One of my greatest sins is that I need patience... and I need it NOW! … If ever I was preaching to myself, this would be it!
2 Corinthians 1:20
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
Last week we looked at the Promises of God, how they are yes and amen. Not promises you seek out and claim for yourself, not blab it and grab it or name it and claim it promises, but ones that God quickens to your heart. Those promises, when you're sure that God has given it to you, you can stand on forever!
We learned that the missing element in truly seeing God’s promises manifested in your life is oftentimes not faith, but simply knowing God. If you serve Him, if you love Him, if you truly know Him then faith grows because you know you can trust Him. And of course you get to know God by reading His Word.
But there is one teeny, tiny snag… impatience!
This is surely one of my greatest sins. I get impatient with almost everything. I'm impatient with my work, impatient with ministry, impatient on the road, Impatient when I have to wait at the bank, impatient that people don't seem to want to change, impatient when my needs aren't met. I'm even impatient with myself that I still struggle with impatience!
The impatient may not always be wrong on issues, but they are almost always wrong in their attitudes. (Quote by - R. J. Rushdoony)
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
God made a promise to Abram. He promised him back in Genesis 12, and it took 25 years, 25 YEARS for the promise to come true.
God spoke to Abram many times. God speaks to us every day too. It says his faith was credited as righteousness, and maybe God did that because He knew just how long it would take, and how faithful Abraham would have to be.
The promises of God are yes and amen as we saw in last week’s message, but one of the major problems we face is that His time frame and ours rarely line up. His is almost always longer, and for that I need patience, don't you?
The Reformer John Calvin (1509–1564) said, “There is no time in which God does not invite us to himself.” And there is no time when God calls more loudly to us than when we are asked to wait patiently and persevere in the face of silence.
WHY ARE WE WAITING, when I NEED PATIENCE?
Let's face it, human beings, and me in particular, don't do patience very well.
Abram and Sarai faced a seemingly endless wait. They had no children, yet God had told Abram that he would have an heir (see Ge 15:4). What was God doing?
And I bet if God has given you a promise, and it tarries, you ask the same question, right?
When we are faced with waiting, our minds race ahead. Our fingers tap. And often we begin to question: “Where is God, anyway? Life wasn’t supposed to look like this.What is God doing? Why hasn't He answered my prayer?”
God intended for the holding patterns of life to be times of reflection and contemplation that draw us closer to him. They are times of invitation, when God calls us to Himself. They are not His attempts at frustrating us. They are not times when He's “teaching us a lesson.” He's a loving Father, and He doesn't make us wait for no reason. He loves us, and has a plan for us. And if we wait, He has a reason.
In fact, often the reason (apart from character development in us) is that He is orchestrating situations and circumstances in the background, in ways we neither know nor understand…
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
When Joseph suffered in prison, God knew. When Daniel prayed God knew and sent an angel who was delayed. When Paul was in prison, God knew.
During waiting times, it can be helpful to prayerfully reflect upon our own impatient tendency to run from God during the silence. We get frustrated, and frustration and impatience rarely leads us closer to God. We cry out, but there's only silence, so we get mad! I want it all, and I want it now.
This impatience tendency shows our fear; it reflects a lack of faith that God loves us and has our best interests at heart. We struggle to trust Him, even more so if we don't know Him. I need patience now, don't you?
As Tara sang last week, if what we are praying for doesn't happen, will you still trust, will you still wait in hope?
WATCHING OUR WAIT
These days everyone seems to be watching their weight, but how about watching your wait?
John Piper said, "Patience in doing the will of God is not an optional Christian virtue, because faith is not optional and impatience is the fruit of unbelief. This is no minor skirmish!”
If we were to step back and have a good look at ourselves as we wait, we would probably observe a number of behaviour traits and emotions…
When we have to face a waiting period for our promises to come true, and perhaps like me you are sayin I need patience... now!, we often come up with our own explanations or reasons as to why the promise is not happening , and how we want to approach our circumstances.
We often rationalise things to give God a way out. We pray if it's your will, not to truly be obedient to His will, but to give Him an escape clause just in case it doesn't come true!
When our reasonings differ from what God’s Word has revealed, we usually try to disguise our true motive. We rationalise that we can do without the promise, so we can do what we want to do rather than be obedient the the Word of the Lord.
We sometimes think it through and rationalise that we should just do what we want to do, because God will do what He wants. We rationalise our behaviour, our lack of faith, what we say and do. He hasn't kept His end of the bargain, so why should I?
