Family life has always been at the center of God’s purpose. Mary, Elizabeth, and Zacharias spoke big things in authority and responsibility. The Spirit brings fullness. Our belief does an internal work of grace and faith. (Luke 1:39-51; Mark 3:33-34)
Speaker(s): Thomas Schaller
11:00 AM on 12/19/2021
P. Schaller –
Okay. You may be seated. The children I think are coming in in a minute or two, any time, so just for a few
minutes to introduce our theme this morning. I think I saw Tiina, is that correct? P. Yurma’s wife
and she’s from Finland and a very good friend of ours through decades, literally decades.
Maybe four or five decades.
I don’t know did I see in the hallway Tommy Colban and Maya? Is that right? Right, P. Bob?
Okay. They’re over here. Welcome. In the mother’s room, wow! With their little baby. It’s so nice.
Family. This is our theme today. If you look on the wall over there you see “A Small Feast.” That
was last Sunday. This Sunday, “A Family Feast.” A Family Feast. This is three people: Elizabeth
and Mary and Zacharias. They are all family members. They are cousins. Mary and Elizabeth
are cousins, and there’s a family feast. What kind? What kind of feast is it? It’s a spiritual one.
That will be our theme today.
Just to say that God loves families. Who was on the ark of Noah, Noah’s ark? It was his family.
How many children did he have? Three sons and their wives on the ark. Family. Joseph goes
down to Egypt. His brothers sold him, and he’s down in Egypt but family. Like we stay together
as a family. There is the earthly family and then the heavenly family. So our meditation is on
Elizabeth and Mary meeting each other. Zecharias being there and what they said, what
happened in that family.
Well, we are a family. We are God’s family. What is happening here? What is happening in our
hearts and in our lives. We’re going to look at that today. We have a feast. Christmas time is the
Christian feast of God coming into this world and being with us. Being with us our Father is with
us and he has us as his children. He sent his Spirit into us so we would know him, hear him,
and worship him. This would be a feast.
I want to make a distinction because without Christ, we have our family and we also watch how
in our culture it seems that they are working very hard to take away the family as we traditionally
know it. The traditional family. And it’s not good for the confusion, the values, the changes and
this destructive way of thinking. Why is there that destructive thinking?Because when we don’t
have God, we have only something inferior, less. So we are all about this. We are wanting to
think about it. We are listening to God as he builds us up and teaches us about his family.
Welcome the children right now. Okay. Would you stand with me, please? Stand with me and
just say to your neighbor, Merry Christmas. Good to have you hear. God bless you. Just for a
moment. Say thank you, Lord. You may be seated.
Turn with me to Luke 1. Last week we taught that Mary was visited by an angel, Gabriel, and
she wasn’t so sure about the message, so she hurried to her cousin. The angel said your cousin
is pregnant. Her cousin was an old woman. This would be miraculous, so she went to see her
cousin, Elizabeth, and when she met her, Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit and she prophesied
and said, who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Elizabeth was the pregnant
woman miraculously but she says Mary is the mother of my Lord which was to Mary just a
confirmation of what the angel had said to her.
Then you have a third person in the room. That’s Zacharias, the husband of Elizabeth. So this
family is filled with prophecy, filled with joy and lessons. I counted 34 points that you could say.
You could derive a lesson from these 34 points. Do you want to spend your afternoon or part of
your day today looking at them and count how many you can find that goes from chapter 1:39 to
the end of the chapter, vs. 80. Because we are students of the Bible. Isn’t that amazing? I never
met people that are so hungry for the Bible as you folks. Actually, I have. I have. Through the
years, I have. It’s the same. It’s the same. I find in the Bible and God speaking to my heart a
Christian could say. Your best offense in this world and you need to be offensive is to be a
student and to learn from God for God to be our teacher. The best way to live is not to be
neutral. If you are neutral, the tide will take you. The current of the river, the current of the
culture will take us. No! No! I am not neutral. I am with him listening to him and part of his family.
