A Very Present Help

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) 1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

(This week we had the privilege of hosting Pastors Wayne and Margaret Holcomb of The Door Fellowship in Williamsport PA. Here are some thoughts on their messages.)

On Saturday of our recent meetings with the Holcombs, Pastor Margaret shared a simple message drawn from some recent experiences in her life. Two of their grandchildren have been dealing with some things and that is difficult for a grandparent. In both of these situations, there was little that these loving grandparents could do but pray. This falls right into what the Lord has been showing me about waiting and specifically waiting through trial.

Anytime we are in a situation where we do not have control over the outcome, waiting is the most difficult thing we must do. When that waiting involves children or grandchildren, it is even more difficult. Pastor Margaret shared some scriptures that made the waiting easier and lead to victory in one situation and strength to continue in the other. I want to share these scriptures with you. I do not intend to comment much. I believe they speak for themselves. If you are waiting for God, I believe they can be a help to you as well.

The first one is today’s scripture. God is not just a help in the time of trouble. He is a very present help. The Amplified Bible says he is a “very present and well-proved help in trouble.” Whatever you are facing, God is not “somewhere out there.” He is right there with you just as he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace. His ability and willingness to help his people has been proven throughout the ages. There are multitudes of testimonies involving the wonderful works he has done for his people.

Psalm 50:15 (NKJV) 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Why do we fail to see God move in our time of trouble? There are many reasons we may have to wait, but God will always help us. One reason we may not see that help is that we do not call on the Lord. It is interesting to me how many times people will exhaust all of their own strength and resources before they call on the Lord. In the New Testament, James 4:2 tells us we do not have because we do not ask. Do not wait until you are “at the end of your rope” before you ask God for help. Ask him right away and see what he will do. The first thing he will do is bring strength and comfort to your heart.

Psalm 91:11 (NKJV) 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

This verse was quoted to Jesus during his temptation in the wilderness. It was quoted to him by the devil to tempt him to do something rash. Jesus assured the devil he would not “tempt the Lord my God.” This does not change the reality of this verse. God had given his angels charge of Jesus’ life. They were there watching over him and protecting him. How does this apply to you and me.

Hebrews 1:14, in reference to angels, asks this question. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” The angels of God are real. They have been sent forth into the earth to minister for those of us who are the heirs of salvation. These powerful beings are part of what God uses to be our “ever present help” in times of trouble. Jesus, speaking of children, says their angels are always before the Father. Expect them to be there when you need them. You may never know how they help you, but they will help.

Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV) 10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

Not only do we have access to the angels of God, but we also have something even more powerful to call upon in the time of trouble. We have the name of the Lord. In the Old Testament, the saints considered the Name of God too holy to be spoken. This is not true in the New Testament. Jesus tells his disciples over and over again to make use of his name. In the great commission he tells them that should go forth in his name and preach the gospel, heal the sick and cast out devils. In Acts, Peter tells the officials who arrest him that it is by faith in the Name of Jesus that he healed the lame man at the temple gate.

Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians 4:9, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” He continues by declaring that every name in heaven on earth and even under the earth shall bow at the name of Jesus. When you find yourself in trouble, call on the Name of Jesus. It is a strong tower of protection. Run to it when you have need.

Let me conclude with this scripture from the New Testament.

Romans 10:13 (NKJV) 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

We often relegate this verse to our eternal salvation from sin. When we call on the name of the Lord something wonderful happens to us. We are born again. Our spirit is changed into the image and likeness of the spirit of God as Adam’s had been before the fall. We receive heaven as our eternal home and can look forward to spending an eternity in the presence of God. That is the most wonderful and important aspect of salvation. It is not the only aspect of salvation.

The Greek word for salvation is the word “soteria.” This word is translated many ways in the New Testament and the idea of salvation in Christ carries all of these meanings. This word means salvation in the sense we have described it. It also means deliverance, healing and protection. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, healed, delivered and protected. In other words, he or she will receive help. Look at Hebrews 4:16.

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We have access to the throne of grace because we are saved by the Name of Jesus. If you are facing trouble, you can expect that all of the power of God is by your side and available to help you through whatever you face. This power will strengthen you inwardly but it will also go to work to solve the problems you face in life. The answers may not always come when or how you expect them to come. There may be things you do not understand about how things work out for you. However, if you trust in the Lord, you will know the power of his ever present help.

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV) 8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

The Accuser of the Brethren

Revelation 12:10 (NKJV) 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

(This week we had the privilege of hosting Pastors Wayne and Margaret Holcomb of The Door Fellowship in Williamsport PA. Here are some thoughts on their messages.)

In 35 years of pastoring, there are a number of things that I see as consistent attacks of the enemy against the hearts and minds of believers. One of the most common is accusation. Most of us have something in our past of which we are not proud. Everyone who is honest with themselves has things in the present that we know we should be doing better or overcoming more fully. The devil takes advantage of those things and brings accusation against us. These accusations can cripple us so that we will not press into the fullness of what the Lord has for us.

Accusation is never from God. Accusation is the process of bringing charges against an individual. These charges may be founded or unfounded. The charge itself is not proof of guilt. It is an opinion as to the guilt of a person. An accusation must be substantial in order for it to result in an arrest. Then the charge must be tried before a court of law and judged before the accusation becomes a conviction. God has no need to make accusations.

God knows the thoughts and intents of every heart. He sees every deed, past present and future. He does not accuse us. He will reveal to us things that need to change. With the revelation, he will provide the means to make the changes necessary. God does not condemn. Condemnation is the pronouncement of the punishment for a convicted person. God does convict us of wrongdoing. The evidence that he uses to convict is not hearsay but his own eyewitness testimony. However, he never condemns because the punishment has already been suffered. Jesus paid the price on the cross.

The conviction that comes from God is a manifestation of his love for us. The wages of sin is death. The conviction of God is designed to turn us from a course of action that will result in death being manifest in our life. Every believer falls into sin at some point in his or her walk with God. This normal stumbling does not usually result in physical death although that is possible depending on the nature of the sin. It does not result in our “missing heaven.” It will result in an open door that the devil will use to bring bad things into our lives. God brings conviction to keep that from happening.

