Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Intersection of Life and Faith

<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Dec. 30, 2006

  • 2006 Dec 30
  • COMMENTS


Simeon & Anna--Single Hearted Devotion
Luke 2.22-38

 

Dedication acknowledges that children are a gift from God.  

This morning we turn again to the story of Christ's birth which is the record that God gave to us of Christmas. Each element of Christ's birth is rich in truth that God wanted us to know. This morning is one of the richest paragraphs in all the New Testament chapters devoted to Christ's Coming. 

Unless we are the one in a hundred million who die by being struck by a meteorite, or the one in a million that die from a fall off a bus, or the one in a hundred thousand that are run over by a taxicab—most of us will probably grow old and die at 79.4 years of age. 

So this Christmas, as life speeds by—how do we grow old in such a way to end well and finish life awaiting Christ's well done good and faithful servant? Since many of us will end our pilgrimage alone with our partner preceding us, how will we finish well old and alone for some of those years? 

As with all crucial questions in life, God's Word has the answer, and not just an answer but a living example of all these things—how to grow old, how to finish well, how to do so as a single, and how to do so as one who has lost their life partner. 

This morning there are two elderly saints dominated by the consequences of wonderful choices that they made. They are remarkable models for us to follow as each of us ponders what the Lord has offered us this Christmas season. Please join me in Luke 2.22 for their biography. 

The first Christmas gives us one of the clearest challenges that every one of us who know and love Jesus need to hear. This challenge comes from the lives of Simeon and Anna.  The message—a life walking in the Spirit to the end that receives Christ's well done good and faithful servants

Simeon and Anna model what it means to make choices to walk in the power of God's Spirit

Walking in the Spirit insured for Simeon & Anna--a life that mattered, that counted, that pleased Jesus. A Spirit filled life that gets Christ's well done, and that pleases God is a CHOICE. It is a chosen path. What pathway are you choosing to live? 

This morning if Christ's coming, or an accident He allows or a disaster He chooses doesn’t intervene -- each of us in this room will live to be nearly 80 years old. Some of us here may have exceeded that length of days, but for the vast majority, there are many years of days left for us. What choices are you making today by walking in the Spirit--to be Christ's well done good and faithful servants? 

As you turn to Luke 2:22-40, let me tell you some of the elements we will see from the life of Simeon. 

  • Simeon was Spirit Filled: Luke 2:25 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. Do you really know about the Holy Spirit?  
  • Simeon was Spirit Illumined: Luke 2:26  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.  
  • Simeon was Spirit Led: Luke 2:27 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,  
  • Simeon was Spirit Satisfied: Luke 2:28-29 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word”;   

The word depart in the Greek has several meanings, and each of them tells us something about the death of a Christian. It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent (see 2 Cor. 5:1-8), and to unyoke a beast of burden (see Matt. 11:28–30).  

God’s people are not afraid of death because it only frees us from the burdens of this life and leads into the blessings of the next life.[1]   

  • Simeon was Spirit Sealed: Luke 2:30-32 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”   

Please stand with me as we read these sacred verses and then pray. Luke 2:22-40.  

Before we go back to the beginning of this passage and examine the life of Simeon, stop and ponder what we just read about Anna.  

The message of the Christmas story is that God can be with us “Emmanuel” where ever we are. Think of the rich truths we can mine from these few short verses. First look at Anna. She was a widow, she was alone, and she had no place to go. That is what it says. She was limited to the 40 acres of the Temple courts. But what kind of life did she lead?

1.    She was old but not hopeless.  v. 36 Anna was either 84 or 104 years old, either way you do the math of Luke’s account you come up with someone who resources of time, health, strength, and future plans should be all used up. But not Anna. The secret of her strength was in how she viewed God. He was neither distant to her nor detached. If that was what the years had done to her she would have become dulled and lifeless. No to this saintly woman God was near to her and at work in her life. The presence of God brings life and hope to even those who by every other measure should be hopeless. Anna lived and walked in hope and saw God’s Hand all about her life.

2.    She knew pain but not bitterness. v. 37a Losing her support and fellowship in a husband was painful, but she did not become embittered. Sorrow can either soften our lives and make us compassionate and kind—or we can allow pain and sorrow to harden us into harsh and bitter people. Which way are you allowing your pains and troubles to shape your life?

3.    She knew limits but not uselessness. v. 37b Anna couldn’t get out anymore, she couldn’t travel, shop, visit and get away—she was limited physically but unlimited spiritually. Notice that she never left the Temple. That means that she had a world that was only a portion of 40 acres big. But her life was all about what she could do not what she couldn’t do. She could excel in worship, she could offer her adoration to Him at any time and that is about all we ever get to know about her from God's Word.

4.    She knew loneliness but not emptiness. v. 38 Do you see what her prayers had done? She was alone from every perspective but God’s. He was in touch with her constantly. And as they talked her guided her around to be involved in what mattered to Him. 

