Trusting God's Timing

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QUESTION:  Did you ever receive a Christmas gift that turned out to be something totally different then you expected it to be?  I mean, you looked it over and sized it up…you shook it.  And you were just SURE you knew what you were getting!  But when you opened it…

“Sometimes Christmas gifts are real surprises.  Maybe you’ve had that experience.  When I was a kid, I wanted a basketball so bad I could scream.  I dropped all kinds of hints.  I made false phone calls to my mother in another voice, telling her that her son really ought to have a basketball.  I found the cheapest prices.  I dropped those on the breakfast table.  You know, all those things.  And finally there appeared under the Christmas tree a box, looked just the size of a basketball.  Whew!  I could just feel myself making shots with it.  Christmas Day came.  I tore into that thing!  And it was a world globe.  Have you ever tried to dribble a world globe?  I mean, you can’t even inflate the dumb thing.  Unbelievable surprise!  Didn’t look at all like what I expected!” -Chuck Swindoll

Have you ever had that happen?
Well as strange as it may sound this morning, following God is often very much like opening that unexpected Christmas gift.  You THINK you know what you’re getting.  But when the wrapping paper of your assumption is torn away…you’ve got something much different

Two truths on this last Sunday of 2013:
 “Often, our expectations and God’s intentions are two very different things.” 
“(Many Christians) have discovered that following Jesus has turned out far differently than expected.  They feel confused and disillusioned – maybe even betrayed by God.  …For decades of my life as a Christian, I didn’t understand, either.  And because I didn’t, I fell out of fellowship.  I struggled against God.  I settled for a spiritual experience often characterized by disappointment, doubt, and even anger.”

“Often, our timing and God’s timing are two very different things.”
Maybe you’re here today and at some point in your life, you felt sure that God was giving you a preview of great things to come
·        Maybe it was in regard to your career / finances…
·        Maybe it was in reference to your mate…
·        Maybe it had to do with your kids…
·        Maybe it had to do with some area of spiritual service…
Whatever the area, at one point you felt that you had A DATE WITH DESTINY…but now you’re starting to wonder if God has STOOD YOU UP.  You thought God had something special for you…but now it’s been months / years / decades – and still no fulfillment. 

Well my friends, that is EXACTLY where a man named Simeon found himself in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2.    

Luke 2:21-22; 25-26  21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Now one word absolutely jumped off the page at me the first time I read this text – and it is the word “WAITING.” 

“There was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon…and he was WAITING.”

Now let’s set the stage just a bit.  Forty days prior, Jesus Christ had been born in Bethlehem and was now being taken to the temple in Jerusalem for the purification rites described in Leviticus 12.  
“In that city of Jerusalem there was a company (however large or small we have no means of knowing – perhaps a very small company) of devout souls who were looking for the redemption of Israel; and it is evident that they were accustomed to foregather in the Temple courts to pray, and perhaps sing songs of hope, and talk to one another.”

So there was a group of people gathered in Jerusalem, WAITING for the coming of the promised Jewish Messiah…and one of them was named Simeon.  Now the text tells us several things about the man.

Luke 2:25-26  25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just (upright) and devout (dedicated to the service of God), waiting for the consolation of Israel (coming of the Messiah): and the Holy Ghost was upon him.   26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Oh, now get this.  God had given Simeon a preview of things to come in his life!  Simeon had a date with destiny…to physically see Jesus Christ before he died. 

But before you get too jealous…realize this: Tradition tells us that by the time the events of our text transpired – Simeon was 113 years old!  Now allow me a little conjecture at this point.  You see, I just believe that Simeon received this promise from God much earlier in his life.  I think that somewhere around his mid 40’s the Holy Spirit told Simeon, “You’re not going to die until you’ve seen the Lord’s Christ.”  And then he had WAITED, and WAITED, and WAITED… 

That might be right where your at today - God has shown you He wants to use you.  By the way, I believe it IS God's will; to give you a marriage that honors Him, to honor Him in your finances, to raise kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  You say, "but Preacher, I've waited SO LONG."

