Wait (12/17/2017)

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If you grow vegetables or flowers, are you planning on planting your seeds in the ground right now? If you said “no,” why not? The dirt you’re going to plant them in is right there. It never goes anywhere. Even though they’re harder to find this time of year, we can buy seeds, straw and fertilizer. Your plow and tiller are in the shed. So, again, why not plant now? The answer is simple. Seeds won’t grow right now because it isn’t the right time for it to happen.

We understand the concept of time. Our days are structured by it. There is a beginning and an ending to everything we do. We get up in the morning, do our daily activities and then go to sleep. Tomorrow we’ll repeat this same process. And the next day and the next day and…. Even our life span has a time limit.

God isn’t constrained by time like we are. Somehow, he operates outside of it because he is eternal. But he enters our world to redeem us from the curse of sin. The Christmas season is a time when we celebrate the way God entered into our world by sending the Messiah to be born.

Luke 1 tells us how it happened. God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Zechariah and Elizabeth they were going to have a son who would announce the arrival of the Savior. Gabriel then went and told Mary she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.

Our story picks up in Luke 1:39-45 – “39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary trusted God would keep the promises he made to her. She knew he would. God always keeps his word. The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of the first promise God made. It happened in the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 1 & 2, God created the heavens and the earth. After this was complete, he made the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. God then placed them in the Garden to live, work and have children. At this moment in time, the world was perfect.

Things changed in Genesis 3. The serpent, which we interpret to be Satan, talked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. They did this by eating fruit from the only tree in the Garden which God told them to avoid. This is when sin entered our world.

God then came down into the Garden to punish Satan, Adam and Eve for what they had done. However, before he punished them, he looked at the serpent and said in Genesis 3:15 – “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Bible scholars say this is where God announced he was going to send the Messiah. Basically, God said, “Satan, there will always be hostility between you and humanity (Eve and her offspring). However, I’m going to raise up a God-man to undo what you’ve done here today. You’ll strike his heal (by nailing him to the cross) but he will crush you (by overcoming sin and rising from the dead).”

The rest of the Old Testament was God getting things ready for this Savior to arrive in the form of Jesus. During that time, creation was waiting for God to keep his word.

The time between God’s promise in the Garden of Eden until Jesus was actually born was long. It was most likely thousands of years. As everyone waited, God wasn’t sleeping or on vacation. He’d been working behind the scenes preparing Israel for the arrival of their Messiah. We read in the book of Genesis and Exodus that God was developing the Jewish nation. He gave them land in Joshua. He had to teach them to quit worshipping other gods by allowing them to be overthrown and sent into exile. We read about this in 1& 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles and the Prophets. Once they came out of exile, God allowed the Jews to be so oppressed they longed for a Savior. He needed the Roman Empire to build a road system so missionaries to take the news of Jesus to the far ends of the known world.

Then, in Luke 1, the long winter was over. The time was right for the seeds of God’s promise to be planted and to grow.

The people he chose to help make it happen are quite interesting. Elizabeth was old. She had been longing for a son for years and couldn’t have one. Now she was expecting a child after nature said it was impossible. This made her pregnancy a miracle. God’s power was being revealed. Mary was most likely a teenage girl around 14 years of age. The fact she was still a virgin but expecting made her pregnancy a miracle. God’s power was being revealed. Israel was waiting for its Messiah to arrive. The fact he was now here was a miracle. God’s power was being revealed.

We now live in a time where we can reap the benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection. God’s gives us salvation through Jesus when we accept it from him. Nonetheless, our lives still aren’t perfect. We all have areas where we’re praying for God to help us. We thank him for the prayers he has answered. But some of our prayers aren’t answered yet. We’re still waiting. Waiting for God’s power to be revealed in those areas.

What prayers are you currently waiting for God to answer in your life? Please take a moment and honestly answer this question.

Now, please think about something else. As we wait, we need to have faith God is working behind the scenes – even if we don’t see anything happening right now. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Unfortunately, many times we have to wait for God to get these paths straightened out.

This brings us to an interesting question that we will ignore if we’re not careful. How do you and I respond to God when he is ready to move? Elizabeth and Mary said “yes” to God, even though it meant they had to make sacrifices. The Israelites, however, said “no” to God by rejecting the Messiah he sent them. They didn’t want to do what God told them they needed to do so he could answer their prayers. The book of Romans tells us God is now waiting on Israel to listen to him so he can bless them.

As he tells us what we need to do so he can work and answer our prayers, are we saying “yes” or “no” to what he tells us to do?

For example, Proverbs 21:20 says, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Basically, this verse means wisely manage what you have. We all know people who never have any money. If someone gave them one million dollars right now, they would be broke within a short time because they don’t manage what they have. If you’re praying for God to give you more money, is it possible God is waiting on you to learn to manage what you have now?

Colossians 3:14 says, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” In the relationships that you’re waiting for God to heal and restore, are you showing love to the other person even if that person isn’t showing love to you? If you aren’t, is it possible God is waiting for you to move so he can help fix the problem?

The concept we’ve just looked at with these two examples applies to every area of our lives. Yes, there are times when we have to wait on God. But there are other times when God is waiting on us to do what he tells us to do so he can bless us.

Earlier I asked you to think about the areas in your life where you’re waiting for God to work? As you think about what the Bible tells you to do regarding those areas, are you waiting on God to work? Or is God waiting on you to be faithful so he can bless you?