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Bible Study Christmas

Simeon and Jesus

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word;

Luke 2:25-29 NKJV

Portrait of a Prophet

This is not a good time for Israel. Like in their time of bondage in Egypt, God seems to have forgotten them. He doesn’t seem to see their suffering at the hand of the oppressive Romans. Or if he sees, God seems not to care. Where is the promised salvation? Will Messiah ever come?

No Angels Needed

Simeon remembers. He has been waiting in joyful hope. A devoted Jew, he was blessed by a revelation from the Holy Spirit. It was revealed to him that the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel”, would come to God’s people in his lifetime. Yes, he was old, old enough to die a natural death. Yet he knew he would not die before Messiah came to rescue his people. So he waited. Probably, he looked for a royal procession or armies led by a successful general to fulfill the prophecy. No angel had to come and proclaim hope to him. The Holy Spirit already spoke to him.

The Spirit Stays

The same Spirit who gave Simeon the revelation about the coming of Christ now directs Simeon to the temple. Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple with baby Jesus to find Simeon waiting for them. Simeon, still filled with the Holy Spirit, recognizes Jesus as the fulfillment of the revelation he was given.

James Tissot, The Presentation
James Tissot, The Presentation

Blessing and Honor Given

Simeon reacted to the presence of Jesus, promise fulfilled, in the only way he could, by thanking and praising God. God was true to his word! How sweet it is to wait patiently for the Lord, confident that he will come through, and have his promises fulfilled! Simeon recognized how privileged he was to hold the Savior in his arms. He must have felt such peace and joy!

Key Verse

he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

Luke 2:28 NKJV

Have you accepted Jesus and blessed God for his wonderful gift?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus. You sent your only Son to earth to be our Consolation, our Savior. Help us to live in gratitude and remember this great truth everyday but especially this Christmas. Amen.

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Bible Study Devotional

Zechariah Joins Elizabeth in Naming John: Day 13

And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:63-66 NKJV

A Second Chance

God gives people a chance to repent of sin, make up for a wrong deed or bad decision. Zechariah sinned against God by doubting him. God then made him unable to speak. Now, Zechariah is given again the opportunity to obey God in faith. This time, he acts in accordance to God’s will. He says that the child must be named John as the angel commanded. We can act like God in our relationships. When a child, spouse or friend wrongs us, we can choose to stay in unforgiveness or anger or we can give the person a chance to try again and do better. That’s called grace. God gave it to Zechariah and he lavishly gives it to you and me. We should be generous in giving this grace to others.

Overflow of the Heart

God knows our hearts. But actions demonstrate to a watching world who God is through those who worship him. Zechariah’s repentance and obedience were seen by the congregation of the faithful although his sin was before Gabriel and God only. Once Zechariah’s heart changed to faith and obedience, his public actions reflected his repentance. God then enabled Zechariah to speak. Through this episode, Zechariah has seen firsthand the power, majesty and mercy of God. His lips must praise the God who makes all speech possible. He can not restrain his praise. The praise of his heart ❤️ overflowed to his lips and God was glorified in the presence of the people.

The Encouragement of Praise

When God redeems is, picks us up and puts us back on the right path, all we can do is offer praise for his great mercy and love. Zechariah praises God with the voice God gives him. All the people see God’s power in this miracle and are encouraged and blessed by the praise flowing from Zechariah.

Let us take time often to praise God in the midst of others, especially when he delivers us. It will encourage and strengthen our fellow believers and can even bring souls to God.

Key Verse

And the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:66(b)

The hand of the Lord is with you. His mighty outstretched hand upholds you. When you stumble like Zechariah did, God will lift you up. God’s hand protects, provides and comforts. Guidance and discipline are in the loving hand of God. Praise God for not withdrawing his hand from us!

Prayer

Lord, Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. We praise you for your mighty strength and power and wisdom. With your hand you uphold the world. Yours are the hands that held back the Red Sea for Moses and we thank you for your hands clearing the path and making a way for us today. Help us to boldly obey you in faith knowing that your hand is always with us. Amen.

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Bible Verse

A Baby is Life and Light for the World?

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

Are Life and Light Needed?

As a baby laying in a manger in a barn, was Jesus really the Light and Life of the entire world? Weren’t light and life already present in the world? Yes, but not in the perfect way God intended.

