Saturday, December 16, 2017

by Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D

   "And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying blessed by the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people." (Luke 1:67-68)
     Christmas is always a blessed time for our family. I will always have fond memories of my childhood and so many Christmases since. And now that all our children are grown and they have families, this glorious tradition continues! 
    A special joy and goodness accompanies this time of the year, as we spend extra time with the family, go to Church and think about the wonders of God's grace which brought Jesus Christ into our world!
    We all know that December 25 was not the date of that first 'Blessed Morn' when God came down in human flesh to redeem us from death, and reconcile us to God.
     The exact date of that great event is not important. The truth is that He did come and His birth, life, death and resurrection are all glorious realities!
   Again, the word "Christmas" certainly is misleading since it actually means "Christ-Mas", or a Mass for Christ, derived from the R.C. conglomeration of confusion. That does not take away from the fact that Jesus did come to earth, and that great event is honoured by billions the world around!
    When I think about Christ's birth and the great truths that surrounded that event, together with the significance and the results of His coming, the exact date and the name by which this mighty act is called, pale into insignificance!
   Jewish prophets had foretold the First Advent of the Messiah. The faithful in Israel had long awaited King Messiah's coming. In the fullness of time He arrived on the scene as promised.
    John the Baptist - the prophet - was His forerunner. Zacharias, the priest and his wife Elizabeth both received physical miracles of healing, in order for John to be born due to his advanced age and her barrenness!
    The Angel Gabriel announced the good news to Zacharias thus: "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 
     For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord...And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
    ZACHARIAS asked: "Whereby shall I know this; for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 
      And, behold thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season". (Luke 1:11-20)
                            BLESSED BE THE LORD
    Since Zacharias did not fully believe the words of the angel, he was struck dumb for a period of nine months. When John was born, his tongue was loosed and he prophesied saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people". (Luke 1:67-68)
      Divine words flowed from the lips of the Priest as he was filled with the Holy Ghost, declaring "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel".
     I join the heavenly choir and the multitude of blood washed saints who have gone to their eternal reward, together with millions still on earth, saying, "Blessed be the Lord!" I also join King David in blessing and praising the Lord:
    "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits; Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; 
   "Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's". (Ps. 103:1-5)
     We have so much to praise and thank the Lord for; His mercy and love endureth forever! The Psalmist was constantly praising and blessing God for His goodness and mercy. Many people have forgotten the benefits of Calvary, but the Psalmist hadn't; he rejoiced as he thought about God's provisions to him in forgiveness, healing and protection!
     King David continues to bless and praise God in Ps. 34:1-4, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears".
    "And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
     “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” Let us learn from the Early Church and praise and bless the Lord constantly. Zacharias called the Lord, "Blessed", for He both visited and redeemed His people!
      The Bible says "...and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord". (Ps. 102:18) Here is why we should praise God more often: "For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary: from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death". (Ps. 102:19-20)
       Hallelujah! No wonder we praise God for all the great things He has done for us. God is constantly looking down upon us to see our need, protect, heal and bless us; so why shouldn't we praise, magnify and bless His Holy Name?
      “And when He was come nigh, even now at the decent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a LOUD VOICE for all the mighty works that they had seen.” (Luke 19: 37)
     Some people ridicule us for praising God audibly in our church services. They feel that is not proper. The only answer I have is the answer Jesus gave to His critics: "Ye do err: not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God". (Matt. 22:29)
     Believers who are well versed in the Scriptures would never make such foolish statements, since the Bible abounds with accounts of joyous and enthusiastic praise unto God. Anyone who knows God's grace and has seen His power in action, would be more exuberant in their praise to Christ for all His great and mighty works!
     Jesus declared that those who have been forgiven much will love much. He was surprised that of the ten lepers which He had cleansed on a certain occasion, only one returned to give thanks and praise to God!
    Many people, however, have never experienced God's miracles since they do not believe in His power, so they have nothing to praise God for. We, who have experienced God's power, however, have much to praise Him for.
     What a visit that was, when Heaven kissed the earth; when Divinity came into contact with Humanity; when He who was perfect and Holy came to change the imperfect and unholy! He who was rich became poor so that we might be made rich through His goodness and grace.
     What a visit that was, when God came down to save sinners, heal the sick, change the course of human lives, mend that which was broken and make us all new!
      What a visit that was, when God's only Son came to earth to redeem Adam's fallen race, to meet the demands of Divine Justice and to sacrifice Himself so that we might have life. What a visit! Oh, what a visit that was!
Oh, the blessings of God toward those who accept His unspeakable gift, who turn to Him in humility and brokenness. 
     Oh, the peace of mind, tranquility of soul and joy of heart that floods the very being of those who accept this message for themselves, appropriate His promises and believe the Word of God.
    Oh, the miracle of restored health and strength, the goodness, mercy, patience and gentleness that comes to those who accept the Prince of Peace into their lives and allow Him to work out His will in them.
                  LET THE WORLD KNOW THE TRUTH
     No other message could ever be as joyous as that of the Heavenly Visitor Who came from Glory to redeem fallen man; to purchase our salvation and destroy Satan's control over the souls and lives of the lost, hopeless and unregenerate.
    No other message could ever be as important as the message of the redeeming work of Christ on the cross! The Good News of God's Salvation for confused, bewildered and deceived mankind. The Bible tells us to "shout it from the housetops", which translates into: "Let everyone know". (Matt. 10:27)
      Don't hide your light or cover it up, but let it shine. Let people know that Jesus Lives on the inside. Yes, my friend, Let the World Know that there is a Better Way than the way they are living, a better road than the one they are on!
      Let the world know that Jesus Christ CARES for them, that He died for their SINS. And that He was buried and rose from the dead, and will soon return to rapture the Church!
     Tell them that our Lord waits for them to call on His name in faith and receive His forgiveness and freedom from every sin, fear, oppression and torment. And eternal life for evermore!
    Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15). The word Gospel means the Good News. The Good News is that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10).            The Good News is that, "Whosoever will call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 1:21), and that Jesus invites: "Come unto Me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest". (Matt. 11:28)
     That is most reassuring, for He also said: "Him that cometh to Me I shall in no wise cast out". (John 6:37)
    The Bible says, "The king's business requires haste" (1 Sam. 21:8), and Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:16) Jesus said, "Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest. Behold, I say unto you, 
    "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." (John 4:35-36)
      Again Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work". (John 9:4)
    How important that we appropriate Gods Promises for ourselves and allow Him to live in our lives as he wishes, so that we can become effective witnesses to a lost, needy, sick and confused world.
     Let us go forth with the message of God's great love, mercy and peace. Let us not slacken off in proclaiming to the unreached masses that Jesus Christ came into this world to "seek and to save that which was lost"! (Luke 19: 1)
     Let us continue to hold up the bloodstained banner of the Cross, knowing that there is only One Way to Heaven and that Jesus Christ is that Way. May we constantly remind ourselves, "Only one life, it will soon be past - only what's done for Christ will last".
     I am praying for you and your family at this beautiful time of the year. Please pray for us and help us as we continue reaching the lost for Christ, in the months and years to come!
     My prayer is that we will all be fully awake, alert and aggressively building His Kingdom, when He returns! Amen.