Saturday, December 16, 2017

12.16.17 // Expecting the Messiah: Prayers of a Lifetime

Luke 2:22-38
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 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. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “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.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

I love that Simeon and Anna are part of the Christmas story. Their testimony is so precious. Simeon was a priest who walked closely with the Lord. This passage records that he was righteous, devout, and waiting for the Messiah to come. He truly was expecting the Messiah! The Lord promised Simeon that he would not taste physical death until he laid eyes on the Promised One. How amazing for Simeon to hold that promise close and then experience its fulfillment! I can’t imagine how Simeon must have been feeling on the day that he entered the temple and saw Joseph and Mary approaching with the newborn baby Jesus. Because Simeon was “in the Spirit,” he immediately knew Who this baby was the long awaited Messiah that was promised to Israel. Immediately, Simeon voices a song of praise to the Lord for keeping His promise. The Spirit also reveals to Simeon that Jesus will be for the Jews and Gentiles. This passage goes on to say that Anna, a woman who had lived in the temple every day and night since her husband had passed away at least 60 years ago, worshipped the Lord because of the testimony she heard from Simeon. Anna praised the Lord and repeated Simeon’s testimony to all who would hear. What a blessing the two of them received! The Lord saw their faithfulness and remembered His promises.

This Christmas season, like Simeon and Anna…
-    Expect to hear from the Lord. Read and know His promises as Simeon did. Expect them to be fulfilled. Live your life based on trust in His unfailing love and faithful Word.
-    Be faithful to do what the Lord calls you to do. Simeon showed up to do his priestly duties day in and day out. Each day, he waited and longed to behold the Messiah. Anna lived in the temple and did nothing but worship, pray, and fast. Because they were faithful with seeking the Lord daily and fervently, they were blessed abundantly as the Christ child was revealed to them. Just as Simeon and Anna were faithful, be faithful in the everyday, small, obedient steps.
-    Live in the Spirit. As a Christ-follower, the Holy Spirit indwells you and can empower you to live an obedient, victorious life. I’m afraid that many times, we don’t walk in the Spirit; rather we walk in defeat (because we’re living in our own strength or pursuing our own agenda). Simeon was walking closely with the Lord, and as soon as he entered the temple, He was “in the Spirit.” That’s how he knew that the baby that just entered the temple was more than just a baby! The Spirit has the power to reveal supernatural things to us, but are we listening? Are we seeking? Are we living in His power daily? Are we pursuing the things God desires?
-    Don’t cease to worship with fasting and prayer as Anna did. Pray continually. Plead with the Lord on behalf of the salvation of others. Just as we studied yesterday, remember that you are Christ’s ambassador and it is your calling to “implore” others on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. Go to the Lord in prayer for the lost world around you.
-    Share your faith with other believers. Be a blessing to others. Just as Simeon’s testimony blessed Anna, Mary, and Joseph, causing them to worship the Lord, you, too, can be a blessing to others. Your testimony of God’s faithfulness can encourage and build up fellow believers. Who can you encourage today?

This Christmas season and every day, I pray that you will expect to experience the Messiah in new and fresh ways just as Simeon and Anna lived with expectancy. Jesus is not far from us. I love the following verses in Acts:

Acts 17:24-28
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

Jesus longs for us to seek Him. For the nonbeliever, He longs for them to seek Him for the first time. And for the Christ-follower, He longs for us to seek Him deeper and more passionately each day. I love how Luke explains that Jesus desires us to find our way toward Him and that He is not far from each one of us. He is so close, and yet we miss Him many times because we are not seeking Him. This Christmas, don’t miss Christ! Seek Him, and find Him!  

Merry Christmas!

Always, Jacquelyn

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