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“When You Get What You Want” Luke 2:22-38

December 28, 2014

Luke 2:22-38

“When You Get What You Want”

 

Intro:  Gift giving and receiving at Christmas can be exciting and stressful!  If you know exactly what you’re hoping to get and you get it, there is joy!  If you get something else and it missed the mark, disappointment can become a visitor.  And sometimes, just having your practical needs met is the best gift of all.  My daughter reported that after all was said and done, she must be a grown-up now because she was content with toilet paper and socks – two things she needs at college. I hope you all got something you were hoping for. 

 

Today’s lesson from the Gospel of Luke tells the story of something hoped for and received. In this passage we are given a look at an event in Jesus’ childhood.  Other than this and his visit to the temple at 12, there is silence about Jesus’ years before he began his ministry.

 

I think Luke included this story in his good news not so much to tell us something about Jesus, but to tell us about those who had been waiting to see him:  Simeon and Anna.  They have something to teach us about waiting for Christ to come and can instruct us in how to spend our time as we wait for Christ’s return and how we wait everyday for God to answer prayer.

 

Before we look at the four aspects of their waiting, I would invite you to think about where in your life you are waiting for God to show up.  ‘Tis the season to be making resolutions, setting new courses, trying to get things right in diet, exercise or other habits. Maybe it’s a new spiritual discipline that you want to have working in your daily life.  Maybe it’s a prayer that you desire, more than anything, to have God answer.  Maybe it’s the return of Christ.  Try to get something in your mind to relate to as we look at Simeon and Anna.

 

What they waited for

We know that for Simeon, there was nothing more he desired than to see the Messiah come. The Scripture we read tells us the reasons he was waiting and watching:

  • was waiting for the consolation of Israel – Israel was in need of a Savior.  Ravaged by war, under management of the Roman government, impoverished, unfairly treated – Israel was looking for the One, promised by God, who would save them.  Many people, as we are reminded elsewhere in the gospels, were looking for a Messiah who would overthrow the government.  Simeon seems focused on the Messiah who would come and reclaim the hearts of humans.
  • revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah – The unique thing about Simeon’s waiting was that somewhere along the line, God had made him a specific promise that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes.  That day had arrived and Simeon new it.

 

Are you aware of what you want to see God do?  What has God promised you?  How are you actively waiting for God’s fulfillment of that promise? 

 

How they looked for God’s promise

Both of these folks were devout and faithful.  They practiced their faith.  So they put themselves where they thought they would have the best chance to encounter The Messiah – at the temple. 

One word that sums up how both Simeon and Anna recognized God’s promise when it finally came is:  PRACTICE.

They were both diligent in practicing their faith:  prayer, worship, knowing Scripture, surrounded by others who worship.  They knew how to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow the Spirit’s nudges as we read they were both “moved by the Spirit” to encounter Jesus on this day.

 

And of Anna we read that she never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  When her husband of just seven years passed away, she had some choices to make and she chose to spend the rest of her life serving God in the temple.  She was steeped in spiritual disciplines.  Because of this, she was open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and able to recognize the Messiah when he appeared.

 

It’s one thing to ask God for what you want.  It’s quite another to live like you’re waiting for it to happen.  There is a difference between folks who ask God for something and then go on their merry way, and those who ask God to answer prayer and then keep praying and seeking, and waiting for the answer.  The second category of folk realize when God has answered their prayer.  And they have prepared themselves to receive the answer – whether it was what they thought it would look like or not!

 

How are you spending your time waiting for God to answer prayer or act in your situation?  Are you living in a way that prepares you to receive God when He comes into your particular situation?

 

What they found

Anna shares that this is the one who will redeem Jerusalem.

 

vss 30-32 tells us what Simeon found. READ

Simeon reveals that he has encountered the one who will not only redeem Israel but also the Gentiles!  This is the Savior of the world!!

 

What have you found in Christ?  Your salvation?  Your redemption?  Your freedom?  Your answer to prayer?

 

How they responded

They both shared the story.  They spoke about what they had found!  They were moved by the spirit.  They both gave thanks to God for revealing the Messiah to them.

 

Anna and Simeon had encountered good news and they were compelled to share it with others.  How are you responding to the Good News that Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, has come to you?

 

 

 

Concl:  Christmas is over.  How were your desires met?  Beyond the gifts you were hoping to receive or hoped would go over well with the ones you gave to, how were your desire met?

 

Were you aware going into Christmas what it was you were seeking?  If so did you find it?  If not, I hope that you are encouraged by the story of Simeon and Anna to become a serious seeker. 

 

And, are you living in such a way that you recognize God when He shows up in your life?  I encourage you to cultivate a life that prepares you to see Jesus when he appears.  Amen.