Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

The Occupation of the Heart with God Himself

by Mary Ellen Black

The Prophecy of Anna
37 She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
 
Wow! How can one small passage pack such an amazing message? From the obvious to the somewhat obscure, this familiar passage jumped off the page as though I had never read it before.
 
HELPFUL BACKGROUND DETAILS
Anna was a prophetess (verse 36), which means she was a woman who proclaimed God’s WORD – speaking everything God gave her to speak – and boy, did He give her a lot to speak on this day.

As verse 36 tells us, Anna was the “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher“, meaning she was a descendant of Jacob, the father of Judah, the tribe from which Jesus, “The Lion of Judah”, descended.

When verse 38 says, “At that moment”, it is referring to the time Mary and Joseph had come to the Temple to present Jesus to the LORD, see verses 21-35; setting Him apart to the LORD was fulfilling the law’s requirement for every firstborn male.

ANNA
Anna spent her life at the Temple. She worshiped God through fasting and praying both night and day. Clearly, she was devoted to God. As God would have it, my Pastor recently preached on ‘worship’ in his series on “The 7 Habits of Deeply Spiritual People”. The first, and what I believe he called the core habit, is “worship”. He shared several definitions of worship, including:
“giving or showing someone their worth”
“the outpouring of a soul because we’re at rest with God”
“the occupation of the heart with God Himself”
and “a conscious passion for glorifying God in everything because He alone is deserving”

After sharing these definitions, Pastor Lemming made the point that this type of worship only happens when we see God for who He really is. As I sat reading this passage about Anna, his words came to mind. Clearly, Anna saw God for who He really was, and because she did, she was able to see Jesus, even as a young child, for who He really was – the long-awaited Messiah! Reread the passage and watch as Anna’s surrender fueled her alertness to who He was, which in turn fueled her mission to “speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem”.

Essential to Anna’s story and her worship is that she was a prayer warrior. I believe she’s actually a great example of what Paul instructed the Colossians to be like in Colossians 4:2 when he said: “Be devoted to prayer.”

Note again Anna’s reaction in verse 38, “At that moment, [Anna] came up to [Mary and Joseph, and Jesus] to give thanks to God and to speak about the child, [Jesus], to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” With a heart beautifully surrendered to God, Anna was positioned to see and be a part of God’s presence and work.
HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE? I have learned to ask this question whenever I’ve finished reading through a passage of Scripture as a way of seeing how the Scripture applies to me…

Surely we are to live beautifully surrendered like Anna, daily worshiping God. We may not be at the physical “temple” night and day as she was, but what hit me as I was reading and digesting the passage were the words of Paul to the Corinthians that – we, our bodies, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and was given to us by God. We are meant to Worship God – showing Him His worth, recognizing His vast superiority, and having a conscious passion for glorifying Him in everything – “night and day” - just like Anna.
 
We are meant to proclaim Jesus just like Anna, for Jesus is the Gospel message, the very message that Paul described as the “power of God for salvation”.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 NET

We are to be devoted to prayer as she was. It should not be something we only do in the morning and evening or when we have a desperate need. We are meant to pray - without ceasing, - staying alert to the opportunities and needs throughout the day to call on or cry out praises to the Lord on our own behalf or for others.

RESPONSE TO GOD’S WORD
Father – Oh, what beautiful words and instruction from a Scripture passage so familiar and yet somehow so new. Help us to live like Anna – devoted to You in every way – worshiping You night and day, fixed on You, unceasing in prayer, and unashamed to proclaim Jesus to everyone we meet!
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