Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (December 28) "The favor of God was upon him"

Scripture: Luke 2:22-40  

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in  Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband  seven years from her virginity, 37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Meditation: Do you know the favor of the Lord? After Jesus' birth, Mary fulfills the Jewish right 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 way.  Do you know the peace and joy of a life surrendered to God with faith and trust?

The Holy Spirit renews our hope in the promise of God
Simeon was not alone in recognizing the Lord's presence in the temple. Anna, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit. She was found daily in the temple, attending to the Lord in prayer and speaking prophetically to others about God's promise to send a redeemer. Supernatural hope grows with prayer and age! Anna was pre-eminently a woman of great hope and expectation that God would fulfill all his promises. She is a model of godliness to all believers as we advance in age. 

Advancing age and the disappointments of life can easily make us cynical and hopeless if we do not have our hope rightly placed. Anna's hope in God and his promises grew with age. She never ceased to worship God in faith and to pray with hope. Her hope and faith in God's promises fueled her indomitable zeal and fervor in prayer and service of God's people.

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 eternal life."

Psalm 128:1-5

Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!
2
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
5
The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Simeon and Anna represent both sexes awaiting their Redeemer, by Bede the Venerable, 672-735 A.D.

"Simeon and Anna, a man and a woman of advanced age, greeted the Lord with the devoted services of their professions of faith. As they saw him, he was small in body, but they understood him to be great in his divinity. Figuratively speaking, this denotes the synagogue, the Jewish people, who, wearied by the long awaiting of his incarnation, were ready with both their arms (their pious actions) and their voices (their unfeigned faith) to exalt and magnify him as soon as he came. They were ready to acclaim him and say, 'Direct me in your truth and teach me, for you are my saving God, and for you I have waited all the day' (Psalm 25:5). What needs to be mentioned, too, is that deservedly both sexes hurried to meet him, offering congratulations, since he appeared as the Redeemer of both." (excerpt from HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 1.18)


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author Don Schwager 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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