What are you waiting for?

There was a man once that had refused to leave his house during a flood.  He had decided that he was going to wait out the flood and that he would be safe from the rising waters.  As the rain continued to poor down and waters continued to rise rapidly, the man started realizing he had made a mistake.  Since he failed to heed the emergency crews warnings, they were no longer available to help him, promising only to return after the storm had passed and the waters had begun to crest.  Soon, his first floor was overtaken by the water.  With little chance for survival inside his house the man retreated to his attic where he began chopping through his ceiling.  Once through, he climbed out onto his roof to safety, knowing that the waters would not likely climb that high, though now he was on his own island.  Nearly in panic mode the man bowed his head and prayed that God would send him a sign of rescue.  That God would reach down and carry him to safety.  It was only a few hours before a neighbor’s boat came by and yelled to the man to come aboard.  The man replied, “No, its ok.  I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the flood waters; He is going to send me a sign.”  So the neighbor rode off.  Next an emergency services helicopter flew over yelling down to the man to climb in the basket.  The man gave the same response that he was waiting on God and the helicopter flew off.  By now the waters had continued to rise and the temperature had dropped significantly.  He was facing the real threat of frostbite and potentially drowning.  Finally, a large coast guard boat pulled right next to the roof and said to the man, just step on to the boat and be rescued.  The man again denied the help saying that he was waiting on God.  In his frustration he looked up to heaven and declared, “God, I’ve been faithful in waiting on you to send me a sign; to deliver me from my dire situation.  Why haven’t you responded to me in my time of need?”  To his surprise, the heavens opened and he heard a voice say, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.  How could I have made it any clearer?  While you have been waiting on me, I’ve been waiting on you to step off of that roof in faith, reach out, and take the hand that I’ve offered you.”

Now I know this is an old joke and maybe you’ve already heard it (and realized that I probably butchered it), but the moral is very important, one I’ve given a lot of thought to.  David says in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.”  God hears our prayers and we know that we should patiently wait for His answer with spiritually sharp ears to hear His voice.  Again in Psalm 27:14 we’re told, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  In our desperation to hear back from God, I wonder if we’re not like the man in the story above.  So intent on seeing a miracle, that we miss God’s subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, hand working in our lives. 

In the movie Facing the Giants, there is a prayer warrior named Mr. Bridges.  Daily he walks the halls of the school praying.  One day he stops to talk to Coach Taylor, the head football coach.  During their conversation, Mr. Bridges tells him of two farmers and how each of them has been praying for rain.  One farmer goes inside and sits on the couch, waiting for God to send him rain.  The other farmer is outside tirelessly working in the field, preparing the soil, weeding the garden, getting everything ready for the rain.  Both are God fearing, prayerful men.  But I ask you, which one is more faithful to receive the rain?

Are your fields prepared for rain?  Are you more than just praying for rain, but are actually prepared for it?  Has God sent you a rescue boat that you refused because you thought He would send a cruise ship?  The Bible tells us to wait patiently on the Lord, but sometimes, He’s really waiting on us…to step out in faith.

Lamentations 3:23-25 “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;”

Micah 7:7 NKJV “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.”

He Restores My Soul

Think about what David is saying here in the 23rd Psalm.  It’s a phrase we’ve heard repeatedly, likely even memorizing from a young age.  But have you ever stopped to think about exactly what this means?  In one sense David is saying that the Lord refreshes us or renews us, clears out the things of this world from our mind, if only we spend time with Him by reading His Word and praying daily.  When we’re overwhelmed by the things of this world, problems that seek to literally drain our soul, we can call on the Lord as our Rock, our Refuge.  He has the power to restore our soul and make it whole. 

To restore something means to return to its original state.  Our original state was that of one created in the image of God.  This image was wholly perfect and righteous, but being born into sin, we needed God’s restoration of mercy and grace through faith in His Son Jesus.  Titus 3:5-6 ESV tells us, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  There’s our same concept again of restoration, or renewal of the Holy Spirit.  In either implication, the source of restoration is clear, and that is God.  As C.S. Lewis stated, “God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”  Seek God with all of your heart that He might give you restoration of your soul.   

Job 22:23a If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:

Jeremiah 15:19 If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me

I Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

The Good Shepherd

Have you ever been lost?  Wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out where you were?  Maybe things got difficult for you once and you ran away.  Maybe you’re lost right now and you don’t even know it.  In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus illustrates this picture with the parable of the lost sheep.  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Matthew 18:12  Jesus is expressing how caring the shepherd is, that he is concerned so much for the one sheep that has gone astray, he’s willing to leave the other 99 to find the lost. “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matthew 18:13

In John chapter 10 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 When we’re lost and gone astray, the Good Shepherd searches for us.  He is prepared to fight off the wolves as they move in around us.  He calls out to us and we hear Him, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 Is He calling out to you today?  Is He searching for you to bring you back to the fold?   

 

Father I pray right now for the lost sheep.  Lord God my heart is burden for the lost sheep that are wandering out there right now.  Lord you know their names.  Dear Lord you know the name of the burden you’ve placed on my heart.  I pray Lord that he hears your voice and knows it.  I pray Lord that you seek him out and find him.  Prepare a hedge around him and protect him from the wolves that seek to rob, kill, and destroy.  Lord I pray that your word holds true that “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  Father God I pray right now in the name of Jesus that you return this lost sheep to his fold.  That you strengthen those you placed in charge of your fold that they tend to the lost sheep when he returns.  Lord we faithfully await to rejoice when this lost sheep is found.  I ask these things in the name of the Good Shepherd, Your Son, My Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

II Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"