Browsing "Exegesis"
Dec 19, 2012 - Devotional, Exegesis    No Comments

Waiting Like Simeon

“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.”  Luke 2:25-26

My roommates and I have been reading through the book of Luke in our “family” devotional times. We were especially struck when we got to the story of Simeon. In Luke 2, after a fairly extensive detailing of Christ’s birth, we meet an elderly man who has been waiting for decades to see the Christ. Our only insight into Simeon’s character is contained in one short verse – “he was righteous and devout” and above all, patient. It is beautiful to see Simeon’s long suffering concluded as he holds the eight day old child in his arms and prophesies, “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.” (Luke 2:29-32)  After another short interaction with Mary and Joseph, Simeon disappears from the scene. After reading this story, I wondered why Luke chose to include it in his thorough recording of history. Furthermore, how should we read it?  Is it just a nice story of an aging, probably ailing, man who was granted one last wish?  Or is it something I can relate to today?
Obviously, I lean towards the latter option because everyone is waiting for something. A job. A spouse. A child. A home. A healed relationship. Forgiveness. Health. Peace. We can all either wait patiently, trusting in the goodness of God who loves his children and delights to give them good gifts, or we can become increasingly bitter as our time of waiting grows from months, to years, to decades. This is one reason why I think Simeon’s story has been recorded in Scripture. He sought the Lord yearning for the promise given to him to be fulfilled. Simeon was not content to wait passively or to let his promise go unfulfilled. He was unwilling to settle for less than God’s best and tenaciously waited for as long as it took.
But a second crucial aspect of his story is that Simeon recognized when the promise was fulfilled, even in ways he might not have expected. He may not have known that he was waiting for a newborn to be the Lord’s salvation and a light to the Gentiles. Simeon may have expected someone with a little more “experience” to provide the fulfillment to such a lofty promise. But Simeon, constantly patient and faithful, recognized the baby Jesus as the answer to all his prayers.


I too am waiting and I too want to be unwilling to settle for less than God’s best for me and, perhaps most difficult of all, I too want to recognize it when He provides. Lately, my eyes have been enlightened to the blessings in my life. Though my life is not what I imagined it would look like, I can see the provision of the Lord in the midst of it all and that His plan is the best for me. I am able to work, still pay my bills, write regularly, and volunteer my extra time ministering at my church – which has been fun, exciting, and rewarding beyond what I could have imagined. No, I’m not where I expected because I don’t have a husband, or children, or a house, or a long-term plan, but I am recognizing the amazing provision of the Lord in my unexpected circumstances. I hope that you too can be encouraged by the life of Simeon as you wait on the Lord. Wait actively, be unwilling to settle, and keep on the lookout for gifts and blessings –  even in the most unexpected ways!

Waiting for (and Recognizing!) God’s Best,
Kelly

Dec 18, 2012 - Devotional, Exegesis, My Story    No Comments

Spiritual Chappiness

When I fly, I do nothing but sit for hours and hours and yet I am exhausted when I finally arrive.  How does that happen?

My friend, Tracy, and I discussed this phenomenon and described the feeling of being dehydrated, dry, sore, and tired after flying.  We decided that it was akin to having chapped lips, except after flying we exhibited a full-body chap.  Throughout our discussion, the term was shortened to “chappy”.  Perhaps you have felt this way before.  Since my return last airplane flight, I haven’t felt physically chappy, but I have felt so spiritually.  For some reason it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me yet.  Perhaps it is a combination of the warm weather, my  busy work schedule, and the fact that I have been done Christmas shopping for some time now, but I just don’t feel as excited for Christmas as I usually do.  I remembered a lecture given by one of my professors in which he said one of our major jobs as Believers in Jesus was to keep the familiar from becoming common.  In other words, we cannot read the Bible as if it is just another book because it is not!  God is always at work and I forget that when I read the Bible without a sense of awe at His work.  I sometimes fall into the trap of reading the Christmas story as old news, which greatly contributes to the chappiness of my heart.  I leave you with two passages.  The first is the Biblical cure for spiritual chappiness.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
  my soul thirsts for you;
 my flesh faints for you,
 as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
 beholding your power and glory.
  Because your steadfast love is better than life,
 my lips will praise you.
  So I will bless you as long as I live;
 in your name I will lift up my hands.” 

Psalm 63: 1-4

And the second is my prescription to keep the familiar from becoming too common.  May we never be complacent that Christ came to earth as a man to seek the lost.  But continually be in amazement of the great lengths he went through to save his own.  Read the following slowly and it just could astound you!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:1-5 & 14

Dec 4, 2012 - Exegesis    1 Comment

Happened Upon?

