Devotional for January 2020

“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, (79) to give Light to them that sit in darkness – and – in the shadow of death – to guide our feet into the Way of Peace.” “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” “But the path of the Just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”[Lk.1; Ps.119:105; Pr.4:18]

The last phrase of the Holy Spirit inspired utterance that old Priest Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) descriptively declares unto us – is also a reason why the Lord God sent His Son into this world. Christ was sent into our fallen human history to not only be our Savior – but also our guide through and out of this world into God’s heavenly eternal presence and Kingdom! There are two important things we should always be aware of each day we are in this earthly life: 1) Where we are in this Cosmos Diabolos (the world of the Devil) and, 2)Where we are being led!

It would be difficult to find a more relevant subject to seriously meditate on at the beginning of a brand new year. Every single one of us are being led throughout our temporary journey in this evil world – right into our eternal destiny. Who we are – whether a genuine true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, or a false believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, or an outright and total unbeliever – will reveal where in eternity we will ultimately end up as our eternal destiny.  Ro.8:14 tells us: As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And, 2Pe.3:17 warns us to: “beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the Wickedfall from your own steadfastness.”

There is no question about it! We will, and we do, suffer in this trial filled world – but praise God  1Pe.2:21 tells us: For even hereunto were ye calledbecause Christ also suffered for usleaving us an examplethat ye should follow His steps.” This means that He forged a one man path through this dark, dense valley of the shadow of death – right into His holy eternal loving presence and Kingdom. It is no wonder that the Psalmist says that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet! We need “the shining Light” of God’s Word to show us the footprints of our Lord that will lead us through this dark and troublesome valley. 1Pe.2:9-10 describes us all collectively: ye are a chosen generationa royal priesthoodan holy nationa peculiar peoplethat ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light. (10) Which in time past were not a peoplebut are now the people of Godwhich had not obtained mercybut now have obtained mercy.” This is all because we are being led by the Spirit of God through this sinful and cursed world. By virtue of this saving work of the Holy Spirit – we fulfill the scriptural description of He.10:19-22, which says: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) by a new and living waywhich He consecrated for us through the veilthat is to sayHis flesh. (21) And having [Him as] an High Priest over the House of God (22) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” 

This describes the path of the Justthat is as the shining Lightthat shineth more and more unto the Perfect Day!” Praise the holy Name of Jesus! He came into this dark and sinful world to lead us in the grand and glorious exodus out of its bondage and death [see: Lk.9:28-31]. Well does Ps.85:13 describe His powerful and protective leadership: Righteousness shall go before Himand shall set us in the Way of His steps.” Pr.15:9 says: The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lordbut He loveth him that followeth after righteousness!” We will not fall victim to the wiles of the devil — when we faithfully follow the footsteps of Christ our eternal Savior and Surety. 

For Christ’s Glory Only!    –      John Carpenter

Devotional for December 2019

“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, (79) to give Light to them that sit in darknessandin the shadow of deathto guide our feet into the Way of Peace.” [Lk.1:78-79]

We are continuing with our examination of these two final Holy Spirit inspired statements of old Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist – the prophet/forerunner of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ – the only sovereign Savior/Substitute that there ever was, is, or ever will be! He is the Dayspring from on highwho hath visited us”. And, this visitation is referring to what the religious world around us celebrates at this precise time of the year – Christmas!

There is nothing about this particular extraordinary event in our history that took God by surprise. No – that is impossible to do! He planned, purposed and decreed every detail concerning the circumstances of the birth of John the Baptist through the barren Elizabeth and the old priest, Zacharias. In like manner, He planned, purposed and decreed the birth of Christ Jesus through the virgin Mary. This event marks the wonderful, marvelous, gracious, spiritual dawning — that literally takes us from the blackest part of the spiritual night that encompasses this lost and fallen world – and unfolds and reveals unto all those that God the Father has given to God the Son (see Jn.6:37) the beautiful and blessed Light of the gospel of the glory, only, of Christ Jesus, the eternal Savior! (see 2Co.4:3-6)

We all sit in the darkness of the shadow of death– which is the everyday environment that exists all around us within this ever constant passing-away-world. Here we sit until our individual and personal divinely covenanted and appointed time that God’s everlasting love finds us…and gives life unto our souls (see the scriptural descriptions of 1Jn.2:17 and Eze.16:4-8). This marks the divine quickening of the Holy Spirit of God that we all desperately need in order to be saved. Note the words of Jesus, Himself, from Jn.6:63> It is the Spirit that quickeneththe flesh profiteth nothing! The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [see also Jn.6:64-71]