Let’s draw a family like this. We can take many circles. This is a simple picture. Joseph and his
brothers. Mordecai and Esther. Noah and his family. The Philippian jailor and his family. Lois the
grandmother of Timothy. Lois and Eunice and Timothy, a family. Paul as the disciple and an
apostle. Archipus, Luke, Timothy. He always had people that were spiritually alive or they would
come alive. They were following. They were part of the family. So, we have three words that I
want to use for the family.
Three words to think about today: Authority. Authority. It’s a good word. Rebellious people don’t
like it. They don’t look for it. They don’t want it. If they find it, they are in a state of rebellion.
They may cooperate. They may cooperate because it’s beneficial but in their hearts. It’s like in
the military a man may salute the officer, but in his heart what is in his heart? His behavior is
correct but what’s in the heart. God is a God of the heart, isn’t he? The behavior is correct, but
it’s what’s in my heart.
Jesus spoke about family in Mark 3 when his sisters and brothers and mother were outside of
the edge of the multitude that were with Jesus. They had sent somebody to tell Jesus we are
looking for you. We want to talk to you. And Jesus turned – in the ancient world it would be
shocking. Your mother is looking for you. What would you do? Yes, mother. What is it? What do
you need? Yes. Jesus didn’t do that in this case. What did he do? Who is my mother, my
brothers, my sisters? Who are they? He went deeper. More than blood and genetics he went
deeper. Who is? They that hear the Word of God and keep it or do it. They are in my family. The
family has authority. This is God. God is a God who is leading us. He is our heavenly Father.
Jesus was so much into this that he said I always do, I always do what my Father does. I’m
looking for my Father. I want to obey my Father. I want to submit to my Father. This contradicts
the human race. Cause even though the human race says they will obey. They will do their duty
or behavior, our hearts are in a state of rebellion. It’s called, really, the world.
The word “world” in the Bible used by the Apostle John, this word “KOSMOS” means order. It’s
the opposite of chaos. Chaos and kosmos. Chaos is disorder. Kosmos is order. Cosmetics.
Ladies put their face in order when they come to church. They use cosmetics. The cosmos, the
order of the physical universe. This is used differently in the Gospel of John and his epistles. It
is the spiritual nature of the human race by nature in rebellion against God. It is the world of
man who does not submit to God, does not know God, does not obey God, does not look for
God, does not seek God. This is the nature of the world. You have the love of the world, the
spirit of the world, the wisdom of the world, and the fashion of the world or the form, the
expressions of the world. This is not the family of God.
The family of God is in opposition to the world. They are different. The family of God is God and
his ministry. It’s God in the heart. So you are born again by believing in Christ. Christ came into
the world and was not of the world. He was not of it. He was not of it. He wasn’t in the spirit of
rebellion and ignorance and defiance and inventing his own way and living his own way. He was
submitted to the Father. As he was submitted to the Father, he had the authority of the Father.
When he lived here, it was the authority of God. That’s what the disciples touched. They
touched his authority. They listened to him. No man speaks like him. He speaks not as the
scribes and the Pharisees. He speaks with power, Luke 4:32.
There were times when they touched Jesus and the authority was there and healing happened, like the woman who was bleeding for 12 or 13 years in Mark 5. When he died, he was cursed by the Father. The Father,
the wrath of God came on the Son of God but the Son was obedient. He was submitted as a
lamb going to the slaughter. Somebody said, P. Colban said yesterday that the sheep that were
produced by the natural processes of propagation, they were born in the fields of Bethlehem
and then they were purchased and brought up to Jerusalem for the Passover sacrifice. It’s the
same place where those sheep were born, was the same place that Christ was born in
Bethlehem. Out in the field in a cave where we have been on our tour in Bethlehem and have
seen it…how interesting that God would have his Son born in a place where sheep are born,
because that’s why he came to be the Lamb of God to take away our sin.
