One of the hardest things we can do as Christians is to wait on the Lord. We are programed to want what we want and to want it now. More often God has other plans for us though. His plans are to prepare us not through and event but by a process. With time comes preparation.
Look at Moses for example, Moses was to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt bondage. How did God prepare him? Not in a day but over time...not through an event but by a process. God prepares us in a crockpot, not a microwave. More important that the awaited goals is the work that God does in us as we wait.
Waiting deepen and matures us. Waiting gives us a broader perspective and understanding. Waiting...the tests of time...determine whether we can endure the seasons of seemingly unfruitful preparation. Waiting determines whether we can recognize and seize the opportunities that come our way.
In Isaiah 40:30-31 we see an interesting verse about Waiting on the LORD.
" Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (ESV)
Like and an Eagle... when and Eagle reaches the age of 30-50, it flies to a high place and there it endures a harsh trial of endurance and change. It can’t fly because its feathers are overgrown. Therefore it plucks all the feathers from its body. It plucks its talons from its feet because the talons have grown curled and useless. Its beak has grown too long and curled. It breaks its beak against a rock. Defenseless, it cries out and waits for the time of renewal. Other Eagles hear its cry, and come to aid. They fly overhead, scaring off predators, and they bring food to their incapacitated friend.
Why do Eagles do this? The words to Wait on the Lord in Hebrew (qavah – kav-waw’) figuratively mean “to bind together like a cord.” It doesn’t mean to tie a cord around a bundle of sticks to keep them together. Instead, it’s the process of making a rope by twisting or weaving small strings together to form the rope. The more strands that are twisted or woven together in a rope, the greater is its strength. The literal meaning of the word is “hope”.
Like it happens to Eagles God makes us to go through harsh trials of endurance and change. This is necessary to shape our Christian character and faith. In such time we need to unite with the Lord like strands of a rope by waiting upon Him. This unity renews our strength.
The very situation that you are facing right now could be a trial of endurance and change. God makes His children to walk through such times because it’s the only way prepare you to meet God’s plan for your life. To take away what is unnecessary, and shape up your character and attitudes.
But God never forsakes or leaves behind His children at these times of correction. He is with you because He wants to renew your strength at the end of the trial period. Wait upon the Lord – and you will soar like an Eagle.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Luke 6:20-23 NIV
The first thing Jesus did when training his disciples...He transformed their attitude and perspective. He talked about the blessing of being poor, hungry, hated, insulted, or persecuted. Imagine being a disciple and hearing that...Better yet...Imagine sitting in a modern day church service and hearing the pastor tell you it's better to be poor and hungry. This was the exact opposite of what was being taught by the religious leaders of the day. Jesus knew that in order to change his disciples from the inside out he needed to change their perspective which interns changes their attitude.
Perspective is critical in your growth. Unfortunately today's church has done a horrible job at leading people in a way that changes their perspective. The proof is in the way so many Christians church shop. They attend a church, something is either said, done or not said and done and all of a sudden they disappear from Sunday services. What church has unfortunately become is a revolving door family.
Jesus knew what the disciples were going to experience. Before he could lead them to impact the world he had to change their perspective from the inside out. He had to prepare them to follow him. He knew that desire alone wasn't enough. He had to change their perspective and attitude to focus on the eternal not the temporal. He knew that they would experience persecution, hatred, insults, exclusion, being poor, being hungry, being attacked by the enemy. No amount of desire will carry you through the attacks by the world and the enemy. He knew that there would be times their expectations would be let down.
But having a group...a church...a family focused on the eternal with the attitude about the eternal...that can carry you. This is why the church is so important. Jesus himself told men to love their wives as he loves the church. Your wife is your family. Her responsibility is to be your help mate in life. The church is meant to be a family to help one another push through this world by focusing together on the eternal. In the book of Acts we see this picture play out when all the disciples stuck together. They focused on the helping one another, being their for one another, providing for one another. And the result....the church kept growing...families were restored...miracles began to happen...lives were impacted...and their were no fears about needs being meet.
Their focus wasn't about how great a worship service, or what the church was doing or not doing, or what the church lacked or how it compared....their focus was being a family. Their was no separation between "the church" and "being family." Sadly, the attitude today is that church is just church, and not a family. Because of this separation it's easy understand why people church shop. Christians today don't grasp the church as family. Can you imagine leaving your wife if she did something you didn't like, or said something that rubbed you the wrong way. Would you just up and leave her? Even better yet...Do you expect your wife to be perfect? This is exactly what happens in church. Someone gets rubbed the wrong way...Their attitude and perspective begins to change.
