Special Business MeetingDecember 23, 2018 - 12:00 PM - 12:30 PMSpecial business meeting to discuss and possibly vote to join together with a Hispanic church with the purpose of providing them space until they can afford their own building.
- PO - We’ve light the third candle of our advent wreath this morning.This pink candle is different than the others.It marks the halfway point in the advent season.Christmas this coming very soon!We have an idea of what to expect, though you might not know the contents of every gift until you open them.But, we expect something non the less.Sometimes, however, we go along as usual and the unexpected happens.One day a bus driver was driving along his usual route when a big hulk of a man got on. He was six feet eight inches tall, built like a wrestler, and his arms hung to the ground. He glared at the driver and told him, “Big John doesn’t pay!” Then he sat at the back of the bus.The driver was five feet three inches tall, thin, and very meek, so he didn’t argue with Big John. But he wasn’t happy.The next day the same thing happened, and the next. The bus driver began to lose sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him.Finally, he could stand it no longer. He signed up for bodybuilding, karate, judo, and self-esteem classes. By the end of the summer, the bus driver had become stronger and more confident. So when Big John entered the bus and again declared, “Big John doesn’t pay!” the driver finally took him on. He stood up, glared at Big John, and bellowed, “And why not?”With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, “Big John has a bus pass.”Sometimes we don’t expect to hear what comes to our ears.Such is the case in our story this morning.Elizabeth had given up on the idea of having a baby.She resigned to the fact of never hearing a little one call her “mommy” and her husband “daddy.”Elizabeth figured there’d never be a time she’d hear a toddler running through the house laughing and playing.She was barren; something horrible for her, none the less a fact she faced.Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, was going about his duties as a priest in the worship center.It was while at work when God interrupted Zechariah.The angel Gabriel left from the presence of God to appear to Zechariah.Now, Zechariah was going about his work and was not anticipating Gabriel that day.The appearance of the angel shocked and frightened him.Just like many of us, Zechariah was not expecting to hear from God while he was going about his day.EST - In our text this morning we will hear the announcement Gabriel made to Zechariah.ESS - Our message will remind us to wait on God; his timing is perfect.OSS - At the end of our time today will be and opportunity for us to respond to the action of the Word on our hearts this morning.What does it say?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.In most cases hearing that God is answering your prayers is a joyous event.And it is, still, this is not most cases, joyous yes, but not exactly what Zechariah expected to hear that day when he went to work.What does it mean?Unexpected can be scaryIt’s quiet, your alone, and an angel appears.Jennifer knows I’m someplace in the house, but she does not expect me to pop up and start talking. When I do, it startles her. Typically I try to make a little noise to let her know I’m heading her way.When we aren’t expecting someone, their sudden appearance can be a bit shocking.Now, imagine that someone is the angle Gabriel.Zechariah was going about his duties and God interrupted what he was doing.Gabriel left the presence of God to appear in front of Zechariah and our text says that Gabriel says, “Do not be afraid.”How would you respond to the sudden appearance of Gabriel?I think I’d jumped clear free from the floor and perhaps my own skin.It is safe to say that, for Zacharia, it was no ordinary day.TRANS - The unexpected can be scary.Sometimes we forget what we’ve prayed for and when it happens, we’re a bit shocked.That brings us to the next point in this message.God gets His messages
Just Doesn’t Know How To Communicate
A woman went to her pastor for marital counseling, and after a few preliminaries, the pastor said he had a few questions that would help identify the problems if she would just answer his questions as openly as possible. When the lady agreed, he began by saying, “Do you have any grounds?” To which the lady responded, “Why, yes we do, we have about ten acres just north of town.”
“No, ma’am, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is do you have … well, do you have a grudge?”
“Oh, no, but we do have a nice little carport.”
“No, ma’am,” said the pastor, “that’s not what I mean. One more question: Does your husband ever beat you up?”
“Beat me up? Oh, no. I get up before he does just about every morning.”
In complete exasperation the pastor said, “Lady, you’re not listening to me. Why are you having trouble with your husband?”
