As we contemplate the recent past celebration of our Lord’s first advent and actively, patiently await His second, let us do so with joy but also with obedience to Him by His Spirit in our own lives. This month we will look into Scripture at those who waited both patiently and obediently and what resulted there from and also consider some examples of those who willfully disobeyed direct commands or impetuously moved forward with no consideration or fear of God.
Read Genesis 3:15-24.
Imagine the utter despair that must have filled the lives of Adam and Eve as they left the garden to face life on the outside so to speak. Ah, but they were not without hope! God had promised a Redeemer, One who would crush that awful Serpent’s head. They must live in that hope or be overcome by the awareness of the significance of their rebellious disobedience. With what joy Eve must have borne Cain with the hope, the anticipation, that this was the one whom God had promised. His name reflected that hope. The fact of his covenant disobedience does not negate their assumed covenant obedience in his rearing which included the instruction of a proper sacrifice to a sovereign God. That they were faithful in their instruction is evident in Abel’s sacrifices of praise to Him. May we, who are blessed with the entire canon of revelation always draw from it the power by the Spirit to covenant obedience in our lives.
Read Genesis 6.
In this passage, we see a remarkable trophy of God’s grace. In a day and age when sin was increasing to the point of God’s cup of wrath being full, we see a man tenaciously hanging to the amount of God’s revelation he had for an obedient life of faith. Verse eight says that Noah found favor in sight of God. And we know from elsewhere in Scripture that God has very specific attributes with which He endows those with whom He finds favor. Some of these include, a contrite spirit and a fear of Him. Noah must have exercised these gifts of God’s grace in the face of overwhelming temptation. He even endured the ridicule of those around him for, count them, 120 years. In this day and age of the Internet, fast food and instant gratification, that is a very long time. May God grant us the patience of Noah to live grateful, faithful lives for our King Jesus.
Read Genesis 12:1-9.
Abram directly obeyed the Lord’s command to go to the land the Lord would show him. He had to leave his country, people, father’s household and everything he was accustomed to, to go to some foreign country. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, Abram was a God-fearing man and he knew that God knew what was best for him even though he might not have been able to see the good in the plan. That is what you call faith. Faith is acting on what God says he will do. When Abram arrived at the land that the Lord showed him, the place was full of heathens, Canaanites, but God promised that he would give the land to his offspring. What did Abram do then? He built an alter to the Lord which was a testimony to his belief that God would fulfill that promise. We must have faith and not doubt that God knows best. If we do not, we have a prideful attitude, we rebel, and are bitter against His authority. Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Read Genesis 16:1-3.
Prior to this incident, God had promised Abram that He would make his descendants as the stars of the sky, so many that they could not be numbered, humanly speaking. What did Abraham do? He did not trust and took matters into his own hands and went in to Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant and she bore a son to him. Now, Abram should have either remembered the promise that God had made to him or he should have been in such close communion with God that he talked with Him about it (not bowing to his wife’s wishes). The result of this sin of rebellion has been the source of bitter quarrel in the world ever since. Rebellion never has private consequences. Remember and believe.
Read Genesis 28:10-22.
Here we have the story of Jacob, the deceiver, who is now on his way to Padanaram, on the request of his father, to find for himself a believing wife. He here struggles with the Lord and receives from Him the covenant promises issued also to his forefathers. This struggle is significant because He will embark on a long indenture to his relative Laban for the hand of his beloved Rachel. It would not have been surprising, knowing his character, for him to have given up long before. He, by faith, does not and becomes the father of what would become the twelve tribes of Israel to whom God would bless all the nations of the earth and from the one son, Judah, would come his and our Savior. God does continue to work out His plans despite our sin and rebellion, but that we would bring glory to Him by our faithfulness should be our constant prayer and delight.
Read Exodus 2:11-12.
In this short passage, we first get a glimpse into the character of this man who will become the great leader of God’s people. He is not a good example at this point though. It is as if He were telling God and showing to the Israelites that he is bold enough and brave enough to not only smite one but perhaps thousands of Egyptians. God is not yet finished with him though. In the following chapters, we see the long and tedious work of God being done on him to prepare him to be such a great leader. God so works His grace in Moses’ heart that when God’s time comes for him to be that leader, he is quite sure God is mistaken in His choice of him. Hopefully that attitude in him and in us through our trials of patient waiting is the development of humility.
Read Matthew 26: 36-45.
“Not as I will but as Thou wilt.” Christ, the perfect Son of God, was to endure God’s wrath. He was sorrowful. Death on a cross probably seemed unbearable to Him, but despite this he repeated three times, “Not as I will but as Thou wilt.” This is the example we are to follow. In every situation of life we are to say, “Not as I will but as Thou wilt,” and not rebel saying, “I know better than God. I can do things my way.” The root of this attitude is pride (Proverbs 13:10). God hates pride and arrogance. By grace we can follow the example of our blessed Savior who faced the tortures of the cross because it was His Fathers will arid who trusted His Father without fail.