The reality is this: God — who has brought to pass the eternally covenanted and accomplished incarnation of the eternal Son of God into the likeness of fallen human flesh – through His doing this – He has accomplished the absolute greatest miracle that He has ever done! Ps.115:2-3 descriptively declares: Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? (3) But our God is in the heavensHe hath done whatsoever He hath pleased!” And, once again – from Ps.135:6 it says: Whatsoever the Lord pleasedthat did He in heavenand in earth, in the seas, and all the deep places.” These texts dogmatically declare that God has done – He has absolutely accomplished all things — just as He pleases! That’s — in all of time — past, present, and future – and — in all of eternity! Praise His Sovereign, Almighty Name.

The gospel truth concerning Christ’s eternally atoning sacrifice is descriptively declared from Is.53:10. It says: “…it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when thou shalt make His soul and offering for sin, He shall see His seedHe shall prolong His daysand the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” This is the substance of pure gospel preaching. And, 1Co.1:21 says: “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (see 1Co.1:18) to save them that believe!” This is what constitutes the real eternal purpose of the birth of Christ.

For Christ’s Glory Only! – John Carpenter

 

Devotional for November 2019

“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, (79) to give Light to them that sit in darkness – and – in the shadow of death – to guide our feet into the Way of Peace.” [Lk.1:78-79]

Once again, we have been examining these two verses which are the capstone conclusion of the Holy Spirit inspired declaration of old priest Zacharias – the earthly father of John the Baptist. Last month we noted a very significant comparison of this account in Luke 1 – with Malachi’s prophecy of the coming of Christ as the Sun of righteousness” – arising with healing in His wings. This is recorded in Mal.3:1 and 4:1-2. Old Zacharias’s unbelief (and his consequent inability to speak) was immediately healed with the arrival and consecration of his son who would become the prophet/forerunner of the promised Dayspring from on high”. This marked in our history of fallen humanity the coming of our Kinsman Redeemerthe First Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ! Whereas, as we have already noted, the prophecy of Malachi descriptively declares the final coming of our Kinsman Redeemer into the actual history of fallen humanity – the final Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Now we’re ready to give consideration to verse 79 – which outlines the eternal purpose of the person and work of the Lord Jesus, the incarnated into the likeness of sinful flesh of the eternal Son of God and Son of man! Verse 79 tells us that He who is the Dayspring from on high(the Lord Jesus) is the Light to them that sit in darkness”. These that sit in darkness are, in turn, the people prepared for the Lordwhom Gabriel announced (in Lk.1:17) that Zacharias’s son (John the Baptist) would make ready”. These are the publicans and harlots, &c., unto whom John the Baptist ministered the baptism of repentance! It was unto these multitudes of different persons that he proclaimed Christ Jesus as being the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!

The darknessthat they sit in – is this dark and sin-filled world. 2Co.4:3-4 descriptively declares if our gospel be hidit is hid to them that are lost (4) in whom the god of this world (the prince of darkness) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not (exactly like Zacharias was) lest (lit.) the Light of the gospel of the glory only of Christwho is the image of Godshould shine unto them!” It is these preparedpeople that make up the same as those whom Peter describes from 1Pe.2:9-10 as being a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (or, a people of God’s own personal possession) thatshould show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light (10) which in time pastwere not a peoplebut are now the people of Godwhich had not obtained mercybut now had obtained mercy.”

 The apostle Paul writes to us from Eph.5:8,11 and 14: For ye were sometimes darknessbut now are ye Light in the Lord  – walk as children of Light.” “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darknessbut rather reprove them.” “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest! And arise from the deadand Christ shall give thee Light!” That’s the Light of the Truth concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ – which only the Holy Spirit of God and Christ can truly communicate and convey unto us. [see Jn.16:13-15] Therefore does the Holy Spirit through Zacharias also describe being in this world as spiritually being in darkness and in the shadow of death”. We must always be aware of where we are — and where we are being led! Lord willing — we shall look more closely into all this next month.

