It’s Time To Receive It – God Prepares His Prophet

It’s Time To Receive It – God Prepares His Prophet

Luke 1:67-79

We’re aware of the Star of Bethlehem this time of year. I’m a huge fan of astronomy, and so I’m interested stellar events regardless of what time of year it is. Did you know there’s a star system named Eta Carinae, which has a mass 100 times greater than that of our sun, is giving signs that its life is about over. Researchers say that it could become a supernova—a blazing, exploding star—within the next 10,000 years. What is especially interesting about this is the idea that since light from that system takes 9,000 years to reach the earth, the actual explosion could have already taken place. God’s promises are like that: ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED, but we just haven’t realized them yet.

God’s Intent Is To Bring Us Home. HOW?

By Remembering His Promises  ~ Luke 1:67-75

By Reminding US of Those Promises By a Prophet ~ Luke 1:76-79

  • 76 a Prophet speaks God’s truth: MESSIAH is coming!
  • 77 MESSIAH is sin forgiver (not war hero)
  • 78 God’s tender love motivates the MESSIAH
  • 79 Without HIM, we’re stuck in the dark; we need guidance!

God loves us too much to let us die in the dark, stuck in our sin. He promised to rescue us; He sent a prophet to remind us; He sent the Christ to redeem us; and He STILL calls us to repent when we relapse! God is not the God of second chances; rather, He is the God of seventy times seven chances.

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You’d Better Believe It – God Prepares His People

You’d Better Believe It – God Prepares His People

Luke 1:11-25

Small Details in the story can be crucial; more than just window dressing, often they clue us in to the nature of the story itself.

Zechariah’s story helps us notice:

God Is At Work Before We Realize It ~ Luke 1:11-17

  • 11 background synopsis 12/13 God IS listening!
  • 14/15 God plans for us
  • 16/17 John is promised preparer of Messiah: he is the type of Elijah (not reincarnation, but homage)

God Is At Work Before We’re Ready For It  ~ Luke 1:18-25

  • 18 a reasonable question: am I imagining this? How do I know this to be true?
  • 19/20 not a punishment, but verification
  • 21/22 Sometimes we don’t have the words to describe what God has done in us: MAKE SIGNS
  • 23/25 Recognize the Lord is at work in us

As we consider Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story, we see it leads into John the Baptist’s origin story. It gives us context as to what God ended up doing in John’s life. Consider your OWN context: what clues might be there, often unnoticed, that God is preparing YOU for something?

Lingering in Worship: Enacting

Lingering in Worship: Enacting

Ezra 10:1-6; Hebrews 13:7-16

If we’re going to linger in worship, that means we’re planning on being in God’s presence. THAT means we have to deal with sin, because God will not tolerate sin in His presence.

Can We Surrender Our Sin In God’s Presence?

Learn the Previous Pattern for Repentance  ~ Ezra 10:1-6

  • 1 Serious Remorse in the face of sin
  • 2/4 Costly Repentance to align with the Law
  • 5/6 Solemn Recognition to deal with consequences

=> remember, OT narratives do NOT need to be reenacted exactly the same way today (cf. 1Cor 7:12-16); our responsibility is to find what will thoroughly equip us (2Tim 3.16)

Trust the Permanent Partnership For Redemption  ~ Hebrews 13:7-16

  • 7 Our task today: CONSIDER & IMITATE FAITH (not method)
  • 8 God does not change; our circumstances do- so should our responses
  • 9 GRACE not LAW for growth
  • 10/14 go beyond the Law to the Lord
  • 15/16 we still sacrifice! Not paganism, but praise; not sanctions, but SELFishness

SIN is two things: 1) our broken nature, which we can’t fix (but Jesus already has); and 2) the choices we make based on our nature, which we CAN FIX. Ask yourself: what choices am I making to cope with God’s presence?

Lingering in Worship: Preparing

Lingering in Worship: Preparing

Ezra 8:21-23; 1 Peter 1:13-19

Quick refresher: Ezra is about rebuilding the Temple after the nation of Israel returns from exile. Ezra the priest shows up in chapter 7, introduces himself to the reader, and then moves the narrative along in chapter 8. He knew the newly rebuilt temple would need ministers, so he calls Levites together to staff the ministry. Then he has to move them to the Temple grounds, through hostile territory.

Prepare for Worship? We Need To Get Our

Heart Smart ~ Ezra 8:21-23

  • 21 FASTING isn’t to convince God of your sincerity; it’s to remind YOU to live in HUMILITY BEFORE GOD
  • 22 inconvenient truth: if you BRAG about God’s provision, you’d better be ready to depend upon it
  • 23 Is this FORCING God to answer the way we want? No – it might be forcing us to LISTEN better, though

Mind Aligned ~ 1 Peter 1:13-19

  • 13 not FOR salvation, but BECAUSE OF salvation
  • 14/16 one sentence: don’t shape your life by your old values; use Jesus’ life as your template: be holy Gk. “up and down, back and forth”
  • 17 live carefully, impartially (like God): THIS TAKES PREP WORK
  • 18/19 You are REDEEMED: not a purchased slave, but a cleansed child of God

We say that “liturgy/worship” is the work of the people. This work can be joyful, fulfilling, and life-changing. It just takes some preparation to get the most out of it.