Authority in the family. We like it. I want it. We are submitted to him because in him we have
what Elizabeth and Mary had and Zecharias in that family. If we think about an earthly family, a
traditional family, you have a father and mother and children perhaps. You have some friends.
You have extended family. You have a nucleus. The nucleus. The family. Usually the thoughts
of the family they are worldly. This we can look up at the screen here and say the world, it’s very
easy for a family to be thinking of worldly things. Housing. Practical things. Money. To think of
success, reputation, what other people think about us, profile in society and these things. This is
how people live in families. They may talk a lot about it. They may think a lot about it. They may
be thinking in those terms, but I want you to go up higher in your thinking. That is God. God.
This is what God – this is how the family of God, us, this is how our life changes. It’s how we get
help. It’s how we begin to understand things. To learn God. To hear the voice of our Father. To
have the Holy Spirit in us as our teacher. To understand things in a new way. To really
understand things better.
Let me make a short little diagram. It helps with words. Here is Jesus and if you were to see
Jesus in the street, you could think of Jesus this way. You look at him, what clothes is he
wearing? Who is he? Where was he born? Who is his mother and father? And such kinds of
things. This is John 7. If you read that chapter, you will see people had many different ideas
about Jesus. He’s a false prophet or who is he? How could he do these things? Look and see.
There’s no prophet from Galilee. And they looked at him this way. He was not anybody to be
desired in Isaiah 52 and 53. Nothing special. But in fact, he’s more than what you can see. This
is really what is important in your life is for you to see more than what average people see. This
is important to you. If I could see more. If I could understand. You could call this maybe
understanding. No, no, no. This man Jesus is the Son of God. No, no, no. He was born in
Bethlehem but he is more than a baby. He is the Son of God. Do you see it? No, I don’t see it. I
don’t understand that.
When we go to these three people and let’s do it now. We have Elizabeth and Mary and
Zecharias and we have three words. Authority is the first one. Let’s read the text. Luke 1:39
where? In the hills of Judah. Mary’s up in Nazareth and so she walks for a week or ten days or
two weeks maybe down to find her cousin. They are relatives. But the angel had said to Mary
when she was in Nazareth that the Holy Spirit has come upon you and that Holy thing that will
be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And Mary said, how will I know this is so? Your
cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant with child. Mary is curious. With haste, she gets up quickly
and goes on her journey to meet her.
vs. 40. Zacharias who is the husband of Elizabeth. vs. 41. This is God’s authority giving them
the filling of the Holy Spirit. The witness. The baby is six months old in Elizabeth. That’s John
the Baptist. So you can see that she is pregnant. The baby flips or moves in such a way. It’s
internal. That’s all that I would like to say about it. It’s internal.
In a family feast, right up here on the wall, in a family feast there must be something internal.
Sooner or later in your life you need it to be inside you in your heart, in your spirit. You need to
know like that other picture – this one – you need to know more than just what you see. You
need more. You need to see God.
I remember as a young man up at the college where I was going, I was an unbeliever but I
accepted Christ. I was seeking God. I really wanted God, and the Holy Spirit one night I was by
myself out under a tree and I remember the Holy Spirit speaking to me and filling me. I needed
it. I was being tempted. I was unlearned. I was ignorant. I had no idea. I didn’t know what I was
looking for, but I wanted Jesus in my life. I wanted Jesus in my life and the authority of God is
real in the universe. He is able to answer your prayer. He is able to give you something internal
and be able to say with a loud voice.
Read the next part. vs. 42. She said to Mary. You. I’m pregnant miraculously. I’m an old woman
and I have this child in me. But you! That’s beautiful. That we see each other. We believe that
what you have is what I have. What we have is from God. God gave it to us. God gave us
eternal life. God forgave us our sin. God gave us a new name. God gave us the Holy Spirit. God
is for us. He gave us an eternal purpose. God gave us a family. God’s family. Call him Father.
He is our father.
