Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Direction For The New Year

Joel 2:12″Therefore also now saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning:”
There is a feast prepared with the bread of heaven, gather all those we can, and bring them into the house of the Lord;and cry unto the lord” spare thy people O Lord and “Forgive us for we no not what we do. Let us come together, all the people, and hear what thus saith the Lord; for the Lord says “Turn to me”.
There are many going the wrong way, doing the wrong thing, following the wrong leaders, and traveling on the wrong road.Many on the broad road, yet Jesus said narrow is the way. God says turn, turn from our wicked ways, just turn and turn loose. Let go of the earthy and the things of this world and grab hold of the heavenly. Don’t just turn your head giving the appearance of change,(you know walking different but still going in the same direction).Let us turn our hearts with sincerity and with weeping and mourning, rent your hearts like it greatly grieves our souls to have sinned against God, rent our hearts, as we desire to never do it again. Rent our heart not our garments, make this an inward commitment and not an outward show.
Rent our hearts, and turn to God with fasting, not the commitment of doing without meat for a day, but the commitment of doing without sin for a lifetime, as Jesus told the lady go and sin no more. Crucify the old man and his ways, walk in a newness of life. Turn and fast, as to fasten to him, and fasten on him, like Jacob holding on to the angel, and refusing to let Go,as our blessing are in holding on to God. Fasten on to him with true devotion and loyalty, hold fast weeping for the wrong we have done to him, and the shame sin has brought to us, his beautiful bride. Hold on and wait for our change to come.
Let us truly turn back to God, truly repent and become an accurate reflection of the one whose name we bear, that we might truly lead a lost and dying world, to the salvation of the Lord. Let us lead in truth ,teach in honesty, and reprove in love, for our Fathers desire is that none shall parish. Reach out in love to save the souls Christ died for, pray for the lost, be a living sacrifice, and lead one back to God, that we might truly be Christ like……..

Luke 13:7-9″Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard,Behold, these three years I come seeking   fruit on this fig tree,and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground.And he answering said unto him,Lord,let it alone this year also,till I shall dig about it, and dung it:And if it bear fruit, well:and if not,then after that thou shalt cut it down.”

Here we have Jesus telling a parable about a fruitless fig tree. A vineyard owner planted a fig tree, which he left in the care of his gardener. Three years later, the owner returned to see if the tree had produced any fruit.It hadn’t. In spite of the care and attention of the gardner, the tree was fruitless.In this parable the fig tree represents Gods people, God wants his peoples lives to be a reflection of his character so that others could see who God is. God has nurtured and protected us that he could accomplish this purpose.God wants to see if his careful attention will produce some spiritual fruit.He wants us to be careful not to slip into fruitless legalism,which gives the appearence of holiness but lacks the quality of true righteousness that God cares about.Simply turning away from our sins is not enough, we need to replace our sinful ways with something better,something more pleasing to God.

 

Even though the fig tree deserves to be cut down, the gardener didn’t want the tree cut down. Like Jesus did for us , he spoke up against destroying the tree. Jesus continuous care is so that we might bear fruit. Through this parable we should learn an important lesson about repentance. Though we might deserve judgment, we have time to repent of our sins and live in a way that honors God.Our past sins may have resulted in a fruitless life ,but God is willing to give all who will a second chance.

 

God expects those who want a right relationship with him to live in a way that honors him. It’s not enough just to believe in God or to turn away from sin. We must live obedient lives that bear fruit and fruit that will last. He is a God of second chances………..

Jesus Presented At The Temple

    Sunday School Lesson

                                             

 

Lesson: Luke 2:25-38                                                                                                  

Golden  Text: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast  prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people  Israel” (Luke  2:30-32).

 

INTRODUCTION.   Eight days after His birth, Jesus was circumcised according  to Jewish custom (see Genesis 17:12).  In addition, forty days  after the birth of a boy the child would be dedicated to the Lord (see Leviticus  12:1-4).  It was at this time that two people who are often  overlooked in the narrative of our Saviour’s birth spoke prophetically  concerning Jesus.

