Great Reward

“Fear not Abram,I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15:1

It looked bleak. It looked like Abraham had misunderstood God. After all it had been years since Gods promise fell onto the aging ears of the patriarch.Yet the word of God came again, reassuring and confirming the promise. Abraham responded to Gods encouragement by saying “What should you give me since I continue childless…for you have given me no offspring and a member of my household shall be my heir.” Even years after the promise was made Abraham still found himself in the same plight; childless. By his words we can tell he may have settled for a partial fulfillment; that his servant would be the heir God spoke of. Isn’t it just like us to want to take the miraculous out of the promise? Isn’t it just like humans to settle for the easy fix? We get a little antsy waiting on God to come through, so impatience crowds out hope and we settle and pitch our tent in the rational, where things make sense.

God, knowing that our dusty frames tend to scatter as time passes, took Abraham outside and once again explained His promise. As God lifted Abrahams face toward the stars,He invited him to keep going…to leave the campsite of rational and follow Him to the miraculous.

“And he believed the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness”

God is a God who delights in rewarding the ones He loves. He wants to bless…he wants to adorn us with favor and lavish us with riches. He’s a giver. It’s his character. From the first scene of time we see it…God giving life and giving purpose as he set Adam and Eve over creation.
To give without any incentive, without any need is grace and it is grace that is the motivater of God’s promises.

His word brings grace. 

 When God speaks, cosmos stand at attention, the elements of water stands straight up, breath races back to deflated lungs, the shackles of oppression fall off, disease and pain crumble. Gods word gives; It gives hope, security, peace, purpose, life, restoration and freedom.As I look at this book laid out before me, I realize it’s the gift that keeps on giving. There is nothing in all creation that holds the power of the Word of God-nothing. Within the bound pages we call a Bible, the ink is pumped to life with the Spirit and it holds the keys to transformation for every situation you will face. Don’t cut it short, don’t brush the Word off as a material object with insufficient power. No, don’t rob yourself with that kind of mentality. The Word is powerful, because it rolls of the tongue of the Almighty. And in this written word we find the Promise of our inheritance as Abrahams seed. (Galatians 3:29 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abrahams offspring, heirs according to the Promise.)

The way of the Word is that inheritance comes through a promise. That the same God who loves to give uses His word to do it. 

The word of God shields us. It makes our hearts arrow resistant. It wall papers our minds with the fresh renewal of the Spirit. It protects us from the deadly cries of the flesh and the lies of the enemy. It shines a light on the dark allurement of the world and exposes its real intentions. The word is a ferocious and bold guard, letting nothing in that lives in the dark shadows of defeat. It even protects us from our own fickleness-if we let it.( Let the word of God dwell in you richly… Colossians 3:16)

The Promise of God has always been armor to the man of God. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah….all heard a promise. That promise would eventually lead to their reward but in the meantime that promise acted as a shield. A shield that could only be lifted up by faith.

Gods promises are meant to protect not expose. But yet that’s how we often feel; exposed. Exposed and vulnerable to attack, like we’ve been abandoned in enemy territory without any weapons. As we continue on we have the choice of faith or fear. Which one will it be? One leads to protection the other to our inprisonment. We can rest in the promise because it’s a safe there. Not because there is no risk or no pain but because it is shielded by God. He protects it and so when we pitch our tent there instead of in the campground called “rational” then God Himself is our barricade and rampart.

The safest place for us is in the will of God no matter how loud the wind is howling or how violent the waves, Gods promises provide protection because they are guarded by covenant; an oath where God swears by His own name that His word will prove true. God puts his name on the chopping block, the promises of God hold the mallet and if they do not find fulfillment He says His name will be cut off. Meaning He puts His glory, His own name (His being) on the table if it does not happen like he has stated. He is collateral for His own promises.
That’s what we see in Genesis 15 when God puts Abraham to sleep so he knows it’s all on the shoulders of God to make the promise happen. 

He requires nothing from us but faith. Nothing. His promises have enough strength in themselves that they do not need the feeble hands of man to help them to their feet.

The Word made flesh was given to us. The ancient echo of the Promise of inheritance fell upon the ears of humanity as the pounding of nails pierced the Word. As The Word was pierced, bleeding out the fulfillment of inheritance, the greatness of our reward was was found in the emptiness of the grave. There the blessing of Abraham found it’s fulfillment…our Reward indeed.

 He is our shield, The Word incarnate, and He is our very great Reward; the fulfillment to the promise. Nothing in all of earth could be more precious as all of heaven was given as our reward. 

Worth the wait 

Patience. It’s an attribute we rarely see in such a fast paced world.  But we see a beautiful display of a life steeped in the glory of patience in Luke 2:22-38. 

Simeon was a man who was waiting on God-literally. God had promised him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. So, day in, day out, he went into the temple anticipating the day when his eyes would see the salvation of Israel; when his promise would be realized. We’re not real sure how long he had been waiting or how old he was. All the Sunday School pictures I’ve ever seen show an old man, on the threshold of death. Scholars believe he probably was elderly. Yet, we have no idea because Scripture is silent on the subject. Maybe the silence was intentional so that this mans example of patience while waiting would speak to all ages. It occurred to me as I peered into the life of this ancient man; you don’t have to be old to be waiting on God. People of all ages find themselves in a period where we are waiting on God to come and act. Are you waiting on something? Then you know how painful the sound of the clock can be. Every passing moment leaves the promises of God unfulfilled and your heart longing….longing to see His salvation. 

