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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Waiting Well

Craig Smith - Waiting Well

Craig Smith - Waiting Well
TOPICS: A Weary World Rejoices, Christmas

Welcome to Mission Hills, so good to have you with us. And if you haven’t heard or been told this yet, let me go ahead and say Merry Christmas. It’s okay to say it now because it’s officially the Christmas season. I’m excited about that because it means that Christmas, which I love, is almost here. And as an added bonus this year, it means that 2020, which I have hated, is almost over. So I’m excited about the Christmas season I hope you are as well wherever you’re watching from. So as our theme for this Christmas series, we decided we were gonna go with “A Weary World Rejoices” and we thought we would do that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we figured we’re probably all a little bit on the weary side of the spectrum, is that fair? In fact, if you’re sitting next to somebody, whether it’s in one of our campuses, or in a watch party or at home, or if you’re watching online, you can tell your host right now lean over or type in the comment box on a scale of like zero to 10, how tired, how weary, are you? I’m hearing some elevens actually going on right there. Yeah, I think we’re probably all living the worst side. We all need a reason to rejoice. And we think that Christmas is that reason, right? We think that Christmas is the reason to rejoice in spite of the fact that we’re weary.

The second reason we chose this particular series, though, is because it’s interesting as our team was talking, we realize it’s very easy to look at 2020 and think this is the worst year ever, right? In fact, can I show you, with my new favorite t-shirt 2020 half a star would not recommend, okay? Yeah. Yeah, it’s easy to kind of look at the season and go, “This is the worst season that there ever has been. It’s the worst year that there ever was.” As we were talking about it, we realized that actually, a lot of the things that have made us weary were going on in the first century when Jesus was born as well. No, they didn’t have George Floyd, but racial inequality and social unrest. Absolutely, they had them. No, no, they didn’t have a pandemic, but diseases that cause all kinds of pain and suffering and even divided families kept them from being apart. They had that. They didn’t have a contentious political election, but contentious politics, check. They had that. And yeah, the birth of Jesus caused rejoicing and so we think if they were able to rejoice from the things that made them weary, they’re so similar to the things that are making us weary, that we should be able to find in the Christmas story reason to rejoice. That’s what we’re gonna do in this series, we’re gonna lean into what the Christmas story teaches us about rejoicing in the midst of the fact that we’re weary.

And, you know, you may be weary of a lot of different things. For me, the number one thing that’s made me weary this year is all of the waiting. Anybody, feel like that? I just feel like I’ve been waiting for so many things like I’ve been waiting for the numbers to go down, and the masks to come off and the vaccine to come out, and the election to be over. And schools and restaurants and gyms and sporting arenas and all those things to open up, and just waiting for things to go back to normal. And it just feels like the waiting is dragged on and on and on. Anybody else feels like that? Yeah. And waiting is it’s absolutely exhausting. And what I’ve realized during the season is, is that I don’t wait real well, and it impacts my life as I’m waiting.

I was actually I was in my garage the other day, and I was doing some woodworking and Coletta came out and she started working on a project of her own. And as I kind of watched it take shape it was shiplap boards that she put together into a big kind of rectangles it was painted all white. And then she put a big J at the top and then a big Y at the bottom and it’s put a wreath in the middle. And I was like, “Oh, I see what you’re doing there. That’s like it’s oh, it’s a joy, right?” These big signs of joy. She put it on our front porch. It’s like this big, bold joy. And I’m gonna be really honest with you, I looked at it and I thought, “I’m not sure that’s appropriate for 2020.” I didn’t say it out loud, but I did think it. I thought you know what? If 2020 had anything, joy, isn’t it, right? 2020 has been full of a lot of things, but joy is not one of them. And I had that thought and then almost immediately had another thought. And I don’t think the second thought actually came from me I think this might have been the Spirit of God in me because it felt kind of accusatory. And then the thought was this. “Hey, Craig, you know why the reason why you don’t think there’s been much joy in 2020? It’s because you don’t know how to wait well.” And it’s true. I don’t know how to wait well waiting well is not something that comes easily to me.

