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When The Answer Is Delayed

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2022 1:00 am

When The Answer Is Delayed

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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May 1, 2022 1:00 am

When we pray, we hope for a quick response from God. But God has His own timeline which is not always in sync with ours. God gave Abraham promises that would not come to pass for hundreds of years. How do we handle prayers that are time-critical for us, when God’s answers seem to never come? 

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We all used to having instant coffee, instant Internet, and in general instant gratification of our desires. When it comes to prayer, though instant is not usually part of the equation many times. Years pass before we see an answer to an oft repeated request before God.

How do we come to grips with the need to wait and wait and then wait some more.

Stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer. Today we continue a series on the triumph of unanswered prayer and our focus on this broadcast will be handling our circumstances when the answer is delayed, the Moody choir comes now to open today's service will acquire has just given us the reason why we are here today to bless the name of the Lord to bring honor to God, to proclaim the supremacy of God over all things to worship him in spirit and in truth it takes time to be holy to meditate, to prepare ourselves. Would you join me as we open our lives to the Lord in prayer. Then we shall stand to sing together. Our father how good you are to us that you have given us mouths and minds by which we can glorify you direct us oh Lord God. We pray even as we sing produce the joy in our hearts that we are promised through your holy word. We ask Jesus name on chapter 4 verses, then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us then with confidence drawn near the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of we just heard the choir sing when troubles arrive, say, hasten to thy throne. Let's at this moment. At this moment hasten toward the throne would you bow with me as we pray father receive the prayers of all of thy people and for those who do not yet belong to the receive their prayers to that they may be forgiven and spend much time at thy throne in Jesus name, amen, amen like to begin today by two quotations from the word of faith. Preachers, one says using Philippians chapter 2 being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, speaking of Christ now find to take what is said here and put it on then my whole attitude should be that I have equality with God. Now somebody says well that's hard to think that way. Well keep saying it. Talk yourself into it. You have equality with God. Here's another but was not in Christ. Now that God Bart Emmaus healed the power within Bart Emmaus's mouth. He could have whatever he said. Jesus was saying. My hands are tied because I can't do anything for you other than what you say and then he goes on to say, God now has your attention and he's looking at you saying what do you want what do you want name it baby name it, declare it speak at confessing your list out millions of people are buying into that. We need to rethink the whole business of what the Bible says about the promises of God and what can be claimed and what can't be claimed and why it can't be claimed and today I need to say that the faith healers and those who speak this way, they are not wrong in urging us to have faith. Indeed, the purpose of this message is to increase your faith or not wrong in telling us to do that, but they're asking us to believe things that God hasn't promised and to claim things that God doesn't want to give us, and we need to understand what's going on yes indeed the purpose of this message is to increase faith and to begin to help us to understand what God is up to in our prayer life so that we pray more, so that we believe more so that we trust more and we honor more and we submit our that's the agenda for the next little while. Thank you for taking this trip with me in order to do this I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Hebrews chapter 11 Hebrews chapter 11. Many of us have been in the London and we have seen Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey. Basically is a cemetery filled with all the heroes of the past in England, the 11th chapter of Hebrews basically is the Westminster Abbey of the Bible. Here are the heroes of faith, not in the Hall of Fame, but the whole of faith.

And this mighty chapter begins with these startling word now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen those two phrases. The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Basically our parallel expression and the word faith is the assurance that's the word, who posts stasis and that it can be translated in many ways.

Many of us to memorize the King James. We remember faith is the substance of things hoped for, that's that's good it can be assurance. It can be conviction.

It can be essence, it is the firm conviction that what we have hope for and what we believe more is true, and shall come to pass.

He goes on to say, for by yet that is by faith. The people of old receive their commendation.

We think of the fact that God gave a promise. Didn't he that Jesus was going to be born way back in the garden of Eden. God promised bad centuries when I but people kept believing the promise and eventually the promise happened.

A good example of that is no.

For example, in verse seven it says by faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen in reverent fear constructed the ark, you realize that when Noah built that Ark. It had never rained yet on the earth. The earth was actually watered by a subterranean phenomenon, and so God says I'm going to send rain and he hasn't even seen the rain and he begins to build the ark. You talk about a man of faith and then you have various others, and the Scripture also says if we may go to verse three by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible in other words, we we believe that by faith is a rational faith. Of course it's a rational faith. A theistic evolution cannot account for the world as it is if reason means anything of 2+2 is equal to four. You cannot be an atheist and be rational because you cannot account for the world as it is, you can't get from chemistry to biology to human consciousness and to thought all that because some molecules some dumb molecules work messing around in some slime and they decided without any outside help to get together and become very complicated. You can believe that. No wonder a French Journal said many years ago that evolution is a fairytale for adults and it was Huxley who said the reason that we believe in evolution without proof is because we don't want God to interfere with our sexual morays said go. Of course we can't prove that the universe was made X Niccolo by the command of God. But that's reasonable. It's rational and it accounts for what we have in the world today. Psalm 33 verse six by the word of the Lord was the heavens made in the host of them by the breath. I won't even tell you today about the stars number of years ago. Some of us went to visit an astronomer and he showed us pictures of the stars absolutely mind boggling. Millions of light years between them and God says he calls them all by name is got that one named in that one named and they're all different names.

