Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Advent - Simeon

Luke 2:25-35
 25 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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:  29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”  33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Simeon is not a name you often hear when Christmas stories are told.  But he is just as central a character to the story as anyone else. Here was a man who devoted his life to serving God.  He had been promised he would not die until he saw the salvation of Israel, and he trusted God for that promise.  Once the promise was fulfilled, he proceeded to bless Jesus, Mary and Joseph and gave a prophecy concerning the Child.  
I don't know about you, but there are many things I have waited for.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I have delighted myself in the Lord, sought His will, tried to live as He has led me.  But there are still desires I have not received.  Promises I'm still waiting for.  Maybe you are in the same boat.  Maybe like me, you have a desire for marriage...but you just haven't found the right person.  Maybe like I used to feel, you want children...but either due to infertility, not being married or other issues you don't have them.  Maybe you have the desire for a new job, new life, an opportunity to make a difference.  Or maybe you just have a desire to get out of debt or put food on the table or make your next house payment.  No matter what the desire, we are all waiting on something.  Waiting on some desire of our heart to be fulfilled.  And it's not easy.  Most days, I'm ok with waiting for the desires of my heart.  But there are those days every now and then when the reality hits hard.  When I wonder if that promise in Psalm 37:4 was meant for me.  Then I read about Simeon...  
I wonder how long Simeon had to wait for his desire, his promise to be fulfilled.  The Bible doesn't say, but I'm willing to bet Simeon was on up in years.  He had been waiting and waiting and waiting to see the salvation of Israel.  He had seen his share of corrupt church officials and oppression by the government and everything else that was going on in his time.  Still he waited.  And still he trusted God to do what He said He would do.  And in God's time, the promise was fulfilled.  Simeon saw with his very own eyes the Baby who was born to die for our sins.  The Child who came for the purpose of our salvation.  And if we continue to wait on God, continue to trust Him, He WILL fulfill the promises He has made to us.  Maybe not in the way we thought or the time we thought.  But He will give us those desires of our heart.  
Christmas gifts are the perfect picture of this.  As children, most of us remember wanting that certain gift...a doll, a bike, a toy.  We would plead with our parents to get it for us.  We would sit on Santa's knee and write him letters telling him how good we had been and that we really deserved that gift.  We would wait all December, hoping, praying.  And on Christmas morning, we would wake up to hopefully find that perfect gift under the tree.  Now I know not everyone had the joy of getting presents growing up, but everyone can have the joy of the all time, ultimate, perfect Christmas Gift. 
We do the same thing as adults.  "I really deserve that promotion."  "I've lived the way I should.  Why am I not married or have kids?"  "I don't understand why Joe has a nice car and house when I work hard every day for the little I've got."  And on and on.  Every day.  I know I'm guilty of thinking I deserve so much more than I really do.  We spin our wheels trying to find the things that can make us happy.  If I only had more money, if only I was married, if only I had a big house, etc.   What we need to do is to seek the One who can truly fulfill every desire of our heart...even if we don't get everything we want or think we need.  Everything we truly need is found in that perfect Christmas Gift.
See, whether you know it or not, there is a place inside each of us that can only be filled with Jesus.  We search high and low for something to fill that spot...friends, gifts, money, love, things.  But it can only be filled by the One we celebrate at Christmas.  However, unlike the Christmas presents we begged for and thought we deserved, this Gift is different. This Gift is free.  At least free to us.  It wasn't free to Jesus, but He was willing to die for us.  He loved us enough that He was willing to go through the agony of the cross.  We don't have to beg and plead with God to save us.  He has already provided the way.  Another difference?  We don't deserve this gift.  The Bible says in Romans 3:10 that none of us are righteous.  We all sin.  We don't deserve salvation.  Jesus was the only perfect person to ever live.  And He did what only He could do to provide our salvation.  And God fulfilled the promise He made.  
Like Simeon, we wait.  We wait for God to do what only He can.  Yes, it gets tiresome.  And frustrating.  And we wonder at times if He even hears us.  But you can rest assured that the God of Heaven who would give His only Son to die such a cruel death DOES hear you.  He hears every cry, every sigh, every scream and every prayer.  He sees your heart.  He knows your pain.  And He gave us Christ as the gift that fulfills every desire of our heart.  
My prayer this Christmas is that you will take God at His word and trust Him to fulfill the promises He's made to you.  That, like Simeon, you will wait on Him to do what He has said He would do.  And, like the anticipation of Christmas, you will wait hopefully, expectantly for Him.  In His time he makes all things right.  So my wish for your Christmas is that you will be full of Expectant Hope, full of Joy, full of Peace and full of Love for the One who makes everything right and who WILL give you the desires of your heart if you will only trust and wait on Him.

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