Posts Tagged ‘Simeon’

Christmas time can be a very gloomy time for those who have lost a loved one recently. I saw a woman today that had just lost her husband to cancer. She has fallen apart, and doesn’t know how she can go on. She told me she feels so empty inside. I know other people who are feeling ’empty’ this Christmas, for they have lost a husband, a wife, or a child this year. I am about to do a special Christmas sermon this Sunday, wearing my Christmas pajama’s. I shared last Sunday to those who might have been offended at this, the reason for doing so. It is because of the most meaningful Christmas I ever had, a morning when my Dad read the Christmas Story in his pajama’s.

My Dad did not know the reality of Jesus until late in his life. Until Jesus became real to him, Christmas was just another secular holiday. My Mom made sure Jesus was mentioned, but He was pushed over to the side, crowed out by all the toys and gifts. When Dad discovered the reality of Jesus Christ, his whole life changed. Everything, his home, his business, his life, his hopes, became centered around Jesus.

My Dad reads the Christmas Story

Jesus made a difference in the way he related to me. I was a young man of 18 headed to college when he came to me and said with tears in his eyes, “Son, God has given me a second chance”. He then asked me to forgive him for not being a good father. It was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. I was so touched by his embrace and tears that this memory is constantly with me. Christmases were different after this. The emphasis was upon Jesus Christ. Presents were secondary. Little did I know that just three years later I would be home, with my wife and one month old son, celebrating Christmas with my family. As I held my son, I thought, how can I ever be a good father to him? I didn’t know where to begin, or what to do. Fears overwhelmed this young father of 21. As I sat on the couch holding my son Benjamin, my pride was overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy.

Then it was time. The candles were lit, lights turned off, and in the early morning dawn of Christmas Morn, 1974, my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. I thought of Joseph and Mary, charged with the responsibility of raising the Messiah, the Son of God. How inadequate they must have felt. I thought of Joseph, and how he loved Mary so much that he endured the criticism of his friends and married her. What drove him to do such a thing as to marry a woman whom the Law said to stone? What drove a young betrothed girl to submit to having God’s son when she knew it would cause such problems?

Simeon Holds the Messiah

Then my Dad read the reaction of Simeon, who took the Baby Jesus and held him up, saying, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:30-32) The light seemed to come on, and I realized that God had been very real to Mary, Joseph and Simeon. So real that they believed what He said. Mary believed the Word of God, Joseph believed the Word of God, and so put God’s will before their own comfort and concerns. Simeon believed God’s Word, and so every day lived with the Hope of seeing the Messiah before he died.

The Light of Jesus Christ had become real to my Dad, and now he lived with the real Hope of Jesus Christ. I did not know how to be a good father at the age of 21. I was scared, but I did have a Hope. I realized that morning that the Hope of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is what guided Mary and Joseph, sustained Simeon, and now made my Dad the father that God wanted him to be. If I was to be a good Dad to my son, my Hope would have to be in Jesus Christ, and not in myself!

The Engraving Congratulating the New "Grandpa"

"Big Daddy" Holds Benjamin

Did we mourn and grieve? Certainly? Did we feel an emptiness? Definitely? Did we feel helpless? Never! Did we feel Hopeless? Not in the least! The Hope of Jesus Christ that had become real was also our Hope! Jesus was real to my family because of the influence of “Big Daddy”!

My heart goes out to those who are struggling this Christmas with the emptiness that losing a loved one can cause. My prayer is that you will discover the Hope of Jesus Christ, just as my family has. He transforms emptiness into fullness, helplessness into hopefulness! This has become a life verse for me, and it is based upon the Hope I have ever before me, the Hope of Jesus Christ:  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my GodPsalm 42:11

Is your faith and hope in GOD? If not, allow me to introduce you to the Living Hope, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that my Dad was changed, it was through Him that my family was changed. It is through Him that your life can become rich and full, even when you have suffered a devastating loss.

Benjamin really enjoys Big Daddy Reading

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:20-21

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

PS: Benjamin is a grown man with a family of his own. He and his wife have two beautiful young girls. My son has established his family upon the hope of Jesus Christ as well. I know Bid Daddy is very proud of you, Ben!


Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tight-fisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!”

Have you ever held your Bible in you hand and thought, there is no way I can understand this! There is simply too much in here. How can I even begin to understand it all? I must admit, it seems every week I am thinking exactly that. I keep bringing my thoughts back to this one thought: The Bible is not a history book, it is not an anthropology book, it is not even a religious guidebook. The Bible is the message of God seeking and redeeming men women and children who see His light and respond to His light and walk in His light. That is why so little of the history of the world is not mentioned in the Bible. That is why it is not organized into neat chronological stories. It isn’t about what we can figure out with our little brains. It is all about God and His light. The Bible is written to move us to seek His light.

