Daily Archives: June 14, 2017

Today’s Scripture – June 13, 2017

Luke 1:67-75 (NIV)

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us–to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah’s being filled with the Holy Spirit did not enable him to do signs and wonders (these had already been accomplished in Elizabeth and Mary), but it enabled him to give the Lord appropriate praise, and even to get a glimpse of His larger plan.

First of all, he realized that God was beginning to act right then to begin the process of redeeming His people. In the past He had redeemed Adam and Eve from death, Noah from the flood, and the whole nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and captivity in Babylon. But two huge oppressors still held God’s people, indeed all people, captive: sin and death. Zechariah could clearly see that the child Mary was carrying would be the long promised horn of the house of David, a powerful ruler who would not only rule over all of those who would become God’s people, but who would actually save them from both the penalty and the power of sin.

Zechariah could see clearly that the sending of the Messiah was way more than merely a promise kept. It was an act of unbridled mercy. God’s people had a long, long history (about 1500 years at that point) of rebelling against Him and His commands, from the days of the Exodus, all that way to the day in which Zechariah was living. Many times God had allowed them to be oppressed, conquered, and even exiled to punish them and to help them to repent of their rebellion. But He had always stopped short of allowing them to be destroyed because of the love that He had for them, and because of His faithfulness to His covenant promises.

But now God was poised to do a new thing among His people, and Zechariah was among the very first to see it clearly. Now He was not only going to save them from their most powerful enemies, sin and death. He was going to purify His people with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and enable them to serve Him in genuine holiness and righteousness in His presence for all of their days.

Father, this is a great and wonderful promise, foretold from the days of the prophets, and still available to all of Your people today. But so few of us are willing to believe that it is true. Instead, we see ourselves as vile sinners, for whom true righteousness and holiness is only a pipe dream, or a promise for the age to come. But, Father, You make it clear even in the words of good Zechariah that this promise is for us, it is for now, and You are powerful enough to pull it off in our lives. Help us, help me, to believe this promise, and to receive its fulfillment from Your hands. Make it real in my own life today. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 12, 2017

Luke 1:56-66 (NIV) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.
They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth until after the birth and circumcision of John, so she was able to give Luke a play-by-play of all that happened. John was born right on time, and was a strong and healthy baby. Zechariah still had not regained his voice. The pregnancy was not enough to complete the sign; the child had to be born, and be given the name of John.

The ability to name him John, however, was more complicated than it seems like it should have been. Jewish sons were usually named at the time of their circumcision, and firstborn sons were frequently named after the father, or after another close relative. Since Zechariah couldn’t speak, the consensus of the gathered family and friends was that the baby should be named Zechariah, after his father.

Elizabeth spoke right up. She knew what the angel had said to Zechariah, and that the baby’s name was to be John. Remember that both she and Zechariah were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 1:6) And there was no way that either of them was going to start disobeying God now in the face of this amazing miracle He had brought them.

It was highly irregular for the mother to have any part in the naming of a child, and some of the gathered family and friends rebelled against the idea of not naming the child for a relative. But Zechariah had the final say. Even though he had to write it out instead of speaking it, his words were simple and eloquent: “His name is John.” As far as Zechariah could see, no one got to have a say in naming the boy, since God had already given him the name that He wanted him to have.

That final act of obedience, of faith made real by action, opened Zechariah’s lips and fully restored his voice. It is significant that his first words were pure praise. It had all been bottled up inside of him for nearly ten months with no way to get out. Now that he had been given back his voice, he used it to praise the God who had done so much for him and his wife.

The people had never experienced anything like this. Now that Zechariah could talk, he poured out the story of his encounter with the angel in the temple, making all of them wonder what the Lord was doing. He had been silent and largely invisible for four long centuries, but now it seemed that he was on the move again. And, if that was the case, practically anything could happen.

Father, You are always 100% faithful, and You always keep every promise You make to those who honor You and who obey Your commandments. Help me to be as faithful as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and even Mary, so that You can do amazing things through me as well. Amen.

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