Accusation is another matter entirely. Accusation always comes from the devil. He will use things you did in the past against you. He will remind you of things that God has already forgiven and press you to believe that that is who you are. Accusation progresses from pointing out the sin you committed to calling you a sinner. The devil wants you to believe that what you may have done is who you really are today. This is a lie.

There is a way that some Christians were taught to express their humility. They say, “I’m just an old sinner saved by grace.” This is not humility but the essence of accusation. A person who has received Jesus as Lord and Savior is no longer a sinner. Once we are saved by grace we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. The sinner died and a child of God was born.

This does not mean we are incapable of sin. It does not even mean we will not sin. What it does mean is that sin is no longer our nature. When we sin before salvation, it is because we are sinners. Our spirit is separated from God. When we are born again that condition changes. We are no longer children of wrath or the devil. (Eph. 2:3) The new birth changes our nature. We become children of God. When we sin after salvation, we are going against our nature not cooperating with our nature. This is a very different thing.

If the devil, through accusation, can get you to believe the lie that sin is still your nature you will be less likely to resist the sin. Death will have a channel into your life and bad things will happen. You will not fulfill your destiny and you will not live in victory. However, when we realize that the new birth wiped away all of our old deeds and the person who did them died, we can rise up in the face of temptation and say, “That person is dead. I will not give in to temptation because that sin is no longer my nature.”

Accusation will also target the areas of weakness in our lives today. We all could do better in some area. We all have sins that still plague us. We must not take those things lightly. We must continue to apply the Word of God to areas of weakness. We must continue to use the tool of repentance to bread down the strongholds that sin has built up in our body and soul. I am not talking about ignoring sin because Jesus already paid the price. I am talking about attacking sin because Jesus already paid the price.

Accusation is not how God attacks the areas of weakness we still face. The devil may accuse you concerning things you may have done. If there is some sin that is unconfessed, bring it before the Father. Let your advocate, Jesus, plead your case. 1 John 1 promises that God will forgive that sin and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Once you have done that, you can handle the accuser the way Paul did in Romans 8.

Romans 8:33 (NKJV) 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

When the accuser comes with some past thing you have confessed to the Father, tell him. “I don’t know what you are talking about. God justified me. If you want to talk about that, you will have to take it up with him.”

You may ask, “What if I have done this thing more than once? What if it tends to be a pattern? I might do it again.” That is the voice of condemnation. If you fail again, confess it again. If you treat this process as a way to keep doing what you know you should not, then you have never really confessed the problem to God. However, if you will declare war on that sin, and continue to battle it through repentance, confession and the application of the Word, it is none of the devil’s business.

The accuser’s job is to keep you focused on what you were and what you did. He also wants to convince you that you will never really overcome the problem. He wants you to believe that you are a sinner. He wants to get you to accept an identity that will guarantee that you keep the door of sin open in your life so he can walk through it whenever he chooses. Do not give in to the accuser.

In today’s verse, we read that the believers were able to overcome because the accuser “has been cast down.” This verse tells us that the accuser did his work day and night. He is relentless in his accusation of God’s children. This verse is speaking of a future when the accuser will be cast down once and for all. It is also a promise to us today.

The accuser has not been cast down ultimately but you can cast him down where your life is concerned. You can rise up against the accusation. You can tell the accuser “it is God who justified me.” You can remind the accuser that the blood of Jesus Christ paid the price for all sin. You can bring your sin to the Father so that there will be no room for the accusations and you can apply the Word to the areas of weakness that still need attention.

Most of all you must remember that you are not who the accuser says you are.

“Who told you that you are not good enough, pretty enough or that you don’t work hard enough. The accuser told you, that’s who.” Pastor Wayne Holcomb.

The Results of Waiting Through The Trial

Daniel 3:24-25 (NKJV) 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

This week we are looking at what it takes to successfully wait through a trial. Waiting for something that we need or want over a long time is difficult. Waiting when there is some circumstance or need that is pressing is much harder. This week our study has been of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego as they faced the fiery furnace.

They refused to bow to the idol of the king and this so angered him that he threatened to throw them into a furnace and burn them alive. Their wait was two-fold. They had to wait to see if the king would follow up on his threat. This was a very short time of waiting but it was waiting nonetheless. They also had to wait once they were thrown into the furnace. There is something interesting about this second time of waiting.

There should have been no wait at all after the king threw them into the furnace. The only reason there was a wait at all is that God was moving to deliver them. They were in the furnace. The flames were all around them. It is true that the flames were not harming them but they did not know how long that would last. If you are in a situation that should have consumed you and it has not, you need to understand that the fact you are still waiting is proof that God will deliver you.

They won the battle of waiting when they heard of the king’s decree that everyone would have to bow before the golden idol. We see that they won it by what they said to the king when he called them before him. The attitudes they displayed to the king on that day were formed long before the king challenged them. They declared four things that we must be willing to settle if we are going to win the battle of waiting.

1. I am not even sure you can do this to me.

2. If this trial does come into my life, God is well able to deal with it.

3. Whatever else happens, God will deliver me from you. (Satan who is our enemy)

4. Even if I do not see my deliverance, I will not bow to any God but the Lord.

Armed with these attitudes they faced the king. I wish I could tell you that the king was so impressed with their courage and commitment that he repented and let them go. Unfortunately, the king was not moved to give them favor. On the contrary, the king was even angrier when he heard their declarations. Most of the time when we close the backdoor of compromise by making a faith decision, things will get worse.

The king was so angry that he heated the oven 7 times hotter than it already was. Be prepared to have the heat of the trial turned up when you choose to follow the Lord no matter what. The devil is a persistent enemy and he will not quit just because you say he should. However, as we read this story we will come to see that it was the young Hebrew men who had the real power. Peter tells us the devil goes about as a roaring lion. He does not say he is a lion. In truth, he is just an imposter.

There is another thing the king did that I think shows that he secretly believed that the God of these Hebrews was stronger than he was. He called “certain mighty men of valor” to bind up these three young men and throw them into the fire. Why call some of your best troops to do something “prison guards” could handle? I believe he heard Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego when they said they were not sure he could throw them into the fire. He brought in his best men just in case.