For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalms 18:27-28

Of course we can’t understand it all! But does that mean we give up reading it, loving it? I will never completely understand my wife. Does that mean I give up trying?

We seek after the light because we love the light! Do you sincerely want the light of God in your life?

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalms 36:9

This Christmas we are focusing on the “True Light” of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, God in flesh, Jesus Christ. He is the “True Light” of Christmas.

As our world becomes increasingly secular, there will be the danger of relegating Jesus to a display, a manger scene, when in reality HE desires no other recognition than to be Lord of your heart and life. He desires to be your light and life. He does not want to be trotted out every December. He does not want to be honored just on Christmas Eve. Jesus desires to light your life every day of your life. That will take a commitment on your part, a commitment which Satan will do everything in his power to obstruct.

The Scriptural foundation for our study this morning.

  • Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
  • As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5
  • …whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness“. John 12:45-46
  • In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Ephesians 1:17-19

John in Chapter one of his Gospel declared that Jesus is the True Light, and His light is the life of men, and darkness will not overcome it. However, that does not mean that the darkness does not try. In fact, a survey of history reveals how the darkness has tried to obliterate the true light.

At the very time, John wrote his gospel there was a falling away from Jesus Christ. People were questioning the deity of Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were saying that He only became God when the Spirit came upon Him at his baptism.

That is why He was inspired to write:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

After a beautiful gospel that presents Jesus Christ in His deity, John concludes with this assurance:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

However, he questions continued and grew more intense. The doubts about the deity of Jesus spread. Many years later John wrote once more, offering his personal assurance:

In I John:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:1-7

He adds the weight of his own testimony, and bears witness to the life and light of God manifested to the disciples through the Son-Jesus Christ. John declares that the message that Jesus proclaimed to him was that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Our fellowship with God MUST be based on our walk in His light. If we walk in darkness, we have no fellowship with God. But praise God, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, so that we can walk with God in His light!

That is why John concludes His book with an even greater declaration than that which closed out his gospel. Not only can we have Life in Jesus Christ, but also John declares:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. … We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:13-21

  • Are you really desiring to be in God’s purpose;
  • Do you really seek to know what that purpose is, and to be found in it?
  • Everything depends upon whether you have such a concern. Your desire will determine whether you are simply here to increasing your knowledge about spiritual things or whether you are here because of your strong desire to be in God’s purpose, the eternal purpose of God.
  • Are you prepared to commit yourselves to the Lord and to living completely according to His purpose?

From the very beginning God has sought people to fellowship with Him, to walk with Him. However, because God is light, fellowship could only be in the light of His righteousness. For in Him is no darkness at all.


God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening.

However, Adam and Eve loved darkness, and chose to rebel. Their fellowship was lost, their eyes were changed. Now instead of seeing only the light, they saw darkness. Their eyes were blinded by the darkness of sin.

God responds with Abel and the altar. The altar dealt with the darkness of sin and allowed the Light of God into their relationship.

Cain ignored the light and offered that which was cursed. His blindness then led him to murder his brother.

From their experience, we conclude this foundational truth of our relationship with God.

  1. Fellowship with God is only possible through the light
  2. Fellowship is only possible through the removal of the curse of sin.
  3. The removal of the curse requires a sacrifice.

These truth’s are confirmed as we trace the history of the conflict between darkness and God’s Light

From Abel to Noah

From Abel to Noah the darkness becomes more intense and deliberate. The earth – which is the Lord’s – is taken possession of by man for his own ends.

God says, “you like darkness?” How would you like 40 days and 40 nights of rain? Every living creature is destroyed except those saved by the ark.

Emerging from the judgment, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing declares, in intent and effect: “The earth” (the renewed earth) “is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

God has fellowship with man again. Light is returned to the world through the altar. Sin was judged by the death of the flood.

However, darkness returns all too soon. Even Noah is an agent when he gets drunk.


Babel is built by men desperate for a god of their own making, desperate to prevent a future judgment. Babel is cursed by God, and under that curse men are scattered to the four corners of the earth. Then, when, it would appear that the testimony of God has disappeared from the earth, God finds a man willing to obey Him, willing to follow the light.


Abraham responds to God’s call. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia” or (when he was in darkness) – (Acts 7:2).

The God of glory APPEARED, showed Himself. Abraham had his eyes opened to see the God of glory and all the great redemptive work of God went forward through Abraham on that basis.

Their fellowship was secured when Abraham is willing to sacrifice his own son to Jehovah. The altar is once again in view, and Abraham walks in the light of God, and a new nation of God followers begins.

Israel in Egypt

God remembers his people in bondage in Egypt. In the light of the burning bush, God calls Moses to deliver them and lead them to God’s Promised Land.

