Author: hsmithdp

Wolves Among You – Beware

Ethan-Vanderbuilt-A-Wolf-in-Sheeps-Clothing

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

The other day I read an article that was written by a young man. In this article the young man said that he was a profession Christian. He also went on to talk about how he, at moments in times past, had very passionate evangelistic experiences, where he went and testified to people about Jesus, and tried earnestly to win souls to Christ.

Then he went into error; the young man put forth the argument that Jesus is not the only way to God. He explained that since God created everything, then by virtue of God’s omniscience, he also created the other religions of the world. This faulty reasoning had led him to believe that God had given us numerous ways to approach him in the various religions of the world. “After all don’t all religions end up in the same place?” I want to make sure that everyone knows; that this young man’s doctrine is a false doctrine. I will concur that all religion does led to the same place.  They all lead to hell.  Religion does not save a single soul. Only believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who sacrificed himself for our sin, and acceptance of this truth in faith; that he died, was buried, rose again, and will return to establish his kingdom, and this is the only way to the Father will save anyone.

Please pray for this young man, because; the deceptive lies and half-truths that he speaks shows that he is not saved, because he actually does not believe and have his faith in Jesus Christ alone. In John 8:44 it reads, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

So then if you do the will of your father and you show signs of lies, deceipt, rebellion against the will of God, trying to make your own way to God then you are your father the devil.  What then in the will of God the Father? Jesus puts this all into very simple terms, “And this is the will of him (the Father) that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son (Jesus), and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6.40).  Acceptance of Jesus as the only way to the Father shows you to be in the will of God, and a child of your heavenly Father.  This is the way to life eternal with God.

In the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that the devil intentionally places it agents in the midst of the church. “He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are of the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tears are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” This verse along with Matthew 7:21 tells us that not everyone who says Lord, Lord, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that do at the will of my father which is in heaven.  Instead the devil puts in tares among the wheat, that is he puts in false believers among the believers.  These false believers sow in false doctrines in an attempt to confuse and weaken the faith of the true beleivers.

This false concept of having more than one way to God, or more than one God, is nothing new. In Isaiah 14:13 – 15, which is believed to have been written between 740-680 B.C., it reveals the intent of Satan to exalt himself above the throne of God.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”(Isaiah 14:13-15)

The worship of other gods has never been accepted by the one true God. Exodus 20:3 – 5 states, “thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto the any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” this is a very serious offense that the Lord warns us not to commit. By way of example, you can open your Bible to 2 Kings and see the story of Moab in the first chapter. In this story Ahaziah tried to consult one of the profits of Baal-zebub, who was the god of Ekron, and the Lord slayed him because he sought another god.

Now let’s take a look at what the Lord says in the book of Isaiah. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: if you’re me there is no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, and the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10 – 11). As you can see the Lord is very clear on this point, there is only one God, and the Lord is that God. There is no other way to salvation, but through him. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). The book of the Gospel of John testifies, “in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was the life; and the life was light of men.” (John 1:1 – 4).

The consequence of believing that Jesus is just another god, or that there are many ways to God other than Jesus, is evidence of lack of faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. With this profession, you condemn yourself. “I said therefore unto you that she shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). So I warn you now, if you hear anyone putting out any other gospel other than salvation through Jesus Christ alone than that is a false teacher that is going to lead many people to death. You do not need to listen to them because all they will do is try to confuse you.

I will close with this Scripture from Galatians 1:6 – 10, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, say so I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

If anyone declares any other gospel to you, other than the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, no matter how nice they talk, or how convincing the logical argument might seem, they are in error and should be removed from your presence.

 

 

Wolf Image from Ether Vanderbuilt

Pray in the Right Attitude

There are a lot of books and study packages and helpful hints on prayer that are readily available throughout the United States and the Internet. The way that they present themselves are like some kind of magic remedying, or sometimes special invocation used to get what we want out of God. It is clear by looking in the book of Matthew chapter 6 that the shoes always been a misunderstanding on how we should approach God in prayer. I think that is of special note, that the Lord himself thinks it’s a is so important that we understand how to pray, and how to seek the Lord, that he left as an example. This example is what we often referred to as the Lord’s prayer or the our father. We can find is prayer located in Matthew chapter 6 starting in verse 9.

 

Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this Day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Laura clearly leaves this prayer as an example of how we should praise, the type of praise and offering the should be offered in prayer, and one of our attitude in prayer. Something that we should also consider, is this prayer closely models the prayer that was prayed by King David, as he will made ready to relinquish his throne to his son Solomon. When David prayed he prayed in this manner.

1 Chronicles 29:10 – 13 (KJV)

“wherefore David bless the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Nine, oh Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in the years is thine; thine is the kingdom, oh Lord, and thou art exalted as head of all. Both riches and honor come to the of the, and out rainiest overall; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength into all. Now therefore, our God, we think the, and praise thy glorious name.”

It is no accident, that the Lord chose the model of prayer given in Matthew after the prayer of David given Chronicles. It is often said that David was a man after God’s own heart. This prayer shows how much David understood the Lord, and understood his place in the Lord’s will. First of all David in his heart knew that only God deserves the blessings of all creation. He understood that all power and all glory anything that we could ever achieve is done through God the father. He understood the relationship that God had with Israel. The relationship between God and Israel, God and King David, was very unique and was one built on love. If you look back through the histories of other cultures and their gods, you’ll see quite a different relationship. Other cultures and other religions do not have a loving God who provides everything for them for their benefit out of his good pleasure. This same unique relationship is carried over to us as believers in Christ. This love relationship is demonstrated in the death and the burial in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So then first we must understand that everything that we have is actually a gift from God. Everything that we own in reality belongs to God. When we speak of everything we are talking about our finances, livelihoods, health, and even the very breath we breathe. If we approach our prayer in the correct attitude, and we give God to credit is due to God, then we find ourselves not asking for petty little things that God already provides for us. Instead we enter into true worship with an understanding of the provisions that are already made by God. In seeking God in prayer, we should seek to return the love that he showed us.

Looking back at Matthew chapter 6 we can also see Jesus was very concerned about our attitude in prayer and why we choose to pray. That we should be seeking the father with all earnestness all sincerity in our heart. Jesus said, “take heed that you do not you’re on before men, to be seen of them”. He also said that we should not present ourselves out before meant just to be seen of men to be doing good things for God but we should be sincere and we should pray secretly in private because God once a one-on-one relationship with us and he once us to really spend time with him. The father does not want us to be superficial in our actions and our hopes and in our love for him. While the our father is a good model and learning how to pray it should not be a repetitious prayer. Instead the model of the Lord’s prayer shows we should love the Lord our God with all of our hearts. The our father also shows that we should have respect for God for the provisions he makes. We should be submissive to his will in our lives by actively seeking his will. We should be living a life that shows that we are his children, because he is a good father who provides far daily needs before we even ask. We do this by forgiving others like he forgave us. We should also acknowledge the fact that it is he who guides us and leads us to our daily lives protecting us from temptations and from the evil things there are around us those who seek to harm us.

Because he does all these things we can with joy in our hearts give praise to our heavenly father because he is the ultimate authority in the universe. He has all authority, provides everything we need, and he does it because he loves us like a good father should. Those of you who have children know that there’s nothing that you would not do for your children to provide for their safety for their health for their financial support, and even for the little toys that they want Christmas. Knowing this then, that your heavenly father who created everything, who owns everything, who wants to give everything to you, can and will provide everything you need if you’ll just come to him. There is no invocation there is no secret formula there is no special prayer. Instead there is a recognition of God for who he is, an understanding that he loves you, and that he is willing to give you good gifts. But of these gifts, the greatest gift that he wants to give you is eternal life in fellowship with him. This was provided the sacrifice that was made by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross to redeem your who and your whole life to the Father.  So the question is, if God love you so much to sacrifice his own son, how much more will he give you if seek him first, and you ask in faith, believing he can do whatever you ask.

