Thursday, May 17, 2012

Living Expectantly

"Joseph and Mary took Jesus at eight days old to Jerusalem 
to present him to the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem 
called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting 
for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 
It had been revealed to him before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 
When the parents brought in the child, Jesus to do for Him 
what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms
 and praised God, saying: Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, 
you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen 
your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel…"
From Luke 2:21-38.

I love this story about Simeon. God had promised him that he would not die before the Messiah appeared. He was living a righteous life and was devoted to God as he waited expectantly for God to fulfill His promise. The day Mary and Joseph took Jesus to be circumcised the Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple and he saw the baby, Jesus, and he took him in his arms, declaring the Messiah had come. 
We celebrate Christ’s birth as Christians. We celebrate His resurrection on Easter. We believe Jesus came and lived a perfect life and died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. During communion we look forward to His coming back for us. But, I believe God wants more. He wants us to live expectantly in the same way Simeon did. There are several ways we can live expectantly. 
First, we can live expecting God to work in our lives and our hearts. This means we expect Him to purify us and finish the work He began in us when we accepted Him as our Savior. Second, we live remembering our real citizenship is in heaven and eagerly await Jesus' return and His transformation of our lowly bodies into bodies that are glorified. Third, we remember we will be caught up with Him to live with Him forever. Fourth, we remember Christ is preparing us a place to live. 
We can get glimpses of heaven by reading through Revelation. It is a hard book to understand, but there are some beautiful descriptions of heaven, the songs that will be sung and the Savior's glory and power. The Bible talks about Him wiping away our tears and tells us we will be forever free from the pain of sin and the pain of death. This means that there will be no more sadness, despair or depression. There will be no more colds, flu, or pneumonia. There will be no more loved ones dying of cancer or heart failure or accidents. There will be no more internal struggle with the desire to do right and wrong at the same time. We will no longer suffer due to sinful choices of others–no more terrorists’ attacks, no murders, no molestation or rape, no theft, no gossip or slander, no addictions, no eating disorders, and no physical, emotional, or spiritual abuse. We will live in heaven with the Lord forever and be able to love the way we long to love. We will not only be surrounded by God's love, but by the love of those, who like us, will have been forever changed to be like Christ. 
I confess in my everyday life, I don’t live expectantly. I know Christ is active in my life, but I don’t live expectantly looking for His work in and through me. As a result, I miss out on the joy of watching Him work. I also tend to lose sight of the ways He is refining me. As painful as His refining process can be, it is one of the biggest proofs that I am His. When my mind wanders, I long for it to it wander to Him. I want to live in anticipation of His return in the same way Simeon looked for His Messiah. I know His return is a sure thing, just as His birth was and I desire to be like Simeon, holy, devoted, watching! I look forward to having this aging, aching body changed. I look forward to losing this deceitful heart with which I was born that so often believes the enemies lies. I look forward to living in the presence of His perfect love and His perfect righteousness being manifested in and through us. I can't wait to live under His benevolent Kingship. I can’t wait to be away from the sin and the hatred that is so prevalent today. I can't wait to escape this life where people love so imperfectly love and deal with conflict so destructively.  
He is coming back! If I live expectantly, my life will surely take on new meaning. I will witness more of God's handiwork in my life and in the lives of others. I will experience His love more consistently. I will love more deeply, forgive more readily, and rest more often in His peace, and experience more joy that transcends the yucky circumstances of life. God's promises are just as sure now as they were in the days of Simeon. Oh, I want to be a Simeon--faithfully awaiting my Lord!

Prayer:  Father, thank you for sending Your son to live among us to reveal Your love. Thank you for the promises that you will purify us and that He will return again to take us home with Him. To sing praises in heaven with people from every country, race, and economic level is something we look forward to. Help each of us to live in anticipation of your return in the same way that Simeon looked for his promised Messiah. Amen. 

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!