Waiting on God - Part One
In our introduction to this series "Waiting On God", we learned that God has not lost control of things down here on earth, inspite of what our natural senses tell us. The trials and tragedies that affect our lives are not only in His control, they are being used by Him to shape our lives. If you haven't reviewed this page yet go to "Waiting On God -Introduction", and read this page before moving on Part I of this series.
God has not stopped loving us for something we did, or something that has happened to us. HIs love for us is unfailing, and we know that as "born again" children of our Father in Heaven, that nothing can separate us from His love that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).
Because He loves us, He "prunes" us. God uses the analogy of a vine and branches in John 15. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and our Heavenly father is the vinedresser. The vinedresser "prunes" the branch so that it can bear more fruit. This pruning process is very painful, but a necessary part of who we are as children of God. Fruit must be harvested at the right time for it to be affective to the person who eats of it. Our timing and God's timing are not always the same, and our purpose and His purpose are sometimes very different as well. Because of this, we can often times become bewildered in our trials. We don't see purpose in them, and we don't want to wait on God's timing for them to be over. We learned in our Introduction to this series that the first step in overcoming this attitude is to "believe God" - no matter what. And that, my dear Christian brothers and sisters, is where we sometimes falter. God tells us that He will test our faith, and He will definitely use trials to do it. If you don't believe this read James 1:1-4, and if want more confirmation of this read 1 Peter 1:3-7. If that doesn't do it for you, read John 16:33. Trouble, trials, tribulation, tragedies are going to come upon us - it's an absolute certainty. But all these things are meant for our good (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28), and no weapon formed against us will prosper, and no accuser will overcome us (Isaiah 54:17, ). To believe God, or not to believe Him - that is the decision we must make in the midst of our pain - and that is easier said than done. But in order to grow and produce fruit, we must increase our faith, especially the times of severe trials and tragedies. And that is the essence of Waiting on God - Part 1: How to increase our faith in times of severe trials.
As I told you in the Introduction to this series, we are going to study the life of David - specially concentrating on Psalm 27. It is very important to learn from someone who has been through severe trials, and David is certainly one of those people. There is a key in Psalm 27 that David discloses to us, and it is the secret of life. David calls it the "one thing". This "one thing" is the key to perseverence and the key to "Waiting on God".
Do you know what the secret of life is? The secret of life is also the secret of "Waiting On God". Every once in a while a great Christian truth can be learned from a secular setting. Great Christian teachings are often found in secular movies if you pay close attention. Our family has always liked to watch movies, especially the movies that have a good heartfelt message. One of our favorites is a movie called City Slickers. It stars Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. In this story, Billy Crystal and his two buddies go off every year to do some wild excursion. The movie opens with them running with the bulls in Spain, and then shifts to a year later when these guys decide to go off and drive some cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. It is clear that Billy Crystal and his buddies are each going through some sort of mid-life crisis, and that is the main reason they head off to this "vacation" cattle drive. In the middle of the cattle drive, Billy Crystal (Mitch) and Jack Palance (Curly) go off together to round up some strays. It is during this time that Mitch complains to Curly about his life, and that he is generally unhappy. It's at this moment the Curly explains to Mitch that he just doesn't get the meaning of life. He explains to Mitch that the secret of life is just one thing. The statement Curly makes is very profound, and every Christian should hear this message.
They all have their trials, and troubles from the past and the present.
WAITING ON GOD
Is there a trial you are going through right now that appears to have no path through and no way out? Is there trouble or tribulation around you that seems to have no end? Is there something that you long for in your life that looks as if will never come to pass?
Over the past few weeks, God has really been dealing with us regarding His timing for our lives. It’s as if every devotion or study that we embark on lately He is instructing us on the benefits of patiently waiting on the Him. God is showing us that there is a process that we need to go through as we persevere through each difficult circumstance in our lives. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We have learned (sometimes the hard way) that His timing is not always our timing. Timing is everything, and God’s timing is always perfect. Here’s an example of timing: Did you know that a piece of fruit (like a banana for instance) has a perfect time to be harvested? Did you know that if you pick a banana just a few of days before the right time that over 85% of the nutrients will be missing? It is in the last few days before it is fully ripe that a banana will receive most of the nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies when we eat it. This is true for all fruits and vegetables. There is a right time for harvesting. Did you know that our lives are compared to this? Read John 15 about the vine and branches. Here is verse 8: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Do you think that God wants us to bear fruit for him before it is time? Of course the answer is “no”, and it is in this waiting time that we often seem to lose hope. The analogy of John 15 is that God is always pruning and ‘cleaning’ us so that the fruit that we bear will be more excellent. This process of pruning and ‘cleaning’ is sometimes very difficult and can leave us bewildered, angry, hurting, and without understanding of why it is happening. This is such a critical issue for people that I have decided to do a 4-Part series in learning to wait on God. As always, I will be learning right along with you as I write this. So let’s get into Part One of “Waiting On God”.