Finally, they were thrown into the fiery furnace. The furnace was so hot that it killed the strong soldiers the king had commanded to cast the young me into it. They were thrown in with their loose fitting clothing still on them. These flowing garments should have caught fire immediately. If the soldiers who threw them in died instantly, the young men should have been incinerated in minutes. To the kings amazement they were not.

When the king looked into the furnace, he did not see three people bound but four people walking around in the furnace. The fourth looked to the king like the son of God. I do not know what he saw that made him think this fourth man looked like the son of God, but obviously there was something supernatural about him.

Again, let me note that they were still in the trial. They were in the midst of furnace so hot it killed the guards. Yet in the middle of this fiery trial, they were fellowshipping with one who looked like the son of God! We generally do not believe we have been delivered until we see the full victory over the trial. These young men were still in the fire but their bonds were off and they were functioning in it. The trial did not control them they controlled the trial.

You may be in a time of waiting that seems like a fiery furnace. I want you to know something. The Lord is there with you. You are not alone in the trial. If you turn to him and begin to praise and worship him you will begin to see something wonderful happen. The trial will burn off whatever bondage may be related to it. You will find that there is a sweet fellowship that occurs between you and the Lord as you share the victory in the midst of the trial. Soon you will not be dominated by the trial but you will walk in joy and victory right in the midst of it.

Their walk in the trial did not go unnoticed. The king looked into the fire and saw that they were neither burned up nor bound. He also saw that there was someone in the fire with them. He understood that no natural person could survive this trial. He knew that the “fourth man” in the furnace had to be the true and living God. He knew that these three men had supernatural help.

The king turns 180 degrees and calls to the Hebrew men declaring them “servants of the Most High God.” When they come out of the furnace, he sees that they were not even singed by the flames. They did not even smell like fire. He bestows great favor upon them. He promotes them to an even higher position in his Kingdom. He makes another decree that no one shall speak evil of the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego because “no God can deliver like their God!”

If we learn how to wait on the Lord, we will see the same results in our lives. The flames should have destroyed them but they did not even smell like fire. If we trust God during our time of waiting we will come out of the trial without even the smell of the trial left on us. We will not make it out barely alive. The fire that rages around us will not even touch us. That is what God wants for you.

We would all like to avoid the trial. When the trial threatens, we would rather not be thrown into the furnace. Sometimes that is what happens. However, there are times for reasons that we may not understand that we will go through trials. Sometimes they will be fiery trials. Wait on the Lord in them. Draw near to the fourth man in the furnace. He will preserve and protect you. He will use the fire to free you. Then fellowship with him rejoicing that freedom from the trial is on the way.

The world will notice. Nothing draws people to the Lord like seeing him deliver his people from the impossible. Whether you find yourself in the furnace or God keeps you out of the trial entirely, praise him and thank him for his goodness. Doing these things will cause you to be victorious and will display the power of God to all who look on.

We Will Not Bow 2

Daniel 3:16-18 (NKJV) 16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17  If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Yesterday we looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  These three Hebrew men faced a very difficult trial.  The king passed a law that demanded everyone bow to a giant golden image of himself whenever certain music played.  The young men could not do this because, as Hebrews, it violated one of the Ten Commandments.  They were brought before the king and given one more chance to obey. 

Yesterday we pointed out that they told the king they really did not even need to answer him.  We do not need to explain ourselves to the world, the devil or even our own flesh.  They did not give the king an explanation or an excuse as to why they would not bow.  What they did give him was a declaration.  In declaring what they would and would not do, they took control out of the hands of the king and put it into their own hands and into God’s hands.

Let us look at the declarations they made and see if we can apply them to our own circumstances.  The first thing they said to the king was, “If that is the case.”  I really like the attitude they display in these words.  This man is the king.  He can do anything he wants to do and no one is able to stop him.  He has absolute power.  In the face of this, the young men say to him, “We aren’t really sure you can do what you say.” 

I believe we need to challenge the word of the devil.  He will often try to convince us he is all-powerful but he is not.  He will tell us what is going to happen.  He will use people, circumstances and our own minds to try to get us to agree with him concerning our future.  We do not have to agree!  It is true that sometimes bad things happen even when we are trusting God.  However, when the devil tells you what he is going to do, I believe we should respond to him like these young me responded to the king.  “Devil, I’m not even sure you can make that happen!” 

That statement puts us in the right frame of mind to win the battle of waiting.  It challenges the power of the devil.  If something does manage to get through into our lives, we have already planted the seeds of Satan’s defeat in his mind and ours.  Do not just accept the word of the Devil as the truth.  Only the Word of God is truth.  Every other word including Satan’s is subject to change.

Second, they said to the king, “Our God is able to deliver us from a fiery furnace.”  What is it that our God cannot do?  I am not asking now what he will do for you.  We need to start with what he can do.  If God is God at all, he can do anything.  He is the All-Mighty.  The word mighty means the ability to do anything.  God has all the ability to do anything.  That about covers it all. 

We often focuse on the strength of the trial.  We see the importance of the financial need.  The sickness may be incurable or extremely painful.  We might have problems with our marriage or children.  Our emotions may be out of control.  All of these things are very difficult to deal with and can demand our attention.  The young men in this story chose to declare the ability of God not the strength of the trial.

Is God able to meet your need?  Is he able to heal your body?  Can he deal with family and emotions?  Remember, I am not asking you to commit to whether he will do these things for you.  I am asking you to consider if he can do at all.  If he cannot he is not God.  The young men told the king that their God was able to deliver people from a fiery furnace.  You need to tell yourself and the devil that your God is able to deliver you from whatever you face.

We need to understand the implications of the next thing they say.  They tell the king, “Not only is our God able to deliver us from the fiery furnace but we know he will deliver us from you!”  They did not know for sure if they would be thrown into the furnace.  They did know that God could deliver them from the furnace if he so chose.  More importantly, they knew that God would deliver them from the king.  They might be thrown into the furnace but somehow God was going to deliver them from the king.

I have often experienced things that did not work out the way I planned.  Sometimes I had to face things I did not think I would have to face.  I expected God to move in a certain way and that did not happen.  However, if I maintain my faith that God will ultimately deliver me from my enemy, I can wait until he does it even if it is not in the way or the time I thought it would be.  This is very important.  God can deliver me from anything, but I know he will deliver me from the devil and his plan for my life.

Their final statement sounds like it would go contrary to faith.  In reality it is probably the most faith filled statement they make.  “If God does not deliver us and we end up burning in a furnace, we still will not bow before your idol.”  They had made their decision.  They would not bow.  If they had to burn, they would burn.  If God did nothing to help them, so be it.  They believed he would do something but even if he did not they would not compromise their faith.  They would enter the gates of eternity trusting God. 

I believe victory in waiting demands that we close this back door.  We must determine that we are going to trust and serve God even if it means we are overcome.  If we do not settle that, we will never be able to wait successfully.  The devil will keep pointing to the back door of compromise until we cannot resist the temptation to go through it. 

It seems to me that these young men could have said nothing to the king.  It does not seem that the music was playing at that moment.  He gave them another chance.  They could have walked away and tried to find some way out of this predicament.  Instead, they chose to close the door in the king’s face.  “We are not going to bow no matter what you do to us.” 

We must make the same declaration to the world, our flesh and the devil.  If things do not work out for me the way I want them to, I am not going to bow.  If my body does not respond to healing, I am not going to bow.  If my marriage falls apart, I am not going to bow.  If the kids go insane, I am not going to bow.  This is not preparation for a failure of faith.  This is closing the door to temptation, which eliminates one of the devil’s main weapons against us. 

Whatever you face today, tell the devil these things. 

  1. I am not even sure you can do this to me.
  2. If this trial does come into my life, God is well able to deal with it.
  3. Whatever else happens, God will deliver me from you.
  4. Even if I do not see my deliverance, I will not bow to any God but the Lord.

Then just trust God and wait to see what the Lord will do.

We Will Not Bow

Daniel 3:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Yesterday we talked about waiting when we are facing a trial. Long-term waiting can be discouraging and difficult but when we are in the midst of some hard situation, the difficulty of waiting is magnified. Yesterday we began looking at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. They were faced with the prospect of waiting in the midst of a fiery furnace. It would not seem that this would qualify as waiting except that God delivered them from this trial. They survived the furnace.

There were a few things we learned yesterday that could help us wait. We must remember that we have both an advocate and an adversary as we wait. God is our advocate and the devil is our adversary. Our adversary will magnify the difficulty of the situation while our advocate is there to help us through it.

We must remember that the words “always” and “never” are traps the devil sets for us to discourage us. Very few things actually fall into these two categories. However, when we allow the devil to deceive us into thinking people and things always go against us or that they will never change, it is hard to fight the battle of waiting. Instead, we need to remember that God “always” causes us to triumph and that he will “never” leave us nor forsake us.

As we ended yesterday’s post, we saw that the king was very angry that these three young men would not bow to his golden image. He told them that they had one more chance to bow when the music played. If they did not bow, they would burn in the fiery furnace. Then he makes the challenge that we hear from the devil every time we face the fire. “What god can deliver you from my hands?”

The first thing we must do when faced with a trial is answer that question. Do we believe that our God can deliver us from the problem we face? I have faced many things over the years. There were times when I did not know how I was going to feed and clothe my family. There were times when it looked like we might lose our home or have our power shut off. There were times when I faced ministry crises that I thought would destroy me.

In those times, I often had to fight my mind in the faith battle of waiting. My mother was a world-class worrier and she taught me well. All of the negative possibilities would flood through my mind. I would have to fight the pictures of bad things happening as I meditated on the promises of God. When I was in these kinds of battles, I would have to close my eyes, quiet my mind and ask myself, “What do I really believe?” When I would do that, I would find a place in my spirit where the fearful thoughts did not live and I would have peace because what I really believe is that God is faithful and that he can and will deliver me from any circumstance.

We do not fail or succeed based on what we feel. We fail or succeed based on what we believe. We can strengthen what we believe by meditating on the Word of God and especially on the promises that pertain to what we are facing. Believing is not a matter of chance or some special gift from God. When you were saved, you became a “believer.” That means you have the capacity to believe. You can energize that capacity by filling your mind with the promises of God.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did not gain the victory over the furnace when they were thrown into it. They gained the victory when they answered the king’s question. If we answer our accuser in the same way they answered the evil king, we will win our battle of waiting before it begins.

The first thing they say to the king in their answer is this. “We do not need to answer you in this matter.” There are two ways this statement can help us. First, there was no need for them to answer because the king knew they would not bow. The king knew they were Hebrews. He had placed them in their position because their relationship with God was such that they were men of integrity. He saw their lifestyle and he knew that they would not compromise.

It is important that we settle before any trial that we will not compromise. It is difficult to know how any of us will react under pressure until the pressure is there. Nevertheless, we can determine in our hearts that we will not compromise our relationship with God no matter what we may face. If we cultivate that kind of attitude continually, we will more easily hold to it when we are challenged.

There is a second reason they did not need to answer the king. They did not have to explain or excuse their walk with God to anyone. I believe this is also an important attitude to develop when we have to wait through a trial. The devil will challenge you. He will accuse you of being foolish. He will give you all the reasons you should compromise. He will do it inwardly and he will do it through people or circumstances. You do not have to submit to that.

The devil used the king in the case of the three young men. He told them that compromise would lead to life and to follow their principles would lead to death. They told the king they did not even have to answer the question. There was no option for them. They would not compromise.

When the devil challenges you with reasons why you should not wait for God, do not answer him. We often hear the words, “You owe an explanation.” This may come from others via words or from our own heart via thoughts and feelings. You do not owe anyone an explanation for obeying God. The only one you need to explain anything to is God.

These three young men refused to explain themselves to the king. What they said next was not an explanation but a declaration. The king wanted to think he was in control of the situation. The young men let him know that he was not. That is how you can win the battle of waiting through trial. The trial is not in control of the situation. The devil is not in control of the situation. You and God are in control. Do not be afraid to let the devil, the world and your own flesh know that this is the case.

Tomorrow we will look further at what these three men said to the king that put them in control of their waiting. Today, look and see what is challenging you to compromise. Take your stand and do not feel you need to explain yourself to anyone. Ask yourself what you believe not how you feel. Of course, you should be accountable to those who have the oversight for your life. You need to let them know what is happening and be open to their counsel. However, you do not have to listen to the devil, your flesh or ungodly people and circumstances. You do not owe them an explanation. Give them no explanation but declare to them the truth of the Word of God.

Waiting Through Trial

Daniel 3:14-15 (NKJV) 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

We have already alluded to this story in our study of waiting, but I want to look at it in more detail this week. There are two kinds of waiting we face in our walk with the Lord. One kind is the long term waiting that Abraham and Sarah had to endure concerning the promise of God that they would raise up a nation. This kind of waiting can be hard and discouraging. The things we learned from Abraham are important in any waiting scenario but especially when we have to wait for a long time.

God showed me an outpouring of the spirit in 1984. I know it was the Lord and I know it will happen. At the time, it seemed imminent. It has been almost 30 years now and, although I have seen and experienced some good things, I know I have not seen that outpouring yet. There are times when the Lord brings me back to a focus on believing for that outpouring. Then the pressure wanes again but it remains in the back of my mind. It can be discouraging. I sometimes wonder if I heard from the Lord. I have to continue to remember the promise just as Abraham did. I have to hold on to the fact that God does not operate in my time structure. If I do not see this move of God, my children will.

There is another kind of waiting that every one of us faces sometime and many are facing right now. Although I believe that this outpouring of the spirit that the Lord showed me all those years ago is important, it is not a trial to me in any way. If it does not happen, I do not lose anything personally. There is no deadline by which this promise must be fulfilled. The other kind of waiting I want to talk about is waiting in the midst of trial.

We have all had those situations where we really needed something to happen and we needed it soon. Maybe a bill is due that must be paid. Our friends tell us to trust the Lord, but it is our electricity that will be shut off if the money does not come in. It is not that we do not have faith but that we cannot escape certain realities. When we have done what we need to do and what we can do, there is nothing left but to wait for God to move. We will not have to wait long because something is going to happen one way or the other. However, the stakes involved in the waiting make it seem like forever. How can we be successful in this kind of waiting?

First, let me remind you of something. In anything in life, you have both an adversary and an advocate. You must remember both. Your advocate is the Lord.

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Almighty God is in your corner, as it were. He is a very good ally to have. If we can establish our hearts in this fact, we will be able to wait victoriously through any trial.

We also have an adversary.

1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

When we are in a trial, our adversary will be faithful to make sure to increase the natural pressure we feel. Two words we need to be very careful of when we are in a trial are “always” and “never.” The devil loves to use these words to cripple us. When we are faced with a pressure situation you can rest assured that you will be tempted to believe that things “always” go wrong for you and that they “never” work out the way you need them to. This is “always” a lie. There are things God has done for you and there are times when things have worked out just fine. Usually the good times outweigh the bad in quantity but when we are under pressure, it is hard to see that and the devil knows it.

Turn the “always and never” equation against your adversary. Instead of giving in to the feeling that things always go bad for you and that things will never change, tell the devil this instead.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

When we change our focus to that “always and never” reality, we cannot be defeated. Just remember, it is not just the circumstance you are fighting. The devil is a deceiver and things are not “always” what they seem. God is for you in your waiting. Do not listen to your adversary.

These three young men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, were Hebrew captives who had been taken to Babylon and given positions in the kings government. This was common practice among the Babylonians. They would take conquered people from their homeland and make use of the best and brightest for their own purposes. This kept the conquered people from being so inclined to rebellion. First, because they were not “home” therefore they were not tempted to fight for their land. Second, because they were in a relatively favorable position and the rewards kept them pacified.

In this case, the king erected a golden statue of himself and commanded that everyone bow down and worship the image when certain music was played. The other officials, no doubt jealous of the Hebrews, noticed that these three young men did not bow when the music was played. They reported the young men to the king saying, “These Hebrews won’t worship your God’s and they won’t bow to your image when the music is played.”

The king was furious upon hearing this and he called the young men into his presence. “Is what I am hearing true? You refuse to worship my God’s and bow to my image. I will give you one more chance. The next time the music plays, if you bow the matter will be closed but if you don’t you will be cast into the fiery furnace and you will die.”

The kings final words are the ones the devil brings to our minds when we are faced with a trial like this. “What God can deliver you from my hand?” We hear the circumstances and the devil saying, “God is not going to help you get through this. You know he never helps you when you really need it.”

This is the moment of truth in every trial. What we read next determines whether the young men will wait successfully or be destroyed by either fire or compromise. If they die in the fire, their souls will be saved but their destiny will be destroyed. If they are consumed by compromise, they lose both soul and destiny.

Tomorrow we will see what enabled these three young men to wait through a short but very intense trial and come out on the other side victorious.

5 Specific Things You Can Do While You Wait

Romans 4:17-21 (NKJV)
17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

We have been talking this month about waiting for the Lord and how it relates to the idea of favor. Waiting is the battleground of both faith and favor. When we believe God for something to happen in our lives, we must wait for God to move. There is nothing we can physically do to make the thing happen. The same is true of favor. Favor comes at the will of whomever or whatever God uses to bring it to us. We cannot force it, so we must simply wait. Waiting successfully is one of the most important spiritual skills we must master.

We have looked at this from many angles over the last few weeks, and I must say that I have begun to be excited about waiting. I am not generally a patient person. However, as I have been studying this topic, I have found myself realizing that if I am waiting on God, the outcome can only be in my favor. I realize now that waiting is not just a delay in the operation of faith but it is an integral part of the process. We wait as God prepares people, circumstances and ourselves to receive the blessing or the favor in such a way that it will bring the greatest benefit to our lives.

I think it is very important to remember that waiting is part of the process. Most of the time we view waiting as an indication that there is a problem or that God is somehow displeased with us. We think there is something we need to do in order to make what we need happen more quickly. Certainly, if we have sin that we know we need to deal with, we should repent. Unconfessed sin will often hold up the promises of God. We know that there are principles of faith that we must apply to receive from God. However, we must not view waiting as some kind of punishment. God is working on the situation. Waiting is part of the process of faith and of growth in the Lord.

Look at this scripture in Daniel.

Daniel 10:11-13 (NKJV) 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.

