Thursday, December 04, 2014

What Christmas Really Means

The world has a lot of ways to get Jesus out of the celebration.

Luke 1:67-79  Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68  "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and redeemed His people.  69  He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David,  70  just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago.

71  Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.  72  He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering His sacred covenant-- 73  the covenant He swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.

74  We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,  75  in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

76  "And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.  77  You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.

78  Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,  79  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace."

The world cannot come up with enough ways to distract us from the real reason that we celebrate at this time of year. At first everybody probably knew what the celebration was all about but in today's world it has become so bad that I am sure that there are people that have never heard about the special baby that is the real reason for the celebration.

Christmas is not supposed to be synonymous with chestnuts roasting on an open fire or other warm, fuzzy feelings. Christmas is a lot messier than that. Christmas is about a very ugly situation that God wanted to make right. Christmas deals with the messy fact that sinners need to be rescued from God’s judgment.

In today's scripture Zechariah has just received a great gift from God, John the Baptist has just been born and Zechariah has had his speech restored. We usually think of prophets as being an Old Testament thing but in these verses Zechariah is more that just a priest, he also is a prophet.

Our greatest need at Christmas time is not for more things. We all have plenty of things. Neither is it for personal fulfillment, though many think that’s what they need and madly try to find it. Our greatest need is not even for the love of family and friends, as important as that is. The greatest need that Christmas wants to meet is for salvation.

Zechariah shows a lot of insight to the reason that Jesus stepped out of heaven and came to be "God with us."

Salvation is God’s doing, not our doing.

Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Emmanuel, "God with us," happened because he was reaching out to us with a purpose out of his own motivation. (Luke 1:68, 78) We did not go searching for Him and we didn't deserve to have him reach out to us. We like to think that we are in control but the Bible makes it clear that God orders everything, controls everything, and rules over everything and our salvation is his doing. (Daniel 4:35)

Salvation is accomplished through the person of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.
Although Jesus' name is not mentioned specifically in Zacharias’ prophecy, he is described so that there is no mistake about who he is talking about. The King James version called him the horn of salvation from the house of David, in the Gospel of John chapter one he is the word,  Zachariah calls him the the morning light from heaven.  The Old Testament prophet called him the sun of righteousness that will rise with healing in its wings. Jesus claimed that he is the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness. (Malachi 4:2, John 8:12)

Salvation results in a life of holy service to God.

Titus 2:12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.
Does your salvation have any affect on the way that you live? Zachariah says, “we have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.” (Luke 1:74-75).

People who think they’re saved but who live for themselves and their own happiness to the neglect of their God and their neigbors are deceived. We are called to live as a slave to righteousness, serving God without fear. (Romans 6:15-23)

I need to point out the real reason for the season of celebration. It is easy to allow the celebration to coverup what we are celebrating. The world loves a party and they love to get free stuff but what most of them do not know is why in the world are we partying and why does it really matter.

Thank you Lord for the gift of salvation! I want to live each day for you, living right and serving you.