Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Waiting on God

How many reading this have prayed and waited for God to answer?  How many have read the promises of God and waited?  How many have been waiting a long time and still haven’t seen God move in their circumstances.

Do you know what I think takes the very most faith?  It’s not believing that God exists.  It’s not believing that Jesus rose from the dead.  I can grasp those things, but what takes the most faith is believing that God will move, and that God will deliver on His promise for you.

Isaiah 40:27-31 (NKJV)
40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: "My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God"? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

God’s Promises

Isaiah is trying to encourage Israel here, because they seem to have lost faith in God’s promises.  They’ve begun to complain about God not answering prayers. 

“My way is hidden from the Lord.”  God doesn’t see my circumstances.

“My just claim is passed over by God.”  God isn’t responding to my cries.

They’re not looking forward with hope.  They’re complaining that God’s hearing but not responding.  They’re impatient – They want to see God move, now!  They’ve forgotten about the things that God has done; the things that they’ve experienced.    They’ve forgotten what God’s character is like.  They’ve forgotten the things they’ve heard from their fathers about how God has moved in the past. 

Have you not seen through your own experience, or heard from teachers and the scriptures, about the attributes of God?  God doesn’t grow weary – God isn’t tired.  He’s not too exhausted to meet the needs of His people.  Instead of complaining, you ought to be inspired by how God moves and the things He does.  This is what Isaiah is reminding them.  He’s telling them whom God is, and what He is capable of doing.

I think that this is the number one way that people lose faith.  They have things that they need – things that they want and so they pray, but they don’t see God move.  They begin to lose faith that God will move on their behalf, so they stop praying, stop hearing the word and stop believing.

Where are you today?  Are you inspired by God’s promises?  Are you seeing God move in your life?  That’s really a very interesting question, because you may answer that you don’t see God moving – That God isn’t doing anything with any purpose in your life – That God isn’t meeting your needs in life, but God is moving in your life.  God is helping you.  God is actively involved in your life, but you think He’s not, because you’re not seeing Him give you that one thing that you desperately want from Him.

He’s moving in every aspect of your life.  He’s providing; He’s working in you; He’s meeting every need that you have but that one thing that you want the most.

Part of the problem is that you see things differently than God.  You always think that what you want is the best thing for you.  You always think that you’re ready for that thing you’re asking.  You always think that what you want is good for you, but God knows what’s best.

God knows if it’s the best thing for you.
God knows if you’re really ready.
God knows if it’s good for you.

You THINK – but God KNOWS!

These are some of the reasons God doesn’t move, but I think that there’s even more to it than that. 

I was thinking about Abraham – At seventy-five years old, God made him a promise.  He took him to a place and showed him a land that one day would belong to his descendants.  The problem was that at seventy-five years of age Abraham was childless – He had no heirs; no descendants.  He must have thought it was odd that God would make this promise.  He was an old man.  His wife was barren.  There it was, though, the promise of descendants.

Genesis 15:2-4 (NKJV)
15:2 But Abram said, "Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."

Abraham believes God but he needs clarity.  He needs God to clarify this:  “I go childless – Are you saying the child of my slave is my heir?”  God tells him that a child will come from his own body – another promise.  Then – NOTHING happens…for twenty-five years, there is no child!

God says I have a promise for you.  I’m going to do something in you and through you.  I’m going to give something over into your hand, but you’re going to have to wait for it!

Can you believe for the child?  Can you believe for the promise?  Even though you see no evidence of it?  That’s the Biblical definition of faith, isn’t it?  Hebrew 11:1 – The substance of things hoped for – It’s faith that makes those hoped for things real.  It’s what brings substance to dreams, hopes, and promises.  Even that definition implies that it’s going to take time:  Things hoped for – Things not seen.  You give up, though, when you’re not seeing it.  “God I’m desperate for your promise”; God says wait! 

God made a promise to Joseph – They’ll bow down to you.  Then Joseph had to wait.  He endured slavery.  He endured false accusation and prison.  Joseph spent thirteen years as a slave and prisoner before the promise came.  Joseph had to wait!

God made a promise to David – David was anointed king when he was fifteen years old.  “You’re anointed the King over Israel – a man after my own heart!”  David became king at age thirty.  David had to wait.

Moses felt a calling to be the deliverer of Israel when he was forty years old.  He rose up, right then, in his own strength to deliver Israel from Egypt and failed.  God called him again at eighty years of age – “You’re going to deliver Israel.”  Moses had to wait!

All of these men had God’s promises on their lives, but they all had to wait.  There’s a promise in your life, as well.  Can you wait for it?