For Christ’s Glory Only! – John Carpenter

 

Devotional for October 2019

“Through the tender mercy of our God – whereby the dayspring from on high visited us – (79)  to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death – to guide our feet into the Way of peace.” [Lk.1:78-79]  

As we continue to examine the Holy Spirit inspired statement of old priest Zacharias concerning his newborn son, John the Baptist – we see that it is all about the yet to be born (which is only a few short months from happening) – the birth of the eternal Son of God incarnated into being the eternal Savior/God, the  Lord Jesus Christ. It is He that is being referred to as: the Dayspring”.

The Dayspringis descriptive of the precise moment that the light of the beginning of a brand new new day brilliantly bursts forth into existence and springs into view — completely dispelling the prevailing and all encompassing darkness of the night. And, the Lord Jesus Christ is being referred to here as the Dayspringfrom on High! Our Savior – the incarnated, holy and beloved eternal Son of God, was already conceived by the Holy Spirit of God — in the womb of Mary. Jesus – who was to be born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth — was being made ready to make His appointed and promised-by-God appearance in our history – and in the likeness of our sinful flesh (see Ro.8:3) — when old Zacharias was making this Holy Spirit inspired utterance! The event described in Gal.4:3-5 – which text says:  “…we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: (4) but when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” – the description of this text — was just months away from becoming a gospel reality in the midst of our fallen world! Praise the Name of God!

The sudden appearance of the glorious light of the Dayspring from on highmarks the glorious visitation of our great, holy and sovereign Savior/Redeemer into fallen-in-sin humanity! This is the “light of the truth of the gospel of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ” that suddenly and gloriously showed up and cured, or healed, poor old Zacharias of all his unbelief in God.

This whole event around the birth of John the Baptist – the prophet/messenger and forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ – was foretold — four hundred years earlier through Malachi. Mal.3:1 says: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before meand the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His templeeven the Messenger of the Covenantwhom ye delight in. Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts!” This prophecy was Holy Spirit inspired and recorded by Malachi 400 years before its fulfillment which we are presently looking at in Luke one! And, take careful note of this additional fact – just as Luke 1 narrates the announcement of the event of the first coming of Jesus in the flesh – the prophecy of Malachi declares the event of the second coming of Jesus in the flesh. It says: For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hostsBut, unto you that fear my Nameshall the ‘Sun of righteousness’ arise with healing in His wings…” [Mal.4:1-2] The Lord Jesus is the Dayspringof Lk.1:78 – and He is the Messenger of the Covenantand the Sun of righteousnessof Mal.3:1 and 4:2. And, just as Zacharias’s unbelief was healed with the actual birth of his son, John the Baptist, even so will all of God’s eternal covenanted loved and saved ones be rescued with the rising of the Sun of righteousness – the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes with the eternal rescue of redemption in His wings! But wait, there is yet still more wonderful blessings to be focused on here. . .

For Christ’s Glory Only! – John Carpenter

Devotional for September 2019

“Through the tender mercy of our God – whereby the dayspring from on high visited us – (79)  to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death – to guide our feet into the Way of peace.” [Lk.1:78-79]

In the previous newsletter we noted the context of Lk.1:78-79. How that Zacharias, an old priest of the temple, had received a visitation by Gabriel, the Angel. He brought to him the news that the son whom he and his barren wife, Elisabeth, had long prayed for — would finally be given to them. Furthermore, that son would be John the Baptist, the forerunner and prophet/messenger of the promised Seed –  the incarnate Christ of God. And these two verses deliver to us a short list of the eternally saving blessings that by God’s grace have been bestowed upon all the redeemed people prepared for the Lord[see vs.17]  with the coming of Him who is the Christ! However, Zacharias could not believe the news divinely delivered unto him through Gabriel. Therefore, God made the priest unable to speak even a word until all “…these things shall be performed”.

Consequently, Elisabeth — Zacharias’s barren wife — conceived and gave birth to their son – who was — in fallen human history — the messenger/forerunner of Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, after over 9 months of God-caused silence the Lord opened Zacharias’s mouth and the first thing he spoke by the Holy Spirit was Lk.1:68: Blessed be the Lord God of Israelfor He hath visited and redeemed His people…”.