What would he do?  What would WE do?
Luke 2:27-32  And (one day, Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Simeon KEPT ON waiting, KEPT ON serving, KEPT ON trusting…in spite of this terribly long delay.  HOW?! 

(3 things:)
·        SIMEON UNDERSTOOD THAT HIS DESTINY WAS TIED TO THE DAILY.
Luke 2:25-30A  25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God…

Now get this.  Long before Christ was born…Simeon was serving God on a daily basis.  Verse 25 says that “the Holy Ghost was upon him.”  Verse 26 says that the Holy Ghost was talking to him.  And then in verse 27, the Bible tells us that on the particular day when Simeon was going to fulfill his destiny…the Holy Ghost led him into the temple.  But here’s the thing?  If Simeon hadn’t been listening to the Holy Ghost back in verses 25-26…do you think he’d have fulfilled his destiny in 27?

Oh friend, listen to me!  Your destiny is not decided primarily in the great CRISIS moments of your life.  Your destiny is decided in the small, seemingly insignificant decisions of your everyday life. 

“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men.  Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow and wax strong, we grow and wax weak; and at last some crisis shows us what we have become.”

It’s the small things that you do for Christ when no one is watching that ultimately determine your destiny.  It’s the tiny compromises with sin that you make behind the scenes that ultimately determine what you become.  That which is done from day to day behind closed doors.  The secret devotion.  The oft-used prayer closet.  The tithe and love offering.  Or on the other side of the coin – the casual lying, the lustful thoughts, the slightly shady business deals.  All are done in the privacy of your life until one day some crisis brings them out into the light and shows you and everyone else what you have become.   

“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan.  But when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes.  That’s where your road work shows.  If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you’re getting found out now under the bright lights.”            -Joe Frazier

·        SIMEON’S LIFE WAS CENTERED AROUND GOD…NOT SIMEON.
Luke 2:28-29  28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word…

Lord“One who rules with unlimited authority; A Master.”
Servant – “slave”
Simeon“One who hears and obeys.”

·        SIMEON SAW HIS LIFE IN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.
Luke 2:28-32  28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

The term “depart” in the New Testament is really interesting – because there are 22 different Greek terms that translate into that one English word.
“The word depart in the Greek has several meanings, and each of them tells us something about the death of a Christian.  It means to release a prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent and to unyoke a beast of burden.”                        -Warren Wiersbe

One of the hardest things about “waiting” is that we feel strained by the brevity of life.  Hey, the clock is ticking!  So we feel that we’ve got to do something NOW! 
But I love what I read this week:

“Since God is working for eternity, why should we be concerned about the time involved?”

There are those who teach what we call the prosperity gospel which says you are never supposed to struggle financially, you were built to be wealthy. healthy, to basically conquer in every part of life.  I have to tell you, I absolutely disagree with the prosperity gospel.  I will tell you one thing that's accurate - my friends are struggling with cancer, heart disease, with some malady that threatens to take your life God may very well heal you in these days to come.  Let me tell you something, He's gonna heal you one way or another.  In the real life, the NEXT life, where you know you are there and you're personality continues to exist.  Where every mark of sinful, fallen humanity ceases to exist - from sadness, to brokenness, to abuse - all of it will be healed!  Every sickness, every pain, every trouble, every trial.  We don't have to try to wring out of every drop of joy from this life.  We can lose and suffer for Jesus because we know THERE IS MORE TO COME.

CONCLUSION:

“If God told you on the front end how long you would wait to find the fulfillment of your desire or pleasure or dream, you’d lose heart.  You’d grow weary in well doing.  So would I.  But He doesn’t.  He just says, ‘Wait.  I keep My word.  I’m in no hurry.  In the process of time I’m developing you to be ready for the promise.”        -F.B. Meyer



Brian Loveless has been serving as Lead Pastor for Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, TX since November 2003. Brian shepherds, leads, feeds, and guides Calvary’s congregation, staff, and guests to spiritual growth and service for Jesus Christ. His main goals remain for folks to see God, share life, serve others, and stay connected.