Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Waiting on God's Promise

I recently heard a sermon by Dr. R.C. Sproul talking about Simeon. I confess that my mind wandered and I had to go back to the account of Luke to refresh my memory of this faith-ful saint. As my thoughts juggled back and forth, I kept coming back to two things: the promise and the faith.

We all know that Messiah was promised. He is prophesied about throughout the Old Testament starting in Genesis 3 and weaving a thread throughout the scripture to Isaiah 7 and 9. Micah 5:2 and Zechariah 9:9 talk about the Messiah not to mention the Psalms that are replete with promises of His about Him. Now, think about Simeon. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that, "...he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Simeon acted on that promise and put himself in the way of faith and blessing. What did he do? He went to the temple. Sproul asserted that Simeon had been doing this for years and had become a thing of derision and scorn. Can you imagine being "righteous and devout" and "waiting for the consolation of Israel." Prophets had been quiet for many years. Dreams and visions silent. However, God's plan was still unfolding and this faithful man was faithfully waiting to see it. And what was it? It was none other than Jesus himself, the LORD's Christ. It made me question myself. How patient do I wait? How long can I bear derision and scorn? How purposeful am I when given a vision to complete it? How purposeful in my daily walk with Jesus? Truly, it has been revealed through God's Word and the Spirit's application that I will see Jesus too. I know not the hour or the circumstances, but I know I will see the LORD's Christ. It is coming. Am I devoutly waiting on Him? Am I prepared with a song of praise as was Simeon?

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

My cogitations did not stop there though as I deliberated on the faith of Anna. We are not told by Luke that Anna had the same revelation as Simeon but that she, "Did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up to that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem." Her faith was great. It does not escape my attention or the mention of God's word that she was a widow and one who we can safely assume was of low social stature since she had lived many years as a widow. However, God has no scruple about social conventions of man. He looks at the heart and obviously this elderly woman had a heart full of faith. Her faith was so great that she was always waiting on Messiah. It was before her each day as she prayed. Once again, I had to ask myself some hard questions. Starting with a greater revelation contained in the Scriptures do I wait for the promise devoutly? The promise of Messiah's return is just as real and just as needed today. Do you not sense the desire for Him to come when you survey our geo-political landscape?  Or each day as you suffer with the flesh and the weaknesses that ail us, do you yearn for the restoration of all things in Jesus? What about those sins that wage war within? Do you not long to have them forever put to flight and defeated by the King of all? Above all, do you desire to see the lover of your soul, the redeemer of your life, the one who purchased you with His own blood? Jesus is coming. He will return. How long must we wait? We are not told, but we should be like Simeon and like Anna devoutly waiting on the consolation of our souls, the King of glory.

The promise to us is real, certain, and true. May the Holy Spirit work great faith like Simeon and Anna in our hearts that we may patiently, and devoutly position ourselves to see the King. May we rejoice at His coming as we:

"Lift up (our) heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lordmighty in battle!... 
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory!"  Psalm 24

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I don't think people really like me. I know myself well enough to know how big of a jerk I can be. I am also very opinionated. However, that affords me the aloofness to look around at people. If you disconnect from the friend circles when you are at social gatherings, like CHURCH, you can spot people that are hurting or alone. They are in every crowd; standing on the perimeter. Some might happily be unencumbered and enjoying some time of introspection. Others might be wondering, why they don't fit in, or simply hurting. A crowd can be one of the loneliest places to be in the world. That is not all that you see. You can see the young mom, who is absolutely worn out from trying to take care of her little ones. That is what this post is about. (Yes, I am unashamed of the eye catching first sentence to draw you in.) 

Twice in the past month, a young mom has caught my attention. They stand out to me. It might be because I have been there for so many years with little ones that I am no longer a young mom. You can see in the eyes the struggle and the question, "Is church worth all this hassle?" or the accusation, "I should have stayed home." Maybe it is the doubt, "Why is my child so bad in church, am I a bad mom?" Or it could be, "I am so tired of this." I can remember humorously thinking with one of my children, when they were terrible in church on a regular basis, "Does he/she have a demon that makes them misbehave in church." (The answer is no, but they all came equipped with a well oiled sin machine in their hearts.) The reality is that SUNDAYS ARE HARD. You are out of schedule. You have to get dressed up twice to attend worship. Naps which may usually be kept diligently are thrown out the window. Fellowship between services only makes the day more exhausting. Not to mention, training the little bundles to sit quietly in church. Ok Moms, tell the truth when is the last sermon you really were able to listen to while having your child in the pew?  

If I could tell you all the horror stories revolving around Sundays and worship that I have experienced you would be in stitches. My children have shared body fluids with me in church, including vomit. They have tried to danced. They have reflected back to the pastor the benediction, wiggled, and giggled. We have fallen off the pew, snored, and been the loud thump of a head hitting the pew. It goes on and on. 

Shew, I am exhausted just thinking about it all. No wonder our young moms are too. 

However, exhaustion is not my end game. I want to encourage you young moms out there. Church is worth all the effort. It is a special time when you are called in to worship... thus the call to worship at the beginning of the service. It is a special time when your children are called to worship too. I can hear Jesus say, "Let the little children come, and do not forbid them." He wanted to be near the children when He walked the earth and He has not changed. It is the chief means of grace for you and for your children. Waking up, getting dressed, and going to church is worth it. 

Let's be honest, though, when it comes to church the struggle is intense. It is not as hard to get ready to go out for dinner. How about that sports game? Even going to work, can be easier. It is going to church where we feel the depth this struggle. However, we must persevere for our own spiritual health and the spiritual health of our children. We make time for the things that are important to us, and we fight for what is valuable. Let us recommit to make church a priority and to value it as food to our souls. 

Let me try to encourage you in a few practical ways: 

1) Prepare for Sunday. Have the clothes laid out and lunch in the fridge. Whatever else you can do to make it easy. DO IT! 

2) Cook an easy to make and easy to clean breakfast. (My husband always cooks Sunday breakfast. He is great! ) Paper plates.... YES! 

3) Don't have a "give up" mindset. Try to train your mind to value worship and look forward to it. 

4) Listen to sermon audio. You can find a pastor, maybe even your own pastor, and hear sermons. This feeds your soul in those dry months when listening in church is limited by squirming wee ones. you can do it while you pull weeds, drive in the car, cook dinner, mow the lawn, etc. 

5) Pray and confess your weariness to the One who made you, who took on flesh, and who knows what it is like. He has called you and He can sustain you in all things. Pour out your heart to Him and ask Him for the grace, strength, wisdom, and stamina. 

Nothing off the charts amazing here. I want you to be encouraged. We other moms are not out here judging you. We see and understand how hard it all can be. We pray for you and want to see you prosper as a mom. We want to see your little ones grow in the Lord! We are on your team. Let us together, run this race, fight the good fight of faith, and seek to bring glory to our glorious Triune God!  

Let me end with one of my favorite verses for the trenches, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9