Why does the Bible tell us that because God wants us on our faces. God wants to show that he is absolutely Almighty and by his word the heavens were made out of something that did not exist nothing and he spoke, and it happened while by faith we believe that now that introduction. You'll notice, though, in verse six, one of the most important verses in the Bible without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.

Now were not going emphasize that today because that's going to be part of the message.

Next time, but what I'd like to do today is to give you an example of someone who believed God and how he believed God, and why he is known in the Bible as a man of faith and an example of faith, and his name is Abraham and then will connected with the promises of God the Word of Faith movement and the whole bit.

It's all going to come together in the end.

Trust me I know where I'm going, even though you don't know yet where you're going and that's perfectly biblical Abraham.

The Bible says went out, not knowing whither he went now notice it says in verse eight by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place he was to receive as an inheritance and he went out, not knowing whither he went. You'll notice that in the life of Abraham. What he did is he believed he believed in the future against the present. Abraham was living in or of Chaldees. It was a very a culturally astute city for those times and here God says Abraham a lever of Chaldees and go into a land that I will tell you about. He went from culture high culture to know culture went from a city to an agricultural lifestyle, wandered around, and the Bible says that when he left he knew not where he was going. You imagine the discussions that he had with Sarah. Sarah saying Abraham I love you but I do have to ask again how do you know that was the voice of God. How do you know where we are going. What we really don't all that we know is were supposed to go. And maybe it'll get clearer later.

I'm reminded of when Rebecca and I came to America. This was 1970. We crossed the border with I think about $100 and an old 1965 Buick packed with stuff that's everything that we owned it into the back seat. We are on our way actually to the East Coast. I was supposed to do some graduate work there and we got stopped in Chicago we came in we often thought were going where we do not know had no idea what God had planned for us and in the very same way you and I sometimes have really no idea now when it comes to the land. Abraham learned the guidance of God.

God guide you to the land when it comes to the tense. You'll notice that the next verse says that he was in a tent. By faith he went into the live in the land of promise as a foreign land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob. Now he became a nomad and he learned about the provision of God. And then if you look at the life of Abraham. In the book of Genesis. You'll notice he often built an altar and was the altar that taught him the presence of God. But when God came to Abraham. Abraham believed in the future. Over against the present. He said to himself.

The present is more rational. It is better for me it is more comfortable. But Abraham believed in the future. Any says belief in God and the future is more important than believing in what is best for you in the present. There are some of you to I'm speaking today, and God is leading you are not sure exactly where you are going, but you're on your way and when you get there, God will clarify and so Abraham believed he believed in the future against the present. Secondly notice that he believed in the invisible he believed in the invisible over against the visible I'm looking now at verse 10 for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Now remember that Abraham was a city dweller in God pluck them up and said I'm bringing you to this land and God gave him the dimensions of the land God says I'm giving this to you and to your descendents as an everlasting possession.

Abraham wanders in the land. What does the text say as a foreigner. He wanders there as an alien. He really doesn't belong, even in the land that God gave him why was Abraham so motivated. Why was he so willing to do it.

It's because he looked beyond the present.

He looked beyond that which you could see and he could see as city whose designer and builder was God. That is amazing to me because Abraham did not have the benefit of Revelation chapter 21 and I saw the holy city descending from heaven from God as a bride adorned for her husband and a great voice came, saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, then he will them and they shall be his people, and he shall be there God then you going to that marvelous description of the heavenly city.

Abraham didn't have as much revelation as we did, but he looked for the city and there were two things about the city that he knew that he loved. First of all, that it was designed by God to whom he had come to trust and to love and secondly he loved the fact that it was in the world to come, and that the chief dwelling place of the city. The person who dwelt in it would be that God but Abraham loved and that's what makes the eternal city so beautiful and so filled with anticipation in the heart of every single Christian you look forward to the city built by God, by which this expression, you know, that gave birth to Augustine's title of that famous book entitled the city of God because Augustine said that the really in this world there are two cities, there is the city of man, with its hopes and dreams and disappointments and when Rome was sacked to the people who belong to the city of man lost everything because this is all they live for. No wonder they feel so violated, but to the people who belong to the city of God that they lost nothing important because they belong to that eternal city and they have treasures in heaven were neither rough nor dust of corrupt and were electric to go off who sacked Rome cannot steal so Augustine said let's look forward to the heavenly city.