The capstone, however, of his whole Holy Spirit induced and inspired statement points directly to the glory of the greatest and most incomprehensible miracle that God ever performed: the incarnation of His eternal, holy and beloved and only begotten Son into the fallen human likeness of sinful flesh [see Ro.8:3]. He became the literal, historical Jesus of Nazereth. This utterance becomes Zacharias’s announcement of the gospel of the glory only of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – the only sovereign Savior/substitute and Redeemer that there ever was,  is, or ever will be! Praise His Holy Name! [see 2Co.5:21 and Col.2:9-10]

God’s Word tells us from Lk.1:78-79 of four blessings given unto His redeemed people. The first one is His tender mercy”; and he tells us that it isthroughHis tender mercythat the other three blessings are bestowed upon us. This way of expressing His everlasting mercy (see Ps.136) emphasizes the Lord’s great compassion that He has for all those that are His prepared people. From Ex.33:19 God descriptively declares that He – will be gracious to whom He will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom He will show mercy.”

God’s chosensinner peculiar people[see 1Pe.2:9-10] – which are the same as the people prepared for the Lord[of Lk.1:17] – need His tender mercy! Mercy is where we sinners do not receive that which we truly do deserve for our sins through the person and redemptive work of Christ Jesus. Grace is where we sinners do receive that which we truly do not deserve in our eternal salvation, once again, through the person and redemptive work of Christ Jesus.

Every one of God’s eternally saved ones are quickened by the Holy Spirit to see clearly that they are hopeless and undeserving sinners just like the publican described by the Lord Jesus in Lk.18:13. We all cry out for holy God to (lit.) be mercifully propitious to me a sinner”. The only one who can and does fulfill this for us – and in us — is He who is: the dayspring from on high!

For Christ’s Glory Only!

John Carpenter

 

Devotional for August 2019

“Through the tender mercy of our God – whereby the dayspring from on high visited us – (79)  to give light — to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death – to guide our feet into the Way of peace.” [Lk.1:78-79]

These verses mark the end of a remarkable utterance! The whole of which statement constitutes the Holy Spirit inspired and induced words of Zacharias, the earthly father of John the Baptist. Before we look directly at our text, and what it delivers to us, let’s observe first some important things from its greater context.

The birth of the Baptist was announced by the angel, Gabriel, unto Zacharias, a priest of the Temple of the Lord. Gabriel delivered to the aged Zacharias the message that his prayers for a son would finally be answered. He told him that his son (whom he was to name, John) would go before the One who is to be the Christ, to make readya peopleprepared for the Lord(vs.17). However, Zacharias could not believe the good news. So, therefore, gracious and merciful God closed his mouth so that he would not be able to speak — until all that was reported to him concerning the birth of his son came to pass in its appointed time (vs.20). The silenced Zacharias returns home — and, Elisabeth, his known-to-be-barren wife, conceives. Only God who quickeneth the deadand calleth those things which be notas though they were.” [Ro.4:17]  could do something like that! Praise His Name! Fear not! Believe in Him! [see and note: Mk.5:36]

Unbelief is indeed a plague of sin to real and vibrant spiritual life and growth. Its weeds and thorns and thistles are always springing up in the grace planted garden of God in and among the hearts of mortal men and women in this fallen-in-sin and law-cursed world. Satan, himself, works tirelessly in the hearts and minds of unbelievers – lest the Light (lit.) of the gospel of the glory of the Christwho is the image of Godshould shine unto them.” [2Co.4:4]  And even an old Priest like, Zacharias, who had served many years in the Temple of the Lord is not immune to the sinful existence of unbelief. But, praise the Lord God – He will not allow unbelief to have its reigning and damning dominion over any of His servants [Ro.5:21]. From Rev.3:19  our Lord says: As many as I loveI rebuke and chasten! Be zealous therefore, and repent!” He sends His angels as a messenger with the good news of His grace and truth – that will cure His servant of the plague of unbelief – and super-abundantly provide the answer to the prayerful longing of the heart of Zacharias. This will give him  joy and gladness! [see: Lk.1:13-14]

 Vs.57 says: Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.” When the boy was 8 days old they came to the Temple to get him circumcised according to the command of the Lord – and they named him, John, just as they were told to do. This is when the Lord opened once again the mouth of Zacharias — and as vs.67 says, he, having been filled with the Holy Spirit – heralds forth vs.68-79. This remarkable statement reaches its profound peak in the words of our text (vs.78-79).

These two verses bring forward to us: “…the tender mercy of our God” — which is the source of all the rest of the good things that the most high God declares through His Priest – that will surely come to pass. Which things include: the actual coming of the birth of the God/man – and the purpose of His coming – and the ultimate divine accomplishment where rescuing the people of God is concerned! This makes up the context that encompasses Lk.1:78-79.

For Christ’s Glory Only!

John Carpenter

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