Soli Deo Gloria: Only for God’s Glory

Soli Deo Gloria: Only for God’s Glory

Philippians 2:5-11

It’s always a bit of a shock to me to discover that a word that I’m used to using in a particular way might have a completely different meaning. I ran across a funny redefinition of words that women use that don’t mean what men think they mean… [see below] However, the same thing has happened with GLORY. It’s range is all over the place: light, fame, preening, an exclamation.

Can Your Study Keep You Steady? ~ Philippians 2:5-8

Consider Christ-ology: Look At the HUMILITY
=> OLOGY – the study of a subject

  • 5 we STUDY Christ’s choices; we’re to LEARN from Him. Not just know new info, but internalize it, make it a part of how we live
  • 6 let go of SELFishness
  • 7 He emptied Himself; how can we do that?
  • 8 He became obedient to the Father’s will. Is that our course as well?

=> Doxa – ANCIENT Greek meant “to expect”; “to think”, “to seem”; KOINE Greek changed a bit with Septuagint (300-132BCE) translated the Hebrew word for “glory” (כבוד, kavod) as doxa. God EXPECTS us to think about His Glory

Deal With Dox-ology: Look at the GLORY ~ Philippians 2:9-11

  • 9 Father lifts Jesus for glory’s sake
  • 10 we WILL lift Him up (one way or another)
  • 11 Jesus IS Lord; our confession doesn’t MAKE it true (it’s true already); rather, we align ourselves with what is already true… and glory is reflected back to God

1Cor 10:31: Whatever You Do, Do for God’s Glory;
Spurgeon said, “Man’s chief end is to glorify and enjoy God. God’s greatest and highest object is to make to himself a glorious and an everlasting name.”

YOU and God have a joint undertaking: to be united in the purpose of bringing Glory to His name.

#1. Fine. This is the word used to end an argument when she is right and you better shut up. Don’t even say another word!#2. Nothing. If you ask her what’s wrong and she says nothing, then something is definitely wrong. Stay on your toes. Many arguments can start over “nothing” and then end with “fine.” Refer to #1.

Solus Christus: Only by Christ

Solus Christus: Only by Christ

Matthew 11:25-30

The emphasis of the Reformation was to untangle the rat’s nest of tradition, theology, and practice that made the simple teaching of God’s Word almost impossible to follow. The Reformation helps us understand that when it comes to SALVATION, Scripture Is Our Only Foundation, Faith Is Our Only Means; and Grace Is Our Only Method. But God didn’t just decide to give us a set of IKEA instructions and expect us to figure it out on our own. Instead, God became human like us to SHOW us how He put Salvation together.

Why Do We NEED Christ For Salvation?

HE ALONE Can Make Us Clean ~ Matthew 11:25

  • little children: Jesus loves me, vs 2: HE will wash away my sin
  • (Isa.53:5-6) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

HE ALONE Can Make God Glad ~ Matthew 11:26

  • Lifting up the Son makes the Father GLAD
  • (John 14:6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

HE ALONE Chooses Us To Know God ~ Matthew 11:27

  • Jesus CHOOSES us to know the Father
  • (1Tim 2:5) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

HE ALONE Pays For Our Sin ~ Matthew 11:28

  • Come to me ALL
  • (1John 2:1-2) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense– Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

HE ALONE Is The Truth ~ Matthew 11:29

  • “Learn from Me”; everything is held in place by Him (capstone)
  • (Acts 4:10-12) then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

HE ALONE Is The Way ~ Matthew 11:30

  • we don’t LEAD; We’re LINKED; a yoked ox team

It is not written, “He that believeth on Jesus nine parts out of ten, and on himself for the other tenth.” No! “Whosoever believeth on him”−on him alone. Jesus will never be a part Saviour. We must not rest in part upon what we hope to do in the future, nor in part upon the efficacy of an outward ceremony. No! The faith must be “on him.” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Vol. 36, 281)

Ask yourself: are you trusting in “being good enough” for God? I’m sure you haven’t done anything **really** heinous, but have you been PERFECT? Because that’s the standard! And if you’ve fallen short of PERFECTION, you are headed to the outer darkness all on your own worth. It is ONLY BY CHRIST that we enter into the Father’s Presence. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. Period!

Sola Gratia: Only by Grace

Sola Gratia: Only by Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10

Many of our most beloved Christian songs involve the word Grace: Amazing Grace, Grace Greater than All My Sin; Your Grace is Enough, and on and on. WHY? What is so compelling about Grace that we’re driven to sing about it? Why do we ask God to tune our hearts to sing His grace? Perhaps it’s because Grace meets a need that we’ve got no other way to fill…

Why We Need God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

We Begin DEAD ~ Ephesians 2:1-3

We’re Given LIFE ~ Ephesians 2:4-7

  • 4/5 God gives us life THROUGH GRACE
  • 6 God raised; God seated – God did the work in us
  • 7 to demonstrate His character; we know that God is loving and merciful because we KNOW deep down – “…deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties…” we KNOW what we really deserve… and God saves us anyway!

We Deserve NOTHING ~ Ephesians 2:8-10

  • 8 Grace is the Reason for the Gift of faith
  • 9 Works don’t work! (the dead can’t do living acts; God brings us to life so we can respond to Him)
  • 10 created EPI=unto Good works (KJV translation is great here)

God PLANNED that we would peripateo – walk around in fellowship with Him. Our chief end in life is to Love God and Enjoy Him forever; to go back to the Garden and walk with Him in the cool of the day.


Pastor Ed Backell

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