Being Confident Begins with a Personal Relationship

 Exodus 20:19 “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (KJV).

The people of Israel enjoyed hearing God’s message delivered from Moses but were afraid to hear from God directly. I can remember a time when I was so captured by listening to my weekly sermons that I failed to focus on my own personal time with the Lord. I have learned through the years that the most important portion of my Christian walk is to spend time with the Lord. My personal time of study and reflection has to come first. My walk must begin each day with time in His word, prayer, and study.

I believe it is important to discuss our spirituality with other Christians and share our faith as well. But if we focus too much on the external we might become like the people of Israel. There is a balance that I believe exists between our internal personal relationship and the external. Our walk of faith begins with our personal relationship with the Lord, it is the foundation that called us to salvation and it is the rock that is the solid footing of our faith. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6, KJV).

My point is simple, be careful and ensure that your daily walk with the Lord begins with him. Do not rely or place your faith entirely on the wisdom of man. While it is important to seek spiritual counsel and share our faith with others, it is crucial for us to grow in our faith by seeking Him on a personal level. If our faith is based on what others tell us, then we are bound to fall short. Of course this does not mean that we should not listen, heed, and cogitated on wise counsel. Again, my point is that we should always balance the worldly wisdom we are given with the only form of absolute truth, which is found in His word.

Here are a few verses that reminded me of what Moses witnessed with his people. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, KJV); As much as we would all like to trust people with great spiritual wisdom, we must always remember that we live in a fallen and sin filled world. Satan wants nothing more than for us to stop reading our Bibles, praying and speaking directly to the Lord. That way he can use others to implant his deceptive plans into our hearts. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2Tim. 3:13, KJV).

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 “18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a food, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” (KJV).

Most of the time we fall short of the mark because we just decided to aim low and miss the target, we aim without taking into account the truth, such as the wind or distance. Sometimes we miss the mark because we haven’t searched the Scriptures to see what the Lord has declared about such concerns, or we may simply be too busy and seek the counsel of others, while this may provide us the right answers to those specific areas we face at times. We still need to take the time to balance any worldly wisdom with what the Bible has to say.

I have had the privilege of sitting under some great pastors and they constantly remind us to perform a checks and balances of what they are preaching with the Word of God. They are humble enough to admit that they could have made an error or a statement did not come out right; meaning the sermon could have been taken out of context. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV).

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17, KJV).

I know this is a long posting and my prayer is that someone can relate to what I am trying share. Not only did the Lord lay this in my heart today for my own personal reminder, but I have a feeling that someone out there needs this reminder as well. Maybe you are dealing with a difficult situation where the amount of influence and outside wisdom has you feeling overwhelmed. I pray that the truth the Lord has laid on my heart will help you find peace.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Graphic Image: Retrieved from: https://writingsofsheila.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/help-me-to-understand.jpg?w=640

Proactive Leadership

 Joshua 2:1-3 “1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:” (KJV).

Joshua sends out spies to gain information about the city of Jericho. He sends two men, who upon entering the city stayed at a harlot’s house. The woman Rahab allows the Hebrew men a place to stay. But news travels fast, even in those days. The King wants to know who these men are that have come into his city to gather intelligence. When Rehab is questioned, she lies in order to protect the men.

While much has been written about the story of Rahab, I want to continue my focus on the leadership skills of Joshua. Notice that Joshua sent spies in order to gather strategic information concerning the city. We know that Joshua has already been promised victory over the city, so why did he need to spy out the land of Jericho? Joshua 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that Have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (KJV).

Joshua was being proactive in his leadership. Sending out spies to gather specific information about the city would provide the details needed to carry out the best possible attack. He was also being responsible with the Lord’s blessings and promises. “Joshua’s faith was manifested by an active, persevering use of means; and accordingly Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise, adopted every precaution which a skillful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful” (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, (1961). James 2:22 “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect” (KJV).

Leadership requires a continuous and proactive response. When we lead others, we need to be ready for anything. Working and leading a ministry requires us to ready for the next step or stage. The Lord may be waiting for us to be proactive before he will allow us the blessings of growth. Joshua had prepared for his new leadership responsibilities for years and once he was given the charge over Israel, he continued to prepare for what the Lord set before him.

There may be times when you are ready to take a break and put your ministry in neutral. Everything may be going well and you are in a stage of great blessings and growth, but this should be the time when we recharge and continue to move forward. Be proactive and ready for the next stage of growth. This applies to leadership as well as our own personal relationship with the Lord.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

 

Reference

Fausset, A., Jamieson, R., & Brown, D. (1961). Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s commentary on the whole Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House.

