Two Who Waited

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 to 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

This post was written as part of Blogs By Christian Women Holiday Tour.  You will find several really excellent posts and blogs in the list below.

12/6/16 Michele Morin http://michelemorin.wordpress.com
12/6/16 Heather Olson http://grace-filledgifts.blogspot.com/
12/6/16 Sherri Autrey http://sherriautrey.com
12/7/16 Gwen Williams http://www.thejourneyofhealing.com
12/7/16 Marie Bungard http://asatisfiedspirit.com
12/7/16 Lottie Staggs https://www.lottiebrooke.com
12/8/16 Lee Felix https://www.likemindedmusings.com
12/8/16 Amanda Brown http://www.skgfun.com
12/8/16 Susan Bricker http://leanintothelord.com

Search Me

bible-1089930__180Search me, O God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive (wicked) way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.   Psalm 139:23-24

When was the last time you dedicated time to searching your heart for offense and wickedness?  What would happen if we were to do that on a regular basis?   If you’re ready to do a little (a lot of) soul searching read on.

Many times our anxious thoughts come from an unforgiving heart.  If we are refusing to forgive, for any reason, that is offensive to God.

bible-216962__180For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

Did you notice verse 15.  If I (you) do not forgive others He will not forgive me (you). Those are powerful words.  I can’t bear the thought of not being forgiven, can you?

Are there situations and issues in your life that you think are unfair and you are unwilling to forgive those who have harmed you?  Of course, there are.  Everyone has them.  There are people and actions that seem, or really are, unfair and out of our control at the time they happen.  What should we be doing about that?  Let God have total control of all that happens to us, against, for us, without us…   Give it to God!   Ask Him to make you totally aware of any anger, bitterness, resentment, or envy you are harboring against anyone.  Only when the burden is given to Him can we move forward and forgive.

bible-102684_960_720Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit in me.  Psalm 51:10

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Who Has Your Back?

Who has your back? Who’s on your six? Do you realize that in putting on the armor there is no mention of our backs ,  perhaps for good reason.   Let’s take a look at  Ephesians 5:10-18.

We are first commanded to put on the FULL armor of God.  All of it!  Not just once, but twice. When we have it all on we can stand against the evil one and the evil forces of this world.  Did you see the word stand.  No sitting down to get the job done.

Belt of truthThe Belt of Truth   Refers to personal integrity, i.e., knowing the truth and speaking the truth.  Simply put – Don’t lie.

 

Beastplate of righteousnessThe Breastplate of Righteousness   What is righteousness?  Honoring God by making the right choices.

 

 

800px-Caligae_from_sideFitted Feet   It was absolutely imparative that a soldier would have the solid footing given by strong and fitted sandals.  Then he could stand strong and move as needed to defeat the enemy.  The rest of this verse refers to the spreading the Gospel of Peace which is a reference to sharing the Word whenever the opportunity arises.  In other words – Be ready to talk about God.

shield-158587_960_720Shield of Faith  In battle the shield can be moved in any direction to deflect arrows, rocks, anything thrown at you.  Shields of ancient times were made of leather and soaked with water to extinguish fire.  The shield saves the soldier from harm just like our faith does for us.

 

160px-Helmet_typ_Weissenau_01Helmet of Salvation   The helmet obviously protects the head.  Simply said – God protects me.

 

 

300px-Uncrossed_gladiusSword of the Spirit  The sword is the only piece of offensive gear in this list.  All the others are used defensively.  It is used to reflect the Word of God.

 

 

And then we are to pray.  In any and all ways in the Spirit for all occasions for everything and everyone.  When this process is complete we are ready to face anything the evil one can throw at us.