When you attend a church, you attend with an expectation that they will be there for you in times of need. That they are a family that you can turn to when you need prayer, friendship or guidance. The expectation is that of being a family. A family that always has open arms. A family quick to forgive. A family quick to care. Jesus knew this was the purpose of the church. He used his love for the church... his bride as an example for us as men to be with our wives. To love her, to be quick to forgive her, to care for her. Exactly how we are with our wives is exactly how we are supposed to be with the church...the bride of Christ.
What it all boils down to is this....your perspective and attitude. Are you loving the church as you love your wife, they way Jesus does? Are you focusing on the eternal or the here and now.
Jesus doesn't want to take sides; He wants to take over! This is a truth about Jesus. Here is a truth about us...We want change...as long as it doesn't change us!
Jesus once met a man controlled by a legion of demons. This poor man had lost control and had to be chained under guard. When Jesus comes onto the scene he casts out the demons into some nearby pigs whom then ran off the cliff and died. Upon casting out the demons this man instantly became calm and whole. However when the area residents took one look at the man, they asked Jesus to depart.
No doubt they were glad this man was healed...just not at the expense of their livestock. They feared the demon possessed man. They kept him in chain under guard, however they feared even more a Jesus who took complete control over the situation.
So often in our lives we resemble these people who asked Jesus to leave. We want Jesus to solve our problems but save our pigs. We don't want to upset things or get even dare I say it....get Radical! We want change...as long as it doesn't change us. But this is not Jesus' way.
Here is three things this story teaches us.
1. Leadership means discomfort. If we are going to be effective in our leadership, we must learn to live outside of our comfort zone. Jesus came onto the scene, performed a miracle, and the people were discomforted by how the miracle was performed instead of what the miracle performed.
2. Leadership means dissatisfaction. God uses dissatisfaction as a tool to move us to greater things and higher ground. Dissatisfaction leads us to move from faith to faith and glory to glory. When we stop moving from faith to faith, we stop growing.
3. Leadership means disruption. The status quo is never the goal of a leader. Disruption is our constant companion. God loves disruption. He uses disruption to bring your attention to him. Have you ever noticed how when things in life seem to be going well your faith seems to change. You move from a constant needing him to an I've got this attitude. Ever notice how this when God seems to disrupt your life. He does so to draw you back to him.
What it all boils down to is this...You can't ask God to solve your problems with stipulations.
What does it mean to serve the Lord? So often you hear on Sundays…serve, serve, serve…and there is nothing wrong with serving on Sunday. However is our christian lives meant to be lived for the purpose of serving on Sunday, or could there be more? In Romans the Apostle Paul describes himself as a servant of the Lord. Before he is an apostle, or a preacher, or church planter…before this titles…he is a servant.
Romans Chapter One gives us one the most comprehensive pictures of leadership in the New Testament. Throughout the New Testament Paul uses the Greek word Doulos, which signifies a servant who has willingly and legally bonded himself to a master. (Romans 1:1, Phil 1:1, Titus 1:1)
The Old Testament gives the Hebrew background for this concept. When it came time for a master to release a slave, that slave had two options: accept his freedom, or remain and serve the master by choice. To stay as a love-slave made him far more useful, since he served willingly. This is exactly the same concept Jesus teaches us that although we are now no longer slaves and are free, the choice we make should be to serve willingly.
In Romans 1 Paul describes himself as a servant in three ways.
1. I am a Debtor. (v.14) This literally meant he had a debt to pay. Paul's debt wasn't to the lord as he was free from that obligation, but it was to the people! Paul's attitude was that he owed those who hadn't heard the gospel. Unfortunately, most Christians attitudes are not that of I owe you but that you owe me. So often Christians look for a church to be a debtor to them instead of them being the debtor as the church. It's becomes all about what programs does the church offer me? Can I join the church basketball team? Does the church listen to me? Am I valued? The work is too hard. The attitude is I just want to slide in and slide out unnoticed. As long your attitude is about you, it will never be about someone else. There will always be a conflict for attention there. The apostle Paul understood this. He realized that he had a debt paid for him that was greater than he could ever pay back, and because of that he chose to be a debtor to the people. He chose to be a debtor as the church.
2. I am Ready. (v.15) The apostle Paul was literally burning inside. He passionately gave himself to the cause by choice. Regardless of the bumps and potholes along the road, he was able to maintain enthusiasm. So often we feel we are ready and then loose enthusiasm shortly after getting started. We get burned out by serving. Somewhere along the way we loose the passion, we loose that burning feeling inside to want to impact. We settle for becoming complacent. How was it that Paul never settled? His enthusiasm was a response to God's grace, not the worlds grace.
