Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Keeps His Promises (Part II)

The recent Connecticut school shooting weighed on many hearts as we gathered for worship today, and it weighed on Pastor Brad's heart as well. "Good morning… It’s been a tough week. The idea that kept coming to me was 'Come, Lord Jesus, come.' Waiting is hard. Jesus Christ is the hope of the world."

The only announcement this morning was an invitation to join us this afternoon at 4:00 for the Christmas Program and ethnic potluck dinner, the theme being, "Christmas Around the World."

Darlene transitioned us into worship with a creative variation of Hark the Herald, then Norm and Mae lit the Third Advent Candle, the candle of joy.

Chuck led the worship which consisted of Christmas hymns selected by the congregation including The First Noel, a beautifully reflective Silent Night and the tender What Child Is This.

Ministry Moment
Chuck Vanderscheuren shared briefly about what God is dong in his life. He shared how he has been going down to the Salvation Army now for four years and it has been one of the best things that has happened in his life. He said it has forced him to try to be a better person. He shared Micah 6:6-8… “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Rev 12:10,11 In heaven there will be rejoicing, singing and we will be known by our testimony.

Chuck brings breakfast on Wednesdays.

Brad read today's Scripture passage Zephaniah 3:14-20 and after a time of prayer began today's message.

God Keeps His Promises (Part II)

Waiting is hard. I don’t like to wait in line at a shopping mall. I don’t like to wait in a gas station waiting for someone to pull away.

Brad asked us to imagine a couple scenarios. You’re at a toll booth. The driver in the car in front of you is having an extended conversation with the toll booth operator. How do you respond?
1. You’re happy at their fellowship and how well they get along.
2. You think of things you want to say to the toll booth operator, none very kind.
3. You attempt to drive between the car and the booth.

The second scenario given a similar treatment: You’re in a waiting room for an hour…

There are other kinds of waiting that is hard. A single person wondering if they will ever have someone to share a life with. A waiting of a couple longing to get pregnant and start a family. There are other situations as well that we do not have power in our hands to resolve.

Waiting for a hope deferred is challenging.

There are many Psalms that speak of waiting patiently for the Lord. Abraham was visited by an angel and told he would have a son, but it was 24 years till the miracle happened... that is a long wait. All through Scripture there are stories of waiting. And then the many centuries after the time of the prophets in which all Israel was waiting for a promised Messiah to deliver them.

In the years before our Lord's birth there were many who were waiting for or looking forward to this One who was to redeem Israel. Simeon was promised by God that he would not see death till he had seen the Messiah, and as an old man this promise was fulfilled. Anna, a widow in her 80’s, was another who waited with longing. After her husband passed away she never left the temple, waiting for the coming redeemer.

When Jesus grew up and began his ministry, His disciples believed He would restore the Kingdom…. But He was crucified, and event that startled and confused them. When He rose from the grave, He gathered them and told them what to do: to wait in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:4)

43 times in Old Testament people are told to wait. The last chapter of the Bible, “Behold, I am coming soon” yet we find ourselves waiting. Waiting is a form of suffering that produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. (Romans 5:3-5)

But waiting is not passively hoping something or someone comes along to help you take care of your problems. Nor is waiting a way to evade painful realities. Waiting on the Lord is a daily decision to trust God.

Here are three aspects of waiting pastor highlighted for us.

1. Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust.
a. II Peter 3:8-9 God’s perspective is not ours.
b. All too often we want God’s resources but not His timing.
c. Waiting is a time when God is doing His work in us. It has a purpose in our own growth and development. and helps you learn who you are.
d. Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book about trapeze artists who said there is a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher. The flyer must let go, and his job is to be absolutely still and remain that way until the catcher catches you, an illustration that aptly describes our role in relationship to God as we let go and trust.

2. Waiting on the Lord requires confident humility.
a. Confidence and quietness
b. Waiting is something only the humble can do with grace
c. I must learn that “I’m not calling the shots.”
d. Society allows people with status to wait less. But we are waiting on God.
e. Mark 4 tells the story of Jesus asleep in the boat while a storm is happening. The disciples were frantic, finally waking Him. He stills the storm and silences their fears as well. Though Jesus experienced all the things we've experienced, God is never frantic, never in a hurry.

3. Waiting requires that we learn how to recognize God’s voice.
a. God’s voice is never frantic. When you hear frantic, panicky thoughts in your head, this is not God’s voice.
b. My sheep know My voice.

Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? (Hebrews 11) What we wait for is not more important than what happens to is when we wait.

As you wait, hope. As Isaiah explained...

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who wait upon the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. 


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