How Long Will This Last?

Chaos is all around us! There’s infighting both politically and religiously. Government officials are imposing new laws and regulations and restrictions. Lots of rival voices are clamoring to be heard. Loss of personal freedoms, civil liberties, and even the freedom of worship. Uncertainty about the future. Fear in the present. 

Although this may sound like current conditions in the USA, I’m actually describing life in Israel around 31 BC. 

The people of Israel were frustrated beyond words with the restrictions they faced. They thought they were living in their land and that they should be able to govern themselves as they saw best. 

Have you ever been in that place of utter frustration? Are you there now? “What’s happening? Why is this not going according to plan? Isn’t there anything I can do? How long is this going to last? God, where are You in all of this?! 

We humans like to think we are in control. Or at least we like to think that we know God’s timetable. Throughout the Bible—and still today—the questions persist: 

  • How long will this last? 
  • When will this take place? 
  • What about him? 
  • Is this the right time? 

(see Psalm 13:1-2; Matthew 24:3; John 21:21; Acts 1:6; Revelation 6:9-10) 

When we ask God, “How long?” He never answers us by pointing to the calendar or the clock, but He points us to principles in His Word.

Here are four principles that we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us grasp: 

  1. God’s timing was determined before Time even started. 
  2. God is using this “How long?” time to perfect us for His service.
  3. God is using this “How long?” time to empower us to point others to Him.
  4. God is calling us to trust Him alone during our “How long?” times. 

(see Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 13:5-6; Romans 5:3-4; Matthew 24:13-14; Acts 1:7-8; John 21:21) 

Those Israelites I described earlier were so frustrated with asking “How long?” and apparently getting no answer, that they frequently took matters into their own hands. This never turned out well for them. But God’s perfect timing was heading toward His perfect fulfillment.  

We may not perceive it, but God IS doing more than we will ever know during our “How long?” times. 

God’s perfect timing for His people couldn’t be until Caesar Augustus came on the scene and brought an end to the political uncertainty that kept everything in chaos. Nearly 30 years before Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, Augustus was launching the pax Romana—the peace of Rome—all over the world. Pax Romana was creating the perfect environment in which Jesus could be born and minister, as well in which His followers could then take the Good News all over the world. 

Jesus was born “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4), around 5 BC, in a land where a Jordanian king (Herod the Great) served an Italian emperor (Caesar Augustus) to a people frustrated with waiting. But God knew exactly when and where and how to send His Son to be our Savior!

So, my friends—Trust God in the “How long?” times! 

God’s perfect plan includes YOU, so guard against any anxious thoughts that would make you bail out of His perfectly-timed plan early. (see Psalm 139:16, 23-24)

Join me this Sunday as we continue our series called Where’s God? 

God Keeps His Word

…as He had said… (Genesis 21:1-7).

This thought—and even the phrase itself—permeates the Bible. From the very beginning of Time itself, whatever God says—happens!

His word is His bond: What He had promised (v. 1b). There are no loopholes, no equivocations. When God says it, it is signed, sealed, delivered!

When is His word accomplished? From the moment He says it. His word cannot be altered nor delayed. We simply wait for its fulfillment: At the very time God had promised (v. 2).

This also means that I must obey what God says. If His word is immutable, my faith and obedience must be just as steadfast. Just like Abraham: Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him (v. 4).

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would help remind us of everything God has said. The same Word that tells us God’s promises is also the same Word that sparks the faith to believe His Word (Romans 10:17). 

Get God’s Word.
Believe He will fulfill it in His timing. 
Obey everything He says.
Laugh in joy when you see His word accomplished: God has brought me laughter (v. 6)! 

Interrupted But Not Discouraged

…I will…if the Lord permits… (1 Corinthians 16:5-7). 

Paul had a desire to visit certain cities to share the Gospel, so he made his plans. But he was careful to add, “if the Lord permits.” He knew from personal experience that God knows best the where and the when.

In fact, the first time Paul came to Macedonia, it was only after he had been blocked from his original plans—

They tried to go to certain regions of Asia, but they were prevented by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6).

They headed toward Bythinia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there (Acts 16:7).

While at Troas, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, so they concluded that God was calling them to preach there (Acts 16:9-10).

We must know that we know that God has green-lighted an opportunity for us. Where God opens opportunities, satan is sure to attack (1 Corinthians 16:9). We don’t want to then assume that the attack means that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even in the right place at the wrong time.

Paul made his plans, but he also remained interruptible.

When God said, “Go!” Paul could endure any opposition because he was assured that God had called. And when God said, “No” Paul could rest peacefully because he was assured that God knew the best place at the best time.

The same principle is true for godly leaders today—

A mark of a godly leader is one who is interruptible without becoming discouraged.

This is part 39 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Don’t Go—Flow

“…My time has not come…” —Jesus (John 7).

Jesus never rushed. He was never late. He was never early. Nor did He ever remain silent when He should have spoken. Nor did He ever misspeak. 

His timing and His wording were always spot on.

This wasn’t just a “Jesus thing,” as He told His followers that we could flow in God’s timing just as He was doing. 

We don’t have to try to figure out our timing or our wording by external standards (v. 24). But when we are so immersed in the same Holy Spirit that directed Jesus, we simply flow in His living water to where we need to be, when we need to be there. Whether it’s time to speak or time for silence, the Holy Spirit can again flow our thoughts and words perfectly. 

Others won’t understand. 

They have their own agenda, and they will want me to be a part of their plans (vv. 3-5, 18, 32-36, 42, 52). I must listen to the unmistakable voice of the Spirit and squelch the voices of the crowd. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who flows with the Spirit of God.

Don’t go with the flow of culture or others’ agendas. Don’t try to figure out where you need to be or what you need to say. Simply flow in the Spirit. Then your timing and your wording will be just as spot-on as Jesus showed us. 

This is part 38 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

No Looking Back

…He steadfastly set His face… (Luke 9:51). 

Jesus wasn’t about to be deterred, delayed, or detoured from fulfilling His Father’s mission. 

Some of the other Bible translations fill in this meaning:

  • resolutely (NLT) 
  • steadfastly and determinedly (AMP) 
  • gathered up His courage and steeled Himself (MSG)
  • “to turn in a certain direction, confirm it, and resolutely follow it” (Strong’s Concordance)

Jesus could do this for at least three reasons—

  1. He knew “the time had come” (see v. 51 and John 13:1, 3) 
  2. He knew the joy at the end of the journey (Hebrews 12:2)
  3. He knew His Father loved Him (John 3:35, 5:20, 10:17)

A mark of a godly leader is one who resolutely follows God. No matter what!

Jesus calls His followers to the same path He walked—“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62)

It’s hard because people reject a resolute man. 

It’s hard because the accommodations along the way are uncertain. 

It’s hard because I have to give up my right to myself. 

But the reward is incomparable—Heaven forever with Jesus!

This is part 33 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 6

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 6

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 6.]

     My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. … Until I am born again and enter the Kingdom of God I see only along the line of my prejudices. …  

     The purpose of the vision is to enable me to see “the arm of the Lord” behind all circumstances (see Isaiah 53:1). God never gives a man the power to say “I see” until his character proves itself worthy of its purification. What hinders the purging of our perception is that we will build our faith on our experiences instead of on the God who gave us the experiences. My experience is the evidence of my faith, never the ground of it, and is meant to reveal to me a God who is bigger than any experience. …  

     The symbol of the live coal ‘from off the altar’ represents the twofold nature of the substitution of Christ, not only Christ for me, but Christ in me. … 

     God only gives us visions of Himself for one purpose, that we may work them out into character. … After God has given us a time of face-to-face contact with Himself and then puts us into tumults, the temptation is to sit down and say “Where is the blessedness I had when I first knew the Lord?” The Spirit of God holds us steady until we learn to know God, and the details of our lives are established before Him, then nothing on the outside can move us.

From Notes On Isaiah

There are specific reasons God will give us a clearer revelation of Himself—

  1. to purify godly character in us
  2. to help us deal with our own sin
  3. to see God at work in everyday affairs
  4. to keep us energized through trying times
  5. to make us more aware of what Jesus has done for us and in us
  6. to be His messenger among needy people

God doesn’t give visions or revelations just to thrill us or give us an experience. God is perfectly purposeful in everything He does. His visions are for His glory.

Horatius Bonar On What Happens When You Pray

light-and-truth-revelationThis incense was to be ‘offered with’ or ‘laid upon’ so as to cover or envelope the ‘prayers of all saints’—yes, all saints, from Able downwards; for this seems to be the gathering into one of all prayers from the beginning, that at length they may be answered (Luke 18:3, 7). Upon the golden altar in front of the throne the prayers of the saints of all ages have been laid; there they have accumulated; the unanswered ‘How longs?’ not forgotten.

Not one petition, even the poorest or feeblest, has dropped from that altar, or been swept away, or lost in the process of time. All, all are there. In themselves the are poor, having no fragrance; but their intrinsic imperfection cannot change the nature of that altar on which they are laid. There they are preserved— each sigh, each tear, each cry, from child or aged man, from the chief of sinners, from the thief upon the cross, from the chamber of weakness and sorrow, from the crushed spirit and the broken heart—there they are: the groanings that cannot be uttered; the ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner;’ the ‘How long?’ of the tortured martyrs; the moan of the suffering saint upon his tossing sick-bed—there they are: the father’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my child;’ the child’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my father’— there they are: the pleadings for the church of God, for the overthrow of Antichrist, for the binding of satan, for the deliverance of earth, for the consummation of the eternal purpose! Not one cry lost; not one petition gone astray. All there!

There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. Delay will only add to the fullness of the answer, and increase our joy when it comes. And it will come. He is faithful that promised. He cannot deny Himself.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth: Revelation (emphasis mine)

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