But in that moment, I felt like the Lord actually impressed my heart a principle that I’ve seen in his Word many times. I even taught on it a couple of times. But I think for the first time it really came home that one of the greatest obstacles to our ability to rejoice. One of the greatest obstacles to our ability to experience joy is our inability to wait well. And that may not make obvious sense to you. Let me explain why I say it. In fact, if you wanna grab a Bible and join me we’re in the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, starting in verse 11, this isn’t part of the Christmas story we’ll get there in just a moment. But I wanna explain this principle because I think it’s so important as we come into this new series. In John 15:11, Jesus has just finished explaining to his disciples that if they stay connected to him by faith, then they’re gonna have everything that they need to live fruitful lives. They’re gonna have everything they need to be on mission with him and live lives of significance.

And then he says this, John 15:11, he says, “I’ve told you these things, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” And I love that he says, “I’m telling you all these things stay connected to me because I want joy to flow from me into you, and not just a little bit of joy, but I want you to have complete joy.”

And then, if you flip over a page, or scroll down a little bit, John 16:33, as part of the same speech as he’s wrapping up the speech that he began with those words, as he’s wrapping it up, he says this. John 16:33, “I’ve told you these things…” exactly the same phrase, he wants us to remember what he said earlier, “I’ve told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” And he’s making a very clear connection here between joy and peace which is interesting because we don’t tend to think about them that way. We think about joy as having pleasure because our circumstances are pleasant. It’s what we feel when our circumstances are pleasant. He says, “No, no, joy is not a feeling it’s an ability, it’s the ability to be at peace.” He says, “I’ve told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” And then it goes on and he says this, he says, “In this world, you will have what’s that word church? Trouble. Can I get an amen on that one?

Right, Jesus definitely was right about that, right? “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” And it’s so interesting he makes it very clear that he wants us to have joy, but there’s a very close connection between joy and peace. And clearly, Jesus is talking about a very different kind of joy than we often think. Listen, joy isn’t pleasure, because of pleasant circumstances. It’s what the world teaches but it’s not true. Joy isn’t pleasure, because of pleasant circumstances. Joy is a peace, even in unpleasant ones. It’s the ability to be at peace, even when circumstances aren’t pleasant. And the reason that we can do that is because we’re waiting on God’s promises. Because Jesus said, he says, “Yeah, in this world, you will have trouble but I have overcome the world.” And we haven’t fully experienced that but that’s a promise from him. That everything that comes against us in this world Jesus himself has overcome that’s a promise. And any promise Jesus makes any promise that God makes is the promise you can depend on completely. So even though we haven’t fully experienced it yet, we absolutely will. And so that piece comes because we’re waiting on God to fulfill his promises. And that’s joy, as Jesus understands it. It’s the ability to be at peace because we’re waiting on God’s promises. And I think at that point, you begin to understand why it is that our inability to wait well to wait on God well is such a huge obstacle to the experience of joy.

So, what I wanna do today is I wanna take you to a part of the Christmas story that God has been using to teach me to wait well, or at least, to wait better. I still have a ways to go on this one. But in this Christmas story, that really, we often overlook, because it’s not really part of the Christmas day experience. This is actually kind of the sequel to the Christmas story about eight days after Jesus was born we have the story of a man who knew something about waiting. Waiting is never easy it doesn’t matter what we’re waiting on. Waiting is hard. But in the story, we actually find four keys to waiting well.

This is Luke 2:21. “Now, on the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name of the angel had given him before he was conceived. Now when the time came for their purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. As it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord and offer a sacrifice in keeping with what was said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of doves and two young pigeons. 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. And 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 he 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 prepared in the sight of all nations, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel. The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” Would you pray with me?

God, we thank you for your Word and we thank you for this story of your servant Simeon, who knew a lot about waiting, he had been waiting a long time to see what he got to see that day. I asked that you would give us the ability as we look into your Word today to learn the lessons that are given to us here about what it means to wait on you well, in Jesus name. Amen.

