Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waiting on God

One of the hardest aspects of the Christian life can be waiting on the Lord. We live in a culture that gets everything it wants immediately. We even complain if our fast food doesn’t come quickly enough, and we want the Lord to answer our prayers just as quickly.

But if we go back a few thousand years—long before instant grits and minute rice—we still see people who were impatient with God. Many times the men were guilty of taking matters into their own hands, while four women in particular stand out as being patient prayers. They were not perfect, but when it came down to it, they kept their trust in the Lord. They are Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah.

All four of these women had the same plight: bareness. In their culture it was humiliating for a woman to not be able to provide a child for her husband, and in any culture it is at the very least saddening. And so these women each continued to pray that God would send them a child, and the Lord eventually blessed them with children according to His timing.

To Sarah He sent Isaac, the child of promise who made Abraham the father of God’s people. To Rebekah He sent twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob’s name would be changed to Israel, and that name would stay with his descendants forever. To Rachel God sent Joseph, then Benjamin. Joseph became the second most powerful ruler in the world, and through him the world was saved from famine. And to Hannah the Lord sent Samuel, a prophet, the final judge, and the man who anointed David to be Israel’s king.

Listen to how Warren Wiersbe describes the conditions that preceded the birth of Samuel:

“As He often did in Israel’s history, God began to solve the problem by sending a baby. Babies are God’s announcements that He knows the need, cares about His people, and is at work on their behalf. The arrival of a baby ushers in new life and a new beginning; babies are signposts to the future, and their conception and birth is a miracle that only God can do (Be Successful, page 14).”

Maybe you have found yourself in the shoes of these women, waiting on the Lord. Perhaps, like them, it is bareness that bothers you the most. Or maybe you have been waiting on the right mate, job opportunity, or for that prodigal son to come home. Whatever it is you may be waiting for, remember that God’s timing is not ours.

Do you realize that we would have peace in the Middle East if Abraham had waited on the Lord for his son Isaac? Instead, he took another wife and had a son with her first, and their descendants have been at war ever since.

The providential timing of the birth of Isaac led to the providential timing of the birth of Isaac’s son Jacob, and to Jacob’s son Joseph. The timing of Joseph’s birth put him in a position to keep the world, including Israel, alive through a severe famine.

And the birth of Samuel during the time of the judges is also significant. God raised him up at the perfect time to revive Israel and anoint David to be their king.

In every situation God’s timing brings about what is best for His purpose. You might not see it right now while you are waiting, but you must trust that God has not forgotten you, and that He has a plan for your life.

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

(For more on this topic, read my book Asleep in Heaven's Nursery here)
Related blogs: The Age of Accountability and David's Two SonsRachel Dowd Book Sponsorship Program, and Asleep in Heaven's Nursery)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Music

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that means that it is time for Christmas music. Most people love Christmas music. For many of us, we have heard the same songs over and over for years, and many of those songs, like the ones from Bing Crosby, have been around for generations. Some songs have been redone while others are timeless classics. I’ve never eaten a chestnut that roasted on an open fire, attended a Christmas party hop, or enjoyed a figgy pudding, but that has never stopped me from enjoying those songs. There is something about Christmas music that can put a smile on anyone’s face, even if it only comes from remembering the glories of Christmases long, long ago.

As much as I enjoy songs about the most wonderful time of the year, especially during a white Christmas, I still prefer songs about the first noel, the ones that sing about the birth of Christ. I wanted to share some of my favorite lesser known lyrics about the first Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
“From God our heavenly Father a blessed angel came,
and unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same,
how that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh, tidings of comfort and joy!”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead nor doth He sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

What Child is This?
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh, come peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the Son of Mary.

We Three Kings of Orient Are
Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and sacrifice.
Alleluia! Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord.
Late in time, behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell—Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Mary Did You Know?
Mary did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
And this child that you delivered will soon deliver you…
Mary did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kissed your little baby you kissed the face of God.

Oh Holy Night
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O Come, thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

So as you are having yourself a merry little Christmas, I hope you enjoy Jingle Bells and Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. But if you really want to have a holly, jolly Christmas, remember to keep Jesus at the forefront of your mind, and don’t forget one of the best songs of all:

O Come Let Us Adore Him
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

(Read Happy Holidays and Was Jesus Born on December 25th?)