You will notice that the Angel was sent as soon as Daniel prayed. However, the circumstances of the times and the opposition in the spirit caused a delay of 21 days. Daniel did not understand the delay and that is why the angel made sure he knew he was a man “greatly beloved.” You may be experiencing a time of waiting. You may not understand the delay. What you must understand is that God loves you just as he loved Daniel. The delay is not proof that he is displeased with you, it is part of the process and God is working on the best possible solution to your situation.

Last week we spent some time talking about Abraham. His ability to wait successfully not only produced the personal promise of a family but also opened the door for the “Prince of Peace” to come into the earth. Jesus was born when and where he had to be born because Abraham knew how to wait.

Romans 4 is a textbook on operating by faith. As I have been studying waiting I can see that it is also a textbook of how to wait successfully on the Lord. We looked at this chapter last week and I know that I went over the steps listed there in some detail. However, as I was preparing to preach at our church, I was impressed as to how important these things are.

Many of us have been in the Lord for a long time. Many have studied the faith principles for many years. We can recite the steps of faith. We know them and we do them, but sometimes they become part of our religion and not reality. I have a friend who preached a message about the Ark of God in the Old Testament. He said without the anointing, the Ark was just a box. It was just the Ark. It carried no weight in their lives unless it was within the framework of covenant relationship.

I believe that can be true of these wonderful principles of faith and waiting. We know them. They are part of our religion. As a Catholic, there were certain things I did that I did not understand. They held no significance for me beyond that is what you did in the Mass. If we are not careful, our understanding of principles and practices from the bible will become just as meaningless. They will just be the Ark with not presence or power. They become our religion and not our relationship.

I am going to list 5 steps that you and I can do while we wait. They are the things Abraham did while he was waiting. I am not going to expound on them. I did that in the last post, so you can go back and read that again. I am listing them here because I want to highlight that these are things you can do while you wait that will help you wait successfully. They are not religious tenants that we do to fulfill an obligation. They are not part of a
“faith ceremony” They are five things that will release the power of the spirit into your time of waiting.

As you read this list, take some time and practice each one today. You will see that something happens inside as you do. Your faith to wait will become stronger. Joy will be released in the waiting. You will become more confident in the eventual result of your waiting. This is real. It is neither religion nor psychology. It is the way to release the power of God to ensure you will see the successful conclusion of your waiting when the timing of the Lord has been satisfied. You will also ensure that the time you have to wait will be the shortest it can possibly be. Finally, you will find the waiting time to be a time of fellowship and blessing instead of drudgery and torture.

This is what Abraham did while he waited 25 long years for the promise of God to be fulfilled in his life.

1. Abraham spoke in line with God and his Promise and not the impossibility of the situation
2. He hoped in God when there was no natural hope believing that all things are possible with God
3. He did not consider the deadness of their bodies. This was irrelevant when compared to the power of God. He did not gaze upon the impossibility but instead he looked intently and continually at the promise.
4. He did not waver in unbelief but he was strengthened in his faith by giving Glory (praise) to God
5. He was fully persuaded that what God said he could do he would do for him.

Put this list to practice in your life as you wait and see what the Lord will do.

Abraham Waited for the Promise 2

Romans 4:19-21 (NKJV) 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

In yesterday’s post, we began looking at how Abraham and Sarah responded to the need to wait in relation to the promise of God. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that through his seed the world would be blessed. He first received this promise at 75 and he did not see its fulfillment until he was 100 years old. During his time of waiting God made a blood covenant with Abram and changed his name to Abraham. Yet he still did not actually see the fulfillment of the promise.

Sarah decided that she needed to help God bring the promise to pass. The promise involved children and Sarah was barren. She could not bring herself to wait for God to work in her situation so she gave her handmaid to Abraham. The handmaid became pregnant and a son was born to her by Abraham. Although this is what Sarah thought she wanted, her jealousy would not allow the handmaid and the boy to stay near her so they were driven away from Abrahams’ camp. God took care of this innocent child, but the people that grew from him make up the Arab nations. There has been contention and strife between the Arabs and the Jews ever since. That strife threatens to tear our world apart to this day. When we allow impatience to cause us to step out before God is ready, bad things always happen.

Abraham was at fault for giving in to Sarah’s impatience. However, for his part Abraham chose to wait for God. In Romans chapter 4 we find that they had waited so long for God that Abraham was now impotent along with Sarah’s barrenness. It was completely impossible for this promise to happen. They could never have children. God’s covenant must have been false.

Of course, we know that this is not true. We must realize that if we wait on God, we are never outside the realm of his power. If it is really God that is causing the delay, it is only because he knows the perfect time and way for things to happen in our lives. One of the keys to the success of Abraham’s waiting was that he was “fully persuaded that what God had promised he was also able to perform.” Neither Abraham and Sarah’s age nor the condition of their bodies had anything to do with God’s ability to bring the promise to pass.

We must realize that all things are possible with God. The devil loves to press us while we are waiting by telling us we are running out of time. This is not possible if God is in control. The only way God is not in control is if we are in sin or in rebellion. If we are taking control of the situation and trying to force God to move, we will delay the manifestation. If any of those things are the case, repent and you will get back on track. If we are waiting on God, than he is in control and he is able to do what he said he would do.

Verse 18 gives us another insight to how Abraham could wait for so long. He hoped against hope. What does this mean? I like to define hope as possibility. If I have hope, that means I believe something is possible. Abraham chose to see possibility where there was no natural possibility. This is important when we are waiting on God.

What is possible in your life today? If God is not real, that is a very different question than if we accept that he is real. I am waiting on God. Therefore, when I look at the natural impossibility of the situation I have to see that with God, all things are possible. Nothing is outside of the realm of what God can do. I can maintain patience in my waiting if I believe in the possibilities in God instead of focusing on what is impossible for me.

In yesterday’s reading, we found that Abraham did not consider the deadness of his or Sarah’s body. This word means two things. First, it means that he did not consider it relevant. We have already discussed that. Second, it means he did not continually look at the natural reality. To consider means to gaze at something intently. He did not keep looking at his body and wondering how God could ever overcome that. What did he consider?