So an elderly, widowed woman who had no where to go, no one to share her life with, no security by normal standards--greets us with a life as fragrant as Heaven. How? She chose by the Spirit of God to say no to hopelessness, bitterness, uselessness, and emptiness. She said yes to self-denial, she said yes to prayer, and she said yes to worship. What a life, what a testimony, and what a model. May the daughters of Anna increase greatly!  

Now look at the rest of the elements of the life of Anna. She lives out the Scriptural pattern for ending life pleasing to God.   

  • Anna was Staying faithful and fruitful to the end of her life (Luke 2.36a). Anna had grown old but kept on serving the Lord, as she “worshiped Him by prayer and fasting”.
  • Anna was Willing to be what God wanted her to be (Luke 2.36b) -- even if its not much by others estimation! She was a nobody except to God.
  • Anna was Avoiding/Resisting the crippling attitudes of despair, disillusionment and bitterness (Luke 2.37a). Anna had known pain, but kept on trusting the Lord as a “widow”.
  • Anna was Giving what she had  (Luke 2.37b) – time to pray and fast.
  • Anna was Praising the Lord immediately  (Luke 2.38b) -- when she saw an answer to her prayers.
  • Anna was Willing to share with others (Luke 2.38b) -- what God was doing in her life. 

Now to the second life the Holy Spirit points out to us. What rich spiritual lessons we find in the life of Simeon.

Simeon was Spirit Filled: Luke 2:25 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. Do you really know about the Holy Spirit? The key chapters in the Bible to understand are—Galatians 5, Ephesians 5, Romans 8, and John 14-15. But more than anything else, the Spirit of God can totally alter the way you live, God's Spirit can change us into brand new people! Look again at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

Fullness of the Spirit is first described as a change in our Personal Relationship with God. The Scriptures show us that a truly spiritual person will be growing in a visible way in each of these areas.

1.  LOVE is the absence of selfishness. Can others trace my progress in expressing God’s love? Am I less selfish and self-seeking than I was last month?

2.  JOY is the spiritual quality that releases us from circumstances. Because Love and self-centeredness can not coexist. Do those that know me and watch my life see me as a joyful person?

3.  PEACE is the internal serenity that only God can give. Troubles are not absent. Rather, God is present!  Has peace become more and more a way of life for you this year?  

Secondly, we will see the Fruit of the Spirit in our Public Walk with Others.   

4.  PATIENCE is the absence of personal irritation at the actions of others. Ask yourself; am I more patient than I was three months ago? Or less? If we are not increasing in patience it is only that we are not yielding and submitting to the Holy Spirit. 

5.  KINDNESS is a beautiful reflection of God in our lives. It is the absence of an abrasive manner in my dealings with people. Kindness will soften any word or act that might hurt another. Is my character showing an increasing tendency toward personal kindness in my way with others?

6.  GOODNESS is being Godlike! It is the opposite of fallen humanity. Am I a visibly better person than last year? Do people see me doing good to all those around me?  

Finally, we will see the Fruit of the Spirit in our Private Life with our Self.   

7.  FAITHFULNESS is the idea here. A trustworthy and dependable life. The kind of person that keeps their own life in order so that you can count on them. Am I making strides in reliability and dependability?

8.  MEEKNESS is the opposite of asserting ourselves. What shape is my personal agenda in? Is it intact and my rights being defended? Or, is it in hopeless shape, crucified with Christ and fading?

9.  DISCIPLINE is the mastery of the appetites and passions, especially the sensual ones. The only force that can control or flesh is the Holy Spirit. Do others see me as graciously under the control of God’s Spirit of Discipline?   

Well, are they present? Are they growing? The proof is in how we are with our relationships 

  • Simeon was Spirit Illumined: Luke 2:26  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.  
  • Simeon was Spirit Led: Luke 2:27 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,  
  • Simeon was Spirit Satisfied: Luke 2:28-29 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word”;   

The word depart in the Greek has several meanings, and each of them tells us something about the death of a Christian. It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent (see 2 Cor. 5:1–8), and to unyoke a beast of burden (see Matt. 11:28–30).  

God’s people are not afraid of death because walking in the Spirit not only frees us from the burdens of this life, but also leads into the blessings of the next life.[2]   

How does God do this in our lives? The key is found in Philippians 2. In this verse is a very special Greek word to describe the ministry God’s Spirit wants to have in our lives. That word is epichoregos   

In the ancient world, the world of the Parthenon, Aereopagus, the Acropolis, Coliseum, vast amphitheaters, hippodromes, and agoras… As chariots rattled and horses snorted and pawed at the cobble stone Roman roads... Gladiators, athletes and Roman legionaries robed in purple, scarlet and white… Sun glinted from swords, shields, helmets and the gold of temples and shrines… Helmets and the gold of temples and shrines… The glories of Greece and Rome

Look at Philippians 1:19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, NKJV 

To meet an actual person known in every city-a rich and very generous benefactor who supplied and directed the music festival each year.  He was called the epichoregos.  English chorus comes from this word. 

