Waiting on the Promise – Sermon Notes for June 5, 2011

Into the Deeper Waters…

“Waiting for the Promise”                                                                                                       Luke’s Record of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

He (Jesus) said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.  Luke 24:44-53

Have you ever wondered how much time you spend waiting,

and waiting…and waiting

Have you ever wondered how much time you spend waiting?  On someone else in the family to finish dressing so you can go shopping, go to a movie, go out for dinner?  To the doctor?  To church?   Standing in a check-out line?  Waiting for a traffic light to change?  To get help in a store while shopping?

Then there are those far more momentous, serious times of waiting when the hours, days, months and years can seem like an eternity…

Waiting for answers to prayer; waiting for God’s guidance; waiting for a love one whose life is in the balance.   Waiting for the results of lab tests … the report of the doctor; for a loved one who’s in surgery… standing by the side of a loved one who’s making their final journey home.

In this passage, the disciples are told to “stay (rendered “tarry” in the King James Version) in the city (Jerusalem) until…” And yet, after what all of them have just witnessed and experienced with their beloved Jesus over the last 40 or more days – this might have been the LAST thing they want to do.  Perhaps that’s why Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms to wait for the promise of the Father.

The bittersweet memories of their last Passover meal with Jesus…

Remembering His parting words to them that night…

The agony of his travail in prayer in Gethsemane…

The betrayal of Jesus by a fellow disciple, Judas …

The horror of Jesus’ arrest, trials and punishment…

The unspeakable torture and agony of the hours he spent on the cross…

His death and burial…

Their own fears and guilt as they recall how they scattered and betrayed the best friend they had ever known…

Their extreme joy as Jesus rises from the dead and spends time with them before he ascends to the Father…

Perhaps this is why Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms to “wait’ for the promise of the Father.   This is more than a request – it is an imperative, a command. Now that they know He is risen, the temptation to go back home and resume their lives once again must have been strong – the most likely thing to do – to get on with their lives now that Jesus has returned to glory.

Something to think about…

“We are more vulnerable to failing and entering into another time of warfare and defeat immediately following a victory”.

However, when we have truly been with Jesus, when we have opened our hearts and spirits to Him, when have left “what we were” and “where we were” by the side of the road and moved on in Him, we dare not return to the “same old, same old”!

Waiting…as a time of preparation.

 “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

“ But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:28-31, KJV

One of my favorite authors, Eugene Petersen, writes this same passage from Isaiah in his paraphrase, The Message as follows …

“Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.”   Isaiah 40:27-31, The Message

Although His disciples cannot realize this now –  this will be one of THE most important of all gifts from the Father, along with the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the subsequent victory over death and eternal life with Him in glory.  This gift of the Holy Spirit living within each of them and all who will choose to make Jesus the Savior and Lord throughout the ages will be the power source of all good things from the Father.  The Ruach haKodesh (“Holy Spirit”,  in Hebrew) will teach them and provide them the wisdom and strength of how to wait upon the Lord and see the victories He has in store for them – no matter what enemies rise against them, no matter what the trials and tribulations, no matter how long the battles may take.  No matter what their need – through their faith in God, it will be met!

Waiting…as a lifestyle

In Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word Used in this passage of Isaiah for wait is gavah (#6960).  It can be interpreted in two ways: 1) to wait, look eagerly for, hope expect.  The sense of this understanding is that the one who waits knows that the expected event will happen, without doubt.  A further rendering can mean “to expect anything.”  The second meaning is “to collect, or bind together”…to twist about, to bind fast as in a rope..  To be strong, robust, to be gathered together for greater strength, as it were.

When I got back from my mission work in China in 1985, I stayed with my mother while I sought another job.  There was a scraggly wild vine that she needed to have removed from a cyclone fence so that she could plant something beautiful that would flower in that place.  I determined one morning I would pull up the vine and rework the soil for her so we could plant what she preferred.  The morning turned into a whole day’s project; then a several-days project, and finally, after days and days of a long fight with the vines that were wrapped around that cyclone fence and each other, I gave up.  It seemed like the vine would multiply, grow and expand from day to day!  I hate to admit it, but I gave up.  I had never, ever seen such a vine.  The very act of my trying to remove it seemed to stimulate it even more to grow!

When I learned this definition of “wait” many years ago, I began to appreciate this experience from a very different angle.  If we are to “wait” on the Lord for Him to renew our strength – we need to wrap ourselves around Him and His Word to grow stronger and more capable to facing whatever life throws at us!  We need to wrap ourselves around Him as we pray, study the Word, worship and minister in His name!  That’s what makes us strong.  We are only as strong as our prayer life, and our prayers are only as strong as our ability to know and pray the Word of God which is the answer to our problems!

