Encountering the Man of God

I wrote of Simeon and Anna yesterday. Last night… I met Simeon. Not literally, but that spirit.

We are in Alabama with our family… did I mention I have a beautiful grandson?… and last night we went to the church where our son and his wife are involved. (I don’t say “attend” because they are INVOLVED and it’s wonderful to see.) After the service I was introduced to one of the pastors while I was being shown around the church. He was an older gentleman who was from South Africa.

In that all too brief encounter I knew I was in the presence of a man of God. A man of prayer. Simeon.

He told me about praying over my son and his wife during their pregnancy and then praying over them again the day of the delivery. In those few minutes with this man I knew I was in the presence of God. This man walked with God.

My heart’s cry is somehow my life is so saturated with the presence of Jesus that in brief encounters there are people who recognize Jesus the way I did with that man. Those encounters are too rare for me. I am so challenged to BE that kind of man. If followers of Jesus had THAT presence saturating them… what an impact.

What an incredible honor to encounter that “Simeon” last night!

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The year of abundance… and hard work

There are two “words” the Lord dropped into my heart for 2016.

ABUNDANCE
HARVEST

He has given these words for my family and my church. This will be a year of provision. This will be a year of harvest. So much has transitioned in such a short time. For our church, we are out of our old building and into a smaller space, changing up our model of ministry, and awaiting final permits to build a coffee shop. It is a year where the Lord stabilized us and has prepared us for harvest. In 2016 he is speaking HARVEST for us.

That is not set aside from the fact of HARD WORK. There is much work to do, but the more valuable work, as always, is the hidden work. PRAYER.

Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke 2. Two of my favorite characters in Scripture, and we know so little about them: Simeon and Anna. They are easy to pass over. Not only is there not much said about them… but add in the fact they are OLD, and it’s easy to miss their stories. Even in that day, who would pay attention to a couple of old folks wandering around the Temple court day after day? What else did they have to do?

But they gave themselves to the HARD WORK: prayer. Who else had “time” for that?

Through their hard work of prayer, the Lord rewarded them. On the day Joseph and Mary brought the baby to the Temple, the Spirit alerted them both, and the reward of their perseverance was placed in their arms.

I love the words God has given me for 2016. I also know the BEST route to the fulfillment of those words is the HARD ROAD. It is the road of prayer. When temptation rises up and tells me I need to “work” in another way (and there IS work in other ways) I need to hear the voice of the Spirit. There is time for physical labor and there is is a time for spiritual labor. We need both.

2016 will provide plenty of opportunity for BOTH types of labor. We cannot neglect prayer.

There needs to be a daily calling out. Then, for me, there are specific times of “going away.” There are also times of “giving up.” Through all of it I keep a constant list with me. (I use an app on Android called “PrayerMate”.) The list keeps me at the task of intercession. I keep the Word with me, especially the Psalms, so I can hear the call of the Spirit more clearly.

Daily, I wait on the Lord. I lift up needs along the way.

Periodically, I need to withdraw to pray in silence. That is the way of new power in my life.

Then, I also need to “give up.” Periods of fasting and prayer. Lent is an opportunity for me.

Through all of it, as I “work hard” in prayer, the Lord WILL bring HIS WORD to me: Abundance. Harvest.

Let 2016 be an amazing year of abundance for us all! May we most of all have the abundance of his presence!

Simeon and Anna — Waiting on God

When I was in college one of my professors told of a missions teaching trip he had made to India. Near where he was staying were several small caves where those following Hinduism would go for silence and prayer.

He decided to hike into that area one day and out of curiosity found a cave and began to make his way in. The hole was small and he actually had to crawl on his stomach to get into a bigger space where he might be able to at least sit up.

Eventually reaching that space, he started to pull himself up and realized it was a very small space… and someone was already there. He rose up and found himself literally nose to nose with someone already occupying the spot. Not knowing exactly what to say, he asked, “How long have you been here?”

He expected the man, who was by all appearances a Westerner, to look at his watch and say, “Oh, about 20 minutes.”

The man looked at the intruder and said, without blinking, “About 20 years.”

The pursuit of prayer, the pursuit of something “other”, had led the man into a prayer cave for 20 years. What foolishness.

In Jesus’ time there were two fools just like that: Simeon and Anna.

Both were up in years. It could be assumed that they just had nothing better to do than hang around the Temple area. But they were about the business of the Kingdom. They were a bridge between what had been and what was to come. Their attitude of prayer and worship caught the favor of God and he promised both of them they would see the Hope of Israel.

And they waited.

We need this attitude. We need this listening ear. To wait. To hear the voice of the Spirit. To know the Spirit is directing us to even wait. 

Simeon heard from the Spirit the day Jesus would come to the Temple. Simeon wasn’t predisposed to looking for a grown man. He was predisposed to listening to the Spirit. So, making his way through the Temple area and hearing the Spirit say, “See that baby? That’s the One,” was nothing to Simeon. He was beyond doubting. He was fine tuned in his spirit to hear and it was nothing to look at that baby and see the Hope of the nations.

We need listening ears, and we need to ditch our clocks.

 

Time Wasters

I had finished my message for Sunday morning when I ran across this great column by Mark Galli. I wish I had come across it before writing my message. I could have printed this off and just read it!

My text for the day is Luke 2:22-40, the story of Simeon and Anna. Here are two people who simply wasted time with God. No big results. No huge ministries. No great accolades. They simply worshiped. They hung out with God. And in that hanging out time, they were incredibly privileged to hear the voice of the Spirit speak to them one day in the Temple. In that moment, the voice could speak because they could HEAR, and that voice pointed them to a young couple with a little baby. The voice could say, “That one,” and they KNEW what it meant.

We need to be better time wasters with God. No agendas. As a pastor, I resonate with Galli’s frustration. People sometimes get frustrated with me if I don’t give enough “how to” in my message. Well, I must confess I get frustrated trying to tell everyone “how to” do something! Just hang out with God! Find out for yourself! It’s a great journey! Frustrating at times, but FUN.

May I waste tremendous amounts of time with God in 2010!