Dec. 29, 2016: 5th Day of Christmas
Do you know the favor of the Lord? After Jesus' birth, Mary fulfills the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth. Since she could not afford the customary offering of a lamb, she gives instead two pigeons as an offering of the poor. This rite, along with circumcision and the redemption of the first-born point to the fact that children are gifts from God. Jesus was born in an ordinary home where there were no luxuries. Like all godly parents, Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God. He, in turn, was obedient to them and grew in wisdom and grace. The Lord's favor is with those who listen to his word with trust and obedience. Do you know the joy of submission to God? And do you seek to pass on the faith and to help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?
The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Savior of the world
What is the significance of Simeon's encounter with the baby Jesus and his mother in the temple? Simeon was a just and devout man who was very much in tune with the Holy Spirit. He believed that the Lord would return to his temple and renew his chosen people. The Holy Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also bring salvation to the Gentile nations. When Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized this humble child of Bethlehem as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he prophesied that Jesus was to be "a revealing light to the Gentiles". The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to those who are receptive and eager to receive him. Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with you?
The 'new temple' of God's presence in the world
Jesus is the new temple (John 1:14; 2:19-22). In the Old Testament God manifested his presence in the "pillar of cloud" by day and the "pillar of fire" by night as he led them through the wilderness. God's glory visibly came to dwell over the ark and the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38). When the first temple was built in Jerusalem God's glory came to rest there (1 Kings 8). After the first temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave it (Ezekiel 10). But God promised one day to fill it with even greater glory (Haggai 2:1-9; Zechariah 8-9). That promise is fulfilled when the "King of Glory" himself comes to his temple (Psalm 24:7-10; Malachi 3:1). Through Jesus' coming in the flesh and through his saving death, resurrection, and ascension we are made living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Ask the Lord to renew your faith in the indwelling presence of his Spirit within you. And give him thanks and praise for coming to make his home with you.
Mary receives both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow
Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the peace and joy of a life surrendered to God with faith and trust?
Our hope is anchored in God's everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy
What do you hope for? The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life and happiness with our heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus has won for us a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit gives hope to all who place their trust in the promises of God. God never fails because his promises are true and he is faithful. The hope which God places within us through the gift of the Spirit enables us to persevere with confident trust in God even in the face of trails, setbacks, and challenges that may come our way.
Is there anything holding you back from giving God your unqualified trust and submission to his will for your life? Allow the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his peace, joy, and love. And offer to God everything you have and desire - your life, family, friends, health, honor, wealth, and future. If you seek his kingdom first he will give you everything you need to know, love, and serve him now and enjoy him forever.
"Lord Jesus, you are my hope and my life. May I never cease to place all my trust in you. Fill me with the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly point others to your saving presence and words of everlasting life."
-Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net