John wants us to think deeply about this. He just recorded Jesus’ role in creation. He wants us to continue thinking about that time as we consider Jesus as Light and Life.

In chapter one of Genesis, God created life and light. Life and light were part of the perfect world God created for humanity in the Garden of Eden. God’s perfection was soon marred by man’s sin at The Fall.

From the time of The Fall to the birth of Jesus, the world awaited the promised Messiah, a Savior to deliver man from the death and darkness of sin and it’s consequences.

The Baby Brings What is Most Needed

Jesus, the baby in the manger, is that Messiah. He came to bring perfect light and everlasting life back into the world. True life is one lived with God, through God and for God into eternity. God’s light is one that cannot be extinguished and it draws people to him. All the perfect Life and Light came to earth as Jesus, a little baby of promise and power.

How are light and life related in Jesus Christ? Jesus’ life on earth, starting with his birth in a barn, was the light to dispel the darkness of sin. The light of Jesus came into the world that all might have life and have it more abundantly. Both Jesus’ light and life were shared that the world might be saved.

Gratitude

Thank you Jesus, for being my life and my light!

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Bible Verse

Jesus Creator?

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3

When you think of Jesus, you may not immediately think of the Creator of the universe. Yet, John in his Gospel established Jesus’ identity as absolute Creator. As John described Jesus’ role in Creation, his readers would think back to the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1, when God by his word created the everything from nothing.

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3, NIV)

The psalmist continues the theme as the Word of God as creator:

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6, NIV)

In Hebrews, God revealed himself through his Son, the Creator of the worlds:

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NIV)

Paul further declares the role of Jesus in creation:

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, NIV)

and

“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NIV)

Beyond the initial creation of the world, John states that Jesus is also responsible for all that was made since then. He says, “without him nothing was made that has been made”. Jesus alludes to this when he tells his disciples that nothing can be done without him.

““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)

Baby Jesus, born in a stable and then wrapped in simple cloths, was the one who created all things. He was God himself, coming into the world he created for mankind. Jesus the Almighty Creator, took the form of a man and came to earth so that our sins would be forgiven and we could have a relationship with God the Father. What love was seen in that crude manger in the barn!

Yes, there is mystery to the trinity of God, three distinct persons in one God. Yet John wants us to understand that Jesus with God the Father played an important role in creation. This is one more way that John establishes the divinity of Jesus for his audience.

As you enjoy the beauty of nature this Christmas season, give praise to Jesus for his Creation.

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Bible Study Devotional

Praise, Peace and Prophesy

Praise, Peace & Prophecy: Simeon

The Gospel of Luke

> Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
>   “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
> according to your word;
>   for my eyes have seen your salvation
>   that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
>   a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
> and for glory to your people Israel.”
>  And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35

Background

Luke, in this part of Scripture, wants to show us that Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies and the law. He tells us of two who prophesied of Jesus’ life, Simeon and Anna. Today’s devotional is about Simeon.

Who Is Simeon?

Simeon was:
1. Righteous and devout
2. Full of faith and hope
3. Filled with the Holy Spirit
God had prepared the hearts of some of those in Israel to accept Jesus and all that he meant to the world. Simeon was one of those. God always has a remnant of those who believe, even in what seems the darkest of times.

What Did Simeon Do?

Following the lead of the Holy Spirit, Simeon came into the temple. Just as Jesus would later welcome children, Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms. He praised God for the salvation he provided through Jesus. He filled with peace as God confirmed that he fulfilled his promises. Simeon could rest knowing that salvation had come to the world. He then began to prophecy the truth about Jesus to his earthly parents.

There was a difficult part of Simeon’s prophecy, one that he may have hesitated to give to eager new parents. Simeon revealed that Jesus would be opposed and would cause turbulence in Israel. Along with the Good News of salvation comes the reality that not all will be saved and that those who proclaim the news will suffer. Some will reject the gift of God, they will refuse the only way by which they would be saved. They will not receive the word of God’s prophets.

Application

In every age are prophets, those filled with the Holy Spirit who obey God and speak truth to those around them. God has always delighted to use humble servants as agents of proclamation. Are you willing to speak truth, to let others know about the amazing gift of Jesus that we celebrate on Christmas day?

Have you accepted the gift of Jesus as your Savior?