Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beauty for Ashes

I had a good day today. And the only reason I can say that is because of God! I woke up at 6:00, read Proverbs 12, read a chapter of "The Prayer of Jabez", and read some devotions online. Then I got a shower, checked my emails again, and went to class. I did a lot of my homework today, so I don't have as much to do tomorrow. Maybe I'll be able to get some more World Religions and maybe Creative Writing done. I'm wondering if I should drop Creative Writing. I realize that God doesn't want me to be stressed out, and if I don't have my priorities straight [with God first] then I know that He wants me to cut some things out of my life that really don't need to be there. I have really been trying to make God first in my life, in every area and in every situation. I have a feeling that my Creative Writing class is going to stress me out since it's so deep, and I'm wondering if I'll have to finish it over the summer. That or drop the class. I'm not sure what I should do yet.

After school I listened to Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Her program was really good today. She was talking about Simeon, who the Holy Spirit had told would not die until he had seen the Messiah. It so happened that the same day Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to present Jesus to the Lord [which was the ritual then], the Holy Spirit had led Simeon to the Temple. Now, I don't believe in coincidences! This was a divine appointment, set up by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Luke describes Simeon as being righteous [just and upright; conformable to what is right] and devout [careful, cautious; having reverence for God; fear of the Lord; wanting to please God in every area of his life]. Like Nancy pointed out, there were a lot of Jews in that day who were committed to the work of God. So what was different about Simeon?

He wasn't just going through the motions. He had a heart of reverence and devotion toward God.

Luke also says that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Simeon was waiting for the Messiah. He was living in a dark and fallen world and time [as we are]. And when he saw Jesus that day in the Temple, he knew that he had seen the Messiah, and he knew that Jesus was going to be the glory of Israel [Luke 2:32] - the consolation of Israel!

A quote by J.C. Ryle:
"We see in the case of Simeon how God has believing people even in the worst of places and in the darkest of times. God never leaves Himself entirely without a witness. Let us believe that grace can live and flourish even in the most unfavorable circumstances. There are more Simeons in the world than we suppose."

God was the consolation of Israel. Read Isaiah 40:1-2, Isaiah 49:13, Isaiah 52:9, Isaiah 61:1-3 and you'll see that this is true.

-Are you looking to other things, things of this world, as your consolation? Or are you looking to the only true consolation - the only fulfilling and lasting One - Jesus Christ, the Messiah?
-Is God your consolation? Is He your only consolation?

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory."
-Isaiah 61:1-3

Beauty for Ashes - How beautiful! True, Jesus was the consolation of Israel and He rescued them. But He has also come to be your consolation and comfort. He has also come to rescue you.

Beauty for Ashes. Jesus Christ can transform your ashes [your sin, your burdens, your mistakes, your worries, your life] into beauty. All you have to do is ask Him to. He rescued the nation of Israel. He can rescue your life.

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