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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 Christmas Devotional

Jesus is Named & Presented

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord ” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:21-24 NKJV

Bridging the Gap

Circumcision

Jesus’ life represents movement from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He lived, died and was resurrected to usher in a new way for us to have forgiveness of our sins. The temple curtain will be torn, the veil between God and man destroyed. The law of Moses is fulfilled through Jesus. His participation in Mosaic legal requirements is the beginning of this role. Now, reigning at the right hand of the Father, the risen Jesus completely fulfills the role of high priest, see Hebrews 8.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Jesus

Flowers and Faith-Jesus Over Fear Series-Luke 12:27–28

““Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”

Luke 12:27–28, NIV

Jesus gave this series of teachings in Luke Chapter 12 on his way to Jerusalem. We can imagine that he passed meadows of wildflowers on his way. He may have referred to the scene as he elaborated on his admonition not to worry but to trust in God’s provision.

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Bible Verse

The Word Became Flesh- A Christmas Devotional

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)

Introduction

The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.

John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.

In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.

Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:

1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus

Eternity

Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.

Fellowship

Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.

Divinity

Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.

In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.

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Bible Study Bible Verse

Repay Evil With What??!!

Be not overcome with evil but repay evil with good. Romans 12:21

This is a hard saying. Usually, with every fiber of our being, we want to fight evil with evil. We get wronged, we want to wrong in return. The problem is, we WILL find ourselves overcome by evil by retaliating in this way.

The Bible promises that we will have enemies. Enemies hurt us or try to. How do we overcome those with evil intentions?

Learn the truths of the Bible, found in both the Old and New Testament. Fight evil with good. Allow God to lead you in how to act against an adversary. A practical way to overcome evil with good- Pray for your enemies, as Jesus reminds says. In this way, evil will be overcome.

Stay tuned for more in this series.

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Bible Study

Enemies

Enemies may be personal or political. You may have members of your family you view as enemies. Whole groups of people may seem like your enemy. There are enemies you’ve been dealing with for years and ones who have entered your life recently.

How should a follower of Jesus Christ deal with enemies? Stay tuned to find out. Come with me as I explore what the Bible says on this ancient topic.

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Devotional

Overcoming Fear

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

God frequently reminds his children not to fear. But fear is a common enemy, a part of every day life for many people even today. Is there a way to get through fear? Yes, there is and the answer is a theological one. Understanding who God is and what he does is the key.

If God is who he says he is and does what he says he does for his people, you have the power to gain victory over fear. God’s people can’t do God’s work if they are paralyzed by fear. Isaiah 41:10 reminds you not to fear. It gives two reasons not to fear and three ways God helps you in times of trouble.

You will overcome, in Jesus’ name. Isaiah 41:10 is packed with reasons for courageous hope. Meditate on it in times of fear.

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, gives two reasons not to fear.

  1. God is with you. God’s mighty presence is always with you to comfort you. Often, the scariest thing about going through a trial is feeling that you are going through it alone. As a child of God, you are never alone. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Have faith in the presence of God in your life no matter what you are going through. God sees and he cares.(Exodus 3:7) And he works everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28)
  2. God is your Creator and the guide and guard of your life. He is your protective Father. He guides you as the Lord and master of your life. “I am your God”- these soothing words are rich with the love of a father for his children. How marvelous to have the courage of a child of God! Your God implies a personal, close relationship. Love the Lord your God

Next, Isaiah 41:10 states three ways God helps you overcome anything you fear. He will:

  1. Strengthen you. When you are weak, he is strong. God strengthens you physically and spiritually. He gives a supernatural strength at times when you feel you can’t go on. Calling on God will make you run and not get weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
  2. Help you. This Hebrew word, ezer, is the same one used to refer to Eve as Adam’s help meet or helper. In all but one other use in the Bible, is refers either to God or to military allies. Ezer comes from two root words- one means to rescue or save and the other means to be strong. From this word, used 16 times to describe God’s dealings with his people, we learn important characteristics of God. In the New Testament, Jesus promises a helper, parakletos, will come after he is gone. God has the power to help you in every way and he will!
  3. Hold you up- When you feel like falling and the storms of life threaten to knock you down, God’s powerful hand will hold you up. When you feel weak, he is strong.

Call on God, remembering his strength and promises, so fear doesn’t overwhelm you.

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Bible Study Devotional

A Spring Heart- Break Up Your Fallow Ground- Spring Challenge Day 1

Spring Series 1

Challenge verse day 1:

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12

You may remember the words of the first song from the Broadway musical Godspell. They proclaimed, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” echoing the words of John the Baptist in Mark 1:3 (“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”)

John was quoting from Isaiah the Prophet who said ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’.