But wait!  What about our backs?  Who has our back?  Quite simply, God does.  When confronting an enemy in battle our body is in a face forward position.  If someone sneaks in from behind we turn around.  The evil one is too vain to stay hidden, he wants to be seen eventually.  When all is said and done, God is really all around us.  Front, back, side, top, bottom…

Heavenly Father, help us to use the armor You have provided.  Give us strength, courage, faith, and wisdom.  Help us stay firmly rooted in Your Word, surrounded by Your love.  Lead us forward in the full knowledge that the battle is already won.  Make it so in Jesus name.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

You can also find this post in Pondering and Prayer.

4 Short Days

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was doing between the Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday) and the time of His arrest (Holy Thursday)?  He was teaching every day in the temple (Luke 19:47).  Some very important concepts and lessons were taught in that very short period of time.

Julius Caesar, Summer garden, Saint-Petersburg

Luke 20:20-26/Mark 12:13-17/Matthew 22:15-22  When asked if it was right for Caesar to exact taxes from them Jesus responded with, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  From this I ascertain that we live in the world and must abide by the laws of our country.  We model our faith when we obey the government.  It is not against our Christian beliefs to do so.

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse Synago...

Luke 20:39,40/Mark 12:18-27/Matthew 22:23-33  When asked what commandment is the most important Jesus quotes the Schema (Deut. 6:4,5).  First, love God, then, love people.  So simple, yet so difficult to do.  We all to often want to say, OK but I don’t have to like them.  Not so!  Jesus did not intend to separate the two feelings.  All people are to be loved.  We don’t have to like what they do, and we may have to remind them, but we must love them.

Luke 21:27-ff   Jesus was asked what will happen in heaven when the woman arrives in heaven after all seven of the brothers she has married have died.  He makes it very clear that heavenly thoughts are very different than earthly thoughts.  While here on earth we will think of earthly things but while in heaven our thoughts will be focused differently.

There is so much more He taught during those four last days.  Do take the time to read these teachings.  They’re still for us no matter what era we live in.

Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, give us wisdom to understand what we need to know.  Grant us insight into Your Holy Word.  Put those in our paths that we need to share The Story with.  Above all keep us safe and secure in your loving arms.  Make it so!

God Is Not Ashamed

 
Reading Hebrews 11 and discovering new truths about faith led me to these thoughts. First, because of my faith God is not ashamed to be my God. This thoughtful jewel is found within vs. 16. There are other verses in the Bible that talk about me not being ashamed of Him or the Word (Romans 1:16-17, Psalm 25:2-3)but this is the only one I could find that outright says God is not ashamed to call me His own. That’s an absolutely profound thought. All it takes is faith in Him. Nothing more, nothing less.
 
Secondly, earlier on in the chapter in vs. 6 it says ‘He rewards those who seek Him’. How do we seek Him? In the same way we experience Him, through prayer, the Word, worship, other Christians, and circumstances. What is the reward? The promise of eternal life because we have faith.
 
The whole chapter is many examples that reinforce vs. 1. My paraphrase – – “My faith gives me the conviction that what I hope for, heaven and eternal life with my Savior, even though I cannot see it, is really there.”
 
HE knows me.  HE cares about me.  HE has my name written on His hand.  HE loves me.
 
Ah, Lord, God, You are my One and Only, my Savior, the giver of Eternal Life.  What an honor to be among those You are not ashamed to call Your own.  Oh, Lord, help me never to be ashamed to call You my own.  Make it so!

Do This; Not That

Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments (Photo credit: glen edelson)

I have often wanted a concise list of what God wants of me and I want it to be straight from the mouth of Jesus.  You, too?  There are actually several in the Bible like the Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, Phil. 4:8 (I call it the ‘whatevers’), The Fruit of the Spirit,…  But notice I said concise.  Guess what?  There is actually a ‘Do this, not that’ list, and all the others seem to fall into this categorically. Check out Luke 12.

ESTEEM GOD; NOT PEOPLE

Verses 1-7.  Jesus is talking to the disciples and tells them that they may be persecuted for their belief, they may be tempted to fake their faith, they may even be martyred for it.  They are to own God, to treat Him with great awe.  We, too, are to be always aware of Him, in every thing we think, do, and say.  We cannot afford to be posers, there is too much at stake. 

