Nearing

You know I have to tell you when Harry shared on endearing or longing I thought back when I was 11 years old. I wanted a bicycle called a western flyer. I mean I really really wanted it. I could see myself riding that cherry red bike with chrome fenders, a head light powered by electricity produced by the turning of the back wheel – the faster I rode the brighter that light would shine and I could speed through the neighborhood as fast as I could go. THATS THE EMOTION I THOUGHT ABOUT WHEN HARRY SPOKE ON A DEEP YEARNING FOR GOD. A YEARING THAT ENVOLVES YOU WHOLE BODY MIND AND SPIRIT. I wanted that Western Flyer but there were no financial means to get it. I was 11 years old – I did not have any money. My parents didn’t have the money for it. My Dad was disabled for 2 years. The Catholic Church was giving us food tokens for get groceries. My dad had nine hernia operations over a 2 year period. He could sit down in an awkward position and cause another hernia. In fact the after the 3rd or 4th operation the doctors joked with him they were thinking about putting zippers on him to make it easier to fix the next hernia. I had to ask myself have I ever had that kind of intense yearning for the future return of Christ.  

                                                              

And then it was followed up by Jonathan’ message on waiting. He spoke about 2 kinds of waiting. One based on the Word and Glorified God and the another that was more materialistic and self-serving. I very much enjoyed both messages. By the way did you know that when your waiting on God the right way your strength is renewed? That’s what the Word says in

Isaiah 40:31 They that wait upon the Lord…..

                                                                

So we get to time for the first of 2 major world events as Harry called it several weeks ago – the nearing of the birth of the long awaited Messiah Jesus. It begins with the John the Baptist the fore runner of Jesus. By the way what do you think was the mine-set of the people of Israel back then. They have been hearing for many years about the coming arrival of the Messiah. I would think some had the attitude that they are aware of the prophecies – some 300 over the years but he would not come in their lifetime. Others may have been living under disappointment and had lost heart that He would actually come at all. They have been through so much oppression and now were under the thumb of the Roman empire. Others may have just resigned themselves to just get through life the best they can. 

                                                               

However there were also many who held on to those prophecies of promise and were faithful in following Lord. Two of those people were Zacharias and Elizabeth. Turn with me to Luke 1:5 and let’s pick it up from there.

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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.
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

                                                  

There are 3 observations along with a question I want to ask you this morning. 

God hears our prayers. I think its interesting that this Word came to Zaharias at the time of burning incense before the Lord. As I shared last week during worship that David said in

Psalms141:2 “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” 

the aroma of incense lingers long after the incense is burned – I believeGod hears and remembers our prayers long after we have prayed and answers them in His time as we wait and are faithful. Though Zacharias and Elisabeth were surely disappointed in not having a child and were now well advance in age – here they are in the present being faithful to God.

 Question are you being faithful and believing God even when things are not going your way and disappointment is trying to worm its way into your life. Jeremiah 1:12 says God watches over his word to perform it – what word was God watching over to perform in their case ? How about

Deuteronomy 7:14 you will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young.

God withheld that promise because he had something greater for them in the fullness of His time. What greater blessing than to have a son who would be the forerunner to the soon Coming Messiah.

Romans8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The Bible says in

I Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Did you catch those 2 words – without wrath & and doubting. Those 2 words can be toxicto you and I. James 1:20says for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. The Greek word for doubting in this verse means reasoning – its rooted in unbelief. 

 

 Belief vs UnbeliefBoth Zacharias and Mary questioned Gabriel concerning his message.   Zacharias And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. How were these 2 questions different? It was an attitude of the heart. Zacharias’ question was fill with unbelief. He was an experienced mature man serving as a priest who no doubt knew of Gods promise to Abraham & Sarah concerning the birth of Isaac in advance years of their life. So there was a history their he could have drawn upon. God did it before. Mary’ question was an innocent question from a young virgin girl. This sort of thing has never happened before and will never happen again. Look at her response from a believing heartBehold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

 Question – are you being faithful to Gods message to you in this present day? What’s he saying to you? Are you believing him for his promises to you in the midst of … 

Look at the prophetic that comes forth. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Zacharias And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, [ap]after his father.60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

Zacharias’s Prophecy

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
71 [aq]Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
72 To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
[ar]By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. 

I was getting ready to open my Bible to read one morning and the Lord spoke to me and said when I am getting ready to do something great there will be an increase in the prophetic.

Observe the prophetic from Mary & Zachariah shortly before the birth of Jesus. Anytime God is getting ready to move in a mighty way there is an increase in the prophetic. 

                                                                             

Which brings me to my final thoughts – the 2nd great event in world history Harry spoke of several weeks ago. The second coming of Christ. He is coming back for his Church. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

During the early centuries following the ascension of Jesus into heaven, Christians often greeted one another by saying, "Maranatha," which means "the Lord cometh." Despite constant persecution from both the pagans and the officials of the Roman government, the early Christians rejoiced in the certain knowledge that Jesus had prophesied that He would someday return.

Acts 1:10-11 (MOFF)
10 As he went up, their eyes were fixed on heaven; but just then two men stood beside them dressed in white,  who said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back, just as you have seen him depart to heaven."

Are you embracing that? Harry spoke on Endearing or longing for Christ in His return. Jonathan spoke on waiting for His return and used another word in the New testament for waiting called hope. I want to share with you a another word in the New Testament called FAITH. Question – is your faith a walking faith in living your life in such a manner that you are glorifying God and anticipating His return. I heard a preacher 30 years ago give a simple but powerful definition of faith. “He said faith is actively doing the will of God” The Bible says without faith it’s impossible to please God. The Bible also says the just shall live by Faith. Look at Hebrews 11 and what it says about FAITH ! 

 

One final question.

Luke 18:8 says when the son of man comes will he find faith on the earth?

To keep that in context Jesus is telling a parable about always praying and not losing heart. 

Luke 18:1-8 (MOFF)
1  He also told them a parable about the need of always praying and never losing heart.
2  "In a certain town," he said, "there was a judge who had no reverence for God and no respect even for man.
3  And in that town there was a widow who used to go and appeal to him for 'Justice against my opponent!'
4  For a while he would not, but afterwards he said to himself, 'Though I have no reverence for God and no respect even for man,
5  still, as this widow is bothering me, I will see justice done to her—not to have her for ever coming and pestering me.'
6  "Listen," said the Lord, "to what this unjust judge says!
7  And will not God see justice done to his elect who cry to him by day and night? Will he be tolerant to their opponents?
8  I tell you, he will quickly see justice done to his elect! And yet, when the Son of man does come, will he find faith on earth?" 

                                                  

 

 

Put your name there. When the Son Of Man comes will he find faith in ……

 

Tim Atchley