The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)




1. In our lesson today,
        a. we wish to show from Scripture the necessity of
        b.  waiting for God to work out His own purposes,
        c. and to suggest specific areas of practical application.
2. The prophet Isaiah said (READ Isa. 40:31)
3. But most of us are not very good at waiting (AMEN?).
        a.  We tap our fingers impatiently on the steering wheel
        b.  waiting for the long traffic light to change.
4. We can scarcely restrain the impulse to blow at the guy ahead of us
        a.  the instant the light turns green.
        b.  We fidget in our seats and thumb briskly through old magazines
        c.  in the doctor's waiting room.
5. We bristle with irritation in the grocery check out line
        a.  when the lady ahead of us
        b.  has one too many items to be in that lane.
6. Promises of quick service with no waiting lure us to certain businesses.
        a.  We want photos taken today
        b.  processed and in our hands tomorrow.
            1. We are geared to the instant, the quick, and the fast things of life -
            2.  a lifestyle with a minimum of waiting.
7. When things get tough for us -
        a.  I mean really tough - we want instant relief.
        b.  But in truth such relief, when and if  it comes,
        c.  may take its own sweet time arriving on the scene.
8. We want help NOW,
        a. but circumstances and God's will may combine to send it later -
        b. much later at times than we thought possible.
9. Days drag on into months, then years.
        a. Why have things not improved?
        b. Why are they worse?
            1. Where is God with all of His power and goodness
            2.  during what seems at the time like an endless wait?
            3. Why should we keep on hoping and waiting?
10. Well, the Psalmist answers in Ps. 62:1-2, 5-6 (READ).
11. Thus, in the days of pain and fruitlessness and weariness,
        a.  the Christian must cast himself totally upon the mercy of his God,
        b.  for the Bible says,  "Blessed are all those who wait for Him" (Isa. 30:18).
12. The believer must affirm even in the midst of the long dark night
        a.  that God is still in charge;
        b.  that the Almighty still cares;
            1.  that He will act;
            2.  that waiting is worth it when you are dealing with God.
13. Then we can say like David (READ Ps. 25:3-5).

I.  Jeremiah's Prayer

1. If ever there was a time when you would think people
        a.  had reached the bottom of despair,
        b.  where they had to have help instantly or die,
        c.  it was following the complete overthrow of Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah.
2. The prophet had predicted utter catastrophe for the city,
        a.  and then he saw it happen.
        b.  He cried out in anguish in five funeral dirges,
        c.  preserved for us in the book of Lamentations.
3.  The heart of the prophet "drawn and quartered" over God's visitation of wrath
        a.  is set forth from beginning to end in the book.
        b.  Yet buried in the center of Lamentations are three verses that hold a key
            1.  to endurance,
            2.  to perseverance,
            3.  to waiting and not giving up (READ Lam. 3:24-26).
4.  What faith in the midst of so much disappointment and destruction!
        a.  Standing amidst the stench of death and decay,
        b.  the mourning prophet unwaveringly affirmed that
             1.  God is still in charge;
             2.  God is still good;
             3.  God is still faithful to bless His own;
             4.  and God brings full deliverance in His own good time.
5.  It is good to wait on the Lord because He is good to those who thus wait.
        a.  Again, the Psalmist said, "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall
                                  strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord" (Ps. 27:14).

II.  Example Of Impatience

1. But we, like various Bible characters, are often tempted to run ahead of God.
        a. Impatient with His ways of doing things,
        b. we are prone to take matters into our own hands.
2. Sarai bears witness of this fact as she ran ahead of God
        a.  in trying to give Abram a son through her handmaid Hagar (Gen.16).
        b.  The son was born, but he was not the promised son,
        c.  and much trouble and anguish came to Sarai's life as a result of her impatience.
3.  Part of true faith is the willingness to leave affairs in God's hands,
        a.  and to trust Him enough to wait for His righteous actions on our behalf.
        b.  Isaiah said (READ Isa. 64:4).

