Thursday, December 22, 2011

Waiting for the promise

Have you ever asked God for something that you knew would benefit someone else, but that you would never see? 

Parents often do this as they pray for the salvation of their children. Sometimes they pray for God's favor on their family so that their children will have easier lives. They may work hard and barely make it, but it is worth it for them to know that their children will be better off than they are. 

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a roll-call of people who lived by faith, including some who never saw an answer to their prayers but believed and trusted anyway, even under the horror of poverty and torture. Over and over again we see the words, "By faith..."

In the second chapter of Luke there is another account of a man of faith. His name is Simeon and we are told that Simeon had a promise from God that he would not die until he saw the fulfillment of God's promise of salvation for the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Here are some other things we know about him:

~  he was righteous and devout

~ the Holy Spirit was upon him

~ he was waiting on God to fulfill his promise

Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit he recognized Jesus when he saw him. The bible says he took him in his arms and started to praise God, and this is what he said:

"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."  Luke 2:29-32

Simeon didn't live to see Jesus grow to adulthood. He may not have lived out the day, we don't know. We do know that he was satisfied to see the baby, the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise to redeem his people. 

This story is so amazing to me because it mattered to Simeon. I think he genuinely cared about his people and needed to know that God was providing a way for them to be saved. He cared about them as a whole. He would never know most of them and could never conceive of the way history would unfold over the  generations to come, but he cared about them, enough to ask God to let him live to see the promise. 

For us the promise of Jesus and salvation was fulfilled two thousand years ago. It remains relevant today as God is still working out his perfect plan for redemption. 

How many of your prayers have eternal consequences? How many requests do you take before the Lord, knowing that you will not live to see their answer? For most of us our prayers tend to center around things that we want or need in the near future. We are so impatient! 

This year, let's commit to praying with an eternal focus and trusting in the promises of God to answer those prayers even if we will never know. Join me in asking God to show us how to pray eternal prayers. It's a new concept for me, but one that I believe will be both fulfilling now, and effective in the future. 

We know we can say one day, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised." 

If he speaks it he will do it. Trust him. 

Share the power of the promise of Christmas with someone today. Ask God to give you an opportunity to do it, and the courage and words to say. 

May you always trust in the promises of God as we celebrate the fulfillment of his greatest promise to us. 

God bless you. 


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