Waiting with Stones

In the life of every Christian there will come tests and challenges of the faith that we have confessed. How convinced are we that there is an answer to our problem? Is God really going to provide? There are even answers in His word that confirm his will and desire to provide. But these answers don’t come overnight, the manifest answers to our prayers come often when we least expect or frequently much later than that; but they never come too late – Praise God!!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1] We believe that God is going to do something for us in the future. He wants to provide for us [Lk 12:32] but have to wait in confidence that he is going to perform what he has promised. In proof of our conviction, we are to rejoice as if we are in possession of the promise while we still wait.
At one point I was frustrated with waiting [I was waiting for my wife]. A fragment of a verse came to me from John the Baptist. He was admonishing the Pharisees and Sadducees and told them that God was able to make sons of Abraham from stones. [Mt. 3:9]. Intellectually, I knew that God could do ANYTHING but for this verse to walk into my consciousness and declare that even though I didn’t know where my wife was coming from, God is able and willing to create something very special [i.e. a son of Abraham, born to special rights and privilege] from a rock. This [revelation] blew me away!
So all I had to do was wait.
Somewhere I had grabbed Luke 21:19 in my spirit “In your patience, possess ye your souls” The soul is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions of each person. It is separate from the spirit and body. The soul is the place where worry, fear and anxiety can take root.
In a situation where there is loss, sickness or uncertainty, one always has the option of losing heart, or letting their doubt overshadow the word of God. This is the psalmist’s perceived dilemma in Psalm 42 when he asksWhy are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? [vs. 5]
This is the chief question to be asked in light of what we know to be true – the promises of God are Yea and amen [2 Cor 1:20 ] but how do we endure the wait until they come to fruition? This is the work of God as Jesus describes in John 6:28-29. Believing on Him in spite of what the physical world and everyone else says about the matter.
That much more, we hate the wait; we hate the feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability. It’s un-American! Even so is the word “qavah” translated wait as in the oft quoted Isaiah 40:31 “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . and clearly one simply needs to do a word study to find these valuable reminders: Psalms 25:3, 27:14, 37:9, 130:5 and Lamentations 3:25 to know that waiting [and seeking Him] are keen parts of our walk and that we will not be ashamed or disappointed who hope in Him.

Quiet

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At this time of the year,  after being fed a nonstop diet of news, talk, enter-pain-ment [read gossip], and o-pain-ion, I’m fed up!
What are the markets doing? What did President Obama do? What is the Party line?  What stymied the congress this time?  What act of aggression against the Chinese? North Korea? 
Which Starlet or Politician has done something utterly noteworthy while we are busy trying to be oblivious?
Is it NEWS or fear mongering?  Has anyone done anything helpful or praiseworthy?  Is there anything actually new under the sun?

As one preacher said, “Always be ready to ignore the world because it hasn’t solved any of it’s problems so we should focus on the One who can solve all of our problems!!”


Hence, we have this study of scriptures that details the quiet that we need to seek and how it will be important to our spiritual, physical, and soulical well-being.**  The world and our adversary create noise that keeps us unsettled and off-balance.  We have to learn to quiet, and to disregard and defuse this noise in order to maintain our place in Him.  

Psalms 131: 2
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of its mother: my soul [is] even as a weaned child
There is a strong parallel between the psalmist’s declaration and our admonition from the Apostle Paul who tells us to do all things without murmuring.  The psalmist states that his action has internal and external efficacy to silence his complaints and to seek the peace and satisfaction that only comes from communion with the Holy Spirit.
Further, he describes the state of quiet, as that of a weaned child. One of the beauties of the Bible is the continuity of metaphors contained within.  Across the centuries, we are taught that newly born-again Christians need the milk of the Word to grow  [I Peter 2:2], then here we notice that as the newborn grows past the breast-fed stage there is a greater expectation of her resistance to discomfort and real-world events. Weaning away from the mother and her milk assumes a growth path indicative of a more mature child who has the capacity to feed herself.  To quiet herself and to fall asleep without the attentive mothers soothing.  This is the picture of Christ in the bow of the ship traversing the storm.  He is sleeping soundly so that he must be awakened.  The noise and roiling of the sea is not enough to keep him from sleep.  