Abraham considered the promise. He looked at the promise of God. He talked about it. He meditated on it. I am sure he often had to force his attention away from his aging body and his wife’s dead womb. I know it was not easy for him. Everything was screaming that the promise could not happen. He had to make himself look back at the promise of God. I am sure he had to do what David did many times. David had to speak to his mind and his emotions. He had to tell them, “You will bless the Lord!” I am sure Abraham had to do the same.

There was one more key to Abraham’s successful waiting. He gave glory to God. We will never be successful in waiting on the Lord if we will not praise him during the waiting. As Abraham gave thanks to God for all the things he had already done in Abraham’s life, it built faith that he would also do this very important thing.

Suddenly something happened to Abraham. I use the term suddenly somewhat tongue-in -cheek. This sudden thing was 25 years in the making. For 25 long years, Abraham had waited for the promised heir. I want you to understand that Isaac was not born by Immaculate Conception. He was born in the same way every other human being outside of Jesus has been born. Before the birth could come, the conception had to come. The conception can only happen one way.

One day, Abraham’s body responded in a way it had not in many years. He felt something toward his wife he thought was no longer possible. In the natural course of things, Abraham and Sarah came together. For all those years, Sarah had waited and each month was disappointed when her natural cycle came and went. This time it was different. 100-year-old Abraham’s dead body had come alive again and 90-year-old Sarah’s dead womb finally produced the life they had been waiting for so long.

The result of Abraham’s success in waiting on God was a miraculous child that became the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to him. However, this was about much more than a man and women having a family. This was about the further promise that the whole world would be blessed by Abraham’s descendents.

Sarah’s impatience led to a situation that has caused natural strife from her day to our own. Abraham’s waiting produced a people through whom the Messiah of the whole world could come. Because Abraham chose to wait on God and not give up we can be born again and live eternally in the presence of God. The world has access to a peace that is the only solution to the problems of our world.

I want to encourage you today. Follow Abraham’s example. Believe that whatever you entrust to God he can do. No matter how long you have to wait, continue to focus on the promise. Continue to give glory and praise to God. Impatience will not produce what you need. It will only further delay the promise of God. Waiting will produce the blessing of God in your life but it will do much more as well. It will bring you into your destiny.

Abraham Waited for the Promise

Romans 4:17-19 (NKJV) 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

In our study of favor, we have come to realize that favor requires that we learn to wait. Waiting is not easy. When we have to wait for something, we feel that we do not have control over the situation. However, that is the nature of favor. It is also the nature of faith. We do not have control. When we are trusting God to move, there is little we can do in the natural to help bring the will of God to pass. There are spiritual principles we apply, but that is all we can do.

Yesterday we looked at two basic things. First, that to wait successfully we need to accept that things will usually not work out the way we think they will. When we pray for something according to the Word of God, the Lord will answer that prayer. His answer will be exactly the right thing for our situation. It will come at the right time and in the best way possible. It will usually not be how, when and what we want. If we do not allow God to be God in every situation, we will get discouraged and fail in our waiting.

Second, we realized that God’s perspective and ours are very different. We may want a certain thing at a certain time and really believe that it is imperative that it happen the way we think it should. However, God sees your life from the beginning out to eternity. He knows every twist and turn it will take. He knows every person you will meet. He knows things that will happen and He knows how they will affect your past, present and future. We need to trust the Lord. His ways and his timing are perfect because he sees the whole not just the moment in which we are living.

I want us to think about how Abraham had to wait. In Romans 4 we read about the promise God gave to Abraham and the process he went through to obtain it. I have often studied this chapter as a textbook for faith operations. As I have been meditating on the idea of waiting I see that it is also a textbook on how to wait for the promise of God.

In Genesis 12 we read this promise to Abram.

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

It is thought that Abraham was 75 years old at this point in time. We know from Romans that he did not have any children until he was “about a hundred years old.” We also know from Romans 4:19 that Abraham’s body was “already dead” because of his age. Since Abraham was still breathing, we must assume that he was not physically deceased. What does it mean when the bible says his body was dead?

Since the whole context of the promise of God to Abraham revolved around his descendents with Sarah, we must assume he was impotent. He could no longer produce children. Sarah had always been barren, but now she is an old woman. If she could not have children in her youth, she certainly could not have them now. Abraham and Sarah had to wait so long for the promise of God that they waited until the promise was impossible.

Often we find that this is part of the reason behind our waiting. God wants to meet our needs but he also wants to show himself strong to the world around us. Sometimes God is waiting to bring us the answer until our victory is so great that others will take notice and believe in him. Other times we are simply not willing to trust him until we have run out of all other options. Either way, our waiting will lead to greater glory for the Lord.

In Genesis 15 God confirms his promise to Abraham by making a blood covenant with him. Abraham’s name is changed from Abram to Abraham or father of a multitude. In chapter 16 Sarah begins to feel that they are out of time. She is not going to have a child for Abraham. It is the custom of the day that the servant of a man’s wife could be given to the man for sexual intercourse so that she could bear a child for her mistress. The child would be credited to the wife. In this way, Sarah thought she could bring about the will of God without having to wait until it was impossible.

The result of Sarah’s “help” was a child named Ishmael. Sarah became jealous of the child and the maid who bore him. She could not stand to have them in her presence and they were driven from Abraham’s camp. The resulting animosity between Ishmael, the child of impatience and Isaac the child of waiting is with us to this day. The Ishmaelites became the Arab peoples while the descendents of Isaac are the Jews.

We cannot bypass the time of waiting. Whenever we try, we will find that the results will not be a blessing to us and will often bring problems to others. Sarah was sincere in here belief that she had to do something to bring the promise of God to pass. However, once she had done it she could not live with it. That is the way it is when we try to help God and bypass his timing.

The other thing we find about Sarah’s impatience is that it did not shorten the time of waiting at all. God had a plan and he was going to work that plan. In God’s plan, Abraham was not going to start his family until he was about 100 years old. Sarah was about ten years younger, so she was going to have to wait until she was 90. All her impatience did was cause problems that never went away.

I have known so many people that thought they could bypass waiting on God. I have known some that believed they should have ministry when God had not given it to them. They were gifted and talented but their character and experience would not allow them to succeed God’s way. There were tests and trials they needed to go through in order to become the people God needed them to be.

