Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Hope which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what is already seen? But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.”
“Those that will deal with God must deal upon trust. It is acknowledged that one of the principal graces of a Christian is hope, which necessarily implies a good thing to come, which is the object of that hope. Faith respects the promise, hope the thing promised. Faith is the evidence, hope the expectation of things not seen. Faith is the mother of hope.”
Today’s Study Texts:
1. “Now there was a man of Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout and carefully observing the divine Law, and looking for the Consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been divinely revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah, the Anointed One. And prompted by the Holy Spirit, he came into the Temple enclosure, and when the parents brought in the little child Jesus to do for Him what was customary according to the Law. Simeon took Him (the child) in his arms and praised and thanked God and said, ‘And now, Lord, You are releasing Your servant to depart (leave this world) in peace, according to Your word. For with my own eyes I have seen Your Salvation, which You have ordained and prepared before in the presence of all peoples. A Light for revelation to the Gentiles to disclose what was before unknown and to bring praise, honor, and glory to Your people Israel.”
2. “And there was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood. And as a widow even for 84 years. She did not go out from the Temple enclosure, but was worshipping night and day with fasting and prayer. And she too came up at the same hour and she returned thanks to God and talked of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
“He Came To Them First” – “Simeon and Anna”
“Those Who Patiently Wait”
“Keep dreaming the dream God has put into your heart.”
What can I learn from the lives of Simeon and Anna about waiting patiently?
How long have I waited for the dream of my life to be fulfilled?
Would I be willing to wait a lifetime, like Simeon and Anna did, to see my heart’s longing fulfilled?
“Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God’s will.”
“Those who wait on God never wait too long.”
They were quite the pair – Simeon and Anna. It is likely there was little they didn’t know about the Temple in Jerusalem for they had both spent much of the time in their lives in service and worship within the hallowed walls and courts of this edifice.
It was the disciple, Dr. Luke, whose words let us visually get a picture he paints so beautifully regarding the lifelong devotion of these two individuals. Simeon is defined by Luke as a righteously devout man who was identified by the fact that the Spirit of the Lord was upon his life. In fact, Luke 2: 26 states that the Holy Spirit had conveyed to Simeon that during his lifetime, with his own eyes, he would see the Messiah. This was certainly a promise that had to motivate Simeon in all he did. I know if God’s Spirit had given me this information it would have certainly impacted my life. And I believe that it may have really affected how Simeon looked at each day he lived. The Bible gives us a hint into this possibility for we find in Luke 2: 27 that “prompted by the Holy Spirit, he (Simeon) came into the Temple enclosure.” It was from this vantage point he could patiently watch and wait for the promise made to him to be fulfilled.
The prophetess Anna was also a well-known figure whose presence at the Temple was a daily occurrence. The Bible notes she was “very old.” If she married at the common age of matrimony at that time in history, it is likely that at 14 years of age Anna became attached and was married for seven years when she was widowed. From the possible age of 21 years, we read that for 84 subsequent years this faithful prophetess was seen at the Temple, “returning thanks to God, day and night.” But she wasn’t just thanking God, Luke reports that Anna also “talked of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Many times when I’ve read the stories of Simeon and Anna, I have to be honest, I’ve accidently skipped over what I consider now the best part of the story which is contained in Luke 2: 38, the very first part of the text: “And she (Anna) coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.” Maybe you caught the word I had ignored. The word is “instant” which in Greek is “hõra” meaning “high time, exact hour.” And I must add this is the only place in Scripture that this particular word “hõra” is used.
In order to gain an understanding of what was happening on a specific day, at a specific time, at an “instant” in that day, we need to realize that God’s timely coordination was in high gear. A young couple and their little child needed to walk into the Temple court just as Simeon arrived to witness their entrance. But then the miracle got a little more complicated when a 105 year old woman needed to “come up to them at that very moment” or as The Message Bible paraphrases this fantastic verse: “At the very time Simeon was praying, (Anna) showed up and broke into an anthem of praise.”
I don’t want to make our great and glorious heavenly Father sound as though the entrance of His precious Son into the dirt of this rebellious planet was anything less than serious, however, since King David chose in the Psalms to use the word “delight,” I have to believe in my heart that on that day in Jerusalem’s Temple court, our heavenly Father delighted in the joy that surrounded His children, two who had patiently waited their entire lives to see their dreams fulfilled and two young parents who were holding the Son of God in their arms.
It may be that during the bustle of Christmas, the rush has caused you to overlook the way God is working out all the challenges in your own life. It could be that during the last 12 months your life has gotten more confused and complicated as you wait for God to unravel the tangles that hold you back from accomplishing your dreams.
Well, I’d like to suggest that for all of us who are in “waiting times,” that we remember Luke 2: 38 and that little word “hõra” - for it is an instant in time, when God brings everything together that you and I thought was impossible to work out. Many times when the waiting seems unbearable in my own life, I take a quiet moment to reflect on words penned by one of my favorite old-time pastors, Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
“Say not my soul, ‘From whence can God relieve my care?’ Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere. His method is sublime, His heart profoundly kind. God never is before His time, and never is behind.”
If you think God needs assistance with bringing events together in perfect timing, I invite you to go to the Temple court in Jerusalem where a young couple are walking in with their precious baby and a faithful Simeon makes his way toward them as an elderly woman walks slowly toward the group and they all arrive on-time…In heaven’s perfect time…In an instant! “O waiting soul, be still, be strong, and though He tarry, trust and wait; doubt not, He will not wait too long. Fear not, He will not come too late.”
“Thank You, Father, that You are
our patient, waiting God.
Slow us down; make us ready to be
with those who need our time
and need our quiet willingness
to wait patiently with them.”
“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”
“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, want us to wait for the right time in which to discover who we are, where we must go, who will be with us, and what we must do So thank You…for the waiting time.
You keep us looking. You, the God of all space, want us to look in all the right and wrong places for signs of hope, for people who are hopeless, for visions of a better world which will appear among the disappointments of the world we know, So thank You…for the looking time.
You keep us loving. You, the God whose name is love, want us to be like You – to love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable; to love without jealousy or design or threat; and, most difficult of all, to love ourselves, So thank You…for the loving time.
And in all this, You keep us, through hard questions with no easy answers; through failing where we hoped to succeed, and making an impact when we felt we were useless; through the patience and the dreams and the love of others; and through Jesus Christ and His Spirit, You keep us. So thank You…for the keeping time, and for now, and for ever, AMEN.”
From the Iona Community Worship Book
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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