So go to your closet, get on your knees, give credit where credit is do.  Be sincere with your Heavenly Father, seek his will, and when He answers, be faithful.

 

The Roman Road

Matthew 4:17-19, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”

pexels-photo-66107.jpeg

1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

In a web article written by R. C. Sproul published in 2014 for Ligonier Ministries, the Reform Theologist declared,

“One of the most important subdivisions of theology is Christology, which is the study of the person and work of Christ.  Within that field of study, when we want to get at the aspect that is most crucial, the aspect that we may call the “crux” of the matter of Jesus’ person and work, we go immediately to the cross.  The words crucial and crux both have their root in the Latin word for “cross”, crux, and they have come into the English language with their current meanings because the concept of the cross is at the very center and core of biblical Christianity.  In a very real sense, the cross crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus.”  (Sproul, R.C. “What Does It Mean to Know Nothing except Christ and Him Crucified?” Ligonier Ministries, 11 Apr. 2004, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-christ-and-him-crucified/.)

Every Christian should be in the business of witnessing for Christ and the power of the Cross in our lives. We should be sharing what Christ can and will do for those of whom we are speaking to, or communicating with.  When Jesus told Peter that he was going to be a “fisher of men”, he meant that his purpose in life was to make disciples.  This is the mission of every Christian who is on the face of the earth.  The first part of discipleship is the process of personal evangelism.  As we see by the example of Paul, the cross is the center or our message.

This is our objective then, to share Jesus Christ, and his work of salvation that was completed at the Cross, Jesus declared on the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30).  These are probably the most important words ever said in the history of man on earth, maybe even in all creation.

What are we trying to tell the individual about this work of the cross?

Personal Evangelism is about relaying this information:

  • The individual is lost
  • Christ made sufficient provisions for them
  • Salvation is only obtained by faith in Jesus and the work of the cross
  • A choice must be made

As we begin our personal evangelism efforts; we must consider how important our relationship with to whom we are speaking.  It is actually very rare to find someone, especially in the United States, that has not already heard something about Jesus.  They have been informed from a wide variety of sources.

Most of these sources are unfortunately untrustworthy.  There have been a lot of false teachings, frauds, and legalist that have convoluted the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to gain authority or financial supremacy over others.  Many have been enslaved by false doctrines and blinded by Church Dogma. Their perception of Christ has been understandably distorted.

For this reason, evangelism is an ever changing process, but one thing will always remain true.  The best way to evangelize is always through a personal relationship with the prospect.  Gaining the trust of the lost soul, in order to show them Jesus Christ. In this manner we can show what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like.

A genuine relationship disproves lies, and breaks down fears, stereotypes, pain, and anger.  It gives you an opportunity to speak to the heart of the individual and address their spiritual need on an ongoing basis, developing trust, and opening doors through the intervention of prayer and the Holy Spirit.  The importance of this was relayed by God himself.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14a).  God, through Jesus Christ, became accessible to man on an intimate level. To dwell among us means to reside, or live with.  God came and shared his time with us.  This is what the church needs to do.  This is what you need to do as a Christian. Get into the neighborhood, embrace a neighbor, learn their stories, develop relationships for the sake of spreading the gospel, showing them Jesus.  Jesus ate with sinners, ministered to the sick, confronted false doctrine.  If we are the salt of the earth, then this is how we must live to be effective for the cause of Christ.

The most common route of scripture that is used for leading someone to Christ is referred to as “The Roman Road”.  This is a selection of scriptures from the book of Romans.  These verses lay out the plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  There are some small variations, however they following verses are commonly used.

