There’s a trend in our Christian culture today of blaming every hardship, illness, or heartbreak on the devil or one of his demonic spirits. Lately, the devil has become this boogie man out to get us around every bend. There are even books that mention to beware of all the times a Christian can become possessed, like when you’re under anesthesia. Really??? They point out… Are you sick? It’s the devil. Did you lose your job? It’s the devil. Are you pouring yourself another glass of wine? It’s the devil.
Satan does attack believers. I’m not denying this. And if you’re being obedient to the calling God’s placed on your life, I can vouch it’s inevitable.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (words of Jesus; ESV)
Here’s the problem… when we subscribe to fear-based, Satan-focused thought patterns, we’ve elevated the devil in our minds to be as powerful and omnipresent as God. Giving Satan credit for everything that goes awry in our lives, does just that. Wouldn’t our lives hold more power by shifting our focus from looking for Satan under every rock to standing on Jesus the Rock of our salvation?
A Man Named Simeon
Simeon, a man briefly mentioned in the book of Luke, is someone who looked for the Hope. The world became a dark place for a Jew living in Jerusalem during the reign of the Roman Empire. Not only were Jews living oppressed by the harsh rule of the Romans, but the prophets no longer gave the people God’s Word. It is believed, God had been silent for 400 years, yet Simeon remained faithful.
The time came for Mary and Joseph to take their firstborn into the temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus and make their sacrifice unto God. It is here they meet Simeon. Immediately, Simeon recognizes this newborn baby to be the Messiah.
How did he know? The Bible gives us several indications on how this ordinary man could recognize Jesus.
“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 (ESV)
1. Simeon was righteous
Simeon chose to live a righteous life. In our Christian culture today, we tend to rely heavily on God’s grace over obedience. When God instructs us to be sober-minded…do we continue drinking to get a buzz? When God tells us not to indulge in sex before marriage, do we obey…or continually put ourselves in compromising situations? When he tells us in His Word to dress modestly…are we wearing skimpy clothing to feed our egos with attention? Do we tend to live our lives the way we want because we know Jesus has us—we’re covered by His gift of grace? As Paul says, “God forbid!”
These instructions in God’s Word weren’t optional. If we want our lives to reflect God’s glory, we must choose to live righteously. We forfeit a blessed and powerful life when we don’t.
Simeon made that choice; therefore, he recognized hope.
“What then? shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid.” Romans 6:15 (American Standard Version)
2. Simeon was devout
In Greek the word “devout” means: prayerful, fervid, devoted, godly. He positioned his mind and heart on God. In Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence makes this point, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.” This is the devotion Simeon had; therefore, he could see beyond his darkness into hope.
3. Simeon waited in expectation
Simeon knew the promise and waited in expectation for it to be filled. In my life, God has made not only universal promises to me through His Word (which are available to all believers), but He’s given me personal promises as well. Normally, after, He makes me wait. This waiting period is a faith-building exercise. Will I continue to believe the promise? Or will I stop looking for the fulfillment, lose hope, and take matters into my own hands?
Sarai and Abram are perfect examples of those who lost hope in a personal promise God made them. Sarai pushed her handmaiden Hagar into her husband, Abram’s, bed to fulfill this maternal longing for a child, after God had promised Abraham he’d have offspring.
Are you holding onto a promise? Persevere by keeping your heart, mind, and eyes anticipating its fulfillment. This is faith.
4. Simeon allowed the Holy Spirit to move him
Simeon was able to hold baby Jesus because he allowed the Spirit to carry him to the temple, which put him in the right place at the right time. He subjected himself to the Spirit’s moving.
5. Simeon held on to hope
Simeon didn’t get discouraged from the darkness around him. He looked for God’s goodness in his surroundings. His focus was not on the bad, but the good.
As we look towards 2023 and the inevitable challenges we’re going to face as believers will we look for the goodness or will our focus be on the devil?
A Promise From God
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Roman’s 8:28 (ESV emphasis added)
Recently in the news we’re witnessing a good example of this from Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field. Have you considered why him? A high-profile athlete who spoke about his faith and opened a charity to support children? But look at what’s happened because of his collapse. Prayers are being prayed on the football field, prayer vigils are taking place, football’s faith culture has been resurrected, money has poured into his charity, and…check out this article in the New York Times (with God all things are possible!)
Praise God, this morning I heard Hamlin is responsive. All things work together for good for those who love God. So, let’s adjust our focus in 2023 and place our minds, hearts, and hopes on Jesus Christ.
What did you say? But you don’t know what I’m going through right now. You’re right…I don’t. But I do know it does little good to the heart, mind, and spirit to give it your all-consuming focus.
Facing a layoff? Let’s look for the new opportunity God has in store. Illness? Look for the ways God shows up and feel His closeness during this time. Loss? Let’s look for what God is going to resurrect in our lives. This is faith in action.
Although Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy, remember we serve a more powerful God who came to give, resurrect, and create all things from nothing. Now, who should our focus be on in 2023? It’s time to bury Satan under the rock where lizards should be and stand firm on God, the Rock and Hope of our salvation.
Who’s with me?
Happy New Year!
Tammy Carter Adams is the founder of The Hallelujah House and cohost of The Hallelujah House podcast. She resides in Orlando, Florida and is happily married to her husband Jay. They have four children. When she’s not creating content for THH, Tammy takes art classes, and enjoys spending time with her family at their farmhouse in the sticks of Georgia.