Day 19 // The Reward

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)

Yesterday on our Advent adventure we met a man named Simeon who was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah who was to come. Luke records the event when Mary and Joseph took their baby to present Him at the Temple and offer the customary sacrifice. As soon as Simeon took Jesus into his arms, he praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation ….” Can you imagine? How did he get to experience such an honor? The Bible says Simeon was “moved by the Spirit” and “went into the temple courts.”

While Simeon is blessing the child and the parents and praising God for the privilege of holding the one who would redeem him, we are introduced to another character. Her name is Anna. Anna means “grace,” and she is a godly widow who is 84 years old. She’s lived 77 years as a widow. But God’s timing is always perfect. Anna came up just as Simeon was praising God for the child Jesus. Both recognized immediately that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, who was promised to come. How did she know? Luke tells us something about Anna. “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”

Both Simeon and Anna lived in the anticipation of the promise that God was sending a Messiah, a deliverer who would come to save them. I would have loved to have seen this old couple as they rejoiced in seeing Jesus! Both had devoted their lives to “serving God by worship.” While Simeon had been moved by the Spirit to enter the temple that day, Anna had moved from the tribe of Asher and remained in the temple waiting for the appearing of God’s promised Messiah.

What if they had skipped church that day? After all, maybe the Spirit’s prompting was just an impulse, Simeon could have thought. And Anna was 84 years old. What if she had given in to the impulse to sleep in that day? Life was hard on widows in those days. She could have excused herself from church to rest. Had either or both done that, they would have missed it all! Faithfulness always has a reward! Their faithfulness was rewarded even though it took years. Your faithfulness in worship will also bring a reward. The Bible says that “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) Sometimes we get to experience some of that reward here and now. The ultimate reward is still to come. In Rev. 22:12 Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

Today as you go to church, go with the anticipation to encounter Christ and to worship Him. Who knows what reward God has waiting just for you?

What a reward it is, Heavenly Father, to encounter You in worship, to experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Lord Jesus! All of this and heaven, too! Help us today to worship You in spirit and truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How faithful are you in worship each weekend at your church?

What can you do to prepare your heart for worship as you come to church?

In what ways have you experienced reward for faithful service to God?