Peace in God’s Path

Pray for Peace in God’s Path Luke 1:76-79

Introduction

Peace of mind is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy, and one of the most difficult to attain. It is not difficult because it is not available, it is difficult because we do not seek it in God’s way.

During this Advent series called Christmas Rush we have listened to the prophets teach us about great matters of the heart.
Embrace Hope in God’s Promise (Jeremiah)
Look for Love in God’s Comfort (Isaiah)
Experience Joy in God’s Faithfulness (Ezra)

Today we enter into Luke’s Gospel to talk about finding Peace in God’s Path. More…to pray for it.

The text for today concerns a Jewish priest and his wife in Judea who were excellent and godly examples, but who had a heartache they could not resolve: they could have no children. They were well beyond the years when they could have children.

Because of the large number of priests and the system of choosing who will enter the Holy Place to light incense, this would be a once in a lifetime privilege for Zechariah. He and two assistants would walk up the long ramp to the great altar. One would take a silver spoon and scrape up some live burning coals from the altar into a fire pan. They would walk back down the ramp. Zachariah would take a gold bowl full of incense and they would walk up the twelve steps to the door of the sanctuary. They would enter the Holy Place – forbidden to all except the sons of Levi. One one side would be the menorah, on the other side the table of showbread. In front of them would be the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. In front of the veil was the golden altar of incense. One priest would take away the coals from a former offering, the other assistant carefully placed the burning live coals evenly over the golden altar. The two assistants would quietly leave and Zachariah was alone with the Lord, holy, sacred, once in a lifetime.

As he placed the incense on the coals, the perfume began to rise – a sign of the prayers ascending to God. Then a marvelous thing happened: on the right side of the golden altar, in the haze of smoke there appeared an angel of God. Gabriel told him that his wife was going to have a baby – but the priest couldn’t believe it because it was physically impossible. Gabriel told the priest that he would name his baby John, and that since he did not believe he would not be able to speak until the day this news took place. The priest’s wife, Elizabeth, did have a baby boy and on the 8th day when they were going to circumcise him everyone thought they would name him after his father. But Zechariah (who hasn’t spoken for 9 months!) asked for a tablet and wrote “His name is John”.

Luke 1:64 “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.”

He offered up a song of praise – a song of prophecy – Zechariah the priest said many things about how blessed he was, how wonderful God was, and how God always kept his promises.

I want us to focus on the last few verses of his song. He speaks of his son John and the Savior who comes after John. Luke 1:76 “And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways…” Zechariah points the way to peace … it begins with…

Knowledge of Salvation

“To give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”

Luke 1:77 CSB

The coming of Jesus is all about saving lost humanity. In Luke 19 is the story of Zaccheus, a short guy who climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him, and went to his house for a meal. The people said, “he has gone stay with a sinful man” but Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

A relationship with Jesus is about accepting the reality that he came, lived, died, and resurrected to bring salvation to a lost humanity. The issue at hand – the forgiveness of our sins. Everyone is a sinner – all of us fall short of God’s glory. But that’s not the end of your story if you don’t want it to be.

A man who called himself the ‘chief of sinners’ recalled when he gave his life to Christ. His teacher said to him, “And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” (Acts 22:16) and that’s what he did. Paul went on to plant many churches and write much of the New Testament that we read today by the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is about having the debts cleared, but also about establishing a relationship.

John the baptist was born to prepare the way of the Lord by giving the people knowledge of salvation and forgiveness. That’s the same message we need today to have peace in our hearts.

Light for Navigating the Darkness


“Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us. To shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death”

Luke 1:78,79a CSB

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.

Luke 1:78 KJV

Criswell: The word means “the dawn.”  It means the sun rising.  It means the glory of the light that fills and gladdens this world.

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall.

Malachi 4:2 CSB

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

God’s mercy and compassion lead his attitude toward us. He knows that we live in the shadow of death and darkness. His plan: Dawn from on high would visit us. Jesus is the light of the world, and as His followers so are we. In this Christmas Rush, how can we be lights to those who are hurting? By expressing care, loving the lost, giving that relieves hunger, and bringing joy to those who are hurting. Jesus is still the Dayspring that brings light and hope to the world, and one way he does that is through his church.

A Pathway to Peace


“…to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:79 CSB

There is a pathway to peace, and it is to be found in following Jesus Christ.

Peace is not life without conflict, disappointment, or struggle – every human experiences those things. Peace is an inner serenity that comes with knowing that whatever happens, God is in control and our destiny is assured in the blood of Jesus.

Barclay: “All that makes for a man’s highest good; and through Christ a man is end bled to walk in the ways that lead to everything that means life.”

The world would be a better place if everyone knew the peace of following Jesus Christ.

Conclusion
Zechariah’s name means “whom the Lord remembers”. The Lord remembered his pain, his service, his commitment … and blessed him with a son like John the baptizer. The Lord remembers us also. He sent his Son Jesus. To give us a knowledge of salvation. To Light the way in the darkness of life. To set our feet in the pathway of peace.

Are we praying for peace with God? We should be – and we should also follow the pathway to peace with God – Jesus Christ.

Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14 CSB

Peace of mind is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy, and one of the most difficult to attain. It is not difficult because it is not available, it is difficult because we do not seek it in God’s way.

Resources
The Dayspring – W. A. Criswell

The Silence and Song of Zechariah – W. A. Criswell

Barclay, Wm. Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke