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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Grace to Wait

Charles Stanley - The Grace to Wait

Charles Stanley - The Grace to Wait
TOPICS: Grace, Waiting on God, God's Promise for Blessing

Do you enjoy waiting in line at the checkout counter, big grocery chain, when there are about four or five people in front of you with baskets just loaded with groceries? Do you enjoy that? Enjoy that kind of wait? Do you enjoy waiting at that traffic light where you live that lasts about five minutes on red? Do you enjoy that? Well, do you enjoy waiting in the doctor's office when you've been there an hour after your appointment? Do you enjoy waiting for that? Well, do you ladies enjoy fixing this beautiful, wonderful, delicious meal and about an hour and a half after that, the folks are still not there who are coming to be your guests? Do you enjoy waiting for them while your food is getting cold? No. If you've answered no to all of those questions, you're just a normal human being. That's what you are.

Now, let me ask you one other question. Do you enjoy waiting on the Lord to answer your prayer? You're still normal, aren't you? None of us like to wait. Now, why don't we like to wait? Because waiting on somebody or anything implies that we're not in control. Somebody else is in control of our life. Whether it's in the grocery store or in the traffic or whatever it might be, we don't like not being in control. When we have to wait, it appears to be, at least, somebody else is in control. Well, waiting just happens to be one of those aspects of our life that all of us have to deal with. Especially when we think that somebody could move along if they would, but somehow, they don't seem to desire to do that.

And so when it comes to waiting, we just don't like it. Well, when it comes to the Christian life, the principle of waiting is a very, very vital aspect and a very extremely vital principle in the whole Christian life. Because until you and I learn to wait upon the Lord, we'll never be able to walk in obedience to Him. It's going to affect your prayer life. In fact, until you learn the principle of waiting, it's going to affect every single aspect of your Christian life. And I think one of the primary reasons that so many people are sorta dissatisfied and don't have the peace, don't have the assurance and confidence and security that they could have is because this is one of those principles they've never learned. Now, they've heard about it. And many Christians have heard about waiting upon the Lord, but what in the world does it mean?

Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled "The Grace to Wait". It takes grace to wait. It takes God's help sometime, oftentimes to enable us to wait in difficult circumstances, and especially when you and I have made a very strong request to Him. When we have a deep, yearning desire of our heart for something we want God to do, and it looks like that God's not even paying any attention whatsoever, but remember this. While you and I are waiting, God's working. Don't forget that. While you and I are waiting, God is working.

So, what I'd like for you to do, and I want you to turn to a passage of scripture in the Psalms, the sixty-second Psalm, and I want us to read just a couple of verses at the beginning and then toward the middle because he repeats, David repeats the same thing twice here. And if you'll begin in this first verse of Psalm sixty-two, and what I'm gonna do is to take you through a number of Psalms because I want you to understand and see how very vital this whole issue of waiting really is in the scripture. So, he begins by saying, "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken".

Here is a verse of confidence, assurance, boldness from someone who's learned to wait upon the Lord. Look, if you will, in the fifth verse of the same chapter, "My soul," now it's a prayer, "my soul wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken". Now, let's think about it for a moment. David was out in the field with his sheep, and one day one of his father's servants came running out and said, "Your father is calling for you". So he turns his sheep over to the servant or someone else, and so he comes to the house and he opens the door, and to his great surprise, here sits Israel's prophet. Here sits the prophet Samuel. And when he walks in, here's his father and his mother and all of his brothers.

And so, he's no doubt wondering what in the world is going on? And more than likely, according to some other things David said in his life, he probably said, "What have I done now"? And so, when he walked in, Samuel said to his father, "He's the one". Samuel anointed David as king when he was sixteen years of age. And more than likely, when he walked out of that place, he was asking still, "What in the world has happened? Anointing me the king of Israel, a teenager, sixteen years of age"? Well, from that point on, shortly after that, he was in King Saul's court. And at first he played for him, played music for him, and he was going through some difficult time emotionally and mentally, and finally demonic spirits got the best of him, and before long, his friend, his young friend, David, who was a very strong and godly young man, not only was his friend, but suddenly he became a threat to him.