Image. Retrieved from: http://www.theleadershipcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/what-every-leader-wants-proactive-team.jpg

Step Out!!!

 Joshua 1:3-6 “3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV).

Joshua has willingly stepped up and officially takes on the leadership role of the nation of Israel. It is important to notice that Joshua took on his new role before he was given the official brevet command and commission over Israel. While training under Moses, Joshua was fulfilling the role of a spiritual advisor to Moses 1. But that is not the only position he was filling at that time, Joshua was being groomed as a high level military leader and warrior 2.

We see in these verses that God assigns Joshua three important tasks: lead Israel into the promise land, conquer and defeat the enemy, and control the distribution of the claimed inheritance.

Each of these three tasks was followed by three special promises, one for each of the tasks. The first promise was the ability to cross the river and reach the new territory. The second promise was the ability to conquer the enemy. And the third promise was to divide the newly gained inheritance to each tribe.

I want to focus on the final verse of today’s lesson. Verse 6 “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV). I’m afraid that we often fail to step out in faith because we desire to know the details before we make any moves. Meaning, we want the complete detailed plans and instructions first, and to put it plainly, we want all the answers to any “what if…” questions. But that is not how faith works; His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not ours 3.

This is a lesson that may be difficult to learn. But the message for us today is clear; God has given us, all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus 4. In order to obtain those spiritual blessings we must step up in our faith, the process begins when we are moved internally by the Touch of our Master. And this is exactly what Joshua did, and as I explained in my previous post “Step Up”, Joshua was stepping up years prior to this new leadership role. He was prepared to answer the call at a moments notice.

Stepping up in our faith is the beginning phase, being ready and prepared for whatever the lord has planned for us. The next step is for us to step out in faith. Now we have to put on our shoes and start walking. We may not know where, how far, or how long our walk will be, but stepping out in faith is the only way we can claim them. The Lord has set before us a series of doors and there will be one door that He will open when the time is right.

I picture a long walking trail that winds through the mountains of life. I can see thousands of doors and each one is locked shut. Personally I have been walking the “Faith Path” since March, praying every day for the Lord to open a door for me. During my walk I have gone through many frustrating days; as much as I know that the Lord will open that door when he is ready, there will be days when I get tired from walking, days when my shoes become worn out, my feet become blistered, but I continued walking. The Lord opened that door last month and the blessings on the other side were more than I could have imagined. Wiersbe (2010) said it best “He has set before His church an open door that nobody can close 6” and we as Christians must walk the path until we reach that unlocked open door. Then we need to walk through the open door by faith in order to claim the blessings. Just like Joshua did when he took the church on a “Faith Path” journey through the river and defeated the enemy, so they could claim the new territory.

I pray we will all move forward in our walk with the Lord, maturing as believers and being faithful servants so we can move into new territory and claim what He has promised for us. The Lord’s will is for us to continue growing and stepping out in faith 7. If we are not growing and moving forward, then we are moving backwards…

Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

1 Exodus 24:13 “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God” (KJV).

2 Exodus 17:10) “So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill” (KJV)

3 Isaiah 55:8-9 “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” (KJV).

4 Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (KJV).

5 Revelation 3:8 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (KJV).

6 Wiersbe, W. (2010). Be strong putting God’s power to work in your life: OT commentary, Joshua (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

7 Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (KJV).

Graphic Retrieved from: http://naomidemmon.theworldrace.org/blogphotos/theworldrace/naomidemmon/trust
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Step Up!

 Joshua 1:1-2 “1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (KJV).

The death of Moses must have been difficult for the nation of Israel. Moses led the nation for years and through many trials. As the nation wandered in the wilderness, it was the great leadership of Moses that helped guide and provide for them, through the Lord’s direction.

As we begin the New Year, maybe we should be watchful of new opportunities and challenges. Much like the changing of leadership that Israel is about to witness under Joshua.

Joshua had spent years training and the Lord instructed Moses to prepare this young man for such a moment as this. Maybe you have been sitting under a great leader who has been training you for years. And maybe this will be the year that you begin to take on new challenges. This may be the year that the Lord has been grooming you for.

A great leader is someone who lifts you up in times of trouble; they encourage teamwork, excellence, growth, and unity. Like all great leaders, there will come a time when the torch needs to be passed down. If you have been filling a leadership role for years, ask yourself “have I been training someone to fill my shoes”? All too often, I have seen great ministries come to a halt because the leader moved on or was called to a new ministry.

I believe it is important for a leader to train younger generations, preparing and grooming them to take over. Just as important is the willingness to be “trained”, this responsibility does not rest on the leader alone. Those who serve should be ready to take over a ministry in a moment’s notice. Moses listened to the wisdom of the Lord; trained a younger generation. At the same time, Joshua was willing and ready to be trained. “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses” (Deut. 34:9, KJV).

Remember that all ministry work is to bring honor and glory to the Lord. Leadership is not about being selfish or power-hungry; it is about leading others, for the honor and glory of the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (KJV). It’s not about me; it is all about Christ…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Out With The Old…In With The New!!!

 Psalms 51:10-12 “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (KJV).

As we journey through the last few days of 2014; we look forward to beginning a new year, many of us will consider making some resolutions. Personally, I don’t like to make New Year resolutions, but I do like to look back over the past year and reflect on my accomplishments and failures. This is a wonderful time for personal reflection; a time to examine our spiritual walk with the Lord. Before I discuss these verses let’s take a moment to ask ourselves some questions.

During this past year…

  1. How was my spiritual walk?
  2. How much time did I spend in prayer?
  3. Did I spend enough time reading my Bible?
  4. How many Bible studies did I complete?
  5. What ministries did I support? (Financially, prayerfully, physically, etc.)

These are just a few simple examples to help us reflect spiritually. These are not meant to be an exhaustive list but merely challenge us to think deeply and spiritually about our New Year resolutions. The most common resolutions include: weight loss, healthier eating habits, removal of bad habits, money (saving and debt reduction), etc. All of which are excellent resolutions that will help each one of us; but what about our spiritual resolutions?

David begins with “Create in me…” which is the most important ingredient for spiritual change. Create begins the process by cutting down and clearing out what has been standing in our way. It is like clearing out a forest in order to pour the foundation of your home. Once the trees have been removed the cleaning continues with the removal of the stumps and roots.

As we establish our new resolutions, it is critical to ensure our minds and hearts are cleaned, old things are passed away, removed, and forgotten. We now have the ability to fill our minds with a clean spirit and a new heart. As we enter into a new year, I pray we will all focus on creating a new spirit and a clean heart that allows us to grow closer to the Lord.

There are two things that stood out in these verses; the first is our ability to create a new habit that will focus on the Lord. The second is to restore what we have been doing for the Lord, allowing us to enhance and improve them. We can always improve our walk, relationship, and love for the Lord. As a Christian we never stop growing in the Lord, but just as it is important for us to eat healthy, we must eat a healthy spiritual diet as well.

Zabriskie (2014) encourages us to establish a resolution of reading through the Bible in 2015. The article listed 20 reasons and benefits that can be achieved from reading through the entire Bible in a year. It also discussed how quickly most of us fail at completing the common resolutions.

One key to remember when establishing any resolution is your ability and desire. We often fail because we do not allow enough time to perform the new task of change. For example, if you desire to read through the Bible in a year, make sure you set aside plenty of time each day to accomplish your reading. You must also take into account those events that will “pop-up” and keep you from completing your daily reading. This is an area that needs to be accounted for. Either establish an alternate time during your day or ensure you have the time to catch up on your reading. I like to set aside a couple of hours each day, this gives me plenty of time for reading and studying. When something comes up, then I have plenty of time set aside to make up any reading or additional research that I may need to accomplish.

Establishing my daily quiet time with the Lord and His word has not been an easy task for me, but I have to admit, it has been the greatest blessing. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, reading my Bible has allowed me to slow down and listen to what He has planned for me. It has also provided me a great opportunity to stare into the mirror of my life, showing me those areas that need some attention, cleaning, and redirection. I encourage everyone to do what they can to ensure they have set aside some “quiet time” with the Lord daily. The Bible is the only book that has the ability to continuously strengthen us on so many levels. Reading His word will allow us to grow and strengthen our personal life, marriage, parenting, family, work, and church life and fellowship. The Bible will never be outdated and we can never learn too much from it.

I pray the Lord will bless everyone who reads this post and help them grow closer to You. May the Lord speak clearly and strengthen you daily. May He lift you up when you are down and allow you to be His light to those around you. May His wisdom fill you each and every day. God bless you for taking the time out of your day to read my posts. It is an honor and privilege for me to have the freedom and ability to share what the Lord places on my heart.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Zabriskie, M. (2014). Resolved: read the Bible in 2015. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/12/26/resolved-read-bible-in-2015/

Aside

Conflict Resolution

 Acts 15:1-9 “1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (KJV).

