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Dr. Paul David Tripp on “Why Does God Ask Us To Wait?”

Spiritual Muscle Development by Paul David Tripp

So, what happens inside of you when you are asked to wait? Is waiting, for you, a time of strengthening or weakening? Have you ever stopped to consider why God asks you to wait?  Let me point you to one of his purposes.

Waiting Is Giving You Time

When God asks you to wait, what happens to your spiritual muscles? While you wait, do your spiritual muscles grow bigger and stronger or do they grow flaccid and atrophied? Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God forgetting you, forsaking you, or being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider his glory and to grow stronger in faith. Remember, waiting isn’t just about what you are hoping for at the end of the wait, but also about what you will become as you wait.

Waiting always presents me with a spiritual choice-point. Will I allow myself to question God’s goodness and progressively grow weaker in faith, or will I embrace the opportunity of faith that God is giving me and build my spiritual muscles? (see Psalm 27:4)

It’s so easy to question your belief system when you are not sure what God is doing. It’s so easy to give way to doubt when you are being called to wait. It’s so easy to forsake good habits and to take up habits of unfaith that weaken the muscles of the heart. Let me suggest some habits of unfaith that cause waiting to be a time of increasing weakness rather than of building strength. These are bad habits that all of us are tempted to give way to.

Habits of Unfaith

Giving way to doubt. There’s a fine line between the struggle to wait and giving way to doubt. When you are called to wait, you are being called to do something that wasn’t part of your plan and is therefore something that you struggle to see as good. Because you are naturally convinced that what you want is right and good, it doesn’t seem loving that you are being asked to wait. You can see how tempting it is then to begin to consider questions of God’s wisdom, goodness, and love.  It is tempting, in the frustration of waiting, to actually begin to believe that you are smarter than God.

Giving way to anger. It’s very easy to look around and begin to think that the bad guys are being blessed and the good guys are getting hammered (see Psalm 73). There will be times when it simply doesn’t seem right that you have to wait for something that seems so obviously good to you. It will feel that you are being wronged, and when it does, it seems right to be angry. Because of this, it’s important to understand that the anger you feel in these moments is more than anger with the people or circumstances that are the visible cause for your waiting. No, your anger is actually anger with the One who is in control of those people and those circumstances. You are actually giving way to thinking that you have been wronged by God.

Giving way to discouragement. This is where I begin to let my heart run away with the “If only_____,” the “What if_____,” and the “What will happen if_____.” I begin to give my mind to thinking about what will happen if my request isn’t answered soon, or what in the world will happen if it’s not answered at all. This kind of meditation makes me feel that my life is out of control. And I am able to think my life is out of control because I have forgotten God’s wise and gracious contol over very part of my existence. Rather than my heart being filled with joy, my heart gets flooded with worry and dread. Free mental time is spent considering my dark future, with all the resulting discouragement that will always follow.

Giving way to envy. When I am waiting, it’s very tempting to look over the fence and wish for the life of someone who doesn’t appear to have been called to wait. It’s very easy to take on an “I wish I were that guy” way of living. You can’t give way to envy without questioning God’s wisdom and his love. Here is the logic: if God really loves you as much as he loves that other guy, you would have what the other guy has. Envy is about feeling forgotten and forsaken, coupled with a craving to have what your neighbor enjoys.

Giving way to inactivity. The result of giving way to all of these things is inactivity. If God isn’t as good and wise as I once thought he was, if he withholds good things from his children, and if he plays favorites, then why would I continue to pursue him? Maybe all those habits of faith aren’t helping me after all; maybe I’ve been kidding myself.

Sadly, this is the course that many people take as they wait. Rather than growing in faith, their motivation for spiritual exercise is destroyed by doubt, anger, discouragement, and envy, and the muscles of faith that were once robust and strong are now atrophied and weak.

One of His Primary Shaping Tools

The reality of waiting is that it’s an expression of God’s goodness not empirical evidence against it. He is wise and loving. His timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you will experience and enjoy, but on what you will become. He is committed to using every tool at his disposal to rescue you from yourself and to shape you into the likeness of his Son. The fact is that waiting is one of his primary shaping tools.

So, how do you build your spiritual muscles during the wait? Well, you must commit yourself to resisting those habits of unfaith and with discipline pursue a rigorous routine of spiritual exercise.

What is the equipment in God’s gym of faith? Here are the things that he has designed for you to build the muscles of your heart and strengthen your resolve: the regular study of his Word; consistent godly fellowship; looking for God’s glory in creation every day; putting yourself under excellent preaching and teaching of Scripture; investing your quiet mental time in meditating on the goodness of God (e.g., as you are going off to sleep); reading excellent Christian books; and spending ample time in prayer. All of these things will result in spiritual strength and vitality.

Is God asking you to wait? So, what is happening to your muscles?

About the Author: Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. There are very few people today who can apply the gospel to every aspect of life as practically as Dr. Tripp. The article above is adapted from: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/spiritual-muscle-development, January 26, 2011.

 

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Are You Waiting For The Lord?

I don’t know that there is anything more difficult than being blind or in the dark about what God is doing in your life. What I do know is that God is sovereign and is working behind the scenes always working to bring about His purposes for the glory of Christ. One of my favorite Bible teachers is Warren Wiersbe – here is a helpful devotional on the subject of waiting on God based on Psalm 40:1-3 from his wonderful devotional book on the Psalms called Prayer, Praise & Promises: A Daily Walk Through the Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, reprinted 2011. – Dr. David P. Craig

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear,and put their trust in the LORD.” – Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)

“From Mire To Choir”

 By Warren W. Wiersbe

When we wait for the Lord and wait on Him, we aren’t being idle. In this Psalm David cries out to the Lord and asks for help. He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” (v.2). Waiting on the Lord is worthwhile because of what He is going to do for us. It is not idleness, nor is it carelessness. And certainly isn’t complacency. Instead, waiting is that divine activity of expecting God to work. And He never disappoints us.

