Derek continues his teaching on waiting by looking at what may hinder our fellowship with the Lord; unconfessed sin. If we have sin in our life we are not truly walking in the light and thus are not in fellowship. Spending time waiting on God gives Him an opportunity to speak to us about anything that may need to be confessed and dealt with.
We serve, we wait. The Bible in more than fifty places speaks about the necessity of waiting on God or for God.
Does anybody have an NIV here, anybody near the front? Can I borrow it for a moment? Thank you so much. The reason I’ve chosen this—I’ll give it back in a minute—is that its translation of Isaiah 64:4 is so vivid. This is Isaiah 64:4:
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god besides you who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
So, this is a picture of the one true God. And what is his distinctive characteristic? He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. And if you want Him to act on your behalf, you know what you have to do? You have to wait. My conviction is the church will never get beyond where it is until it learns to wait on God.
I was in a small city in England called Hull. And at the end of my series of meetings I called the leaders up on the platform and prayed for them. And apparently God released something through that. And for four years a group of leaders representing perhaps fifteen churches now have been meeting together and waiting on God. Almost unbelievable. These meetings that we were in, in a way were different from almost any meeting I’ve ministered in. Not because I was different but because something had changed in the atmosphere. I preached some very straight messages that only those sins we confess are forgiven. If we don’t confess our sins they are not forgiven. God is fully ready and waiting to forgive but He’s laid down a condition, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just. And at the end we had about ten couples. Without any emotion or hype I said, “Now, if you need to confess sins you can confess them to God but the Bible also says confess your sins one to another that you may be healed”—and there is one major barrier to healing, is unconfessed sin—“you’re free to come down.” Well, they came down for about two hours just coming forward, one by one, to confess their sins. And some of them for quite well known leaders in that area.
Now, to me that’s significant. I see it as the fruit of people waiting on God.
I hear a lot of prophecies about revival and I may have given some myself. But I’ll tell you one thing, we don’t have revival until we have it. And, we don’t have it until we’ve met the conditions. You can prophesy as much as you like but the real barrier to revival is unconfessed sin. And until that’s dealt with you can do as much as you like. You can do all the preaching and all the singing and all the publicity but the results will be disappointing.
You say, “I don’t think I have any sins.” Well, wonderful! But how close have you come to God? You spend a little while waiting in the presence of God and you may have a different view.
See, I’m sharing out of personal experience. I’ve never been a backslider as it’s called, quote, backslider. I’ve served the Lord more than fifty years and by the grace of God I have seen uncounted numbers of people helped. But when Ruth and I got alone with God without any premeditated plan or agenda, it took God six months to clear up the debris in my life. And God showed me things that I had done thirty years previously. He said, “You never confessed it.” And just to help us humble ourselves, Ruth and I confessed to one another. You don’t have to do that always but the Bible does say confess your sins one to another, doesn’t it? Do you know that? James 5:16. How would you feel about that?
Years and years ago I read the journals of John Wesley and I discovered in his journals somewhere in Yorkshire just about fairly close to where we were preaching he said one of the strongest Methodist societies that he knew had grown out of ten people who committed themselves to meet together weekly to confess their faults to one another. That’s not the modern plan for starting a church, is it? And after all, the Methodist movement did impact the whole of Britain and most of the United States for one century. So, maybe there’s something to be said for it.
I feel impressed to read Isaiah 59:1–2. We’re so used to referring these words to the Jews that we sometimes forget they apply to Gentiles also. Isaiah 59:1–2:
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear...”
God has still got good hearing and His arm still is powerful.
“...but your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.”
Now, God is no respecter of persons. It’s wonderful to know that we have the right of access to God through the blood of Jesus when the blood of Jesus cleanses us. But the blood doesn’t cleanse those who don’t confess. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” There are three continuing present tenses. If we continually walk in the light, we continually have fellowship one with another and the blood continually cleanses. But they’re conditional. The first word is if. If we walk in the light.
My comment on that is this, out of fellowship, out of the light. If you’re not in fellowship you’re not in the light. Because, if we walk in the light we have fellowship one with another. And if we’re out of fellowship the blood is not cleansing us. The blood does not cleanse in the dark, it only cleanses in the light. And if we’ve been in the dark and we want to be cleansed we have to come to the light, for the blood cleanses in the light but not in the dark.
I personally believe—this is entirely a personal opinion—that God will never have His way with the church in America until the leaders of the church take time to wait on God. I say specifically the leaders.