BACKGROUND  FOR THE LESSON.  The events in this lesson occurred during  the second month of Jesus’ earthly life. Joseph and Mary had Jesus circumcised  on his eighth day in strict adherence to the law and gave Him the name Jesus as  specified by Gabriel (see Luke 2:21).  Now again they revealed  their adherence to the law by the presentation of Jesus and the purification of  Mary at the temple.  Verses 22-24 which are not part of our text  sheds some light on why this family was at the temple at this particular  time.  After having Jesus circumcised, the next two requirements of  this family involved making a trip to the temple in Jerusalem.  At  the temple, the first requirement was the purification of the mother after  giving birth (see Luke 2:22).  A Jewish mother was considered  unclean for forty days after giving birth to a son and eighty days after the  birth of a daughter (see Leviticus 12:1-5).  During this time she  could not enter the sanctuary of the temple or touch holy things.   After this time expired, the mother was to bring a sacrifice of both a  burnt offering and a sin offering.  The sin offering was always a  turtledove or a young pigeon.  The burnt offering was usually a  lamb, but the poor could substitute it for a turtledove (see Leviticus  12:6-8).  A second requirement to be fulfilled according to the law  was the redemption of the firstborn son.  This was done when  parents presented him to the Lord (see Luke 2:22).  In Israel, all  firstborn males belonged to the Lord (see Exodus 13:2, 11-15).   Firstborn males of clean animals were to be redeemed or bought back from  the Lord.  Human males also were redeemed (see Numbers  18:15-17).  Mary’s purification and Jesus’ redemption (also called  the dedication) probably took place on the forty-first day of Jesus’  life.  During these ceremonies is when our lesson begins.

III. SIMEON’S  FAITH (Luke 2:25-28)       

A. Simeon’s character  and hope (Luke 2:25).   This verse says  And, behold,  there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just  and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon  him.”  We are first  introduced to a man “whose name was Simeon.”  The  name “Simeon” means “God hears.”  Luke then says  that he was “just and devout.”  The term  “just” means “righteous” which describes his  standing before God.  “Devout” means religious  which describes his reputation among men.  In other words, Simeon  was accepted by God and blameless before men.  Simeon lived in  hope, “waiting for the consolation of Israel.”   This expression recalls God’s command to Isaiah to comfort His  people through the coming of the Messiah (see Isaiah 40:1-2).   However, here the word “consolation” refers to the  Messiah Himself who would bring consolation or comfort to Israel.   Simeon was part of a spiritual remnant that lived in expectation of the  Messiah.  Luke summarized the godly quality of Simeon’s life by  stating that “the Holy Ghost was upon him.”  This  means that he was empowered, controlled, and directed by God’s  Spirit.

B. Simeon’s divinely granted mission (Luke  2:26).  After  describing Simeon, Luke goes on to say And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he  should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”   As Simeon lived for the  Lord, the Holy Spirit guaranteed him that “he should not see death,  before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”  Simeon would not  die until he had seen the consolation of Israel, Jesus Christ.   This brought him great comfort.  Apparently God didn’t tell  Simeon when that time would be, or who the Messiah was.  Simeon  just continued to live each day righteously before God, trusting Him to keep His  promise at His own time and in His own way.

C. Simeon’s divinely granted appointment (Luke  2:27-28).

1. (vs. 27).  Still  talking about Simeon, Luke here says “And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when  the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the  law.”  God directed  the steps of Simeon so that he would meet Joseph and Mary as  they came into the temple with Jesus.  By His sovereignty, the Lord  controls all things in order to accomplish His perfect plan.   Nothing is left to chance, for there are no mere coincidences. We are  told that “he came by the Spirit into the  temple.”  This was a divine  appointment for all of them.  The word translated  “temple” refers to any part of the temple area, including the  outer courts.  It does not refer to the temple itself where only  the priests could enter.  Joseph and Mary brought the Baby Jesus to  the temple “to do for him after the custom of the law.”   This is a reference to the laws regarding the  purification of the mother and the redemption of the firstborn (see the Lesson  Background above as well as Leviticus 12:2-8; Numbers 18:15-16).