Rome1

The “Roman Road” Plan

  • Gain the attention

o   Romans 3.23

o   Romans 3.10

o   Romans 5:12

  • Establish the Need

o   Romans 6:23

  • Supply the Answer

o   Romans 5:8

  • Close the Deal

o   Romans 10:9-10

o   Romans 10:13

o   Reassure

o   Romans 10:17

Deeper Look

We must never assume that whoever we are speaking to has a proper understanding of God.  We must also never assume that they are ignorant of scripture.  When I share scripture with someone I generally either tell them the scripture in a form of conversation or either locate the scripture and pass my bible to them and have them read it aloud for themselves, then I begin a dialog with basically asks them to tell me what they have read and what they think it means.  This is where knowing other scriptures than the Roman Road comes into play.  The other scriptures can be used to explain the text and give it context.  Your personal witness gives you the ability to make it real to them.

Romans 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3.10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

With these opening verses we establish some facts concerning God.  We show that God is a holy God. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5).  He has established a set of laws, we commonly refer to as the 10 Commandments.  These were established to show us the holiness of God, and how impossible it is to be righteous and holy like God is.

It does not matter how “good” we are in compression to someone else.  If we point the finger at our neighbor who cheated on his wife, and yet we look at his daughter with lust, we are still just as guilty of adultery as our neighbor is (Matthew 5:28). So when the Lord said thou shalt not commit adultery, you violated that commandment. But the list goes on, how many “white” lies have you told? How many times have you passed on gossip about someone else?  If so then when the Lord said thou shalt not bear false witness of they neighbor, you violated the law in both external application and internal intent.

The Ten Commandments are only an outline of the Law, if you could not even keep them, then how could you ever hope to keep the whole law?  But even if it were possible to keep the entire law with every jot and every tittle you would still have the inherited sin of rebellion that has been passed down from the original sin of Adam.  Some sins follow generations.

Ever here of “Sins of the father?”  This is an illustration that shows a spiritual principle, “Sin has a consequence for the sinner and his whole family, even to the children and grandchildren.”  This is also why some sins take what is called a Break in the Cycle to alleviate.  An example is child or spousal abuse, or even alcoholism, or drug abuse.  Lee Strobel cites that almost down to the last, every predominant atheist in history has had issues with their Father, either abuse, neglect, or abandonment.  Prisons are filled with men and women who had the same issues.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The argument then comes to “I didn’t know”.  There are some terms that are thrown around in the legal system.

  • Malum in se (latin) – meaning wrong or evil in itself. In other words, “the act is inherently wrong by nature, independent of regulations governing conduct.
  • Malum in prohibitum (latin) – meaning wrong because prohibited.
  • Ignorantia juris non excusat or inorantia legis neminem excusat (latin) – basically both terms mean that ignorance of the law excuses no one.

So if we as mankind expect adherence to our laws, customs, and norms of society, and do not excuse ignorance of the law as a defense to defer adjudication, then why do we expect God too?

Now knowing that we are all guilty of violating the law of God and thus fore failing to live up to God’s standard of Holiness what does that mean?  Just like when you violate a law in society there is a consequence.  The consequence is death.

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15).

Death brings an end to the hope of redemption.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27).

Death brings a time for judgement.  You can kind of explain it like this.  When you break the law, the police come and arrest you.  You are put in jail and then you are brought before the judge.  But unlike here in the United States, you only have a prosecutor, “Satan” and no lawyer for your own defense.  You are brought before the court, God is the Judge, the Word of God is the Law you are judged from.  Satan is the prosecutor and the witness against you.  It doesn’t matter what kind of “cool dude” you thought Satan was while you were living, he is revealed as your enemy and takes pleasure in insuring you fate,  a sentence of Death.  There is no appeal process.  Because God is just and holy, and  there is no higher authority, His judgement is final. Ignorance, willful or not, is no excuse.

The death penalty is so fierce it is described as “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and described as fiery torment.

  • Matthew 13:42 – And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 13:50 – And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 22:13 – Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 24:51 – And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Matthew 25:30 – And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I know there are allot of preachers out there that say we should not speak of hell, but I don’t see how we can love someone and not warn them of the truth of their fate without Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ignorance is no excuse, and judgement is final, the consequence is death.  But there is hope!  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17). Jesus Christ himself, who is God, provided the payment for the penalty.  Jesus died in your place.  This was the whole purpose for Jesus coming to the earth. He voluntarily took your place and received your death sentence.