Some left and tried to “help God” by doing works of ministry before their time. They always find that they face the same tests later on in life. Usually the tests get more and more difficult the longer you bypass them. Do not make that mistake. If you are facing a time of waiting, do not be like Sarah and think you need to help God and shorten the wait. You will do neither. You will only make matters worse and possibly extend the waiting time.

Abraham chose to wait on the Lord. Tomorrow we will see how that worked out.

Why Must I Wait?

Isaiah 46:10 (NKJV) 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

Who likes to wait? I know I do not like it at all. I am just like most of us in modern western society. I want things “right now.” Almost all of us own a microwave oven because waiting for a regular oven takes too long. We progressed from sit down diners with home cooked food to fast food restaurants serving processed burgers and greasy fries so we could get the food and get out quickly. That was not fast enough so the drive through was invented to keep us from even getting out of our cars. I wonder how much money insurance companies have made off that idea.

Today it is only getting worse. I have my smart phone with me at all times. If I need to communicate, I do not want to wait until I get home. I want my weather information and baseball scores immediately. I have news when it happens and I know when my wife is on the way home. I might just check on her progress if the weather is bad. Everything in my life has to happen now. Waiting has become an archaic idea in our culture.

Debt is a huge problem in America both publicly and privately. A large part of the problem is our inability to wait for anything. We are enticed by the media into believing that we need the latest and greatest thing. Why wait for it when you can have it today? Just charge it with these easy terms. This thinking seems to have invaded our government as well. We are 16 trillion dollars in debt as a nation. Trillion was not even a term that was used when I was younger. Billion was an unheard of amount a generation ago. Now a billion dollars seems like a small amount. Many of these problems along with increased stress and anxiety arise because we have forgotten how to wait.

The problem is that faith and Godly favor require that we wait. There is no way around it. In this space, we have been looking at the idea of waiting on the Lord. If we want to experience the favor of God through people and circumstances, we must wait. Favor comes at the discretion of others. If you ask someone to do you a favor, you are obliged to wait for their timing and convenience. If you are paying that person to do work for you, it is your right to dictate when and how the thing is done. If you are asking for a favor, you must “wait on” the one doing the favor.

We could never pay for the things God wants to do for us. We could not earn salvation. Salvation came to us by grace, unmerited favor, through faith or simply believing that God would do what he said he would do. If we are going to walk in God’s favor, we must be willing to wait on God’s time and God’s way.

You might say, “God is almighty. He can do anything. Why can’t he make what I need happen when I need it? Why do I have to wait at all?” First, he always makes things happen when we need them to happen. He just does not always agree with you on when they need to happen. He also does not always agree with you concerning exactly what it is that needs to happen. Even if he agrees about what needs to happen, he usually brings it about in a way you could not possibly foresee.

Last week we looked at how to wait successfully. Here is another key to successful waiting. We must be willing to understand that things are not always going to work out the way we planned. Most of the time, it will look like things are not working out at all. We must be willing to allow the Lord to be in control and believe that he will work everything out according to his purpose and our good. We must expect God to be God and not tell him how to do his Job. (Ps. 62:5)

I had a friend who believed that we should be specific in our prayer and accept nothing less than the specific answer. He did some traveling in ministry and he wanted a custom van. He made his list of what he wanted in the van. It had to be a certain make and it had to be blue. He said, “If someone offered me a red one I wouldn’t take it because God will answer specifically. I asked for blue and he won’t give me red!” I believe in praying specifically, but I think we need to be willing to leave the details to God. In his position, I would have taken hot pink if someone wanted to give it to me!

This is also true in the way life plays out for us. Very few people “live the dream.” Most of us find that life is not all what we thought it would be when we were growing up. That is just a fact. Few people ever become rich financially. Few have that dream job and few do or have all the things they want. When we are waiting on God and things do not happen the way we expect we stop waiting and try to help God. We may also give in to discouragement and give up. If we let God be God, we will win in the end. If we try to help God, we will give up and eventually lose.

Why must I wait? I want to submit something to you for your consideration. We live in the moment. We have memories of the past and we have hopes, dreams and fears for the future. However, it is the thing that most concerns us or has our attention today that we live for. We have a very difficult time with the “big picture.” God is just the opposite. He told Moses to tell Israel that his name was “I am that I am.” God sees all of history as right now. According to today’s scripture, he sees the end from the beginning.

To us yesterday is a faded memory. The future is uncertain. We know about right now. When we have a desire or a need, it is right now. We honestly believe that we need God to move immediately. However, God knows things that you do not. In Psalm 139 it says that God had all our days numbered while we were in our mother’s womb. Go does not just see you earthly beginning and physical end. God sees your whole existence. You had a beginning but you will have no end. You are a spirit and you will live forever. God knows every moment of your forever.

Have you ever looked back at something and said, “Now I see what God had in mind.” When I started the church I now pastor, I moved from a small city to a very small town. I went from 80 or so people to 11 people. That decision meant I was going to have to wait for the new church to grow. I had to wait for a building. I had to wait for resources. It is hard to support a family on the giving of 11 people, particularly when 3 of those people are your family. I had to wait on God and trust him for everything until the church began to grow.

Why would God make me do that? Why not just stay where I was? I had a house, people to help me in the work and a church building. I had musicians and people to give. Why would God lead me into something that would involve so much waiting?

I knew that God had called me to travel to other parts of the world. This move did not seem to have anything to do with that vision. However, a man from Africa came to our church when it was very small. I would never have met him if I stayed where I was. That act of obedience opened doors to Africa that I am still walking through today.

God sees all the twists and turns that life is going to take. He knows exactly when to bring things to you. He knows when to cause you to intersect with important people or things. We must wait on him because his timing is perfect and his vision is unhindered by the limitations of time. I do not understand that. I do not have to. I just have to wait when he says wait. I just have to accept that God is in control and if he says wait it is for a reason. I simply have to wait in faith praising and thanking him for his goodness and the victory he will bring to me. I just have to bring my flesh under the control of my spirit and tell it, “You will wait on the Lord!”

If we learn to do that, we will experience great victory in life and a kind of success that nothing else will bring.