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THE BIRTH OF A SON

Luke 2:7 – She gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke records the greatest event in all human history. Mary, a virgin, gave birth to the Son of God. Of all things, He was laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

Isaiah the prophet, 700 years earlier, prophesied Jesus’ birth. “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven . . . The Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:11, 14). The Old Testament prophet Micah pinpointed the place of Immanuel’s birth. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

The creator of the worlds was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him. To think about the events of the first Christmas defies all the rational thinking of man. Christ, who created all things, came as a baby and lay in a manger. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-18).

From the fall of man in the garden, there has not been room for the living God. He has had to break into human history. He has had to reveal Himself through signs and wonders. He chose to hide Himself in human flesh and reveal His love through humility and brokenness. Only by His Holy Spirit can one see who He is and embrace His love.

At this particular season of the year, it is good to ask ourselves, “Will I make room for the risen Christ in every area of my life”? He not only wants to be in the inn of your heart, but He wants ownership because He bought your spirit, soul, and body with His precious blood spilt thirty-three years after His birth. You cannot truly celebrate Christmas without celebrating His resurrection from the dead and His habitation among humans through His Holy Spirit. The complete story is that He is coming again in bodily form for “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Father, I thank You for the babe in the manger, Jesus Christ the Lord. I thank You for His willingness to be rejected of men. I thank You for Your love that has drawn me to the Savior and enabled me to partake of His sufferings. I thank You for Your precious Holy Spirit and for the promise of Christ’s return and our gathering unto Him.

THE PROPHET OF THE MOST HIGH

Luke 1:76 – You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways.

John the Baptist was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets. Jesus testified of John saying, “This is the one about whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You” (Luke 7:27). Today, we hear the term “forerunner.” John was the “true forerunner.” In John was a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit and when he spoke, great conviction came upon the people. Many responded to his call to be baptized. His ministry of baptism was a preparatory response to the coming Messiah. Some thought that John was the Messiah, but he was only preparing the “way” for the Lord.

One reason for the confusion about John’s prophetic ministry was that Moses had spoken of a prophet like himself. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, and you shall listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15-16). Some were questioning whether John was “that prophet” of which Moses spoke. John was chosen by God to point out the “true prophet,” the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is interesting to note in Zacharias’ prophetic word, that he speaks of the Lord’s ways. Jesus fulfilled the purpose of God in many different respects. One of which is that He is the true Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. All those ministries come from the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, it is Christ who is the true prophet. If one is called to the office of “Prophet,” Jesus takes of His prophetic anointing and places a portion on the one He has called. Jesus’ ways are altogether righteous. He makes the one who believes on Him, altogether righteous. Jesus is our High Priest who is ever-living to intercede on our behalf. When a believer enters into the ministry of intercession, the anointing of Jesus for intercession comes upon that one.

John the Baptist was the first forerunner in the New Testament. He prepared the way for our Lord’s entrance into ministry. Jesus speaks of the “least” in the kingdom of God as being greater than John. “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11-12). Each believer is a forerunner as they live a kingdom lifestyle before a Christ-rejecting world. Some are called, like John, to live lives that are separated from the world in a profound way. Some give up the comforts of the culture they have known and go to live among people from a completely different culture to bear witness of Christ and His love.

The Holy Spirit has come to show us the “ways” of the Lord. He leads individuals into various experiences and expressions of Christ’s life and love. The Spirit of God is the One who prepares us for the life He has chosen to reveal in us. He gives gifts to enable us to more accurately represent the Lord Jesus and His love for people. Accept the call of God to be His representative in your sphere of influence. John fulfilled his call to present Christ to Israel. I choose to accept the call of God in my life to reveal Christ and His love to those around me.

Father, I ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint me to be a forerunner. Let my life represent Christ in such a way that Your ways are manifested through me. I pray for the love and compassion of Christ to be evidenced in my daily walk before others, that they might be drawn to the Savior.

SERVE THE LORD IN HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

Luke 1:74-75 – Grant us to serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.