As we wait, albeit impatiently, we feel the intense need to direct our own fate. Sure, we put on a spiritual front, we talk about trusting God, but the need to control is rooted in a lack of faith and fear.
Control freaks are horrible to be around, terrible in church leadership, but I suspect that all of us deep down grapple with the need to control the situation. I know I do.
Hence the phrase, "God helps those who help themselves," and no, it's not in the Bible!
Often as we wait, we see others who seem to be being blessed in the way that we desire to be blessed.
Jealousy is often rooted in our belief that God owes us. We accept the Lord, He forgives our sin, He restores our life and somehow in our twisted, self centred, human rational we think God owes us! Our whole society thinks we're owed everything. We are self privileged, and from day one we expect parents, the government, the church and God to give us the privileges and blessings we think we're owed.
And we hate it when we see others getting ahead while we seem to be standing still!
We take control of circumstances because we worry about how we look in the eyes of others. Impatience is fuelled by our preoccupation with our self image.
We want to look godly, we want others to respect us, and when God makes us wait, and we get impatient, we potentially look bad, then our real selves are exposed. Waiting shows who you really are.
We secretly fear that God will never provide what He has promised us, so we go out and get it for ourselves. When we’re gripping tightly to our dreams, we often act unwisely.
Let me put it this way… when we love our dreams more than we love God, we do unwise things to try and make them happen.
6. STEPPING OFF THE PATH
God’s promised, He's quickened that word to me heart, and that should be enough. So we wait, and we wait, and eventually we say, “This is ridiculous, somebody's got to make this happen!”
Now Sarai found out the hard way that whatever we acquire outside of God’s will often turns to ashes. Her plan to raise a family through Hagar misfired badly. There is a path to the Promise, but you won't find it if you go wandering off into the bush!
THINGS TO WATCH WHILE YOU WAIT…
1. SELF FULFILMENT
When Fiona and I go shopping, I often suggest that we go to different places in the store to save time. I tell her I'll meet her at a certain aisle. But this often doesn't work. I arrive, she's not there, so I get impatient and won't wait for her and I go looking for her. Meanwhile she arrives, finds me not there, doesn't know whether to look for me or wait. It's a mess.
Wherever you go, whatever you do I will be right here waiting for you! But no, I'm different, I'm a man of action, I get stuff done, so I tell the Lord,
“FORGET IT, LORD, I’LL DO IT MYSELF”
One of my daughter's favourite phrases growing up was, “I do it mine gelf!” And so we would wait while she tried to tie her shoes, or feed herself.
And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Many times the hardest part of surrendering to God is the waiting. Here Abram and Sarai show us what not to do when things don’t progress as quickly as we had hoped. Rather than waiting for God, they took matters into their own hands. They chose a servant girl, Hagar, to be a surrogate mother for Abram’s son. It was logical, it was helping God, it was sin!
Now I'm all for listening to your wife, but this was one occasion Abram shouldn't have listened. This and the Garden of Eden.
This “solution” resulted in a complicated family relationship that has served as a source of conflict to this day. Abram’s descendants through Hagar are the Arab nations. Their conflict with the Jews, Abram’s descendants through Sarai, keeps the Middle East in constant turmoil.
When you're hanging onto a promise that seems distant or impossible, a wise man resists the temptation to take matters into his own hands.
2. CONTRARY COUNSEL
Contrary counsel, often masquerading as good, godly advice, will always come after God speaks. Human reasoning and counsel from others will appear reasonable, sometimes even godly, but human wisdom must never supersede God’s clear instruction. Encounters with God stretch our faith, for His ways are not our ways.
Please understand, I'm not advocating never listening to advice! You need to listen to advice, but not take it all, especially if it contradicts God’s expressed Word!
2 Chronicles 10:8
But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.
Solomon’s son Rehoboam split the country because he listened to his mates, not the wise older advisors. Don't make the same mistake!
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR WAIT
Here's one quote that sums it up…
Stay in God’s appointed place, go at God’s appointed pace.
The trick to waiting in righteousness is to not lag behind, not rush ahead but,
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
So how can you walk humbly with Him?
1. FIND THE ROOT OF IMPATIENCE
What's at the core of your impatience? Is it fear, unbelief, or is it control? Is it pride, perhaps the belief that you are capable and talented enough to do it your gelf?
