Sunday, December 26, 2010

Waiting on God

I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hands…
[Psalm 31:14-15a NIV]

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
[James 1:4 NIV]

So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
[James 1:4 MSG]

The key to “waiting on God” is understanding that patience (translated above as “perseverance”) involves more than passively watching the clock or calendar. Two New Testament Greek words for “time” are often contrasted: chronos, referring to duration, and kairos, stressing the qualitative features of a “season.”1 Kairos involves more than a number of days or years; certain things need to happen for "due season" [Galatians 6:9] to occur. For most of us who are “waiting on God” for fulfillment of specific dreams or destiny, God’s timing involves a preparation process, in which God is working out all the details.

As we’ve discussed in previous postings,* preparation to possess our “promised land” involves being fully equipped with both practical skills and spiritual readiness for the things God has called us to be and do.
The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. [James 1:4 NIRV]
Below are a few areas in which God is likely to be working while we wait for His "appointed time."
Transformation of Identity
Waiting on God often involves a process of changing the way we think about ourselves and others. The children of Israel’s “slave mentality” had to die in the wilderness before a new generation of warriors would follow God into the Promised Land.

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, and the Israelites left Egypt like a marching army. [Exodus 13:17-18 NLT]

Waiting on Others
Sometimes God is still working on other people or circumstances while we wait. Caleb & Joshua, for example, had to wait until all the people of Israel were ready to enter the Promised Land.

This was their report to Moses: "We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country -- a land flowing with milk and honey. Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. "Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer it!" But the other men who had explored the land with him answered, "We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: "The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge… We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that's what we looked like to them!"
[Numbers 13:27, 30-33 NLT]

Character & Motivation
The testing of our faith, obedience and motivation strengthens us to handle what is promised when the time arrives. In James 1:4, the Greek word hupomone – sometimes translated “perseverance,” or “endurance” - indicates “patience” that develops through trials, which temper our character.
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
[James 1:2-4 NLT]

“Waiting on God,” in the sense of looking to Him above all else, develops devotion that expresses itself in obedient trust and sensitivity to His will.

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We look to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. [Psalm 123:1-1 NLT]

As we worship, serve, adore and enjoy Him, our motives and desires become more like His.
Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.
[Psalm 37:4 NIV]

When we prize relationship with God more than anything else, as Moses did, what we ask for and what He wants to do for us become more and more consistent.

And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. [I John 5:14 NLT]

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. [John 15:7 NKJ]

Our path and God’s path become one as we walk with Him. True satisfaction flows from this abiding love relationship. As we focus on God, we stay in step with His plans and purposes for our lives… and His timing.

A prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were created, before you made the earth and the world, you are God, without beginning or end… For you, a thousand years are as yesterday! They are like a few hours!

Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. O LORD, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
[Psalm 90: 1-2, 4, 12-14 NLT]

1 “Broadly speaking, chronos expresses the duration of a period, kairos stresses it as marked by certain features." -- Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words "Season (Noun)" A. 2.

* Note: this posting is part of a series of lessons about “spiritual wilderness,” which so far includes postings on 11/12, 11/26, 12/3, 12/8 & 12/15.

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