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Be Patient: Wait for Jesus – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
June 4, 2023 3:00 pm

Be Patient: Wait for Jesus – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. When things aren't going right, God may have a greater purpose. God sometimes His ways are just not our ways.

Thank you for joining us. You're listening to Living in the Light with Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz in Part 1 of her message, Be Patient, Wait for Jesus. Here's Anne with a childhood story from her own life, a perfect illustration for today's message from the book of Habakkuk. When I was a little girl, when Daddy would take off and Mother would ignore that, so we'd come back from school, where is Daddy? Well, he's gone, you know, just sort of, never mind. But when he came home, when Daddy would come home, Mother would make a big deal of it. And so when he would come home, this is showing you, I guess, how old I am, but there weren't airports around so much. So he came in on the train, and the train came into Black Mountain, but my grandmother would pile us into the car, and she would race us down the mountain to Old Fort. Now if you came up Interstate 40, you had to come through Old Fort, and it's just the winding, you go down the winding I-40, it wasn't I-40 then, it was just Highway 70, but anyway, came out in Old Fort. And Old Fort, there was an intersection, and the train tracks crossed the intersection, and the train would come through that intersection. So my grandmother would put us in the car, would go down to Old Fort, would watch and would wait, and here comes the train. And the whistle would blow, and the light would flash, and the little arms would go down, you know, to block people from crossing on the tracks. And then the train would go on through Old Fort, and it would head up the mountain.

So my grandmother would turn the car around and would race up the mountain, and we would get to Black Mountain, and we would pull out at the train station, and we'd stand out on the sidewalk. And if you go to Black Mountain, the same train tracks are there, and the same road that crosses them. And if you look east, the train tracks are long straightaway.

And then at the end of the straightaway, there's a right-hand bend, so you can't see past that bend. So we would stand beside the train tracks, and we'd look down that bend, and we're waiting. You know, we knew Daddy was coming because we saw the train go through the intersection of Old Fort. So now it's just chugging its way up the mountain, and we're waiting, and we're waiting, and then the lights flash, and the arms come down, and we hear the whistle blow, and then we see that big headlight coming around the bend, and here comes the train, and it pulls up to the train station, and Daddy gets off the train. Daddy has come home.

And that's a little bit like I feel now, because it's like I'm waiting for Jesus to come, and I saw him go through the intersection. He came the first time, so I know he's coming the second. He said, I'm going to prepare a place where I will come to receive you to myself. I know he's coming back. So he's promised. And when he went up on the Mount of Olives, and he sent it back to heaven, the angels came and said, the same Jesus you saw go up.

He will come back. So I know he's coming, because his first coming, he went through the intersection. We saw him, and now he's gone to his heavenly home, but he's coming back to take us to be with himself. So now I'm at the train station, and I'm waiting, and I'm looking down the train tracks, and I know he's coming.

What's taking him so long, you know? And I know he's coming, and it's like I see the lights flashing, and the bar going down, and I see all the signs indicating that it's any moment, and the signs that he gives in scripture that need to be fulfilled before that moment comes have all been fulfilled, and so I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm still waiting. And that's where Habakkuk was, waiting for God to keep his promise, waiting for God to do something in his nation to turn his nation around, and I think Habakkuk, his whole little book is a prayer. So in this series, I didn't include a message just strictly on prayer, but this is it, because Habakkuk's message is a prayer.

