God has been so good to us, and we want to bless Him like He has blessed us. How do we do that?
Be sure to join us for the devotionals for week 2: http://thedirtpath.home.blog/week-2-2/Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
*not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript*
MY CHRISTMAS LIST
PART TWO: PRAYER OF GRATEFULNESS
For Advent this year, we are making a list. It is not a list of the gifts we want, but a prayer list. First on our prayer list is to know God’s will. God’s will is not complicated, it is for us to acknowledge our need for Him and live in acceptance of that knowledge. Second, is we want to show God we are grateful for His goodness towards us. We want to bless God, but how do we do that?
Today’s passage will help us answer that question. And today’s passage focuses on a man who has the same middle name of Winnie the Pooh. Anyone know who this Bible character is? John the Baptist.
READING THE TEXT: Luke 1:68-79
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands 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 before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (NRSV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
IN THE TEXT:
Our key verse for today is verse 68, which simply put, says, “Blessed be God.” These are the words of Zechariah, a priest. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were childless and “getting on in years.” (Luke 1:7) An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that God would send them a son, and they were to name him John. Zechariah lacked faith in God’s ability to the impossible, so God made Zechariah a mute. Today’s key verse are Zechariah’s first words following the birth of John, which restored Zechariah’s ability to speak.
***Why should we bless God? (v69-75) ***
Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, begins this prophecy with “Blessed be God.” Before we can understand how to bless, it is critical to know why we must do so. And Zechariah reveals that in verses 69 through 75.
There is one thing that you probably noticed, the NRSV that I used translated verse 69 as “God has raised up a mighty Savior for us in the house of his servant David.” Your Bible may translate it a little different. The KJV, CSB, and NET all say, “God has raised up a horn of salvation for us.” Why are they different? The goal of translating a Bible into English, or the common language of an area, is so the reader can understand what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate. For the Hebrews, a horn is referring to that of an animal which represented strength and courage. How many of us would have known to understand “horn” in that manner? “Mighty Savior” is what is intended by “horn of salvation.”
God should be blessed because He has raised up a “Mighty Savior” to save us from our enemies. Zechariah and his follow Israelites believed this meant from their current political and social status, a defeated nation ruled by the Romans. Of course, the Holy Spirit was not referring to that enemy. He was referring to Satan, death, and sin, humanity’s greatest enemies. Jesus was sent as the “horn of our salvation” from our enemies.
Since Jesus was coming as the Messiah, the Israelites would be freed from Satan’s influence, the threat of death, and sin so they could serve God. The word in verse 74 translated “serve” also means to “worship” or “minister to.” God sent Jesus as the mighty Savior to free us from our enemies so we could worship God in spirit and truth. Fear here is referring to condemnation and dread, since Jesus was coming to take the punishment for all.
We are to bless God out of gratitude for He did for us, sending Jesus as “the horn of our salvation.”
***How will God be blessed? (v76-79) ***
Knowing why we are to bless God is great. It helps us to do things when we know the purpose behind them. Zechariah knows the purpose not only of why God was sending Jesus, but why God had decided to bless him and Elizabeth with John as their son. John the Baptist’s purpose was to be “prophet of the Most High; to go before the Lord to prepare his ways.”
John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to “prepare his ways.” Remember, Zechariah and the Holy Spirit have deferring thoughts regarding freedom from enemies. All of Israel had bought into this belief. Instead of the people viewing their own behavior as the problem, they thought the Romans were the source of all their problems. John was sent to challenge this falsehood.
Those trapped in this falsehood sat “in darkness and in the shadow of death.” The word darkness means “obscurity and unimportant.” Sin does that to us, chains us to eternal destruction. Something destined for destruction is unimportant. John the Baptist was sent to challenge the falsehood by stepping into the shadows and taking God’s light. And that is how he served God.
FROM THE TEXT:
What is verse 68 saying to us about “how to bless God?” God was to be blessed because He was sending Jesus to relieve His people from Satan, death, and sin. And God ransoming them away from these enemies. Before He did that, God broke His four-hundred-yard silence by sending John the Baptist to prepare the way. John the Baptist blessed God by being obedient to God’s call on his life, and taking God’s message into the shadows. Read Luke 3, and you will see John in action.
How does this apply to my life? The Jesus mentioned in Zechariah’s prophecy is the same Jesus that came as an atonement for my sin and your sin. He has paid our sin debt to the justice of God. By doing so, Jesus made it possible for you and me to bless God. We cdo this in two ways.
#1 We bless God by being obedient to His word. God is blessed when we worship Him, this goes beyond singing songs. Worship is a lifestyle that serves God by lovingly submitting to His truth. It is not done out of fear of punishment for breaking the rules, but a heart of gratitude at what God has done for us through Jesus.
#2 We bless God by breaking the silence. John the Baptist broke God’s silence by stepping into the darkness with God’s message that the Messiah was coming. You and I have a greater message than that. Jesus had not atoned for sin when John preached to those in obscurity. But that is the reality you and I live in. His light is in our hearts. And to bless God we must take His light to the outcasts existing in the shadow of sin and death, letting them know a new day has arrived.
BEYOND THE TEXT:
How do we bless God? By living in His light and stepping into the darkness.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"