Abraham was committed to serve the Lord all his days in holiness and righteousness. God honored Abraham because He believed God. Abraham believed God for the future because he saw by faith what God had promised. “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). Abraham is known as “the father of the faithful.” He is the example of a faith-filled life. He did not experience everything God had promised him, but he saw it by faith, knowing God was faithful to all His promises.

Abraham served God without fear. It was faith that allowed him to serve God, trusting Him throughout his entire life. There were moments when Abraham wavered, but he did not camp in fear, but overcame through faith. He received God’s corrections and changed his way of thinking when reminded of God’s eternal promises.

Abraham was a man that served God in holiness. When we look at Abraham’s life, we could view some decisions he made as not being holy. God sees things differently because He sees the heart of an individual. The holiness of God is closely connected to the life of faith. The life of faith is lived out in the weakness of our flesh. Faith is judged ultimately by how we respond to holiness. When we do not live a “separated life” to God’s purpose, we are not walking by faith. Faith takes us beyond our rational thinking. Faith causes us to make decisions based on future expectations. Holiness is the present evidence of our faith in operation.

The result of faith and holiness is “righteousness.” Holiness is our actions of faith; righteousness is our state of being. We can be holy and live righteously all our days because Messiah has appeared and overcome the world on our behalf. Zacharias anticipated God’s salvation in his prophetic word. Up to this time, Israel was under the hand of its enemies. Through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Israel could now fulfill God’s plan, living the way the Lord had purposed.

Let us be renewed in faith, holiness, and righteousness during this Christmas season as we remember all that the Lord has done through Christ. The babe of Bethlehem is now the reigning King of the nations. Yield to Him in your life and give Him the control He rightly deserves. Receive the power of the Holy Spirit daily and overcome the enemy of your flesh, the enemy of your soul who is the devil, and the enemy who empowers this world’s systems. We are more than conquers through Jesus Christ the Lord!

Father, I thank You for the overcoming life I have in Christ Jesus. Let faith, holiness, and righteousness fill me. As I remember the babe of Bethlehem, I bow to the risen Christ who is seated far above all His enemies. I look forward to Your glorious appearing when all those who have trusted Christ will be together to celebrate Your awesome salvation.

THE GOD OF MERCY WHO REMEMBERS HIS HOLY COVENANT

Luke 1:72 – To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we be rescued from the hand of our enemies.

Today, we continue looking at the prophecy of Zacharias. God is the God of “mercy” and the God who makes a “covenant” with His people. He never fails in mercy and He never breaks His covenant. What He promised Abraham hundreds of years before, now is coming to pass. Zacharias was His instrument to declare the time had come. Zacharias’ son, John was God’s chosen servant to introduce the One who would establish mercy and a New Covenant sealed in Christ’s blood.

Beloved, God never forgets what He promises. Zacharias spoke of God “showing mercy toward our fathers.” Although the fathers of Israel failed again and again, the holy one of Israel did not. So Zacharias looked back saying “our fathers.” This new thing God was about to accomplish was not only for the present generation and those to come, but also for those who had gone before. The record is clear concerning this. “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). Again we note what Paul wrote, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8). Paul referred to the fact that Christ first descended into what the Jews called “paradise,” where the righteous dead were waiting His appearing and the hope of resurrection. He led them to heaven with Him. Some gave testimony before ascending to the Throne of God.

God’s mercy, which has been given to us through the New Covenant in the blood of Christ, is the means by which we are rescued from our enemies. These include the spiritual enemies of Satan’s kingdom and the enemies of the gospel in human form, who have rejected God’s means of salvation and persecute God’s redeemed people. Many times, we are privileged to see victories in the now through salvations, through deliverance from evil spirits, through healing of sick bodies, and the overcoming of circumstances. There are yet greater victories to be experienced when Christ returns with His saints and those who remain are caught up with Him in the air forever to be with the Lord. Together with Christ, judgment will be poured out on all those who have rejected His offer of salvation and mercy.