So if you'll turn to Habakkuk, best way to find it is go to Matthew, turn left, and if you go to Ezekiel, you've gone too far. So, and you'll find the little book of Habakkuk, and Habakkuk wrestles while he waits, and he watches, and then he worships, and so we just see him working through just this waiting period that's so hard. Waiting is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to learn, and so Habakkuk is deeply disturbed by what he sees going on in his nation, and in his lifetime, let me just set him up for a moment, because in his lifetime, Habakkuk has seen the northern kingdom of Israel with a series of wicked, wicked kings, each king more wicked than the one that went before it, and then God kept sending prophets to warn them, Elijah was one, you know, warning them, you need to repent, you need to turn around from your rebellion or idolatry or judgments coming, and the northern kingdom of Israel did not heed the warnings, and so God sent in the Assyrians, and the Assyrians were brutal, and actually ISIS, you know, their roots are in Assyria, so it was that kind of brutality, and they carried the northern kingdom of Israel off for good. The northern kingdom of Israel never came back, and I don't know about the lost tribes of Israel and all that, but it was wiped out by the Assyrians, and then Habakkuk saw that, and now it's like deja vu, because in Judah he's seeing the same thing happen, and they haven't had a series of bad kings one after another, they've had a bad king and then a good king, and a bad king and then a good king, but every good king is a little less good than the one before it, and so they're going down, down, down, but they had a wonderful king Josiah, who actually led in revival, and it was something that would have been an answer to prayer as far as people like Habakkuk, and Josiah had led the nation in a revival, and then Egypt at that point was the world empire, and Egypt controlled Judah, the southern kingdom, and so Judah was sort of a satellite nation, and Josiah rebelled against Egypt, so he went to war against Egypt, and in the same valley where Armageddon will take place, Josiah was killed in battle against the Egyptians, and then Egypt was overtaken by a little upstart nation, Babylon, and Habakkuk is witnessing this, and now he's seeing God warning Judah, you repent of your idolatry, you turn around, or you're going to come under judgment, and Habakkuk is actually ministering to his nation in the final hour, and so Habakkuk is wrestling while he's waiting, and I just want to pause for a moment. I would like to apply this message in three ways. One, I want to apply it to America, and our concern that what we see, where the warnings are coming in one after another, and we're being warned judgment is coming, and so we can apply Habakkuk's message in his heart's cry to what he saw in his nation as what we see in our nation, but I'd like to also apply it maybe to what you see in the church, and we long to have revival come in the church, and sometimes what we see and what we're praying for, we just feel the churches, instead of being revived, we keep hearing stories, and maybe it's in your church where there's division, there's dissension, they're preoccupied with themselves, they're not concerned with a lost world that doesn't seem to be, and people are leaving the church, and the statistics will show you that people are leaving, and I'm wondering if they're leaving because it doesn't seem worthwhile to go because they're not really getting what they're looking for as far as truth and Jesus, and so we pray for revival of the church, but you can also apply this in a personal way, and so if you have a prayer, and I don't know what it could be, but you're praying for a loved one, or a family member, or a friend, and you've prayed, and you've prayed, and just your heart's crying, maybe it's for reconciliation, maybe it's for somebody whose marriage is falling apart, maybe it's for a financial difficulty, but you have a prayer of your heart, and you're praying for that, and you're still waiting for God to answer, so those are just three ways that we can apply this message, and I'll try not to be too confusing as we go through it, but you might just ask yourself, who is your Judah?

You know, is it America? Is your Judah the church? Is your Judah just a friend or family member that's uppermost in your mind?

When you think of a prayer, and something that you're waiting on God to answer, who is your Judah? So Habakkuk, in verse two, he says, oh Lord, how long must I call for help, but you don't listen, or cry out to you, violence, but you don't save. In other words, Habakkuk is wrestling with the silence of God, and he's praying for his Judah, and God's not saying anything, and not only is God not saying anything, he's not doing anything. In verse three, why do you make me look at injustice?

Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me, there's strife and conflict abounds, therefore the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted, and that to me sounds like a description of America today. But Habakkuk is wrestling with God with his stillness, and God doesn't say anything, and then God doesn't do anything, and the situation is going from bad to worse.

Is your situation going from bad to worse? And in America, as we have prayed for revival, in our ministry we've had prayer initiatives, I've spoken all over, we've had Just Give Me Jesus revivals, I think of my daddy's ministry for years, my goodness, filling stadiums, and many thousands of people coming to faith, and the things that they've had on television as far as the gospel is concerned, and instead of it making a difference, I mean it has made a difference in individual lives, but look at the nation as a whole. Instead of getting better, it's getting worse, and God seems silent, and he seems still, and then finally when God does speak, it's not what Habakkuk wants to hear at all. So God says in verse five, he says, look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed, and this is just a little principle, I guess, when you're praying for something and God's not answering, look and see what else is going on, because sometimes God works outside the box, sometimes his answers to prayer are not fulfilled the way we're asking, you know, he can answer in a roundabout way, and he can answer a deeper prayer in our heart, but not the surface things that we voice. So he says, look, so in your Judah's life, you know, you're praying for reconciliation, you're praying for whatever it is, something to happen for their health, or in the church we're praying for revival, or in America we're just praying that God would turn us around and stop the downward moral and spiritual spiral into oblivion, into judgment, would you stop it, Lord? And he says, look, look what's happening, look what else is going on, and so we need to take a good look and see what he's doing that may be different than what we'd asked, but is it going to accomplish the same purpose? So I think it's important to read our newspapers when it comes to America, it's important to stay abreast of what's happening in our nation, and as hard as it is to read some of the news, I think it's important for us to stay current on the events that are taking place, and look, and gather that into our prayer time. So as we're praying, what is God doing?

What could he be doing? And how can we pray and be in line in step with what he's about? And then God says, I'm going to do something in your days, you wouldn't believe even if I told you. And then he tells him, I'm raising up the Babylonians, oh my goodness, the Babylonians, that's unthinkable, the Habakkuk.

This was unbelievable. How could God raise up such a wicked nation? And it's interesting, in 1 Kings 12, when God broke apart the kingdom of Israel after Solomon, he said, this is my doing. And then in 2 Chronicles 34, when God sent in the Babylonians, God said, I sent the Babylonians, he sent in Nebuchadnezzar, and so when we see what's happening in the world, when he raises up the Babylonians, the secular history would look at the Babylonians and think, well, they just came after Egypt, and they took over the world, and they had whatever, but they don't see that it was God's hand raising them up to use them as an instrument to bring his nation of Judah back to himself.

And God did it in such a roundabout way. And Habakkuk says, you can't do that, you know, this is beyond belief. And God then says, in essence, Habakkuk, I do care that Judah is not right with me.

And then he describes them. He said, I'm going to use Babylon to make Judah right with me. In verse 6, he says, they are greedy, they're ruthless, they're terrible, they're dreadful, they're self-promoting, they're a lot of themselves. Verse 9, their aim is violence. Verse 11, they glory in their own strength and ability. They're godless. I'm raising them up for my own purpose.

I'm going to use them to bring Judah to myself. So how is God answering your prayer in a way that's unbelievable to you? God has been silent and still. And by the way, God was silent and still in Habakkuk's life, and Habakkuk was an honored prophet. And when he cried out to God, God was silent and still. So if God is silent in your life, if he doesn't seem to be speaking to you, if he doesn't seem to be doing anything, it's not necessarily because he's upset with you, that he's not blessed you, that he hasn't heard your prayer. You know, God's ways are just not our ways.

And he was silent and he was still, and then he gave the solution that wasn't what Habakkuk wanted to hear. So I think about Israel. I guess Israel today could be somebody that we're praying for. I know many of us are praying for the peace of Jerusalem. And could God raise up Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran to put pressure on Israel so that one day she would open her eyes to see her Messiah and cry out to God? And we pray for revival of the church. Could it be that God would use rioting in the streets and the polarization in our nation's capital and the hostility between races as pressure on the church that finally we would cry out and say, God, we need you.

And if it's a family member or a friend, could it be God would use bankruptcy or divorce or disease or death, something to make them wake up to their need of God? Do you see what I mean? Sometimes God answers our prayer, but his solution is uncomfortable and something that we find hard to accept. And Habakkuk said, it's unbelievable that you would do this, and it's unacceptable. He recoils in horror.

Lord, I wanted you to do something, but not that. And Habakkuk's now in serious conflict. We see him wrestling. And in verse 12, he says, Oh Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my holy, and I want you to see that he's clinging to the character of God.

He says, Oh Lord, you're in control. Everlasting, you're eternal. Holy, you are pure. You have appointed them. You're sovereign.

Oh rock, you're the stability of our nation. And your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why then are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

So he's looking at the character of God and who God is doesn't seem to match God's conduct. Habakkuk knows of God. And you know, when we're wrestling, it's just good to fall back on who we know God to be. You are righteous. You are good. You are holy. You are eternal. You're from everlasting to everlasting. You are faithful. You are kind.

And this just doesn't seem to match what I know of you. And I want you to notice that Habakkuk is wrestling with God to his face. He's not going behind his back and gossiping, you know, like, can you believe God did that? And God doesn't answer my prayers. He's just talking to God. And when you talk to God like that, then God has the ability to come and speak into your life and answer some of those hard questions. And then he clings to what he knows of God's conduct when he says, how can you do this?

How can you use a dirtier broom to sweep out a dirty room? You know, so how can you use the evil wicked Babylonians to bring Judah back to you because the Babylonians, Judah is bad, but not nearly as bad as the Babylonians. How can you use such an evil, wicked, greedy, ruthless people to bring your people?

They're bad, but they haven't reached that point. And so Habakkuk just didn't understand. So what is God doing that seems wrong to you? And when we're waiting and we're waiting and we're waiting and we have time to look and to pray and we're listening and God is silent and still, then what he seems to be doing seems to be out of character for him. And so I just wondered out loud, could he be using the brutality of Isis to turn Muslims away from Islam? You know he's doing that.

Tom Doyle is a wonderful friend and you might write down his name. He's written three fabulous books. One is Killing Christians.

One is Standing in the Fire. One is Dreams and Visions. And he has stories of Muslims. Jesus is showing up in the Middle East. It's almost revival time over there.

And his stories are incredible. But one reason Muslims are turning to Jesus, they are so turned off by the brutality of Isis. It's Allah Akbar. They don't want a God like that.

A God that's vicious and hateful and does such cruel things to his own people. I mean the Muslims are doing the atrocities to Muslims. And so they're open to hearing from Jesus and to coming to Jesus. And then you wonder if God would use stabbings on the streets of Israel one day to turn Israel to cry out to God? Start reading their Bibles and looking for their Messiah? I'd prayed this.