God once again sets forth the Altar. In the midnight darkness of Egyptian homes a wail is heard as the angel of death slays all the firstborn males. Yet in the Jewish homes, there is the light of God, for He has seen the blood and passed over them.

His people are redeemed and led across the Red Sea on dry ground.

God leads them with fire. He has fellowship with them in the Tent of Testimony.

The Conquest of Palestine

Next, we have His people led by Joshua who is following the Captain of the Hosts. Their very entrance into the Promised Land must be across the Jordan River, which symbolizes death in both the Old and New Testaments. Once they cross, an altar is made as a monument. It symbolizes the death of the Jews to their flesh and sin and their new life of fellowship with the light of God. Their very first victories reveal that this is to be God’s battle, in God’s strength, under God’s Laws. If they go their own way or rely on their own strength, they will suffer judgment and defeat!

Judges and Kings

From here commences the long and infamous history of Israel’s descent into darkness. What had been intended to be a Kingdom of God and God’s light became a nightmare of the darkness of sin. Repeatedly they departed and deviated from God’s light.

Even though sacrifices were made, the heart of the people was dark and far from God.

God stirred men to bring His people back, men such as Hezekiah and Josiah. However, the heart of the entire nation was never stirred back to the light of God’s word. When the leader died, the apostasy set in and deepened.

First the Northern and then the Southern Kingdoms were captured and led into captivity. The nation was obliterated, the Temple, the Altar were destroyed. The darkness appears to have overcome the light of God.

Yet God reveals His light through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are faithful to the light of God; they sacrifice their lives to him on the altar of fire and lions. After Daniels prayer, God moves in a handful of remnant, people who still look to the light of God.

We read about this remnant in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. It is a great time of revival and restoration, but the darkness creeps back.


There is more apostasy, rebellion, until we get the terrible conditions recorded in Malachi, leading up to the awful announcement:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Malachi 3:9

How black and dark things were! Were they ever worse? Yet God is not defeated; the light is not obscured; for, in the midst of the blackness, there is that which represents the most blessed victory:

Then they that feared Jehovah spoke often one to another; and Jehovah observed [it], and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be unto me a peculiar treasure, saith Jehovah of hosts, in the day that I prepare; and I will spare them as a man spared his own son that serves him. Malachi 3:16-17

Malachi closes, and for four hundred years, there is darkness and chaos. Surely now the testimony has ceased and faithfulness has disappeared? Surely now the Lord has lost everything? The darkness has conquered the light?


Now we take up the book that Luke wrote to his friend Theophilus. Luke brings into our view a certain priest

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Luke 1:6

We also find Mary, to whom the angel Gabriel said:

“Thou that are endued with grace, the Lord is with thee”. Luke 1:28

There was also Simeon and Anna:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-32

And there was one Anna, a prophetess… she… spoke of him to ALL THEM THAT WERE LOOKING for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36, 38.

Even in the midst of great darkness, God has always had a faithful remnant who seeks HIS LIGHT! Listen to their Witness:

  • Zechariah:  “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
  • Mary: “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50
  • Simeon: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”.Luke 2:31-32

Throughout history, no matter how deep the darkness, no matter the degree of blindness, there has been a remnant, a peculiar treasure, a group of jewels who have sought the light of God! Even when there has been no written revelation, they have seen that

1. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)

2. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Divine light.

In the New Jerusalem, the heaven in which we shall one day dwell, it is recorded:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. Revelation 21:23-25


The Birth of Jesus was the revelation of God’s Light in human form. However, what made His light so intense, so beautiful, was that the manger they laid Jesus upon represented the altar that God requires for us to walk in His light.

For Jesus was not born to reign as a King, or Serve as a Priest, He was born to die. He was born to deal for once and for all the mighty deathblow to the prince of darkness.

While we sing of Peace and Silent Nights, the birth of Jesus was a focal point of intense conflict. For God has been set against the darkness from the very creation.

God has always attacked the Darkness

Genesis 1 opens with “Darkness upon the face of the deep”. God did not just look at that darkness and call out in a soft voice: ‘Let us have some light.’ I believe that God attacked the darkness by boldly declaring ‘Let there be light!’ Darkness is contrary to my nature.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, listen to the stern tone of Paul’s voice as he cries out:

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

This darkness is the work of the devil, and God is adamantly against it.

The Redemptive message of God’s Word is that the Light will overcome the darkness through the altar, through sacrifice, through removal of the curse!

Jesus declared this about Abraham to the Jews:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56

The Jews were in darkness, their eyes blind to the truth of Jesus, and took up stones to kill Jesus. They refused the light of God, just as their fathers had before them, and their fathers before that.

Abraham saw the light of Jesus Christ!

Satan does not want our eyes open to see the True Light of Jesus Christ. He wants us to relegate him to a pretty story, a beautiful manger scene. However, God wants us to see the conflict that is raging between the darkness and the True Light.

