Don’t miss this broadcast! Derek gives us a multitude of reasons for waiting on God. For instance, we wait on God so we might become mature and complete, wanting nothing… We wait so we might be serene instead of anxious or angry… We wait so we might walk in the fullness of what God has planned for our lives. We wait on God so we might undergo supernatural transformation!
It’s good to be with you again, as we continue to study together a theme that is of great practical importance for each one of us: Waiting for God.
In my introductory talk yesterday I pointed out that the Bible has a great deal to say about waiting for God, and I gave a number of examples. I also singled out what I believe is the essence of waiting for God, as presented in Psalm 62, verses 1 and 2, and 5 and 6. And I’m going to read those verses again because I feel they are so significant. Psalm 62, verses 1 and 2.
“My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. [And then in verses 5 and 6,] My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” (NIV)
Let me remind you quickly of what I said about that. First of all we notice that the word “only” occurs four times, so that in waiting for God we are giving Him a position that is absolutely unique. We’re saying, “Whatever it is I need, there’s only one source and that’s God.” So in waiting for God, we acknowledge God.
In particular we acknowledge three aspects of our relationship with God and His with us. First of all, we acknowledge God as our source. Second, we acknowledge God’s sovereignty. And third we acknowledge our dependence on God, thus dealing with that carnal desire in every human being to be somehow independent of God.
We noted also the transition. David said the first time in verse 2, “I shall not be greatly shaken...” But the second time in verse 6 he says, “I shall not be shaken at all...” So we see that waiting for God develops stability. We start with the condition where we shall not be greatly shaken but by waiting for God we come to a place where we shall not be shaken.
I also pointed out that waiting for God is mutual—there are two sides to it. Not only do we wait for God, but God also waits for us. And He waits that He might have compassion. That He may be gracious. So we should never become self-centered and think only about the fact that, “Here am I having to wait for God.” We need to remind ourselves, “Thank, God, He is waiting also for me!”
Today I’m going to explain three further results produced in us by waiting for God. The first is, that waiting for God is a necessary part of the process by which we are made mature and complete. I’ll look first of all in James chapter 1, verses 2 and 4:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
That’s a beautiful conclusion. I’m sure all of us would wish to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. But not all of us always enjoy the process which brings us to that condition of being mature and complete. Because James says there’s only one way it can come about—through our faith being tested. And he said as we undergo and stand the tests, that develops perseverance. And out of perseverance comes the maturing and completion of our faith and our character. So perseverance is an essential link in the chain that leads to maturity and completeness. And perseverance means holding on, sticking it out. Not merely when we have something to do, but also when we have nothing to do. And I’m inclined to think that the latter is often harder than the former. It’s not so difficult to keep going when you’re busy doing something. But it’s much more testing to your faith when you have to keep going and you’ve got nothing but just wait, wait. Wait for God. Wait in silence for God. Wait for God only. He’s the only One who has the solution to your problem. He’s the only One who can meet your need. You can’t do it yourself. It’s vain to get so busy and to rush around and try to do this and that, you’ve just got to wait for God. And waiting for God in that way will strengthen and mature your character.
Secondly, waiting for God produces serenity. That’s a beautiful word—serenity. One we don’t meet to much of in our contemporary culture. There’s some beautiful words from Psalm 37, verses 7-9:
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Fret not yourself, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. [And we can just as well say, ‘they will inherit the earth.]’” (NASB)
There the opening verse says, “rest in the Lord.” How do we rest in Him? But waiting patiently for Him. What is the opposite of waiting patiently? Fretting. So waiting patiently deals with that tendency in us to fret, to get anxious, to get het up. Wait patiently; don’t fret.
And then it says, “cease from anger and forsake wrath.” Waiting for the Lord deals with those two problems in the character of so many of us: anger and wrath. You want to know the difference between anger and wrath? I’ll give you my little simple explanation. Anger is the kettle on the stove getting hotter all the time. But wrath is when it blows off steam. So if you give way to anger, in due course wrath will come. So the only solution is turn the stove off. How do we turn the stove off? The answer is by waiting for God. That deals with fretting. It deals with anger. It deals with wrath. It develops serenity.
And then we need to bear in mind that the inheritance is for those who have learned to wait. We can compare the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:5:
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (NASB)
Alternative translations for “gentle” are “humble” or “meek.” So waiting for God develops humility or meekness or gentleness. And that qualifies us to inherit the earth. Isn’t that exciting? I suppose most of us have heard that phrase, “All things come to him who waits.” If we understand it rightly, it’s true. Because those who wait are going to inherit the earth. They are going to be the heirs of God.
The third result produced in us by waiting for God is what I would call supernatural transformation. Something supernatural and miraculous happens within us when we’ve met the condition of waiting for God. I’m going to turn now to Isaiah chapter 40, verses 28-31.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary. And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (NASB)
There’s some beautiful promises there for those who wait for the Lord. First of all, we’re reminded of God’s infinite resources, His infinite strength, His infinite wisdom. We have to always bear that in mind when we talk about waiting for God, we have to have the right picture of God in our minds. And then Isaiah assures us that this God will give strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might, He increases power. But at the same time He warns us there’s an end to all natural strength. This is represented by the youths and the vigorous young men. The youths grow weary and tired, the vigorous young men stumble badly. In other words, Isaiah is telling us there’s an end to all natural strength and ability and it’s not sufficient. We need supernatural strength, supernatural ability. That comes to those who wait for the Lord. Isaiah says, “They will gain new strength.” The Hebrew says literally, “They will exchange strength.” Can you see that picture? You’re weak, you’re tired, you’ve come to the end of your own resources, there’s nothing more that’s effective that you can do except what? Wait for the Lord. Focus your heart and mind on Him. Turn your eyes toward Him. Realize the answer is not in yourself, it’s not in the world around, it comes only from the Lord. And as you meet that condition in God’s due time, you will renew your strength. You will exchange your strength. In place of your weakness and your limitations, you will receive the divine, supernatural strength of God.
I want to emphasize that word “supernatural.” Waiting for the Lord is one of the keys to experiencing the supernatural. In my talk tomorrow I’m going to speak about the example of Abraham. I’m going to trace a little of Abraham’s life and I’m going to show you how, as a result of learning to wait for the Lord, he came to a point of supernatural transformation in his own life. For Abraham it was a long lesson. We’ll go into that tomorrow in some detail. It took him 25 years, but it was worth waiting, because at the end he gained new strength. He gained supernatural strength for God. So let me give that to you as a closing promise. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow, as I have already said, I’ll be illustrating this principle of waiting for God from the life of Abraham.