God’s been using the story of my life to teach me how to wait better. And in the description that we have of Simeon, there’s actually four keys that I see to waiting on God well. They’re all kind of tied up in verse 25. Luke 2:25 says, “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.”

Let’s start with that description that he was righteous and devout. To be righteous is probably an easier one to understand. He did the right thing. He did what God said to do. And he didn’t do what God said not to do, we kind of understand what it means to be righteous. It means to be faithful. He is faithful to God, especially in the big things. But then Luke adds this other word is interesting. You don’t really have to have the other words to say his righteousness is enough. But he goes a little bit deeper and he says, “And he was devout.” And that’s not a word that we necessarily use very often it may not immediately give us an understanding of what it means we just rarely use it in the modern world. When we do use it, we usually mean that somebody is very religious, right? They’re really committed to their religion.

In fact, if you go to Google and you type in “What is a devout?” This is what you get. What’s a devout Catholic? What’s a devout Christian? What’s a devout Muslim? What’s a devout person? What’s a devout Jew? What’s a devout Baptist? What’s a devout Puritan society? I don’t know why people are searching on that one so much, but they are. We understand almost all those are religious, right? And so yeah, we kind of understand that’s what it means to be devout means to be really religious, right to be very religious. And it certainly can mean that we often use it in that way. But actually, this wasn’t written in English and the Greek word that Luke uses there doesn’t really mean very religious, it means very careful. It means very careful not just committed but careful.

And what Luke is saying is, yes, he was righteous, but we often think of righteous kind of as the big things but he’s saying he was also careful. Yes, he was faithful, but he was also careful not only in the big things but also in the smaller things that God had called him to do. And it’s interesting to me, we often think that waiting well is mostly about hanging on until the waiting is over. But in reality, what Luke’s helping us to understand here is that waiting well as about what we do in the meantime. It’s about leaning in to being faithful to God while we’re waiting on him. So that we’re found not only faithful but careful in being faithful when he finally moves in the way that we’ve been longing for him to. Stop this let’s just be faithful, but careful. That’s your first key to waiting well. Be careful to be faithful while you wait. You know, we often think yeah, it’s the big things and maybe during the season. If you think about something you’ve been waiting on God to do you know, you’re trying to be faithful, but maybe it’s the bigger things, right? You know, it’s like, yeah, you know, I’m being faithful to my spouse, or, you know, I’m not going after another religion. I’m not getting into sin here and there. But I want you to ask yourself a much more difficult question about being careful. Here’s the question, is there something I know I need to be doing maybe some smaller thing that I know I need to be doing that that I have allowed to, slip during this season of waiting?

Maybe it’s reading your Bible. Maybe somehow that practice of going to God’s Word every day has just somehow kind of fallen into the back burner. I know a lot of people early on in this video they’re like, “I’m reading my Bible so much more.” Now, I’ve talked to a few of them they’re like, “Yeah, that stopped, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I did that, because I wasn’t in church or something.” Well, maybe that’s it for you. Or maybe it’s praying, same thing, a lot of people beginning of this pandemic, they were like, “I’m leaning into prayer so much more, and now not so much.” Or maybe it’s engaging with your neighbors, checking in on them, and praying for them. Or maybe it’s connecting with people that need to hear the good news of the gospel they just need kindness or encouragement from you to set the stage for that. There’s a lot of things that you know, they’re not the big ones you wouldn’t say, “I’m living in sin. No, no, I’m just not doing that little thing.” But God says that one of the keys to waiting well is to be careful to be faithful to all the things that he’s called us to do. So, is there something maybe that you know, you’re supposed to be doing that you’ve allowed to slip during the season?

“Now there’s a man in Jerusalem called Simeon who was righteous and devout. He was faithful and careful. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was on him.” Since he was waiting, or at least that’s what the New International Version that I’m reading says. Another translation, the New American Standard shows the other way and translations tend to go either way it’s about 50/50. The New American Standard says he was looking for the consolation of Israel. You might go wait which was it? Was he waiting or was he looking? Was he waiting or was he watching? And the answer is, yes. He was doing both of those things. Because again, the Greek word that Luke uses here means both things. It means waiting and watching. And the point is that he wasn’t just hanging out, holding on until eventually what he’s waiting for to happen. It says he was actively looking for it to happen. He had his face pressed up against the window, waiting for. You know how it is with Amazon right now that was that the sound of Amazon, is that my package? Anybody feel like that, right? Because that’s one of the reliefs that we’ve had in this pandemic is they bring things to us and we’re waiting is it now, is it now?

That’s what he’s talking about not just the act of waiting, and we tend to think of waiting primarily as an act. But what we’re being told here is that it’s an attitude. And in fact, when it comes to waiting, attitude is everything. The attitude with which we wait makes or breaks our experience of waiting, and it makes or breaks our experience when the waiting is over. There’s basically three attitudes that we can wait, what I’ve discovered. We can wait with an attitude of irritation, resignation, and anticipation. How many of you have ever waited for something with an attitude of irritation? Online, go and type in admitted, right? How many of you have ever waited with an attitude of resignation? This is just what I’m doing now. Yep. If you ever waited for anything with an attitude of anticipation, huge difference, right? I mean, if you wait with an attitude of irritation, it transforms not only the experience of waiting but the experience of your waiting, being over to. Like, I mean, what happens is we get irritated that we’re waiting so long, that’s how it starts, right? I’m irritated at the length of the wait. But then it eventually gets moved from the length of the wait to the person who’s making us wait, right? We’re irritated with them.

Guys. Have you ever waited outside a dressing room while your wife tries on a bunch of different outfits where your friend tries on a bunch of different outfits? And it just goes on and on and on. Eventually, she comes out and she’s looking good, right she’s hot. Like that might be your new favorite outfit. But you’ve gotten so irritated not only by the wait but at her that she comes out and you go and you’re like, “Can we go now?” Well, guess what, you’re never gonna see that outfit again. Or let’s be an equal opportunity offender here. Ladies, if you’ve waited on your guy to do something, you ask them to do maybe fix something around the house? And eventually, he did. But you were so irritated at how long it took. And then you were so irritated with him when he finally did it, you’re like, “Well, it’s about time.” Yeah, that’ll get him off his butt next time you want him to move faster, right? But see it not only changes the attitude of waiting, but it changes our experience, even the fulfillment if we wait with irritation.

If we wait with resignation, sometimes what happens is we kind of forget what it is that we’re waiting on or who it is that we’re waiting on. And we kind of end up doing things we would never have done otherwise. I have a friend who swears this is true that he was waiting outside of a dressing room in a department store. And in his defense, it went on a really long time. And he knew he was missing the Bronco game, he’s frustrated by that. And eventually, he was just like, “I gotta do something else.” And so, he wasn’t getting good cell reception so he moved from the dressing room out by the department store doors because he thought he might get better coverage. And he did. And so he was able to watch like the last 10 minutes of the game. And it’s one of those awesome endings. They didn’t think they were gonna win. And then right at the last minute, they pulled it out, you know, touchdown, field goal “Awesome.” He was like, “Yes.” And then he left. He was so excited. And he forgot what he was doing. He went to the car and he drove home. And as he was driving the phone rang, “Where are you?” Oh, right. Let me tell you when they got home, it was not a joyous homecoming. See sometimes when we wait with resignation, we kind of forget what it is. We’re just like, “I’m so…I guess that’s just what I do now.” We end up doing things we shouldn’t be doing in the meantime.

But if we wait with anticipation, it changes the waiting into a growing sense of I can’t wait and maybe now and maybe now. And when finally, the waiting is over it’s all much better because we’re waiting in anticipation. And that’s what Luke’s talking about. He was watching. And that’s your second key to waiting well, don’t just wait, watch. Don’t just wait. Watch for God, wait with an attitude of anticipation. You know, I’m a pastor, which means that you know, because Christmas Eve is like Super Bowl Sunday for us. I really can’t travel. And so, for the last 27 years of marriage, I haven’t been able to go to my family or to Coletta’s family and they’ve been very gracious. They’ve always come to us. And my parents, they always leave from somewhere in Ohio, and we kind of know when they’re leaving. And we’re anticipating them arriving and for the last 27 years, they have never once had to ring the doorbell at my house. There are already people in the yard ready to greet them like my kids when they were little we’re watching and waiting. And if we weren’t able to do that we put the dog in the front room and she would bark if anything happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. And we’re like, “I know that’s them.” Now, it’s easier now I can track them on my phone. Like they’re in Kiowa, they’re in Franktown, they’re almost in Castle Rock awesome. But we’ve always been on the front lawn ready to greet them when they turned in because we weren’t just waiting. We were watching, we were waiting with a sense of anticipation.

And that’s really what Simeon is doing. And if you think about it, it allowed him to greet God’s Savior, it allowed him to greet the Messiah, and it allowed him to greet Jesus, earlier than almost anybody else. I mean, the only people that really got to greet Jesus earlier in this were the shepherds. And I don’t think they count. They had a huge advantage, right? They were out there in the field doing their own thing, and a choir of angels shows up and start singing. I don’t think that counts, right? How do you miss that? But Simeon, Simeon was watching. And because of that, he was able to greet Jesus here within about a week of his birth. I mean, the only people who were close to that were the wise men. And if I read the timeline, right, that was probably about two years after this before they found Jesus. Everybody else had to wait 30 years, 30 years to see Jesus for who he was. But not Simeon, Simeon was there, and he didn’t miss it. Why? Because he had been watching.

So, let me ask you this question. What can I do to maintain an attitude of anticipation as you’re waiting for God to move? And if you think for a moment, right now, or maybe that thing is you’re longing for God to do things you’re waiting on him for? What can I do to maintain an attitude of anticipation as I wait on him?

One of the things I found helpful over the years is just consistently going back to Scripture and reading the promises of God to see what it is that’s coming. What it is that he has in store when he moves in my life? You can actually just Google Bible promises from God, and you’re gonna get all kinds of webpages and they highlight different ones that I occasionally just I do that I type in Bible promises from God. And I’ll read through a bunch of the promises. And I find that it heightens my sense of anticipation that whatever it is that I’m waiting on, it begins to make me think it’s gonna be awesome. Because I know, because of what God has promised that when he shows up that when he delivers, it’s gonna be even better than I expected. Maybe it’s that or maybe it’s just learning to wake up every day and pray, “Lord, give me a sense of anticipation today.” Or maybe it’s learning to get up and go, “I wonder if this is the day. I wonder if this is the day that God finally moves and does what I’ve been waiting for him to do.” But that sense of anticipation, that attitude will transform not only the experience of waiting but the experience when the waiting is over. And so key number two is, don’t just wait, watch, wait with an attitude of anticipation.

It says,” there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon who was righteous and devout. He was waiting and watching for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.” So he was waiting, watching for the consolation of Israel. And that’s a word that we definitely don’t use very often in the modern world. And when we do, it doesn’t have a positive connotation, right. The only people who get a consolation prize are the people who didn’t win. But we wanna make them feel a little bit better about the loss so we give them a consolation prize. And what we mean by it is we wanna make them feel better, we wanna comfort them. And that’s really what the word means. It means to comfort them. But the Greek word that Luke is using here is a specific kind of comfort. It’s not a comfort that comes from a distance. It’s not because somebody sends a message, or a text, or a Facebook post that says, “Hey, I’m thinking about you and you know, here’s a Scripture verse to encourage you, or just some words that you might find helpful and comforting.” No, it’s not comfort that comes from a distance. Literally, the Greek word means a comfort that is there because someone comes alongside you. It literally means to call or to come alongside someone.

And the point is that Simeon is not waiting for God to do a particular thing. He’s waiting for God himself to come alongside his people. Now, you need to understand that several centuries before this, Israel had left God’s side, they rebelled against God, they stopped obeying his commandments. They began worshipping false gods. They walked away from God. And because of that, they entered into a season, of pain, they entered into a season of suffering, into a season of oppression. They’d been oppressed by all kinds of foreign governments during this period. Their people had been scattered; their temple had been destroyed. Their cities had been raised because they walked away from God. But God had promised that he would come alongside his people, even though they had left him. And that’s what Simeon was waiting, he was waiting for God himself to come alongside his people.

Now, the rest of Israel was waiting on God too, but it’s interesting, the rest of Israel was waiting not so much on God, but they were waiting on what they wanted God to do, what they expected God to do. They were waiting for God to rise up a Messiah. And they believed the Messiah would be a warrior and that he’d collect all the soldiers he’d raise up an army of Israel and they fight back against their Roman oppressors of that season. That was the empire that they were under the authority of. And so, the Messiah would raise up an army and they fight against Rome and they would establish Israel’s independence. Israel was waiting on a what? They’re waiting on what they wanted God to do. Simeon was waiting on a who. He was waiting on God himself. And maybe he was thinking about that very often quoted Christmas verse in Isaiah chapter seven, “That the virgin shall be with child. And his name shall be Emmanuel.” We sang that just a little while ago, Emmanuel, which means God with us. That’s what Simeon was waiting on for God himself to come along to his people. And Simeon had been waiting on a what, what he expected God to do. If he was waiting on what everyone else was expecting God to do when he was led by the Spirit and that subtle way into the temple that day, and the Spirit moved him into that part of the court and the Spirit said, “Hey, pay attention to that couple.”

He probably would have been confused, right? Because he didn’t see what everybody else. If he was waiting on what everybody else was looking for, he would have been looking for a big man, a big strong warrior with a lot of people gathered around him. Because he was giving them an inspiring speech, right? He was going, “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom.” Braveheart, right? And he would have been really confused by what the Holy Spirit was saying he would have been like, “Oh, is he behind them what’s?” But he didn’t miss a beat. He picked the child up and he said, “This is who I’ve been waiting on.”

Here’s the key. The third key to waiting well, wait on who not what. Wait on who not what. So, the problem is, at least I get so fixated on what you know, you guys know that for a long time we were waiting for God to heal my daughter. She had some chronic abdominal pain. And I was waiting on a what, I’ll be honest, I was waiting for God to heal her pain, and because I was focused on a what, I missed the fact that God came alongside my daughter in that season. And he began to do things in her that I didn’t see because of what I was waiting on. He who began I’m just now beginning to understand honestly, how much I missed. How profoundly he began to move and to grow her heart and her strength, her discernment, her resilience, her passions.

He was at work in her in a way that I didn’t see. I’m just now beginning to understand how profoundly he worked in my daughter’s life during that season that I’m so grateful for. But I’m only now seeing it because I spent a whole lot of time focused on what and when you’re focused on what God’s gonna do this what, rather than waiting on who we don’t see all the other, what’s he’s doing. And we’re frustrated, like, “God, why aren’t you showing up?” And God’s like, “Hey, I’m here. I’m just not doing exactly what you thought.” So, stop waiting on a, what, and maybe wait on a who that’s your third key.

So, let me ask you this question. Think about that place in your life, where you’re waiting. And ask yourself this, am I waiting on God? Or just what I want him to do? Because if you’re just waiting on what you may miss the fact that God has already come alongside you, and God is doing something maybe even better than what you were waiting on.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, he was righteous and devout. He was faithful and careful. He was waiting, he was watching for the consolation for God to come alongside his people, Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.” Which is an interesting statement, actually, the Holy Spirit was on him. Because in the first century, before Jesus had died on the cross and risen from the dead, most of God’s people didn’t have the experience of the Holy Spirit of God himself, being with his people in a very personal intimate way, every moment of every day. That was something that happened after Jesus rose from the dead. It’s an incredible privilege that we have as followers of Jesus, that when we say yes to following Jesus, God himself and the person of the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in our hearts. He is with us in an intimate, personal way every single day. He’s with us, he’s come alongside us. That’s what we have as followers of Jesus. But in the Old Testament era, before Jesus rose from the dead, the Holy Spirit didn’t typically do that. He only did that on some occasions for some people, but Simeon was one of those people. And what I would suggest to you is that almost everything else we’ve seen is part of the reason the Holy Spirit was with him in this way. The Holy Spirit was drawing near to him. God promises that he will draw near to us, when we draw near to him. Well, Simeon had been doing that. And in the person of the Holy Spirit, God was doing that.

