If we’re looking for something, we’re likelier to find it than if we don’t know it exists. Simeon looked for God’s Messiah and, at God’s behest, recognized and honored him when he appeared, a 40-day old boy.
Just as Lord Byron prepared to succeed as a poet before publishing Childe Harold in 1812. Suddenly, at 24, he had become famous. Beacon Lights of History, 153.
Just as Allen Dulles prepared between WWI and 1940. An understudy in intelligence in WWI, he gained many contacts. When William Donovan looked for a man to head the OSS from Switzerland in WWII, Dulles’ name headed the list.
May 26, 1805...William Clark gazed westward from a high summit. He saw the Rocky Mountains, blanketed in snow, shining brilliantly in the sun. They were still far away, but the sight filled Clark with a sense of accomplishment. AND...a sense of dread...because of the difficulties these mountains presented to the passage westward. Reflecting on that great, snowy barrier caused soberness. But, since he refused to anticipate evil he accentuated the positive of his sighting.
In 1993 National Geographic photographers shot 1,683,000 frames in 46,769 rolls of film. The magazine published 1,408 pictures that year. That meant each photographer had only a .001% chance to be published. National Geographic, 8/95, p. 64. Nevertheless, only those taking and submitting qualified to be published.
The point is: we must prepare NOW to be ready for tomorrow. For God may call us to serve him there. And only if we have prepared can we be ready to bring glory to Jesus.
Which leads to a question: what if we prepare to serve and God doesn’t call? (For God always has the right to accept, reject, use or ignore any service we offer.) What if we labor without reward; remaining nameless while persevering in our chosen service?
THEN God will call us HOME where...everything we learned, witnessed, taught, preached or lived about Jesus Christ will immediately be put to use in his eternal kingdom! Nothing that praises Jesus now will be removed by death. While everything that fails to praise him SHALL BE! Fini
Simeon proves that preparation remains more important than age in God’s service. It may have occurred to him that time slipped away while he waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, he continued to serve while he waited.
This writer remembers the quotation attributed to young Abraham Lincoln. It was posted on the south wall, under the windows as I recall, as you came down the stairs of our then-high school. “I will study, and get ready, and some day my chance/time will come.” It did.
Young people don’t face a particular challenge preparing to serve. It’s when increasing age finds us continuing to prepare that challenges us. Winston Churchill faced that. Born in 1874, he served in politics from his youth. More often than not, he proved a failed, nearly-always controversial, often anonymous personality. But when the English needed a leader superior to Hitler in 1940, they turned to 66 year old Winston! He never stopped preparing.
In a sermon 1939, C.S. Lewis talked about the frustration of never getting finished with projects; once one was completed, another appeared, and all the while we get older. He suggested a simple solution: work faithfully each day and leave the future in God’s hands. Whether or not we work today, trusting God for the future, he alone controls the future. The only day we have under our control is TODAY—which Jesus made the time frame in which we deny ourselves and carry our cross for him. End Part III
Simeon’s benediction proved Christ’s wholesale, total authority. Second, it proved that God granted him a great privilege. He would not die until he had seen Israel’s Messiah. A promise which embodies a powerful spiritual truth: preparation to serve God, not age, determines our usefulness to him. As an infant, Jesus ruled: angels adored him. As a 2 year-old, aristocrats bowed before him. For it didn’t take a crown to make him a king.
A young man grew up in West Tennessee’s backwoods. He didn’t go to grammar or high school. He showed up at a Christian college when a grown man. With unruly red hair; front teeth missing; a worn sweater held together by safety pins. He later graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Doctorate in English. Before he enrolled he had read: not a few; not a score; not hundreds, but thousands of books of all kinds, including the Bible. He proved that it didn’t take a Doctorate to make a scholar.
So there was: 10 year old Samuel; 12 year old Jesus; 17 year old David; and 969 year old Methuselah. Everyone a spiritual powerhouse for God. Proving that it didn’t take a special age to make a useful disciple.
We can personally experience, or fail to experience, God whatever our age. As we can see, or fail to see, spiritual potential in others, because we have or haven’t prepared to be surprised by God’s Joy!
That’s especially true in discipleship. Anyone, at any age, of any educational or economic status, can serve God. Preparation is the key. End Part II
The consecration of Jesus by Joseph and Mary reveals two powerful truths through Simeon. The first is the Authority even then residing in the 40 day old infant. Six words in Luke 2:27 forecast the singular nature Jesus carried throughout his ministry: “Simeon took him in his arms....” Do not minimize the old man’s action, prompted by the Holy Spirit. He could have spoken his benediction while Mary held Jesus in her arms.
But no, for a specific reason he removed him from parental to God’s control while offering his benison. Because, wherever we see Jesus in ministry, it’s always God the Son working out God the Father’s will through the empowerment of God the Spirit—the Great-Biblical-Three-in-One. Never one person more or less.
Mary never weighed in on a decision. Joseph never did. The disciples never did. The Jewish leaders never did. The politicians and military men never did. Jesus alone on God’s behalf made all the decisions.
Leaving this warning to humanity, including all its churchmen: Jesus didn’t reserve for himself all the decisions THEN to let us NOW determine: what’s essential to church life, and what’s irrelevant; or what constitutes acceptable behavior; or what determines our acceptance to him.
Let us be forewarned. While people can believe what they please NOW, ONLY God decides what’s acceptable to him at Judgment and beyond. Every teaching, belief, practice and observance in Christendom that isn’t found in God’s word will be pulled up by the roots and incinerated Matthew 15:13. Let us take care to build on the foundation Jesus laid only what survives the fires of judgment I Corinthians 3:10-14. End Part I
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