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HUNGER FOR GOD 5 Apr 15- Patience(waiting)

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Spiritual Passion and Patience

Isaiah 40

Will you open your Bibles please to Isaiah 40? In our passage for today, Isaiah is writing to a people who are tired of waiting: Verse 27 IOWs, Isaiah is responding to a people crying out that things are not going well. We might put it this way: “It’s not fair.”  “It’s not fair for me to be treated this way at work… it’s not fair for me to be single this long… It’s not fair that my children treat me this way… It’s not fair that the other person got the promotion and not me. The justice due me has escaped the notice of my God.” IOWs, Isaiah is raising the problem of waiting. 

Isaiah’s hearers were discouraged and weary from waiting, and when people go into a period of waiting 2 questions seem to emerge: First, “When is God going to keep His Word?” God has made promises, and God always keeps His promises, so when is this going to happen? The second question arises precisely because they believe in God: “Since God does exists, why am I waiting? IOWs, waiting is a challenge. Let’s look at these challenges.

You know what it means to wait and wait and wait…panic sets in.  It’s then that some folks begin to flip from experience to experience so they can forget about the fact that they have to wait.  Some run to alcohol, or drugs, or gambling, or whatever…so they can forget.  While others look for an emotional experience in order to make it another day. IOWs, waiting causes us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do.

It is like being at a stoplight that will not change.  Ever been there?  Hanbury and Johnstown Rd.– that light has the dumbest timing.  Early in the morning or late at night, or especially on the weekend that light goes red and you wait, and wait, and wait and no traffic is to be seen in any direction. So what happens…we start getting antsy and start thinking what?  Hey…Nobody is watching…maybe that light isn’t even working…I’ll just go.

Isaiah’s people made this same mistake. They believed that “If God is silent, maybe He’s not working.” IOWs, the classic mistake of waiting is this: “If I can’t see God doing something, God must be doing nothing.”

So if you are “waiting,”—that is, you’re waiting on God—yours is not an invitation to an experience, it’s not an invitation to a thrill, it’s not an invitation to the next sermon or song, if you’re waiting, yours is an invitation to stop and reflect on the character of God: V 28—So, how do you wait when you have no choice but to wait?  Isaiah says stop and reflect on the character of God.

“Do you not know?” he says.  Because when you have to wait, it is easy to forget what God is like.  So in circumstances that are dark and dreary, Isaiah says let what you know about God be the basis of your waiting. So when you have to wait, concentrate on God’s character and remember…

#1 “God is an everlasting God.”  In other words, God does not look at your clock to determine His plan.  Time is different for God.

#2 God is the “Creator God.”  Not only does God operate outside your clock, but when God does choose to move, God can do so without any raw materials available to Him what-so-ever.  In fact, when God created, He did so…as theologians say, “exnilo,” that is “out of nothing.”  Which means: You don’t need to know how God is going to do something, because God doesn’t need anything to get it done. Then, remember…

#3 God does not become “tired or weary.”  In other words, God has not zoned out on you like I can do if you try and talk to me late in the afternoon, before I get my second wind.  God does not need a second wind. Finally…

#4 Isaiah says, “God’s understanding is inscrutable”.  Inscrutable, means you cannot figure God out, and you’ll get a headache if you try.  So, don’t get all bent out of shape because God is operating silently and you do not know what in the world He is doing…because you are wasting your time.  His understanding is inscrutable, that’s what makes God…God.

“Given that, how in the world am I supposed to make it, when I don’t know where God is, I don’t know what God is doing, I can’t figure Him out, and He operates on a different clock!  How am I supposed to make it!”

Well if you’ll lean upon God and trust God, here’s how you’re going to make it: V 29 – Now, I can’t tell you when your breakthrough is coming, because God hasn’t told me. But God did tell me something I can tell you here in verse 29…

Notice, first it says, “God gives it.” That is…God gives “waiters,” who become weary, new strength. IOWs, Isaiah says, you don’t have to earn it or work for it, because God grants it to those who are weary. So the only qualification you need, is to be weary.  So you say, “Then how come I don’t have the strength yet?”  You’re not weary yet. 

“What! Don’t tell me I’m not weary!  You don’t know me, or my momma, so how do you know?” Because you are still trying to make it in your own strength, when to be weary is to come to the end of your resources.  So if you’re still trying to manipulate things and make them happen in your own strength, you’re not weary enough yet.

