Simeon and Anna

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story is that of two people who waited patiently for the Messiah.  Simeon and Anna were both New Testament witnesses to the Christ Child. Their stories are as follows (from the NIV, Luke 2):

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

25 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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…

     

Anna by Rembrandt

Anna by Rembrandt

Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Simeon and Anna were the first to see Him in a public place.  They were the first witnesses to who He really was.  More importantly, they were not afraid to say, to other worshippers in the Temple, who He was.

Simeon and Anna were the last of the Old Testament prophets.  Their entire life purpose was to listen for and to God.  Also, they shared with the other worshippers what they had heard God say in the temple.  They did not sugar-coat the words but spoke clearly and with conviction.

Both of their names point to a strong, long-lasting faith.  Simeon means obedient and listening.  Anna means gracious, one who gives.

Dr. William Smith in Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggests that she was probably more than a hundred years old when she spoke over Jesus.  (If she was married at approximately 14, lived with her husband for 7 years, and had spent 84 years after that in the temple, then she was at least  105 years old.)  It is possible that Simeon was also quite old.  Tradition has it that he was one of the 72 translators of the Septuagint.  If that is truly the case he was over 200 years old at the time of this incident.

So, what is in this story for us.  First, Isaiah 40:31 pops into my mind when I think of the words ‘they that wait upon the Lord…’.  In all the years they waiting for the Birth neither one gave up on God’s promise and they were rewarded with seeing Him personally. We often wonder when God will finally act on one of His promises or our requests.  Simeon and Anna are a great example of waiting and waiting and waiting…  Second, a life of prayer is important in seeing God’s work.  Although the scripture says Anna had lived, prayed, and fasted in the temple since her husband’s death, it does not mean that we have to live in our churches to experience God.  He is everywhere!  And finally, we can trust that God will follow through on His promises.  God will and can do what He says He will.  Our trust and obedience in matters of faith always lead to God’s blessings.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – HEAVEN’S VERSION

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Heaven‘s house,
All the angels were stirring, the Saviors birth to announce!
The Heavenly Host’s were getting ready to sing,
In the hope that their anthem would let True Freedom ring.

The shepherds were keeping their sheep late that night,
While the Provision from Heaven hung just out of sight.
Mary was weary from traveling all day,
While Joseph was searching for a place they could stay.

A decree from Caesar made travel a must,
Mary’s feet were now cold, tired, and covered with dust.
Yet, in her heart she quietly remembered,
That the Angel of the Lord said, She was highly favored!

All Joseph could find was a room in a barn,
But at least for the night Mary’s feet would be warm.
The time of her delivery would be here soon,
As the light of the day, gave way to the moon.

The Son of the Highest he shall be called,
A Horn of Salvation given for all.
He will sit on the throne of his father David,
And one day all men will sing his praises.

The Mighty God and Everlasting Father,
Whose Government alone will rest on his shoulder.
A Wonderful Counselor, and the Prince of Peace,
Whose Government over time will only increase.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him;
He is anointed to heal all who are broken.
He will set at liberty them that are bruised,
Mistreated and jailed, and by power, abused.

The promised Messiah from a time long ago,
Was now ready to be given to the world down below.
The promise of His Kingdom reigning on Earth,
To govern our hearts, and to show men their worth.

The shepherds were resting; the sheep were silent that night,
When the Angel appeared, and caused them great fright.
Fear not, said the Angel, I bring tidings of great joy,
Which will be for all people, so all may rejoice!

Your Savior has been born in the City of David,
Which is Christ the Lord, who has come to save us.
He will make the dark places lighted within,
Take away all guilt and do away with all sin.

Peace on Earth! The Angel said, All is well with mankind!
For the Father has sent his Gift right on time.
The Gift of forgiveness for all to enjoy,
His salvation and blessings for you to employ.
You’ll find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
His name will be Jesus, and he is God’s love exposed.

Then the Angel was joined by the Heavenly Hosts,
Giving glory to God in the Highest, as together they rose.
The shepherds heard them exclaim as they rose out of sight,
God’s forgiveness to all, and to all, a very good night!

By Elizabeth McAndrew
Merry Christmas 2010

Permission given by author to share at http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=125540

Red and Green

The Holly and the Ivy - Olde English Carole

The Holly and the Ivy – Olde English Carole

It is not entirely happenstance that Red and Green are the colors of Christmas. They are often mentioned in the Bible.  Red is often used to refer to blood and can be interpreted as both life and death (i.e., Jesus blood gives life, Leviticus 17:14 tells us the life of a creature is in the blood).

Red is often used to refer to blood and can be interpreted as both life and death (i.e., Jesus blood gives life, Leviticus 17:14 tells us the life of a creature is in the blood).