My mind, will and emotions are as a weaned child, calmed knowing that God is in control,  unflappable and yet open to hope for the future.

Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
This is a not-so-subtle reminder that the temporal things that we encounter and are distracted by are short-lived and completely un-related to the Kingdom that we strive after

I Thessalonians  4:11
And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.
The psalmist says that she quieted herself, but here Paul re-states that we should ” make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you” [AMP].  This state of quiet is an aim and desire, it is not a natural state of affairs but only comes as we submit to the will and purpose of God and learn to maintain our fellowship with him.  We learn the discipline of quietly trusting God, keeping gossip, murmurings and complaints to ourselves.  We begin to understand that it is not acceptable to belittle or berate people whether they be in the household of faith or not. 

I Peter 3:4
But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.
Notice that this writer says the Lord attributes great value to a meek and quiet spirit cultivated in His children.  

I Corinthians  14:33
For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
I Timothy  2:1-2
I exhort therefore, that , first of all, supplication, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be given for all men;  For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 
We are told to cast all of our cares, anxieties and problems upon Him for He cares for us; to pray without ceasing and in the example of David, the great psalmist – we cry out to him for help.  The other noise we make would be a better witness if considered praise before the world and our adversary.   A Joyful Noise, for the battle has been won!!

**  of the soul, therefore based within the mental, emotional and will of the individual.

quotes from the Amplified Bible [copyrighted by the Lockman Foundation]

A Quick Pass Through Romans 15:4

Romans 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” KJV

What ever scriptures were written previously were written so that we would learn from them, “for the word of God is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword [Heb 4:12] . . . this learning being the benefit of being spiritually alive as well as a living word that will continue to teach us and the indwelling spirit that will bring things that we have learned to our remembrance.

The bible is not a history of the world, the bible is the history of God’s dealings with man. It does not provide a chronological description of how it all happened. It describes how God made the world then how he dealt with man and showed compassion on him and his plan to reconcile the world after the fall. He documented through Moses how he covered Adam’s sin with the blood of an innocent animal and how he has covered sin since. We needed and continue to need to learn how this was done, so that we can know his ways and can appreciate the good He has done for us – the richness of his grace and mercy!

I Corinthians 10: 1-11 say that the things that happened [and were recorded] were a warning and an example of what not to do so that we don’t end up with a similar circumstance as the Israelites in the wilderness. That we would learn how to walk in this journey, to know that this is not our home, that we cannot murmur against the good that God is doing and how he is leading us. That we can’t spend our time partying and getting involved with the world’s corrupt system.

Learning takes place in the mind, a portion of the soul. Everyone including Jesus had to learn how be true to the spiritual nature in a physical body. He also had to guard himself from mental and/or soulical conflict including emotional conflict, temptation and willfulness. These are temptations that he overcame in 40 days of temptation and spiritual warfare in the wilderness. Hebrews 6:12 states that Even though Jesus was God’s son, He still “learned obedience through the things that he suffered.” What does this mean for us; . . . that we have to learn obedience, humility, that we will have to suffer, and even then learn that Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.

We have to learn that even as priests and kings we will need to learn what it means to be a King and how Kings conduct business. Galatians 4:1-2 talks about how the heir of all still has to learn to be the king and how the kingdom works.

What is the way of patience?

