The Weary World Rejoices: ‘Tis the Season to Be Looking
Beyond the Christmas season and into the New Year, we need to be looking for reasons to rejoice in the coming year because as Christ followers, we have much to rejoice over. The thing is, we will always find what we are looking for. If we are looking for the trouble, heartache, pain and all the negative things in the world, we will find it. If we look for purpose, beauty, healing and the blessings God has for us, we will find it. It is up to us – we can choose to live like we are blessed citizens of Heaven and hold onto God’s promises or we can instead look for the negative in the world we live in.
Let’s look at the account of Jesus’ dedication in Luke 2:21-38 (NLT): “Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so, his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, ‘If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.’ So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord ‘either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’ At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So, when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.’ Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple…She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.”
Simeon and Anna were looking for the Savior. The temple was full of others, but only Simeon and Anna recognized the Messiah for who He was because they were looking for Him. Imagine, Jesus was in the temple of God and yet only two people realized that He was the answer to their prayers and the one they had been waiting so many years for. We want to be in that category, able to recognize answers to our prayers and the blessing God lavishes on us.
Three Encouragements That We Need to Hear Today
- Jesus came. That should encourage us because God keeps His promises, even if it isn’t in the timing we expect. It had been four hundred years since a prophecy about the Messiah’s coming had been delivered to the people, but Simeon and Anna both held onto the promise God had made and they saw Jesus with their own eyes. While Simeon and Anna are not individuals that come to mind when you think of the Christmas story, they are important because they show us how valuable it is to hold onto the promises God has given us. It might not be in the timing we expect or want, but God will keep and fulfill His promises. He has to; it is His nature. He will always keep his word and we can rejoice in that wonderful truth.
- He abides. Jesus came to us as a baby, but when He ascended to Heaven He sent us the Holy Spirit, and He is always with us. It is written in Isaiah 47:2-3 (NLT): “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” We need to remember that God is always with us, even in the midst of trouble. He abides with us in the fire of oppression and rivers of difficulty and He is with us every step we take.
- He will come again. We can be encouraged by the fact that Jesus holds the final victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 (NLT) tells us: “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” Because of Jesus, we no longer have to fear death because Jesus has secured the victory forever. We have so much to look forward to.
Let us be encouraged by the words in Revelation 21:1-4 (NLT): “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’”
Then Revelation 22:3-5 (NLT) declares: “No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” Regardless of what we are dealing with right now, we are heading for glory – and Jesus is coming back. And since we know where we are going, we can look for blessings and healing and hold on to God’s promises just like Simeon and Anna did.