Red and scarlet most often symbolize sin.  For instance, check out Isaiah 1:18 and Joshua 2:18. Notice that in both of these scriptures the use of red also points to grace.  In Isaiah sin will be washed whiter than snow and in Joshua the red cord keeps Rahab and her family safe, forgiven of her sin.  Exodus 12:7 tells us that God told the Israelites to spread the blood of a lamb on the doorpost so that when the Angel of Death came by they would safe.

In the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, the blood was a large part of the ceremony.  Offering the blood of the animal stood in the place of the sins of the person.  This was a temporary solution to the sin problem.  Jesus’ blood (life) was required for the final sacrifice.  At that point in time, the sacrificial system was no longer needed.  Red now is a symbol for life through the blood of the Lamb.

Green often describes life and rest.  Psalm 23:2  tells us He gives us rest in green pastures.   Psalm 52:8 says, “But I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.”

Green trees often refer to nations. “And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it.” Ezek 17:24.  All nations and peoples will recognize God.

A green tree is also used in Jeremiah 17:8 to describe a righteous man.  “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out roots by the river, and is withered by heat or draught.” 

Green as it is first used in Genesis, is the Hebrew word ‘yer eq’ and is used in verse 30.  God is telling us that He provides all that we need for life by giving us the food we need.

As you ponder these words in your heart I wish you love, joy, and peace during this beautiful, meaningful season.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

 

 

Joy

God so loved the world...

Quote by Paul Thigpen in Discipleship Journal

I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before was now a terrible wreck.  My young daughter had obviously been busy “cooking,” and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor.  I was not happy with the situation.

Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess, I spied a tiny note on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolaty fingerprints.  The message was short–“I’m makin sumthin 4 you, Dad”–and it was signed, “Your Angel.”

In the midst of that disarray, and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure.  My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved.  As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her.  With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in a situation that seemed otherwise disastrous.

It is so important, especially during this busy Season, to remember that those handmade gifts, given from the heart, are much more valuable than anything else we receive.

Enjoy your gifts this year!

Marie

The Magi

Have you ever thought about this?  The Magi did not know God yet they still followed the star.  Isn’t that an amazing thought?  God uses His creation in all kinds of ways to bring the lost sheep (those who don’t believe in Him or don’t know of Him) back into the fold.  His love is for everyone, not just those who already believe.

the-three-magi-160632_640

Let’s take a look at these Magi.  Western tradition teaches 3 Magi came to see Jesus.  There were probably more because the Magi were usually grouped in twelves.  The reason for just 3 seems to be the gifts they brought…gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These gifts are significant because of what they represent.  Gold is often associated with holiness and kingship.  Frankincense is an aromatic resin used to make perfumes and incense and would have been used in Worship of the time, particularly during prayer.  It is a symbol of deity.  It characterized kingly virtue.  Myrrh is also an aromatic resin obtained from a thorn tree.  It was considered ‘liquid gold’ at the time of Christ and often was priced higher than the solid.  It was also used in Temple worship and for embalming. It traditionally represents death and suffering.  There is no symbolism that is actually stated in the Bible for these 3 gifts, but remember God uses His creation to teach us of Him.

There is tradition that the Magi represent different countries. The Encyclopedia Britannica (“Magi (biblical figures) – Encyclopedia Britannica”. Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04.) tells us that Melchoir was a Persian scholar, Caspar an Indian scholar, and Balthazar an Arabian scholar.   It’s interesting to look at the impact of these countries on the people of the Bible, and yes, even current events.  Persia is modern Iran.  Both the books of Esther and Daniel are set in this area.  Arabia in the Bible is modern Saudi Arabia.  When Moses led the Israelites from Egypt they wandered for 40 years in the desserts of Arabia.  India, as part of Biblical history, is directly mentioned in the Book of Esther.  There may be some relevance in the claim that Ham, the son of Noah may have settled in Cush which is part of India.  The Northeastern parts of India are so close to Afghanistan that familial relationships could easily have been formed.  Once again, God can and will use His creation to bring ALL of His people back.

No matter where the Magi were from, how many there were and what the gifts signified they were part of the early life of Jesus.  I do not believe they were present at the birth because there is no mention of them until they visited the home of Mary and Joseph and were instrumental in the family’s move to Egypt.  They were real people, with real lives, learning more about the real Creator of the Universe and His Son.

Know ye that the Lord, He is God.  It is He who made us, and not we ourselves,we are the sheep of His pasture.  Psalm 100:3

He wants a love relationship with every person in His creation!!!

Everything I Need To Know About Christmas

Christmas1This is what I think is most important about celebrating this Season.  If you would like to add please comment below.

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.  Matthew 2:14

My prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, help us keep Jesus as the focus this Season.  Let us keep others in our minds and hearts, forgetting ourselves and giving our best.  Bless us with the inner peace of the knowledge that Jesus is, was and will be.  Make it so Lord!