GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST

Luke 2:14 – A multitude of the heavenly host appeared praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

At the birth of Jesus the whole of heaven’s hosts joined in the celebration. The angel of the Lord appeared many times throughout the Old Testament to bring to men messages from the throne of God. Daniel the prophet experienced numerous occasions when Gabriel the archangel appeared to him with messages from God. Never before did a multitude of the heavenly host come declaring words from God as recorded in the book of Luke.

The Scriptures can be so clear at times and this verse is one of those occasions, “Glory to God in the highest.” God is Spirit and His throne is in heaven. We cannot comprehend either God or His throne. God is mystery to man, so God revealed His nature by sending His Only Begotten Son in human form. Not only did He do this, He has made it possible, through Christ, for His Holy Spirit to live inside every believer. In this verse the angels say, “In the highest,” there is no height higher than the Throne of God.

The angels also made it abundantly clear concerning God’s will: “On earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” As we look back in Scripture, there was a time when God was not pleased. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). What an indictment against mankind! God’s heart is fully revealed in Luke’s record of Christ’s birth. He reconciled His grieving over creating man as revealed in Genesis with His “Great Love” revealed through His Son Jesus and the “new creation” in the Spirit He was bringing forth.

God the Father is pleased with man, not because man is good, but because of “the man Christ Jesus.” “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Now was the proper time. The angels began the proclamation that awesome night. The Apostles continued the proclamation as they preached Christ in “faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).

It is now our turn! As we celebrate His birth and remember what the angels declared, make sure you represent heaven well. God wants peace among men. God is well pleased with us as He sees Christ revealed in all men and women who have put their trust in God’s first new creation man.

Father, I thank You for Your declaration of peace and pleasure of man. Thank You for Your heart of love and mercy shown toward fallen man who had no hope. You have given hope to the world through the birth of Your Son Jesus. Help me to be joined with the angels in proclaiming Your great love.

A SAVIOR IS BORN

Luke 2:11-12 – Today, in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Heaven truly came to earth on the day of Christ’s birth. Not only was the Son of God born in Bethlehem, but a multitude of angels filled the skies and revealed themselves to many who were waiting for the expected Messiah. As shepherds were watching over their sheep, the glory of the Lord appeared as an angel spoke to the shepherds and those shepherds were filled with fear.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Man is normally fearful of the supernatural. Angels appearing and talking certainly qualify for supernatural activity. The heart of the Lord is revealed through these angelic words, “Don’t fear.” The Father sent His Son because He wanted a relationship with man. You cannot have a healthy relationship with another if there is “terrible fear.” God’s word to mankind is “Don’t be afraid because I have provided salvation”.

The angel goes on to explain that he had come to bring “good news.” It was news of “great joy” and this news was “for all people.” The Gospel is the Good news of Jesus Christ. It starts with His birth, but grew to include His death, burial, and resurrection. As Jesus hung on the cross, He gave up His life for all people.

Real joy is found in a relationship with God the Father, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit whom the Father has given. Wouldn’t you love to have been around the fire that evening as the shepherds talked about what they had just experienced on their watch? Their minds must have gone back to the many passages of Scripture they heard from their religious leaders over the years.

Our God is the God of Victory! There had been no prophet to bring the Word of the Lord for over four hundred years. The religious leaders of Israel had become dull of hearing and filled with lust for power. Things looked rather bleak for the “covenant people.” But on this night, the sounds of victory rang through the skies. Declarations of “peace on earth” and proclamations of “goodwill toward men” rang out through the quiet stillness of the night. God is a God of the immediacy. “An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared” (Luke 2:9).

For over two thousand years, the message the angel brought to these shepherds has been ringing out in the earth. From Jerusalem, men began to carry the good news until the entire then-known world had heard “Jesus is Lord.” The message has continued down through the centuries to our day. Christmas is a wonderful time to be renewed in the Gospel through Christmas carols and Christmas plays. It is also a great time to be renewed in God’s will. Each of us can share the good news with another or perhaps with many.

The gift of God in Christ was never meant to be held privately, but is intended to be shared with as many people as is possible. Tell someone about Jesus before the year’s end. Pray for divine appointments and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Father, anoint me with the Holy Spirit to share Your Good News to as many as You would lead me. Release through me the message of freedom from fear, and the blessing of peace and joy from the presence of the Lord.

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.