Manna for Today

 

Hope is Born

A Life of Faithful Expectation (Luke 2:36-40)

Hope is Born

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.  (Luke 2:36-40)

Learn it:

            While Mary and Joseph are still in the temple another person comes up to them.  This time it is a woman whose name is Anna.  She too was expecting to find the Messiah as Simeon was.  We see that she was a widow who spent a lot of time in the temple praying and fasting.  Luke is sharing with us two strong witnesses who say that this baby is the Messiah.  He is even giving us one male and female, trying to be diverse in his witnesses.  He is building a strong case of who this baby really is.  The redeemer of the world. 

            We then read that Joseph and Mary are faithful obedient people to the Law and they head back home.  Where Jesus grows, just like any other child, but he also becomes strong, wise, and graceful.  If we compare this description to that of John the Baptist, who grew and became strong in the spirit, we see that Jesus was greater that John the Baptist.  This is expected but it shows us Luke’s intentionality as he is showing the Jesus is better in every way.                        

Live it:

            Anna lived a life of faithfully obeying the Law and living a life fully committed to the Lord.  I know not all of us can spend all of our time at church praying and fasting.  But we can spend time growing deeper in our faith by reading the Scripture and praying.  We can also grow closer to God by spending out time glorifying God.  We can do that in how we work and how we use our free time.  Everything we do can glorify God. 

 

            We also need to live a life with expectation.  Anna was expecting God to send a Messiah to save his people.  We are expecting God to return for his second coming!  We should also be expecting God to show up in our lives.  He is going to show up in our hurt and struggles.  He will also show up in our times of success and joy.  Are you eagerly expecting God to show up in your life?  


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Hope is Born

Some Will Accept Jesus Others Will Reject Him (Luke 2:33-35)

Hope is Born

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Learn it:

            In the last devo, we were introduced to Simeon who was told that he would meet the Messiah before he died.  He initially praised God for allowing him to meet him and now he offers a blessing and prophecy to them.  He talks about how Jesus is going to cause those who are proud and influential to fall.  Think of the Pharisee’s, the religious leaders, and how they did not recognize Jesus.  They are going to be humbled.  In contrast to that Jesus is going to lift the lowly, those who are poor and who society rejects.  He is going to challenge social norms.

            He even points out that Jesus is going to face pushback during his ministry.  Not all people will instantly accept him, but many will reject him.  People are going to reject him because he is revealing the truth that is in their hearts.  The Pharisee’s are not as pure in heart as many people think.  They are corrupt and like the power, they have more than they enjoy glorifying God.  That is why they rejected him because they were afraid of losing their influence.  These words would have been hard for Mary to hear.  While she is holding her baby, she is hearing of difficulties that he is going to encounter and even her own heart is going to suffer pain watching this unfold.   

Live it:

            We have another beautiful prophetic vision of what the life of Christ will be like.  He is going to cause some to react joyfully to the news and others will be angry at his presence.  The same is true today.  Often people who are just getting by in life see the work of Jesus easier than those who hold more financially secure or have social influence.  Those in power often do not see the need for God because they have everything they need in life.  What more could God give them?  (This is a generalization and I know there are people on both ends of the social spectrum who reject and accept Jesus.) 

            What we all have to be aware of is who do we recognize Jesus Christ as.  We must be willing to humble ourselves and see how God has given us everything we have.  We should then use it for his glory.  Mary was probably so happy to have this baby but was going to have to give him up and be willing to have her heart broken.  We need to surrender our lives and be willing to be hurt for his glory.  That hurt might be emotional, financial, or maybe even physical.  Our lives are not our own but for the glory of God.  


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Hope is Born

The Joy of Patience (Luke 2:25-32)

Hope is Born
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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:25-32

Learn it:

            While Jesus and his parents are at the temple, we learn of this man Simeon.  We do not know anything about him but that he was “righteous and devout”.  We do not know what his job was or why he was at the temple that day.  All we know is that the Holy Spirit told him to be there.  We know that the Holy Spirit had told him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah.

I wonder when the Holy Spirit told him this news.  Was he a young man when he was told this and had to wait his whole life for this moment?  It seems in verse 29 that he had been waiting a long time and was older in his life.  Whatever length of time he had to wait it was now over.  He held the baby and praised God.  He has looked upon the salvation of the world.  We see that Simeon knew that this baby was going to redeem not only Israel but also Gentiles.  This is the hope of the world!   He had seen what was promised of him and is now ready to die. 

Live it:

            Friends we are in a similar position as Simeon was.  We have been told that the Messiah is going to return, and we are waiting for him.  Granted, we were not promised that he was going to return before we die, but we are told that it could happen at any minute.  We need to wait with expectancy and knowing that God is going to be true to his word. 

 

            I wonder how many times Simeon walked through the temple, by the babies being dedicated hoping that today would be the day he would meet the Messiah.  We need to be waiting with a sense that any moment that Jesus Christ could return.  Until then we need to wait joyfully telling other the news of the salvation that he brought.  That both Jews and Gentiles have been saved.  We can be free from sin and have eternal life.  


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Hope is Born

Jesus was a Jew (Luke 2:21-24)

Hope is Born

 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.  22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”  (Luke 2:21-24)

Learn it:

            This isn’t the typical part of the Christmas story that you hear about.  Jesus is born and then Joseph and Mary do all the typical things Jews did when a baby was born.  The law required them to take their son on the eighth day to get circumcised along with other sacrifices Mary had to do.  We see that they were devout Jews who knew the Law and they wanted to be obedient to it.  We also read that this is the time when Jesus was officially given his name that the angel gave to them.

            Typically, with the Christmas story, we read about the wise men coming and meeting Jesus.  Luke does not include them in his story and if you were to read Matthew’s account the wise men don’t get to Jesus until he is one or two years old.  Luke gives us the types of sacrifices that Mary offered up, a dove and two pigeons, and they are sacrifices that someone with little money would offer up.  Whereas, if the wise men had already visited her, she would have had more money to possibly offer a lamb or goat.  This is a small detail, but it supports Matthew’s account that the wise men were not at Jesus’ birth.

Live it:

            Mary and Joseph were good, faithful parents that wanted to obey God’s law.  Even though there may be some questions has to Mary’s faithfulness in having a baby out of wedlock.  They knew that God was with them and gave them this baby.  This is all a part of God’s plan, so they wanted to do what God’s law commanded them to do.  They had faith in God and what he was asking them to do.  No matter what other people may think of them.

 

            God may call us to do some odd things, but we need to stay faithful to his word and how he tells us to live our lives.  We need to read through the gospels and do our best to pattern our lives after Jesus.  It is a high calling but with the power of the Holy Spirit we will be able to do it.  God has plenty of grace for us and as long as we fix our eyes on him, he will be with us.


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Pastor’s Corner