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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Martin pond in winter 12/6/09
Our friend, Nancy Martin, sent us this photo taken near their farm pond on Sunday morning. We had a bit more snow last night and the field across from us is covered.

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"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God" (Luke 2:25-28).

Simeon holding JesusSimeon was one of the faithful Jews who had been waiting in expectation for the Messiah. Consider how many generations before the First Advent that righteous and devout people like Simeon had looked in expectancy for the promised Messiah; similar to those who await the Second Advent. I consider righteous and devout believers in generations past during the church age who awaited the promise of Christ's Second Coming yet died before the event. Of course the Bible makes clear that they really haven't missed it and will actually precede those who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord! (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)

"He (Simeon) was waiting for the consolation of Israel."
  The phrase "consolation of Israel" is a comprehensive term for the fulfillment of the Messianic hope. Although "consolation" is not a common word, virtually all standard English translations maintain its stately use for this passage.

"And the Holy Spirit was upon him." Although Simeon lived prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 at the birth of the church the Holy Spirit was upon him, speaking to him, and leading him in the ways of the Lord.

"It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ."  Simeon had experienced a remarkable revelation through the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ. Christ means Anointed One and is the Greek word (Christos) for Messiah. I wonder how many years he had lived with this revelation?

"Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts." The Spirit led Simeon to go into the temple courts and he met the parents when they came in for Jesus' consecration.  This happened at just the precise day, time and place His parents took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.

"When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God." It would seem that Simeon was unknown to the couple but Luke does not preface the Child's dedication with any formal introduction. We simply read, "Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God."  I wonder how Mary and Joseph reacted when this stranger took their little baby into his arms? I believe, as they united their spirits together with the Spirit of God, an instant outpouring of God's blessing and commission surely kindled a flame within the hearts of those who gathered that would burn for eternity.  This event would have been a great "Kodak moment"! 

Simeon holding JesusSimeon stood in the temple courts and held the tiny Child in his arms and praised God.  What exuberant joy filled his heart.  What sense of peace flooded his soul.  For some 400 years prior to this there had been little prophetic revelation.  It's as if the heavens were closed, for God had been silent all those years.  Yet Simeon held onto his faith.  He continued to wait (trust) and now that the wait had been fulfilled he held in his own arms the long expected Jesus.

I wonder what it was like to hold the infant Jesus?  He was surely held by many.  Art usually shows Mary holding Him, but doubtlessly Joseph did as well.  Grandmothers, aunts, and most women love to hold and cuddle babies.  Interestingly though, Simeon is the only named person the Bible specifically tells us that held the baby Jesus.

Today we cannot take the infant Jesus in our arms.  He is now majestically seated at the right hand of God the Father, having fully accomplished the mission for which He was sent into the world; to save sinners.  But we can raise our arms and praise God acknowledging, as Simeon did, that Jesus is indeed the Lord's Christ.  And today redeemed sinners are doing just that all over the world.  I'm one of them and I sure hope you are too!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, just as Simeon took Your Son Jesus into His arms and gave praise to You, we invite Jesus into our hearts and raise our arms toward You.  We ascribe to You glory and honor and power and strength due Your name.   We rejoice in our salvation made available through the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who came to redeem humankind from their wretched sin. For, at just the right time, while we were still powerless and dead in our sins, Jesus died for us.  God, You demonstrated Your love for us, in that You credited righteousness to us through Christ's death, and justified us from sin.  Your wondrous love is truly amazing and I can only respond by dedicating to You my soul, my life, my all!  Amen.

"The Twelve Voices of Christmas" In the course of my study for this series I found this interesting resource by Back To The Bible. It is a dramatization of the main characters in the Christmas story
Here's the overview page.
Here's the message about Simeon: Text  Dramatic audio reading

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Video
Today's classic Charles Wesley anthem fits so well for several messages in this series and today it especially goes with the message due to this line:

Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

"Revelation Song"  Video

Yesterday we shared some photos of Amish buggies returning home from a church service on Sunday. It's a quaint sight but the Amish people struggle with many of the same issues as the rest of us. See here.

Resources for
Christmas Celebrations

It is our desire to share online resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. We will continue to post these resources through Christmas Day. As we find additional material that we believe will be a blessing we will add it to this list as well.

Christmas Memories  Here's a collection of Christmas memories sent in by daily encouragement readers several years ago, along with an opportunity to share your own story. 

"In Remembrance of Me" pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"  

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.  

Christmas Knowledge Test

have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

re you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
"The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents"

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
"The Blessing"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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