“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ” – John 14:15 (NASB)
“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” – 2 John 6 (NASB)
There are more than a few essentials that we need to know and understand if we seek to live our lives as Christians in a manner worthy of our Savior Jesus Christ. Honestly, don’t we actually have a tendency to avoid thinking too much about some of the essentials. One essential is loving God. Having been born of God and having received eternal life, God the Holy Spirit lives within our spirit. Jesus the Son of God is with us in Spirit as well. Now, here it is: Love for Christ is inseparable from our obedience. When Jesus says in John 14:15 “My commandments” these are not only Jesus’ ethical commandments in context (John 14:23-24), but the entire revelation from the Father. In his second letter John defines love, not as a sentiment or an emotion, but as obedience to God’s commands. If we are obedient to the truth as contained in God’s commandments, the fundamentals of the faith are identified as walking in love. There is no “falling in” and “falling out” of love with Jesus. There is only our love by our obedience to His Word exactly as He gave it to us.
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.” Luke 1:13b-15a (ESV)
We focus this time of the year mostly on the miraculous birth of Jesus the Messiah. He was the fulfillment of a promise made when only two humans lived on this earth. If we study the whole story, especially as Luke recounted it, we know of another miraculous birth⸺one of another kind that was also a fulfillment of a promise. The promise of one who would proceed Jesus and prepare the way for him. Zechariah and Elizabeth loved and served the Lord God but had no children. This grieved them both and they prayed earnestly for a child. Elizabeth had been unable to become pregnant and bear a child. Unable that is until God sent His angel messenger to tell Zechariah that his prayer would be answered. And it was. Difficult for Zechariah to believe. Like us, we might pray and then fail to expect to see the prayer answered⸺even in ways greater than we imagine. But God fulfills his promises and this promise had been made through the prophet Malachi some 430 years before its fulfillment. Malachi 4:5-6. It was not long before Elizabeth conceived the baby to be John the Baptizer.