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The key to our own blessing

December 28, 2014

First Sunday of ChristmasPrimer Domingo de Navidad

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

 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.  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,  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

 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,  and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  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.”

Luke 2:25-38

In light of the prophecy of Simeon, and his worship, is the key to our own blessing, welfare and happiness in the coming year: it consists of worshipping, praising and glorifying to God.
On this day we talk about Simeon. Who was Simeon?

Mary made her purification offerings and went to present the newborn child to the Lord. This custom meant that every firstborn Israelite had to be rescued for the price of five shekels of silver. Also, the mother had to offer a burnt sacrifice of thanksgiving. Luke notes that Mary offered the offering of the poor: “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Again, the modest means of the family is evident. But the Messiah, despite his humility, should not go unrecognized in the temple. Simeon, a pious old man, went to the shrine, moved by the Spirit, and seeing the boy, took him in his arms. God had promised he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. Simeon thanked God and prophesied that his life would be glorious and tragic. Anna, a prophetess who was continually in the temple, also testified that Christ had come. Thus, there was a remarkable testimony about the true nature of the newborn child.

In addition to the testimony of this old devout Simeon, we are shown a very important aspect to keep in mind but that we often put aside. This Sunday, near the threshold of a new year, it is good to reflect on this: ‘worship and reverence’. Worship, as we witness Simeon performing one of the most important activities of Christians, should not be in the background or completely neglected.
Worship is an affection and respect for God. The Lord demands a response from the heart, a gift of the whole being. He demands honor and worship because of what He is in and of Himself and what He is to those who give it. It is assumed that the worshiper has a relationship with God, and that there is an established order to the service or worship, such as our weekly services.

Come, let us sing to the Lord; sing a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation … For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods … Come, let us worship and bow down; kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God; we the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”(Ps 95: 1-7)
To worship and revere God in the hectic days that this world wants to sell us on is not quite popular. To worship and revere God we need only take a few minutes a day to enter a passive physical posture and to concentrate or meditate on the things of God. To do this, I need the guidance of the Word of God (the Bible), which at all times is permeated by the Holy Spirit and we may also have a secondary daily devotional book that references biblical readings. That way, we can concentrate on a particular topic of the life of faith every day. Why should we do this every day? We should do it because we have to feed our spirit. The same question could be asked of food for the body: Why we should eat every day? We should eat because we’re hungry and because we need to keep our bodies alive. Why do we feed ourselves with the word of God and prayer? We do so because it is the only way to feed our spirit.

Many people don’t feel that their spirit must be fed and also don’t feel a spiritual hunger. This is because they are spiritually anorexic. That is, they have lost spiritual hunger sensitivity or have never known that the spirit must be fed.
Not feeding the spirit is even more dangerous than not feeding the body. Our spirit commands our body and mind. It has control over our body. But if the spirit is weak, the mind becomes weak and, finally, the body decays even though it may be sufficiently well fed. These are usually those shortcomings of the body we call diseases. Especially those diseases we don’t know for sure where they might have come from and why.
It is a useful and helpful to know that we need to nourish our spirit in order to be connected to God. And that is achieved through daily reverence and worship of God; it happens through prayer, by reading God’s word and, of course, through praise such as singing.

This must happen every day in our lives. So you may say you have no time? But how can you say you have no time but have time to eat, and even, as in many cases, have time for an extended afternoon tea? God advises us that we have to be connected to Him daily, even if not for a long time. Just a few minutes a day is already fine, but it must be done thoroughly knowing why we do it: to worship and revere God. Then, logically, because of all the benefits it also gives us.
That’s what we have to do every day. And there is also a very important part of worship and reverence for God: He commands us to do it at least once a week with other brothers and sisters in the faith, such as the worship community to which we belong.
In the third commandment God tells us: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” It is God’s commandment, and it is not just a good tip. It is a commandment to love and revere God. And each one of us knows the meaning of commandment.

Perhaps each of these things that are being explained, such as taking the example of Simeon’s and Anna’s worship, are things you already knew. But, nevertheless, it is good to repeat it, especially when a new year is about to begin: If we really want to have God’s assistance and care we must do the things He commands. The first one is to observe the day of rest and worship. The second is to keep ourselves fed spiritually on a daily basis for our own good. To be able to enjoy complete health we must have good communication and a good relationship with our creator.

The Japanese introduced the Bonsai tree to the world. Unlike other trees, it is measured in centimeters instead of meters. It is not allowed to reach anywhere near its full growth potential, but instead grows in a stunted, miniature form. The reason why it grows in a stunted form is that when it first stuck its head out of the ground as a sapling, the owner pulled it out of the soil and tied off its main tap root and some of its branch feeder roots and then replanted it. By doing this, its grower deliberately stunted its growth by limiting the root’s ability to spread out and grow deep and take in enough of the soil’s nutrients for normal growth.
What was done to the Bonsai tree by its owner is what Satan desires to do to believers if he can. He is going to try to tie off our tap root of prayer and worship time. He wants to limit our reception of what is needed for spiritual growth that comes from prayer.

If, like these worshippers, Anna and Simeon, who came before us, we are sincere in the surrender of ourselves to Him, we, too, should not be unwilling to part with all that is dear to us for His glory and worship – including our reputations, our finances, our time and our plans.

How will you show your adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season and in the New Year? Start by inviting Christ into your heart to be both Savior and Lord and begin to stand firm in worship and reverence!

Oh come, let us adore Him… Christ, the Lord!

Amen.

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