Friday, February 12, 2016, 8:42 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fear Not, Little Flock.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 1:67-75 (ESV). Prophecies Spoken Zechariah was a priest in the temple of God. He and his wife Elizabeth were both upright in God’s eyes. They were both well along in years, and they were childless. When Zechariah was serving as priest before God one day, he was visited by an angel of the Lord, whose name was Gabriel. The angel told him that he and his wife were going to have a child, a boy, and that he was to name him “John.” He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time of his birth. He was to bring many of the people of Israel back to God, and he was to make people ready for their Lord. Yet, Zechariah doubted the angel’s message to him, so he was struck silent and was unable to speak until after John was born. When Elizabeth was about six months pregnant, a relative of hers, a virgin named Mary, was also visited by the angel Gabriel. She was told that she had found favor with God, and that she, as well, was to have a son, and that she was to call her son “Jesus.” She was told that he would be called the Son of God. Mary inquired as to how this was going to happen, since she was a virgin. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her. In other words, this child was to be conceived of the Holy Spirit, not of man. Mary did not doubt the angel’s message, but she submitted herself to God’s will for her life. John was born, but he was not named until the 8th day, the day on which he was circumcised. Evidently, other people other than the parents had a say in the name which the baby was to be given, for they were going to name him after his father. Elizabeth, nonetheless, spoke up and said that he was to be called John. Since no one in the family had that name, they motioned to Zechariah to see what he had to say. He wrote down the name “John” on a tablet, and then his mouth was opened so that he could speak, and he began praising and thanking God. 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. Our Redeemer Zechariah prophesied first of all concerning Jesus, and then concerning his son John. Today I want to focus on what he said about Jesus Christ. Zechariah spoke as though Jesus had already come, even though Jesus was not born for another six months. Jesus Christ, God the Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary, was the fulfillment of the prophecies of old concerning the Messiah who was to come as Savior of the world. He was the promised seed of Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed. When he walked this earth he was fully God and fully man. He suffered as we suffer and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, and forgave sins. He confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of judgment, and called people to repentance and to faith in him. He preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. He was loved by some, but hated by many. The religious leaders of the temple despised and rejected him, so they made it their ambition to harass him at every turn, to try to discredit him, and to attempt to destroy his ministry and message. Yet, they were unsuccessful. So, they plotted his death, which they carried out. They crucified him on a cross, although he had done no wrong. Yet, in his death, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over Satan, hell, sin and death. He became our sacrificial Lamb whose blood was shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. He took our place on that cross so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin and so we could now become servants of righteousness. By his stripes we are healed! Our true enemy is Satan. He was the one behind getting Jesus hung on a cross to die, and he is the one behind all the persecution we now face as followers of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, though, he was victorious over Satan. He not only died to deliver us out of bondage to sin, but also to free us from the control (influence, power) of Satan over our lives. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, without hope, and without God, destined to spend eternity in hell. We are under the power of Satan. By Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins, though, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be turned from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness), and from the power of Satan over our lives to God, and to walking with him in his holiness by the Spirit of God within us. This is God’s mercy and grace to us in delivering us from the control of sin and Satan over our lives, and in freeing us to serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness. Yet, we do have physical enemies, as well, who are under the control and/or influence of Satan. One day our Lord will return to take us to be with him forever. At that time, he will deliver us from those who seek to harm us and to take our lives; those who now hate us and who persecute us. Yet, even while we are on this earth, and we are being hotly pursued by Satan and his servants and messengers, our Lord delivers us from fear of them, so that they have no power to get us to back down from our faith or to compromise our convictions. Through the power and working of the Spirit of God in and through our lives we are able to stand strong on the Word of God, resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God. We are able to speak boldly in the name of Jesus the gospel of our salvation, even though many oppose us, and many are coming against us fiercely to try to get us to give up our faith. So, we don’t need to be afraid when our enemy Satan comes against us, or when his followers attack us, or when those closest to us betray us and turn their hearts away from us because of our walks of faith and our stand for the gospel of salvation. We may be sad and hurt now, but when Jesus returns for us one day, he will wipe every tear from our eyes. And, while we are still here, his grace, love and mercy will sustain us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is completely faithful in all that he does. We just have to trust him, rest in him, believe all his promises to us, and keep on keeping on in our walks of faith, and in giving testimony to God’s saving grace and to lives changed by the power of His Spirit. Fear Not, Little Flock / An Original Work Based off Luke 12 / February 10, 2016 Fear not, little flock, Your Lord’s always near. Jesus will come and Wipe every tear. Trust in His mercy, Rest in His love. He’ll give you comfort From heaven above. Our precious Redeemer, Jesus, our friend, He will be with us, True to the end. He will not leave you, Faithful He’ll be. Believe His promises, Rest on His knee. Our God, and provider, He knows our need. He’ll not forsake you. Follow His lead. He’ll love and comfort you To the end. Know, on His Word, You can always depend.