Thursday, September 24, 2015
Anna - God's not done with me
(Opening eyes) "Self, let's get up. There are things to be done today."
(Self, groaning) "Oh, no, let's just lie here a little longer. The knees are still aching from working with the toddlers at church yesterday."
(Determinedly) "No, self, moving around will help the knees. We promised that we would do some things today, and first we need to get a good start on the day. Now, get out of bed and let's kneel and pray."
(Self, resigned now to obey) "Oh, alright. But let's take some aspirin first?"
I know that some who study with us are energetic, bouncy, and young. I also know that some of our readers will truly identify with that "conversation" above. (Grin)
Let's finish our study of Anna by looking at some important things to guide our own lives, OK? Young or old, I think these will apply!
We only have three verses that tell us about Anna, but those three pack a lot of power. We can see from her life, how to become a much more effective messenger for Jesus Christ.
The first thing we see is that Anna was a person of great purity. The verses tell us that not only was she a prophetess, but that she fasted and prayed and was almost always in the temple. I like to look at other translations as we study, and compare the NIV and KJV, etc. The King James says, "She lived with her husband seven years from her virginity." For that to have been an important detail for us to read, this many years later, I wonder if the Spirit was trying to impress upon us the fact that she had lived a pure, holy life both before and after her marriage and widowhood.
Many Christians wonder why they are not as effective in witnessing as they would like. Perhaps they are living lives that are bordered with ungodliness. They know that their hypocrisy limits their credibility with unbelievers; sometimes they are ashamed and are simply silent. They feel they are not worthy to speak up for God. The unsaved hope to hear a message from us of hope and deliverance; we must not allow sin to silence our witness.
The verses also reveal that she was a prayer warrior; she was in communication with God both night and day. We can imagine that through her prayers she gained insights that many did not have. She was probably well aware of Jeremiah's speaking for God:
Call upon me, and I will show you great and mighty things that
you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
The Bible tells us that we gain wisdom through prayer (James 1:5). It also says that evil strongholds are torn down by prayer (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Anna prayed, and God was able to use her to tell others about Christ. Her faith was a magnificent and strong faith, a faith that God could use.
Remember when the four men brought their friend to Jesus, when he was teaching inside the house? They climbed on the roof, made an opening, and lowered him down to Jesus. It's really interesting to see what the Bible says next: it says that Jesus first saw the faith of the friends who lowered him, not the one they lowered. He reached out to the sick man because of the faith of his friends.
We might not be able to convince a lost acquaintance to come to church with us, or to read the Bible with us, but we can surely lift that person into the presence of Jesus Christ by praying for them! If we are inspired to have faith like those friends, and faith like Anna's, we can move mountains!
It's important, too, to be bold. The verses say that she spoke to others who were looking for redemption. She was not too timid to initiate a conversation, if she felt that person needed to know her God. If we are prayer warriors, we can also pray for faith to step out of our comfort zone, and share the good news of Jesus. Being bold will keep us from getting discouraged; it will keep us ready to share with others, no matter the darkness, or the mocking we may hear.
Lastly, look at the emphasis on her age. She was a widow, and she probably struggled with poverty, loneliness, and sadness, but she gives us a wonderful example to never, ever give up. God's timing is perfect, and Anna waited faithfully and was rewarded. She also makes her greatest contribution when she is the weakest, and perhaps most vulnerable. We can persevere by doing what we can, where we are, and with what we have. Oh, to be like Mary of Bethany -- Jesus said "she has done what she could."
Not just age, but let's not let any barrier stop us from making a contribution to our Lord's kingdom. God uses young and old, rich and poor, women and men . . . we all play roles in His plan. Anna challenges us to stop making excuses . . . God's not done with us.