He died so that you would not have too. In doing this, he stepped in as your lawyer in the throne room of God. Every sin you have ever  inherited from Adam, or committed in your life or will be has been removed from your account by the death of Jesus.  You have been set free from the penalty of death because he died.

That is what is so different of Jesus from any other religion on earth.  God loved you so much the God died for you.  NO other religion, no other philosophy, no other science can, nor will make that claim.  Not Buddha, Not Mohammad, not the Pope, no one can say that they restored you to God, but God himself in the form of Jesus who is the Christ, the living Son of God.

On top of that, you did nothing to earn it.  Look again at Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  It is a gift! A gift is a contribution, bequest (inheritance), bestowment, payment on behalf of someone else.  In it’s truest form requires no cost to the receiver.  This is more than just a “get out of hell free card”. More than just getting into “heaven”. This gift is eternal life in communion with God.  This gift restores you whole being to what it was meant to be before Adam ever sinned.

Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If you confess faith in Jesus, and Lord and Saviour of your soul and really believe in your heart that Jesus provides justification through his death, and believe that Jesus rose from the grave then you shall be saved according to your acceptance and profession of faith.  It takes an internal belief, acceptance in faith that results in a public profession in Jesus.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whosoever means “anyone who will” believer and choose to act on their belief will be saved.  The bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus.  So believing in God, or even believing that Jesus existed and was a “good man” or a “prophet” won’t save you.  You have to understand that Jesus is the only way to salvation and call out to him.  You have to depend on him for your salvation.  If you were hanging out the window of a burning building, and a fireman on a ladder told you to take his hand and to trust him not to let you go, you can say all you want to, but until you take his hand you wont be saved.  It’s the same with the kingdom of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Now is your time to choose.  Do you believe what I have told you?  Do you understand what the scriptures say about life and death?  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God that was sent to die for you?  Do you believe that he wants you to live in freedom, right by his side?  Will you accept his give of life, or will you choose to die?

 

Waiting on the Messiah

 

Luke 2:25-30

Notes

 “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.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  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, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,”

Not much is information on who Simeon is.

All we really know about Simeon is what Luke tells us here in these few verses.  Some have supposed that this Simeon was a son of “Hillel,” who was a famous distinguished teacher in Jerusalem, and the president of the Sanhedrin. But not much is really know for any certainty, and who he was is really irrelevant to the story.  However, what he was and how he acted is very important.

First of all, the text says, “Behold”

  • That is to look closely at this!,
  • Study this!
  • “Hey! Check this out!”
  • The author is getting ready to say something very important and he does not want you to miss it.

The author singles Simeon out.  Why? Well lets look at how he describes Simeon.  Luke uses words like “just” and “devout”.

  • Another way of saying this would be to say that Simeon was a fair and sincere,
  • he would be considered a pious man.
  • He would be a man with deep spiritual morals, a man of conviction.
  • A man who lived by his word.

The fact that he was single out by name indicates that everyone knew of this virtuous man.

  • Everyone considered that he was a man that was righteous in the eyes of God.
  • He was a good Jew,
  • He was seen as one who discharged his duties faithfully to man and to God.
  • His reputation preceded him.
  • He was a man of respect among the people.
  • He was probably an elder.

He was undoubtedly a holy man and was divinely inspired.

The text says that the

  • “Holy Spirit” was upon him
  • “Holy Spirit” had revealed things to him.
  • He was “led by the Spirit” into the temple.

This scripture indicates that it was the direct influence of the Holy Spirit that Simeon was told to go into the temple, the text reads, “And he came by the Spirit into the temple”. This makes what he spoke about Jesus a divine revelation by God to Simeon.

When Jesus asked his disciples who is it you say that I am and Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus told him, “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-18)

You see Simeon wasn’t just waiting for something from God.  Simeon was waiting for something specific from God.  God had made a promise to Simeon. We don’t know when the promise was made. We don’t know how long Simeon had been waiting.  It could have been years, or months, or even days.  It could have been just hours.  However, the reading of the text gives me the feeling that Simeon had been waiting a long time, probably decades.  But Simeon wasn’t the only one who had to wait was he.  Mary and Joseph had waited months to see Jesus.  Israel had waited even longer. It is estimated that there were at least 400 years of silence from God between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament it self covers a span of approximately 4000 years. All of creation waited in anticipation of the birth of Christ.

