It’s Sinful to Not Wait on the Lord

I was journaling tonight and felt this entry would be an edifying blog post for God’s people, particularly those struggling with pain and trials that seem to have no end in sight. My hope is that it sheds a little more light on the nature and character of God.

Tonight was a very rough evening for Myndi. Her pain levels were through the roof, and she was debating on going to the ER. The pain felt different than her normal pain and that scared her. It is hard to see her going through this, wishing and praying for the Lord to provide some relief. And he did. Pain meds began to work a bit and in his grace, she had some relief. During this brief reprieve (she had been taking meds all through the day but nothing was working) she made such a profound point to me. She said that “it’s amazing how God gives us just enough to get through a trial, but he doesn’t give us enough to last on our own.” The truth is, God purposely only gives us grace that is sufficient (Remember Paul’s request in 2 Corinthians 12:9?). He wants us coming back to him for everything.

Her perspective is life-changing for those going through trials and severe bouts of any kind of ailment, where one only experiences brief moments of relief and doesn’t understand why it is only temporary. Now, while God can and does heal completely, one reason he gives grace sufficient for the moment is because the heart can too quickly forget the grace-gift from above and tend to move forward on its own. That is why God gave Israel just enough manna for the day. If they had too much, they would easily forget the gift-giver. This moving forward on our own is contrary to what God wants us to do. In fact, it is sinful for us to move on in such a way.

Isaiah writes, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (30:18, italics mine).

By not waiting on the Lord, we keep him from exalting himself in showing us his mercy. That is sinful—to do anything that keeps God from glorifying himself in love and grace towards his creatures.

And toward the end of his book, Isaiah writes, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (64:4).

God wants us to wait for him. His will is that we come to him like children, fully dependent on him for all things.

Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, using the passage from Isaiah 64:4, brings out another reality for those who wait. He writes, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (2:9). Waiting for him, means that we set our minds on the things that are above, not on the things on earth (Colossians 3:2). Having that enthrallment with Christ, looking to his glory, his plans, and his will in and for our lives, then we will rejoice in waiting for him.

We need to see our need for grace daily, which only comes from above. The “eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those who heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

He who moves on from the graces and wonders of God to get through his trial on his own is not brave; he is sinful. It is a blameless heart—the one who seeks to do God’s will—that waits for him.

— Romans 11:36

 

Are Your Conversations with Those of the World the Same with Those of the Church?

 

Does this exchange sound familiar?

Bill: “Hello, how are you doing?”

Steve: “I am good . . . and you?”

Bill: “I am doing well also.”

Steve: “Great! . . . See ya later!”

Bill: “You too!”

This kind of short, being-friendly-but-not-wanting-to-really-talk-about-anything-important, dialogue happens all the time. We have these discussions with people at work, passing by in the grocery store, sporting events, parties, and unfortunately . . . at church.

This has bothered me for some time.

Why do we have these same types of conversations with our brothers and sisters at church? Now, I understand that there are occasions where it is not the best time or the proper setting to have a lengthy conversation. However, our time together is called fellowship (Greek. koinōnia). Koinōnia, in its biblical context, means to “share with someone in something which he has,” and “to have a close mutual association.” It’s a term I never use to refer to hanging out at a work related event, or birthday party with unbelievers, BBQ at a neighbors house, or any other type of gathering that is not with those of the family of God. I am sure no other Christian does either.

How are Christian relationships supposed to be different?

We who are of the family of God have a close, mutual association in Christ. In fact, it is because of Christ that we have been united into one body of believers, a royal priest hood belonging to God (Rom. 7:4; 1 Pet. 2:9). Paul uses the phrase in Christ quite often in reference to Christians.[1] Paul uses the term koinōnia to speak of the direct participation of the believer with Christ, which is a spiritual communion with the risen Lord (1 Cor. 1:9).

Why does he use that phrase and not just call us believers in Christ or fellow children of God?

Because all who are born-again have died with Christ in his death and have been made alive with him in his resurrection (Romans 6:5-10), granted that we share (koinōnia) in his sufferings.[2] We are united into one body, under the lordship of Christ, “having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2:2).

Therefore, if we are to be of the same mind and same love, loving others, demonstrating that we are of God,[3] we should seek God’s will together in one mind, which is our sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3; cf. Rom. 6:19,22).

How are we to do that, staying the course on the path of righteousness?

Through the fellowship and discipleship within the church, united in Christ and in communion with the Spirit.

The author of Hebrews, speaking about the rest for us in Christ, says

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (3:12-14).

God’s means for keeping believers in Christ is through the body, to keep our hearts from the hardening effects of sin. It is through grace-saturated fellowship, exhorting, encouraging, and praying for each other daily that God uses as the means to sustain us until glorification (Read 1 Cor. 12:1-26). Our sanctification depends on our fellowship with our Triune God and each other.

Ultimately, true biblical fellowship is a relationship, not an activity.

How do we turn our quick, superficial conversations into koinōnia?

A few months back I decided to try something different, to be more intentional in my conversing with believers on Sunday or any other time. So, after the typical how-are-you-doing exchange, I ask, “What has the Lord shown you this week?” The responses I received have been astonishing. Every response gave me a glimpse into the window of a fellow brother or sister’s heart. We got to share in something we both have in common—struggles with sin and a desperate need for Christ.

Over the last few months, many have shared with me their joy in Christ due to a particular situation, whether in prayer, reading the Bible, or through trials. And some opened up in need of guidance, encouragement, or just needed someone to listen. The crucial element in all of this is that the conversations went from the natural to the supernatural. We were talking about something that the world doesn’t have or truly understand—our spiritual lives in Christ. We were experiencing true koinōnia.

