Connecting You with God and Others
Dr. Luke is documenting for us the life and times of Jesus. But it’s interesting that he doesn’t start with Jesus. Instead, his gospel begins with a scene in the Temple, as an aged priest lights the incense, and an angel named Gabriel appears to him announcing that he and his wife of many childless years are miraculously about to become parents.
It was a moment that would change Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s lives forever, as they were chosen to bring this little boy John into the world. He will grow up to be known as John the Baptist, the forerunner of Messiah, prophesied from of old, the one who would come and prepare the way of the Lord.
And it is with this miraculous pregnancy that Dr. Luke begins his history. As we left off last time, Elizabeth has been keeping her pregnancy to herself in restful seclusion for the first 5 months.
And now, the scene shifts. Instead of the Temple in Jerusalem, this scene opens upon the small village of Nazareth. Instead of southern Judea, we’re up north in Galilee. Instead of an aged man, we see a teenaged girl. Instead of a robed priest, she’s a country peasant. And yet, despite all the differences, the angel is the same. Gabriel has been sent with another message.
Three insights from Luke 1:26–38:
1) A Life-Altering Salutation
God’s plans are massively disruptive.
That’s exactly where Mary’s at in this moment. In one hand, she holds the life of her dreams. In the other, the life of God’s calling. And she’s there in the middle, pulled and stretched, because God’s plans are massively disruptive.
And you know the disruption—the cost, the tears, the letting go of your dreams and plans and expectations—that comes with saying “yes” to God’s call on your life.
2) A World-Changing Sovereign
It’s true that God is disrupting Mary’s plans and dreams, but it’s because He has a plan and dream of His own. For this is no ordinary child.
This child will be unlike anyone who has ever been born. His salvation will outshine Joshua. His kingship will outstrip David. His holiness will outmatch all the sons of Adam. For He will be the Son of God in the flesh; Heaven come to earth.
You see, God’s plans are gloriously redemptive.
Like the message of Gabriel to Mary, God is asking each of us: “will you trust me with your life?” Will we trust that in these massive disruptions, God is actually doing something gloriously redemptive? That He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him?
3) A History-Making Sacrifice
Mary laid down her plans, her dreams, and her life, trusting God with her everything. And that sacrificial decision changed Mary’s life, and all of history, forever.
God’s plans are voluntarily transformative.
Friends, God intends to bring deep, lasting transformation into our lives; to work glorious redemption through massive disruption. As He calls us to lay down our tiny dreams to say “yes” to His abundant purposes in our lives, but He will only do so with our permission.
Am I willing to let God massively disrupt my life?
Am I yielding to God’s glorious redemption through me?
Am I volunteering myself for God’s transforming work?
Takeaway: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Breaking the Silence
In the Gospel of Luke, we encounter a King like no other. Most kings make it about themselves. They wield power, authority, and strength for their own benefit. But not Jesus.
Jesus is the King who came to serve. He laid down all His rights and privileges in love to rescue us. From His place of glory, He came all the way down to the fringes of this broken world to redeem the very people everyone else had given up on.
You see, Jesus knew the secret to the upside-down kingdom: that in giving ourselves away, we actually get ourselves back. Jesus is the Servant King who shows us the way to real abundant life. And He beckons us to come and follow Him!
This sermon begins a new series in the 3rd Gospel in the New Testament: the “Good News” of Jesus, recorded for us by Luke.
Luke is documenting for us the backstory of the coming of John the Baptist. The first prophet in Israel since Malachi, some 450 years ago. But now God is breaking the silence. He is once again on the move. His salvation is awakening.
And in this first chapter, Luke wants us to see three things. God’s salvation is:
Dr. Luke is acting as a first-century investigative journalist, documenting the life of Jesus from eyewitness testimony and original source material. The Gospels are a compilation of eyewitness testimony; there’s a real historical portrayal.
God’s salvation is trustworthy. We can discover it!
Have you ever seriously considered the veracity of the gospel accounts of Jesus?
The stakes couldn’t be higher. If Jesus really is the son of God who died and rose again, nothing could be of more importance!
What’s happening in these verses, without fanfare or hype, is that God is being faithful to His covenant promises.
God’s salvation is fulfillment. We can believe it!
Not only is the coming of John the Baptist of national significance for the people of God; the fulfillment of prophecy signaling the coming of the Messiah, as the Lord Himself draws near; it is also a tender moment of personal redemption.
Because Jesus comes to bring redemption. Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, all who believe in Him experience a measure of redemption now, which is pointing to the fullness of redemption that is to come when Jesus returns to make all things new.
God’s salvation is transforming. We can experience it!
Takeaway: God’s salvation is awakening.
God is breaking the silence. In the quiet and the stillness. Salvation is drawing near. He is coming, and His name is Jesus.
