“Is not the LORD your God with you? And has He not given you rest on every side? For He has given the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and before His people.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
The Great Commission
…19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
From: Our Daily Journey
Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer-winning author of Gilead and Home, has, in addition to her marvelous fiction, also spent much time pondering the current plight of modern America. Robinson has especially contemplated Christian faith in these times, and how modern pressures erode and distort our faith in insidious ways. Though there are numerous causes for our predicament, Robinson suggests that these questions always return her to a two-part conviction: “First, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”
Yet we are a people drowning in fear. The 24-hour news cycle peddles fear. Politicians motivate with fear. Too many religious leaders fuel their causes by fear. Terrified by all this anxiety, we exert great amounts of energy trying to manage our fears, trying to avoid anything (or anyone) that seems threatening or risky. We want absolute security, whatever the cost.
The psalmist, however, paints a different picture. Rather than avoiding the treacherous places, the psalmist describes what it is like to go through them—to walk right through—whistling free as a bird. We don’t need to fear the terrifying possibilities because “even when [we] walk through the darkest valley, [we] will not be afraid, for you are close beside [us]” (Psalm 23:4). It is possible to live with joy instead of fear—not because there’s nothing to be afraid of, but because God is with us in the midst of our fear. God’s authority and power are with us. “Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me,” the psalmist says (Psalm 23:4).
We can reject the fears of our age. We can live with faith and hope because of God’s love (Psalm 23:6). He’s with us, and we need not be afraid.
Simeon and The Savior
By : Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Author
When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel. Luke 2:27-32
By the time Your promises are fulfilled, You have first created the expectation and fanned the flames of hope in those whose hearts are attuned to You. You have opened the eyes of faith in the one who looks to You. Take Simeon, for example—old Simeon, well along in years, righteous and devout. You had made him a promise that he would not die until his eyes had seen Your salvation.
On that day when Mary and Joseph brought their little baby to the temple courts, they were there to offer the customary sacrifices at the customary time in the customary way—an ordinary scene. Nothing outstanding or unusual was happening; nothing occurred to call Simeon’s attention to the family from Nazareth.
Simeon was not alone at the temple. Others were there—many others, probably. They looked at the family from Nazareth, too, did they not? Yet only Simeon looked at the family and saw Your salvation. Only Simeon recognized in the flesh what his heart had been seeing in the Spirit for years.
At Simeon’s age, it is likely that his eyesight had faded. He probably could not see as clearly as many of those at the temple that day. Yet, when he looked at what everyone else was looking at, he saw Your salvation. There You were, cloaked in the ordinary. Those focused on rites and ceremonies, those evaluating position and prestige—they missed You. Though You were right in their midst, they were blind to Your presence. But Simeon, whose spiritual sight was sharp, saw You clearly.
Simeon, when he saw You, proclaimed himself at peace. The sight of You, even in Your infancy, brought peace to Simeon’s old heart.
Lord Jesus, when we sing songs about peace but fill our days with chaos, let me see You in the ordinary. Let me recognize You in the comings and goings. Let me look beyond the glitter of holidays and see the glory of Your presence. And I, too, will be at peace.
Simeon took You up in his arms. What a moment that must have been for dear Simeon. With You balanced in the crook of his arm, pressed against his aged breast, Simeon looked into the face of his Savior.
How overcome he must have been. Surely tears flooded his eyes and tumbled down his craggy cheeks. He had to have felt that divine and eternal moment with his whole being. Simeon held his Salvation in his embrace and felt the Master’s touch.
Peace, confidence, certainty; a sense of being settled and stable and safe; clarity about who is in charge; awareness of Your power—all of this is part of the peace I feel when I experience Your touch.
This Holiday season, when I fall into the well-worn patterns of my flesh—trying to measure up, trying to make everybody happy, trying to attend perfectly to every detail, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations—capture my heart with Your touch. Bring peace to my thoughts with Your presence. “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NASB). No matter what frenetic activity and insistent demands swirl around me, I want to be able to say, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:30). Let me be transfixed by Your face.
Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— “What a fine person that man is!” That is not being a true “friend of the bridegroom”— I am increasing all the time; He is not.
To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends “of the bridegroom,” we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.