April 14 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God. 
That he has not abandoned us in our sin and has provided our conscience as a constant restraint. Praise God that when we do heed our conscience, we are blessed by him. (Romans 1:28, Hosea 4:7).
 
Acknowledge sin.
The fact that too often we do not heed what our conscience is telling us and proceed to sin. Pray for God's help to listen to our conscience and flee from temptation. (James 1:13-15).
 
Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 
Pray for our covenant children, that the Lord would be merciful and bring them to salvation.
Pray for those working in hospitals, care homes, etc.
Pray for our provincial and national leaders, that they would seek God. 
 
 
Let's read Luke 2:25-35 
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
v 25-27, A Man of God.
What is the name of the man we are introduced to here? This is the first and only time Simeon is mentioned in the Bible. He is often represented as being an older man, and while we're not given his age, v26 and v29 seem to indicate that may be the case, but we can't say for sure. As a person, how is Simeon described? 'Righteous' speaks to his moral character, his attitude to God and man, and 'devout' speaks of his attitude to his faith, manifest in his practice of Judaism. There weren't too many of his kind in Judah at this time. Religion was at a very low ebb in Israel (the household of God) when Christ was born. The contamination of the Old Testament by the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees had influenced many. However, there were still those who believed in the Law of God as revealed in His Word. What I say next I do so carefully, conscious of the potential for pride. Be encouraged and thankful that God has placed you in a community where His Word is taught, preached, experientially believed in, and provides the sole basis for the decisions made in the church. It is not a unique church, but it is unusual in the current religious climate of Canada.
 
Under whose guidance or leading does Simeon go into the temple? The leading of the Holy Spirit shows his sensitivity to the work of God in his life. This speaks to his relationship with God, even if there seems to be an exceptional work of the Holy Spirit in his life at this point. As with every relationship, your relationship with God needs time invested if it is to grow and mature. I am praying (not a statement of desire, but one of activity) that this 'Daily Encouragement to be with God' will help you build your relationship with God.  
 
What does the Holy Spirit reveal to Simeon? The significance of such a revelation is huge. Every generation of godly Hebrews would have desired the coming of the Messiah, the Deliverer, in their lifetime. The fact of the dominance of the Roman empire would have intensified that desire. Do you think much about the second coming of Christ and what it will usher in for you? If not, I'd encourage you to do so. It will help you focus on the reality of eternity and help maintain a proper perspective on the present.
 
v28,29, Ready to face Death.
When Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple, what does Simeon do? What does he say? Note the peace he speaks of when referring to his death. It is the peculiar blessing of the Christian, the true believer in Jesus Christ, to be able to look at their death and not be fearful. The Apostle Paul spoke of his longing to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8). We are currently getting daily figures for the number of deaths from COVID-19, and there is a natural and necessary speaking in hushed tones when it is being done. We do not greet the last enemy, death (1 Corinthians 15:26), with open joy-filled arms, but we do not fear it either, for it is the means by which our souls will be made perfect in Christ and immediately we will be with him. It is the experience of the godless to grieve without hope. (Hebrews 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:1,6,8, Philippians 1:23, I Thessalonians 4:13).   
 
Correction, I got it wrong - I said yesterday in reference to Joseph and Mary's obligation to redeem their firstborn son that, "It was usual that five shekels were paid to redeem the firstborn, (Numbers 18:15ff). The fact that Luke does not mention it, which is unusual for a man who records many of the details, leaves us pondering whether or not it was paid. But probably best to leave it at that." 
I was wrong. Luke does tell us that they brought Jesus to the temple "to do for him according to the custom of the Law." 
 
This shows that they did pay the five shekels. Sorry for my mistake. While I will do my best to rightly handle the Word of truth, I do urge you to take the attitude of the Bereans who "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so," (Acts 17:11).
 
v30-32, The work of Christ revealed.
What does Simeon say about the extent of the salvation that the child in his arms will bring? 
 
We can tend to think that no one had any real idea of the work of Christ before his incarnation. While it is true that they were looking through 'opaque glass' at these things, nonetheless, those who studied the Scriptures and prayerfully considered their content did have some understanding of them. As I have said before, we are truly blessed to have them so clearly spelled out to us and, as Gentiles, to have received the light of Christ personally by the powerful working of God the Holy Spirit in our lives. 
 
In respect of the people of Israel, we look forward to the day when the veil shall be taken from their heart and all shall glory in the Lord. (Isaiah 45:25.) 
 
v33-35, The blessing on Joseph and Mary.                                                                                  
How do Joseph and Mary respond to what they have just seen and heard? It is good to stand back on occasions and marvel at what God says. What does Simeon say to Mary? What does this mean? Well, it could mean one of two things. Either it refers to men, by God's grace falling on their pride, confessing their sin, believing in this Christ, and being raised to new life. Or it speaks of the division that Jesus would bring. That there would be those who would reject him and experience eternal separation from God, and those who would receive him and be raised in eternal salvation. Both of these two possibilities are doctrinally correct. 
 
What is clear is that Jesus would be opposed throughout his life's work (v34) as men who could agree on nothing were united in their hatred of him. Indeed, he was a man despised, rejected and hated by men. (John 15:18ff) 
 
Note how deeply his death would affect his mother (v35). His future suffering would not leave her unscathed. A hard thing to hear when your child is only a few days old.
 
Simeon's final words speak to the revelatory function of Jesus' work. Men declare themselves by their attitude toward him. They cannot ultimately be neutral concerning him, and the thoughts of their hearts will one day be revealed in his presence. Which begs the question, what do we think of Christ? What feelings does he call forth in our hearts? Do we love him, or do we neglect him? Do we stumble at his commands, picking and choosing which ones we will obey depending on our personal preferences, or do we, with a submissive attitude, humbly embrace each of them as right for our lives? 
 
 
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 23B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
 
 
Memory Verse. 
Keep up the memorizing, it will be good for your heart relationship with the Lord.
Psalm 121C:1-4, "Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid? The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made. Your foot from stumbling He will always keep; the One who guards your life will never sleep. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps, by night or day."
 
 
Something to think about. Shorter Catechism.
Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of Death.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for the coming of Jesus and the fact that he is the light of revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to God’s people Israel.  Thank God for the relationship we have with him through Jesus and pray that this relationship would grow and mature as we invest in it daily. 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley