God's Delay Has a Wonderful Purpose

Sometimes the longer we wait for a promise from God to be fulfilled, the more glorious is His answer. There were 400 years between Malachi and Matthew. Those years are often called the silent years. There had been no prophet's voice, and the people began to be alarmed.

They didn't know why they had to wait. Looking back on that period, though, scholars tell us that those years were necessary. Three things were happening to prepare the world for the Messiah.

First, during those years a road system was developed that would be necessary for the spread of the Gospel. 

Second, a large number of people began to speak a common language as Greek became the predominant language. 

Third, much study about the Messiah brought an interest and desire for Him to appear.

Often God's purposes are not seen at the time, but if we know He has heard us pray, we can rejoice in the waiting. He knows what He is doing and why He must delay the answer to bring us a greater good. 

Thank You, Lord, for grace to wait patiently for the fulfillment of Your promise.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:4).

"Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).

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Learning to Be Dependent

A young lady came to me after church one night and said, "I don't think my husband is doing well spiritually. Should I talk to him about it?"

I suggested that she pray for him. If the Lord wanted her to talk to him, He would give her the exact words and the opportunity would not seem forced. Praying while waiting for God's direction would be the best way to help her husband.

Later she shared that the Lord had helped her husband draw closer to God as she simply prayed for him.

Francis Schaeffer said, "Let us not think that waiting on the Lord will mean getting less done. The truth is that by doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way we will accomplish more, not less. You need not fear that if you wait for God's Spirit you will not get as much done as if you charge ahead in the flesh. After all, who can do the most, you or the God of Heaven and Earth?"

Jesus never tried to be independent but continually looked to His Father. He wants that same dependence to be in us. "I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me  to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say" (John 12:49-50).

Jesus, help me always remember that when I'm waiting on You I'm trusting You and not myself.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7). 

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What God Counts as Faith

"Remember how our pastor has been encouraging us to keep a prayer list?" It was Patty, a new Christian, on the phone, eager to tell me about her new method of praying. "I made out my list and there were 150 people on it--my family, friends, and employees. I've decided to divide them into groups and pray for some of them each day, so I can pray more than just a 'Help him' and 'Help her.'"

Remembering past prayer experiences, I told her, "Although you'll never know about all the answers, God will probably let you know how He is answering some of your prayers."

And He did. After church the next Sunday, with tears in her eyes, she shared, "I just learned that one of my nieces for whom I had begun praying was pregnant and planning to get an abortion, but this week she made her decision to continue the pregnancy."

Although God often allows us to see evidence that He is listening to our prayers, sometimes we have no clues. Sometimes we feel we're getting the same answer as the woman in Matthew 15:22-28 who begged Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. "But he answered her not a word." When He did speak, He gave her no encouragement. 

"I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." But she persisted with her pleading.

Only two times did Jesus speak of someone's great faith, and this lady was one of the honored two. When it doesn't seem Jesus is answering our prayers, it is an opportunity to be persistent. Then, we, too, can hear His words: "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."

Thank You, Jesus, for interpreting faithfulness in continuing to pray as faith.

"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers" (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

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He's Eager to Do Us Good

It was a friend's birthday and she awakened at 5 am. A song began playing in her mind. 

"There comes to my heart one sweet strain

A glad and a joyous refrain,

I sing it again and again

Sweet peace, the gift of God's love."

About two hours later as she was in solitude with the Lord, He told her, "That song was My gift to you." 

How lovingly God watches over us! He knew that song would be the only gift she would receive that day.

Three weeks after her birthday she shared this precious word from the Lord singing the song to me on the phone. I sensed that sweet peace, a deep calmness that was God's gift to her spirit, although she was experiencing great family difficulties.

We do not realize how precious we are to God. One of the aspects of love is the deep desire to give to the loved one. When we love, we find joy in giving to make our loved one happy, and God cannot be satisfied without giving good gifts to His children. 

Christ is more liberal than we dare to request. He assures us: "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you" (Lk. 11:9,10). He was saying, "I know the mind of the Father and his delight is in answering Your prayer. Take my word for it. He will give you the greatest blessings He can give you." Our heavenly Father appears to be looking for excuses to do us good. 

The psalmist prayed, "Keep me as the apple of your eye" (17:8). To keep as "the apple of the eye" is an expression describing the tenderest care. We are so near Him that it is as though our image is always in the eye of God. How tenderly He cares for us!

Dear Jesus, I am in awe of Your love for me. 

"The Lord your God is with you....He will take great delight in you...he will rejoice over you with singing" (3:17)."How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!" (Psalm 139:17 NLT).

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What Is Jesus' Great Desire?

A father told me that when his son went away to college, his absence left him with a deep sadness. One day in prayer he expressed his great longing to be with his son. God surprised him by saying, "There are some of My children I will never get to be with."

God's desire to be with us is the most striking aspect of the Christian religion. From the beginning, God desired to be near us. He came down and "was walking in the cool of the day" with Adam and Eve so He could enjoy their companionship.

God is seeking a love relationship with His people. No bridegroom wants a bride whose will he has to coerce--either to enter the relationship or to stay in it. He wants a continued love affair. 

God desires that from us. He says, "I will always be faithful and show you My love. All I ask of you is your continued love and faithfulness." 

To believe that God makes a covenant with us that we cannot break is to destroy the beauty of our love relationship with God. The constancy of our relationship with Him is like that of a husband and wife who are joined together by a covenant. For the relationship to continue, both must be faithful.

We need have no fear, though. God promises grace to help us be faithful. We do not have to rely upon ourselves but upon Christ within us.

Oswald Chambers said, "It is a joy to Jesus when a person takes time to walk more intimately with Him."

Dear Jesus, give us grace to make spending time in fellowship with You our priority.

"Come close to God and He will come close to you" (James 4:8 Amp.).

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