And he became very jealous of David. David and Jonathan, Saul's son, became bosom friends, and Saul found himself between these two and Jonathan found himself between the two of them. Finally, Saul tried to kill him, he was so jealous of him. And he couldn't kill him, and so he began to track him down. So from the ages of sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, and David had to be thinking, "What happened back yonder when I was a teenager, when Samuel anointed me to be the king of the nation of Israel? And here I am, twenty-eight years of age, and since I've been to about sixteen or seventeen, I've been running for my life".

Twice he could have taken King Saul's life, but he didn't do it. What was he doing? He was learning one of the most valuable lessons of his life. And what is that? My soul waits in silence upon God only. He learned to wait for God to do his awesome work in his life. You see, he could have manipulated the circumstance. He could have killed King Saul, especially after he became so emotionally upset. He could probably have taken the throne, but he dared not do it. He got so close, he cut a piece off of his garment, but he would never take his own position and manipulate his circumstances and make himself the king of the nation of Israel. He learned one of the most valuable lessons in the Christian life.

Now, a lot of people talk about waiting upon the Lord, but if you ask them, "What does that mean"? more than likely they could not tell you. So, what I want us to do is I want to think about this very valuable principle. Some of you, for example, you've lost your job. You don't know what you're going to do. And so you're trying to find out: What shall I do? And more than likely you're gonna be prone to be tempted to take the first thing that opens up because you have a need. You have some desire in your life, some strong desire. Or some need in your life. Some request that you've made of God. You've been petitioning Him and petitioning Him and you're about sick and tired and fed up of praying and it's time you took things in your own hands and you make it work.

What I want you to understand is this. Listen carefully, this is one of the most valuable lessons to be learned in the whole Christian life. So, let's think about what we mean when we talk about waiting upon the Lord. Well, if you talk about the idea of waiting, to wait means, of course, we pause. And to wait upon the Lord means that I pause till further instruction. It also means that something active is going on. This is purposeful waiting. This is directed waiting. This isn't passing, just letting things happen, this is waiting for God to intervene in your life. And so when we think in terms of waiting, it implies that you and I have a relationship with God. If I'm waiting upon Him, I'm waiting for Him to do something that I've asked Him to do, to intervene in my life in some fashion, to get involved in some way.

To answer my request, to give me what I ask for, to answer the desires and the longing of my heart, so that when it comes to waiting upon God, it speaks of a relationship with Him. And so, that a person who waits upon the Lord must have a relationship, and that relationship comes when that person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as personal Savior as a result of what He did at the cross by dying on the cross, shedding His blood, and paying the sin-debt of mankind, all of mankind, in that one act. So that when you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, trust Him as your personal Savior, you become a child of God, in the family of God, and you have all the rights that a son of God has and you have the right to petition Him to express your desires and the longings of your hearts and your needs to Him.

And so, when it comes to waiting upon, an implication is I've made a request, I'm expecting something from Him. And it looks like nothing is happening at this point. So when we talk about waiting upon the Lord, we're not talking about a passive, nonchalant kind of ignore-it-all, we're talking about purposeful, determined, deliberate, directed, not passive, but active waiting. We are anticipating something to happen. Listen, my soul waits in silence for God only. He's my rock, my salvation, my stronghold. I shall not be greatly shaken. I'm not gonna be moved to the left, I'm not gonna be moved to the right. I have absolute confidence that what I've asked of Him, He is going to provide, but I'm going to wait till He does it in His way and in His time.

This is what gets us out of God's will, off the track, making the biggest messes of our life when we refuse to wait for God to do what He desires to do, what we've asked Him to do, what He wants to do, what He's planned to do, what He's prepared to do, what He is willing to do for us. But when we want to do it in our time and our way, this is what gets us in trouble. And so, I want you to see in these passages some very simple truths, but some awesome truths, and how important it is that you and I learn to wait upon Him.

Now, let's take a few verses, and there are lots of verses in the Bible about waiting upon God. I want us to go through a few of them, and then I want to answer some very specific questions that are so very essential. Now remember, your whole Christian life, you cannot live a Christian life of obedience to God until you learn to wait upon Him. Now, learning to wait upon Him demands at least three things of me, many things, but number one it certainly requires that I become sensitive to Him. How am I going to wait upon Him if I'm not sensitive to the fact that He said at this time the answer is wait. The answer at this time, no, not at this time. If I'm not sensitive to Him, how am I going to be sensitive to Him? I must learn to listen to Him. And how do I learn to listen to Him? I get in the Word of God and ask Him to speak to my heart. And God will answer that prayer!

And so we learn to listen to Him, that we become sensitive to Him. Not only sensitivity to Him but also trust Him. If I'm gonna wait upon Him, I must be sensitive to hear what he's saying. Secondly, I must trust Him. I must trust His judgment. I must trust His wisdom. I must trust the fact that He knows every detail of my circumstance, and therefore it is wise on my part to wait for His timing. But likewise, I must be obedient to Him. Sensitive to His voice, trusting in what he says, what He requires, and obeying what He requires of me. And so, if I'm going to learn to wait upon Him, remember, the implication is to have an... I have a relationship with Him and I have made some requests. All of us have desires of our heart. And it may be that you have expressed your desire many times and nothing has happened, it appears. There's a reason maybe we can help you understand what that reason is.

God loves us, He's provided the best for us, waiting upon the best is a key element. So, I want us to look at some scriptures for a moment, and let's begin, if you will, let's go back to Psalm twenty-five, a wonderful Psalm. They all are good. They're all great. Some of them are just more personal and applicable to us in our life and our lifestyle, and so listen to this Psalm, if you will. Psalm twenty-five, beginning in verse one. And here is David's prayer, "To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O My God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me," and criticize me and laugh at me and jest about me. "Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed".

Listen to that. You never have to worry about coming up short and being ashamed about waiting upon the Lord. Your friends may say, "Well, what in the world, what's this waiting business? What do you mean you're waiting upon the Lord? Time is gonna go by, you're gonna miss your opportunity. It's all gonna be over with," and if you have the temptation of being ashamed because you waited and God didn't show up, you can lay that one down forever. God is not ever late under any condition, under any circumstance. He says, "Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed". And I want you to look, if you will, in the twenty-first verse of the same chapter. Listen to what he says.

Let's begin in verse twenty, "Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You". Waiting upon God. Listen now, watch this. Not waiting upon others. Not waiting upon people who've promised you this and promised you that and are going to do this and going to do that. We're talking about waiting upon the Lord. Then let's turn, if you will, to the twenty-seventh chapter for a moment, and look at this, if you will, beginning in verse thirteen of this twenty-seventh verse, chapter of the Psalms. David says, "I would have despaired," listen to that, I would have despaired. Remember he's running for his life, hiding in caves and so forth. "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD".

He'd been in enough difficulty, hardship, trial, persecution, and fearful moments. Listen, he said if it had not been for God, he said I would have despaired, that I would see, he says, I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And he says here's what I've learned. I've learned if you wait, he says, learn to wait. Be of good courage. God will give you the grace to wait if you will trust Him. If you will wait upon Him, He will bless you with His goodness. I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord. Wait upon the Lord. Be strong and courageous. Sometimes it takes courage. It takes a whole lot of courage to sit still. It takes a whole lot of courage to do what appears to be nothing.

Waiting upon the Lord is never nothing. It is always an act of obedience to Him. Look, if you will, in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, just a couple more verses. Fortieth chapter of Isaiah, listen to what he says. In the twenty-ninth and the thirtieth and the thirty-first verses, words of real encouragement to us. He says, for example, now remember, sometimes when we're waiting, we get a little discouraged. And we get sorta strung out. And we want to get impatient. And we want God to do something, and we start sorta wringing our hands over the whole issue.

Now, God, it's time You did something. And what happens? When we get that way, we wear ourselves out emotionally, fretting over something that God is willing to do and ready to do in His timing. Listen to what he says. He says in verse twenty-nine, "He gives strength to the weary". And sometimes we get weary in the walk. He says, "And to him who lacks might He increases power". He's ready to do that. "Though young people shall grow weary and tired, vigorous young men shall stumble badly," when the pressure gets on. "Yet those who wait for the LORD, they'll gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary". Look at that. He says in those troublesome times, we will mount up with wings like an eagle. Now, you say, "Well, I don't have wings like an eagle".

Listen to this, you know what holds the eagles in the sky? Not big wings. It's all of those air currents that that eagle is flying above and on. And so what does he do? He just lays them out there and he soars down and he soars up and we watch all the awesome freedom of that majestic bird and we think, "Oh, if we could just fly like that". I want to remind you of something. The Holy Spirit, the very word "pneuma" is the word "wind". You and I have the Holy Spirit to lift us up. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, to lift us above those difficult, troublesome times when we're waiting upon the Lord, and we want God to do something, and He doesn't do it, and we get our focus off of Him. We get our focus on what we want Him to do and the desires of our heart and the needs of our life and what we petition, and before long, He's up there and all of our needs, and we're down here. He says, "Listen". He said, "You don't have to get that way".

Wait upon the Lord. What will He do? In those moments when you feel troubled and difficult and disillusion and disheartened and you want to give up and quit, he says, "Those who wait upon the Lord, keep their focus upon Him". He says, listen, He'll give you wings like the eagle. He'll give you energy, He'll give you strength, you won't get tired. He says, "God will give you a supernatural energy that keeps you going, keeps you trusting, keeps you waiting". He is willing to do that for His children. He's more than willing to help us through these difficult times. So, what we have to ask is this. Why is it that sometimes we've prayed and we've said, "God, here's the desire of my heart. Crystal clear. You know exactly what it is".

Then why doesn't He do something about it? Well, remember, when it looks like nothing's going, God's working. But there are some times when God requires that you and I wait. So let me just name a few of them, and you think about what you desire today in your life. What's that real strong desire in your life? What is it you're really petitioning Him for? What are you expecting Him to do? What are you anticipating God doing in your life? Why is He still waiting? Well, one of the reasons is this. He wants to refocus our attention from the desire to Himself. He says, "Delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desire of your heart". So one of the reasons He waits is he waits until we get our, listen, our focus right. Our focus is upon Him. I'm waiting upon Him, I'm trusting in Him. I'm relying upon Him, I'm seeing Him as the source. I'm seeing him as the one who is in control.

So sometime it's a matter of refocusing our whole opinion and our whole attitude about what really matters, and He's the one that matters. Sometime it's a matter of just timing. You ask God to give you something in your life, you have a strong desire and you feel that's what God wants. And so often we say, "Well, sixty days, God, I want it". Well now, who are we to tell omniscience what the time is? And so if you'll think about it, and now, let me, somebody says, "Well, does God get angry with me when I tell Him I gotta have it now"? No. What does He do? I don't think He does anything because He's heard that billions of times. And He has never been impressed nor, listen, nor has He ever been urged or, listen, or has He ever been forced into doing anything before His timing?

So, one of the reasons we have to wait is because it isn't God's timing. All of us, if we're honest, we'll look back and see times that we've asked God to do something in our life and He didn't do it and we got upset and we moaned and groaned, fretted about it and told Him, "Well, Lord, now here's what I think, and I don't understand why I'm trying to be obedient to You. And God, why don't You do this, that, and the other"? And finally, when God does, in His perfect timing, answer it, we look back and we say, "Ha, ha, oh, now I see. Now I understand. God, thank You that You didn't do it in my timing". He knows the perfect time for every desire of your heart. He knows exactly what's best for you. Sometime it's wrong timing, sometimes He wants to stretch our faith.

Now, watch this, God isn't just up there just handing out gifts. You know what He's up to? He's up to, listen, watch this. He's up to making us like His Son. He's up to growing us up and maturing us, and so one of the ways He does that is to stretch our faith. He wants us to believe Him. Now, if He did not withhold some things from us and stretch our faith and teach us to trust Him, we would just ask and keep going. We wouldn't grow up in our spiritual life. What is it that causes us to grow is to get thrown into the fire, get thrown to difficulty and hardship, and we cry out to God, and for a while He doesn't seem to be listening and answering. And then all of a sudden, in His perfect time, He does it, and what does he remind us of? "Trust Me. You trusted Me here and I did it. You trusted Me here and I did it. You moaned and groaned and fretted over here. And then when the time was right, I still did it".

What does He want? He wants to grow us up. So that when you and I come to Him, we come to Him as adults. That we have listened to Him long enough and waited upon Him and watched Him answer our prayers, the very desires of our heart. And I am a person who is fully persuaded of this. When we walk in His way and His will, He gives us more than we ask for, more than we expect, and far more than we deserve. He is a good God. And causing us to wait is for our good. What's He doing? Growing us up. Sometimes, the circumstances aren't ready. Let's say, for example, that you have some desire in your heart that involves someone else. And so you're sitting on ready, and you're thinking, "Okay, God, I'm trusting You", and let's get something going.

But remember this, God works in everybody's life in some way or the other. Many people shut Him out, but He's still working. And so, when we think about the times we make requests of him and the desires of our heart that involve other people, sometimes He has to change people's minds. Sometimes He has to get their eyes open, He has to open their blind eyes to see things the way you see them and to begin to understand what's going on in their life. So God sometimes has to get us ready, and He has to get the circumstance, the situation ready. And this is oftentimes true when people, in the process of buying something, something big with lots of money, and maybe things don't work out, and then finally, when God works it out, they look back to see God's timing was so much better.

God's timing saved them a lot of money, or God's time saved them a lot of heartache and a lot of burdens and a lot of misunderstanding. God's timing is always perfect. Sometimes I think one of the reasons He waits is to remind us and to get us to recognize He's in control. You see, when we think we're in control, we're headed for trouble. God's in control. And so what does He do? He waits to answer our petition, oftentimes, until He sees that we recognize He is in control and that we consent to the fact that he has the right to control, listen, to control and to send us the desires of our heart when He knows it is best.

So there are reasons that He waits. Now, sometimes it's just pure old sin. If you're living in sin and you're making a big request of God and you're expecting Him to answer that, more than likely, you might as well stop expecting it until you deal with sin in your life. And when you're, listen, when you're ready to receive the blessing, you can expect God to send it. Delight yourself in the Lord, he says, He'll give you the desires of your heart. But what does that mean? It means I take pleasure in Him. It means I trust Him, I delight in Him, I'm excited about Him, I understand who He is, what's going on in my life, I'm praising Him. He is the key figure in your life. And my friend, there is no more profitable lesson to learn than to wait upon Him.

You see, what happens is when we get ahead of Him, manipulate our circumstances, we get hurt. The tragedy is we hurt other people. Lot of people get hurt. We get hurt. We hurt the kingdom of God and, listen, what happens is we put ourselves in a position to delay the very blessing that God had prepared for us at that very time if we had just waited. And I wonder how often on, listen, on one simple turn of the mind, in a very few seconds, people wreck the rest of their life. And they go through the rest if their life saying if I'd a, if I'd a, if I'd a, if I'd a, if I'd a. If I'd a just waited. If I'd a just listened. If I had just been there. If I had done what He said. If I had just obeyed Him. Listen, there isn't anything in life worth spending the rest of your life regretting over. Nothing! And you don't have to because He says He's good to those who wait for Him. He acts in behalf of those who wait for Him. If we'll trust Him, He will give us His very best. Now, here's the question. None of us like waiting because we don't like somebody else to be in control. Are you willing for God to be in absolute control of your life? Are you willing to bring your desires and petitions to Him and say:

Father, I'm going to delight myself in You. I'm gonna major on our relationship. And while I major in our relationship, I'm gonna trust You, lay it at Your feet, rest it with You, and I'm gonna wait patiently to You in Your awesome wisdom and unlimited, infinite power, arrange the circumstances of my life until You make this a living reality in my life.

What is faith? Faith is being able to visualize as true and real already what God has yet to do. And how does that come? Learning to wait upon Him. If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then all of this may be sort of confusing to you. Let me put it this way. There's one thing you shouldn't be waiting for on God. You don't ever have to wait to be saved. He says everyone who calls upon Him, confessing their sins, God instantly immediately responds with forgiveness and cleansing, and giving you a whole new Spirit and a whole new life.

You don't have to wait upon God to save you. You don't have to wait upon God to fill you with the Holy Spirit if you're willing to confess your sins, surrender your life to Him, sitting on ready to do it. And more than likely, if you will learn to wait upon Him, you won't have to wait very long for most of God's blessings. Watch this, some of His best, some of His prime, choice expressions of goodness, sometimes have a long wait. But I think most of us may have lived long enough to realize that every time we've waited for God's plan and His way, we always got the best. Remember this, when you learn to wait upon Him, you'll get more than you asked for, more than you expect, and far more than you deserve. The issue is, are you willing to trust Him and see what He does in your life?
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