January 10, 2011

What has God promised you?

Psalm 119:27-45 (Amplified Bible)
Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on and talk of Your wondrous works... And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I hope in Your ordinances.  I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts.

The word of God is a treasure trove full of golden nuggets.  We read His word for a number of different reasons but above all we seek to understand, not only with our head but with our heart and soul.

It is easy to skim over scriptures that are so familiar without pausing to receive fresh insight.  One thing I do before I start to read the bible is to write a one sentence prayer in my journal.  This is what I wrote today, "Father, refresh my heart through Your word."

So turn with me to Luke chapter 2 as I share with you how our Father refreshed my heart with fresh insight to my soul today.

Simeon, a man with a promise from God.

Simeon had received a promise from God, that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  How long had he been waiting for this promise?  The bible isn't clear on the time frame.
  • Have you received a promise from God?
  • Have you been waiting a long time for that promise?
Sometimes God requires action on our part in order to begin to step into that promise but for Simeon the requirement was to "wait".
  • It is in the waiting that we often get in to trouble as we try to make something happen.  Or, we try to help God along. 
  • Waiting may be easy at first but as time goes on it is a very difficult thing to do.
  • How about you, are you finding it hard to simply wait?
Reading between the words (along with a few Hebrew and Greek references) it appears that Simeon waited with an eager anticipation that he would see the Messiah.
  • Is your waiting with eager anticipation? 
  • Is there a sense of expectancy or has that worn off after the years of waiting and waiting and waiting?
Then came that day when the Holy Spirit moved upon Simeon causing him to go to the temple where he held the child and praised God.
  • This is where Simeon was alert to the nudging of the Holy Spirit to act.
  • Did Simeon know before this day that he would hold the Messiah in the temple?  Probably not, so whatever he was doing he quickly turned to go.
Simeon held the child and prophesied what is known as Nunc Dimittis, the song of Simeon used in various liturgies.  The promise of God came as a two-edged sword:
  1. There would be the rise and fall of many people
  2. The Messiah would be spoken against:  opposed, refused, disbelieved
  3. The Messiah would reveal thoughts of hearts (future judgement day)
  4. The Messiah would cause anguish to Mary's heart - this promise was one of hope but also of rejection and ultimately crucifixion.  This would be like a sword piercing her heart.
Have your received a promise from God that comes with a two-edged sword?  A bitter mixed in with the sweet?  Sometimes it is only after the walking through the bitter than you can see the sweet (in hindsight).  Mary walked through the bitter, seeing her Son beaten, spat upon and nailed to a cross. She had no understanding of the glorious resurrection that would happen bringing salvation to this fallen world.  She would see it later and understand.

When God gives you a promise
When God gives you a promise how do you live your life while you are waiting?
  • You live it as Simeon did, day in and day out.
  • You develop the characteristics Simeon did; he was just, righteous, devout.
  • You wait with a gracious spirit before God 
  • You keep your heart sensitive to hear
What if the promise doesn't happen
The answer is found in Hebrews 11:13 (NIV)

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance...

Above all we cannot let our heart become bitter.  We still follow the 4 points listed above and with an eager anticipation.  What greater honour can we give Him than to be "living by faith" at the point of our natural death.

The Christian life is not seeking experiences or promises but it is seeking God Himself. 

May your heart be refreshed and renewed just as He refreshed mine early this morning.


Joan said...

Maria, I wrote about Simeon on my blog not too long ago, but you brought out so much much more for us to weigh and ponder. Abram and Sarai certainly stepped ahead in their walk with God. Waiting for God to answer should be eagerly awaited, but often we are impatient. Being faithful even when we're not sure of the outcome is what matters. Thank you for going into so much detail and helping me ponder this passage even more!

Maria Egilsson said...

Joan, I still find waiting on God difficult and I am so tempted to "help Him out", as if He needs it! Thank you for your comments.