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Dec 31, 2017

Simeon and Anna: The First Preachers

Simeon and Anna: The First Preachers

Passage: Luke 2:22-40

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Category: Faith, Hope

Keywords: anna, simeon

We are to go out and tell others about Jesus Christ. Who shared the good news with you....who are you going to share the news with?

Devotional

"With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
-Micah 6:6-8

At the end of a very long Christmas Day, as I finally sat down and propped up my feet in the midst of trash bags full of colorful wrapping paper and dishes piled high in the sink, I suddenly remembered this devotional was due the next day. I couldn't remember what verse I was supposed to write about or what the theme was to be. To be honest, just like many tired mamas across the world at that time, I could barely remember my own name. I despaired at how much more could be required of me today. I sighed and prayed something along the lines of "Please, Baby Jesus, bring me the words that You require of me, but please bring them tomorrow. Because today, I need everyone, including me, to stop saying words and just go to sleep."

I clicked open my computer early on the 26th of December and finding that I was to write on Micah 6:6-8, I had to chuckle at the way God meets us exactly where we are with the exact words we need most. During the Christmas season how often do we wear ourselves flat out in endeavoring to meet all the requirements we imagine God commands to provide our families the so-called "perfect Christmas"? How much pressure do we put on ourselves to have activities and meals and moments worthy of the Lord's most precious gift of Jesus? We, mamas, most specifically, can forget that we do not alone bear the responsibility to be sure our children understand the true meaning of the season. How quickly we determine that it is up to us, and only us, to put on a show to turn our kids' hearts toward Jesus and away from the materialism the culture shouts at them. What a monumental task we set out to take upon ourselves and yet many of us do it every, single year, leaving ourselves depleted and exhausted at the end of what should be the most peaceful, glorious time of the year.

So when Christmas ends, the madness to perform for Jesus ends, yes? Not so much. Happy New Year! It's resolution time! As Christians, we might, just as the Israelites tried to, create a set of rules for ourselves and our families so that we might show God how good we are. In the same way, the people of Israel asked if they should offer thousands of rams and rivers of oil, we wonder if God might be sufficiently impressed if we get up early every morning to read the Bible or hold daily devotionals with our children. Perhaps, He'll be pleased if we make it to church every single Sunday and sit right up front? Won't He love me more if I work harder and make more money this year, so as to give the biggest check each week? What more can we do to make up for our sin, to bring His favor on us in this new year? How much "bigger" can I perform to appear the way the God wants me to appear?

My grandmother would refer to this as "showing out".

I am certain that the Lord would not be disappointed in us if we did any of those things. They are all admirable pursuits, but I think the scripture from Micah makes it clear that all of our outward appearances and sacrifices will not bring the favor of the Lord if we don't first allow His words to provide us a framework for changing our inner motivations. Are charitable actions important to God? Yes, I believe they are, if they focus on justice for the oppressed. Is relationship with others important to God? Yes, if it is fueled by loving mercy, not social gain. Is diligent working at our vocation pleasing to God? Yes, if we walk our path in humility with Him as our guide, not in alignment with what our culture might tell us is success.

As I enter a new year, the Lord and I work together to write the next chapter of a story wide open with possibilities. I am so grateful and relieved to know these very simple and direct instructions for the next steps of my journey. Three small requirements with such enormous potential for changing the world for good shall be all we need to ponder in 2018. Justice, Mercy, Humility. Let them be with us according to His will.

Prayer:

Dear gracious, wise Lord. Thank you for being direct with me when my wandering mind determines to decide how and what and where I can "show out" for You so that I might gain Your favor. I am grateful for Your wise counsel, Your clear instruction and for Your loving grace. Let the intention to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with You fuel all of my days in the new year. Amen.

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.