Step one is asking God to search your heart to reveal the core issue…
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
2. STRENGTHEN YOURSELF IN THE LORD
1 Samuel 30:6
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Turn to God in your impatience. There are 2 ways to do this…
a. DRAW CLOSE TO GOD
Prayer and our daily Bible reading plan can and will change your life, and will draw you closer to God, and nothing will sustain you in tough times like truly knowing God.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
b. DRAW CLOSE TO GODLY PEOPLE
Fellowship with people you know will stand with you. Meet with them at church, have coffee with them. Open your heart to them. Be vulnerable, and ask them to stand with you.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
3. CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION
Changing how you see waiting can have a huge effect on how you wait… patiently or not? It's time for a change of perception, folks, it's time to see waiting not as a punishment , not as an attack, but as a privilege, as an opportunity to develop more character, more faith and more trust in an infinite, ever faithful God!
Waiting is your chance to shine!
So how do you change your perception?
a. WATCH THE WORDS YOU SAY
I'm not talking about positive confession, saying you're healed when you're clearly not, etc, but you do need to monitor your speech, and make sure you are not negative in what you say. Speak positively, speak words of trust and faith.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Negative words reveal the secrets of your heart. They indicate that you have fear and lack of faith. They reflect what's going on inside you. So speak Words of encouragement and stay positive, even if things look bleak!
b. WATCH THE WORDS GOD SAYS
Know God’s heart by reading His Word…
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Don't stop, don't sit down and have a pity party. I know it's tough, I know it's discouraging, and so does God. But when the Bible talks about waiting on God, it's not a passive but an active word…
QAWA, Hebrew, means wait expectantly, lie in wait for, look patiently with expectation, and twisted together. When you lie in wait for something, you are constantly in a state of readiness, of expectation.
Waiting for God in Biblical terms means, keep doing the good things, keep up the disciplines of Bible reading, prayer and attending church. It means wait, expectantly, for if God said it, it will surely come to pass!
FINALLY… LET IT GO, AND LET GOD!
Impatience tells God that you don't truly trust Him. Waiting expectantly thrills the heart of God, and believe it or not actually achieves a great work within you!
We need to let it go, and let God do it!
At the end of Exodus 2, God heard the cries and groans of the enslaved Hebrews and He was moving to act for their deliverance long before they understood His plan. God is at work on our behalf even when He appears silent. He will always keep His promises.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
But I know many of you are saying it's all just too hard right now, you're down, you're discouraged and feel without hope. It feels never ending! Those promises seem miles away, if they even come to pass at all.
Hope is not a granted wish or a favour performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction. (From God Came Near by Max Lucado)
If you're waiting right now for that breakthrough, that healing, that provision I want to challenge you. You may feel you're failing the test. You're not disciplined, your not an overcomer, you're down on the canvas, panting for breathe, maybe afraid to stand up and keep fighting.
You might feel your faith isn't the real deal. You doubt, you struggle, you get mad at God sometimes and instead of the finished article, you're full of cracks and defects, but today I tell you there's hope in God!
Have you heard the old story about the beautiful cathedral window that was vandalised? Some children threw pebbles at it and it was cracked all over. So the church elders sent for one of the finest artists in the land and asked, “What can you do?”
He said, “Leave it to me.” And he went to work with his fine chisels and began cutting the glass. He made artistic lines wherever there was a break, turning each crack into a beautiful thing. When it was all over, the sun shone in on one of the most beautiful pieces of art glass in the world.
That's you today. You might struggle, you might have hope and expectation and promises unrealised. You might feel down, feel cracked, feel less than you should be. You might feel impatient, and like you can't hang on much longer.
TOZER said this…
“The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things.”
Anytime God calls us to fulfil a certain responsibility, we enter a period of waiting. Abraham and Sarah took meters into their own hands and created centuries of conflict. Moses did the same, tried to take a shortcut but failed, and he spent forty years in the desert as a result. Yet in these times of waiting, God moulds and shapes us.
The only way to meet the challenge of responsibility is to be willing to wait on God’s timing in every situation.
Three words characterise a responsible person:
Confidence in God’s calling and ability; Courage to obey regardless of the cost; Commitment to Jesus Christ.
God gives us limitless opportunities, but we cannot just wander off and do our own thing. We must assume responsibility and obey His call. We must reach the point where, no matter how long, no matter how hard, no matter how impatient we feel, we will obey His call. Like Moses, we should be willing to obey regardless of the cost.
If you have a dream, a future, a promise, then today I'm going to ask you to commit wholeheartedly to that, regardless of the cost, and regardless of the time…