SPEAK UP; DO NOT BE SILENT 

Verses 8-12.  To deny Him can be forgiven. When we say “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and then speak against the Holy Spirit, by not proclaiming Him, there is no forgiveness.  Also, if we say, like Moses, I cannot speak well, we are to ask Him and the Spirit will provide the words.  Remember if we do not proclaim the rocks will.

SEEK GOD; NOT THE WORLD

In verses 13-21 He uses the parable of the rich fool to help us understand the dangers of making the world our god.  Already a greedy and wealthy man the ‘rich fool’ determines he needs more.   After he achieves his goal of getting more than enough, he dies.  And that’s the end of the story for him because at no point in his earthly life did he lay aside any heavenly treasures…always thinking of himself.

An interesting side-story is in verse 19.  The rich fool thinks if he has more he will be able to eat, drink and party for the rest of his life.  The way I see it the more one has, the more there is to take care of, which, in turn, requires more work.  As my mom always said…there is no rest for the wicked.

DON’T WORRY; SEEK GOD

Verses 22-34  Once again we are told to keep our thoughts on God and His Kingdom.  He provides all we need and in abundance.  We need only ask.  Let’s break out of Luke for a moment and turn over to 1 John 5:14-15.  We can ask for ‘anything’ and that which is in His will is provided.  These two passages fit very nicely together.  To know God we must know His Word.  To ask within His Will we must know His Word.  He has it all and wants to give it all to us.  What is really holding us back?

So, there’s the list.  Much shorter than the others but including all of them.  Let me say this again….Knowing the Word is to know God and then we can know what He wants.

Heavenly Father, help me know You through Your Word.  Keep me constantly desiring to know You more.  Forgive me when I get lazy about sharing, caring, and knowing You.  Put the words in my mouth and hands Father.  In Jesus’ name I lift this prayer.  Make it so!

40 Years

Ray and I will be married 40 years soon.  I’ve given some though to that number and realized there are a lot of biblical applications for it. 

Moses had 3 sets of the number 40 during his life.  First he spent 40 years learning all he needed to know to be a prince of Egypt (Exodus 2:1-15).  Then he spent 40 years outside of Egypt banished for killing another Egyptian(Exodus 2:16-4.  He spent his last 40 years wandering in the desert yet, heading toward the Promised Land because God had said no one that had grumbled against Him would see Canaan (Numbers 22-23).

Jesus spent 40 days fasting in seclusion, preparing himself for the ministry ahead.  During that time he was tempted by satan 3 times.  He was offered the very things He already had.  By simply quoting the scripture back to the evil one he thwarted the plan.  (John 4:1-11)

So how do these apply to our marriage?  Although neither of us is an official member of Egyptian royalty we are a definite part of the Royal Priesthood.  These 40 years for us have been a time of ‘heading toward the Promised Land’.  Jesus’ 40 days of fasting included temptation from satan.  The evil one has tempted us many times but by spending our married lives reading, studying, and yes, even memorizing parts of it we have been able to keep his legions at bay.  We are not perfect but we certainly know Who is in control.

Praise God for this incredible span of time together.

Abba thank You for these 40 years, for allowing us to walk this journey with You, for giving us such joy and for the miracles you have done in our lives.  Guide us through the next 40.  Give us enough laughter and sorrow to keep us always mindful that You are God and You are in control.    Make it so!

Walking With Him

This morning this was in my Facebook feed and gave me cause to think…Do I ask God to guide me then do nothing?  Way to often.  How shall I change that?

In Prayer – – Father You alone are the true Guide of my life.  Give me the supernatural ability to follow through with what You want of me. 