2. (vs.  28).  When Simeon saw the Baby Jesus, he knew immediately that this  was the One whom he had been waiting.  Luke wrote  Then took he him  up in his arms, and blessed God, and said.”   Prompted by the Holy  Spirit, Simeon took the child up into his arms.  While holding the  child, Simeon “blessed God.”  The word  “blessed” here means that he spoke well of God and gave Him  praise.  In the following verses, we are told what Simeon said as  he “blessed” or praised the Lord.  IV. SIMEON’S  PSALM OF PRAISE (Luke 2:29-32)

A.   Simeon’s satisfaction (Luke 2:29-30).  

1. (vs. 29).   Simeon began his praise by saying Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,  according to thy word.”  As already noted, the Lord had revealed to Simeon that he would  not die until he had seen the Messiah.  As he held the child,  Simeon’s dearest hope had been realized.  The Lord had kept His  word; so Simeon said Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in  peace.”  This was not  a prayer for permission to die, which is the meaning of  “depart.”  Simeon was saying to God that since He  had fulfilled His promise “according to thy word,” when the  time came His servant would be ready to die in peace.

2. (vs. 30).  In this verse, Simeon states  the reason why he can depart in peace.  He said  For mine eyes have seen  thy salvation.”  In  seeing Jesus, Simeon had seen the One who would bring God’s  “salvation.”  In the Bible, the term  “salvation” or deliverance has a wide range of meaning.   Salvation could mean release from sickness, oppression,  fear, doubt, and emotional or physical pain.  At other times  “salvation” refers to liberation from political bondage and  servitude.  When Christ was born, many Jews viewed the coming  Messiah from this angle.  They anticipated a military leader who  would free them from Roman rule and reign over them.  In its most  profound sense, and certainly the meaning here, “salvation” refers to deliverance from sin.  This is what Jesus came to do in  His first advent.  Simeon was able to see this with eyes of  faith.  When John the Baptist introduced Jesus, he said, “Behold  the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (see John 1:29).   Simeon was satisfied that Jesus was salvation in person.

B. The extent of God’s salvation (Luke  2:31-32).  

1.  (vs. 31).  Simeon went on to  say that the Baby he was holding was the salvation  Which thou hast prepared  before the face of all people.”  This verse is a continuation of verse 30.  Simeon  praises God because His salvation was “prepared before the face of all  people.”  In other words, God’s salvation had not been  designed recently or suddenly.  God had “prepared”  it or foreordained it.  This preparation involved the  gradual outworking of God’s eternal saving plan in the history of Israel.   Through prophecies, promises, symbols, and types, God revealed His  salvation (see Isaiah 45:22; 52:10), but it would be largely limited at first to  a Jewish audience.  God did this “before the face of all  people.”  The word “people” is plural,  thus referring to all mankind.   God’s prepared  salvation would eventually meet the needs of both Jews and Gentiles (see Acts  10:45; 11:1; 13:46).

2. (vs. 32).  Simeon had the insight to see  Christ’s salvation as “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of  thy people Israel.”  For Gentiles, God’s salvation would  be a “light” for they lived in spiritual darkness (see II  Corinthians 4:3-6).  Jesus later described Himself as the Light of  the world (see John 8:12).  The privileges that Israel enjoyed had  not yet been extended to Gentiles, so they were without hope (see Ephesians  2:11-12).  Only Christ’s gospel would “lighten the  Gentiles” thus banishing their darkness (see Acts 13:47-48).   Simeon also saw this child as “the glory of thy people  Israel.”  Israel was God’s special people  in a special covenant relationship (see Exodus 19:4-6).  Although  in Simeon’s day, Israel was a weak, subjugated people and the splendid days of  the monarchy under David and Solomon were long gone, the Baby Simeon held would  be “the glory of thy people Israel.”  The crowning  glory of Israel was to bring God’s Word and God’s Saviour into the world so that  all might know His salvation.  Jesus recognized this glory when He  said to the Samaritan woman “Salvation is of  the Jews” (see John 4:22).  When Jesus comes again for the second  time, He will come as King to rule over Israel.  In Him, at that  time, the glory of Israel will be renewed.

V. SIMEON’S PROPHECY TO MARY (Luke  2:33-35)

A. Words of blessing and prophecy (Luke 2:33-34).  

1. (vs. 33).  After hearing Simeon’s words  of praise and prophecy concerning their son, this verse says “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken  of him.”  Joseph and Mary had  already heard many remarkable truths about their son (see Matthew 1:20-21; Luke  1:31-35), but here we are told that they “marvelled at those things  which were spoken of him” by Simeon.  The word  “marveled” means to be amazed.  Joseph and Mary  were probably amazed for at least two reasons.  First, even if they  had some idea of what Jesus’ messiahship meant to Israel, they wouldn’t have  been prepared to hear of the universal salvation that He would bring.   They were stunned to think that this Saviour had been entrusted to  them.  Second, they were amazed because they had no idea that there  were others in Jerusalem who recognized who their child  was.

2. (vs. 34).   While Joseph and Mary stood there in amazement at Simeon’s words, Luke  writes And Simeon  blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the  fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken  against.”   We are  told that Simeon “blessed them” referring to Joseph and Mary,  but our text does not give us the content of this blessing.   However, Simeon directed additional prophetic statements to Mary.Simeon first told  Mary that this child is set for the fall and  rising again of many in Israel.”  In other words, as One  “set for the fall” of many in Israel, Jesus would be a  stumbling stone to those who rejected Him (see Isaiah 8:14; Matthew 21: 42-44;  Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; I Corinthians 1:23).  However, as the One  set for the “rising again of many in Israel,” Jesus would be  the salvation of Israel when they received Him (see Zechariah 12:10-13; Romans  11:25-29; Acts 15:13-15).  Some who encountered Jesus fell and some  rose.  Some, like his brothers, first stumbled over Him but later  became His followers (see John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14).  Simply put,  Simeon was telling Mary that the people of Israel would be deeply divided in  their response to the Messiah.  To those who didn’t receive Jesus,  he would be a stone that caused them to fall.  And for those who  trusted Him, He would be the means of their rising and standing firm (see I  Peter 2:4-8).  Because Jesus’ Person and ministry would be  divisive, Simeon prophesied that He would be “a sign which shall be  spoken against.”   Jesus was the ultimate  “sign” that God loved Israel and as such one would think that  He would be well received.  But instead He would be resisted and  His claims would be contested (see Luke 4:22-29).  Not everyone in  Israel would have the faith to accept the Lord’s Messiah (see John  1:10-12).

B. Words of warning (Luke  2:35).  In the middle of his prophecy  to Mary, Simeon included a parenthetical statement to her. He said  (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul  also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”   In the phrase “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own  soul also” Simeon was prophesying the trials that Jesus would  experience and indicating that Mary would also go through a painful set of  experiences as Jesus’ mother.Simeon likened those experiences to  a sword piercing her soul. The first recorded thrust of the sword  would come when Jesus, at age twelve stayed at the temple and they could not  find Him for three days.  She didn’t understand what He was doing  or what He said to her (see Luke 2:46-50).  There would be many  more painful experiences for Mary until Jesus died on a cross (see John  19:25-27) where she would feel pierced as well.  The last phrase of  this verse “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”  is a continuation of verse 34.  Jesus’ controversial  ministry on earth would reveal, or lay bare “the thoughts of many  hearts.”  No one who encountered Jesus, the One who is  truth, could pretend to be for Him.  How people responded to Jesus  would reveal what was really in their hearts.

VI. ANNA’S GOSPEL (Luke  2:36-38)

A. Anna’s identity (Luke 2:36).   In this verse Luke  introduces us to another godly person whose steps God directed to the Baby  Jesus.  Luke wrote And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of  Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an  husband seven years from her virginity.”   Luke describes  “Anna” as a prophetess,” one through whom God’s Spirit spoke.  Other  prophetesses in the Bible include Deborah (see Judges 4:4), Huldah (see II Kings  22:14), and the daughters of Philip (see Acts 21:8-9).  Prophets  didn’t always predict the future.  Their main role was to speak for  God, proclaiming His truth.  Anna is also said to be the  “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser.”  This  is the only place that “Phanuel” is mentioned in Scripture and  we know nothing more about him.  The “tribe of Aser”  or “Asher” was one of the 10 northern tribes of Israel that had  generally been assimilated into other nations after Samaria’s fall in 722  B.C. at the hands of the Assyrians.  It is one of what is known as the ten  lost tribes of Israel.  We are told that  Anna “was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from  her virginity.”  Luke does not tell us how old Anna was  here, but he says that she was a virgin when she was married and was married for  seven years.   More about her age is given in the next  verse.

