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January 6, 2018

 

The Conflict of Christmas

 

by Robby Higginbottom

 

...And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
according to Your word;
for my eyes have seen Your salvation
that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to Your people Israel.”

And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:22-35 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=c674d62311&e=82a9a8f891)

 

Imagine being Simeon that day. The Lord has revealed to you that you will not see death until you see His Christ. The Spirit leads you to the temple, and you are fully awake. You hear the sound of God’s Law being read, and you smell the aroma of sacrifices being offered. Suddenly you see a young couple walk in with their baby. And you know He is the One. You move towards the weary parents and take the Child up in your arms. He’s not walking or talking or sleeping through the night, but you know that He is the Savior of the world. Your Savior. After all the waiting, You hold your Hope in your hands. Now you are ready to depart in peace, for your eyes have seen the Lord’s salvation.

Simeon holds his Hope in his hands. What are we holding in our hands? What do we long to hold? The answer to these questions often shows up around a little word we hardly notice. It’s the word “just”. Maybe you’ve said:

“I just wish life were easier…”
“If I could just get into that job…”
“If I could just make a little more money…”
“If I could just get out of this job and retire…”
“If I could just get these people to like me…”
“If I could just find the right person…”
“If I could just get my kids to behave…”
“If I could just ______ (fill-in-the-blank).”

Our “just” gives away our real hopes and dreams. It reveals our functional god, whether it is comfort, possessions, success, marriage, or appearance. What is the crown in your counterfeit kingdom? What is the meaning in life that doesn’t really give life? If we are ultimately waiting for that, we are not really waiting for Jesus. Our hope is in something else. When the Hope of all the earth arrives, He exposes all other hopes and dreams for what they are. The conflict of Christmas means that Jesus has come to expose our sin but also to offer Himself as a true and better hope.

On this wondrous day—perhaps within earshot of temple sacrifices—Simeon warns Mary that her baby will be a sign opposed. Jesus Christ and those connected to Him will suffer. On the cross Jesus would hang as the ultimate demonstration that we oppose God, but that “sign” would also be the ultimate demonstration that God loves us. Jesus paid the price for all our godless hopes and dreams. Now he offers us the joy, not of holding Him, but of being held.

Are you holding so much that you can’t experience being held in His grip? Don’t miss God’s grace in the passage. The Spirit leads Simeon to embrace a life of waiting for the Christ. The Spirit opens his eyes to see Jesus for who He truly is. Friends, put no hope in your ability to fix your waiting or hoping problems. Put your hope in the same God who worked mightily in Simeon!

For what are you waiting? If you get it this year, will you finally have peace? Will you be ready to depart like Simeon? There’s only one Hope that will never let us down…that is truly worth the wait. Only One is worthy of our “just.” May our heart’s cry be, “Just Jesus. Just Jesus.”

 

About the Author

Robbie Higginbottom Robbie Higginbottom

Robby Higginbottom
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Overflow!

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Romans 15:13 NIV

    Key Thought

    We live in the overflow of God's grace. David said it well in Psalm 23, "my cup overflows." Because of the Spirit's presence, our hope overflows! In addition to goodness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17 NLT), the presence of the Holy Spirit brings deep, abiding, and personal hope! But let's not get overly focused on just the promise to us of the Holy Spirit's presence. Instead, let's also notice that this passage contains a blessing that we can share with other believers — releasing God's blessing of the Spirit into their lives. This blessing of the Spirit can bring them joy, peace, and hope! What a great gift to share with others who love Jesus.

    Today's Prayer

    Father, I thank you for your presence in my life. Your presence has brought me hope, joy, and peace and encourages me to live a good life. Please use me to bless others so that they can experience these blessings from your Spirit. Open my eyes to those who need this blessing of the Spirit. Give me the gracious words to share this blessing with others at just the right moment when they need to hear them. Finally, dear Father, thank you for the power to bless others. In Jesus' name, I thank you. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Who Can Argue with These Qualities?

    For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

    Romans 14:17-18 NLT

    Key Thought

    Who can argue with goodness, peace, and joy? These three virtues are not obtained just by human effort. Yes, a passion to possess these godly qualities is necessary, but the source of these qualities is the Holy Spirit alive in us. Goodness, peace, and joy have their source in God's nature and are made real in us through the work of the Holy Spirit. As we invite the Holy Spirit to reign over our inner being, our character is transformed to be more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). So let's yearn for the Holy Spirit to transform us to be ever more like Christ and trust that the Spirit's influence will be displayed in our lives through goodness, peace, and joy.

    Today's Prayer

    Father, don't let me be distracted by, or addicted to, food or drink. I want to be sustained and fed spiritually and emotionally by the presence of your Holy Spirit within me. I specifically pray that your goodness, peace, and joy will become more and more apparent in my life as I seek to honor Christ and yield myself to the influence of your Spirit. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.