A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Message summary: 2020 was filled with many disappointing changes for everyone, and uncertainties loom yet again this new year of 2021, but one calming certainty overshadows the believer in the new year, that God is with us.
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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 on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.' The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too'" (Luke 2:25-35).
Today many of us are awaiting a promise of God to be fulfilled, really we all should be! There are personal issues in which we await a promise to be fulfilled and there are promises we wait upon common to all, such as the promise of Christ's second coming (2 Peter 3:4). Like many we have been blessed this year by the song Waymaker that has this refrain:
Waymaker, Miracle worker
Promisekeeper, Light in the darkness
My God, that is who You are
On Monday we studied Anna's encounter with Mary and Joseph and the infant Christ. Today let us consider Simeon, who took the Child in his arms and, after realizing a great promise had been fulfilled, uttered a remarkable prayer/prophecy.
Like Anna, after this utterance we never hear him mentioned again. We would presume he did not live to see Christ's ministry some 30 years later nor His great work of atonement on the Cross. We're not told how many years Simeon had waited to see God's promise fulfilled, yet we're privileged to read of that awe-inspiring brief moment that he saw, heard and held in his own hands "the Lord's Christ"; the absolute fulfillment of that promise.
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace." This is a fulfillment of the promise from verse 26, "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Now he had indeed seen the Lord's promise fulfilled. He was now prepared to be "dismissed in peace".
"For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." God's salvation was seen in the Person of Christ. Simeon, a devout Jew, recognized that this salvation was for all people. Up to this point many had thought that the Messiah would bring salvation only to the Jews, but Luke made sure his Greek readers understood that Christ came to save people of every tribe and nation who would believe on His name. Remember, at the birth of Christ, the angel announced to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).
Both Mary and Joseph clearly heard Simeon's confession of faith and his pronouncement of blessing and Luke sums up their response, "The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about Him." Other translations describe the parents as being amazed or they wondered at the words Simeon had spoken. Just imagine all the different announcements and pronouncements that had been spoken about Jesus over the past nine months to these two very ordinary people.
Simeon blessed the parents who brought their child to be purified in the temple according to the Law of Moses. We are so enriched by the blessing, particularly of older people. We who are of the faith appreciate hearing the common expression, "God bless you". But we're especially enriched when a believer goes out of his way to bless us by his words, his prayer, or carefully selected Scripture pertinent to our need. One specially enriching time comes to mind as I prepare this message today when both Brooksyne and I were recipients. When we first moved to Lancaster County 20 years ago, Earl Martin, a retired minister and lifelong farmer, visited us with a hand-written selection of Scripture verses and prayer.
But Simeon addresses only Mary for a prophetic conclusion in their brief encounter. Notice that after he blessed them (plural) Simeon said to Mary, Jesus' mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." What a powerful prophecy that we certainly see fulfilled in the life of Christ and through the current age.
The final word must have been so intriguing and troubling to Mary. "And a sword will pierce your own soul too." This is surely a word concerning the future atoning death of Christ and the riveting grief that Mary would experience at the time. Did she recoil at Simeon's harsh and painful statement? Did these words cling to her heart and surface in her memory many times over the years? As we read the crucifixion story in the gospels it appears that Joseph is no longer living, thus the specific prophetical word is spoken directly to Mary, though she could not have known it at the time. But God did.
Did Simeon's words fill her mind 33 years later on the Via Dolorosa as she looked on helplessly while Christ lugged the huge heavy cross on His freshly wounded shoulders or as she watched Him suffer and die on the Cross. Surely, Immanuel, meaning "God with us", brought deep abiding assurance even as the sword pierced her soul.
A great promise common to all who place their faith in Christ is that Immanuel is with us today as well. He will bring deep abiding assurance to our own heart even when circumstances may trouble us. 2020 was filled with many disappointing changes for everyone, and uncertainties loom yet again this new year of 2021, but one calming certainty overshadows the believer in the new year, that God is with us. We don't go it alone, but under His wings we will safely abide.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank you for Simeon's blessing upon the Christ child reminding us that Your salvation is for all people. A great price was paid for our redemption and we are filled with indescribable joy because of it. We rejoice this Christmas season because of the wondrous birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and all that it means to us as believers. We do not fear but look forward to the future with the outstanding assurance that God is with us. Amen.
Special Year-end Financial Appeal
We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Like many ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.
Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.
If you would consider making a donation to our ministry see here for more information.
To donate directly online click here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376
Please Note: We also provide this easy option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax deductible receipt. Click here to send an offering using PayPal. This will open to a page that states "Brooksyne Weber"
Stephen & Brooksyne
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Under His Wings" Video Altar Of Praise Chorale
"There Is A God" Video Phillips, Craig & Dean
For further contemplation: When a Sword Pierces Your Soul This brief article is written in such a way you feel like you're there witnessing Simeon's blessing. Jon Bloom writes this as he imagines the setting and emotions of the characters. Most importantly the last three paragraphs really speak to the heart about the "sword", not only for Mary but for all believers: "When the sword pierces all it feels like is terrible pain. But later we discover that our deepest wounding often becomes the channel through which the most profound grace flows."
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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