Dec 02, 2018 | Lee Becknell

When you finally get what you want but it's nothing like what you thought

Luke 1:5-13

A lady told her husband that she had dreamed that he had bought her a diamond necklace for Christmas! The husband responded positively to her dream by bringing her a beautifully wrapped gift. As she eagerly tore open the wrapping to see her diamond necklace, all she found was a little book. It was titled, 'How to interpret your dreams'!

* I’m going out on a limb here but I think she was very disappointed!

Theme: “Christmas is a difficult period for a lot of people, when they look back over the year, they may see many dreams that never came true.  Many people are also struggling to make in the here and now shortages of finances and food and maybe other difficulties. Don’t forget the un-answered prayers and the lack of God making Himself known in our lives. When we least expect it, He will do something that blows our minds. The Christmas story teaches us to expect God’s best when the unexpected happens in life.”

* We, like ancient Israel are waiting for God to break in on human history again. They were waiting for the first appearing of Messiah. We’re waiting for his return.

* We don’t know much about Zech but he went on duty as a priest, one week twice a year.  He did marry a daughter of the priest.

* Verse 6 says they were upright and observed all the Lord’s commands and regulations.  They were blameless but they were also childless.

* King James says, ‘stricken by years’.  Luke tells us that they cast lots to see who would do what services.  God is sovereign over this even.

* The offering of incense, could only be done once by a priest.  Two assistance would bring in the coals and then withdraw while the priest would burn the incense. 

* This morning I would like to share with you the following lessons.

  1. God is at work even when we live in a world of disappointment.

Luke 1:5-7, “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”

* God planned each step of Zechariah’s life.  Even the choice for him to offer the incense on that great day.  Zech, is a picture of many of us.  Going through the motions.  Living with disappointment.

* It is well known that a lot of people go through depression in December and some even commit suicide, because they can't seem to identify with the celebratory Christmas spirit around them that somehow seems to have eluded them.

* But Luke wants us to understand that’s Zech and Beth were good people who had spent their lives serving God but in spite of that, they had still lived a lifetimeof disappointment and shame.

* This story tells us something important in the face of disappointments and that is, FAILURE TO RECEIVE THE ANSWER WE WANT DOES NOT INDICATE GOD'S PUNISHMENT!

* God had been telling the world to expect a Savior for hundreds of years, but when an angel told Zechariah it was time, it was shocking news that changed the world.

* The angel is telling Zach that God is going to use this lifelong disappointment he and his wife endured to reveal himself in a whole new way!

* We need to see our disappointments in a different light see them as the potential for God revealing himself to us in brand new ways.

  1. God is at work even when it looks like nothing is going on.

Luke 1:1, “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron

* The phrase: ‘in the time of Herod king of Judea’ was a very difficult time in the history of Israel.  The people were ruled by outsiders and evil and corrupt Politian’s. 

* God had made Himself scares and many who loved the Lord we down trodden and afflicted.  Sounds a lot like America.  I would say that in my life time I have seen the changes in America.  God has not moved in a great way since Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell.

* Herod was a capable king and great builder.  But he was a schemer and practiced politician. Crafty is too kind of a word to use about him.  Cover up expert.  He is a fore runner of our politicians today.  He ordered the death of all the boys in Bethlehem.

* He murdered some of his wives (10), and family members. Had his brother In-law drown at a swimming party.  Three of his twelve sons and his mother In-law. It was said it was safer to be Herod’s pig than to be Herod’s son.

Luke 1:15, “for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.”

* Compare this with Luke 1:6, “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandsand decrees blamelessly.

* Oh to have God think this way about us!

* Beloved, did you notice the references to prayer in out text this morning?

* Interesting that a personal prayer was answered while he was performing a service for the public. The angel didn't appear while he was praying quietly in his own house."

* We are confronted with the duty of prayer.  Both the people and Zach and Beth are engaged in prayer. 

  1. God is at work in the hearts of people.

Luke 1:17, “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

* The importance of bring back people to the Lord their God.

* Let’s try to imagine the absolute joy this elderly couple went through as they held the baby in their arms, and what changes it brought about in their neighborhood.

* The very people (neighbors and relatives) who may have been mocking them ended up praising them!!

Luke 1:58, “Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.”

* Throughout all the hill country people were talking about all these things.

Luke 1:65-66, “All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.”

* In verse 64, Zechariah’s speech was restored and he ended up composing a prophetic song.

* The lives of Zech and Beth were wonderful examples. Beautiful picture of a godly marriage. In Christ, couples experience a peculiar joy.  One in Christ and one with each other.  Wonderful illustration

  1. God is at work warning us against an unbelieving heart.

Luke 1:18-20, “Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

* Once you are an old man you start thinking like an old man. Never call a woman an old lady!  Verse 18, ‘…my wife is well along in years.’

* The result is a corrective impairment and Gabe says it’s because he didn’t believe the message.


* God’s whole purpose appears to be to get us as humans to trust Him on all levels, trust Him that He has a plan.  Trust him that He can do anything.  Trust Him that He cares!  Many times that’s the whole thing, right there.


This week in my devotions I read about a young man’s first job. It caught my attention because I worked at one time for the Tennessee department of Transportation. He was working on the construction of Interstate 40, through Knoxville, TN. It began one morning in the Spring of 1961 at what is now the "Papermill Road" exit. There was nothing there but the outline of what would become the new Interstate.  The boss called me over and told me that he could not leave what he was doing and that I was to take his truck and go to where the heavy equipment operators were working. I was to tell them to stop their work immediately and hurry to this designated area, (about three miles away); that there would be engineers waiting there to explain what needed to be done.

"Sure," I said, "I know exactly where they are." However, along the way I began to wonder, would they listen to the youngest employee on the payroll, so young he wasn't allowed even to drive their machines, the one they had tossed mud-clods at, and teased?  After all, these types of moves were usually planned days, and sometimes weeks in advance, and were very expensive.  Still struggling with these thoughts, I found the crew and delivered the message. To my surprise they didn't tease, jokingly throw anything at me, or even ask questions; they just got on their machines and roared off to their new assignment.  In less than 5 minutes from my arrival, they were almost out of sight. There, in the midst of the dust, diesel smoke, and fading rumble of the engines, I began to understand.  They had listened because I was driving the bosses' personal truck, with his name written on the side. I was delivering the message "in his name." His power and authority were behind my every word and action.

So it is when we act in Jesus name because He is our Lord and Master. His power and authority are above every other power and authority in Heaven, and on earth.

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