In Song – – “I have decided to follow Jesus: No turning back.”  “All to Jesus I Surrender, all to Him I Freely Give” “I’ll Tell the World That I’m a Christian”  “Set My Soul Afire, Lord”

In the Word – – The Great Commission – Matthew 28:16-20,  Being fishers of men – Luke 5:1-11,  Proclaiming the Word – Romans 1:15-17

Heavenly Father, King of All Creation, Master of my life,  I am willing to move my feet just help me know where to move to. Amen and make it so.

Why?

Have you ever experienced the pain of the Spirit within?  Have you ever been so totally unsettled with a spiritual decision that you can’t even find the words to pray about it?  Have you ever known with all your heart, mind, and soul that something being done by those who are your leaders is not only wrong, but totally not in the best interests of the body?

Can you explain to me why people want to change God to fit their earthly desires?  Can you tell me why the Bible isn’t big enough for some?  Can you tell me why there is such a feeling of defeat when this happens?

What is the solution?  Where are the words?  When will man stop trying to do it better than God?

My heart is breaking, my soul is aching, I have no words, I fear for the future.  Yet my Lord has clearly shown me in so many of these situations that my empty prayers are going to Him with groans and utterings that I can’t understand (Romans 8:26).  He has told me that He truly has my best interests and future in His plan (Jeremiah 29:11).  He sent the Paraclete, the Holy Counselor, to advise me when things don’t seem right (John 16:6-8).  And above all He loves me so much more than I can even fathom (John 3:16).

Abba, I know You are in control of all situations.  I know You have a plan.  Lord calm my heart and give me the peace that passes all understanding.  I believe You and Your word.  Give me peace, Lord.  As I lift this prayer before the throne let me and anyone else who doesn’t get it know that You are working in the background for the greater glory of the Kingdom.  Amen and Make it so.

SHEEP SMELL

Like it or not sheep smell and the Great Shepherd knows it but HE still wants to be with us.  I don’t know about you but smell is one of my most enhanced senses.  I love the smell of a great dinner, of carnations, of freshly mowed grass, of good perfume (no musk, I’m allergic), fresh coffee, cinnamon rolls, Christmas cookies, Ray’s cologne…..   I do not like farm animal smells, skunks, cigars, waste, spoilage, nursing homes, death (yes, it does have a smell). 

God insists that I get over this and often puts me in situations where I have to forget the smell for the sake of relationship.  In John 21:15-17 we are told to feed My lambs, tend My sheep, then feed My sheep.

First we are to feed the lambs.  These are baby sheep.  Now why did I need to say that?  Because they can’t feed themselves.  Unless the mother is attentive to the needs of her young they will not thrive or survive.  That is what we need to keep in mind when a person comes to believing in the LORD.  Without the help of the believers around them new ‘babes’ will not grow.  Feeding the lambs means taking the new believer under our wings and teaching them the Word and what it means to their lives.

Next, we are to tend the sheep.  At this point the sheep are adults and need serious care.  Sheep are prone to wander (Luke 15), as are we.  If there are no shepherds to tend we will wander into disaster areas.  Decision making is tough and without adequate guidance poor choices will be made.  There have been many tenders in my life including friends, family, pastors, teachers…without them I would have taken the Word and made it what I wanted it to be.  These very special people have taken their hooked staff and pulled me back from the edge of the cliff.  They have directed my ‘stubborn (who me?) sheep’ mentality toward right choices.

Then we are to feed the sheep.  Feeding adult sheep is different from feeding lambs.  No longer needing their mother’s milk they need a nutritious, healthy diet that makes them strong enough to continue the process of regeneration.  What?  If the sheep are to survive and continue to thrive into the future they need to have a steady diet of food, grains, and water with rest and care as they need it.  This is the same for us.  We need to have a constant source of love and guidance to keep us on the right path.  We get this through, prayer, study, worship and other Christians.

The Gentle Shepherd will help us find our way…we need only ask.

Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us.  Give us strength and courage to go to those who can guide and help us through this journey.  Lead us on the right paths.  Let our lives be about honoring You in all we say and do.  I lift this prayer in the precious name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  Make it so.