Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anna who was also a prophetess...


The songwriter, speaking of Christmas, said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  And it is!  Think about it!  How can it not be?  Listen to the proclamation of the angel to the shepherds at the time of Jesus’ birth: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Every person born of woman, other than Jesus the Son of God, is in need of a Savior.  Even Mary, blessed among woman and the mother of our Lord said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  (Luke 1:46) 

We need not argue that each of us is a sinner.  Plant yourself on a bench where there are both parents and children.  What do you hear?  "Stop that!"  "Don’t do that!"  "If you do that again, I’m going to tell the park ranger."   "See that policeman over there? I’m going to go get him."   "I’m going to tell Pastor Bruce."  You get the point.  Even if we use our own standard, we will come up short of the mark.  Yes, as the Apostle Paul put it, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Jesus Christ came to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Here’s the true beauty of Christmas: family festivities, the giving and receiving of gifts, carols, Christmas songs, lights, and the list goes on, all make the season a delight.  But above all else, it’s this one truth that makes Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year” … Jesus the Christ bridges the gap between sinful man and a Holy God. 

Listen to the words of Anna the widow.  Jesus has been brought into the Temple to be
dedicated to Jehovah in accordance to the Law (Luke 2:21-38).  Anna, who was in her late 80s or early 90s, prophesies about the future of the Christ child and the redemption of Jerusalem.  As Jerusalem is redeemed so is the world, “for God so loved the world.”  John 3:16

In these three short verses, which reference Anna, the widow, and daughter of Phanuel, we can learn the following life-lessons:

1. We don’t need to travel to advance the Kingdom of God.  Anna stayed at the Temple giving herself to prayer and fasting.  Prayer is the real battle; and, every widow can pray.  C. H. Spurgeon said, “Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.”  Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not equip us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."  A. J. Gordon said, “You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you’ve first prayed. “

2. We don’t need to be eloquent or have a so-called prominent position in the Church 
(or “wherever”) to please God and advance the Kingdom.  Anna had no special position or prominence, although I suspect she was well known because of her commitment to the Temple and piety.  Anna simply made herself available to be used when needed. In this instance, God chose to use Anna to speak encouraging words to Joseph and Mary and to assure them that what was spoken of the Child would truly take place.  I’m sure that Joseph and Mary were not the only couple or family Anna encouraged and spoke words of wisdom to. 

3. There is still another lesson we can learn from this widow at this Advent season.  We can  advance the Kingdom of God by giving ourselves to worship.  What is worship?  I love Rick Warren’s definition, the author of The Purpose Driven Life: "Worship is bringing pleasure to God.”  Jesus said if we give a cup of cold water in His name, it will not go unrewarded.  Would you not say that’s bringing pleasure to God?  Yes!  Whenever we in humility serve our Creator and Savior of the world we bring Him pleasure.

Sometimes as we get older we feel less needed and less valuable.  Don’t believe that lie!  There is nothing more pleasurable to God than loving on Him, praying for others and giving an encouraging word.  So, at this season, and year round, let’s learn from Anna the widow …the blessing is an encounter with the Son of God.

 Message by Pastor J.Bruce Sofia
Senior Pastor of the Gloucester County Community Church in Sewell, New Jersey 

I too love this time of year. My favorite is singing along with the Christmas Carols and some of the popular Christmas music.  Now get comfortable, turn the sound up real loud, forget about the neighbors and sing along with the music. This will truly put you into the Christmas Spirit. 

                                              O Holy Night by Josh Groban

My love to all......
Dotti Ackerman
Director of FNF Blog