Something to Believe In

by | Dec 10, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Luke 1:38-56

Grace is the beginning step of find true and last joy in your life.  When you experience the grace of God it bears the fruit of faith in our hearts.  Faith is not a work but rather the humbling acceptance that God has come near to you in His Son Jesus Christ. 


Sometimes it’s good to get a little uh mess up in early so know that kind of keeps you on your toes and uh uh keep keeps you honest um I’m so glad that you’re here and I know there’s uh we have a number of uh of guests with us this morning especially because this morning we’re going to be uh baptizing Ashley Martin with a wonderful joy in just a few minutes and I know she has some friends who are here and I also know that she’s got has family from uh all over the world who’s uh watching today on on the live stream so uh if you’re a guest of ours we’re thankful that that you are here um and we’re walking into uh the Second Sunday of the season of Advent uh the season of Advent at the word Advent itself it just means the coming and so during the season of Advent we uh we remember that Jesus has come uh we look forward in great expectation that he’s going to come again and when he comes he’s going to make all things new but we celebrate that Here and Now Jesus continues to come into our lives even today even right now revealing himself to us and so we’ve been working through Luke chapter one uh as the angel Gabriel visited Mary and now today with Mary uh going to visit her her cousin Elizabeth continuing to see the power of the coming of Christ into our lives as we see it at work in the midst of uh in the midst of Mary’s life and in the midst of Elizabeth’s life uh so far in our readings and so on this uh in this Advent season we’re on a journey to Joy we’re on a journey to Joy because Advent uh is the season that really reveals the deepest desires of the human heart now the rest I know the rest of the culture calls it this the Christmas season right uh and you get to see in all the Christmas music and and the popular culture and all the movies and everything there’s all these longing there’s longing for the world to be different there’s longing for things to be more there’s a longing for something that that isn’t quite realized but people hope will be and there’s and that longing can only be satisfied in the coming of the Son of God into our lives to fulfill us last week we we began with the longing for grace that God comes to us just as he came to Mary and he speaks those words to us as he spoke through the a the angel Gabriel to Mary do not be afraid my grace is with you because I am with you the season of Advent reminds us that Christ is here the Son of God Has Come to Us God’s Grace has come to us Christianity is not a a a March up the mountain to try to work our way to God it’s a place where God comes down to meet us at the bottom where we are where he sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to meet us that’s what Grace is all about and so this week we turn our attention to uh a longing that of the human heart that we all have to believe in something we long to believe in something something or or someone that we can actually trust in our lives you know we all believe in something there’s no one who believes in nothing at all the only question is is who or or what do we believe in and does the thing or the person that we believe in are they worthy of our trust are they worthy of our faith can we depend on them will they never let us down are are they strong will they help us in our greatest times of need those are some big questions are the things that we’re trusting in that we’re believing in that we’re putting our faith in are they worthy of our trust you know but this is the season where we’re longing to Hope and and to believe in something we watched Miracle on 34th Street yesterday uh as a family you know you go I don’t know if you’re like us but you know we make a list of all the movies we want to make sure we get through you know through the season but but that the whole movie is about a longing to believe a wanting to believe right even in in the courtroom as God has put on the dock or Santa Claus in this case um is put on the dock you know the people long to believe and and what Joy there is when the when the the judge declares that uh you know that the the the the government uh does not question whether God exists and neither do is the court question whether Santa Claus exists in the person of Chris Kringle right people want to believe there’s great joy in in in in believing do you know that uh one of the wonderful old Christmas uh Christmas songs that we hear this time of year of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas I I love that song but there’s always some especially when Judy Garland sings it you know there’s something kind of Haunting about it it’s just there’s something that’s kind of it just there seems to be something something dark about it I’ve never seen the movie uh that it came from but it’s a Meet Me In St Louis uh is the movie that it came from anybody seen that movie it was in 1944 I haven’t seen it but uh uh but I was reading about this uh this song this week uh and I finally realized why I sense there’s something so kind of dark and haunting about the song Because what we hear today of Judy Garland sing or Frank sadra sing on the radio that was not the original version the original version so just to remind you the the one we hear me it says this Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas let your hearts be light from now on our troubles will be out of sight Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas make your U tide gay from now on our troubles will be miles away here we are in the in as in olden days happy Golden Days of your faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more right that’s something positive that’s something to to believe in and be hopeful about but here’s what the original version was Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas it may be your

