Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Spirit Of God In Action

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the Book of Esther, God is not mentioned a single time. The Holy Spirit of God is, however, clearly evident in that Book of the Bible as He works silently behind the scenes, orchestrating the events from chapter to chapter.

In stark contrast, these initial chapters of the Gospel of Luke, reveals several fillings of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence being palpable right off the pages as God sends His Angel to so many of the characters of the Gospels. The Angel Gabriel is mentioned four times in the Scriptures, and two of those times are here in Luke. (He is mentioned two other times in Daniel.)

He is the Angel for announcements, learning, and understanding. His ministry to mankind is not to be taken lightly. It is surely God who dispatches Gabriel to where he is needed. He identifies himself as “the Angel who stands in God’s presence!” And when Gabriel arrives, people are filled with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Revelations take place and are recorded for posterity in fulfillment of God’s Prophecies.

What privilege this angel holds, to stand continually in the presence of God! I am reminded of how the face of Moses shined after being on Mt. Sinai of Arabia. His face shined so brightly that the Israelites could not bear to look directly on his face. So, a covering was draped across the face of Moses when he spoke to them in the days following his time on the mountain with God. This is what standing in the presence of God does. All uncleanness is removed and the true reflection of God’s brightness shines through.

And because of this day of Christ’s First Advent that we celebrate, we can expect the same. Sin and uncleanness are washed away, and His brightness will shine through; the darkness of sin shall be vanquished, and though “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

Sin will have been dealt with, ...
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’ 
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created
He him; male and female created He them.” ~ Genesis 1:26,27

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 1:46-80 - "The Spirit Of God In Action"


In the past couple of weeks, we have been studying about two births that were foretold. One would prepare the way of the Lord, and the other is the promised Messiah.

As we finish up chapter one of Luke's Gospel, these are the events that occur just before the birth of Jesus, and after the birth of, John the Baptist.

In Luke 1:46–55 Mary responds to Elizabeth’s blessing with what is now commonly called the Magnificat. The Magnificat is a poem of praise to God. Mary is praising Him for His blessing to her and His faithfulness to Israel. The Magnificat also highlights a series of reversals in which the proud are humbled and the humble are exalted—not the least being a poor young girl who will be the mother of the Messiah. Some Bibles will label this passage the “Song of Mary,” although the Bible does not report that she sang it. “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

Mary’s song, is full of quotations of and allusions to passages in the Old Testament, very similar to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1-10. The Magnificat also foreshadows many these that are addressed later in book of Luke and in the ministry of Jesus.

First Mary expresses her joy in the source of that joy which is God. We too should recognize that our true joy is not in ourselves but in our Savior who is the fountain of joy.

She recognizes God's Favor. That He has provided her salvation. That He has done everything necessary to keep us from going to Hell. That He is mindful of hers and our condition. That we have all gone astray, yet God has chosen the lowly to exalt Himself. That it is not those the world would select as instruments, yet God has chosen us, not the rich and powerful, but the poor in spirit who are rich in faith. Mary recognizes her low estate and magnifies God's love. Rather than exalt herself by the honor of being chosen to bear God's Son, she praises God for coming down, stooping to one like her. Rather than basking in fame, she chooses to exalt God.

The next time Zechariah is mentioned is after the birth of his son. At the child’s circumcision, Elizabeth’s family and friends wanted to name the baby after Zechariah, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be John (Luke 1:59–60). When they consulted Zechariah, he asked for a writing tablet and “to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John’” (verse 63). Immediately, Zechariah was able to speak and began at once to praise the Lord. Luke 1:67–79 records the prophetic words that Zechariah proclaimed, which may have been in the form of a song. His words indicate the change of heart and the faith that had grown during his nine months of muteness.

Zechariah is holding his newborn son and utters promises inspired by the Holy Spirit. He answers the question, how can we be sure of Jesus' ability to save us from our sins? We can trust in Jesus because God says we can. His Word is enough, because His promise will always come true. What He says, He will do.

From Zechariah we learn that, when we faithfully follow the Lord and continue to lift up our prayers to Him, He hears us and answers according to His will for our lives (Luke 1:13; 18:1; 1 John 5:14–15). There is nothing too hard for the Lord. God’s plan may look very different from what we think we want, but His way is always the best. Zechariah may have thought he only wanted a son; God gave him a prophet whose name is forever linked with the story of Jesus Christ.

Zechariah's son would be "the prophet of the Most High." Prophets always pointed to something greater. The angel told Mary her child would be "the Son of the Most High." John the Baptist's task was to remind people that they were in need of the coming One who would forgive sins. Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, and forgiveness of our sins is the reason for His coming. Outside of Christ, we sit in death and darkness.

Zechariah's words help us see the unrivaled glory of our Savior. Christ is the Light and a Hero who sacrifices Himself for His people. He visits us in mercy. One day, His light will shine and never be hidden. His reign will be unchallenged and unending.

God's continued relationship with humanity demonstrates His mercy. He visited us with a purpose, to give us the help we need. His promise is abiding. He personally identifies with His people. The blatancy of our failure is overridden by the relentlessness of God's mercy and faithfulness. He provides for us a "horn of salvation."

God's mercy and love are demonstrated by action. He is the one who works our salvation. He is Emmanuel, God is with us!

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