Sunday Sermon: The Story of Zacharias and Elizabeth (series – ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’)

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Today we begin a short series of sermons I am entitling ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told.’ As many of you know, I’m not the originator of that title. ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ was the title of a movie produced back in the 60’s portraying the life of Jesus. The reason I have chosen to use it this month is because I want us to relive the Christmas story and to be drawn into it.

Though Matthew gives us some details about the birth of Christ and so does John, Luke clearly goes into the most detail.

Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Let’s take just a moment and consider who Luke was and why his gospel account is so important.

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Devotional: ‘No More Excuses’

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Someone should write a book, categorizing all the excuses people try to give. Whether it’s missing a day of work or not having our homework done, we all have an excuse. Yet there are very few legitimate excuses in life. There may be a reason for why we do what we do, but hardly ever an excuse. Centuries ago, a young king by the name of Belshazzar had to face the judgment of God and although he may have had lots of reasons for his sinfulness, he had no excuse.

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Devotional: ‘The Handwriting on the Wall’

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“King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.”  (Daniel 5:1-4) 

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to get an idea of what type of man Belshazzar was. His irreverence seems almost unimaginable, yet we often see similar displays in the world today. Romans chapter 1 reveals that often such sinfulness is not only a fulfillment of our lusts, but willful rebellion against God. ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.’ (Romans 1:21-22)

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Devotional: ‘Everything God Does is Right and His Ways are Just’

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Pride is a terrible sin; perhaps far more terrible than many of us realize. The Bible says that God will give His grace to the humble, but He Himself will resist the proud. (see James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)

In Daniel 4 we read of the pride of a king named Nebuchadnezzar and how God broke this boastful man. “As the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’ The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.’ Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle.”  (Daniel 4:29-33)

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Devotional: ‘Is He Your God?’

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Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:28-30) 

The words of Nebuchadnezzar would be great if only they were genuine. His blessing of God would be something remarkable, if only it was the blessing of someone who truly believed. Nebuchadnezzar was like those whom Jesus spoke of in Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Why am I being so hard on Nebuchadnezzar?

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