The father said in Hosea 11, he said O Ephraim, how can I give you up? That’s 11:4. O,
Ephraim, how can I give you up? But in chapter 4 I think verse 7, it says O Ephraim. You love
idols. Leave Ephraim alone. Leave Ephraim alone. That’s like one sentence in chapter 4 and
then in chapter 11, it’s almost like God is saying how can I give you up? How can I give you up?
I love you. I am for you. This is called grace. Grace means you don’t earn it. You don’t deserve
it. This is the authority of grace. It means forgiveness. It means Christ is for us. It’s the feast of
Christmas that God is for us. We have this first word. Elizabeth is like filled and convinced and is
prophesying. She’s speaking.
This is the second word we want to use in our family words. It is the tongue. Your tongue. The
value of your words. Remember when Joseph said to his brothers, Ge. 45:24, when you go
back to Canaan, treat each other well. Don’t trouble each other when you go back. Do not
trouble each other. I’m thinking of my tongue in a family troubling the family. I’m thinking of my
tongue bringing us down to a level that is like strange or not from God, from my flesh. I’m
thinking of how people might look at family to tear it apart. I’m thinking about how my tongue
could not love, not give mercy. My tongue could tempt people.
I read an interesting thing with the Puritans the other day. In marriage, the Puritans – and I know
some of you have a negative attitude about the Puritans, but actually they were like us when
they were in their good days without legalism. Brilliant scholars. Theologically solid. Very
precious believers. Real born again Bible believing believers. Awesome people. They said
about marriage that the woman is not to lead her husband into temptation, and the husband is
not to lead his wife into temptation. But they are to support each other and provoke each other
in godliness, helping each other. I’m not tempting my family into ungodliness. I am with my
tongue like Elizabeth helping Mary. I’m helping her in her faith. You are the mother of my Lord.
Who am I that you would visit me? This is beautiful. This is exceptional language. This is like us
in fellowship. Learning about Christ. Learning truth. Learning who is our father. Learning what
love is. Learning about forgiveness. Learning about encouraging. Learning about prayer.
Learning about using money. Learning about struggling, persevering, suffering. Learning about
One of our dear sisters in the Lord, Miriam Kahlenback passed away yesterday at noon like
surprisingly. We didn’t know she was in that condition. She was doing very well according to
Lou. That woman was ready. That woman was prepared. In the family of God this is the
authority of God is to make us different from the world. We are talking about going to heaven.
We are talking about meeting Christ. We are talking about forgiveness and grace and mercy.
We are rejoicing in him. Are you prepared? Amos 4 it says like five times he says you are
worshiping idols and you have not returned to me. Then another time two verses later, and you
have not returned to me. Third time, and you have not returned to me. Fourth time, and you
have not returned to me.
Fifth time, and you have not returned to me. Then verse 12 says
prepare to meet thy God. Return to me. Return to me. Prodigal sons, Luke 15. Return to me.
Discouraged person, return to the family. The person in unbelief, return to the family. Your
heavenly Father cares about you. He has the authority to equip you, prepare you, give you
shoes on your feet, a breastplate, a sword, a shield, a helmet. He prepares us for this life. We
are in a battlefield. We are prepared. We are in a family. It’s good. The tongue.
Go to the next verse, chapter 1:43, Mary I’m sure was astonished. You’re talking to me. You call
me the mother of your Lord? I am bearing a child when I have no man and the angel visited me
and basically told me to come and see you. When I see you, you are talking to me like this.
This is the dynamics of a spiritual family like we have.
We have been in many parts of the world and have seen the same thing as what we are part of
this morning whether it’s in India or Africa or the Middle East or wherever it is. We have seen this happening with sisters and brothers. It’s a feast. It’s a real feast. It’s a feast that affects your
mind. It affects your affections. It affects your decisions. It keeps you away from the vices that
are in the world and the temptations that we have in our flesh. We have temptations in our flesh,
but we are not living according to our flesh. We are living in the Spirit.