This conflict is ever at our door, for by nature we love the darkness rather than the light. Look at God’s own people to see how easily they became blind to God!

Where do you stand? Where does your family stand? Are you with the faithful remnant? Are you ever looking to the True Light of God? Are you daily dying on the altar, the altar of death to the flesh, the altar of death to sin?

Are you daily looking to the True Light by looking to His Word, by seeking His light in prayer?

On the other hand, are you so rushed at Christmas time that Satan has stolen the True Light from your life. Are you so busy and stressed that you have no time for the True Light?

The supreme work of Satan is not to get good people to do bad things, not to drag good people into the cesspool of sin, nor does he drag young men and women into moral corruption, nor does he make infidels and atheists. These are only byproducts of Satan’s supreme work! His supreme work is to blind us!

Take away the blindness, open our eyes to the True Light, and all this will be dealt with. Satan wants to keep us in the dark as to the True Light! The True Light is the most fatal thing to the kingdom of Satan. Paul put it simply:

“LEST the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should shine.”

Satan says:

‘If those people get the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, MY kingdom is gone. The battle is over for me. I am lost.’

Satan will do anything to keep us from having light.

This is why Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened. The darkness is ever around us.

Paul mentioned those who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Ephesians 4:18

You may be thinking, ‘Well, we are not in the dark. We are saved people.’

  • That is exactly what the Jews were thinking. What happened to their Temple? What happened to their Holy City?
  • That is exactly what the seven churches were saying, yet every one of their candlesticks is removed today. Today Turkey is covered with the darkness of Satan.

If we want to keep walking in the True Light, we must realize it will only come with sacrifice and conflict. Satan is opposed to the light!

Divine light is POSITIVE.

You cannot have Divine light and be neutral. If God has shined into your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,

Your life is a challenge to the kingdom of Satan, and his attitude to you will be: ‘We will get you out as soon as we can!’

You will find that Satan will stop at nothing to quench that light. You see, Jesus being the True Light of Christmas is not just a pretty story or Bible theory;

It is a menace to the kingdom of Satan.

Are you walking in the True Light of Jesus Christ? Then your very existence disturbs the kingdom of Satan.

Isaiah 60:1-2

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you.

We love seeing the Nativity scene. We use it to decorate our homes. We even set them up in our front yard. But understand this. That was no simple manger that nestled the head of baby Jesus. That manger was the altar of sacrifice, the means of our fellowship with the Light of God. It was the means of the defeat of sin and Satan. That manger meant the death of God’s only begotten Son.

1. We must constantly be on guard against the darkness entering our life.

2. Realize that Satan’s number one goal is to bring dullness and/or darkness into your life, so that the Word of God has no effect.

3. Disobedience, disregard, doubt, distraction all work to dull our eyes to the light of God’s Word.

4. The Light of God only enters our life through the altar. We must die to our desires, we must lay aside our pride, we must humble ourselves to God’s sovereign will.

5. We must desire the Light of God’s Word more than Life itself.

6. We must daily seek the Light of God’s Word! We must ask for it! We must set our heart upon it!

value-of-honorEver since the age of 12 I have been nudged to seek after God. Verses like Isaiah 55:6-9 touched my heart:

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I grew up with an awareness of a God whose thoughts were higher than my thoughts, and whose ways were higher than my ways. As I grew and became alive to God through the new birth in Jesus Christ, my desire to know this God increased. I read the Bible, not in a scholarly way, but with the illumination of my new teacher, the Holy Spirit. I read books by Watchman Nee, who had tremendous insight into the ways of God. I attended the Basic and Advanced Seminar taught by Bill Gothard. I saw tremendous insights into the ways of God from His teachings.

However, as I struggled in my early walk,  I realized that simply knowing the ways of God does not mean you are a Spiritual Christian. I had a tremendous head knowledge, but there was a huge void in my heart. After marriage, I continued to struggle in my Christian walk. I battled with enemies of pride, lust, greed, selfishness. I made many wrong choices. At one point in my life I remember thinking that I was a castaway like Paul mentioned in 1 Cor 9:27, that God had put me on the shelf and would no longer use me.

In my struggles with my walk with God, I would constantly turn to the Psalms. Here was a man (David) that I could relate to. His honesty with God encouraged me. I remember reading Psalms 25 and having my heart suddenly do somersaults.

Psalms 25:1-12 (KJV) 1 Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

I could go on for hours of how much this Psalm meant to me. Briefly, however, it meant that David struggled with his flesh and sins and enemies too. He got down, but out of the depths of despair, he held up his soul to Almighty God. He affirmed His trust in Him, and asked God to remove any shame from his life. Then he said something that I have meditated on for over twenty five years, and I still do not know the full depth of these verses, but such as I know I will try to explain.