Now, where this…“becoming weary”…stuff is concerned, you have a choice: you can become weary voluntarily or “mandatorially.”  That is, God can put us in a position where we eventually become weary, OR we can decide up front, “I’m weary.”  

So, who gets weary? “Young people,” verse 30, “grow weary and tired.”  So it’s not about how old you are.  I often hear people say, “If I were only 20 years younger, I could handle this.”  God says, “Really, well I know some very tired young folk.”  Young folk who want to give up, young folk who want to commit suicide, young folk who throw their lives away.  Youth does not solve this problem.  In fact, vigorous young men stumble badly, it says.

“Ok, then help me.  Help me.  I’m about to throw in the towel.  I hear this God “stuff” every week, I hear it in small group, I hear it on Sunday, but my circumstance hasn’t changed and I am tired.  I’m tired of my marriage.  I’m tired of my work.  I’m tired of my life. 

Well, verse 31 is for you:  V 31.  Now, I want you to do something. I want you to read it again, but this time put your name in it:  John Dooley, as he waits upon the Lord

That word “wait” is an interested one.  It was used in the process of making rope.  You all know, that rope is a collection of strands that have been woven together, right?  And the more strands, the thicker the rope. But it all starts out as one single strand, called the weary. That is, one that will easily break.  So, if you feel like you are about to break…  If you are hanging on by a thread, that means you are not a rope yet.  A rope is a community of strands, woven together to make one thick rope.

In fact, the word “wait” was the process of weaving one strand to another, over and over until you got a rope. So the question naturally follows…

Why does one believer quit, while another does not, when they are in the same situation?  Why—because one is hanging on to a strand, while the other is hanging on to a rope.

“They who wait upon the Lord”…In other words, those who keep weaving with the Lord, again, and again, and again, are knitting a rope of faith!

So, what is the key to waiting:

#1 To wait on the Lord means you are so confident in the Lord, that you continue in your routine faithfulness. IOWs, you are so set in your mind about the veracity of the Lord God Jehovah, that even though Monday may be depressing, discouraging, and down right bleak, you are unwilling to give up because you know the character of God.  PSALM 27:13-14

#2 To wait on the Lord means you are not going to go outside of the Lord to fix it yourself.  You see, every time we try to fix our situations ourselves, we are no longer waiting upon the Lord.  That is, whenever we set aside biblical principles to deal with a frustration in our life, we are no longer waiting on the Lord.  So a lot of us, who think we are waiting on the Lord, are not waiting on the Lord because we have gone outside of the Lord to fix it ourselves.  And that’s why God will let us become more and more weary, until finally, God is our only Source left.

#3 To wait upon the Lord involves worship, because to wait on the Lord, also involves waiting before the Lord.  In other words, being in God’s presence is what gives us the ability to handle the time delay. You see, waiting is hard, in fact, I really hate to wait.  How many are with me?  I think that’s why shopping is so hard on husbands.  Shopping is absolutely an endurance test when it comes to waiting.  Sitting outside those dressing rooms waiting and waiting and waiting.  “How does this look?  And How does that look?”  Well it all looks fine, looked fine before you ever went into that dressing room, just buy it and let’s go.  [You know, one of these days I’m going undercover and dress as a woman, (which I guess means I’m going to have to go to Lane Bryant for big and tall women), and I’m going to go back into one those women’s dressing rooms and find out what they’re really doing back there. I think they’re serving some thing. They can’t need all that time to try on a couple pieces of clothing.  So if you see in the news, “Local pastor in drag arrested in women’s dressing room, it’s me.]

I just hate to wait, so to make it more tolerable, I try not to go anywhere without something to do, like I’ll take a project I can make progress on.  Because you see, when I do that…it doesn’t change the amount of time I have to wait, but it does change the perception of that time so that waiting is no longer a burden.  That’s why many waiting rooms, whether it’s McDonalds, Navy Federal, or a doctor’s office, will have play areas for children in order to reduce the perception of the wait.