B. Anna’s character and mission (Luke  2: 37).  Luke continued to say that  Anna was a widow of about fourscore and four  years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and  prayers night and day.”  Interpreters  differ on what is meant by a widow of about  fourscore and four years.”  Some consider the 84 years as  the years she was a widow, which would make her 106 years old if she married at  age 15.  Others simply take the 84 years as her total age.   The first interpretation seems more likely since widowhood is the subject  of this sentence.  At any rate, Anna’s devotion to God was  extraordinary, for Luke writes that she “departed not from the  temple.”  Bible scholars disagree on the meaning of this  phrase.  Some think it means that she spent as much time in the  temple area as possible, but didn’t live there.  However, it is  clear that living quarters were available in the temple area according to the  account of Nehemiah expelling Tobiah who was living in a “chamber in the courts  of the house of God” (see Nehemiah 13:7-9).  Anna may well have  been taking advantage of those living quarters as she dedicated her life to  serving God “with fastings and prayers night and  day.”

C. Anna’s proclamation (Luke  2:38).  Our final verse says And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise  unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in  Jerusalem.”  Anna, no  doubt guided by the Holy Spirit as was Simeon, approached the family in the  temple court.  The words “in that instant” in the  Greek text are “in that hour.”  This simply means that probably  while Simeon was speaking Anna approached them.  Then she  “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord” which means that just as she had heard Simeon thank the  Lord, she did the same thing when he finished.  After thanking the  Lord for the privilege of seeing the Christ Child, Anna “spake of him to  all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  This  elderly prophetess began telling others that she had seen the Messiah.   The phrase all them that looked  for redemption in Jerusalem” refers to other pious Jews like Simeon and  Anna who eagerly looked for God’s redemption, the Messiah, for their  nation.  Anna shared the good news with them so they too could  rejoice in God’s grace.  She was an elderly person from a forgotten  tribe, but because of her dedication to serving the Lord, she was given the  glory of being the first woman missionary to tell others of the Lord’s  redemption, Jesus Christ.

 

            

VII.  Conclusion.  Joseph  and Mary brought their firstborn son to the temple to be presented to God as the  law commanded.  While they were there, Simeon, a faithful servant,  and Anna, another devout believer, were led to prophetically affirm that the  infant Jesus was the Messiah.  It was God’s purpose that the advent  of His son be duly witnessed and proclaimed by persons of His choosing.   The joyful witness of Simeon and Anna accentuates the significance of  Christ’s entry into the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following Or Follower

John 6:66-67 “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away?

 

” No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” As we embark upon a new year, the question arises, How many will walk with Christ no more.  How many of us are following behind Jesus just for the things we can get or are you a follower of Jesus The Christ?

 

Here in this chapter of John we have what can be called the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals who he is,why he came and our work in this great plan of salvation. Since the fall of man ,it has always be about reconciling man back with God, from Noah’s ark, to Joseph in egypt, to Moses leading the children of Israel from Egypt and even Samson’s battles, were all about the salvation of  mankind. Here in the story we have a great multitude following Jesus, all following Jesus were not Follwers of Jesus. We have many today seeking Jesus for material and worldly possessions and not for the salvation of their souls. Jesus reveals to us our work in this great plan, he took the loaves blessed it then broke it and gave to the disciples, who then distributed it among the people, Jesus then instructed them to gather up the fragments that none be lost. See Jesus came that none be lost,he has given us the blessed word of God for us to take out and share with a dying world, that none be lost, we are to take up the fragments of broken lives, and lead them to Jesus.

 

 Jesus must live on the inside of us, he is the living word by which we shall have everlating life. He is the abundant life promised us by Gods word. God never promised us the road would be easy.But a narrow uphill road is the road we chose to travel and it is never an easy road, especially when so many are on the downward road. But what he did promise is that he would never leave you nor forsake you, and more abundantly life.What can be a more abundant life, than a lived in the arms of our Savior.