This man -

  • Obtained the amphitheater.
  • Searched out the music.
  • Hired the musicians.
  • Engaged instruments
  • Invited the town.
  • Supplied the food, drink and money to make this weeklong event possible.
  • He then led the entire concert and show. 

The Epichoregos of the New Testament is the Holy Spirit.

 HE SUPPLIES ALL WE NEED

It is the Holy Spirit that chorus all into our lives  -

        Directs, Provides, Pays, Enlists, Obtains, Searches out, Supplies, Leads Us 

The reason Simeon was satisfied with life, ready for death, and peaceful through each day he had to live was—he had found the supply of the Spirit of God. 

Simeon’s words declare—

“how completely a believer can be delivered from the fear of death. “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace” (verse 29). Simeon speaks like a person for whom the grave has lost its terrors and the world its charms. He speaks as one who knows where he is going when he departs this life and cares not how soon he goes. What delivers us from that fear of death which enslaves so many people? There is only one answer to this question. Nothing except strong faith can do it. Faith laying firm hold on an unseen Savior—faith resting on the promises of an unseen God. Faith, and faith only, can enable a man to look death in the face and say, “I depart in peace.”[3] 

Simeon was Spirit Sealed: Luke 2:30-32 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”   

When we were saved the Holy Spirit enters our lives and transforms us. Note the practical applications of this truth to our lives that God's Word has given us.

1.    The Holy Spirit Sealing Us Authenticates and certifies that we belong to God. Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, (KJV)

2.    The Holy Spirit Secures us. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. NKJV

These verses say that the Holy Spirit has signed, sealed and delivered us for God. The Holy Spirit is also given to us as a pledge. God delivered us our engagement ring. This is the security of divine protection. We are delivered God’s engagement ring. It is a pledge that there is even more to come.  

3.    The Holy Spirit supplies us TO BE EPISTLES OF CHRIST. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:3 clearly [you are] an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, [that is,] of the heart. (NKJV)  

Do you see the plan? We are the love letters of God. Written in our lives, signed and sealed by the Spirit, delivered as a down payment to empower us to go out and be read by the world! So testifying of Christ is not an option. It is the very reason for which we have been made. Each of us have become His book, written by Christ, published or circulated by the Holy Spirit into the world, taking God’s love to sinful mankind. We are bound not in full grain leather, but in a human life. Are you carrying the priceless message of Christ into the world? Does your lifestyle advertise your true contents? Does your dress, deportment, modesty, conduct and language support your message or confuse it? Is the Holy Spirit writing on your life fresh messages from His Word? Is the Eternal truth coming through? How sacred is our calling.

4.    The Holy Spirit supplies us to be SNAPSHOTS OF CHRIST! 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NJKV)  

The Holy Spirit wants the image of Jesus to be a full color photo in our lives. We are not just His epistles, or letters. We are full color, living Photos. We are movies, videos of Jesus. They want proof that He is real and alive? HE LIVES WITHIN MY HEART! Unveiled like the camera lens to get a clear exposure. Let’s lay aside the world, our flesh, our bad habits, our wrong desires, our mixed up priorities, our personal grievances, our petty strife, our bitterness. All must be rid of to be a clear photograph. Signed, Sealed and Delivered Epistles. Illustrating Christ to a dark and hopeless World. That is what the Holy Spirit wants to do with you. Are you willing? 

So Simeon departs from the pages of God's Word -- Finishing Life Fruitfully for Jesus

Part Three: The Early Years of Jesus Christ 

  • Circumstances of Jesus’ birth explained to Joseph Matthew 1:18–25 
  • Birth of Jesus Luke 2:1–7 
  • Witness of the shepherds Luke 2:8–20 
  • Circumcision of Jesus Luke 2:21 
  • Jesus presented in the temple 2:22–38 
  • Return to Nazareth Luke 2:39 
  • Visit of the Magi Matthew 2:1–12 
  • Flight into Egypt Matthew 2:13–18 
  • New home in Nazareth Matthew 2:19–23 
  • Growth and early life of Jesus Luke 2:40 
  • Jesus’ first Passover in Jerusalem Luke 2:41–50 
  • Jesus’ adolescence and early manhood Luke 2:51–52 

Let me ask you – are you right now praying for the seven fold cycle of God’s plan for the church and His saints?  Are you?  What is it? 

  • Lost converted                       
  • Become disciples
  • Profess Christ in Baptism        
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Victorious Living                     
  • Spirit Powered Worship
  • Humble Dedicated Committed Service       

Well, are you praying for the lost, baptisms, growth, fruit, worship, service?  If not, let’s start! 


[1]Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.

[3]Ryle, J. C., Luke: The Crossway Classic Commentaries, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books) 1998, c1997.

 

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

Archives

Follow Crosswalk.com