PATIENTLY WAITING AND WATCHING

On this Christmas morning I pray that you will meet with God and his son Jesus Christ, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading:  Luke 2:25-38

The Bible records the names of two people who were patiently waiting for the coming of the promised Saviour. Their names were Simeon and Anna. Both of them immediately recognized who Jesus was and were filled with praise and thanksgiving.

PromisecoverSimeon was very much in touch with the Holy Spirit and was able to hear what He was saying. The Holy Spirit was upon him [verse 25], and had shown him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord [verse 26]. Even going into the temple court that day was at the leading of the Holy Spirit [verse 27] and then by the Spirit he prophesied over Jesus and spoke God’s word to Mary.

Mary and Joseph were amazed at the word spoken over Jesus because it confirmed what had already been said, although Simeon would not have known that. In Simeon’s words was the intimation of the suffering that would come and for Mary it would be like a sword piercing her heart.

With Jesus there would be no neutral ground – people would either joyfully accept Him or totally reject Him. Jim Elliott, missionary martyr to Ecuador, wrote in his journal, “Let me be a signpost at the crossroad of people’s lives, so that when they see me they will have to make a choice.” People would either be for Jesus or against Him, but there could be no neutral ground!

There is so much to consider in the lives of Simeon and Anna that should challenge us. They lived devout and godly lives and were in tune with the Holy Spirit. They were watching and waiting for the Lord to come. Age had not dimmed their vision or desire. What an example for us to equally follow the Lord with all our heart, be in tune with the Holy Spirit and watch for His second coming.

Questions:

God wants us to walk in the Spirit. How were Simeon and Anna able to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit and what can we learn from them?

Jesus will come back to earth for a second time [see Acts 1:11]. Jesus told us not to be deceived [Matthew 24:4]; not to give up [Matthew 24:13] and not to be surprised [Matthew 24:44]. What can we learn from the example of Simeon and Anna that will help us to watch for the return of Jesus?

FOLLOW THAT STAR

For Christmas week 2015, I want to pause my blog on the Supernatural and post about the birth of Jesus Christ. These posts are taken from my book called “Promise”

Bible Reading:  Matthew 2:1-12

One of the most fascinating stories connected with the Christmas story is the star that led the Magi to the infant Jesus.

PromisecoverThey were led to Bethlehem by a special star. Most commentators say that it was not a natural phenomenon such as comet or a supernova but rather a supernatural sign in the sky. Way back in Genesis we read that God placed lights in the heavens not just to control the seasons but also as signs [Genesis 1:14]. The star that led the Magi to Jesus is specifically called “His star” [Matthew 2:2]. The coming of Jesus was a supernatural event, so why should supernatural signs not also accompany it. Peter, quoting from the prophet Joel, on the Day of Pentecost spoke of signs in the heavens before the second coming of Jesus [Acts 2:19-20]. One of the signs in the heavens in the last days will be the moon turning to blood. Remarkably, before every major spiritual event the moon has turned red, and in 2014 it happened four times. This has been thoroughly researched by Derek Walker in his book, “Signs in the Heavens.”

The star that the Magi followed was actually prophesied in the Old Testament and the Magi, who were probably astrologers from Babylon would have had knowledge of that through the Jews who remained in Babylon after the captivity of the Jews in 586 BC. “A Star shall come out of Jacob and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” in Numbers 24:17 is believed by some to be a prophecy about Jesus. The star and scepter are symbols of kingship. The Hebrew word star in Numbers 24:17 is ‘kōkāb’ which is sometimes translated as ‘Messiah.’ The Jews were constantly watching for their Messiah, the One who would be called the King of the Jews, and the Magi would almost certainly have known this fact. When they saw that star they knew that something very special was happening and they came to Bethlehem to find the King!

God may not lead us by a star but he equally gives us signs, words and people who point us to this same King, and He promises that those who seek Him will find Him. Those who seek Him will not be turned away.

Questions:

God led the Magi to Jesus by a star, but how does He bring people to Jesus today? If you have had a personal encounter with Jesus what was it that God used to bring you to Him?

The Magi were alert to the sign God gave in the heavens. What are the signs that Jesus is coming a second time? [see Matthew 24:1-28; Acts 2:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:1-9] and what should our response be?

MARY’S SONG

For Christmas week 2015, I want to pause my blog on the Supernatural and post about the birth of Jesus Christ. These posts are taken from my book called “Promise”

Bible Reading:  Luke 1:46-55

Filled with the Holy Elizabeth spoke prophetically to Mary. The word to Mary was, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” [Luke 1:45].