Figuratively, David had been down in a horrible pit. He was sinking in the mire. But he waited on the Lord. And God not only pulled him out of the pit, but He put him on a rock and established his footing. He said, “David, I’m going to take you out of the mire and put you in the choir.” “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (v.3).

Are you waiting on the Lord? Are you praying about something and asking, “O God, when are You going to do this? When are You going to work?” Remember, one of these days your praying will turn to singing. Your sinking will turn to standing. Your fear will turn security as He puts you on the rock. Just wait on the Lord. He’s patient with you. Why not be patient with Him and let Him work in His time?

Waiting for the Lord’s help sometimes forces you to your limits. But take comfort in knowing that while you wait on Him, God is working out His purposes in your life. Are you in a difficult situation, waiting for God to do something? Leave your burden with the Lord and trust Him to act. He never disappoints you when wait on Him.

About the Author: Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Warren Wiersbe is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Some of Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodThe Bumps are What You Climb OnClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

 

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Why Does God Seem To Move So Slowly?

“God Isn’t In A Hurry” By Warren W. Wiersbe

Although I was weary from a long flight, the sign on the mission guesthouse bulletin board made me laugh aloud. It said, “Lord, please make me patient—and do it right now.”

Patience was one of the first lessons we had to learn in childhood. The child who does not learn to be patient is not likely to learn much of anything else. It takes patience to be able to learn to read, to spell, to write, and to master multiplication tables. It even takes patience to grow! God has ordained that maturity is a slow process, not an instant experience; and I am glad that he arranged things that way. It gives me time to get accustomed to growing up.

Impatience is usually a mark of immaturity. At least James felt that way. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Little children think you have arrived at your destination when you stop for the first spotlight. A short wait at the doctor’s office is unbearable. I once asked a lad in Scotland how many years he had left in school, and he replied, “I don’t know, sir. I’m just trying to get through next week.”

But adults have their share of impatience. Abraham got weary of waiting for the promised son; so he hurried and took Hagar as a second wife, and she bore him Ishmael. Moses got impatient and killed a man. This necessitated forty years of postgraduate work in the pastures of Midian. Years later, Moses became impatient again, smote the rock, and lost a trip to the Holy Land.

“Do not be like the horse or as the mule,” warns Psalm 32:9, and it is a warning that we need. The mule is stubborn and has a tendency to hold back. The horse is impulsive and wants to rush ahead. Personality differences may enter in here, but we all have the same problem—it is difficult to wait on God.

Part of the problem is that we are prone to walk by sight and not by faith. God assures us in his Word that he is busy on our behalf, but we still want to see something happen. At the exodus, the Israelites were sure that God had deserted them and destruction was on its way. Listen to that wind! See how dark it is! And yet God was working for his people in the wind and in the darkness. “All these things are against me,” cried Jacob (Gen. 42:36) when, in reality, all things were working for him.

I believe that it was F.B. Meyer who used to say, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” They are usually the means which God uses to prepare us for something better. God is always at work for the good of his people, and he is working in all things (see Rom. 8:28). This includes the things that perplex us and that pain us. The only way God can teach us patience is to test and try us, and the only way we can learn patience is to surrender and let God have his way.

God can grow a mushroom overnight, but he will take time to grow an oak or a giant sequoia. It took him thirteen years to get Joseph ready for the prime minister’s office in Egypt, and he invested eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service. David was a youth when Samuel anointed him king of Israel, but David had to experience a great deal of suffering before he finally ascended that throne. We are the richer for it, because out of those years of preparation came many of David’s greatest psalms.

Our Lord spent thirty years getting ready for three years of public ministry. He patiently obeyed the Father’s will as he carried out that ministry. “My hour has not yet come,” he told Mary (John 2:4). “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” he asked his impatient disciples (11:9). God has his times as well as his purposes, and to miss his times is to delay his purposes.

When I was a student in seminary, I was privileged to pastor a church on weekends. God blessed in many ways, and at one point I was tempted to leave school and devote my full-time to the church. My faculty counselor set me straight. “God has waited a long time for you to come along,” he reminded me, “and he can wait until you graduate. Don’t sacrifice the permanent for the immediate.” He was right, and today I am glad I followed his counsel.

Perhaps the hardest place to wait is in the furnace of suffering. God does not always explain what he is doing or why he is doing it. It is in the hour of suffering that we need to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (10:36). Knowing that the Father is near us and that he is working out his wonderful purposes ought to encourage us, but we often get impatient just the same.

“Why has God made me this way?” a suffering saint once bitterly asked her pastor. Gently, he replied, “God has not made you—he is making you.” How true! And how easy it is for us to forget this truth!

If God can make a believer patient, then God can trust that believer with whatever is in his gracious will. But the school of patience never produces any graduates, and it never grants any honorary degrees. We are always learning, always maturing. Sometimes we fail the examination even before we know what the lesson is! No matter; our loving Father is guiding us and making us more like his beloved Son, and that is all that matters.

“Lord, make me patient!” God will answer that prayer, often in ways that will startle us. “And do it right now!” That prayer he cannot answer, for even Almighty God must take time to turn clay into useful vessels. The best thing you and I can do is to stop looking at our watches and calendars and simply look by faith into the face of God and let him have his way—in his time.

About the Author:

Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Warren Wiersbe is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Some of Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodThe Bumps are What You Climb OnClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for GodThe article above is adapted from Chapter One in his book God Isn’t In A Hurry: Learning to Slow Down and Live. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

 

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