“…He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men. (1:25)”

Last week we began our journey through Luke’s Gospel of “exact truth (1:4)” of the good news of Jesus Christ so that “we may know with certainty (1:4)” that God has sent us a Savior, the promised Messiah. Luke begins the story of Jesus with John the Baptist. This great story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is one that brings great encouragement to my heart. This is a great story of God’s purposes being worked out of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s sufferings. They were both going through great persecution as priests in a highly secularized Israel who had not heard a single prophecy from God for over 400 years. They were also going through the disgrace as a Hebrew couple who could not have children. In their culture they had done something wrong and were being punished for their sins. As believers suffering is brought into our lives because of several reasons:1) We suffer because of our own sin and its consequences.2) We suffer in our pursuit of personal righteousness. The flesh is at battle with our Spirit, always.3) We suffer for the sins of others. The consequences of other’s sin hurt us too.
4) We suffer because God’s perfect plan involves us suffering. He calls us to trust and obey as He carries us along through His difficult path of redemption. On that path He gets great glory and we get great JOY.
 
Luke wants us to see that our loving God is one who cares about circumstances in our lives that bring us suffering and those sufferings that have become a reproach upon us. Our loving God in Luke 1:5-25, is fulfilling His ancient promises throughout history. The last word that His people had received from Him was 430 years prior to Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah in the Old Testament book of Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.
But before this was going to happen we need to see God fulfill Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
 
God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. He will fulfill all of His promises. We see God fulfill these promises in the normal, mundane lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. That is how God works. He fulfills His promises through His obedient servants who are “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (1:6)”
Through the mundane lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth God has fulfilled His promise of a Savior and that Savior is one who has come to bring us JOY in our sufferings. That is Good News!
 
I look forward to worshiping our promise keeping God with you Sunday! – Steve
PS: I hope to see you serving with us Saturday at the Foster Care Christmas Party!!

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