Wait for the Lord
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
There is a discipline in knowing how to steward that strange ambiguous time between when a promise is made and when it is fulfilled.
The promise of positive change is great. The evidence of coming change is exciting. But the completion of change is sometimes slow in its pace.
Waiting for change fatigues us as we continue to have challenges and opposition and difficult experiences in the waiting time. The struggle to stay faithful to God while waiting on change to affect transformation can be tough. When God has answered my prayer, but the rollout is taking a while, what do I do?
The invitation is to find the strength to stay faithful while change is settling in.
In these times of waiting for change, what have you been praying for? What attempts have you been offering towards bettering your life? What disciplines have you employed? What steps have you put in place? What realities have you faced? What emotions have you taken control of?
These suggestive questions are designed to grab all of us around this thought: God has expectations of us while we wait for change to settle in.
When there’s not yet a noticeable difference in circumstances, when change is unfolding slowly, when there are still fatiguing battles to fight, you and I have to stay true to our belief in God’s presence. We’ve got to stay anchored in our conviction about His power. We need to stay certain about His divine purposes.
We’ve got to be defiant and say, “I’ll never give up my spiritual conviction because I know God knows what He’s doing. I know He’s working all things for my good. He’s never going to abandon me. He promised never to leave me. He’s always going to be with me, wherever I am. His plans are eternal, His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He will always supply my needs. He’ll prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He will consistently anoint my head with oil. He’ll make my cup run over. He will fulfill all of these promises and more because He is faithful.”
And until change settles in, you and I must stay faithful as well.
Wait—expectantly, hopefully, and confidently—for the Lord.
God Knows What You’re Capable Of
"And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability."
Matthew 25:15 (NKJV)
The servants in the parable of the talents were given money to steward based on the level of their ability—not their entitlement, not their enthusiasm, but their ability.
The invitation, then, is not just to live excited about God releasing talents and resources into your life. It is so much bigger than that. The invitation is to raise the level of your stewardship to the level of God’s confidence in your ability.
The owner had an acute ability to know the capacity of his servants and then to give talents to stretch and challenge that capacity.
God’s belief in your ability creates an invitation: whatever you think is your ceiling, take God’s graces and attempt to raise it. Whatever you think is your human limitation, take the opportunities that God places in your life and push the border of that limitation. You are capable of doing more than you could have ever conceived.
The life God has given you is not to be stewarded based on finding your place of comfort. Your life ought to develop a path and a purpose and an agenda and aspirations based on God’s belief in your ability, not your own. God believes in you more than you believe in yourself.
Can you bring your stewardship to the level of God’s belief in your ability?
You can’t go by calculated risk and comfortable losses. You have to be guided by spiritual conviction and faith. You have to live with confidence in God’s belief in your capacity. It doesn’t matter what you think you can do. You’ve got to try what He thinks you can do, because He knows what you are capable of.
You can’t be afraid of failing. You can’t be afraid of outgrowing previous plateaus, partnerships, or platforms. You can’t be afraid of trying what you don’t know. You have to give God a better offering than that. Push your stewardship up to the level of God’s belief in your capacity.
What Defines You
"And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him."
Mark 15:20 (NIV)
The gospel of Mark conveys the sobering account of Jesus being mocked before His crucifixion. Mark tells us, “The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.”
You and I both know, don’t we, that Jesus wasn’t the purple robe that those soldiers put on Him. Nor was He defined by His own clothes. We know that He is so much more than either. What Jesus wore did not define who He is.
Jesus Christ has been given a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that He is Lord. So it didn’t matter, on that fateful day, if they had put that purple robe on Him to spit on Him and hit Him. He was still the Christ. And it didn’t matter if they disrobed Him and put His own clothes back on Him to be crucified. When He died and was raised from the dead, He was still our savior and redeemer.
And last I checked, not only is He still savior and redeemer, but He’s also prophet, priest, and king. He’s also provider, sustainer, and friend—a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Just as you are not defined by what you wear physically, you are also so much more than the attitude and the disposition and the personality faults and the mistakes and the sin and the flaws and the failures that you carry around. You’re so much more than your doubts and your fears and your idiosyncrasies. You’re so much more than your job and your status and your title. You are so much more than your material possessions and your money and your car and your house. All of these are like garments that can be taken off and put on. They do not define you.
So if you can’t be defined by any of those things, then who are you?
I will tell you who you are: you are a child of the Almighty God.
From God’s Perspective
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
If you could only see yourself from God’s perspective, you would attempt and accomplish so much more in life. God is saying to you,
“I know you can grow from the pain. I know you can emerge from the dark place. I know your mistake won’t cancel out your future. I know that just because you get tripped up, it doesn't mean you’ll stay tripped out. I know that your experiences will cause you hurt at times, but I know you can overcome a broken heart. I know you can face a closed door and not give up checking for the next door. I know that you can have trouble and it will cause you to go to your secret closet and pray. I know that you will be able to testify that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I know you can prove to others that you are so much stronger than they have ever imagined. I know you can prove to yourself that I'm greater than the doubts and fears and hesitancy that tries to freeze your attempts and deflate your beliefs. You’ve got to get up and try again. You’ve got to get up and show up. You’ve got to get up and put your hand to the plow, because I see capacity in you that you don't even see in yourself.”
My brother, my sister, God has so much confidence in your ability.
I wish I had time to testify to you of all the times He has proven this in my life. Almost every platform I've ever stood on was a platform I didn't think I was capable of standing on. But because God would push me to the platform, I had no choice but to perform once I got there. And after performing, I had to go back and apologize to God for thinking too small, for aiming too low, and for listening to the counter-reports of people who said I didn't deserve it.
You’ve got to believe that God believes in your capacity, and then give Him an offering of your best attempt. God knows that you have it in you and, if nothing else, He wants you to be a steward of the belief that you ought to try. Even if in the trying you fail, try it, and watch God prove His omniscience in your life.
God Keeps His Promises
I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt,
And gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon,
Until no more room is found for them.
Zechariah 10:10 (NKJV)
Zachariah is sharing prophecy with Israel as they learn to adjust to life on the other side of exile. It’s actually been 70 years since God delivered them, but over those 70 years since returning to Judah, it’s been anything but easy. In fact, it’s been such a hard 70 years that it causes Israel to wonder if God is going to fulfill His promises, including making of Israel a new nation, with a new Jerusalem.
Through several visions, the prophet Zechariah is trying to encourage the people to remain faithful to God. Seventy years of hardship is not easy, particularly after enduring painful captivity. And it’s even more difficult trying to feed excitement and stoke spiritual loyalty when there’s been nothing but hardship since being delivered.
It’s hard to keep one’s focus in such circumstances. It’s understandable that doubts are rising and hope is waning and discouragement is dominating. It’s understandable that spirituality appears anemic and worship is at such a low pitch. There is very little talk of deep abiding trust in the God who delivered them from captivity.
Zechariah therefore shares his visions to encourage the nation: Remember the covenant you share with God. Stay faithful to living devoted to God. Don’t give up on it. Don’t let the struggle of the times make you forget the strength of God, which is always at work in your lives.
The prophet’s message is: For God’s glory and always for your good, don’t forget the promises that God has released to you. Regardless of the time delay and the circumstances and the emotions, we must never lose sight of the truth that can sustain. And that truth is this: God keeps His promises.
God always guides history towards His purposes. Creation is always responding to God’s ultimate will, even when obstacles and conundrums stand in our way. Zechariah’s message is clear: Stay faithful to the covenant. God will keep His promise to you. This was the prophet’s message to Israel then, and it is God’s message to us today.
God has not forgotten His promises to you and He will be faithful to bring them to pass. So don’t lose heart. He is at work, even when you don’t see it.