Anticipation of Christmas 2012

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Synopsis of Anticipation of Christmas 2012

Good and joyful day today to all Christians brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made and the day to anticipate the celebration of his birth. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:

Luke 2:25-32  Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the messiah to come and rescue Israel. 26 the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s messiah. 27 that day the Spirit led him to the temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, 30 I have seen the savior 31 you have given to all people. 32 he is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Someone has said that December is the month of miracles. Others have said it is the month of misery. Think of it. We live in a peaceful nation, and yet……. so many seem to be unhappy.

We, by and large, are secured behind locked doors, linked together by fax machines, pagers, cell phones, and e-mail. Yet many people today have never felt more scared or more alone. How do we reconcile Christmas tidings of comfort and with hatreds and horror presented on TV, movies and internet? Yet we are trying to place Christmas right in the middle of all this. Christmas, the incarnation of the son of God…….no longer seems to fit as a great celebration of something so wonderfully spiritual. No wonder !!! We’ve made it into going about rushing, partying, spending, and frantic busyness that we don’t even understand….. rather than what Christmas is really all about.

But Christmas is not out of harmony…..we are! We are spiritual beings. But who focus primarily on what we can see, hear and touch . But, the faster our technology becomes, the more we need to slow down. At a time when we are just so busy, so running, so frantic, what we need to be doing is to slow down and anticipate Christmas. I didn’t say stop the Christmas holiday…… but anticipate the Christmas holy day!

In today’s slice we encounter a man who was actually anticipating Christmas. This man’s name was Simeon. He was anticipating the coming of the messiah. I do believe that this man was belonging to a sect called the Expectants.

A sect according to random house dictionary is: A body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith;  A religious denomination in today’s vernacular. There were the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes and another that escapes me at the moment – five sects that the Bible refers to and one of them was the Expectants. Those were people who were sitting in expectation of the Messiah. We can learn from this man….. the Christmas meaning of hope.

A story… in 1995 a man slipped and fell into a cavern in Yellowstone national park. Boulders fell in on top of him. He was held down for 10 days. When found rescuers asked how did he hold on for so long…. He answered: “I could always look up and see a tiny beam of light shining through the top and it gave me hope.”

And so it was with Simeon…. God had promised a Messiah. Way back then the old testament included prophecies of the incarnation and the ministry of a unique person, even one divine. Probably the one prophecy that captures this more than any other is in the book of Isaiah. Lets go to …….. Isaiah 9: 6-7 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. 7 His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord almighty will guarantee this!

In the book of Isaiah, the same book of the bible that tells us of the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary to say to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” and  “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.”

At the time that Simeon was acknowledging the promise the Lord had given him of being able to see the birth or the Messiah before his death….. it was a time of great political pressure. Do you think we’re in a time of political pressure? Let me tell you about political pressure. The Roman rule was a disgraceful thing. There was no sense of hope therefore, the Jews were looking for the Messiah. How often must he bring us to our knees before we look for our Messiah.

Expectation is what gave Simeon, ( of the sect, or denomination, called the Expectants )… hope in a bleak time and circumstance. Whatever the circumstances you may be experiencing, there is hope. How often I hear when tragedy strikes,

“I hate to see Christmas coming, because I won’t enjoy it.” It is the hope that we have, because of the Christmas child in the manger, that should be able to carry us through.  That hope, church, is the meaning of Christmas! Simeon was appropriately prepared for the first Christmas by anticipating it. He was prepared because of his……..

• action – the word says he was a just man …… and

• his attitude – it says he was devout.

What a lesson he teaches about anticipating Christmas, But, oh how we want everything free. Perhaps our government has made us this way. We figure we have it coming to us. We’ve got our rights! And we expect cheap grace from God….. without having a devout attitude….. or being just. We just want the “gimme’s”. And I’m afraid that what we have turned Christmas into is a gimme.

Church…. Christmas time is for gift giving……. because …….. it should remind us of the gift.

So…… back to Simeon. What advantage did he have to becoming devout and just?He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Sure, he was….. But how about you and me? I’m glad you asked.

Let’s look at Acts 1: 4-8 In one of these meetings as he was eating a meal with them, he told them, (here come red-lettered verses) “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what He promised. Remember, I have told you about this before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

By the way, did you notice that He says, ”you will”. He doesn’t give them an option. We want the option – “Well Bro. Dick, that’s not for me.” My friend, if Christ says it is for you, it is for you! You’re not arguing with me…. you’re arguing with your Bible.

Now, back to verse 6. When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” 7 The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know. 8 but

( And I always love this. Where He says,You can’t have what you’re asking for – but this is what I’ve got for you )

when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power (dunamis – where our word dynamite come from) and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

From this experience and what followed in the lives of these followers, we must learn that success in life is a spiritual matter. A scriptural…… not a worldly…… definition of success is: Fulfilling what a person is designed to be and do, and that can never be limited to just being successful in a career. It does not say that it cannot include career, but it is not limited to career. Oh yes, many have been successful in God’s work by passing up a career. Also, many have been successful in their career and done God’s work. We just can’t limit it as the world would have us do.

A football does not make a very successful basketball. Both are balls….. But, they don’t serve the same purpose. They…… and also we……. must be used for what we are designed. Success is a spiritual matter.

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