May be you are trusting God for a breakthrough in your career, in your ministry, about your child, breakthrough in your family etc. Deep down you know God has spoken that to you. But so often because it is taking a long time and you are not seeing any sign from God, you are getting discouraged. By every passing day you feel the task is getting near to impossible.
1. Trust God when you don’t understand.
Many times you may not understand why things are happening against you and that is where you need faith to trust God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
You may be facing a dead-end situation right now—financial, emotional, or relational, but if you will trust God He will make a way for you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
For Zechariah and Elizabeth, to be childless often brought a lot of shame and sorrow. Children were considered a blessing, and childlessness was seen as a curse or disgrace. Elizabeth even called her childlessness, “A disgrace among the people.” She does not understand why. Maybe you are in the same situation today.
But the Bible says that they were upright in the sight of God. Luke 1:6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.
God is looking at certain people this morning. You have been doing the right thing. Coming to church, being as good and kind as much as possible, living a holy life the best as you can but deep within you are disappointed because of unanswered prayers. You don’t understand why this is happening to you. I want to encourage you to trust God even when you do not seem to understand.
Proverbs 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, (Before the first gleam of dawn is a long and dark night) The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter till the full light of day.
In spite if being good, you may be enduring a dark night, totally confused about your future; you just got to trust God and move on. The Bible says when you do right; your path is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter till the full light of day. Keep moving on, God will take those dark nights away, and put your life in a place of perfect light.
The Bible says: Psalm 30:5 Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. I see seasons of joy and rejoicing coming upon the people of God in Jesus’ name.
Moving on: Zechariah not only trusted God when he faced the impossible but he continued to do good in God’s presence.
Luke 1:6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Their prayers were not answered, but they never gave up on God.
Luke 1:8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God…
You see, he went to the temple to perform his duties as a priest. What does that say? In spite of uncertainties, in spite shame in the society; Zechariah not only believed God but kept doing good. He had the right perspective.
2. Have the right perspective.
It is always important to have the right perspective especially when you are waiting for your promise.
You see, the problem with many of us is that when things don’t work out as we plan, we lose all joy, get discouraged in life. Then there is no enthusiasm in life, no joy in the family, and our spiritual life also takes a beating. Such people are no more seen at church and meeting. They say, “What do I answer people, nothing is working out.” You see, that is where we miss out. Don’t retire, don’t give up. Keep doing good in spite of the bad happening to you.
Habakkuk was a prophet who saw so much of negativity around him. Do you know what he said? Habakkuk 3:17-18 17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. God is looking for people like this today. You may be facing a hopeless situation, an unanswered prayer but can you praise God in spite of that problem?
Paul said from a Roman Jail: Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
God has a set time for your breakthrough, but if you need that victory in God’s time, you need to have the right perspective.
Do you remember the time when Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land? Ten of them came back defeated and said, “Moses we don’t stand a chance. There are giants in the land.” Look at the perspective of Joshua and Caleb. They said, “Yes the people are big, but we know our God is bigger. There are giants in the land, but our God is a giant killer. We are well able to take the land, let us go in at once.”
Both the groups started out together from Egypt. They travelled 20 years in the wilderness waiting for the promise. Now, they have come next door to the Promised Land. They are facing the same enemy, the same circumstances, the same God; the only difference was their perspective.” One group was focused on the size of the enemy, the other group was focused on the capacity of their God.
Just because the majority had the wrong perspective God said, “You are going to turn around and wander in the wilderness for 20 more years.” You see, if they had the right perspective, they would have had the promise then. Out of the 2 million people who were camped next door to the Promised Land, only 2 made it to the Promised Land just because of the right perspective. Many times it is our perspective that stops our breakthrough.
Zechariah said, “No, even if my prayers are not answered, I will keep the right perspective. I will not lose my zeal. I will do good. I will be blameless. I will worship and serve God. I know God has a set time for my breakthrough.” So, year after year he presented himself for the temple services.
Luke 1:8-9 8Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot…It gets to the day that Zechariah was moving on inspite of his failures that he was chosen by the casting of lots to burn incense in the temple. There were about 18,000 priests who regularly served at the temple, but only one could go into the Holy Place and burn incense as they prepared for the sacrificial offering. As a priest, you would only get this chance once in a lifetime.
Luke 1:9-10 9He was chosen by lot according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
Today was Zechariah’s day! God had been planning this day from the very beginning. Had Zechariah given up he would have lost his appointment with God. God uses this climactic moment in Zechariah’s career as a priest to make His move.
As Zechariah was worshipping in God’s presence, suddenly, the angel Gabriel shows up with an important message: Luke1:11-12 11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
The angel’s appearance frightened Zechariah. Luke 1:13 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 call him John. Gabriel’s first words are like a like a breath of fresh air after a long time.
Today God is speaking the same message you. Maybe you are waiting for a breakthrough. Your life is in a mess, your integrity is been questioned, but you have been faithful to God. God is telling you, “Fear not, your prayers have been answered. Today is the day of your deliverance.” Praise God.
You see, Zechariah trusted God in the impossible, kept the right perspective, continued with his devotions and worship, and God decided to step in.
We have the life of Zechariah before us and now we say praise God.
Some of you are still discouraged because your prayers are not answered but what if God showed you His part of the story. Maybe you are praying for your marriage and God is telling that on March 1, 2015; at 3 pm you are going to meet the person of your dreams. You see, you will not be discouraged. Your face will start glowing, you will go and buy some good clothes, go to the best parlour, you will be all excited and relaxed. Why? You know the big day is coming.
What if God told you that on February 12, 2015; you are going to have a new job. Oh! You would be so happy. You would prepare yourself for that day. You will say to everyone around, “You know, I am joining work on Feb. 12.”
Believe it or not, God is working out that day for you. Here is where it takes faith to trust God.
God promises that there are set times in our future, but he does not tell us when they will be. There is a set time for the problem to turn around, a set time for your healing, for your promotion, your breakthrough. It maybe tomorrow, next week, or a year from now, but when you understand the time has already been set it takes all the pressure off.
My question is, “Do you trust God when you do not understand. Will you continue to do worship God like Zechariah? That is when God works, so don’t withdraw.
3. God has a purpose behind all your troubles.
God has a reason for your struggles and when God pays back, he will give double for every trouble that you go through.
Zechariah was told by the angel to not be afraid, that his prayer has been answered but why was the delay in Zechariah’s life?
Luke 1:13-17 13But 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 call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for 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 before he is born. 16He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
The angel reveals that Zechariah’s son, John is going to play a special role in the unfolding of God’s eternal plan. He will be the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will minister in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of people to God.”
You see God had a greater purpose for Zechariah’s delay. Zechariah was praying probably to end to his shame, but when God answered him, God did end his shame in the process restored the people of Israel. God gave him back double for his trouble, more than he could ask.
God is promising you double for all your trouble. Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
Zechariah could not believe. Luke 1:18-19 18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
Some of you still may not believe like Zechariah but I prophesy your breakthrough is coming in Jesus’ name. If you believe that give a clap offering in faith.
Luke 1:23-25 23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Conclusion: Does anything seem hopeless to you today? Are you faced with an impossible situation at work? Up against an impossible situation in a relationship? Burdened by an impossible situation with your family? Troubled by an impossible situation financially? God has a set time for your situation and when he answers, he not only takes care of your need but it will be for a greater purpose.
I proclaim the deliverance of God upon you in Jesus’ name. Amen!