After returning from their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch. The church has accepted the new doctrine of witnessing to the Gentiles, which Peter played a major role in with the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10). As Paul and Barnabas fellowship and disciple the church members at Antioch, they run into some problems. They discovered that some of the religious believers from Jerusalem had made their way to Antioch.

The problem had to do with adding stipulations to the gospel message. The new believers were being told that they needed to follow the Old Testament law of circumcision. This was completely contrary to what Paul and Barnabas had preached to them. Salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, KJV).

The conflict was so important that Paul and Barnabas could not convince these legalistic believers what they were preaching was wrong. They had to form a debate team and journey to the original head church in Jerusalem (v.2).

As the made their way to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas continued witnessing and preaching the gospel message. Once they arrived in Jerusalem and began discussing this issue of salvation, it was obvious that some of the leaders still believed that keeping the Mosaic Law was a requirement to salvation. This was not a one-time meeting. Most commentaries agree that the debate was discussed during 4 separate occasions. The final outcome was an agreement that salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. They documented the agreement and sent witnesses back to Antioch in order sign, seal, and deliver the news.

There are a few important issues that I would like to discuss from these verses. Conflict in the church is nothing new and should not surprise us. The key to any type of conflict is the goal of resolution. Resolving conflict takes time; we must be willing to listen carefully and take the time necessary to handle it. When Paul and Barnabas could not find resolution at Antioch, they took the conflict to the next level. The focus was not placed on who was right or who was wrong; the focus was on 100% resolution. If there was no resolution to the doctrine of salvation; the church could not move forward. The division in doctrine would have caused the church to decay from the inside out.

Have you ever seen a church split over silly arguments? I have heard of a church dividing because they could not agree on the color of the new carpet they wanted to purchase. How does such a silly argument promote the gospel message to the un-saved? Why would anyone visit a church that can’t even agree on the color of a carpet?

The other issue to discuss is the legalistic view; which is considered the darker side of Christianity. When Christians add to the gospel, it creates a salvation message that is impossible to achieve. Let me explain: If I create a rule to the salvation message, I point sinners back to the Ten Commandments (Law). But that is not what God’s law is designed to do. The law is impossible to keep; therefore it is designed to point sinners to Christ. Not the other way around.

Galatians 3:21-25 “21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Her Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:36-38 “36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (KJV).

Luke writes and describes an amazing woman named Anna in 3 little verses. But Luke’s detailed method of writing allows us to learn so much about her. Yesterday I discussed the remarkable faith of the man Simeon and today we will look at Anna’s only Christmas present.

From the text we can deduce a few outstanding qualities of this woman. First, she is described as a prophetess. A prophetess is defined as a female who possesses the ability to see and describe future spiritual events, and this is done by an inspired woman (Strong, 1984). “As a prophetess, Anna receives insight into things that normally remain hidden to ordinary people; she recognizes who this child is and tells of his significance to selected people in Jerusalem” (Branch, 2013). Her actions affirm Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.”

She was a very spiritual woman who had a great family origin, “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asser”. “But she had much more than age and ancestry; she had a deep faith and a resilient piety: she did not depart from the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day” (Arias, 1984).

She would have been married at the age of 14 or 15; which lasted only 7 years before the passing of her husband. From the text we can place her at the age of at least 85; some commentaries place her age at 114-115 years old. The point to focus on is her long dedicated life and service to the temple.

She fasted and prayed regularly and this would indicate the she was probably thin. Her ability to move about the temple in order to minister to others shows us that she was able to move around and her vision was still acceptable (v.38). This is an amazing ability for a woman her age. After the death of her husband, Anna devoted her entire life to working night and day in the temple.

Notice in the latter part of verse 38 “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. She was still excited to be a witness of the truth and her long years of dedicated service at the temple was a testimony of her faith. After spending 80 plus years serving in the temple, Anna was still on fire for the Lord. God truly blessed her for her dedicated service by providing her with the one greatest Christmas gift she could have asked for…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

Arias, M. B. (1984). Simeon and Anna sodalities : a challenge to churches in transition. Missiology, 12(1), 97-101.

Branch, R. G. (2013). Anna in the Bible: Luke reveals the prophetess as a Biblical model for aging. Bible History Daily, Bible Archaeology. Retrieved from http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible

Strong, J., & Strong, J. (1984). The New Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible: With main concordance, appendix to the main concordance, key verse comparison chart, dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, dictionary of the Greek Testament. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

His Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:25-35 “25 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. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 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, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (KJV).