This has not happened. But I had prayed that those videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts for profit would turn America against abortion and turn America against what Planned Parenthood is doing. And for a little while there was outrage. And then they seemed to make it all about a legal issue about the way the videos were obtained.

And never mind what they showed. So we're still waiting on that one. But what is God doing that seems inconsistent with his character? Seems inconsistent to use Isis to bring Muslims to him. It seems inconsistent to use stabbings to bring Israelis to him.

It seems inconsistent to use the butchering of little babies to maybe, one day, stop the abortion industry. So sometimes God tests our faith, doesn't he? And remember when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, Lazarus is sick? And implied was come do something about it?

Heal him? And instead Jesus didn't say anything. He didn't do anything.

He stayed where he was for four days. And Lazarus died. So the situation went from bad to worse. When Jesus showed up in Bethany, Martha said, Jesus, you're late. And if you had done what I said, this wouldn't have happened. If you'd answered my prayer the way I prayed, you know, Lazarus wouldn't have gotten in this situation. And Jesus said, Martha, if you just believe you'd see the glory of God, I'm up to something you don't know anything about.

I have a bigger purpose here. And he challenged her again at the tomb, Martha, do you believe? And she said, yes, Lord, I believe you're the Son of God.

And he told her to roll away the stone. And he raised Lazarus from the dead. And one of the things I think he was doing was giving them an audio-visual aid because the next week he would be the one who was crucified. He would be the one who was buried. And he was wanting the disciples and Mary and Martha and others to remember God will raise the dead to life again.

I just don't think they got the message that day. But he had a more glorious purpose than just Lazarus's health and prosperity and feeling good, you know. And I think that's something to keep in mind when things aren't going right, that God may have a greater purpose. God sometimes His ways are just not our ways. Sometimes you wait and you wait and you wait. If you rush the Lord, you're going to come up with something that's going to be less than He wants to give you if you wait. But waiting is hard.

But God knows what He's doing. His timing is perfect. And Mary and Martha thought he was late, but he was right on time. And you may feel like he's late. I feel like he's late, actually. I feel like it's past time for him to come back, you know. But I know when that sky unfolds and we're caught up to be with him and everything's going to be perfect. And we'll think, why did we think he should have come this year?

Why did we think he should have come last year? You know, this is the perfect moment. And oh, God never does things any other way except perfectly. So He is always on time. But sometimes while we're waiting, we wrestle, wrestle with the silence, wrestle with the stillness, wrestle with the solutions.

We just can't figure things out. But His ways are not our ways and we learn to trust Him. And I think those waiting times are testing times.

They're tough times. But they strengthen our resolve to trust Him. They're faith-building times.

So Habakkuk wrestled and then he was watching while he was waiting. In chapter 2, verse 1, he says, I will stand at my watch and station myself on the rampart. I will look to see what He will say to me and what answer I'm to give. And this is the equivalent of you and me going into our quiet time, taking our Bibles and spending time alone with the Lord in prayer.

So when do you have a set-aside time that you meet with the Lord? And if you don't have that on a daily basis, then I want you to think of a time that you could do that. Set your alarm a little bit earlier in the morning, get up early in the morning, or maybe it's in the middle of the day over your lunch break.

Or maybe it's in the evening after the kids go to bed. Or you might have to give up TV. You might have to give up shopping.

You might have to give up something. But you make time to climb up on those ramparts and see what the Lord will say. And make time for that time. Every single person in Scripture that God used in a powerful way had that as a common core. They spent time alone with the Lord, including our Lord Jesus Christ.

And so many times I've been convicted, if He needed to spend all night in prayer with His Father, if He needed to get up early before dawn, if He needed to spend time in prayer, why do I think I don't? Really? You know? So Habakkuk climbed up on the ramparts. He wanted to see what God would say to him. And God speaks through His Word. So when I want to see what God has to say to me, I open my Bible. And I want to be in a passage of Scripture as I am now, in the Psalms. And any passage of Scripture, Genesis, Exodus, not Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Joshua's a great book. You know, they're just great in the New Testament.

Mark, I love Mark because he does everything so fast. It's straightaway, straightaway, straightaway. It's just like, reads like a diary, you know?

Acts is a fabulous book. And you know, you just take a paragraph, ask, what does it say? What does it mean in my life? And you listen for that still, small voice to whisper in your ears. You write those questions and let God speak to you. You go on the ramparts and you're spending time in prayer and you're listening to what God would say to you. You've been listening to Living in the Light. And when you go to, there are free resources to help you in your study of God's Word. Anne's desire is that you embrace a God-filled life, step-by-step, choice-by-choice, living in the light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-04 16:41:39 / 2023-06-04 16:52:08 / 10

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