Here’s a very good lesson, and maybe tonight we can teach more about it. If I am in the Spirit, I
will not fulfill the lusts of my flesh. Did you hear that? When I was a young man like all young
men virtually. I had sexual temptations. I was attracted to the ladies, the girls and so on. That’s
very normal and healthy in many ways, but how could I control this? How can it work? How can
I overcome the lust of my flesh?
Someone else may have some other kind of temptation. Maybe
a temptation to be slothful, to be lazy, to be indifferent, to be like I can’t do anything. I don’t want
to do anything. I’m checking out. That’s your flesh. That’s not God. God didn’t make you to be a
nobody and do nothing. God didn’t make you and I to be passive and indifferent. God made us
to be alive, to be like him, to follow him and know him and be alive. To be like God. Isn’t that
amazing! To be like God in this world when we are not God.
But listen: if you are filled with the Spirit, when we are filled with the Spirit, we will not, we will
not fulfill the lusts of our flesh. These are contrary to each other. You cannot have them both at
the same time. One excludes the other. If I am living in the lusts of my flesh, I am not in the
Spirit. If I am living in the Spirit then I am not fulfilling the lusts of my flesh.
When I heard that and started to think about it and read about it and come to my church and
listen to the pastor teaching it from the Bible and listening to it and hiding the Word in my heart, I
realized wow! I am such a blessed man. I am a blessed man. I could not handle this, but God
can handle it. I could not handle it, but God can handle it. God’s Spirit handles it. You stop lying.
You stop stealing. You stop fornicating. You stop unbelief. You stop being arrogant. You stop
being selfish. You stop being destructive. You stop being rebellious and proud. How can you do
that? Holy Spirit did it. He does it. Elizabeth and Mary are saying it. Basically, they are saying
this. This becomes a celebration of joy and victory.
Let’s read the next part, vs. 44-45. It’s going to happen to you, Mary. You will have a child. Mary
said my soul magnifies the Lord, vs. 47-48. Let me say a couple things about a family. Poverty.
You might say poverty is a sad thing for many people, but Mary is one of those. She said the
Lord looked on me. He saw me. My poor estate, my condition. He also saw I was lowly. She
was lowly. Poverty can do that to people, make them very humble. It can also make them proud.
But it can be. If you are in one of these situations where maybe you feel shame because of
poverty or disadvantage or you feel maybe some disability of some kind, do not underestimate
God. Please do not underestimate what God can do for you. Do not underestimate how he can
visit you. Do not underestimate how he can give you joy. Do not underestimate God Almighty
who gives grace to the humble. Do not underestimate what he will do for the poor, what he will
do in putting his Spirit in us.
This is what Mary is saying. She’s saying I was very low. I had nothing in that way. Let’s read it,
vs. 48. Maybe right now it doesn’t look like I am very much, but keep your eye on history. They
will know that I have been a blessed woman. Maybe it won’t be in the newspaper. It won’t be on
the news but heaven knows. God knows and history will know that it’s God that is with me and
he did this. He has done great things for me, great things for me. Let’s say that. Great things for
me he has done for me. One more time. He has done great things for me. vs. 50-51.
Don’t teach your children pride. Do not teach pride. Do not teach them that money is the
answer. Do not teach them low things. Do not teach them arrogance. Do not teach them to be
stubborn and rebellious. This family feast is another teaching. This is another one on the other
side. This is he has visited me. He has helped me. He has strengthened me. You say that to
your children. He has strengthened us. He has helped us. He has answered us. He has guided
us. He is for us. Teach your children humility. Teach them trust. Teach them faith. Do not
compare with each other.
You see, I believe our culture is filling the minds of adults and children with low values. These
are low values. I want to finish my message because I don’t want to keep you too long, but I do
have a couple things I want you to follow with me. Low values. What’s more – money more
important than your integrity? Integrity you teach children. Being honest. Being responsible.
Being accountable. Being humble. Being obedient. How about teaching our children suffering?
How about that? Take a beating. How about teaching them humility before God. Walk with God.