last next year we may all be living in the past Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas pop that champagne cork next year we may all be living in New York well that’d be terrible

right no good times like the olden days happy Golden Days of your Faithful Friends who were dear to us will be near to us no

more but at least we’ll all be together if the Lord allows from now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow so Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

now it’s kind of understanding right when Judy Garland first got this song that was given to her for this movie and she said I can’t sing this this this little girl that I’m supposed to be singing to she’s going to break down in tears uh and so they had to go scrap it and go back and rewrite it to the the the version we we know to now today right because this won’t fly we need something to believe in we need something to Hope in something that’s worthy this time of year uh not something that was so drab and dark and uh and hopeless we we all want something that’s worthy to believe in but more than that it’s more than just a longing for Something to Believe In the scriptures make it very clear that belief is essential belief is essential not only to salvation but belief is essential to righteousness meaning that the righteous shall live by faith faith is that same word belief and faith and trust is really all the same root word in in Greek they all they all mean basically the same thing so not only is belief necessary Faith necessary to salvation but faith is necessary for for righteousness the righteous shall live by faith so what is Faith and why should we believe and and how can we actually have faith in our lives for salvation that continues on in in our life of righteousness with Christ those are the big questions that we’re asking I think this text is bringing out in us as we as we continue to make this journey towards the joy of Christ fulfillment of his coming uh into this world and so I want to invite you to uh begin in verse 39 uh as we work through this passage together uh really we began in verse 38 um is where I wanted to but since I messed everything up I even uh messed that part up um because I really think that this part begins with the end of last week’s reading and that is uh Mary said after being visited by Gabriel and being told that she was going to uh that she was going to Bear a child that the Holy Spirit and the Lord was going to come upon her and that this child would be the Lord um that this is what she declared she declared behold I am the servant of the Lord let it be to me according to your word and the angel departed from her so the grace of God that visited her uh and told her that God is with you and that he loves you his favor is for you it gave birth in her heart even upon hearing the the words of what seemed like it was impossible and was going to create an incredible burden in her own life she was able to respond in faith the grace of God bore the fruit of faith of a faithful response in her life life and so we’re told then in those days Mary arose and she went with haste Into the Hill Country to a town in Judah and she entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth remember she had been told by the angel Gabriel that uh that Elizabeth was with child her cousin and so she went and made her way here now this uh we don’t know exactly why other than it maybe have just been a sense of joy of wanting to be with someone else who she knew that had a similar experience to her uh that she could relate to that’s important right that you’re around people that can support you and they understand where you’re coming from in this incredible experience of receiving God’s grace in your life uh we need that we need that that’s why Christian Fellowship is so important we need each other because we remind one another of the grace of God at work in our lives and so Mary goes there also could have been some of the you know maybe social shame right that her family may have said hey I think you need to get out of town don’t think anyone’s going to believe you uh you need to get out of here go go see go go see your cousin and hang out there for a while uh we’re not told exactly why uh and when Elizabeth though heard the greeting of Mary the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she explained with the loud cry blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb and why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me for behold when the sound of your greeting came to my ears the baby in my womb leaped for Joy again we’re on this journey to Joy as even the Christ child in the womb of his mother arrives it brings he brings Joy with him this Joy is coming but then she says in verse 45 and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord blessed is she who believed there’s that word of faith blessed is she who responded in faith to the grace of God that was bestowed upon her blessed is she who respond in faith despite the difficult road ahead of her the challenges that she would face I mean yeah it’s a great honor to be the the mother of the Son of God right yeah but what about her friends what about her family what about the the town that she lived in what did they all think about this what about Joseph what did he think about about her these are difficult times and ultimately keep this in mind always ultimately this great joy this great blessing that was besto bestowed upon Mary it’s going to ultimately end in her having to watch her own son die on the cross and yet she trusted the Lord she put her trust in him God’s grace was so powerful in her her life God’s nearness to her his favor in her life that it evoked in her a trust in him despite all that was going to come and all that she was going to have to deal with she was able to respond in faith so much so that in in her song the song of Mary I’m not going to read the whole thing but uh she declares about God these incredible incredible attributes that he’s Mighty that he’s holy that he’s merciful that he’s strong and he’s just that he’s generous providing for her that he’s a great helper can you imagine declaring all that to God who’s just burdened you in this way yet the grace of God was so powerful and God was so close to her that it bore this fruit of a trusting faith in