PromisecoverMary’s response to this prophetic word was to burst forth in a song of praise to God. Genuine prophecy given under the anointing of the Holy Spirit will always strengthen, encourage and comfort [1 Corinthians 14:3]. Very often it will be a word confirming what God has already been saying or doing. True prophecy, beginning with God, should always bring a response of praise given back to God.

Mary’s song is very similar to the song of Hannah [1 Samuel 2:10]. Her whole being is full of praise – both her soul and her spirit! As in Hannah’s song, Mary sings of God’s favour in recognizing her own lowly state. Why would God choose her! Like all men she is herself in need of a Saviour [Luke 1:47]. God most often uses people who are not great in the world’s eyes to work His purposes on the earth.

There are two aspects of God’s character that Mary most praises in this song. She praises God’s mercy in exalting the humble but scattering those who are proud or depend upon their own position. Her song also praises God’s justice. He is the champion of the poor, the despised and the oppressed. He cares for the hungry, raises the humble and remembers to keep His promises.

Questions:

If you have received a prophetic word that you knew was authentic what was its impact upon you and how did you respond to it?

God is just and cares for the poor, hungry and oppressed. How should we as God’s children act towards these people practically? What are you doing about this personally?

Do you think that Mary was proud when she said that all generations would call her blessed? If not, then why not?

WHY JESUS CAME

For Christmas week 2015, I want to pause my blog on the Supernatural and post about the birth of Jesus Christ. These posts are taken from my book called “Promise”

Bible Reading:  Luke 19:1-10; John 10:10; 1 John 3:8

We learned yesterday that Jesus is our Saviour and I want to explore this a little more thoroughly today. The Bible is very clear about why Jesus came.

PromisecoverFirstly, Jesus came to seek and save the lost [Luke 19:10]. When Jesus came to Jericho He met one of the most hated people of that time, a tax collector, whose name was Zacchaeus. When Jesus went to his home the people complained that He was a guest in the house of sinner. That meeting with Jesus totally changed Zacchaeus’ life. He confessed his sin, his deception, false accusations and cheating people. He even gave back to the people he had cheated four times more than he took! Following this amazing change in Zacchaeus Jesus said, “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Without God we are lost sinners but Jesus came to save us and to restore our relationship with God.

Secondly, Jesus came to give us life [see John 10:10]. The Message Bible puts it very clearly: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” This is a life that is rich and satisfying and Jesus said that He is the One who gives this life. It is a life of fellowship with God that will go beyond the grave and never end. Happiness is to know Jesus and live in the way that pleases Him. In his letter, John puts it like this: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” [1 John 5:12]

Thirdly, Jesus came to set us free. He destroyed the works of the devil

[1 John 3:8]. The devil has sought to rule the world and its people. He works through fear, control and intimidation. There is no love in Satan’s kingdom. He robs, destroys and kills. When Jesus died on the cross he destroyed the work and power of the devil and his demons. The power of fear, intimidation and control were defeated at the cross. We never again need to be in bondage to sin because Jesus came to set us free!

Questions:

What is the evidence that a lost person has been saved?

What does the phrase “life in all its fullness” mean to you?

In what ways does the devil try to control people? What are some of the tools that he uses? Do you, as a child of God, enjoy the freedom the Christ bought for you on the cross?

IN THE FULNESS OF TIME

For Christmas week 2015, I want to pause my blog on the Supernatural and post about the birth of Jesus Christ. These posts are taken from my book called “Promise”

Bible Reading: Galatians 4:1-7

Throughout the Old Testament there are countless prophetic words about the coming of the Lord Jesus. His Person, birth, ministry, death on the cross and His resurrection are all clearly foretold in detail hundreds of years before His coming. Prophecies about the coming of Jesus are found as early as Genesis chapter three and spoken of in the Garden of Eden. After the serpent had deceived Adam and Eve God spoke to the serpent and said, “…. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed: He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” [Genesis 3:15].

God knows the end from the beginning. He knew that man would fall and planned to redeem Him by sending His own Son. A question sometimes asked is, “If God knew what would happen why didn’t He stop it?” One less complicated answer to that question is that in heaven there will be no one who is not there by choice. Free will is very important to God. Everyone who is there chose to be saved and to be there!

The Bible says that Jesus came in the fullness of time [Galatians 4:4]. The phrase “in the fullness of time” literally means at the right time or at the time that God had appointed. God’s timing is always right. He never makes a mistake. He planned that Jesus would come as Saviour before the world was created and when He came it was exactly the right time. Here are some wonderfully comforting truths. Firstly, God knows the end from the beginning. Secondly, He is always on time – never early and never late. Everything runs according to His time. Thirdly, God never makes a mistake. He is utterly trustworthy and always keeps His promises.

We can fully trust God today and be assured that “our times are in His hands” [Psalm 31:15]. Those who trust Him wholly, find Him wholly true!