Now is the acceptable time to receive salvation and mercy. God is pouring out His Spirit around the world. The individuals who will trust Christ and receive God’s gift of salvation will also receive God’s mercy, both now and in the future. This includes the nations. The nation of Israel rejected the mercy of God provided through Christ and experienced God’s judgment at the end of the first century. Today, God’s mercy is being offered to Jew and Gentile, and many are receiving the Gospel. We trust for many more to receive God’s mercy and grace in our generation. We look forward to the day of the Lord’s return when those who have trusted Christ will experience the fullness of God’s blessings in His Son.

Father, as I celebrate the birth of Christ with family and friends, I give You praise for Your great mercy and faithful covenant. I pray for my family and friends, who yet need to know You by receiving Your offer of salvation. I pray that this season will provide opportunity for them to consider Your offer of mercy and grace.

ZACHARIAS’ PROPHECY

Luke 1:67 – Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied.

Zacharias, the father of John, prophesied at the birth of his son. Later John, who introduced the ministry of Jesus to Israel, became known as “John the Baptist.” In the very beginning of the Gospels, we observe how Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth, John’s mother, was also filled with the Spirit. Even John, in his mother’s womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in the conception of Jesus. There was a lot of Holy Spirit activity around the birth of Christ. I believe the Father was anticipating the day when He would pour out His Spirit upon all those who believed.

The Spirit of God caused Zacharias to prophesy a powerful word in preparation for Messiah’s appearing. Luke 1:68 – 79 records Zacharias’ prophetic word to Israel. He began by declaring the Lord God of Israel as “Blessed.” He looked ahead to what the Lord would do and proclaimed in the present tense, “He has visited and accomplished redemption for His people.” He went on to speak of God’s horn of salvation in the house of David. Because the horn is used by animals as a weapon, it came to symbolize power and might. Zedekiah, a false prophet in Ahab’s day, made horns of iron to portray how Ahab was going to defeat the Syrians (1 Kings 22:11). God lifts up the horn of the righteous but cuts off the horn of the wicked (Psalm 75:10). Probably as an extension of this meaning of the word, horns in the visions of Daniel and John symbolized kingdoms and individual kings. David spoke of God as the horn, or strength, of his salvation (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2). (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1986, Thomas Nelson Pub.).

Zacharias went on to mention that the prophets of old had spoken about God’s deliverance appearing to bring salvation from Israel’s enemies. The Apostle John wrote, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8-9). Luke records in the book of Acts, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

Praise God for His horn of salvation, who by His might alone overcame the works of the enemy, putting the devil to an open shame. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, declare with Zacharias, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for us” (Luke 1:68-69).

Father, I bless and thank You for Jesus, the Lord. Each day, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I too might declare Your wonderful salvation and prophesy of the good things to come in Christ the Lord.

THE MAGNIFICAT

Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what has been spoken to her by the Lord.

One of the great declarations ever and one of the clearest prophetic words given came through the mother of our Lord. It is called the “Magnificat.” As you read Mary’s glorious pronouncement let the Holy Spirit minister to you from every word she spoke.

Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1:46-55).

As we walk through this Christmas season remembering the birth of our Savior, exalt the Lord with your soul, and rejoice in your spirit in God your Savior just as Mary did. The Lord has regarded each one who has put their trust in Him. Trusting Him takes humility on our part, a humility that recognizes that He chose us to be His servant.

Mary prophesies that God’s mercy will be upon each succeeding generation toward those who fear Him. She declares what the Lord has accomplished in this great act. He scattered those who were proud, He has brought down rulers from their thrones, He exalted the humble, and He filled the hungry with good things, and gave help to Israel, remembering His mercy.

Mary had the right focus. She was pregnant with the Child. She did not focus on her pregnancy, but rather, she looked ahead by faith to the purpose of God. As we celebrate Christ’s birth, let us remember His commands, primarily love one another as He loved us and to take the Gospel to the nations declaring the great things our God has done for us.

Father, I thank You for the Magnificat that came from Mary’s heart and mouth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I might magnify Your name and Your deeds before this generation. I thank You for Your mercy upon all those who fear Your name. Help me, Father, to point some toward You during this Christmas season that they too mighty glorify You.