III.  The Just Shall Live By Faith

1. Please turn with me to the book of Habakkuk
        a.  and let's look closely at a short text.
        b.  The prophet Habakkuk lived just before
            1.  the Babylonian (or Chaldean) invasion of Judah,
            2.  and it was his unhappy responsibility to declare the impending disaster.
2.  His book is a running conversation between himself and Jehovah.
        a.  In his first dialogue the prophet says in Habakkuk 1:2-4 (READ).
        b.  He is basically asking God,
                            "Why do you allow violence and injustice to prevail in our land?"
3.  In verses 5-11, God answers by saying in effect,
                            "It is not overlooked;  I will do a terror-inspiring thing very soon.
                            I will send the cruel Chaldeans (or Babylonians) to punish Judah for her sins."
4.  In his second dialogue, which goes from Habakkuk chapter 1:12 to chapter 2:1,
         a.  the prophet says, "You are always righteous, God; how can you watch even your own
                            wicked people punished by a nation so much more wicked?  Now I will wait
                            quietly to see your answer and my own rebuke for such a question?"
        b.  God then says to Habakkuk in Hab. 2:2-4 (READ)
            1.  In these words God tells Habakkuk to "write the vision plainly."
            2.  He says, "I will surely do what I have planned,
                               and though its fulfillment is delayed, it will certainly come.
                               Therefore, wait for it."
        c.  He says,  "the wicked who are puffed up with self-confidence are displeasing in His sight,
                                but the righteous (or just) person will find life in his faith."
5.  In the remainder of the second chapter God warns Babylon,
        a.  indicting her for extreme wickedness
        b. and assuring her that pagan idols will be quite powerless
        c.  when He is ready to begin His holy punishment·
6.  In chapter three, Habakkuk responds with a beautiful prayer,
        a.  in which he recounts God's mighty acts in the past
        b.  and anticipates the coming judgment on the prophet's own nation.
7.  He closes with the statement found in 3:16-19,
        a.  that no matter what might come,
        b.  he will still hope in Jehovah,
        c.  believing that God will make him victorious by faith.
            1.  Thus, the prophet himself expresses
            2.  the saving faith of which God spoke in Hab. 2:4.
8.  The statement found in Hab. 2:4,  "The just shall live by his faith,"
        a.  is quoted three times by New Testament writers
                        (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; and Heb. 10:37-38).
        b.  It expresses a truth urgently needed today by the world and church alike.
9.  The prophet's need to simply wait for God was not difficult to fulfill
        a.  and was one of the grandest examples of the faith that saves.
        b.  When a Christian is powerless in anticipation of God's power,
            1.  then they best know the meaning of the trust
            2.  which looks solely to God Almighty for help.
            3.  As the prophet Micah said, "I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of
                             my salvation; My God will hear me" (Mic. 7:7).
10. Loved ones, we must have a willingness to "wait for God,"
         a.  for the Bible says, "He who waits on his master will be honored" (Prov. 27:18).
         b.  And again,  "For they shall not be ashamed who wait for me" (Isa. 49:23)
11. There are many occasions for Christians
        a.  to show this kind of patience and trust today.
        b.  But just HOW we are to wait on God is dependent upon our faith.
12. And to help us with this HOW,
        a.  I would like for us together to look at several examples from the New Testament
        b. of those who waited or should have waited for God.

IV.  Examples Of Those Who Waited or Should Have Waited on God

1.  The apostle Paul is our first example (Read 1 Cor. 4:1-5 (READ).
        a.  Paul's enemies were judging or commending themselves
        b.  and the Corinthians had begun to follow their example by glorying in men.
2.  Paul, however, would not even judge or commend himself,
        a.  though his conscience was clear.
        b.  God would do that when the proper time came for righteous judgment.
3. Today, we must resist the temptation
        a.  to proclaim ourselves as "God's chosen" in a sectarian sense.
        b.  The self-applied labels such as "sound," "loyal," and "faithful"
        c.  also carry the same danger.
4. We must wait for God to pronounce us faithful,
        a.  as the Lord did for the 2 and 5 talented men in Matthew 25:21-23.
        b.  When Jesus returns, He might not measure by our selection of "issues,"
        c.  and He might not apply the same labels we do.