He said “shew me your ways” or as some translations say, “make me to know your ways”. Then He said “teach me your paths.”

I had always thought David had got it backwards. I had wanted to learn the ways of God, but David said show me your ways. The Hebrew word for show means not just a head knowledge, but a knowledge gained by intimate, personal experience. David desired a personal, intimate knowledge of the way that God worked in his life. Way in the Hebrew means course, in a broad sense. It required a personal intimate relationship to know the course, the way God worked.

Then David prayed “teach me your paths”. Teach implies close attention to what is being taught. Path is the word for a literal, step by step path. David was telling God that if He would show David how God was working in every thing that was happening in his life, the rejection, the pursuit by enemies, the isolation of being on the run, then David would pay close attention to learn and see step by step the path that God was wanting Him to take.

God gave me a picture of a guy who was experiencing the hand of God in a very intimate way, and sometimes that hand left bruises, sometimes it was a gentle nudge, sometimes it was a slap on the rear, but David knew intimately what God was doing, and because he had this intimate knowledge of God’s way, he was learning which path to follow, which step to take, and it was a daily even hourly lesson.

All of a sudden I could look back at what God had done in my life, and realize that His ways were in everything that had happened. I thanked Him for His ways, I asked Him to show me what He was doing, I asked for forgiveness for my sins and failure to pay attention to what He was trying to do.

I asked Him to teach me His path, to teach me which way I was to go.

I am convinced with every fiber of my being, that if you desire first of all to know intimately the ways of God, He will show you. He will even take you through things that are painful and difficult to understand. But if you pay attention, you will know His way, and once you commit to knowing His way, then you can start learning the path He has for your life. It will be as if a giant searchlight has been turned on. You will see the steps pf God before you.

I believe that if you follow the path that God has for your life, it will be a path of Blessing. It may not be riches as the world counts blessings, but Blessing is experiencing the Presence of God. That is the True Pathway of Blessing.

It seems very rare when every aspect of our life seems blessed. Seems like there is always a struggle either in our job, our finances, our friendships, our family, our possessions. David found the Pathway of Blessing in every aspect of His Life. I believe, and based upon the life lessons God has made me to experience, that we can find the Pathway of Blessing in every situation we face. If you have never committed to knowing the ways of God, let me encourage you to do this. I must advise you that the ways of God cannot be understood until you experience them. But I will give you encouragement, if you look at the events of your life with this mindset, to know the ways of God, you will discover a Pathway of Blessing that you may never have seen before. It will be like these video games with secret passageways. When you commit to knowing the ways of God, you will have the key to seeing God’s pathway that He has only for you!

The Pathway of Blessing Leads to Rewards

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

John was a very elderly man looking back on life when he wrote this. He was writing with the benefit of a life lived walking in the truth of Jesus teachings. He had what John Bevere calls a “Grandfather Anointing”. It is when the young children listen to Grandfather because he is wise.

This last holiday God convicted me over not doing more to bring Jesus Christ into our family gatherings. We had tons of great family times with the kids and grandchildren, but other than a few prayers, I did little to bring the reality of Jesus into our gatherings. So I am going to institute the Pathway of Blessing Moment with Grandfather. I am committing to sharing with my children and grandchildren a lesson from my life and God’s Word in which God revealed His path for my life. Hopefully I can write these down and give them to my family so that when I am gone they will have an encouragement to learn the pathway that God has for their life.

From John’s “Grandfather Anointing” we learn a couple of very important things that will frame our study of the Pathway of Blessing.

1. John is speaking with a sense of urgency when he says “Watch out”

2. Don’t take this matter lightly, but look after this diligently.

3. Don’t lose your FULL REWARD!

Some of you who grow plants can understand this vividly. Imagine planting acres of corn or wheat, and then fertilizing, watching the plants grow, seeing what looks to be an abundant harvest, only to have a hail storm or tornado or something else wipe out the crop. All that work down the drain. Or perhaps you area businessman, and have built a great business, but because of a few bad decisions, or maybe right decisions but at the wrong time, you lose your business. All that work down the drain. Many recently have watched their hard earned money go down the drain because of someone elses bad decision. Most of us have experienced the loss of our labor. We know how empty and discouraged it can make us feel.

John cries out to us to watch out, so you may receive a full reward!

  • God is a Rewarder of those who Diligently Seek Him (Heb 11:6)
  • In Keeping the Word of God there is Great Reward (Psalm 19:9-11)
  • I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me (Ps 57:2 AMP)

God loves to reward His children. He loves it when we seek Him and give Him our hearts. Now if it is possible to have a full reward, then it is also possible to have no reward or a less than full reward. Next week I intend to look at Rewards and how following the pathway of Blessing determines our rewards.

