Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Characters of Christmas

The Characters of Christmas
Luke 2:21-40

Joseph and Mary (21-24,39)
• They knew and obeyed the revealed, written law of the Lord.
• They desired their child to be consecrated.
• Their worship cost them something.

Simeon (25-35)

The adoration and prophecy of Simeon is rich in spiritual suggestion. This spectator kept the lamp of prophecy burning when religion was at a low ebb in Israel. Simeon means “one who hears and obeys” and this saintly Simeon knew the voice speaking in the prophets of old and obeyed the light he saw.
- All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer

Verse 25 shows us four qualities of Simeon’s life:

1. He was a righteous man.
2. He was a devout man.
3. He expected the Lord; He was waiting on the Lord.
4. He was a man of the Holy Spirit.

A person of the Holy Spirit will be marked by the following:

- The Spirit will be on/in him (Ro. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 12:13);.
- He will walk in the spirit of revelation (Ep. 3:5; Da. 2:28-30; Mt. 11:25; 1 Cor, 2:7-10; Ac. 13:2).
- He will be moved by the Spirit (Ac. 6:3; 11:24; 16:6; 2 Pe. 1:21; Gal. 5:16- 18; Ro. 7:6; 8:14).

5. Simeon experiences the Providence of God (27).
6. Simeon experiences the Keeper of promises (29).
7. Simeon moves in the spirit of prophecy (29-32).

The spiritual gift of prophecy is the divine ability to read, hear, and understand what God says and communicate that truth in a clear, compelling, and convicting way under God’s anointing. They speak for a particular time, situation, or circumstance for they know they have a timely message from God. The prophet stays on his knees before God, God burdens them, and, sometimes spontaneously, they speak according to what God gives them by His Spirit and according to His Word.

A prophet is one who knows his time and what God is trying to say to the people of his time. Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God's position, and to tell us what is actually going on. Where is the man who can see through the ticker tape and confetti to discover which way the parade is headed, why it started in the first place and, particularly, who is riding up front in the seat of honor? If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the church, and it is my belief that the one gift we need most now is the gift of prophecy.
– A. W. Tozer in The Gift of Prophetic Insight

How we need in this day of shaky values and shady ethics those who will bring a genuine message from God that will call for turning from sin and finding purpose for living according to the will and Word of the Lord.
- Charles Swindoll

3 common manifestations of the gift of prophecy:
1. Preaching and teaching
2. Speaking (warnings, exhortations, instructions, consolations)
3. In and through the ministry of intercession

Anna (36-38)
• Anna’s life is marked by hardship (36).
• Anna’s life is marked by worship (37).
• Anna’s life is marked by intercession (37).

Lessons Learned from the Characters of Christmas

1. We must be obedient to the Word of God.

2. We must develop faithfulness in the mundane.

3. We must walk in the reality of the Holy Spirit.

4. We must wait for the Lord to fulfill His purposes and His promises.

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