5.  Remaining here in First Corinthians 4, we see our second example in verses 8-11 (READ).
        a.  The Corinthians were forgetting to wait for glory and immortality.
        b.  Therefore, Paul gives them a mild rebuke.
6.  Brethren, Heaven's glory has not yet begun;
        a.  we are still very mortal.
        b.  While we are in this life we continue to suffer, be sick,
        c.  endure hardships, and finally die.
7.  When sickness and suffering come to us or those we love,
        a.  we must wait upon the Lord to deliver us.
        b.  He will surely send release in the form of healing or passage to the next life,
        c.  but we must wait until He has finished His purpose.
8.  God does give prosperity, health and happiness
        a.  when it serves His divine purposes and will to do so,
        b.  however, serving God does not automatically guarantee success in business,
        c.  bliss in marriage, or divine healing when we are sick or injured.
9.  We therefore must not despair or take matters into our own hands.
        a.  Yes, get the best treatments under the care of the best doctors,
        b.  pray with all your heart...But then wait!
10. We can do that because we know our God is good to those who wait;
        a.  to those who call upon Him.
        b.  The Psalmist said (READ Ps. 40:1-2).
        c.  We must remember this and thus wait for God.

11. A third example is the Galatians in Gal. 6:7-10 (READ).
        a.  They, like us, could become "weary in well doing."
        b.  They, like us, needed the encouragement that we will "reap what we sow."
12. We plant God's spiritual seed and water it.
        a.  We water it some more.
        b.  We plant seed in other soils and water it too.
             1.  We know that only God can give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
             2.  But how long must we wait?
                    a.  When will God show us some fruit
                    b.  for all of our teaching and praying and counseling?
                    c.  When will we see souls reborn and souls reclaimed?
 13. We are told emphatically that our  "labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
        a.  God will give eternal life to those who by continuing patiently in well doing
        b.  show that they seek glory, honor, and immortality (Rom. 2:6-7).
            1.  He will send the increase in due time.
            2.  So we must work and wait.

1.  As our fourth example,
        a.  let's look at the Thessalonians
        b.  as they were encouraged to wait for Jesus' return (READ 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
2. By far the greatest longing,
        a.  the most patient wait in the life of the true disciple
        b.  is that which focuses on the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3.  These Thessalonian Christians had seen some of their loved ones die in Christ,
        a.  apparently to miss out on His return.
        b.  But Paul shows them that when Christ comes,
            1.  their loved ones will be raised first;
            2.  and only then will those living rise to meet the Lord
            3.  in company with the resurrected saints (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
4.  What a joyous thought that
        a.  the graves of our loved ones will burst open one day,
        b.  the cemeteries will come alive with activity,
        c.  and every child of God will be given a glorified, immortal body and live forever!
5.  On that day when Christ comes we shall all rejoice,
        a.  knowing that we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2);
        b.  our temporal corruptible body will be transformed into an incorruptible one
        c.  suited for glory (1 Cor. 15:51-54).
6.  Paul says we "groan within ourselves," as we wait for the coming of Jesus,
        a.  the consummation of all things,
        b.  and the full redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23).
7.  Friends, let us wait patiently for that day!

8.  Our fifth example can seen in the Hebrew saints (READ Heb. 10:34-39).
        a.  These Christians had suffered much affliction upon turning to Christ (vs. 32-33).
        b.  They anticipated glory, but instead, they were distressed with many difficulties.
             1.  They needed the very word of Habakkuk's experience:
             2.  "Wait for God," for "the just shall live by faith" (vs. 38).