The Affect of Waiting

Why would God make us wait to see His calling and promise?  I felt the calling to full-time ministry after only a few months of salvation.  I had been saved only six months when I knew I wanted to be like my pastor.  I waited nine more years to go.  It was a time of preparation; a time of testing.  The promise was there, but I had to wait.

Abraham endured a period of waiting; twenty-five years.  It was a time of testing, a time of proving faith.  God was looking for a man that would trust Him.  He endured more than just waiting, too.  He endured famines; he endured fear down in Egypt.  This was the biggest pitfall for him.

Waiting isn’t easy.  There’s a desperation for the promise, “God I’m crying out for this – It’s important to me, God!  Why aren’t you responding?”  Abraham waited for the child but none came:

Genesis 16:1-4a (NKJV)
16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, "See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her." And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4a So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived…"

God had promised that the child would come from his own body.  God had said that it would be him and Sarah that would produce a child – and yet Abraham loses faith in the process of time.  He’s had to wait, so he thinks that he has to help God to produce the child.  He takes the work of God upon himself.  Instead of waiting in faith, he reacts in the flesh and Ishmael is the child of that union.

Genesis 16:12 (NKJV)
16:12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."

This is not the child of the promise; this is the child of the flesh.  They couldn’t see the possibility of God’s promise.  She was barren.  He was as good as dead.  They couldn’t see how God’s promise could happen. 

His impatience has corrupted the promise of God.  His lack of faith has caused this to go wrong.  Instead of producing a child through whom the world would be blessed, he has brought forth a man that would be against all men.

Can you wait for the possibility of God’s promise?  Are you in too much of a hurry?  Do you feel like you have to push the promise through?  Waiting is a time of testing.  God wants your trust.

I’ve seen so many people destroy what God is trying to do by taking God’s work and God’s promises into their own hands and corrupting the promise of God through the desires of the flesh.  Are you producing an Ishmael in your own life, because you’re looking at the promises of God through the filter of your own circumstances? 

“I don’t see any possibility for an almighty God to move, so I need to step in and help!”

In the end for the promise of God to flourish, Ishmael had to be cast out into the wilderness.  The flesh had to be thrown down so the promise could arise.

In our text it says:

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”

This is talking about those who cannot wait on God:  The ones who will try to bring it about in their own strength.  They will faint and grow weary – the boundless energy of youth will fail them because the work of God will overwhelm them!  The creation of the heavens is the work of God’s fingers.  What God does with His fingers is impossible for any man in all of his strength.  We don’t have the strength for God’s work.  We don’t have the power to make His promise come true.

Those Who Wait

If you’re trying to bring about God’s promises in your own strength, you will grow weary.  The young men will utterly fall.  These are the men who are appointed; they are called to a purpose, but they will be utterly destroyed in trying to do it on their own – But those who wait…

Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
40:31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Those that wait will have new strength – their strength will be renewed; made new.  They will mount up with wings like Eagles.  What does that mean?

As an Eagle ages, there is damage to his feathers.  Many of them have fallen out; the power of the wings has diminished.  The eagle flies to a high rock and pulls the remaining feathers out of his wings.  He needs to stop and rest; take the time to allow the feathers to grow in.  He’s unable to hunt. He has to endure that time of waiting.  He can do nothing as he waits for the feathers to grow in.  He is utterly vulnerable.

As the feathers grow in and fill in the spaces where they were missing, his power to fly is renewed, but first, he has to survive that time of waiting.

God’s promises will strengthen us, but we also have to endure and survive the time of waiting.  This is the time when we are vulnerable to the devil’s strategy.  Can you allow your wings to “mount up”?  Can you endure the time it takes to see the promise?  What if you only see the beginning of the promise like Abraham did? 

Hebrews 11:13 (NKJV)
11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

These all died in faith:  The scripture is talking about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah.  Abraham didn’t see his descendants numbered like sand on the seashore.  He never saw them possess the Promised Land.  It took six hundred eighty-five years from the time of the promise until they stepped across the Jordan and into that promise.

Abraham didn’t live to see that, but he saw Isaac, the child of promise.  He saw Jacob, his grandson.  He saw the promise of God begin to take shape and grow. 

Waiting on God isn’t just waiting:  God’s testing; God’s teaching; God’s loving and He’s giving us the opportunity to see His faithfulness.  He’s building faith and trust into us.  So that we can mount up as on Eagle’s wings; So that we can walk with him and not grow weary; So that we can run and not faint.  Are you one of those who can wait on God?

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