Friday, February 6, 2015, 4:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 1:39-80 (selected ESV).
As You Have Said
From Luke 1:1-38
Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in years and had no children. The angel Gabriel visited Zechariah, a priest in the temple, when he was burning incense. He told him that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son, and that his name was to be called John. He told him that John would be great in the sight of the Lord, and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. John was to be a servant of the Lord who would turn the hearts of people back to God, and who would prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. Nonetheless, Zechariah did not believe the angel, so he was struck mute until after the child was born.
When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, Gabriel made a visit to a virgin girl named Mary. Mary was highly favored of God to be the mother of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Mary believed what the angel told her. She responded by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Awesome! Revival would break out in the church if the followers of Jesus Christ all began to respond as Mary did. Mary’s response, though, is the essence of what our heart response should be to our Lord when we accept his gift of salvation into our lives. Mary was humble, submissive and willing to die for her Lord. She put her whole life on the altar as a living sacrifice, knowing full well what it might cost her.
The Horn of Salvation
From Luke 1:57-75
The day came when John was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. When he was 8 days old he was circumcised. This was the day he was to be given his name. Elizabeth said his name was to be “John,” nonetheless their neighbors and relatives questioned her choice of name and thought he should be named after his father. She was firm, though, that his name was “John.” So, the relatives motioned to Zechariah to inquire of him. He asked for a writing tablet, and he wrote down the name “John.” At once his voice returned to him, “and he began to speak, praising God.”
After John was born and Zechariah was able to speak once more, the neighbors were all filled with wonder as to what had just taken place. Word spread quickly about what had just happened. Everyone who heard the story knew that John must be a special child, and they wondered who he was to become, for they knew the Lord’s hand was upon him. Even Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. Yet, the first words to come out of his mouth were not about his newborn son, but about the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. ~ Lu. 1:67-75
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, yet to be born of the virgin Mary, at that time, was prophesied concerning by Zechariah. Jesus is the horn of our salvation whom the Father raised up for us in the house of his servant David. Yet, not only did Zechariah prophesy that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and our Savior, but he prophesied pretty much the full gospel message. Zechariah told, not only of our redemption, i.e. of our deliverance and salvation from sin (our enemy), and of God’s great mercy to us, as was promised to Abraham, but that in rescuing us from our enemies, God would also “enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (See vv. 74-75 NIV84).
You see, Jesus Christ did not die on the cross and take upon himself the sins of the entire world just so that we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). He died so that we would die with him to the sin which once enslaved us and so that we would walk with him daily in the power of the Spirit within us in his holiness and righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24).
His grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for his return. Jesus Christ died to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people who are his very own, eager to do what is good (See: Tit. 2:11-14). Our salvation is not just about us being forgiven of our sins, but it is about living for our Lord God while we still live on the face of this earth. He saves us, not just so we can escape hell, but he saves us so we can walk in his purity and holiness, and so we might serve him all of our days.
The Prophet of the Most High
From Luke 1:76-79
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” ~ Luke 1:76-79
John the Baptist was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. He was a witness and a messenger who called people to repentance in preparation for their Lord. He told people about salvation and forgiveness of sins, and of God’s great mercy to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be set free of the punishment and the control of sin over our lives, and so we could be free to live holy lives pleasing to God, by his power and in his strength. He was also to tell of The Light which shines in the darkness so that people could be turned from the darkness of sin to the light of the truth of God’s word and of his salvation. As well, he was to tell about this Savior who would guide our feet into the way of his peace.
We, as Christ’s followers, and as His Body, have also been commissioned to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to prepare the way for him, only now for his return. We are to go into all the world and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey Christ’s commandments (his teachings and instructions). We are to be Christ’s witnesses throughout the world, bringing the message of Good News to all people. Yet, it is not “good news” if we don’t tell the full gospel message as Zechariah prophesied, and as John taught; as Jesus preached, and as the apostles taught us. We need to tell people that, not only did Jesus Christ die for our sins so we can escape hell and have the hope of heaven, but he died to save us from the control of sin over our lives and so we would be free to walk daily in his righteousness.
We need to tell people that to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives that we must die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, that we must be born anew of the Spirit of God, and that we must now walk in the Spirit, no longer living to gratify the sinful desires of our flesh. We are not saved merely so our sins are forgiven, but we are delivered from sin so that we might serve our Lord in his righteousness and holiness the rest of our days. He saved us so that he might now have full reign in our lives, that our desire would now be for him, and that we would want to have him guide our feet each day and for us to follow him wherever he leads us. We all need to have the same attitude as Mary. We are the Lord’s servants. May he do with us and in us all that he has planned and purposed for our lives, and may we humbly submit our lives to him for his service.
Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012
Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.
Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
By His Spirit, from above.
Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.