V.  A Little Application

1.  The same situation and need can exist today in our lives
        a.  if we have truly turned to God
        b.  in renunciation of the world-system and its lusts.
2.  If the church as we know it is to survive;
        a.  if we, as individual members are to survive;
        b.  if the family is to survive,
        c.  some things must happen.
3.  We, as individual children of God, as families, as groups,
        a.  as congregations of the Body of Christ,
        b.  must wake up and alert ourselves to the dangers surrounding us.
4.  We live in an evil, corrupt, degenerate society.
        a.  But does that mean we are to heave a deep sigh and say:
        b.  "Oh, dear - what can I do?"
5.  God does have the ultimate solution,
        a.  but as we wait for Him to destroy the earth with fire (2 Pet 3:10),
        b.  we are faced with the problem of living in, but not of, this world (John 17:14-16).
6.  The Bible therefore says: READ 2 Cor 6:14-18.
        a.  We are here admonished to separate ourselves from that which is unclean
        b.  if we desire to walk with God.
7.  Our Father is a jealous God
        a.  Who will not inhabit the same area as the Evil one.
        b.  Rather, He says we must cleanse our hands and hearts (Jam 4:8),
        c.  and seek to live untainted lives.
8.  As we wait on Him, we are not to seek to please ourselves,
        a.  but rather to be pleased with ourselves only when pleasing God (1 Thess 4:1).
        b.  This will prohibit us from seeking to fulfill the lusts of the flesh;
            1.  from living undisciplined lives;
            2.  from relaxing our guard against the doctrines of men.
9.  As we wait, we must educated ourselves
        a.  concerning those things being taught
        b.  and be always on the alert.
        c.  We then will know whom we serve; God or man (Acts 5:29).
10. The only way we can fight against conformity to the world is to
                "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able
                to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph 6:11).
        a.  God says, "Commit thy ways unto the Lord" (Ps 37:5).
        b.  And again, "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy
                                 thoughts shall be established" (Prov 16:3).
11. We must search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11),
        a.  using every avenue open to us to fight against those
        b.  who would entice us to error.
12. We must pray and study (Acts 6:4),
        a.  neglecting not any opportunity for edification.
        b.  And always be aware of the temptations surrounding us.
13. As we wait on God it is easy to be passive;
        a.  to be deliberately unaware;
        b.  to blame others;
        c.  to profess faith, but refuse to work.
14. But God did not place us here just because we were so good, sweet, and loveable.
        a.  He put us here to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12).
        b.  He put us here NOT to judge others by ourselves,
        c.  but to judge ourselves by the standards given by His inspired Word.
15. He gave us the opportunity to be examples of light in a crooked and perverse nation (Phil. 2:15).
        a.  And he gave us the right to choose if we would serve Him.
        b.  In all of this, let's note and remember these words of the Psalmist (READ Ps 37:7-11)

1.  Our last example of waiting on God can be seen
        a.  as the Lord opens the fifth seal in Rev 6:9-11 (READ)·
        b.  This picture shows martyr-souls,
            1.  crying out for divine retribution against the godless earth-rulers
            2.  who had murdered God's helpless and righteous people.
2.  The divine answer is, "Wait for God."
        a.  "He will vindicate in due time."
        b.  "Others must also suffer first."
3.  When we suffer for righteousness' sake,
        a.  we must not retaliate or try to vindicate ourselves.
        b.  Let us rather wait for God, who is too just to behold evil.
        c.  One day He will make it all right.


1. Loved Ones, we'll conclude this lesson by reminding you that
        a.  in times of utter human helplessness,
        b.  the righteous learn best to live by faith.
2.  Under all circumstances, let us serve God with sincerity, zeal, and perseverance.
3.  We may rest assured that
        a.  regardless of the human scene of affairs,
        b.  God is on His throne
            1.  and He will carry out His righteous and loving purposes
            2.  for those who wait for Him.

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