him that’s how Faith Works in our lives but let’s let’s talk about that for just just a minute on this journey we hard to Joy and the role that faith and trust in God plays but what is Faith you know I think sometimes we believe that it’s just a uh you know it’s just this cognitive decision that we make right it’s all it’s all in our minds that we uh uh that we make a decision in our heads uh for God but but it’s so much more than that uh anybody ever had a tree worked on in your yard a big tree I think tree people are the craziest people in the whole world they’re amazing like I love to go out when they come I go out and watch because to think of the especially you know they don’t all do it but that one crazy guy uh who will put on the shoes and shimmy up the side and then go way out on a long a Long Branch uh we had one uh a trimming done in our big old oak tree uh the a couple weeks or I guess a couple months ago uh and and I sat out there and watched this one guy who’s the tree guy and he was way up in there he straps himself into one little one little Branch he’s carrying a chainsaw in one hand dangling over his side that takes some guts doesn’t it that t that takes some serious guts he’s got a lot of trust right in that in that equipment that he’s wearing um that that he can do it but he does it day in and day out he he seems to do it all the time uh and but it’s one thing for him to do it right but what with trust and faith Faith really is is if he comes down off that tree while I’m sitting there and complimenting him on how amazing it is that he can do it all and he says well you can do it too hop on my back hop on my back and we’ll we’ll we we’ll go up that’s different isn’t it I I I I believe he can do it I’ve even seen him do it but I don’t know that I believe he’s going to do it with me or that he really can do it that way but trusting in the Lord means being willing to get on board with him and trusting our lives with him for Mary it was trusting him in what he was calling her to that despite all the struggle it was going to be for her life and all that it was going to mean for her personally and in her relationships

socially that God was good and that she could trust him and what he was calling her to that’s what that’s what faith is it’s putting our lives into the hands of of Jesus trusting him that what he accomplished and his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave that it is sufficient and it is good enough for us that when we that when we believe him that we are reborn to a new and everlasting life with him that’s what faith is but why should we trust him right why should I TR trust the guy who can go up the he can get himself up there but I why why should I trust him that he’s going to be able to get me up there well I wish I could tell you that it’s because God you know the minute you put your trust in God everything’s going to go well everything’s going to go the way you wanted all your greatest uh heart’s desires are going to be fulfilled uh all the bad stuff that’s been happening in your life it’ll go away that God some sort of lucky charm but that’s not the picture we get with Mary is it that’s not the promise of God the promise of God is that that he is our he will be strong that he is just he is our Helper and he is

merciful but that it won’t necessarily be easy but that it’s good and the reason we can trust him is because he has come near to us he has come into our lives he has come here because he loves us and he wants to save us and that we can turn to him and trust him that no matter what we’re going to go through that he will be with us every step of the way that’s what the coming of Christ into this world means Romans 106 to8 that we read just a minute faith says the word has come near to you it’s in your mouth it’s it’s in your heart faith says Christ is here and he’s with us Faith isn’t a work it’s not something that we have to muster up enough to be able to give or to do it’s the free gift of God’s grace in our lives of him coming near to us and US responding so how can we put our faith in God I how appropriate today especially Ashley as you as you come to to be baptized and make this public Declaration of your faith in Christ how can we put our faith in God trust in him belief in Jesus because belief and trust in God is different than our belief and Trust in anything else and any other person in our lives because the faith that we’re required to give it doesn’t require strength of will it doesn’t require a magnitude of of intellect that we have satisfied every intellectual question and that we we now can believe because we did all the work all it requires is this though