“So she [Ruth] set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.”  Ruth 2:3

This sentence is one of the greatest understatements in the Bible.  After 10 years in Moab and the loss of all the men in her family, Naomi, burdened and grieving, journeyed back to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth.  Naomi was bitter at God and did not understand the loss of her husband and two sons.  After returning to Bethlehem, Ruth took it upon herself to provide for Naomi.  The women did not have two pennies to rub together, so Ruth’s only option was to glean.  In the Old Testament, gleaning was commanded by the Lord to provide for the poor, widows, fatherless, and sojourner in the land.  Gleaning entailed the land owners purposefully leaving some scraps of food while harvesting their fields.  The poor in the land could then scour the fields and collect grain for their food.  It wasn’t a lucrative or safe option, but it was the only one Ruth had.

Until this point, it looks like a dire scene.  Two lone women, man-less and grieving, eating whatever they can gather from the ground.  But then we come to Ruth 2:3, “she happened to come to a part of the field belonging to Boaz.”  With all the farmers in Bethlehem, what are the odds that she would stumble upon Boaz’ crop?  Ruth, at the mercy of the landowners while gleaning, comes upon the field belonging to Boaz.  Throughout the book of Ruth we learn that not only is Boaz a godly man of worthy character, but that he is also Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.  He was the chosen man who would redeem Ruth from her grief, her poverty, her emptiness, and her childlessness.  Boaz is an archetype of Christ to these two downtrodden women and the text, in a type of literary reverse psychology, simply says “she happened to come upon a field.”  It is safe to say that such wording simplifies the deep wisdom and orchestration of God in the lives of his beloved in this scenario.  An understanding of God’s providence and sovereignty allows us to know that Ruth did not come to Boaz’ field by chance, or happenstance, or luck, but by the will of God.  And the beautiful thing is that the same providence and sovereignty is at work in the lives of all those who love Jesus and trust in his will for their lives.  As I have recently finished classes, graduated, and prepare to take the next steps in this journey called life, it may look to me as if I “just happen to come upon” my future endeavors.  But I can know that there is a deeper and bolder power at work which guides my steps.  My job is to be an active gleaner and wait to be guided to the field God has for me.

Where have you “happened upon” in life?  Do you view your current situations and associations as coincidental or the providential hand of God?  How are you “actively gleaning” in obedience and waiting to see the will of God in your life?  

Whether your life is joyous or seemingly monotonous, remember the words of Charles Spurgeon: “If there were any place better for you than the one in which you find yourself, Divine Love would have placed you there.”

Nov 22, 2012 - Devotional, Exegesis    No Comments

Words! How I Love Thee!

Hi. I’m Kelly and I’m a word-addict.

I love a good word. Something descriptive, whimsical, and multisyllabic. A solid use of persnickety or twitter-pated or kerfuffle or balderdash can make me smile any day!

A friend recently sent me a blog which discussed “25 Handy Words Which Simply Don’t Exist in English.” link here

It had some doozies in it! Some of my favorites were:

“Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.” Here, I’ll even use it in a sentence! “I have to suppress my inner-gigil when I see chubby little infants.”

L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it. As in: “Wait! Come back! I have a snarky comeback now!! (muttered under my breath) L’esprit de l’escalier… the everyday comedian’s downfall!”

And, of course, my favorite was: “Desenrascanco (Portuguese): “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation (That is to MacGyver it).” In true MacGyver style, “I never have a plan. I find that the more elaborate my plan, the more can go wrong. I just aim to desenrasanco from whatever kerfuffle I find myself.” (double points for that sentence!)

These words got me thinking about other words that we have trouble translating into English. Words from scripture like agape, chesed, ezer, or paraclete. We can get part of the idea in our English translations of true love, merciful compassion, strong warrior, and steadfast advocate respectively We add adjectives to strengthen the meanings of the above words, but something is left wanting any time we translate from one language to another. This is why it is so crucial to support Bible translation efforts so that people can read the Word in their heart languages.

These thoughts got me thinking even more about translation and how to make ideas transcend literacy and linguistics. When God called Moses to His service via the burning bush in Exodus 3, Moses asks, “’If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel,  I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)

My pastor talked one Sunday about the I AM statements in the book of John and how they hearken back to this passage. He discussed in the sermon that everyone would have known when Jesus presented these I AM statements what he was talking about. Everyone would have known. In a world full of languages and translation difficulties, God chose to make his name something that all languages could handle. He used the most common verb in the world, the “to be” verb, and made his name out of that. This fascinates me because such a choice allows for translation into all languages. But there is a sense in which God cannot be identified by any word. He is bigger than our tongues. He chose to call himself something that would be accessible to Moses, the Israelites and people thousands of years later.

I AM.

He is.

Are there any words more beautiful?

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