Questions:

Can you remember a promise that God gave to you personally and how He fulfilled that promise?

Is there a promise that God has given you that you are still waiting for Him to fulfill? If so, remind Him of that promise again and trust Him for it to come to pass at the right time.

What are the things that might cause you not to trust God? The fault is always on our side and never on God’s side. Confess that to Him and ask Him to help you trust Him. Remember a man once said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief” and was not rebuked for his honesty.

 

THE GROWING YEARS

Bible Reading: Luke 2:51-52

What must it have been like for Mary and Joseph to have Jesus, the sinless Son of God, growing up in their home? Was He ever naughty? Was He fun to be around? Was He a very seriously minded child?

There is so little written about Jesus from the story of His birth to the time of His baptism at the age of thirty. Did He work as a carpenter in Nazareth? We cannot be sure, although it was asked, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” It is almost as though the growing up years were deliberately hidden from us, except for the two verses of our reading. He was submissive to His parents and He grew, both physically in stature and in wisdom. He also grew in favour with men and God. The word “favour” here is the word that is often translated as “grace.”

If Jesus had to grow in wisdom how much more do we, His children, need to grow also. In fact this word grow crops up thirty-one times in the New Testament.

In his second letter Peter speaks about growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [2 Peter 3:18]. At the beginning of the same letter Peter makes it clear that God will give us more and more grace and peace as we grow in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord [1:2]. We are to get to know God better!

Paul exhorts us to grow our roots deep into Christ and as we do so, we will also grow in faith [Colossians 2:17]. He tells us that we are to grow more and more like Christ [Ephesians 4:16]. Paul uses the words ‘to grow’ in the sense of becoming mature [2 Corinthians 13:11]. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to move on from “baby” milk to the strong meat of God’s Word [Hebrews 5:12-14]. We are to grow up spiritually in Christ.

Billy Graham once said that during his growing years his mother would read a chapter from Proverbs each day. He attributed his spiritual growth and foundation to that daily reading from Proverbs. In the next thirty-one days we will consider a truth from each of the thirty-one chapters of Proverbs.

Like Jesus may we grow in wisdom and in favour with God and men.

A Question:

In what way has God blessed you as you have read these daily devotionals from God’s Word through this Christmas month? I would love to hear from you and can be contacted at: michaelrosswatson@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

DON’T LOSE JESUS IN THE CROWD

Bible Reading: Luke 2:41-52

Mary and Joseph were faithful and sought to honour God by going to the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem every year. At the age of twelve a Jewish boy became a “son of the Law” and began to observe the requirements of the Law. Thus at twelve years of age Jesus went to Jerusalem with His parents. The Passover was the opening day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread [Leviticus 23:5-6].

Villagers who made this pilgrimage to Jerusalem usually travelled in caravans, with the women and children in the front. Each parent would have thought that Jesus was with the other parent or with friends and neighbours. They had travelled a day’s journey or about twenty miles before they realized that Jesus was missing!

Returning to Jerusalem, it took them three days to find Jesus. He was in the temple listening to and asking the teachers questions. His understanding astonished everyone, and when his parents rebuked Him the response of Jesus was amazing. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Even at the age of twelve years Jesus was already showing signs of remarkable spiritual understanding.

The real issue today is losing Jesus in the crowd. It is so easy to crowd Jesus out of our lives and to lose touch with Him. We might even think that we are walking with Him but somehow other things have occupied the place that only He should have in our lives. In the words of Amy Carmichael, of Dohnavur:

 

“From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified),
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.”

Questions:

Jesus has promised never to leave us but sometimes we lose intimate sense of His presence. What are the things that cause us to lose that intimacy with Him?

Why do you thing that David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, o God…. Do not cast me away from Your presence…. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,” in Psalm 51:10-12. Do you need to pray this same prayer?

What do you think is the meaning of the words, “easy choices, weakenings” in the verse of the poem by Amy Carmichael?

PATIENTLY WAITING AND WATCHING

Bible Reading:  Luke 2:25-38

The Bible records the names of two people who were patiently waiting for the coming of the promised Saviour. Their names were Simeon and Anna. Both of them immediately recognized who Jesus was and were filled with praise and thanksgiving.

Simeon was very much in touch with the Holy Spirit and was able to hear what He was saying. The Holy Spirit was upon him [verse 25], and had shown him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord [verse 26]. Even going into the temple court that day was at the leading of the Holy Spirit [verse 27] and then by the Spirit he prophesied over Jesus and spoke God’s word to Mary.

Mary and Joseph were amazed at the word spoken over Jesus because it confirmed what had already been said, although Simeon would not have known that. In Simeon’s words was the intimation of the suffering that would come and for Mary it would be like a sword piercing her heart.