Take a look at Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Simeon and Israel were looking for this birth!  Simeon was waiting for the fulfillment of this prophecy.  He was waiting for the arrival of the “Messiah” who is called “the consolation of Israel” because he would give comfort to them by his appearing.  Simeon longed for the coming of the Messiah; and the Spirit prepared him to see Jesus for who he truly is.  The Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace!  The promised Messiah.

This birth was something that the world has never seen.  God put on flesh!  This had never been done since the before creation.

Man had never seen it

No other religion ever recorded such an event

Angels had never seen such a sight

When Moses had asked to see the God’s face, the Lord told Moses he cannot do so because he his holiness would destroy Moses.  See Moses was flesh, and like all flesh he had the sin of Adam.  It would be like trying to put two magnets together where the polar ends don’t match up.  The magnetic force would not allow you to do this.  God says that He reveals himself in nature.  I believe this magnetic principle is one way that God reveals his holiness and it’s inability to mend with sin.  But Simeon had read the scriptures.  Simeon know that God had a way to redeem, not only Israel, but the whole world to him.  Simeon knew that somehow, God would become flesh.  God found away to overcome this spiritual law.  That’s what is so important of the virgin birth.

Some things to know about Simeon and his waiting.

  • Simeon was absolutely sure that the Messiah was coming and that he would see him.
  • Simeon expected the Lord to come at any moment.
  • Simeon lived his life in his belief as a result he was seen as just and devout
  • Simeon lived a life under the direction and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, he was man who surrendered to the will of God
  • Simeon was ready to welcome the Lord into his life. He took him in his arms, he made him feel welcomed and loved. He blessed God for such a special gift.  See he understood that the Messiah was first to come as a sacrifice and then again as a conquering King.  He knew in his heart what John would later record in the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John when he said, “For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but heave everlasting life.”  You could say that Simeon was effectively the very first Christian! Simeon believed on Him!  He believed that He was the restoration of Israel, and all of the world!
  • Simeon lived a life who’s whole purpose was the revelation and declaration of Jesus Christ. As a result, Simeon was the first man to declare that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the promised Messiah in the Temple. Then with his life purpose being fulfilled he was ready for the Lord to take him home.  His whole meaning in life was Jesus!

If Simeon would have not been living a life of expecting from the Lord, or in obedience to the Lord, he would have missed his opportunity to perform his part in this miraculous revelation of the birth of the creator, who became a man, to redeem mankind to himself.  If we are not careful, we can miss what God has for us in Christ.

So while Christmas is a great time to look back and to reflect on all that God has done for us, let’s not get so caught up in the lights, and pageantry, or the gifts and credit card abuse, or the food and the wine that we forget that Christ is still alive, and that he is returning to establish His kingdom here on earth.

How are you waiting?

  • Are you waiting like Simeon did?
  • What are you waiting for from God?
  • Are you living a life in anticipation of the return of Jesus?
  • Do you live your life in the belief that Jesus can come at any moment?

Do you live a life that shows?

  • Jesus is coming at any moment to complete the restoration of Israel
  • That the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed at hand.

If we do then, how should we be waiting?

Throughout Scripture we find  admonitions given to us about the Lord’s return:

  • Watch faithfully.
  • Work diligently.
  1. We are to watch.
    1. The Lord said repeatedly that we are to watch for His coming because we do not know the day or hour of His return (Matt. 24:42; 25:13).
    2. In Luke 21:36, Jesus gave this specific instruction: “Keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
    3. We are to stand fast in the faith with courage and strength (1 Cor. 16:13).
    4. We are to watch soberly, arming ourselves with faith, love, and salvation (1 Thess. 5:8).
  2. We are to work.
    1. We are to be the Lord’s witnesses—telling of the love of God and the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
    2. We are to testify about what He has done in our own lives, both with our words and by our example.

