Signs of the Spirit


Ephesians 3: 20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Luke 2: 27-33

When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.’

The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him.

Isaiah 55: 8-11

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.

‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return to it without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


Imagine Simeon, an old man, praying and longing for many years, clinging to a promise that he wouldn’t die before seeing the Messiah with his own eyes.  Prompted by the Spirit, he walks into the temple.  On entering he sees a young mother and father proudly holding their new born son as they dedicate Him to the Lord.  In that moment, he realises that this is the promised one, here is the Messiah, the long-awaited deliverer the prophets had spoken about so often through the centuries.  He describes this baby as “your salvation”.  Interestingly the name Jesus literally means ‘God saves’ or ‘God my salvation’.

At a time when most Jews expected a forceful, military Messiah who would pour out God’s wrath on their Gentile enemies, Simeon sees in this little, vulnerable baby, God’s salvation.  Not only that, Simeon also realises that this blessing wasn’t exclusively limited to Israel, but was for “…all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles….”  In other words, he gets what Jesus is all about.  Most of Israel completely missed who Jesus was because He came in a way they didn’t expect, in humility and service.  That’s why they rejected and crucified Him. 

How often do we miss the answer to our prayers or the fulfilment of God’s promises because He does things in a way we don’t expect?  Perhaps that’s because He does “…more than all we ask or imagine…” (Eph 3: 20) If God only did what we expected, we would be more likely to recognise His work.  However, because He does “immeasurably more”, often we don’t recognise His hand or understand His ways. 

He tells us clearly: “…my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55: 9) God often doesn’t do things in our time frame or in the way we think He should do them. He even uses people we don’t think He should use.  He loves to mess with all our preconceptions and biases.  Therefore, like Simeon, we need to be a people always alert for signs of His work, attentive to the moving of the Spirit, noticing the Father’s fingerprints, seeing beyond our circumstances, seeking His face and listening for His voice.

Simeon recognised the Father at work even when the provision was packaged differently than he had expected.  Today, ask the Father what He is doing wherever you are.  Stay attentive to His promptings and gentle nudges.  Look for signs of His favour and listen for His voice.  Be obedient to whatever you sense Him leading you to do. Know that He is already at work in every place we will go, in the people we will encounter, and is doing more can we could ever possibly imagine.