November 2013

Waiting on the Lord

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14 KJV
One of the most challenging and perplexing aspects of prayer is the period of time between the request and the answer. That phase is commonly referred to as waiting on the Lord. When prayers are answered quickly, the waiting period is brief and buoyed by an expectant satisfaction and relief in having made the request. But when the answer lingers and the waiting period begins to slowly drag on, waves of doubt and impatience gather strength as they buffet the heart of the pray-er. It could be said that waiting on the Lord is the test between the request and God’s best.
This critical time of waiting on the Lord is often characterized by confusion and weariness. And yet it is in this waiting process, which God purposely allows, that prayer does its deepest, most beneficial work in the heart of the pray-er. As much as we would like to avoid it, it is the necessary path God provides to purify our desires and prepare us to move from promise to fulfillment.
It is understandable therefore that there are many scriptures extolling the virtues of waiting on the Lord. Waiting upon the Lord and hoping in the Lord are frequently linked and sometimes even used interchangeably. “We wait in hope for the Lord,” the psalmist tells us “he is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:20 NIV) “Praise awaits you, our God.” (Psalm 65:1 NIV) And “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5 NIV)
In the waiting process hope in God’s character and His word is like the oxygen that keeps us breathing words of praise while we wait for God to answer. We can see therefore how critical it is in waiting for God to answer our prayers to maintain a lifeline to hope by reminding ourselves of God’s past faithfulness and many promises.

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The Throne of Grace

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

One of the most attractive, unadulterated and treasured words in the English language is the word GRACE. It connotes a wide variety of desirable attributes ranging from beauty, elegance, refinement, dignity and ease . . . to kindness, forbearance, responsiveness, mercy and compassion. To be a recipient of grace and graciousness is often a disarming, deeply impressionable and even transformative experience. Gracious actions by gracious people have a way of overwhelming us because graciousness is often undeserved and unexpected.

Grace takes on an even more transcendent meaning when understood in the context of the Christian faith. It is a word that is used over 170 times in the New Testament in a wide variety of applications but most importantly it is the term used to communicate God’s free gift of salvation and all its accompanying blessings that come to us through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8)

In order to really understand grace and thereby experience it in its fullness, we must always start at the place from which grace proceeds – the throne of grace. The very phrase “throne” of “grace” seems strangely incongruous in marrying/linking two such seemingly opposing ideas of absolute authority and sympathetic compassion. And yet the writer to the Hebrews, in the context of his explanation of how Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Old Testament covenant in order to establish a new covenant, beckons us to that throne of grace with these words: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)

The key to comprehending the magnitude of this grace that flows from this throne is found in discovering more about the one who sits upon this throne.

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Is it time you took a rest?

For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4 NLT)

There is a foundational spiritual principle for realizing inner peace, transformation and breakthrough in life. And it is this, it only happens when we choose to rest and let God do the work. This is a simple truth but it is not easy to do because it is counter intuitive to human reason and how the world operates.

The fact remains, in the spiritual realm and in God’s kingdom it is all about His work from beginning to end. Our relationship with God, His choice of us, our acceptance and forgiveness, our very sonship is based upon His work and not ours. Paul writes “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes (trusts) in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” (Romans 4:4-5 ESV)

In God’s economy the operating principle for increase is not driven by earning, but by receiving. Therefore it is God’s delight to “gift” His creation with good things like righteousness and salvation. The main thing that requires of us is not work but trust. There is a big difference between those two, working versus trustin. When that understanding first dawned on me as an unredeemed struggling sinner, and it actually happened when those two verses out of Romans jumped off the page into my heart at a home bible study, it rocked my world. I felt liberated from the frustration and inability on my part to earn acceptance from God and I found myself rejoicing in that fact that what I could not do for myself, God had already done and was offering it as a free gift. His only requirement of me was that I trust Him to do it – to cease from my work and trust Him do the work.

Recently I had to have a minor surgery on my hand. It required submitting myself to anesthesia and the care and skill of my doctor and those who attended him. I would not have done it if I had not trusted the surgeon to do what I could not do myself. Because I was “out” during the whole procedure, it could be said I was ceasing from my labors in “resting” while I trusted him do all the work. As a result, I have become the recipient of a new and better functioning hand.

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