So here's Abraham who believes in the future against the present. He believes in the invisible over against the visible and he knew that the world that world is not his home.

I don't want to be an obnoxious Christian. So you should pray for me that I not become too obnoxious at times but to I've done it on at least two occasions made the more I prefer to forget some of them but you know how it is your at an airport and the woman behind the counter says well Mr. loser is Dallas your final destination who Dallas isn't my final destination. Heaven is my final destination but for today I'm stopping in Dallas. Your right you got that right folks, we belong to another world where headed to somewhere else and Abraham is saying that he can believe in the invisible over against the visible which is exactly what faith is by faith we believe in the unseen, because we heard a word from God by faith. We believe that were headed to heaven because God is first faith in our heart and God is given us the confidence that we belong to him. Abraham also believed he also believed in the reward over against the suffering reward over against the suffering because I can imagine that Abraham often thought about the decision that he made to leave of Chaldees.

He often thought about the discussions that he had with Sarah and with other members of his family about his decision and it seemed so silly.

Why give up a good culture and a safer environment with all of your friends and go to a place where you don't know anybody in urine nomad in your with a bunch of pagans who all that they know really is violence. Why would you do that, it makes no sense. But Abraham knew something about the call of God. He knew about the reward.

It's the Old Testament version of the New Testament statement that the suffering of this present world is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us and you look for example of Moses. It says in about Moses in verse 26 he considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt.

What a sermon that is about Moses, for he was looking to the reward and if you know anything about King tut's tomb. You know something about the treasures of and Moses said that he's willing to say no to all that why because he looks forward to an even greater reward and so Moses and Abraham and all of the other saints listed in this Hall of Fame.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews.

They believed in the eternal reward over against present suffering present questions present hardship for them. There was this faith that reminded them that this world was not there home. They were just a passing through.

As the old song tells us now.

I can imagine that when Abraham was there in the land. There were discussions that took place from time to time. In fact, the Bible tells us about all of the discussions that with the Hittites and what have you and the Scripture is clear that Abraham interacted with the people of this world. I can imagine they'd say to him Abraham what he alone will how was Abraham supposed to answer that God had told him as soon as he got there walk the length and breadth of the land.

All that you can see I've given you from this river to this see from there that God gives them the dimensions and says this is yours and your seed.

I'm giving it to you as an everlasting possession, but now I Hittites says to Abraham, how much do you own and Abraham has to say nothing, I will nothing as a matter fact when Sarah dies, he buys the Caleb McPhee loved the appeal and I think is the correct pronunciation depending on where you put them facets.

He buys this cave for Sarah, and he gives the Hittites, I read the story yesterday near hadron. He gives the Hittites 400 shekels ice Abraham we like it affect your good guy will give it to you please Abrams. No, I'm not going to take a dime from unique counsel for hundred shekels. The Bible says it was weighed out 400 shekels of silver, so he buys it, and then later on when he dies he gets put into the same cave because he bought the cave he could be buried there too, so that's the way in which Abraham dies was not interesting.

Now notice what the text says I'm in verse 13 these all died in faith, not having received what was promised will that's interesting, but having seen them and greeted them from afar. Having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. They died verse 16.

But, that is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he is prepared for them a city. Verse 39. In all these though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised. Since God had provided something better for us that apart from us. They should not be made perfect. The idea there is they did not receive the benefits they did not receive the experience of the promise of the coming Messiah. For example, but they could not be perfected until Messiah came, so they all died in faith and Abraham dies not seeing the promise. I can imagine if he had lived in our day word of faith. Preacher would've come to him and said Abraham. What's the deal. What's the deal. Claim the land God has given you got even gave you the boundaries simply claim it. Talk yourself into it. If you have to, because the word of faith means that whatever you speak is yours and most assuredly you can speak over what God has given you, and it'll be yours Abraham doesn't do that he dies. The Bible says, not having received what was promised. Why because he believed in another world want to give you three conclusions. Three important statements that will help us tie all this together and help us to sort out what's happening and also provoke us in a proper way to pray more, first of all let me suggest to you that are promised inheritance is yet future are promised. Inheritance is yet future kosher. Sure, we see glimmers of it here like I pointed out last time we get the flower here, but the flower is proof that the guard is coming, but we do not enter into the fullness of the inheritance.