You get in trouble, walk with God. How about the father or the mother being the guide on a
deeper level. I’m afraid that the shallowness of our culture takes away the deep values that hold
a family together. A family has to be held together by something bigger than ourselves,
something higher. He is holy. He gives gifts to us. He visits us. He gives it internally. The babe
leaped inside her. This was internal. It’s something that not everybody knew but she knew it.
She understood it.
How about this one? Here’s a good example of a family. Mordecai if you know the story of
Esther. Mordecai said, Esther, you have to go before the king. She’s his neice. Esther could
say, Uncle Mordecai, if I go before the king, I could get killed cause it’s contrary to the rules. I
cannot just go to the king any time I want to. I cannot go. I cannot go. He said to her basically,
you have to go. You have to go. You could save the nation. You could save the Jewish people.
You have to go. I’m dramatizing the story for you to follow it. I don’t want to go. I don’t care what
you want. What is it that God is saying? Has God put you in this place so you would save the
Jewish people? Has God done this?
This kind of toughness is higher than maybe our culture would say. Give the children what they
want. Make them happy. Give them what they want. Just cater to them. Just give them what
they want. No, I want a feast like what we are talking about today. I want Jesus in my life. I want
God in my life. I don’t want God to be my belly, Php. 3. A very good Bible verse, “whose god is
their belly.” Hold it! What’s the belly mean? It represents that lower nature. My head represents
the higher nature. My mind. But my gut, hormones, empty stomach, angry – a hungry man is an
angry man. I’m a hungry man. My god is my belly. That’s my god. No, you’re god is not your
belly and is not saving your life and not having your world revolve around you. Come on! We
need to grow up and get a handle on the thing that we are dying because we are missing our
mission. We have no authority. We just have low values here.
Let’s put here money, what makes me happy. It’s not happy. Who cares about being happy. Any
idiot can be happy. Any fool can be happy for seven minutes or be happy. Who cares about
being happy? I want a family feast where God is holy and that holiness satisfies our soul. We
shout and we rejoice and we say truth is more important than a lie. My family needs that.
Did you see the Sunday school up here from K to fifth grade? These young kids that are here on
a Sunday, that are learning about Jesus Christ. The whole stage could be filled. The whole
room could be filled with kids needing this. What do they need? They need more than
ourselves. They need the message of Christ. They need the grace and ministry of Jesus.
Let’s finish with this last word. It’s this word authority, my tongue and then my judgments.
My judgments are needed. That’s what we were just talking about. My judgments. My discernment.
My evaluation. Come on! You can go out the door and live any way you want to live. That’s your
call, but I’m telling you that Jesus is real and he says judge righteous judgments. Don’t fool
around. I know it takes some steel inside, something in our heart to say no, I don’t do that. No,
I’m not doing that. Thank you. God bless you. No, that’s not me. I’m not doing that. Say it with
me. No! Say it strong. No! Hey, no! Do you ever say no to anything? To the TV? No, I’m not
watching that garbage. No. I’m not answering that phone call. No, that guys not my friend. I’m
not doing it. No, I’m turning it off. No, I don’t care about that. Yes. Yes to truth.
Judgments and then there needs to be some sense and then there is this incredible mercy that
goes with the judgments. It’s all scribbled up there, but it’s okay. Mercy. Mercy. The family must
be filled with mercy. We are wrong many times but God forgives us many times. We are
messed up many times but his mercies are new every morning. He does not fail us. O Ephriam, how can I give you up? You love idols. I am God. You are believing a lie, but I cannot give you
up. I love you. I cannot give you up. My mercies are new. I love you with an everlasting love. I
am for you.
Finishing. Let’s not live our lives without a family feast. If we have a family feast, it will help us.
No family is perfect. This world is not perfect. We are all heading to the grave. But if we can
have a family feast every once and a while, give us relief. That will help us. Give me some
definition and feel everything is okay in my Father’s house. To believe that God is for us and
he’s helping us and we can bring it home.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.