Understanding doesn’t come overnight, so then ” . . . ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36 And again, Hebrews 6:12 “ … be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Faith and patience are the keys to growth in the long-term. Let’s define what patience is and how it figures into the growth equation. Patience is rendered “endurance and perseverance in many of the translations and dictionaries. Even Jesus tells us that “In your patience, possess ye our souls” Luke. 21:19

Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith.”–Adel Bestavros

My, How You’ve Grown

Text: I John 2:12-14
In business, in politics, in any number of human endeavors we work to gauge our progress, our attainment, and our achievement. Many examine bank statements, time measurement, games won, awards garnered and other means by which we determine improvement.
Do we do so in spiritual matters? Is there a way that we can make a statement about the way that we have evolved in our spiritual affairs? While there may be some incremental growth that would be harder to determine over short periods of time, the Lord has provided a way to look at our growth over time that allows us to assess where we are and how we need to think about our next steps.
John describes how there are three major categories in the growth cycle of Christians:
Ø Little Children

Ø Young Men

Ø Fathers
Little Children
Examining the text, we find that the children have some clear defining characteristics. He doesn’t say that they are not saved!
Young Christians may say as the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith” Luke. 17:5
The bible says that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17
But it doesn’t come overnight, so then we have need of patience Hebrews 10:36
And again, Hebrews 6:12 “ … be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises”
Faith and patience are the keys to growth in the long-term. Let’s define what patience is and how it figures into the growth equation. Patience is rendered “endurance and perseverance in many of the translations and dictionaries.
Even Jesus tells us that “In your patience, possess ye your souls” Luke. 21:19
They “have known the Father” and their ”sins are forgiven . . . for his name’s sake”
The trouble with babies and young children is that they are in danger from a number of dangerous things around that could potentially stunt their growth or endanger their lives! We grow on a physical level in spite of ourselves, in contrast with our spiritual selves that only readily grow as we are fed the Word. We can also gauge our growth against our response to life’s circumstances and temptation.
Didn’t Jesus pray “deliver us from temptation” – that we would fall prey to, “but deliver us from evil” Another translation says “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This prayer petitions the Father to give us the daily bread (feeding) that we need that allows us to grow, while asking His assistance to avoid the wrong things that we would encounter during our days on earth.
An interesting parallel verse is found in Hebrews 5:12,13 &14 where the writer explains that a young Christian whose stunted growth has kept him from teaching so he is forced to continue with the first principles (milk) rather than graduate to other profitable principles available.
He goes on to say that strong meat belongs to those who “by reason of use” [who are mature] who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong . . . so then the parallel is in the Peter’s 2nd epistle (1:4-7) where we are admonished to add to our faith virtue [moral excellence], and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness all of this to receive the exceeding great and precious promises.
Baby Christians end up trying to see how much wrong they can tolerate and still be Christians not knowing that these practices and philosophy keep them babies.
Young men
Are said to be “strong’ and have the word of God abiding in them. They also have “overcome the wicked one”.
This is a great testimony and of value as a measuring stick against which to gauge your enlistment in God’s army. Logically, one would have to have had some experience in battle with the wicked one to have overcome him. The experienced spiritual warrior understands the nature of spiritual warfare and is equipped with the tools [the Word] to be victorious.
This warfare means victory but that victory yields us the peace of God to continue in the struggle no matter what you encounter. So then the young men learn little by little, that the tribulations that they suffer is the cause for rejoicing. Romans 5:3-5 tells us that tribulations work patience and patience experience and experience hope,
Hope always keeps us looking at the future where we are expectant that God allows us to overcome once and for all.
Fathers
James writes that we may have a thousand instructors in Christ but not many fathers. Notice the single requirement of the Father – “You have known him that is from the beginning”
The spiritual father has a serene grace to his walk with God. He is not overwhelmed with the trappings of outward appearance. Neither is he trying to prove the veracity of his relationship.
He is much like the Husbandman [farmer] in James 5: 7-8 who waits patiently for his crops to grow. He waits for the rains (the enrichment of the Holy Spirit who acts and creates ways for God’s will to be performed on the earth.
Many of the other translations reiterate you have known him that is from the beginning. [Christ]. This statement begs the question of context. Spiritual fathers have a grasp of the nature of the origin of not only Christ but an awareness of his everlasting, unending nature. This is a source of great peace – because of covenant and relationship. There is no need to fear or be apprehensive. So then as James says early on “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.” One grows perfect and entire, complete and fully-grown. One is not anxious about external issues but assured that God remains on the throne and in charge. Forever! Amen!