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter Williams
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham
The troubles of this world can be heavy to bear. The future is uncertain, and the present is filled with difficulty and pain. How are we supposed to navigate this all by ourselves?
In this sermon from John 14, Pastor McCarthy shares with us a simple message: Stop It!
Stop running on the treadmill of life to nowhere and trust in Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the light.
The key verse in this passage is verse 1: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Why shouldn’t we be troubled?
Because Jesus said, I AM:
Do you know Him?
Awaiting the Dawn
This final sermon from the book of Malachi is about hope. Hope is something we can’t live without. Hope gives us reason to endure. Hope lifts our eyes beyond the shadows to the dawning of the light.
And as the Book of Malachi draws to a close, it ends with a wonderous vision of hope. There’s been a lot of tough love in this book. God doesn’t pull His punches as He disciplines His beloved children. But His final word is full of tender mercies; He leaves hope ringing in their ears. Because hope breathes courage into our timid souls.
1) The Sun of Hope
In the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord, four things will happen: Evil will be vanquished forever; the earth will be banned, purged with fire; then upon the scorched ashes of the world that was, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings; and the righteous shall inherit the earth, set loose like bounding calves into the wide world of the New Creation.
One day the darkness will be way to the dawn.
This really is what the story of the Bible is all about. The Bible helps us see the profound depths of the darkness, because it also holds out resplendent heights of hope for the dawning of the light. The Bible helps us see the darkness of the crucifixion in resurrection light. And one day, the darkness will give way to the dawn. And healing shall come to all creation with the rising of the Sun of Hope.
2) The Soil of Hope
What difference does it make when this hope falls upon the soil of your life? When this hope rains down and sinks in how does it change us?
Endurance grows in the soil watered with hope.
Hope helps us look back to remember Whose we are. Hope helps us look ahead to all that God has promised us. Hope helps us look beyond to the glories that await us.
3) The Seed of Hope
All throughout the Bible, God is sowing this seed of hope of the world one day set to rights. These promises are sown in hope all over the Scriptures.
But the greatest seed of hope is found in Jesus Himself. Because in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we get a preview of what will one day happen to us and to all of creation.
Jesus is a microcosm of new creation hope. He’s a mini cosmos: Jesus is the firstborn of all creation; and he’s the firstborn from the dead.
Takeaway: “Behold, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
In this sermon, we explore the 6th and final dispute between God and the people of Israel. Previously, God was pouring out His heart in an appeal to the people to “test me in this” so that He would pour our His blessing on them, and to “return to me, and I will return to you.” But how will the people respond?
In this passage from Malachi 3:13–18, the people respond in two very different ways. One group turned to one another and said it’s time we take God at His word, and repent and return to Him. The other groups turned to one another and said, what’s the point? These people doubled down on their faltering faith.
This passage serves as a reminder to Israel and us that God hears our words, God discerns our hearts, and God remembers our deeds.
1) God Hears Our Words
When it comes to God, nothing escapes His notice.
We need a God of final justice far more than we realize. First, because the justice of God gives life meaning. And second, because the final justice of God is the grounds for non-violence.
2) God Discerns our Hearts
When it comes to God, true motives are laid bare.
God discerns the hearts of those filled with resentful obligation, and the hearts of those who fear and esteem His name.
3) God Remembers Our Deeds
When it comes to God, all shall be brought to account.
Takeaway: History has an arc, and it bends towards Jesus.
One day, we will stand before Him and the books will be open. In that day, will you find your name written in the Book of Life?
God’s Perspective and Our Anxiety
We live in anxious times; it’s a world of worry out there. Are you struggling to sleep at night due to anxiety? Are you fearful of what may happen in the future? Psalm 127:1–2 is a beautiful reminder of how God’s beloved children can find peace from a world full of worry.
In this sermon, we’ll discover that our ability to experience the peace of Christ in our lives is dependent on our ability to trust Him in all circumstances.
5 Practical takeaways for God’s beloved: how do we allow God to keep and build our lives on solid foundations?
Communion with God.
Time in God’s Word.
Community with God’s people.
Seek God’s perspective.
Rest in God’s sovereignty.
True rest in an anxious world is seeing the very real possibility of our worst fears right around the corner and know that the God who calls you His beloved is sovereign over it all.
I’ve been working through all of Pastor Miller‘s sermons and have benefited greatly from them. He’s adept at handling the Word and skilled at speaking into today’s context. We need more pastors like him, and I encourage anyone looking to feed on the Word of God to start here.
Solid biblical teaching and preaching
I truly enjoy this Pastor’s expository preaching. He has a unique gift where he provides enough context, history, language skills, and theology without trying to show how much knowledge he possess. This skill allows him to feed the saints and guide the seekers.