While we celebrate this Christmas let us live lives of sobriety, testifying to the truth.  Being fair and honest in all our dealings.  Bearing spiritual fruit in anticipation that our redeemer is nigh.  Living lives in submission to the Holy Spirit and being obedient to the will of Christ in our lives.

A Look in the Mirror- Proverbs 9:21

I try to be very cautious when I give my testimony, and to not be too specific because I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.  I share just enough for them to know that I overcame through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because I want Christ to be the focus and not my sin.  You see part of my issue is that I was an alcoholic.  I don’t share how bad of an alcoholic most times because I have noticed that alcoholics tend to brag.  Once pride over sin enters into the conversation it is a lost cause, and the sin becomes the conversation.  It becomes who was the bigger sinner.

Instead of discussing the deliverance of the cross the conversation deteriorates into who drank the most, or who did the most embarrassing things, and all focus on Christ is lost.  Truth be told all sin comes from our selfishness and is fed by pride.  Even shameful sins are fed by our lashing out to feel better about ourselves, by punishing those around us.  This gives us the center of attention, even if it is in a bad way.  Unfortunately we become to think of ourselves as unique in our little world. We believe that we are smarter than everyone else around us.  We believe that we don’t need others, they don’t know us, and that they cannot identify with us.  This twisted image makes us dependent on the sin.

I can remember, when I was drinking, that at times I was very proud of how much I could drink.  Even how cruel I could be to others.  I remember sometimes purposely starting fights with my wife, so that I could have an excuse to storm out and go drinking.  Afterward I would feel ashamed and then would drink more to drown out the terrible feelings.  I couldn’t look at my wife or my children without severe regret for the things I had done.  When I looked in the mirror, it was only to ask myself what had happened to the young man I use to be.  Where were all those great things I was going to do with my life?  Where was the man that swore to protect the ones he loved?  I began to realize that the same pride I had in those things had become twisted into my self-image from my hard headedness of holding on to my sin.

Proverbs 9:21 says, “He , that being often reproved hardenteh his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” You see I did not listen to the warnings that others were giving me in the way of life I was living.  I chose to hold onto my drinking, and the underlying sin that fed it.  I choose to be in rebellion.  My pride had me held up for ransom. The Lord has given us plenty of warning over and over again of what this self-pride will do to us.  It says, “Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.” (Proverbs 6:15).

There comes a point when everyone around us gives up and leaves us to our own destruction.  God warns us that there is a penalty to pay for willful ignorance and pride. He calls it being stiff necked. Being stiff necked and prideful, resisting the truth, and choosing sin over repentance can destroy lives.  Only in looking back at a wasted life of destroyed relationships, and tortured looks from loved ones can one see this truth.  But there is an alternative.  Take a look at the book of Ecclesiastes.

“A stubborn heart shall fare evil at the last; and he that loveth danger shall perish therein.  An obstinate heart shall be laden with sorrows; and the wicked man shall heap sin upon sin.  In the punishment of the proud there is not remedy; for the plant of wickedness hath taken root in him.  The heart of the prudent will understand a parable; and an attentive ear is the desire of a wise man.  Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins.  And he that requitech good turns is mindful of that which may come hereafter; and when he falleth, he shall find a stay.” (Ecclesiastes 3:27-31).

This is a comparison and contrast that shows there is an alternative.  You can choose to live in your sin and pay the penalty of destruction, sorrow, and death. From this there is no remedy.  You cannot get out of it by yourself.  You have to accept the truth of your situation.  A truly wise man will understand that he cannot continue in this path of self-destruction.  Shame only builds more shame.  Believe me please, I know.  There is another way.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).  What is so important about this?  Take another look at Ecclesiastes above.  It says that a prudent man knows that water puts our fire.  Alms and atonement must be made for the sin. You see sin ultimately brings death.  “Then when lust has conceived, it bringeth for sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth for death.” (James 1:15). Death will come to those who continue in their sin.  Destruction that cannot be remedied will occur as a result of our rejection of this truth.  You see you do not have to believe that fire will burn you if you touch it, but it will.  Just the same sin will kill you.  But we do have hope in Jesus Christ.