With Jesus there would be no neutral ground – people would either joyfully accept Him or totally reject Him. Jim Elliott, missionary martyr to Ecuador, wrote in his journal, “Let me be a signpost at the crossroad of people’s lives, so that when they see me they will have to make a choice.” People would either be for Jesus or against Him, but there could be no neutral ground!

There is so much to consider in the lives of Simeon and Anna that should challenge us. They lived devout and godly lives and were in tune with the Holy Spirit. They were watching and waiting for the Lord to come. Age had not dimmed their vision or desire. What an example for us to equally follow the Lord with all our heart, be in tune with the Holy Spirit and watch for His second coming.

Questions:

God wants us to walk in the Spirit. How were Simeon and Anna able to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit and what can we learn from them?

Jesus will come back to earth for a second time [see Acts 1:11]. Jesus told us not to be deceived [Matthew 24:4]; not to give up [Matthew 24:13] and not to be surprised [Matthew 24:44]. What can we learn from the example of Simeon and Anna that will help us to watch for the return of Jesus?

KILL THAT CHILD

Bible Reading:  Matthew 2:13-18

Recently we heard of a terrible attack at a school where over one hundred and thirty pupils and their teachers died. There are also reports of thousands of children who have been abused, many of them permanently damaged, and particularly by pedophiles. It is so necessary and yet so sad that anyone coming in contact with children today has to go through important safety checks in order to protect the children.

When Jesus was born there was a jealous king who decided to kill children who might be a threat to his position. King Herod was a ruthless man who murdered his own wife, as well as several sons and other relatives. He planned what is now known as the “Massacre of the Innocents,” when all male children, from the district of Bethlehem and under two years of age were killed. Amazing that children were killed in an attempt to destroy Jesus, the one who came to set His people free.

Another king, motivated by fear, wanted to destroy all the male children in his land. The Israelites were multiplying in Egypt and Pharaoh feared that they were becoming too strong. He commanded the midwives to kill all male children at birth, but because they refused to do so he had all those boys drowned in the River Nile. Pharaoh may not have realized that what he was doing was spiritually significant, because God was raising up a man whom He would use to set His people free. As with Jesus, the life of Moses was supernaturally preserved.

Is there a pattern here? Before Moses, who God would use to deliver His people, there would be an attack on the children. Before Jesus, who God would use to bring salvation and freedom, there would be an attack on the children. Are we now seeing an attack on children, yet again, before a major event in world history – the second coming of Jesus?

Some of the strongest words that Jesus ever spoke were in the context of the children. When the children were brought to Him Jesus blessed them and said that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these, but a terrible punishment would be handed out to those people who hurt children [Matthew 18:1-9]

A Question or two:

Sometimes people blame God for bad things that happen. Was God to be blamed for what happened to the Jewish children in Egypt or the innocent children of Bethlehem? Whose fault was it and what was the reason for what they did? How should this be a warning to us?

THREE BEAUTIFUL GIFTS

Bible Reading:  Matthew 2:1-12

After His birth Jesus when He was eight days old was circumcised, and at that time was given the name JESUS. Thirty-three days later, according the law in Leviticus 12:3-4 Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord [Luke 2:21-24]. Mary, Joseph and Jesus then returned to Bethlehem, living in a house, and remained there for some time, perhaps up to two years. When the Magi came to worship Jesus He was now no longer a baby and the Bible now refers to Him as a “young child.” It is often considered that Jesus may have been approaching two years of age. Perhaps this was the reason that Herod wanted to kill all the male children under two years of age.

When these three men saw the young child they fell down and worshipped Him. Perhaps these were the first gentiles to worship Jesus. Worship is always in the Bible in the context of sacrifice and of giving something of value. King David, centuries before had said, “I will not give to the Lord that which has cost me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24]. The Magi brought gifts that were of considerable value and had a prophetic meaning.

First there was gold. Gold was always a symbol of deity, and as they offered that gift they were not just saying that He was the King of the Jews, but they were declaring that He was God.

Secondly, there was frankincense. This was highly fragrant and used in worship in presenting an offering to God [Exodus 30:34]. It is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. Jesus was the Righteous and Holy One who was willing to become a sacrifice and offer Himself fully to do the Father’s will.

Thirdly, there was myrrh. This was a spice used in embalming, and it symbolizes bitterness, suffering and affliction. Jesus would grow up to suffer greatly and to give His life upon the cross for us.

What an offering of prophetic significance declaring that Jesus is God, speaking of His offering of Himself and of His death upon the cross.

At Christmas we sometimes sing these words:

“What can I give him, poor as I am?                              

      If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;                                                

    If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;                                     

Yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.”