Read: Luke 2:25-35
Devoted to God – verse 25
We are introduced to Simeon as a man who is a just man devoted to God. I wonder what that looked like 2000 years ago. What did he do differently from others around him? He was also waiting for the promised One who would bring consolation (comfort) to a world in turmoil. His total belief in God's promises indicates that Simeon knew these promises well. He believed that God had revealed them through the prophets. He was a man who loved and served God so thoroughly that the Holy Spirit filled him.
In Tune with God – verse 26
Simeon was in such a close relationship with God that the Holy Spirit spoke directly to him. He listened and understood the message. I doubt this was the first time Simeon put action to what God was telling him. Following God's directions was a natural part of Simeon's character. We need to be in tune with God and live so that we can hear and understand His messages.
Prompted by God – verses 27 - 28
When the Spirit of God prompted Simeon, he acted immediately. He didn't wait or ask for an explanation. We need to immediately respond when God speaks to us, with no questions or excuses.
Ø Write down something that God has asked you to do. Did you respond correctly? What was the result?
Waiting for God – verse 29
God kept His promise to Simeon. Simeon saw the Messiah before he died and then had peace, knowing it would soon be time to leave this world. Simeon faithfully waited for God's promise to be fulfilled, honouring God in all he did as he waited.
Shinning for God – verses 30-32
Simeon lived to see "the salvation" just as God promised. He saw Jesus. How thrilled he must have been. He held the promised Messiah, Saviour, and Light of the world. Jesus, the One worthy of all praise, honour, and glory; for Israel and the Gentiles. I need to shine the light of Jesus to all of those God brings into my life. I need to give Christ honour and glory for the things He does in my life.
Guided by God – verse 33
Jesus' parents listened carefully to Simeon's song and all he said. They were amazed! Because Mary and Joseph only had a small idea of what God had planned for this child, they needed to walk by faith daily, one step at a time.
Surrender to God – verses 34-35
Simeon ended the visit with Mary & Joseph by proclaiming a blessing over them. But then he spoke directly to Mary. His message was not a happy one. Mary was warned that she would suffer great sorrow. Mary was given a warning of the sadness she would endure in the future.
Read: Luke 2:8-20
An Ordinary Audience – verses 8-9
There was a group of very ordinary men and boys given the task of caring for the sheep of several families. On a quiet, typical night, they were faithfully tending their flock. The Amplified Bible describes the scene this way. "And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them…" They had their own fireworks display!
An Extraordinary Message – verses 10-12
We all love to receive good news, news that brings true joy. But too often, our lives are filled with fear and circumstances that deplete us of our happiness. The angels assured the shepherds there was nothing to fear, and they were directed to the source of joy, the promised Saviour, Jesus.
A Heavenly Song – verses 13-14
Each song we have looked at begins by singing praise to our God.
This song then moves into a declaration of peace to those who please our Heavenly Father. Joy and peace go hand in hand. When we find contentment and joy, we find peace in our souls. Philippians 4: 4-7 gives excellent advice on finding that peace. We are instructed to Rejoice in everything, don't be Anxious about anything, Pray about everything, Give Thanks always.
An Eager Heart – verse 15
The shepherds had immediate faith, trust and obedience in the Angel's song and God's message. The shepherds responded quickly to the astonishing and unexpected message from God. With anticipation, they said, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
A Willing Proclamation – verses 16-18
The shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found the young family and Jesus in the manger just as the angels described. However, many did not believe the shepherds as they repeated what the angels had told them and what they themselves saw in Bethlehem.
A Full Heart – verse 19
We each have precious memories that we treasure, moments with loved ones now in heaven, and hard-earned accomplishments are just a couple of the memories we may cherish. Mary seemed to recognize the importance of each moment she was experiencing.
Back to an Ordinary Life – verse 20
These ordinary men and boys had experienced an extraordinary evening full of the unexpected. We can only imagine how these events shaped their future. What we do know is that they returned to their ordinary life glorifying and praising God. Their careers may not have changed, nor their responsibilities. However, they now understood how well God knew them, that He cared for them, and that He would always be with them. They would continue to glorify Him.
Read: Luke 1:67 - 79
Personal Filling – verse 67
It appears Zechariah didn't believe the angel's message that they would have a son, so he asked for proof. Zechariah's doubting heart resulted in his muteness while waiting for the child's birth. During those months, God seems to have worked in his heart. When asked what the child's name should be, he affirmed Elizabeth's declaration; his name would be John. Scripture tells us that Zechariah was immediately able to speak again. It seems he had grown closer to God during his quiet time, evidenced by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Powerful Praise – verses 68-69
Like Mary, Zechariah begins his song as one of praise. He acknowledged and thanked God for visiting and redeeming His people. God paid the ransom to release His people from bondage. Of course, the horn of salvation referred to is the coming Jesus Christ.
Personal Protection – verses 70-71
God has been using prophets to speak His messages to us since "the world began." Through those prophecies, God assures us many times that He will keep us from the harm others want to bring upon us.
Practicing Mercy – verse 72
There are reasons God wants to keep us from harm. Two of those reasons are spoken of in these verses. He keep us from harm so that we can show mercy to others, and so that we remember the covenant God made with us. (the promised blessing)
Powerful Defeats – verse 73-75
God promised Abraham that He would bless His people. God promised to defeat their physical and emotional enemies, whether real or perceived. He gave them the power to serve Him in holiness and righteousness all of their days. Those promises are also ours to claim.
Prophecies Fulfilled – verses 76-77
Zechariah begins to speak to his newborn son, John, in these verses. He prophesied that John would go before the Messiah and prepare people to recognize and accept Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour from the punishment of their sins.