3. I am not Ashamed. (v.16) Why not? Because although he was a despised minority within a despised minority, his message brought God's power to save everyone. There was nothing to small for Paul. There was no task for God that seemed too trivial. Paul didn't hide who he was or who God was. He knew God's power to save, and was willing to do whatever was necessary to share the gospel.
Do you _____________________(fill in the blank) take this ________________(fill in your spouses name) to be your _________________(fill in your spouses role) to love them, to honor them ...For better or for worse...for richer or for poorer...in sickness and in health...By power vested with the authority of God I now pronounce you husband and wife. . Beautiful vows! It's the best part of the entire wedding ceremony. We go through so much just to get the point of saying those vows to our loved one.
The thing about our wedding day is that it is one of the happiest days of our lives. There is an excitement in the air about a new beginning, about starting with a clean slate in the relationship and in the eyes of God. Everything that happened prior to the marriage was before you were all in....committed with 100% of who you are in front of the world and in the front of God. There is something amazing about seeing your spouse either standing at the alter waiting for you, or walking down the aisle looking like an angel that just stepped right our of heaven. Remember what you were thinking right at that moment. I do! I remember thinking I am the luckiest person in the whole world. God loved me enough to give me my spouse. I remember thinking I am going to be the best husband a wife could want. I am going to treat her like a queen.
Sometimes I reflect on that day as I face trials in my marriage. Not everyday is fun when being married. There are some really hard days where tensions are high, the enemy is attacking and honestly the feeling of why bother, or I quit is trying to fight it's way in. Maybe you have felt this way. Maybe you are feeling this way now.
Just this morning my wife and I were talking about our wedding vows. I don't ever recall committing to God leave my wife when is she sick, or when she is worse, or poorer. I made a decision with my life to God and my wife. To love her and honor her when she is worse, when she is sick and when she is poor. It is during those down times that my love, and honor to her and God has an opportunity to shine the brightest. The decision I have to make in reality is actually an attitude one. My attitude drives my character and my character drives my actions. If my attitude towards my spouse during the down times is "peace out" then my character and my actions clearly show me as a liar and person who gets going when the times get tough.
Its is during those tough times I may possible miss out on the greatest acts of God in my marriage if my attitude is not on point. I can't control my spouse (as much as I would love to sometimes) but I can control ME. I can control my attitude and my faith to see and experience God move in my marriage. I have learned a wonderful thing about the tough times in my marriage. When I feel like I am on empty, and nothing left in my spirit to give, and I keep my attitude focused on looking up and searching for God more, it is then that God steps in with an infinite reserve tank. I experience him in a fresh ways as I learn to rely on him and trust him as he honors the marriage vows.
I have come to learn that God wants you to have a great marriage. He is willing to step in and fight your marriage and he never gives up. His attitude never changes. His love never stops. He offers a hope that only he alone can offer when you feel like you are done. All you have to do is look up instead of looking down.
In Numbers 13:1-14:10 we read a story about 12 spies who are sent out to investigate the Promised Land. One spy from each of the twelve tribes of Israel entered Canaan, explored the land, and returned with a report. All 12 spies had the same external experience, but the internal conclusions of ten were different from two.
After their return, ten of the spies displayed a horrible attitude about the Promised Land. The difference between the their report and the report of Joshua and Caleb which was extremely positive about the Promised Land was their attitude! Specifically their attitude regarding God.
The attitudes of the majority:
1. Disobeyed God.
2. Believed the land had no future.
3. Displayed cowardice based on fear.
4. Utterly ignored God in their report.
5. Suffered from a grasshopper complex.
The result of their attitude was wide spread anxiety about the promises of God. Through a negative majority report regarding the promised land, nearly two million people were deprived of their inheritance in Canaan. Ultimately, God delayed in fulfilling His purpose for His chosen people for 40 years. If only the people the had listened to the minority.
Consider their attitude:
1. Obeyed God.
2. Insisted they should enter and possess the land.
3. Displayed courage rooted in faith.
4. Felt calm assurance.
5. Saw themselves in relationship to God.
The end result...Caleb and Joshua stayed alive for the new area, while the other ten spies perished in the wilderness along with the rest of the adults of that unbelieving generation.
Attitude is the Difference Maker.
7 Thoughts To Consider About Your Attitude.
1. Our attitude determines our approach to life.
2. Our attitude determines our relationships with people.
3. Our attitude is often the only difference between success and failure.
4. Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect it's outcome more than anything else.
5. Our attitude can turn problems into blessings.
6. Our attitude can give us an uncommonly positive perspective.
7. Our attitude is not automatically good just because we belong to God.