Are you optimistic and hopeful about 2017? Optimism and hope are influencing elements in our lives. They are anchored in our relationship with Jesus. We should be able to look at each new year with faith-filled optimism.
I have been sensing something very special about this year. I have wondered, “Will this be a year that God pours out of His Spirit in revival and awakening in America and around the globe?” Regardless of what takes place in the Church this year, 2017 is a good year!
The psalmist writes, “You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance” (Psalm 65:11 NKJV). What if we all chose to believe this truth and declare it throughout the year? God crowns the year with His goodness and His path is full of abundance. Yes, there will be challenges we all face. Despite the obstacles, declare that it’s a good year, and be expectant for God to move in your life and circumstances.
God’s goodness and faithfulness remain constant, despite uncertainty. Refuse to listen to negativity and fear, rather be strong and of good courage knowing God is with us. The church is glorious and shining brightly—Jesus is in our midst! We, as His body, are a beacon of light and hope in a pessimistic world.
Jesus in our Midst
In Luke’s account of the dedication of Jesus, he describes how God reveals to two expectant people a fulfillment of promise and a “good year.” Simeon and Anna have spent much of their lives waiting expectantly for the revelation of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. In fact, God revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Comfort of Israel.
A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
“Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
because my eyes have seen your salvation.
You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and a glory for your people Israel.”
His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” Luke 2:25-35 CEB
Simeon, just a devout brother who loved God and His Word, waited in faith for the revelation of Jesus. Luke doesn’t tell us how long he had been waiting, but the inference is that it was for some time. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit leads Simeon into the temple to see the baby Jesus. He interrupts what is taking place, and takes the child and begins to thank God and prophesy. He declares that Jesus is the light of the Gentiles and the Glory of Israel, and that His life will cause the rise and fall of many (two kingdoms in conflict) and even the sorrow of His mother Mary. His eyes have seen what God had promised him—the coming of the Christ.
Simeon had prophetic eyes to see what God had promised and what God was revealing. Could this be the year church? What has God said to you personally? What has God said for His Church in this hour? Are you expectant for the Lord to come again, in a profound outpouring of His Spirit, to save and deliver?
Next Luke describes what happens with Anna.
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 CEB
Anna, an elderly devout widow, who served God day and night for years with prayer and fasting, comes in that moment to see the promise fulfilled in Jesus. Like Simeon, she is led by the Holy Spirit to see Jesus. Her expectancy led her into revelation fulfilled. She gives thanks to God for seeing Him, and begins to share with everyone who was expectant in Jerusalem for the coming Messiah.
Think about this: Luke records just two people in Jerusalem that day who were expectant and hopeful for the coming of Messiah. They could “see” where others couldn’t. What are you seeing this year? Could this be the year? What is God revealing, offering, to His people to see?
The Fullness of Time
Paul tells the Galatian believers, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4 NKJV) Not an accidental birth, but a planned arrival.
There are the “suddenlies” of God, where God breaks into human history and His purposes are revealed. We cooperate with His sovereignty, and God births visitation. Could this be a “fullness of time” juncture? Perhaps, as we “lean into God,” expecting fulfilled promises, He will give us “eyes” to see what He is revealing.
I woke up New Year’s Day, five minutes before my alarm was to ring. The clock said, “5:55.” Five is the number for grace—could this be a year of great grace? I believe so, this could be the year! I was out for a walk New Year’s Eve Day by a dry river wash. It had been raining in the mountains the night before, and suddenly, I could hear the sound of water… but couldn’t see any water. As I walked closer to a small ledge in the wash, suddenly I could see the water coming! I could hear the “sound” of what was coming before I could “see” what was coming. What are you hearing? What are you looking for this year? Perception is key. Lean into the vision!
Hold Fast to the Promise
God promised Simeon he would see the Messiah. Anna “knew” she would see Him. To see your promises fulfilled this year, wait confidently in faith. Faith “leans into” the promises, and pulls with expectation. Allow hope to fill your perspective. Hope leads you into God’s presence. To change your situation and influence others, you must be hopeful and expectant.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” Heb. 11:1 NKJV
“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” Rom. 4:18 NLT
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV
It’s important not to lose sight of the goodness of the Lord. You are united with Christ, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, His tabernacle. You are His ambassador creating a culture of heaven here on earth, a dual citizen bringing change to your atmosphere and influencing society. God’s presence is working in and through you to help transform the world. You must live from expectancy, and you must “wait” in faith.
The very cry of humanity is to know the Father and God’s love – Jesus is God’s love revealed in human flesh. Philip said in John 14:8, “Show us the Father and it is enough.” Jesus responds, “…If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”
God’s love has been revealed through Jesus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Paul prays that the Ephesian believers would know the vastness of God’s love, “I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:19 CEB
2017 is a year of God’s love to grow stronger in our hearts and in the Church this year. Love compels, love draws, love restores, and love heals. Pursue love! Let love burn bright in your heart. When others see your love for Jesus and for each other, they will be drawn to God. See when others can’t see. His love illuminates the eyes!
Participating in His Arrival
We must wait confidently in faith, as I mentioned, and we must let love burn in our hearts. Here are some other keys to participating in His arrival:
Be Expectant. Live in God’s Word and Promises. What has God said to you personally? You are no accident, but a planned arrival, loved by the Father, here at an appointed time. You are part of a generation marked for purpose and destined to see Him and His purposes unfold in your life this year!
Pray and Fast. Seek the Lord earnestly. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (Jam. 4:8).
Be Holy Spirit led. Simeon and Anna “saw” when others couldn’t see. What are you hearing and seeing right now? Learn how God speaks to you, He is speaking to each of us and there is a unique way that God communicates to you. How does God speak to you? Learn to discern.
Remain Steadfast. Heb. 2:1-4 CEB says,
This is why it’s necessary for us to pay more attention to what we have heard, or else we may drift away from it. If the message that was spoken by angels was reliable, and every offense and act of disobedience received an appropriate consequence, how will we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? It was first announced through the Lord, and then it was confirmed by those who heard him. God also vouched for their message with signs, amazing things, various miracles, and gifts from the Holy Spirit, which were handed out the way he wanted.
How is your walk; is it well with your soul? Is there compromise? Secret sin? How close are you to the Lord? How much do you love Him? Simeon and Anna knew when God was in the house, and they moved. In a city full of people, only two moved. When we drift we miss what the Lord is doing. This is not a year to drift from God. This could be the year!
Friends, 2017 is a good year! A year to “look expectantly for the fulfillment of promises.” Stay steadfast in your walk with God and hold tightly to His promises… This could be the year!
For a more in-depth look, watch the sermon, “Could This Be the Year?”