 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6.23).  Jesus offers an alternative.  In his death he paid the price for our sin.  He died to pay the price of death for you.  But not only that, Jesus rose again so that we might live eternally with the Father.  This is a free gift, a way out of your old life.  A way of atonement that has been made on your behalf, by God Himself, in Jesus Christ. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and on the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17).

You see there is a way of hope.  There is a new life.  There is a way out of the shame and despair.  That way is in Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  This is more than just a second chance.  This is a new birth.  Salvation is more than just being saved from hell, or self-destruction.  It is a whole new life.  It is becoming the child of God you were intended to be from before you were born.  The Father has always wanted to hold you in his arms, he wanted you so much that he sent his son Jesus to become a man and pay the price of death for you.

All you have to do is believe that he did, and then confess it.  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9-11).  The hardest part is just putting away that foolish pride.  Because with pride in the way you are blinded to seeing the truth.  Look in the mirror, what happened to you?  Tell the truth.

 

Be an Encouragement

Philippians 4:8

I received a push on my computer from a newspaper that I subscribe to and the article it highlighted was one that depicted what they referred to as the top racist moments of 2017.  This article had pictures with little one liners that described with no real details how the picture represented something that someone had done that showed racism.  I was quite taken back.  I remember when was young the end of the year was used to reflect on how adversity had been overcome, and how despite all the odds we had persevered through the hard times, made difficult decisions and shouldered the burdens of those events together.  We looked back and chose to revel in the good of others and the accomplishments that were made by family, friends, and our communities.

Lately it seems a bad virus has spread across our continent.  This sickness has darkened our hearts and made us to hurt and use one another spitefully.  It is strange how in such a short time we went from being on the top of the world, the only super power to survive the cold war, united in a common cause to the mess we see now days.  We have allowed our joy to be taken from us and made to feel vulnerable.  We have allowed the “fear” of racism, sexists, and other unseemly isms to infiltrate our peace for fear of being ostracized from society. Political Correctness and the immoral minority have paralyzed us into inadequacy of action. We have compromised our holiness before God and man.

Remember the words of Paul and Timothy that were recorded in their letter to the Philippians where they wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).  It is believed that Paul wrote this epistle near the end of his Roman imprisonment around 61-62 AD.  Paul sought to encourage this church who was in a spiritual battle.  He poured out his life as an offering to Christ in many dangerous situations, which included beatings, stoning’s, shipwrecks, and imprisonments and yet he still had joy.  Paul wanted the church at Philippi to know that living a Christ centered life was the key to joy.

So looking here we see that perspective affects our joy.  Paul said that we need to look at things in the proper perspective.  We should think, or deliberately consider, or meditate on these things that Paul mentions.  We should reflect on things that are true.  In other words we should concentrate of things that are correct, or accurate and not give into speculations or hearsay.  Think on eternal truths from the scriptures and see them at work in nature.  We should be honest in all our dealings with God and with man.  Promote the general good, and the good news of the gospel.  We should protect our minds and honor those who are chaste.  We should dress ourselves in integrity.

Good news should be shared and enjoyed with one another.  Take joy in the accomplishments of others and in the blessings that the Lord has given others.  We should share in the blessings the Lord has given us with all love and compassion towards our fellow Christians and the world.  We should publically acknowledge good deeds and be useful in our community to build up our community instead of tearing it down.

Paul knew that true joy comes only through humility and faith that is acted out in the lives of those around us.  Pray for one another, give to one another, and share hope in Christ to one another.  Allow the joy you find in Christ Jesus to share peace instead of quarrels and divisions.  If you pray for peace and restoration then get out be a peace maker, be a restorer in your community.  Let the light of Christ show in your daily walk.  Weep with those who need to weep, then be an encouragement.