Jesus says that if you're in overcome her, you shall inherit all things, and you shall sit on my throne that's in the eternal city that is in the coming world and if you believe that you have to believe in the invisible over against the visible you need to believe in the future. Over against the present need to believe in the reward over against the suffering and the heartache that you are going through, but that is biblical.

Let me take as an example, the sensitive and the most difficult area, namely faith healing is healing in the atonement is in our promise, absolutely Jesus died for us and body soul and spirit. See, the Bible says that Jesus died to put away all sin well entailed in sin is sick yes and furthermore their passage of Scripture that say that with his stripes we are healed. And of course Jesus came and did healing. Now here is the fundamental question, does that mean that we can insist on healing. Whenever we wanted, can we demand it from God because we say this is part of my inheritance.

Listen to a word of faith. Preacher words control the body. All glory be to God and regardless of what's going on in your physical body you got to talk to it. I'm telling you I talked to my major organs I speak words to it.

The tongue in your mouth will control every inch of your physical body do not tolerate sickness and disease as long as you got a working tongue that can speak the established word of God. Oh that's so good says. Interestingly, this particular word of faith. Preacher wears glasses.

My parents knew the family. God bless them. They were wonderful Christians, but they believe that because healing was in the atonement because Jesus had provided it that we could have it all now and they said that they intended to not die, that they would just moment by moment. As they became sick.

They would continually appropriate.

The work that Jesus did on the cross and resurrection, and it would be theirs and they intended to live until he return. That's what they told my mom and dad, well I'm here to simply bring you the news. They died about 40 years ago, just like all other faith healers die yes of course it is true that Jesus died, body, soul and spirit for us and that our resurrection body was included in the work of the cross, but we don't inherit that we pray for the sick, but we cannot demand it and say you must heal because of this verse as some people say we should say, you know there's a another word of faith, preacher who said this, he said as long as Jesus was talking on the cross.

He couldn't die the reason that he died is because he quit talking because there's so much power in your mouth that if he had just kept talking, he wouldn't have died. You know sometimes I weep because there are so many of God's dear saints who can't tell the difference between grass and Astroturf.

The sheep, the sheep and you look at those rallies and their filled with poor people why because they're saying I want what my rule has if I have enough faith I can drive the kind of car he dies I can live in the kind of homes in which he lived, and on and on it goes. And on and on it goes in my dear beloved friend. This is just between you and me and nobody else listening things in that department are out of control making promises.

I remember somebody coming to me absolutely weeping and saying God has forsaken me. I claim my healing and it hasn't. No, that's no proof that God is forsaken you. The Bible says very clearly that if you suffer according to the will of God, and sometimes the will of God involves suffering that that indicates great reward. There's a member of our church here who recently had knee surgery and he said that that one knee was so painful.

These are his words I'll never have the other knee repaired until I'm in the presence of Jesus, how he has my dear friend in the presence of Jesus. You get to brand-new good you get some good hips you get some you get a good body you get a good mind you get some good you get it all over and the Bible says that when we see him we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Until that time there sickness.

There's heartache. It is mean it is cruel for a person to go into a hospital room. As I have seen telling the person that you are sick because you don't have enough faith if you had more faith God would heal you and lay that guilt on a member.

One person telling me that people brought them books with all kinds of things marked about how if he had the faith that he could walk out of this hospital. No my dear friend.

Some of the best in the most godly people have suffered physically died, my dear friend this is in the end the inheritance the full inheritance is coming. Abraham saw some things he saw the fulfillment of the promise regarding Isaac, but he didn't see the land of promise. Abraham is still waiting. Some of us think that the promises that God made to Abraham, have still not been fully fulfilled to him and to his seed. He still waiting but he dies faith believing in a city built by God.

Second is very important for us to realize that faith is needed. Faith is needed for endurance for endurance, not just miracles. Sometimes we just need to endure. Sometimes I've had to say to people regarding circumstances that simply will not change. I have said that what you're doing is right. All that I can tell you to do is to keep doing what you are doing to trust and to believe and to be patient and to trust. How else can God develop faith in our hearts, except that we look at circumstances that we think God should change. And he doesn't and we keep on believing anyway so Pastor Luke to this message is throwing a bucket of water on people's faith. Don't you want us to believe God for great things. Yes, I want us to believe God for great things, preferably the things that God wants us to believe him for should we pray more. Yes, next week I'm going to present God willing.