Scripture repeatedly tells us to FINISH WELL:

Matthew 10:22, 24:13-Those who endure to the end will be saved,

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

Revelation 2:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—

Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

endurance-runChristian Life is not a Sprint. It is an Endurance Run.

Life-Defining Moments

In the Bible we see people making Life-Defining decisions.

Consider Rehoboam:

rehoboamIn I Kings 12, we find a new King, Rehoboam, son of Solomon faced with a dilemma. Do I lower taxes as the people are requesting, or do I do something else to establish my throne. He listened to the advice of his father’s advisors, and they said to speak good words to the people and they would follow him forever. Then he listened to the words of his young friends whom he had hung around all his life-“His Posse”. They gave him different advice. So when the people came back after three days, Rehoboam told them: “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

This resulted in the destruction of the Kingdom his father had built, and 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were permanently fragmented. One bad choice cost him dearly for the rest of his life.

Now this Life-Defining moment was not made then, it was made years earlier when young Rehoboam decided his friends and what they thought were more important that God or his dad. Rehoboam was one of these kids who rebelled against his dad and scorned what he said. When his life-defining moment came, he lacked the judgment to make the right decision.

Consider the Children of Israel

hebrew-childrenThe children of Israel were given every opportunity to develop a trust in the power of God to protect them and provide for them. They saw Him part the Red Sea, destroy the Egyptians, provide food and water, daily guidance. Yet they never developed that trust in an awesome God. Their lack of trust did not cause too many problems until there was one Life Defining Moment. God had them send in 12 men to spy out the land He was going to give them. Ten of the men came back and reported how impossible the situation looked. Two men said God could overcome any situation. The people whined and complained because they had never developed the discipline of trusting in the power of God. The result of their life-defining moment was wandering, death, and never entering into the rest of God’s Promised Land.

Consider What God Wants

what-god-wantsI went to a Bible College that believed if you obeyed the rules, you were a great Christian. But something in me said that was wrong. God showed me by sparing my life from a head-on collision with a tractor trailer rig, that it was more important to know His heart. To simply obey the rules did not bring joy to my heart. But when I obeyed because I knew His heart and what He was trying to teach me, it brought Joy. It brought meaning.

  • The young Rehoboam never caught the heart of his father Solomon, and so 10 tribes of Israel were lost.
  • The Children in the wilderness never caught the heart of Moses and so an entire generation of Israelites were lost.

If we as fathers and mothers do not learn to communicate this truth of the Pathway of God’s Blessing, we will lose an entire generation of children. We need to lead our children and grandchildren into catching the heart of God, and learning His path for our lives. As Solomon pleaded with his son Rehoboam, God also pleads with us:

Proverbs 23:26 (AMP) My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe and delight in my ways,

Early in my life I made a decision that the God of the Bible was my God and guide for my life. Whatever I struggled with I would seek to know the Power of God’s Word in order to walk in the right path.

What Disciplines are Guiding Your Life? How are you dealing with the struggles within your soul?

The Value of Honor

If we are going to see the Pathway of Blessing that God has for our live, we must learn the importance of Honor.

The Ugly Package Reveals God’s Way

john-9-blind-man-honors-jesusIn John 9 we find a man who was blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus whether this man sinned or his parents sinned to cause his blindness. Jesus said neither, but this happened so that the works of God should be revealed in him. This happened so that he might see the pathway of Blessing that God wants him to walk in. Jesus then took some dirt and spit in it. He worked the dirt and made a clay that he was able to place over the man’s eyes. Then He said, go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Now why did Jesus do heal the man this way. Remember, we prayed to be shown the ways of God. God’s way is to use ugly things to bring Him glory. Sometimes he gives us ugly packages and tells us to carry them around. In fact God wants us to rejoice in our ugly package. When we start walking then God gives us light and this ugly package reveals the path He wants us to walk in.

When the blind man honored Jesus and accepted the dirty clay, and then went and washed his eyes, they were opened and he could see the path God wanted him to take. The Blind man HONORED Jesus Christ, even before He knew him to be the Messiah. This man was holding an ugly package, blindness. He was scoffed at, spit upon, ridiculed. His parents avoided him, because blindness was considered a curse. Along comes a man of compassion. The blind man honors him by allowing him to put mud on his eyes, and then HONORS his command. As a reward, his eyes are opened and he can see. Later, Jesus reveals himself to be the Son of God. He asks the man do you believe? He says Lord I Believe!

Jesus is before each one of us this morning. He wants us to see the ugly package that we are holding. Some of us are holding more than one ugly package. Jesus says, are you willing to let me touch your ugly package and let me show you what I can do? Are you willing to believe that I am the Son of God? Are you willing to see how much Blessing can come from this ugly package? ARE YOU WILLING TO HONOR ME!