Every year since salvation I have made a habit of reading through Luke 2 during the Christmas month. I also read this chapter Christmas morning. I believe this is a great way to be reminded of why we celebrate Christmas. While reading the chapter today, I was focused on the word “just” and how it is used to describe Simeon. I embarked on a quick word study; looking for other uses of the word “just”. Here are a few verses:

  1. Jesus spoke the same word in Matthew 13:49 “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” (KJV).
  2. Pilate used this word to describe Christ in Matthew 27:24 “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (KJV).
  3. Herod used this word to describe John the Baptist in Mark 6:20 “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (KJV).

Simeon was a man who lived by faith. A religious man, but he was different from the other religious Jews. Simeon was a prophetic man who was awaiting the coming Messiah. There was obviously something special about Simeon’s faith. I can only speculate, but I believe he was a religious leader who dug deep into the Old Testament writings. He dug so deep that he realized the true meaning of Christmas. 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” (KJV).

I can remember how exciting it was counting down until Christmas morning. The excitement would begin a few weeks prior to the big day of opening new toys. But Simeon spent years waiting for this very day; a day he only knew by faith. We know that Christmas will come each year on December 25th and we have time to prepare for the festivities.

Notice in verse 26 “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”. As Simeon held the Lord in his arms, he blessed Him and then asked to depart in peace. All Simeon wanted for his one and only Christmas was to see the Lord. We can learn so much from this man’s faith; may we all be reminded to walk the same just and devout life as Simeon and stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

One More Day

 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (KJV).

In keeping with the theme about past mistakes and dwelling in history, I think these verses are worthy of another post. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. Notice how Paul addresses his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, calling for their immediate attention. His desire for the church is heartfelt and passionate. He is saying “Please don’t ignore the past mistakes of your forefathers, learn from them”. His focus was on the blessings they had received and yet, they were overthrown in the wilderness. Paul gives us an important reminder that our need for Christ should not be measured or weighted through our circumstances.

I’m afraid that many un-saved people today have the same ignorance that Paul speaks about. They believe that salvation only applies to those who are poor, drug addicted, or suffer through an habitual cycle of “bad things” in life. Paul reminds me that salvation is for everyone. Romans 3:22-23 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. People may put on a persona and make it look like they are doing wonderful, but deep down they are hurting. Regardless, keep on sharing the gospel. Plant the seeds and let the Lord provide the Light and Water. My point is not to judge how others view salvation, but to address the need for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, we are reminded that the blessed days of our walk with the Lord are just as important as the darker ones. Whether we are on the mountain top or sitting in a valley, our faith needs to remain constant. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV). Good days or bad days, it just doesn’t matter…They are all worthy of giving thanks, to the One who has blessed us with…one more day!

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Teachable Moments

  Zechariah 1:2-6 “1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us” (KJV).

The prophet Zechariah is delivering the Lord’s message and begins with a call to repentance. Not only is this a wonderful reminder of our need of repentance today, but the Lord’s call gives us a beautiful answer to the question “why”. The Lord was not pleased with the way the previous generation responded to His word. How could His people not learn from the mistakes made by the previous generations? Easy, we all possess some of the character traits of our parents and grandparents. This leads right into an easy application for us today. As parents, we must be careful about how we live in front of our children. It is important for our children to be part of a local church, they need to attend, and they need to be involved with the ministries.

Have you ever watched those infomercials where they always end their elaborate sales pitch with “But wait, there more”, then they attempt to offer you some additional product either for free or half price. As the Lord reminds his people, he gives them a beautiful call to repentance and there’s more, don’t be like your forefathers. Learn from the mistakes they made.

This leads me back to parenting. Parents have the ability to undo some of the poor examples they have set before their children. Meaning that the time is now, not only is it important to change your ways that are not in accordance with His word, but you have the obligation to teach your children why. Sometimes a parent will make better choices in life, but never take the time to explain the “why” to their children. These teachable moments are important, they may be the link of wisdom that will help them grow into adults who know the right things to do, but they will also know why they should do them.

Teaching a child by telling them what to do and not do, is only one method of teaching, and it is the simplest form of teaching a child. But adding the “why” allows the child to experience a deeper level of learning. But wait…there’s more, a parent needs to share those moments when they turned from doing something wrong and turned towards the Lord. Those moments will take a child’s learning to a Christ-like level. Be humble and teach your children the right way, through the examples written on the pages of your life.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV).

Malachi 4:5-6 “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (KJV).

Matthew 18:3, Jesus speaking, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher