PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
Doubt Caused By Lack of Patience
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Sunday, May 4, 2008 -

This is the final study in our series on doubt. And, fittingly, it deals with the toughest test faith ever faces - the test of waiting. To wait for long periods of time with no apparent activity or response from God is trying to faith. The nature of faith is expectancy. The opposite to faith in the face of waiting can be anything from anger to desperation to simple resignation. Faith must fight against all of these doubtful responses.

1) FAITH MUST NOT ONLY BE KNOWLEDGEABLE IN ITS CONTENT, IT MUST BE VISIONARY IN ITS OUTLOOK

Os Guinness says, “Insight must lead to throughsight.” That’s it exactly. The Bible puts the same truth in these well known words: Hebrews 11:1 - “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith feeds itself on the substance of God’s promised future even though it doesn’t see what it wants right away. This is “throughsight” - the capacity to look bast the darkness into a certain, promised future. Contrary to much current , teaching, faith doesn’t always get what it desires instantly. If we got everything instantly, we would never need faith.

Let me give a classic example of this whole process from the Scriptures: Zedekiah has been king over Judah ten years. Judah is in the merciless grip of the mighty Babylonian empire. Jeremiah, the prophet, is in prison. He faces a potentially painful extermination. Then, to make matters worse, God tells Jeremiah that Jerusalem, the capitol, is about to come under siege as well.

Then God comes to Jeremiah with some strange instructions: Jeremiah 32:6-8 - “Jeremiah said, "The word of the Lord came to me: [7] Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, 'Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.' [8] Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, 'Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.”

Next, we’re shown Jeremiah’s incredible response to God’s instructions: Jeremiah 32:9-10, 13-14 - “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. [10] I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales....13-14....I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, [14] 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time.”

Note those last words - “...that they may last a long time.” There is the waiting test. Then God reveals His long term plan for Judah with these words of promise: Jeremiah 32:42-44 - “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. [43] Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, 'It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.' [44] Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord."

2) WHILE WAITING FEELS LIKE GOD IS DOING NOTHING AT ALL, IN REALITY HE’S SIMPLY DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE’RE WAITING FOR

This is what stretches our faith. Our impatience comes from the fact that we are waiting for God to do one thing while He is working an another. If in our impatience we don’t recognize this truth we will doubt either God’s goodness or His power or both.

The Bible gives a different explanation all together: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 - “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Faith is stretched when these two worlds collide. One is immediate and visible. It presses with great power on our physical senses. The other is invisible and ultimate. It must be clung to with faith.

Hebrews 11:13-16 - “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. [15] If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

3) TO WAIT FOR GOD YOU MUST WAIT ON GOD

For faith to remain strong it must be fed. This world is hostile to expectant faith. This world wages war in your mind against the age to come. It works overtime to negate the promise of God in your soul. Jesus described this mental battle - Matthew 13:22 - “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”

We face this battle in daily devotions. And this is no accident. The enemy knows this is where the vision for faith’s future is fed. This is why devotions always cost. They don’t seem practical in this busy world. And they don’t always feel empowering as you are doing them. But just like the squirrel stores up nuts for winter we know there are barren days ahead. And it’s too late to store up strength then. Wait on the Lord now. Fight and claw for the better city to come.

Isaiah 40:31 - “....but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”