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The Joy of the Lord is for the Present

Posted by Karen Hansen on OP3er @ 3:53 PM

Article by Pastor Timothy Lourash originally published Dec. 24, 2016 in Faith Forum of Curry Coastal Pilot - used by permission

"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.  And you my child will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.  And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel."  Luke 1:67-80 NIV

Zechariah was a priest, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, he became a prophet.  The word "prophesy" describes three kinds of speaking: the telling of future events, the telling of the truth in the areas of ethics and theology, and the resounding praise of God.  this section of scripture is called Zechariah's song, and in it, all three kinds of prophecy are found.

I would like to focus on the truth-telling aspect of Zechariah's song and, more particularly, in verse 75 that says, "through the power of the Christ child, we have the power to serve him without fear but with holiness and righteousness all of our days."  In these statements God promises holiness and righteousness to all who are his children.  In the terms of holiness and righteousness, we see the basic focuses of the Christian life. 

Holiness describes how we are to relate to Christ.  To serve him in holiness means to have an inward nature that has been conformed to God's nature and will.  Righteousness describes how we are to relate to others.   To serve God in righteousness means to be upright in all of our human relationships. So to live a life of holiness and righteousness before God means to not only have a passion for God, but also a passion for good relationships with our fellow man.

The excitement of being able to live a life that is both inwardly and outwardly reconciled to God is the core of the gospel.  What is interesting is that Zechariah is not talking about some future blessing that is in store for God's people.  It is for now. We are to live a life of holiness and righteousness before God all of our days. 

This Christmas season is a great time to ask yourself, "Am I living out a life of holiness?  Are my heart and passions directed toward pleasing God by the power of his Holy Spirit?  Is my life reflecting a life of righteousness?  When I look at my earthly relationships, are they upright an pleasing to God?"   If these things are true, I can walk in the joy of the Lord - not in the future, but now - because I have found the path of peace.

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