“Well,” replied the lady, “the man just doesn’t know how to communicate.”Well, don’t worry about God getting your message.And, don’t worry about getting God’s response.He knows how to communicate.We may not listen all too well, but that is a topic for another message.This morning, we’re noting that fact that God is actively listening to His children.After getting past the sudden appearance, Gabriel says to Zechariah, “your prayer has been heard.”God affirms that he was listening to Zechariah.Prayer??? Zechariah heard the words, but he and Elizebeth had long forgotten they prayed for a baby.But, God had not.As astonishing as Gabriel’s appearance, that God heard Zechariah ask for a baby, well all this was just too much for Zechariah.Zechariah had trouble receiving the answer to the prayer he and Elizebeth prayed all those years ago.TRANS - This carries us into our next point.Miracles can happen at anytimeZachariah forgot about the prayer, but God had not.God is answering the young man’s prayer for a child in when he is too old to believe it to happen.God gives Zachariah a son when his wife Elizabeth is too old to conceive.How is it a believer in God, in the sanctuary none the less, is surprised to hear a word from God?Why does this believer doubt that God can answer a prayer prayed long ago?Even good Christians can have moments when our faith is questionable.Is it possible that Zechariah doubted the prophecy?Perhaps he thought, “It’s not possible for and old man and barren women to have a baby.”After over half a century, maybe we’d too doubt?You might say the prophecy left him speechless.Literally, Zechariah was speechless:And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”What is the greater miracle here?The barren Elizebeth having a baby or the preacher being quiet for 9 months?As a boy and into my teens I wanted to be a preacher. I knew my call and hoped a door would open to make all that possible. I had some promises, some hope, but nothing seemed to be moving in that direction.At 16 I could drive and work a job. Worldly experiences offered me other options; paths away from the pastorate.At 18 and one month I got in trouble with the law. Hooking up with the “wrong type” of friends landed me with a felony. I sold a car battery that a one of the “wrong type of friends” left in my car and that turned out to be stolen property. The court calls that “dealing in stolen property.”My path was not looking all that good and my first year in college exposed me to all sorts of new ideas. One of those teaches said that religion is myth created by people through history in response to things they didn’t understand.Slowly the world had more hold on me. If God was real, how come He let me have such a troubled life? Where was God when I was zapped as a felon for doing something I didn’t even know was wrong at the time? How come all these really smart college professors offer such believable explanations for things?By the time I was 40 I went back and forth from believing to doubting, but always the idea of God and my call to ministry was there; hidden from view, but always there.When God did appear, it was not an angel, but a calm assurance that life was about to completely change. In a way I can only explain is God’s work, I no longer wanted the lie of the world, but the truth of God and more than anything else this world had to offer.The prayers of my youth, of loved ones who knew my call, and the call of God into ministry all came together at that time. It happened in God’s time, not my own.Zachariah doubted, and so did I.The people of God, my family, and the Lord were always good to me.Clearly God was watching out after me.God didn’t act immediately, but He did act in time.People took notice and Dad made sure he attended my college graduation to see me graduate with high honors when earning my bachelors in biblical study from Baptist College of Florida.It really was something.It was really something the day Elizabeth followed God’s instruction and named her baby “John.”And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.What? You ain’t got anybody in your family named John.Hey, Zechariah, what really is this boy’s name to be?“His name is John!” he wrote on a tablet.They were all pretty amazed!Then Zechariah could speak and started praising God.Did Zechariah praise because he could speak, or speak because he could pray?Good question, like chicken or egg kind of thing.He asks for tablet, not mention of trying to speak, seems like praise bubbled up in his cold heart and worked over his sealed lips and he started praising God.In a way that resembles Zechariah, I’m praising God today.I’m grateful to all the folks who never gave up, especially my parents, on God working in my life.I’m happy there were people there to help me make my calling a reality.In all that, I have to wonder if it was all God’s hand in things that concerned my life?See, the miracle of me coming back from a worldly life to the life God had for me happened in the end.I think about life differently today.My faith may flicker now and then, but I praise God through all of it!Faith never fails.Perhaps Zechariah had similar thoughts?Perhaps he held baby John and thought, God never did forget my prayers.What does knowing this prompt me to do?This is a season of faith.Trust God for He can do miracles.God’s timing is always just right.(end)
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