humility faith in Christ requires our humility that’s what we see that’s what we see through Mary Mary has uh has modeled that for us was the only thing that we can look to in Mary’s life to have deserved God’s grace well there was really nothing the only thing that we can see in her was a humility to receive this gift that God was giving her faith doesn’t require strength of will or magnitude of intellect all it requires of us is our own humility to give up our fighting to give up our resistance istance to God and to receive the free gift of the grace of his son Jesus Christ in our lives that Jesus that he gave his life for

us to cleanse us of our sins that he rose from the grave to give us new and unending life in him that we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ friends that requires humility us coming to the end of ourselves recognizing that we cannot do it alone not for our salvation and no time thereafter for our righteousness because it’s always the free gift of God’s grace to us and his son Jesus Christ who came into this world that he would always be near to us friends on this journey of joy not only may we receive must we receive the the grace of God first in our lives we must receive the fruit of his Drawing Near and that is a faith a trust a humbling trust in him that he is

enough so I I want to invite Ashley and her sponsors to to come forward this morning as we celebrate the step that she’s taking in this journey in her life to Joy uh by receiving Christ publicly as Lord and Savior and being baptized in the name of the father and the son why don’t y’all come over on this side so then we don’t have to deal with all this stuff over here um mon you mind grabb me the mic over there you know adult baptism are you know children infant and children baptisms are great but there’s something special about adult baptism because we have a chance to talk to you and hear just a little bit uh of your of your story uh of coming to the Lord and so I just want to to ask you before we We Begin just tell us how you uh you came to uh to church of our savior yeah sure so um I actually came with a member that I met at a dog park um what an awesome beginning yeah well to be honest I watched a lot of sermons online at other churches and I’m quite picky and old school so actually Chuck was preaching and I was thoroughly impressed um and yeah so I’ve been to many churches also kind of around the world and the thing that was different about this church was that after the first time coming here you’re greeted at the door by at least five or six people that actually know your name right so that is shocking that is welcoming that is uh it’s a different experience for sure well tell I’m sorry I don’t need that um so so so tell me what brought you to the place of of feeling like this was the time that you were ready to to be baptized into the family of God yeah sure so it’s been a long journey for me I’m no stranger to to trauma and stress and things like that um I think I felt like it was basically time to do this kind of on this journey on my own um another thing that really helped was The Fellowship in this church so I’ve been quite honored with Tom and P group with uh cooking with roxan in the kitchen to my many cherished lunches with with Debbie here um yeah so I felt like this is the right time the right group and the right Church to kind of go ahead and do this yeah christian christian community makes a big difference doesn’t it and helps us in our in our walk in our walk with the lord well we’re so excited that you’ve made this decision to uh to officially publicly declare your fa your faith and trust in Christ that knowledge that he has come near to you and that he loves you uh and that he wants to call you fully into into his family and so that’s what we’re going to to do today um and so did you do you have your bulletin with you do you need it read okay you’ve memorized it great um I invite everyone to turn to uh page six in in your bulletin as we begin this part of the service of holy baptism together dearly beloved scripture teaches that we were all dead in our sins and trespasses but by Grace we may be saved through faith Our Savior Jesus Christ said unless one is born of water in the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God and he commissioned the church to make disciples of all Nations baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit here we ask our heavenly father that this candidate Ashley being baptized with water may be filled with the Holy Spirit born again and received into the church as a Living member of Christ’s body therefore I urge you to call upon God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ that of His abundant Mercy he will grant to Ashley that which by Nature she cannot have on her own and so the adult baptism for Holy baptism will now be