No matter his age, Simeon was a devout man. Not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because he was submitted to the timing of God. He knew what God had told him and he trusted Him to fulfill it. He didn’t question if he would get to see the Messiah because God told him he would. He may have been waiting for years… waiting on God to do what He said He would. Then one day, a day just like every other, the Word made flesh was carried into the temple by the arms of a poor young couple. At that moment the Shakienah glory entered the temple once again (It left in Ez 10) and the aging priest saw the fulfillment of His promise. 
I love the description of Simeon in verse 25. It says he was waiting, devout and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Think about how hard it is to stay devout while waiting. 
The Greek definition of devout is ( eulabes) taking well, careful, circumspect. The word for wait is prosdechomai- to wait with patience and confidence.
As Heaven closed up for 400 years (The world was in a dry spell. The tongue of God had be still for 400 years.) Simeon took all the circumstances into speculation. He stood on the promise of God and looked at the circumstances. He didn’t stand on the circumstances and look at Gods promise. To stay devout in the midst of a drought calls for this kind of perspective. If we are waiting on God and we look through the dry circumstances around us we will wither up. Yet if we look at those same circumstances through the promises God made then even though its dry all around us- our souls will not be. 
Things tend to dry out as time goes on: paint, bones, clothes, land. To suck the moisture out of an object we allow it to sit, especially in the heat or under the sun. Our souls tend to do the same thing. As we wait on God we will have to fight to keep our “moisture” to keep the refreshment of the Spirit. We will have to fight the dryness with this outlook or our perspective will dry us out. We will become dehydrated. The uncertainty of the dry season will draw out our vitality. 

Yet we see a man, who had been waiting. Waiting on the promise of God to be fulfilled and yet he had not dried out. He still had a robustness about him, he was still thriving despite the dry conditions. 
His roots were deep. 
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
He didn’t worry about how long the drought was nor about the crop because his trust was placed solely on the head of God, resting in the security of His heart and will, not on circumstances. Not trusting in time but in God. 
We are much too fickle with our devotion. We place it in many things…but the one that often goes unnoticed is the sly god of time. We watch it, we account for every minute… yet instead of us taking hold of it somehow it takes hold of us and we are driven by the  tyranny of the urgent. Driven by something we can never grasp, slaves to the tick of the clock. That’s why we look for it to come through for us. That’s why we buy into the lie “time heals all things”. It doesn’t. Ask anyone who has buried a child or lost a spouse or ask someone whose dreams have been dashed. Time doesn’t heal, the Lord heals. Yet we look for it to, we demand a lot out of time that it simply cannot give; healing, restoration, hope, fulfillment, satisfaction, purpose. Time is a vehicle God uses for the eternal to be manifested in the visible realm. The clock was set into motion to work for eternity. Time is an agent in the hands of a timeless God. Yet when we think of time we think of restrictions, time says something has to be by a certain point or it’s marked “late”. Yet even the chains of time can not bind God. He works free from the tyranny of the urgent, He is the one who can break through the barricade of time. That’s why it’s said of him that he calls things that aren’t as though they are. (Romans 4:17) Time doesn’t restrict Him but it will restrict us when we trust in the ticks of the clock, the pages of a calendar over the hand and heart of the One who set time into motion. 
Dry seasons send farmers into a panic, because they have no control over the circumstances that determines their livelihood. They ring their hands and pace around their fields; to no avail. All they can do is wait on the drought to be over. And it will be. Maybe your reading this post just to hear those words: it wont last forever. One day the skies will grow dark, pregnant with fulfillment, and then it will come. The wait will be over and your eyes will see the salvation of the Lord. 
Focus on the God of the promise not on the lack of clouds. 
I hate to wait. I like every minute of my day to be accounted for. Just the other day I sat at a drive through waiting on my order. I had been sitting there awhile and I felt myself growing impatient, even though I had nowhere to be or anywhere to go, I felt antsy as the minutes ticked on as I sat still. And maybe that’s why waiting is so excruciating to some; we have to be still. We as temporal creatures mark every second that can not be accounted for as time lost. If we aren’t moving and doing then we’re “wasting time” because the stamp of purpose never left its mark in the visible realm. So we pat our foot and sigh under our breath, every minute we spend waiting is a minute lost in the whirlpool of time. Yet not with an eternal God. Time spent waiting is some of the most important times we will face. It’s in the season of waiting that God cultivates and prepares us for the fulfillment of His promises. We want it now, the sooner the better, right? Why would God waste vital time and not grant His promises to us instantaneous? Because He knows that the time between the promise and the fulfillment is strategic in the process of cultivation. Just as the soil must be turned up and made ready for the seed-so we must be made ready for the fulfillment of promises. And that takes times. 
As Simeon held the Messiah child in his arms, as he cradled the great I Am…all that time spent waiting, all the moments that seemed to be washed down the drain of insignificance, all the days he waited, they were worth it. Jesus is always worth the wait. 
I don’t know what your waiting on in this season of your life but it’s  worth it. It’ll be worth every midnight tear, every battle with doubt. For every tick of the clock that seemed wasted and forgotten will be redeemed. Stay devout. It’s key to your survival in the desert. For that kind of perspective welcomes the Spirit and He is the One that breathes vitality into our dry bones. I love Ezekiels answer when the Lord asked him if the dry bones could live; he said “O Lord God you know”.Many of us have given up on our own dry bones because we think we know. We assume it’s too late because our circumstances tell us so. Ezekiel looked at the valley of dry bones as what God said it would be, not what he saw and because he trusted the Lord would do what he said, he prophesied; he spoke as if what God said had already taken place and the Spirit took over from there. Our job in the dry times is to trust God, to cling to His word and one day we will see those dry bones dance and it will be worth the wait.