Which meant and this is so interesting, that while Simeon was waiting on God, he was also waiting with God, right? He was listening to the power of the Holy Spirit, and he was listening to the leading and the nudging and that’s your fourth key to waiting well. Don’t just wait on God wait with God. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have what he had. He had the Holy Spirit there every day and what the Holy Spirit does is lead us to make the most of that season while we’re waiting because there are things that need to be done during that season. And Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was listening to the Holy Spirit. He was he was waiting with the Holy Spirit. And it was because of that, that he ended up in the temple that day he had developed a habit, of listening and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, which made him more sensitive.

Do you know that’s how it works? The more that we listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the more we get sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And it’s because he had done that all along because he wasn’t just waiting on God he was waiting with God. He’s been listening to his promptings, that when the Holy Spirit kind of gave him that little nudge. Because the Holy Spirit doesn’t usually lead through like things catching fire and deep voices speaking out of them. It’s more subtle than that. It’s the still small voice of God that we have to listen to and respond to. And because he’d been doing that, when the Holy Spirit said, “Hey, I think you should go to the temple today.” He got up and he went to the temple. And as he walked into the temple court, something in his spirit, because of the Holy Spirit said, “Maybe you should be right over there, so that you don’t miss it in the crowd. And as you see that couple, pay attention to that couple.” So, he wasn’t just waiting on God, he’s waiting with God.

A few years ago, some of you heard the story. A few years ago, I was in Walmart it about Christmas time at Walmart Highlands Ranch and I had one of those experiences I just came in and I walk right past a couple of guys that were on a bench. And they were in some kind of heavy conversation. I honestly didn’t think much about them I walked right past them. The moment I stepped past them, I had this thought, which is “Hey, you should tell those guys that you know, they’re Christians.” And I was like, “No. That would be weird.” So I ducked into the office supply aisle.

And I had a conversation with God I was like, “God, was that you? Holy Spirit, was that a leading?” And you know, God said, Nothing. There was nothing else. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe the binders would start flapping or something would catch on fire, so I don’t know. But I’d had enough experiences at this point to realize that you know what, here’s the thing if you think it might be the Holy Spirit, you should do it. And honestly, if it’s a good thing, why wouldn’t you do it? And I was like, “Yeah, but this is a weird thing.” But it was such a clear thought. So, I went back out and they were deep in conversation, I stood in front of them, kind of like this and they had this…they could see my shoes. So, they did one of these. And I was there like, “Hey, ” said, “I feel like I’m supposed to tell you that I can tell you’re Christians, you’re followers of Jesus, are you?” Because that would have been awkward, right. And they both went, “Uh-huh.” And it turns out they were pastors, and they’d been having a conversation right before I came up, one of them had said to the other, “I’m not sure that anybody can even tell. I’m not sure they might even tell that I am a follower of Jesus, I’m not sure it’s making any difference.” And I was like, “Well, apparently it is. The light of Christ is shining out of you. And I just think you need to know that.” And I walked away.

This incredibly encouraging thing for them to experience and I got to be part of it because I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting when you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to do those things. It’s interesting how more sensitive you become. And so, I found that in the days after that, how many times I just had this very clear, more clear than ever since yeah, I need to make that phone call. I need to, I need to send that note, I need to have that conversation I need to lean in, in this conversation. The more we live with God, the more we find that we’re not just waiting on God, but God’s waiting on us. He has things he wants us to do all along the way, while we’re waiting things that we would miss out on if we just wait on God and don’t wait with him responding to those leadings.