One of the most important messages I think I've ever given. Certainly the most important I've ever given on prayer because working to take that verse you know that he rewards those who diligently seek him out and were gonna find out where can have a whole new paradigm for prayer whole new way of praying so you be here. You say well we can't be because were visiting from Atlanta listen the same plane that brought you from Atlanta to Chicago this week. The same schedule can bring you back next week. Okay so you be here you be here. Let death be the only reason why you don't show next Sunday and bring some other people with you and if you die will be proof that all of our inheritance isn't in this life is another world coming but he endurance. This is going to be explained in the second, not next week but the following week.

What what endurance means to God young man came to a pastor and says you know I don't have patience and the pastor said, let me pray for you, God, I pray that you will bring trouble and sorrow to this young man. Excuse me. Good prayer. Romans chapter 5 verse three it is suffering. The Bible says that brings about patients and patients brings about whole and hope brings about faith and in that God is glorified. So my dear friends there. Some of you who are hanging on and you are tempted to give up in your faith, keep on believing keep trusting, keep committing and will talk about what that means in a future message keep committing in such a way that you draw near to God than he grants you the ability to tour yes we do pray for healing and here at The Moody Church we anoint people with oil.

When they come to us and we had a couple of instances where people would say yes, there is definitely a healing that took place many instances where we can't say that, but there's still a purpose in that anyway will become clear next week. Finally, it's so important to realize that faith for our future, which is what we were talking about today faith for future is actually based on faith that looks backward today.

We talked about the faith the looks forward but you need to look to the faith that looks backward in the writings of the apostle Paul, faith is seen as something that we look back toward because you're looking at the work of Jesus Christ.

You are looking at what he did on the cross for you and the completeness of the redemption and that's where our faith begins and then we commit to God for the future and we trust God for whatever lies ahead.

Knowing that eternity is coming.

Let me put it to you this way there. Some of you were listening to this message, who do not yet belong to the city of God, you belong to the city of man. I don't mean to say by that you don't mean or you don't believe that Jesus is a Savior, as I think you probably believe that or you wouldn't be listening to this message.

What you cannot say though with assurance and notice the Bible talks here about the assurance of faith. It is the assurance of things hoped for, is the assurance that we have met God all the way through this text. What you cannot say with assurance. You say that Jesus is our Savior.

What you cannot say with assurance is Jesus is my Savior. I have personally trusted him as mine which you must do to be translated from the city of man to the city of God. Here's another way in which you know whether or not that translation has taken place. Augustine said in his book. He said this, that when we belong to the city of man we have in our hearts.

Such a love for this world. Almost to the contempt or the neglect of God because were this world absorbed but once we belong to the city of God. When Scott does that miracle in our hearts and our desires are transformed and we been given new hearts. Then we love God so much that we have contempt for very little regard for the things of this world because the love of God swallows up all other loves so the question that I need to ask you today, which I end with is simply that you trusted Christ as Savior, so that you become a member of the city of God and once you're a member of the city of God like Abraham like Noah, like Moses, you begin to look and live in light of the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God the eternal city that's your hope and that's your motivation and that's why you can put up with what you put up with in this world and all the while believing, trusting all the way to the end.

Let us pray. Father, we thank you for Abraham because even though he had lapses in his journey, spiritually speaking on the whole, he really did believe you and I don't know how much you showed him but the fact that he had confidence in a city that was designed by you.

I think of all the architect who are listening here today. I've done some wonderful things but imagine a city whose architect is God and we thank you for that eternal hope that is been birthed in our hearts through your word and by your spirit and we ask the Lord that those of us who are members of the city of God, that we may go on our way with joy accepting whatever you give us and for those who are members of the city of man turned their heart today toward Jesus. Now before I close this prayer. It is time for you to talk to God. If God has talk to you.

You tell them whatever you believe, you must our father. Would you accept the cry of our hearts make that cry acceptable through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we come into your presence, and we ask today that you will grant us the grace to the great men and women faith to keep believing. Even if we don't see all the promises in this life grant that, oh God, we ask in Jesus blessed name, amen, amen. I think it would be appropriate if at the end we saying again the song that we sang earlier you can check it out there in your bulletin 695 lead me, Lord, lead me, Lord, lead me, in thy righteousness make thy way plain before my face, for it is the how, Lord, thou, Lord, only that make me dwell in safety leaders placed him on today's Moody Church. Our pastor looser open the Bible to give us counsel and are praying, counsel for those times when the answer is delayed, the second of six messages on the triumph of unanswered prayer. Next week Dr. looser turns to Hebrews chapter 1 to probe what happens when the answer is disguised.

Don't miss our next broadcast our six part series on the triumph of unanswered prayer can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001.

Let us know you'd like to support Moody Church's ministry are. Thank you to you will be a set of messages you can hear and then pass on to others. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to Moody that's Moody Join us next time for another Moody Church.

Our with pastor Erwin looser in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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