You may be struggling with your faith this morning. You may be struggling financially, You may be struggling in your marriage, in a friendship. You know what ugly package you have. It may be obvious to the world, or you may have succeeded in hiding it. But Jesus knows the distress of your soul.

He wants you to Honor Him this morning. He want you to believe that he can use the ugliness in your life to show you His Pathway of Blessing. He wants to Reward your love for Him, your obedience to Him, Hour Honoring of Him.

One more illustration to underscore the truth that Honor is the foundation of learning the Pathway of Blessing that God has for your life. If you fail to Honor Jesus Christ, you will never see the Pathway of Blessing. You will never realize your FULL REWARD!

Mark 6: Neighbors Refuse to Honor Jesus

mark-6-no-honor-no-mighty-worksIn Mark 6, we see Jesus entering into his own country, the country of his upbringing, Nazareth. The people were astonished at His claims to be the Messiah, to be the fulfillment of Prophecy. They said, “isn’t this the carpenter, the Son of Mary” Why just last week he was fixing my chair. Someone else said, mu Johnny went to school with Jesus. He used to play in our back yard. Mark 6:3 said they were offended at Him.

And then we read in verse 5: “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

Here was the Son of God, the creator of the World, and the people of Nazareth kept Him from doing any major miracles. They were restraining the Power of the Son of God! How did this happen? What were these people doing to restrain the Son of God? Jesus reveals what was restraining Him in verse 4: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives and in his own house.” The thing which prevented the Blessing of Jesus was their failure to Honor Him as the miracle working Son of God!

Honor Defined

To Show Honor is to Give Value. To Honor someone we consider them valuable, precious, just like gold or a precious jewel. Other words to describe honor are appreciation, esteem, respect. To Show Dishonor is to show no respect, to give no value. To treat it as common, ordinary or menial. We Show Honor in our actions, our words and even our thoughts. All true Honor originates in our heart.

honor-in-heartThe Pharisees had more head knowledge of God’s Word than any other people, yet they failed to see Jesus as the Messiah. He did not “fit” their image of what the Messiah would look like. They were looking with their physical senses. In Luke 17:20-21 they even asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. Listen to His reply:

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Jesus told them the key to seeing the Kingdom of God was seeing with their heart, for indeed, it is inside us. That is why they never saw Jesus as the Messiah, for their hearts were far from God, tin fact they did not honor God in their hearts.

On the other hand, Simeon honored God in his heart, and was able to recognize the baby Jesus as the Messiah. In Luke 2:25-32 we read:

“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon saw with his heart that Jesus was the Messiah. He honored God’s instruction to him, that he would see the Messiah, and he waited till God’s chosen one was revealed to him.

Do You Want to walk in the Pathway of Blessing in 2009. Do you want God to take all the ugliness in your life and turn it into a Pathway of Blessing and Life?

Do You want Jesus to do great and Mighty things in your life?discoverpathwayofblessing

You Must do Three Things:

  1. Commit your life to paying attention to God and letting Him Show you first hand His Ways, even when they are ugly and unpleasant.
  2. Honor Jesus Christ with all your heart, your mind and your body.
  3. Look for God to Teach You His Path for your life, day by day, moment by moment

Demonstrate that Honor with times of Delighting in His Word and with times of Delighting in Conversation with Him.

  • Do You Desire God’s Blessing in Your Life this Year?
  • Do You want to see the path that God wants you to take?
  • Do you want to know first hand the mighty miracle power of Jesus Christ?

You Need to take the step of Honoring Him with all your life. You need to take every ugly thing in your life and give it to Him and say thank you Jesus. I know you can take the ugliness in my life and make it beautiful. I know you can make my path straight, you can give me renewed strength and love for you.

Will You Honor Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Will You Allow Him to Work Mighty Miracles in Your Life.

Will You Commit to Honoring Him in Your Family with Your Grandchildren?

crowncenterlightsThe FYI section of the KC Star this Christmas Eve morning had an article titled “We are aglow in the Light

Lisa Gutierrez asks the question: “How could we celebrate anything without light?”

Take away the birthday candles and all you have is cake. Take away the fireworks and it’s just another steamy day in July. How could the holidays be the holidays without light? We light candles on the menorah and candles on the Advent wreath. We torch the yule log to symbolically carry light from one year to the next. Like the residents of Whoville, we gather ’round trees to admire the lights. Oooh! Aaah! Basking in the kilowatts, our faces shining and eyes sparkling, we are Cindy Lou Who-happy. Light does that to us. Artificial or natural, light chases the blues away by readjusting the chemicals in our brains, a cerebral tune-up desperately needed when winter envelops us. This seasonal shroud makes us so dang peevish, coming to work in the dark, driving home in the dark. As members of the human species, it is our nature to crave light, as do the sunflowers and the mighty oaks.