All of us go through trials and tribulations. All of us have things we really desire for our lives that seem like they will never happen. When you are in a severe trial or tribulation, it seems like it will never end. When you have a desire for something you don’t have, it seems like it will never come to you. So, how do we patiently wait on God while going through these situations?
If we are going to learn how to wait on God, and what that means, it is important to find an example of another person who has learned to wait on God, and emulate that example. And, if we are going to emulate a person, it is important to emulate someone from the Bible - wouldn't you agree? King David is a great example of a person who learned to wait on God. Remember, after the prophet Samuel anointed David king over Israel, David ended up running for his life from King Saul (much of that time spend hiding in caves). It was about 13 years after he was anointed before David was officially crowned King. Because David passed the "waiting on God" test, not only was he crowned king, he was also crowned prophet and priest. The only other person in the Bible who is crowned this way is our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Of course he is the King of kings and Lord of lords, High Priest and Prophet over all.
Although Jesus will always be the best example for us to emulate, David is like us. He was not perfect in this world, and we can learn from his example as an imperfect human. David made plenty of mistakes and was a sinner just like us. If you want to learn how to “wait on God in a nutshell” so to speak, Psalm 27 is a great Chapter to study. In this series, we will use Psalm 27 as the foundation of our 4-Part study on “Waiting On God”.
PART ONE: “DESIRE GOD”
The first thing David does in Psalm 27 (as in many of his Psalms), is that he proclaims the name of the Lord and who He is. The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NKJV). I wonder how many of us consistently proclaim the name of the Lord a time of trial, tribulation, or waiting period. Secondly in verse 1, you will notice that David proclaims that there is nothing to fear or be afraid of. This is carried on in verses 2 and 3: “When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident” (Psalm 27:2-3). In these two verses, David is recounting the times that God has already helped him (vs. 2), and then proclaims his confidence in the Lord regarding future trials (vs. 3). That is why God tells us to remember all of the times in our lives that He has already come to our aid. One of the ways to do this is to journal. David was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Ultimate Journal – the Bible. It’s almost as if David is reassuring himself in the Lord by making these proclamations. David does this on other occasions as well. One that comes to mind right away is in 1 Samuel, Chapter 30. During a devastating time in his life, David’s own men were threatening to stone him to death because of this severe trial they were all going through. This particular trial happened while David and his men were serving elsewhere, and away from their camp. When they returned to their camp, they discovered that the Amalekites had taken all of their wives and children captive. There was great distress and sadness to the point of mutiny. David’s own men were ready to kill him. This is what David did then: “…but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6b KJV). All of us have been through trials, but not many of us like this one – at least in America anyway. A lot can be learned in these first 3 verses of Psalm 27. When we are going through a trial or tribulation, the example set by David is to proclaim the name of the Lord and Who He is, and because of Who He is, we have no reason to fear. Then we need to recount the many times God has already been there for us, and reaffirm our confidence that He will be with us in the future. We need to reassure ourselves that our confidence is in the Lord. By doing all of this we will “encourage ourselves in the Lord our God”. This is not a ‘once in awhile’ habit, but something we should do daily, or sometimes even more often.
Now we come to verse 4 of Psalm 27, and the crux of our teaching of Part One. It is really the foundation of all Christianity. Here it is: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4). Notice the first two words “One thing”. David is exposing his whole heart to God in this one verse. It is the “one thing” he desires and seeks, and it is broken down into three parts: 1) “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”; 2) “To behold the beauty of the Lord”; 3) “And to inquire in His temple”. Basically, David is saying that the one thing he really desires and seeks for the rest of his life is to live with the Lord in His home or Kingdom forever (see Matthew 6:33), to be able to see the Lord for who He really is (an encounter with the living God is always life changing – see Genesis 16:13; Genesis 32:30; Job 42:5-6; and John 1:34), and to learn from the Lord who is the only true source of wisdom and knowledge which will give us good judgment (Colossians 1:9 and 2:3).
Since David is a prophet, he is not only proclaiming the ‘one thing’ he desires and seeks, he is also prophesying of what would come in the future. David knew that a new covenant was coming in which God would dwell in man. David referred to that new covenant as Salvation. That new covenant is sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of God in bodily form (Colossians 1:19 and 2:9). In this new covenant of Salvation, God makes His home inside of us (see John 14:23); this is Part 1 of Psalm 27:4. Since God now lives within us, He shows us His beauty and Glory through His Holy Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 3:18); this is Part 2 of Psalm 24:7. And we have now become the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) in which we have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) which gives us access to all of His wisdom and knowledge; this is Part 3 of Psalm 27:4. This prophesy has been fulfilled.
God called David a “man after My own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, and Acts 13:22). Psalm 27:4 in itself is proof of this statement that God declared about David. Perhaps this is because God sees the heart, and He knew David’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Desire God above everything else. It is the first key in successfully and joyfully going through any trial or tribulation.