Just recently, I ran into a newer family at our church just after our Wednesday night Awanas program. I have interacted with the husband a few times over the last few months but only discussed trivial matters. And our last interaction ended rather awkwardly, because there were no more superficial questions left to ask. So, we just sat there and stared at each other with silly grins on our faces.

This was before I began asking this question.

Well, this time when our trivialities ended, I asked him, “So, what has the Lord shown you recently?” He said, “Nothing.” And we were back at that awkward place again.

What now? You can’t say, “Oh, sorry to hear that. Take care.”

My entire purpose in asking this question was to “share” in another Christian’s life in Christ. And in this moment, here was a man that needed to be encouraged. I asked him if he has been reading his Bible, and he said he hadn’t but then pointed to his wife, letting me know that she reads all the time. I encouraged him to make time daily to be in God’s Word. I told him that he is the leader of his house, and if he wants his children to grow up in a house where the Lord is the head of it (and I now he does), then his kids need to see their daddy reading it daily, guiding the family by its wisdom, and uniting his family to be one in Christ.

He was much appreciative of what I said. Praise God.

I could have just shaken his hand and said, “How ya doing?” And I know he would have just said, “I am doing good.” And that would have been the end of the conversation, followed by a wave and a “see ya later.”

But really, he was in a rough patch. If you are not reading the Bible regularly then you are starving yourself (Matt. 4:4). That is an extremely dangerous place to be in. I thank God for that conversation and hope that the Spirit convicts him to be in the Word, and I look forward to asking him the same question when I see him again, Lord willing.

I have never been so blessed in fellowship. Seeking to talk and share what we truly have in common—Christ—is what makes our fellowship different from the conversations we have in the world.

 

Romans 11:36

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1. 86 times; or in him 33 times; Ex. Rom. 6:11; 8:11; 12:5; 1 Cor. 1:30; 3:1; 2 Cor. 1:21; 5:17

2. Phil. 1:29; 3:10; 2 Cor. 1:5; cf. Rom. 8:17

3. 1 John 4:7-8; cf. Rom. 13:8

Prayer: The Catalyst of God’s Actions

Something to reflect and meditate on as you seek the Lord’s will.

Prayer is how God accomplishes his will—through moving the hearts and wills of others to carryout his purposes in bringing lost sinners to Christ, sanctifying and preserving them to glory.

So, though God is sovereign, it doesn’t negate the necessity and power of our prayers to move God to action (not to be understood as open theists see it).

Prayer is how God works to bring about his purposes. Our salvation and sanctification are the effect flowing from causal prayer. Lets see some Scripture to demonstrate what I mean.

Jesus says in Matthew 9:38, “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” That is a very interesting statement, considering that the harvest belongs to the Lord and is the one who brings the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7). While God has decreed to save a people for himself (Revelation 5:9-10), and nothing can stop him from doing so (Matt. 16:18), Jesus asks that we pray earnestly for the Lord to send out laborers to do this work in building the church. Why is that? God desires for us to earnestly want that (Matt. 6:33).

Prior to Peter’s betrayal, Jesus says to Peter that he has prayed for him that his “faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32). Peter’s faith doesn’t fail because Christ prayed for him. God ordained for Peter to have enduring faith, but that secured salvation was brought about through the prayers of Christ.

In John 17:9, Christ says that he is praying for those whom the Father has given him. Why is he praying for them, considering what he said earlier: “I give them [those whom the Father has given him] eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. . . . [And] no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (10:28,29)? God has ordained to save those whom he has called, but his saving them is through the prayers of Christ.

In Acts 8, Peter rebukes Simon the magician for his desire to purchase the power of the Spirit to use as he pleases. Peter said for him to “pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (v.22). If God is going to forgive him, prayer is going to be the means through which this forgiveness will come about.

Paul’s prayers under gird the sanctification of the churches he shepherds and the power of his ministry.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul and Timothy, since hearing of their conversion to Christ, have not ceased praying for them, asking that God would fill them with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9). The praying serves as the catalyst—the desire to God—that he would fill them and grow them in Christ. Their sanctification is rooted in answer to prayer. Paul and Timothy ask in prayer because they have the confidence in God that if they ask anything according to his will, they are heard (1 John 5:14), with full assurance that God will supply every need, according to his riches in glory in Christ (Phil 4:19). God’s will is for our sanctification (1 Thess. 4:13), and it is brought about through the payers of the saints.

He asks for the Ephesians to be “praying at all times in the Spirit . . . and also for me that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (6:18,19). And he asks the Colossians to “pray . . . that God may open us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3).

The advancement of his ministry—the power of the gospel—is brought about through prayer.

Even for us to increase in love to each other is rooted in prayer for the Lord to bring that about (1 Thess 3:12).

What is of the utmost importance to realize is that . . .

Because God has ordained all events to come to pass, even the prayers leading to and/or serving as the cause of those events, then the events cannot come to pass unless the prayers that are ordained come to pass before hand.

That is huge.

God’s working in the world is mountain-moving work (Matt. 17:20). That is why he says to have that kind of faith. And to see lost sinners changed from children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) to children of light (1 Thess. 5:5), is a mighty work, requiring mighty prayer.

We must pray to move mountains; nature-changing is mountain moving.

That is why we are called to be “devoted to prayer” (Romans 12:12)

 

–Romans 11:36