Tender Mercy – Verses 78-79
God's tender mercy will then shine upon us like a sunny new day. This mercy is available for all who are in dark and difficult situations. This mercy can lead them into everlasting peace.
Music and song have been part of the life of God's people, the Jews, since their recorded history. It is documented that the early Jewish Temple music consisted of an orchestra with twelve instruments and a choir of twelve male singers. Some of the orchestra instruments included a lyre, harp, shofar, ram's horn, cymbal and a type of pipe organ.
Over the following days, we will look at four songs we find in Luke's account of that first Christmas. May I suggest you read the scripture several times? It might be helpful to record any thoughts God brings to you in a journal. These may be a truth God reinforced or a new lesson God has for you.
Let us begin:
Read: Luke 1:46-55
An Accurate Focus of Praise - verse 46
Mary begins her song as one of praise with her focus on God, her creator, and Lord. She seems to gain strength and confidence as she declares God's splendor, grandeur, and magnificence. Such a worshipful way to begin her song. Her prayer is simple and to the point but powerful.
How do you begin your prayers and praise to God? When I come before Him, I must confess that I too often present my "laundry list" of items that I ask Him to clean up and repair. I rarely begin by acknowledging who He is.
I rarely start by basking in His glory alone.
* Take a few minutes to quiet your heart before the Lord. Think about who He is and what He has done for others in your life. Then write out a prayer of praise to God.
The Proper Source of Joy – verse 47
Today's culture tries to confuse us and make us believe that our joy and happiness come from owning things or participating in certain activities. Mary found her joy in the simple act of focusing on her Saviour.
*Think about where you spend your time, money and thoughts. These are often indicators of where we find happiness, but do they bring true joy? Ask God if there is something else you should be looking to that will give you joy and contentment. Write down things that come to mind that bring you true joy.
A Balanced View of Self – verses 48 - 49
Achieving a healthy balanced view of self-worth can be tricky. Sometimes it is hard to see one's self-worth. It's easy to feel worthless because of social standing, education or physical appearance. Some folks don't know the value they bring to their friends and family.
Some people, however, have too much self-confidence. Mary seems to have found a balance. She did not see herself as more important than others; Mary was humble. But Mary also realized she had been chosen for the most crucial role in human history; she would care for the God/man growing inside of her. Mary acknowledged her humble position in life but accepted God's task without pride. She also admitted that God was working in and through her.
Where is God working in your life? How has He used you?
* Take time to write out your thoughts and feeling and thank Him for working through you.
An Appropriate Fear of God – verse 50
There are two definitions of fear; to be afraid of something or someone and to have respect and reverence for someone. We can understand the fear Mary would have had when she first saw the angel and heard the message given to her. Soon her behaviour reflected reverence and respect for the message, her God, and the task ahead of her.
Are you able to point to a time when you were afraid of what God was asking you to do, but through God's mercy, you surrendered and were able to respect and revere what God was doing in your life?
* Record those events in your journal. Write a prayer of dedication of your life for the future God brings to you.
A Fitting Outcome of Pride – verses 51-51
In Mary's song, these verses remind us that God will eventually show His almighty strength by bringing down those who think too highly of themselves. Their proud thoughts will be humbled, and they will be removed from their positions of importance.
God has given each of us an area of responsibility. He has given each of us a position of importance in Kingdom building.
*Write down the task He has given you, and ask God to help you to
keep a humble attitude.
A Suitable Treatment of the Rich & Poor – verse 53
We may initially believe that God talks about material poverty and riches when reading this verse, but that is not the case. God is talking about the spiritual state of people. Those who come hungry for God will be filled, and those who come full of themselves will go away empty.
* Are you able to pray this verse as your prayer to God?
"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God." Psalm 42:1
Memories of Mercy and Help – verses 54-55
Through Mary's song, God reminded Israel that He had always taken care of them and showed them mercy many times. He reminded them of the promised Messiah with a hint that the time had come.
* How has God given you help? How has He shown you mercy? Write a prayer of acknowledgement for these things.
If you are like most people, you have felt inadequate and lacking in confidence at times. There have been many self-help books written to help us improve ourselves and grow in self-confidence. I have read some of these. One thing I have noticed is that they put the focus on “me.” They stress that I am the answer and solution to make things better. These books don’t give a complete answer to the problem. When we add surrendering to God, our insecurities diminish. Positive thinking and self-talk strategies go only so far for those who struggle with self-worth. These strategies can seem like good ideas that we should embrace, but only work for a while. I looked up self-talk and could agree with most everything I read. However, what I find distressing is that it is only part of the solution. Much what the world communicates today provides only part of the answer. Without the whole truth, without balancing these ideas with what God teaches in His Word, we get just half of the truth, which can lead us into believing lies.
Please take time to read these few verses. The author of Psalm 119: 137-144 writes from his personal struggles and pain. Yet, he focuses on the joy and fulfillment that God provides. The writer does not dwell on himself or his situations. He names and proclaims, with a joyful and thankful heart, the attributes, gifts and even requirements of God.
Words such as precepts and commands conjure up thoughts of rules and limitations confining and limiting our freedom and happiness. Yet the writer realizes that obedience to God’s Word brings about its own liberty. It brings freedom of spirit and eternal joy.
Each verse reflects the writer’s love and devotion to God’s Word. They reveal the fulfillment the author receives through scripture and the protection God provides through life’s situations.
My prayer is that God’s Word will fulfill the deep needs of your heart and life and that you will be able to declare God’s Glory through His Word.
“May the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding,
keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 7
Debi Snider... more