What Are You Waiting For?

MP900442844When someone asks you, “what are you waiting for?”, a number of responses may jump to your lips:

  • “The start of the football season.”
  • “A response to that job application I sent in.”
  • “That special someone to come along.”

Waiting is a regular part of our lives, but it is not something we are always very good at.

Where are you?
In Psalm 130, the writer cries out to God from the depths (verses 1-2). For the Israelites, the depths convey a place of fear, confusion, or trouble. Pharaoh and the Egyptian army “sank Read More »

Praying to the Powerful God [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“Power belongs to God.” (Psalm 62:11)

Psalm 62 begins with some of the most memorable lines in the psalms:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

The psalmist’s words express a deep dependence upon God. Many of us resonate with this dependence in our lives because, as we so often experience, there is no other person or thing that compares with God. There are many sources of strength in our lives, whether good friends, family or our own God-given capacities as people. However, each of us experience seasons when other people and our own resources run dry like a creek bed at the height of the summer’s heat.

God’s presence and power is not like that. We can wait upon God because He provides an unshakable refuge and salvation. He is not a peddler of petty charms, but the God who has created all the world by His mighty power and sustains it daily with His strength. When we pray, we are approaching the powerful God. Too many times, our prayer life aims at meager goals because we lose sight of God’s awesome power. The testimony of the psalmist is a reminder that, at the end of it all, God’s power is present in our world and lives: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11).

Creator God, who spoke all creation
  into being by Your might word,
I approach You with awe and wonder,
  both at who You are
  and what You can do.
Raise my eyes to the heights of Your power
  and enlarge my prayers with greater faith.
I seek You and the greater things
that come only from You,
not for my own glory and praise
  but for the greater glory and praise
  of Your Name.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Five Elements of Waiting on God

In preparation for my message this past weekend on Joseph from Genesis 40-41, I noticed something striking about the timeline of Joseph’s journey.

Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 years of age according to Genesis 37:2. By the end of Genesis 41, Joseph is 30 years old (41:46). Two years pass between the end of chapter 40 and 41 (41:1), so roughly 10-11 years of Joseph’s life were spent in Potiphar’s house or in prison. It is likely that the majority of that time was spent in prison. Many of us grow tired waiting a day or two, or a week, or a month for God to show tangible answers to prayer. We wait for a response but grow tired when our waiting stretches for months or even years. If you are in that place take comfort from Joseph’s life. His descent into suffering left him in a holding pattern for nearly thirteen years. I’d like to share five elements of waiting on God that we can see from the life of Joseph and throughout Scripture. While his list is not exhaustive, I do believe that these elements are critical to us actively waiting on God.

  1. Waiting on God means believing God is still our God. Joseph’s words to the chief cupbearer and the chief baker help us see that even though he suffered he did not give up his faith that YHWH God is still God. This theme is echoed in the psalms: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation” (Psalm 62:1-2, ESV). In seasons of suffering we are tempted to put ourselves or other people or things into the place only God deserves. Certainly we need trusted friends and other resources during these times but we must hold onto the reality that God is still the King even in our suffering.
  2. Waiting on God means actively calling out to God. We cannot take for granted the power and vitality found by pouring our hearts out to God in prayer. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). When we call out to God, He draws near to us, even in the times of long waiting or extended suffering.
  3. Waiting on God means drawing strength from the Lord. Like a seed planted in the soil whose roots extend deep before any green breaks the soil’s surface, or like a dormant fruit tree draws nutrients before any fruit graves the limbs, so in our spiritual lives we must draw upon the strength that God gives. This is perhaps even more true in the extended times of suffering or waiting. We cannot make it without God’s strength. “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).
  4. Waiting on God means moving forward by faith even when we cannot see. We must move in obedience to what we already know and not do nothing. Joseph did not sulk in some hidden hallway or back room of Potiphar’s house or the prison when he suffered. Instead, we see that he stepped forward, eventually rising to responsible positions in both places. Wallowing in self-pity does not lead you there. Rather we must live out what the Apostle Paul wrote to an early church: “for we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
  5. Waiting on God means letting God build perseverance and maturity into us. An athlete who wants to become stronger must work to the very edge of their ability in order to move beyond that. The same is true with a pianist or an engineer or a businessperson. It is a life principle that growth comes through stretching ourselves. That same principle applies to life with God. We will not grow spiritual muscles or produce greater fruit for God in our lives without being stretched in our discipleship. The Apostle James writes about that truth this way: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Joseph experiences a transformation of perseverance and maturity that arises because he has actively walked with God in the midst of his suffering and waiting.

Joseph waits on the Lord and we see God do a new work in Joseph’s life. So, too, in our lives God will do new things in our lives as we wait upon Him in the midst of our seasons of suffering.

Talking with God When Pain Looms Large

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series “Turning to God in Troubling Times” drawn from the 7th century B.C. prophet Habakkuk. This week, we walked through Habakkuk 1:12-2:1, where the prophet lifts up his second prayer of complaint to God. I offered special attention to the idea of standing at the watchtower of our lives in waiting on God.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read More »

Human Means for Divine Ends

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 Title

I continued our “Faith Life” series this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at how impatience can lead us to take matters into our own hands. In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah struggle with their desire to make God’s promises become a reality by coming up with their own plans. Unfortunately, it leads to a cascading series of problems. Still, God shows His grace all through this situation. The central aim of this message was about waiting in faith on the Lord.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read More »