Meadows Church
Breaking out of the Religious Ruts: The Story of Zechariah & Elizabeth
Welcome to Meadows - in person AND online! Merry Christmas! We believe that God is with us in both the times of peace and the times of uncertainty. As you learn to navigate these days, we are here along side of you. Thank you for joining us virtually today!
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  • Meadows Church
    3001 Los Rios Blvd, Plano, TX 75074, USA
    Sunday 11:00 AM
Hey, it might look like fun to get a little mud on the tires as country music singer Brad Paisley famously sang, but not so much when life leaves you stuck in a rut or mired in the mud of the humdrum of life. Have you ever been there? Just going through the motions of doing what needs to be done but not seeing much of the transformative power of God in your life or in your impact on others? It can be a fine line between faithful perseverance and a religious rut. I’m all in for spiritual disciplines like prayer, the devotional reading of Scripture, honoring the Sabbath, tithing, witnessing, fasting and ministry service; but if we are not careful and intentional, religious habits without the accompanying glory of God’s presence and empowerment can leave us empty and frustrated and well, stuck in a rut.
In our new Christmas series that begins today, “Unwrapping Christmas,” I want to help you take a deep dive into the original characters of Christmas and find life-lifting truths that can help make this the best Christmas season ever. This morning we’ll look at the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple of religious blue bloods that had spent their life serving the Lord but found themselves frustrated and unfulfilled. Maybe you can relate to their struggle. If you have ever found yourself wondering if living right really matters, or just struggling with a lack of passion and hope for what God was doing in your life, this message is for you. I want to help you out of the humdrum; deliver you from the doldrums; and reroute you out of the ruts of life.
Following Christ is not always easy; but it should never be boring or lackluster. This story from Luke chapter one is really inspiring. What God did for Zechariah and Elizabeth, he will do for you.



There are seven scenes we need to unwrap to discover the full impact of the Christmas narrative surrounding Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Scene One: The duty of an everyday job (5-8)
“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. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”

Scene Two: The providence of casting lots (9)
“Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.”
Scene Three: The surprise of a heavenly visitation (10-12)
“And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.”

Scene Four: The prayer of an earnest heart (13-17)
“But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 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. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 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.’”

Scene Five: The question that tied the tongue (18-22)
“Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’ 19 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.’ 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.”

Scene Six: The sign that sealed the deal (23-25)
“When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 ‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.’”

Scene Seven: The name that led to fame (56-65)
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. 57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John.’ 61 They said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has that name.’ 62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.”



Rut-busting revelations
1. Revisit the purpose behind your practice.
2. Pray God-sized prayers.
3. Sync your struggles with the glory of God.
4. Give people something eternally significant to talk about.
Benediction blessing
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14