presented and now Ashley I have some questions for you uh the first question is this have you already been baptized no do you desire to be baptized today absolutely do you renounce the devil and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God I do I renounce them as I renounce them sorry it means the same thing I’m just being a stickler you know I don’t you know I renounce them do you renounce the empty promises and deadly deceits of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God I renounce them do you renounce the sinful desires of the flesh that draw you from the love of God I renounce them almighty God deliver you from the powers of Darkness Ness and evil and leads you into the light and Obedience of the kingdom of his son Jesus Christ Our Lord amen Ashley do you turn to Jesus Christ and confess him as your lord and savior I do do you joyfully receive the Christian faith is revealed in the Holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments I do will you obediently keep God’s holy will and Commandments and walk in them all the days of your life I will the Lord being my helper and now a question to all those who are here uh who are followers of Christ I have a question for you as this community as we uh rally around Ashley today will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support Ashley and her life in Christ we will so let us now join with Ashley to Proclaim our faith and the words of the ancient baptismal confession the Apostles Creed will you please

stand do you believe and trust in God the Father I do I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of Heaven and Earth do you believe and trust in Jesus Christ I do I believe in Jesus Christ only conceived the Hoy Bor ofgy suffered under pfed

di again seated at the right of father will come Jud living and do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit I do I believe in the Holy Spirit the Holy Catholic Church the Forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body and the life Everlasting Amen Let us now pray for Ashley who has received reing the sacrament of baptism today Lord we pray that Ashley may continue in the apostles teaching in the fellowship in the breaking of bread and in the prayers we beseech you to hear us good Lord that she may walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which she has been called ever growing in faith in all Heavenly virtues we beseech you to hear us good Lord that she may persevere in resisting evil Vil and whenever she falls into sin repent and return to the Lord we to hear us good Lord that she may Proclaim by word and deed the good news of God in Christ Jesus to a lost and broken world we beseech you to hear us good Lord that as a Living member of the body of Christ she may grow up in every way into him who is the head we beseech you to hear us good Lord that looking to Jesus may run with endurance the race that is set before her and at the last receive the unfading Crown of Glory we beseech you to hear us good Lord let us pray Almighty and everlasting father in your great Mercy you saved Noah and his family and the Ark from the destruction of the flood prefiguring the sacrament of holy baptism look mercifully upon Ashley wash and sanctify her through your holy spirit that she may be delivered from destruction and received into the Ark of Christ’s Church and being steadfast in faith joyful through hope and rooted in love she may pass through the turbulent floods of this Troublesome world and come into the land of everlasting life through Jesus Christ Our Lord

amen the Lord be with you with your spirit lift up your hearts we lift them up to the Lord let us give thanks to the Lord Our God it is right thanks and praise we thank you almighty God for the gift of water over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise in it your son Jesus received the baptism of John in the River Jordan when the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a of we thank you Father for the water of

baptism in it we are buried with Christ in his death by it we share with his resurrection through it we are regenerate by the Holy Spirit therefore in joyful obedience to your son we bring into his Fellowship those who come to him and Faith baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit and now father sanctify this water by the power of your Holy Spirit may all who are baptized here be cleansed from sin be born again and continue forever faithful in the Risen life of Jesus Christ Our Savior to him to you and to the Holy Spirit be honor and Glory now and forever

amen Ashley would you come forward just bend over here Ashley I baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy

Spirit stay here stay here you’re not going

anywhere Ashley received the sign of the cross of Christ as a token of your new life in Christ in which you shall not be ashamed to confess the Faith of Christ crucified to fight bravely under his Banner Against the World the Flesh and the devil and to continue as his faithful Soldier and servant to the end of your days amen Heavenly Father we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon Ashley the Forgiveness of sins receive her as your own child by adoption make her a member of your holy church raise her to New Life of Grace sustain her oh Lord in your holy spirit that she may enjoy Everlasting salvation through Jesus Christ Our Lord



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