Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26 that after He left them His Father would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in His place…”and the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot began to fathom the mysteries of God’s Word. But with the Holy Spirit’s help we can become enlightened, and with that wisdom is given and Spiritual truth revealed.
The writer of Lamentations is Jeremiah who spent most of his life warning the Jewish people about their blatant sin against God. So as he observes the utter destruction and desolation of Jerusalem, he can hardly take it all in. So aptly named, Lamentations is his lament…his grief at what once was…to what now lies before him. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet”…a man crying out to his countrymen to repent and turn from their sins…only to now witness the consequences of their rebellion first hand. But this horrific scene didn’t stop Jeremiah from continuing to intercede on behalf of his people…confessing their great sinfulness and appealing to God for mercy.
Elsewhere in Mark 13:6-7, Jesus told His disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” Now if you’re like me the idea of being deceived by someone attempting to take the place of Jesus…claiming to be His counterpart yet actually being His antithesis is hard to imagine. But yet Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” And according to I John 2:18 they exist and are among us right now, for it reads, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have come…” So how can we heed this warning from Jesus not to be deceived? The first thing is to know the truth…the Word of God, so when we hear lies or warped, twisted truths we will recognize them immediately. The other is to listen carefully… “If there is denial that Jesus is the Christ from such a man, he is the Antichrist – for he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; for whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (I John 2:22-23)
On many occasions Jesus told someone to “Follow Me.” Some did, but many did not. First off, we humans don’t like to be told what to do…we don’t like rules, especially rules on God’s terms not ours. But also, our selfish and controlling self wants to put “Following Jesus” in a neat well-defined package…like only on Sunday mornings in Church, while the rest of the week we’ll live for ourselves. But when Jesus says, “Follow Me” there is no room for negotiations…for He is God and we are not. That means we are to follow Him in faith, trust, and obedience, not the other way around…for it’s His agenda and His mission, not ours.
When you go to court, before you are allowed to speak, you are sworn in. This swearing in is a pledge of allegiance to give your word or truth…so help you God. But God also used oaths to show with absolute certainty that His promises would be kept…and since there was no higher authority than Himself, God swore by Himself. In Isaiah 45:23 He said, “By Myself I have sworn.” And in Jeremiah 22:5, He exclaims, “I swear by Myself.” When we take an oath in God’s name, it is a binding agreement or covenant…a solemn pledge not to be taken lightly.
Christmas can be a very tough time for those who have lost loved ones. That empty chair at the Dinner table is a sad reminder of happier times and the flood of memories from Christmases past makes the day a little harder to bear. This week we attended a funeral of a friend and then this morning we got the call that a family member had just passed. So this verse is very special this Christmas Day, for there is always hope in Jesus…and though sorrow and loss come into all our lives and we sit in the darkness created by them…we have assurance that we can rise on the wings of hope into His blessed light.
“For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name.” (Isaiah 54:5) For over sixty years this was the Scripture the widow Anna clung to…a unbreakable covenant tie of love and loyalty when there was no one else. She was a well recognized and respected fixture at the Temple, for it says she never left but worshiped night and day. And like Simeon, she was longing to see the promised Messiah. So on that day when Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus in the Temple, Anna knew this wasn’t any ordinary child…for this was the fulfillment of prophecy. And she was one of the first to publicly announce that the Messiah had come.
As was the Jewish custom, Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the Temple on the 8th day in order to present Him to the Lord. Now Simeon was a very elderly Jew who had devoutly waited his entire lifetime to catch a glimpse of the Messiah. It says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing this wondrous site. Do you think the Holy Spirit whispered to him that morning, “Today is the day, Simeon…today you will come face to face with your promised Savior!” I can only imagine Simeon’s excitement as he watched the crowds entering the Temple…”Is that Him? Is that Him?” And when the Holy Spirit nudged him, do you think he was astounded to see a tiny baby? Simeon then gently gathered Jesus in his arms and looked heavenward, tears streaming down his face, as he proclaimed, “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)