My Reader, if you know me personally, you will most likely think I am referring to my granddaughter, Anna Grace, when you read the title of this blog. However, this is not the case today. I am presently thinking about the prophetess Anna whom we meet in the scripture found in Luke 2.
And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision,
His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel
before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days
for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed,
they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT
OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice
according to what was said in the Law of the Lord,“A PAIR
OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” …. And there was a prophetess,
Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.She was
advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven
years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of
eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day
with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up
and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him
to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:21-24, 36-38
We recently celebrated the birth of Jesus on the holiday we know as Christmas. Eight days after Jesus was born (that would have been January 2 according to our calendar), Mary and Joseph took their newborn son to the temple. While there, they offered the required sacrifice according to Jewish custom and also encountered the prophetess Anna. I realize it has been twelve days beyond the time when Mary and Joseph would have presented Jesus within the temple, but I am still contemplating all of the events surrounding this sacred time of history.
Anna resided in the temple for close to seventy years. Living in the temple was not only Anna’s physical lifestyle, but it also described her spiritual relationship with the Lord. She dwelt in His presence! She never left the Lord’s presence and spent all her time worshiping Him according to Luke 2:37. Because of her steadfast devotion, she was sensitive to God’s leading and knew when Jesus was brought into the temple. A prophetess is a person who hears from God because of her closeness to God. That certainly described Anna! Physically and spiritually, Anna recognized the baby Jesus as the Son of God. Her response was to thank God for the privilege of seeing His Son. She also told others the news of this special baby and shared her spiritual insight regarding Jesus. She was an amazing woman who had a divinely ordained encounter with the Messiah. She recognized Jesus for Who he was to be while others had no comprehension of who he was.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for
your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
James 4:8 New Living Translation
When I read about Anna, I long to have the sensitive spirit that was evident within her. I feel like the Lord reveals insight to me at various times, but I have never experienced the type of epiphany unveiled to Anna. I need to be more attentive if I expect to hear the Lord speak more clearly to me. Anna set an example for how I should live. She was loyal to the Lord 24/7 while I am often distracted by things of the world. It is my fault that I do not have the same closeness to the Lord as was exhibited by Anna. As James says, God will come near to me if I will reach out to Him. It is my choice! If I were as devoted as Anna to prayer and praise and fasting, I am quite sure my sensitivity to the voice of the Lord would be greatly enhanced. When I think about my relationship with my granddaughter Anna, I realize I feel a closer connection to her if I spend one on one time with her instead of just thinking about her. I can always pray for her, however, I am able to pray more specifically for situations in her life when she and I have spent time together. It is the same with the Lord. I know that He is always with me because He is omnipresent but I have a greater sensitivity towards Him when I spend quiet time with Him. I can take this a step further and relate it to my prayers. I have to admit that much of my praying takes place while I am on a walk or doing dishes. However, I am more aware of the Holy Spirit’s leading when I shut out the busyness of the environment and focus only upon the Lord. When I allow my prayer time to be one on One time, prayer becomes a two-way conversation rather than my simply stating my requests to Him. Because intimacy was the lifestyle of the prophetess Anna, she was able to recognize the Son of God when He appeared in the temple as a baby with his parents.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the
Spirit of God dwells in you?
I Corinthians 3:16
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that
you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Anna resided in the temple, but now I am a temple of the Holy Spirit! Anna physically lived in the temple while the Holy Spirit spiritually lives in me. Living in the temple resulted in Anna living a life separated from the world. Living a holy separated life cost Anna the price of no longer living what others would call a “normal life.” However, this was a sacrifice she willingly made. My ability to be a temple of the Holy Spirit cost Jesus the price of the life. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit disconnects me from the world in a unique way enabling me not to be distracted by the ways of the world. Like Anna, I never want to be separated from my God. I want to dwell in His presence and allow His presence to dwell in me. I yearn to follow the example set by Anna over 2000 years ago.
How about you, My Reader? Can you identify with Anna in any way? Have you learned anything from her that will enhance your personal relationship with Jesus? Stay close to the Lord during 2015!