One of the most important aspects of being a disciple today is one’s ability to wait and endure, while not lagging in the passion and zeal of serving the Lord.   Waiting is fueled by passion and faith – the determination to stay focused on the Promises of our Lord and believe – no matter what!  In Romans, Chapter 4, the words of Paul speak volumes to us about how to stand and believe in the promises of God in the face of the most impossible of situations.

In Romans, chapter four, we read:

16That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  ESV

31but 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.  Isaiah 40

When we learn how to wait on the Lord in this Hebrew sense of the word – we will be able to see His promises manifested in our lives.  In Luke, Jesus uses the word “wait” that carries with it the sense of “being made to wait, to be made to sit down” andIs promises manifested in this, most interestingly, “to confer a kingdom upon”            (wait = gathizo = G2523).  Wisely, the disciples choose to remain in Jerusalem and wait for God’s promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-27).  Praying each of us will be as wise as they…

From my heart to yours, Kay

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2 Responses to Waiting on the Promise – Sermon Notes for June 5, 2011

  1. Josue says:

    Speaking only for msyelf, I have to wonder about anyone who ever read Isaiah and pondered the information it contains. How could they not understand what the meridian of time was, that the Savior of the world would be born at that time, who it would be and the importance that everything in the old testement bears the same testimony. How can those who claim to understand the sciptures, specifically those of the Jewish faith, not understand what Isaiah was saying to them, to all of us. I too enjoy the Messiah, although I am partial to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version. Merry Christmas to you.

    • revalewine says:

      Ahhh, yes! Handel’s “The Messiah” was one of the first oratorios in which I was allowed to sing at the young age of 12. My heart still soars higher and higher with each listening.

      Some thoughts reagarding your most welcome comments: Frequently, Jesus tells His listeners, “Let you who have ears now listen.” What Jesus was saying in the context of Hebrew understanding was, “Don’t just listen – listen and do! Follow through. Make my teaching a part of your lifestyle.”

      They heard, but did not always grasp the depth of the message. “In one ear and out the other.” How many times have we heard, but did not grasp the message? When we read or hear the scriptures, we bring our level of knowledge and life experience into the understanding of the text. John Wesley noted that we draw from 1) our ability to reason (what we have learned thus far and how we make sense out of life), 2) our life’s experiences and how they have affected us, along with, 3) how our personal and family religious traditions have influenced us and blend togetehr when we study and meditate to make sense of a text and apply it to our lives.

      For the Jews who lived in Isaiah’s time, life was beyond difficult and harsh at best for many, if not most of them. These conditions only worsened with time, so that by the time Jesus came and walked among us fully human and fully divine, life was almost unbearable for most of them – especially for those who lived in Jerusalem. (Life in the Galilee was somewhat less oppressive – but still harsh.) Devout Jews longed to be delivered from the horrendous reign of the Herods, from the Roman occupation and from the Temple priesthood who had been corrupted by the Herods and Rome. Based on their reason (their history), experience, and tradition meant a Mighty King would come and conquer their enemies as a military hero. When Jesus first came as “The Suffering Servant” about whom Isaiah wrote, He didn’t begin to fit into what they had imagined He would be and more importantly, “SHOULD BE”. The first disciples and early followers of Jesus who opened their hearts of understanding and welcomed Jesus as their Savior AND Lord (there is a huge difference in relationship here) and their Friend (although it was a bumpy road from time to time!) continued on and laid the foundation as the Early Church. More than a few persevered regardless of the high cost to them.

      Is it not the same for us today? Do you ever wonder how so many hear, but for whatever reasons, are not willing to make the commitment to follow Jesus? Perhaps the cost is too high – a price they are not willing to pay. If one believes in the truth of Jesus as the Messiah, then there are certain consequences for the life of being a true believer. It may mean changing one’s lifestyle, letting go of unholy habits and unhealthy relationships, and having to look inwardly at oneself as never before, constantly being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit who challenges, enables and stretches a person to grow more like Jesus!

      You used an important word in your comments – “claim”. “Claiming to understand” is one thing – living it out is another. “Cheap grace” based on “watered down” scriptures is what many are seeking these days. Many may want to be in the ballpark, but watch the game only – and certainly, not have to play by the rules. I praise God for your insight and hope to hear from you again soon. May you blessed with God’s riches in spirit and in truth today and every day, Kay

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