Today’s reading, the first one for the Spring Challenge, is designed to encourage you to prepare your heart to filled by God with goodness and understanding over the course of this challenge.

Fallow ground was the term given to ground that had been prepared for use but then left unattended. As a result, the ground became hard and unsuitable for use. Your heart can become like fallow ground, unfruitful and unsuitable for growth in righteousness.

It can become hardened toward others and God when it is not regularly watered with the Living Water of Jesus and his word. If your spiritual life in Christ is not properly attended to, you may notice you are more irritated and less forgiving of friends and family. You are not diligent to read God’s Word regularly or seek out fellowship with God’s people. You don’t regularly speak of Jesus and all that he means to you.

Your heart is getting hard. It is as fallow ground that needs to be softened and broken up. But how? How do you sow righteousness? Through Jesus, our righteousness. The solution lies in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. If you believe in Jesus Christ, who he is and what he did for you on the cross, you have his righteousness.

Acknowledge and submit to the righteousness you have in Christ. Go to God and ask forgiveness of your sins. Commit to walking in a new direction with the help of the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself and admit before God that you need help. Seek the Lord and he will “come and rain righteousness upon you”.

Verses to read on your own:

Copy both verses either on paper or type them into your phone or computer. Read and re-read them at least 3 times. Choose one to memorize:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, (Romans 3:22)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

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Bible Study Devotional

Remembered By God- Mothers in the Bible

Mothers were not a focus of special attention in Bible times. Women in general, including mothers, worked hard behind the scenes with little to no recognition. Yet, Mothers are written about in the grand arc of the Bible story, from beginning to end. God chose to use mothers, a marginalized group, to build his Kingdom.  This reveals God’s amazing and surprising love for his people.

It is important to note that by choosing to recognize mothers in his Word, God was going against the prevailing culture. In both the Old and New Testament, there was no celebration of “Mother’s Day”.  Mothers, and women in general, were thought of as lesser people and had few rights and many responsibilities. But the God of the universe, the creator of all life, chose to highlight the importance of this group no one else thought much about, women who were mothers. Here are some thoughts on three mothers in the Bible:

  1. God chose for people to populate the world he created through a mother. In the very beginning of the Bible we learn that “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20). Of course, God could have chosen any other way to populate the earth but he did so through a mother and ordained the family as the unit of the continuation of life. These events of creation foreshadow the time of Jesus, when we no longer rely on biological families alone but are called to bring all nations into the eternal family of God. We are part of a new covenant when we are born-again spiritually.
  2. In the new covenant, God chose to use a mother to bring salvation to the world through Jesus. Mary was called to give birth to Jesus, our Savior. Jesus could have come down directly from Heaven, risen up from the ground or emerged from a whirlwind. But no. God chose to send his precious Son here to earth through a mother to be born into a family. Though Jesus was with his earthly mother for only a short time before his ascension, he is coming back.
  3. Revelation, the final book in the Bible, gives signs of the world to come when Jesus returns. In Revelation chapter 12, John describes the signs God showed him of a mother. A woman gives birth and fights for her life and the life of her child against a powerful adversary. This imagery in John’s revelation echoes that of Israel often portrayed by the Prophets. Isaiah, for example, wrote of righteous Israel as a mother giving birth to the faithful remnant. (Isaiah 66:7-10) We know the mother, her child and all her descendants were faithful to Jesus and his Word.  This mother will be the source of the faithful remnant.

From beginning to end, the Bible shows us God’s knowledge of and respect for a little-considered group in ancient times, mothers. He chose to preserve in his word, the Bible, examples of these women for future generations to read. The Creator, the God of the Universe, had very different views from the prevailing society. He gave honor and attention when others refused to. So for mothers and other women who feel forgotten or ignored by society on a daily basis, remember there is One who knows you and cares for you. He is Jesus and he is all that matters.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional Encouragement

Jesus, the True Vine

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

Jesus is the only true source from which good fruit can come.

Jesus knew the religious Jews of his time looked to many sources to give them the fruits of a godly life. From Moses to Solomon, from Abraham to the Scriptures themselves, Jesus emphasized that he was more important than all of these. Jesus told them that he is the fulfillment of all that came before him. He is the only true source of an abundant, fruitful, godly life.

So whether you are reading a Proverb or studying the story of Abraham, remember the supremacy of Jesus and his place as your true source. Stay connected to the true vine, Jesus, and you will bear fruit. That’s a promise.

This week, read about how Jesus is greater than any other: Hebrews 3:3, Matthew 12:42, John 8:58, Luke 24:27, John 5:39

Are you making connection with Jesus a priority in your life? If you do, you will be richly rewarded.

Related Verses:

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. Hebrews 3:3

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:27

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me. John 5:39

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2