She concluded her discourse by saying: “Give me lights at Christmas, I say. And lots of them.”

Now I love Christmas lights. Sometimes I admit I get so rushed that I don’t even notice them. But the truth is that many people get so distracted by pretty Christmas Lights, that we miss the true Light of Christmas.

his-life-was-the-light-of-the-worldChristmas is the day we honor God’s Greatest Gift, the birth of the True Light of the World. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The truth is that most of mankind does not seek the True Light. Most of mankind does not pay attention to the truth of who Jesus is. John 3:19 says: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

In other words, most people choose not to follow the True Light of Christmas, because they want to go their own way and do their own thing.

Luke 2:25-35 (NIV) Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the light of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

In Luke 2: 25-35 we find a righteous old man named Simeon. Not much is known about Simeon, but from Luke we do know that he did an amazing thing: Simeon paid attention to God.

Now most people in Israel worshiped God, but very few paid attention to Him. In fact, Simeon was one of only a handful.

Today, many people in this world worship a God, but very few pay attention to Him. If you are a school teacher, you may know what I’m talking about. You may have a room full of students, but how many really pay attention to you.

Simeon paid attention to God. God spoke to Simeon and told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Now for Simeon to hear that and believe that was a big deal. But he was a big deal kind of guy.

Now most of you have finished your shopping and you found a LOT OF GREAT DEALS THIS YEAR. But I want to challenge you to pay attention to God this evening, and realize the greatest deal in the universe happened almost 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was born as a little baby boy.

simeon-paid-attention-to-godSimeon paid attention and saw the greatest deal of His life. He discovered the True Light, and that Light gave him Life!

The Light of God’s Word became real to Simeon. When he saw the baby Jesus, he knew this was the one. There wasn’t a dove, or a flash of light, or a lightning bolt. He knew because he was a man who paid attention. I am praying that this Christmas, more than any other, we would be paying attention to God. He is speaking to our country, He is speaking to the hearts of men. We need to Seek and Discover God’s True Light for this world!

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the light of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon Saw the Salvation of God

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

the-salvation-of-the-nationsSalvation wasn’t hidden, it wasn’t for a select few, but was for all peoples. Salvation is to be seen. Simeon saw the Salvation of God in the life of Jesus. Each of us can see God’s Salvation if we open our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. You don’t have to wonder or think or hope. You can see the salvation of the Lord! For God so loved you and me that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting LIFE! God gives mankind a choice. We can chose the Light of His Son to save us from our sins, or we can chose to walk in darkness. When you chose to give your life to Jesus, you have eternal Life. When you ignore the Light, you will live in eternal darkness.

Simeon Saw the Light for the Nations

the-light-of-the-nationsWhen Simeon lifted up the baby Jesus, He was holding God’s True Light for all the Nations. Jesus Christ was the revelation of God to a dark and sinful world.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself declared that He was the True Light of the World:

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Jesus is the Light for all Nations, for all mankind. Not only did He talk a Righteous game, he walked a Righteous game. Satan tried to cover Him with the darkness of sin, just as he had Adam and Eve, but Jesus defeated Satan with the Light of the Word of God. Jesus is the Word! He is the Lamp unto our feet, the Light for our paths.

Simeon Saw the Glory of Israel

the-glory-of-israelSimeon was able to see by faith that this little Baby would someday come in all His Glory as the King of the Jews. He indeed will reign upon Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

It takes a lot to pay attention to God. You need to set aside what you want to do, and look at what He is doing. You need to give God your heart. You need to see your sins and realize the stupidity of following your own way. You need to realize that this life is either about walking in God’s Light, or walking in man’s darkness. There is no in-between. It is either a life of Light though God’s Son, or a life of darkness in sin. Jesus is either in your life or He is not. You are either a child of God’s by the New Birth made possible by Jesus atonement for your sins, or you are a child of Satan’s, stained by the darkness of sin.

A couple years back there was a house near the entrance of a subdivision that kept their Christmas lights burning long after the season was past. They burned through January. Even through the first of February those outside lights burned every night. Finally, about the middle of February a concerned neighbor became a bit critical and said, “If I were too lazy to take my Christmas lights down, I think I’d at least turn them off at night.” But about the middle of March there was a sign outside of their house that explained why they’d left the lights on. It said simply, “Welcome home, Jimmy.” The family had a son in Iraq, and they had unashamedly left their Christmas lights on in anticipation of his return.

the-light-of-jesus-live-in-youLights are a symbol of hope. Christ in You is the Hope of Glory. Do you know with all assurance that when you die, you will behold the Glory of Christ? Do you know that the Light of Jesus Christ has given you eternal Life? Is that your testimony this Christmas? If not, believe in the Light while God is still giving you Light. Jesus is the Light of Revelation for our dark and sinful world.

John 12:36 (NKJV) While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”