Ephesians 3: 20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Luke 2: 25-32
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and the glory of your people Israel.’
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
What are you expecting? Ephesians 3: 20 is really a verse about expectations - what we expect God to do in us and through us. Are we expecting 'more than' all we can ask or imagine this year?
Most of us will face seasons in life in when we are waiting for a promise or a word from God to be fulfilled. We expect great things from God but sometimes our experience falls short of our expectations. That 'gap' between expectation and experience can often be filled with disappointment and discouragement.
Simeon shows us how to navigate that time with faith and expectation. We are told that he was "...waiting for the consolation of Israel.” That is, he was waiting for the promised Messiah who would come to deliver and rescue His people, Israel, from Roman rule and oppression.
However, God had been silent for over 400 years. That one page between the Old Testament and New Testament represents four centuries when there were no prophets, angelic visitations or words from God. It was a period of prolonged waiting.
Simeon hadn’t allowed disappointment to dampen his dreams. The literal translation of "He was waiting" is "He was waiting forwardly”. He was leaning into the promises of God, he was pressing into the Word of the Lord with great anticipation and bold expectation. He didn't allow what he was seeing to take him off course from what God had said. That is always the challenge when our circumstances fall short of the promises of God. Do we live by what we see or by what He has said?
Simeon was a man intimately acquainted with the Holy Spirit. We read: "The Holy Spirit was upon him…it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit….Moved by the Spirit he…." He listened to the whisper of the Spirit and he obeyed.
The key to moving from the place of waiting to the place of fulfilment is daily obedience to whatever God tells you to do.
The Spirit prompts him to go to the temple at the exact time when Joseph and Mary are there to dedicate Jesus. As soon as he arrives, he recognises that this baby is the Messiah, the one he has been waiting on. Almost everyone else missed who Jesus was because He didn't come as they had expected e.g. as a mighty military deliverer. Simeon recognises the answer to his prayer, even if the answer looks different than he expected it to look.
How often in our own lives do we miss the fulfilment of a promise because it comes in a different way or at a different time than we expect it to? Sometimes God packages His provision in ways we least expect. Because what He does is "immeasurably more than we ask or imagine", often we don't recognise it when it shows up. That's why it's so important that, like Simeon, we are leaning in to listen to what the Spirit is saying.
Most of us have pretty low expectations of what God will do through us. We believe God CAN and COULD do anything, but we don’t expect he actually WILL do amazing things through us. He wants us to raise the bar on our expectations.
As William Carey once said: 'Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.'
Don’t aim too low or ask for too little. He is a 'more than' God; don’t settle for anything less.