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Wholehearted Devotion (Luke 1:5-25)

Sermon on 8 November 2021 by Ps Justin

Introduction


The story of Jesus Christ began with the story of John the Baptist. And the story of John the Baptist began with his parents.


The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ” – Mark 1:1


Today we look at the story of the parents of John the Baptist – Zacharias and Elizabeth.


Message


There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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.” And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” – Luke 1:5-25


Zacharias was a priest, and together with his wife Elizabeth, they were both righteous in the Lord. Righteousness is the fruit of the light. Let us learn from them.

1. Wholehearted devotion in serving

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. – Luke 1:6


Being godly means consecrating your life, surrendering all unto Him, recognizing His almighty power. We have to tap the energy of the source – our Lord. If we do not, we will not be able to serve wholeheartedly. Do not serve out of the flesh but of the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. And you will serve Him with a loyal heart. There will be no burnout.


“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1 Chronicles 28:9


A true servant of God needs to have a willing mind and a purpose in the heart. Only those who serve the will of God will be effective.


that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:2


Human flesh is always the opposite of righteousness. Anyone who is of the flesh has no fear of the Lord and will not know the way of peace. Romans 3:10-18 tells us that they will have tribulations and anguish. As they serve, they complain and criticize. Their source is wrong.


For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. – Galatians 5:17


2. Wholeheartedly devoting your life to God

Elizabeth was barren, but continued to devote her whole life to God. God’s timing is perfect, for His purpose and redemptive plan. If you believe, you will experience the fulfilment of your prayer. Don’t give up, continue to live a life that is a living sacrifice. This is evidence of devoting your life to God. Every day, crucify your anger, pride and flesh. And you will not want to follow the things of the world.


Patience is the fourth attribute of the fruits of the Spirit. Waiting is patience with God.


Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6


3. Wholehearted devotion to prayer

When Zecharias and Elizabeth prayed, they did so wholeheartedly. They were given above what they prayed for. They prayed for a son, but were given one who was righteous and a forerunner of Christ.


But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. – Luke 1:13


Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, - Ephesians 3:20


Luke 1:62 tells us that Zecharias believed and wrote out the name of his son – John. The minute he opened his mouth, he praised God. Believe in your heart, have faith in whatever you seek and pray. Believe that you will receive, and you will receive it.


Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. – Mark 11:24


Closing


Christianity is not just a devotion to work, a ministry, or doctrine. Christianity is devotion to Jesus Christ. Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God. Have a wholehearted devotion to God.

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