In Ephesians 2:10 says that there are good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do even while we’re waiting on him to do what only he can do. So that’s your fourth key. Don’t just wait on God wait with him. And so, let me ask you to ask yourself this question. What is the Holy Spirit leading me to do in this season of waiting? What’s the Holy Spirit leading you to do? Maybe you’re a mom, and you’re just waiting for the kids to go back to school. And if you’re feeling like that, do you know what you are? You are normal. It’s okay. But maybe the Holy Spirit’s leading you to lean in. Maybe there’s an opportunity while they’re still home right now to maybe to go through an Advent reading with them every day. Our kid’s ministry is produced a great one and maybe the Holy Spirit’s leading you to lean into helping them understand what Christmas is really about in a unique way in an opportunity that you haven’t had before. Or maybe you’re waiting for your husband to go back to work. Or your wife or maybe you’re the husband or the wife waiting to go back to work, but you have an opportunity, and the Holy Spirit is leading you to lean into your relationship with your husband, your wife now. Maybe begin praying in the mornings before you head off to your rooms to do your work. Or maybe you’re a student and you’re waiting for school to open, but maybe God is calling you to lean into your relationship with your parents or maybe your brothers or sisters. Maybe he’s leading you to lean into your relationship with your neighbors or that person that he’s put in your heart. What’s that good thing that he’s calling you to do? That maybe it takes a little out of faith it’s a little nerve-wracking, but he’s calling you to do it right now and you know it. Maybe you need to lean in.

Four keys to the waiting on God, well, whatever it is, you’re waiting for. Key number one be careful to stay faithful. Not just to the big stuff but those little things that maybe you’ve allowed to slide that you need to push back into. Key number two don’t just wait, watch. Wait with an attitude of anticipation so you don’t miss God moving in the moment that it begins to happen. Key number three is, wait on who not what. Wait on God more than what you’re hoping God will do. I’m not saying God won’t do that but waiting on him is so much more powerful. And then number four, don’t just wait on God wait with him, be on mission with him while you’re waiting. Look, waiting is not easy. Can I get an amen on that? But there’s power in waiting.

Isaiah 40:31. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Pray with me.

God waiting is hard. We’ve done a lot of waiting this year. And many of us are waiting on things that have nothing to do with 2020, we’re just waiting for you to do what only you can do. And our hearts are heavy as we wait. And we’re even wondering why you waited so long. But Lord, we thank you for your servant Simeon in this example, we’re given in your Word. And we ask that you’d help us to take these lessons and change the way that we’re waiting to learn to wait well. To have joy and to be able to rejoice because we’re able to wait well on your promises.

If you’re listening to this, and you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do me a favor would you start praying right now for the people that are listening to this and they’re not followers of Jesus? And if that’s you, let me just speak to you for a moment. You’re waiting on something too, you may be aware of it, you may not be aware of it. But we’re all waiting. And I said that one of the keys to waiting well is to wait with God and I want you to know that that’s a possibility for you too. Whatever it is you’re waiting on; you can wait with God. God wants to come alongside you. It’s really what Christmas is all about. He loves you so much. He sent his own Son to Earth. Jesus lived a perfect life. So he had no wrong that he had to pay for he had no sin that had to be made right. But he died on the cross to make our wrongs right, he died on the cross to pay for our sins. Three days after he died, he rose from the dead. And he offers us that when we put our trust in him when we say yes to following Jesus and putting our faith in him. He gives us the Holy Spirit. God himself comes and takes up residence with us. He comes alongside us and he wants you to have that not just now but for all eternity. That when we begin a relationship with God, it begins now. It changes everything about now. And it does so for all eternity it brings us to eternal life.

You can be forgiven of your sins, have a relationship with God, have God alongside you. You can wait on whatever you’re waiting for with him. And if you’ve never said yes to faith in Jesus, you can do that right now. You can experience everything I’m talking about. Here’s how you do it. Just you’re gonna have a conversation with God in your heart right now. Just say this to him say:

God. I’ve done wrong. I’ve committed sin. I’ve rebelled against you. I’ve walked away from you. Thank you for sending Jesus after me. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay for my wrong, my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. And I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, salvation, new life, and yourself. You’re offering to come into my life so we can be together forever. I want that. So, I’m saying yes, to following Jesus. Right now I’m committing to put my faith and my trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus, come into my life I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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