Being in God’s presence is like that. God wants us to wait in His presence because as David said, “In His presence is joy evermore.”  In fact, that’s what God does as we wait: God supplies the emptiness of our wait, with the fullness of His joy so that the wait is tolerable. So God may not change His time table because we’re tired…but what “God will do is create a play area in our soul so that while we are waiting, it’s not all that bad. So how does God do this? Four ways:

#1 God gives new strength.  What that word literally means is to exchange our weakness for God’s strength.  “New strength” is recharged batteries.  It’s like your wireless phone at home.  If you take it off the hook and leave it off too long, it loses energy and you can’t talk as long.  Why – because you’ve been away from the hook too long.  So, what Isaiah is saying is, if you will wait on the Lord He will recharge your soul.  But if I live off the hook, that is, I just come in for a couple hours on Sunday, don’t be surprised if the conversations don’t last all week.

#2 God will cause you to mount up on eagle’s wings.  I just love watching that magnificent bird soar…don’t you? Well like the eagle, one way God addresses our need and renews our strength and gives us vigor and vitality while we wait, is to become the wind underneath your wings so that you soar above the circumstances… rather than live beneath them. These are the times when God comes and spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically updrafts you. These are the moments when God brings things in your life to teach you how to soar. 

And indeed, one way God does it, is when He sees you are tired and weary and fallen God goes… swooooop…He swoops down and picks you back up and pushes you back on top.  IOWs, He brings along somebody with the right word at the right time, and lifts you up.  So, when you’re ready to give up and God shows up in a way you didn’t expect, that’s eagles wings.  This is God’s intervention.

#3 God will cause us to run and not get tired.  Eagles wings are God’s intervention, but this is God’ interaction.  This is when God becomes our “Jogging Buddy.”  Anybody jog? There’s a big difference between running alone and running with somebody, especially if that somebody is better.

Because while you’re going (gasping winy noises), I mean when you are sucking wind and you’re tired, they’re just going along talking.  They’re saying, “Come on, come on, come on, man,” I mean it’s embarrassing, but what they do is actually talk you into a second wind.  They talk you into not quitting when you would have quit a long time ago.

That’s why you need the Body of Christ.  You need somebody jogging with you.  You need somebody to remind you it’s okay, you’re going to make it!  So keep on, keeping on, don’t quit. These are the times that God is running with you. Finally…

#4 God will allow you to walk and not become weary. Sometimes you’re walking, because you can’t run any more…the load is too heavy.  Sometimes God doesn’t show up out of no where to scoop you up, sometimes you’re out there running as hard as you can and nothing happens.  It’s then you stop and walk, but even so, God won’t let you fall.

After I left chaplain training school in Newport, RI, I had to join my squadron in the Persian Gulf.  The only problem was they were already there, and so they got to put all their supplies on board a ship… slowly… over a period of weeks, but I would have to carry whatever I needed with me. 

Now the first flight was no problem, I had help, but then I landed in Philadelphia, I only had 45 minutes to get my bags to the overseas military area and catch my plane.  So I went to baggage claim, I had 2 large suitcases, a huge duffle bag and 2 smaller bags filled with chaplain gear and picked it all up because this time there was no one to help me.

Now I only had 35 minutes, and so I’m running, sweat popping out all over my face my arms growing weaker by the moment and my legs starting to rebel when finally I stopped running, I was tired I just couldn’t run any more when I looked up and saw it, a moving sidewalk!

Thank you Jesus!!  So up I went bags and all and on to the sidewalk I stepped and suddenly even though I was walking, I was moving at a running pace.  The sweat dried up, the weariness drained away, and that loved ones is God’s interaction. IOWs when you’re too tired to run, God comes underneath you and bears you along so you can at least walk.

Now listen to me, I may not know how long you’re going to have to wait, but I do know God has set it up so his children can make it.  They that wait upon the Lord will gain new strength.  Some of you will find that God is going to swoop down and deliver you…for others God is going to jog with you and talk to you.  While for still other times God is going to come underneath and bear you along because the loads too heavy and you can barely walk.  But any way you look at it, God has new strength for you.

I know you’re tired, you ask, “When is my situation going to change?”  I know you are weary, you ask, “When am I going to stop hurting?”  I know you’re frustrated, your needs are not fully being met. Some of you are in the checkout line of life.  Ready to checkout on your marriage, ready to check out on your circumstances, ready to check out on Apostles, ready to check out on your situation. 

But if you will heed God’s word today and stand up say, “Jesus you know my situation.  Jesus you know my problem and I’m calling on you Jesus.” If you do that…you won’t check out till you get your break through! So Don’t checkout until you call on Jesus. For they that call upon the Lord…will gain new strength!

Prayer:

Psalm 27:14  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage…wait for the Lord!

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