Read II Samuel 24:1-17.
In these verses, we see David numbering the fighting troops out of his pride for the great accomplishments of his regime. Even his not so godly commander, Joab, saw through David’s desire and tried to dissuade him. But, David plunged ahead without fear of God. The result was more devastating than that of his sin with Bathsheba in terms of the nation of Israel. God was merciful to him in spite of his sin and God did use this event in His purposes to chastise his people. We are all responsible for our own actions but God does work through our sin to achieve His purposes. We should never test God however. This is the lesson.
Read II Samuel 7:1-13.
We see here the gifted prophet Nathan, who dealt so very wisely with David in the revealing of David’s sin with Bathsheba, miss the boat here and urge David to go right ahead and build the Temple. That, of course was what David wanted to hear. But God had other plans. David had to set aside his own wishes in this instance and not have the final word. God did allow him the privilege of guiding his son Solomon in the planning of the temple. But, in the end, this great man of God had to bow to the wishes of his God and ours. We often plan and scheme for what we think would be best for the kingdom of God and not ask God how we might best serve His purposes. God will often leave us to our foolishness. We pay the price. Trust in Him and waiting on His will always brings His blessing.
Read I Samuel 13:5-14.
Saul, although he was chosen by God to be king of Israel, was reprobate. It was commanded by God that only the priests were to sacrifice to the Lord but he became impatient and sacrificed anyway. The people were afraid and were scattering from Saul. This, the fact that Samuel had not come to meet them at the appointed time, and that the Philistines were near compelled him to offer a burnt offering to the Lord. Again, this is an example of one who took matters into his own hands instead of trusting God to do what He said he would do. This resulted in the disestablishment of his kingdom. We have here the added problem of the situation looking desperate and the thinking that is so common that we simply must take things into our own hands. God is wholly, completely trustworthy and will never honor our going outside His revealed will in Scripture to do what we think is best.
Read Judges 1:27-2:4.
We sometimes think that we can make trade-offs in our lives and bargain with God so to speak. Maybe, we think, if we do a little extra good here or there we can get away with just a little sin. God demands wholehearted obedience. The conquest of the Promised land is a repeated theme here. The people did not wholly wipe out the entire Canaanite population. This was a direct command of God because of the evil character of those pagan nations. The Scripture says in Joshua 2:3 that God then made those pagans a “thorn in their side and their gods a snare.” Oh, what a remnant of sin will disable us. We must cut it out completely by God’s grace and on reliance on Him. We must know what God’s will is from the Scripture, trust Him to help us do it and then actively obey that Word no matter what the consequences appear to be. We must not rely on our own strength or wisdom. It will always fail us.
Read Ruth 1:1-18.
Like Abraham, Ruth left her native land and the things with which she was familiar. Her husband had died and it would not seem that she would have such a strong bond with his mother but nonetheless, she did. She was a Moabitess, but still she devoted herself to being with Naomi, and embraced her God. She did not know what was ahead of her. This was a seemingly blind sort of faith. God blessed her for this and provided her with a husband to care for her and Naomi to love her. If we trust God with our future, will He not bless? Of course He will. Don’t fret but leave it in God’s hands. If we trust Him and wait on Him, He will work it out according to His own purposes. This gives God glory.
Read I Samuel 24:1-7; I Samuel 26:7-12; Psalm 18:1-3.
David has been pursued to the various nooks and crannies of his homeland by the relentless hatred of King Saul. David in fact has already been anointed as the next king of Israel after the inevitable demise of the failed reign of Saul. He must wait and wait and wait to inherit the crown in God’s timetable of events. He is even advised by those fighting men around him to take things into his own hands and do the Lord’s work for himself. He adamantly refuses to harm the Lord’s anointed even though his reign is causing difficulty for the nation. Even his symbolic act of cutting off a piece of Saul’s garment disturbs his soul (1 Samuel 24:5). In the Psalm which he wrote after his deliverance from Saul, he does what we all must do when God delivers us from all our struggles. Praise Him and give Him our love and obedience.
Read Psalm 37:1-11.
This passage is filled to the brim with instructions for everyone, but applies very well to the younger generation. Some of you may look at unbelievers and think, “Man, they have it so easy. They just do whatever they want and have all the fun.” Be assured of this: they will not be having such a “fun” time in eternal fire. Their very breath is blasphemy to God’s holy name. Never think that the Christian life is a drudgery. It is a joy, an unspeakable joy to serve our Lord and King Jesus. Therein and in trusting in him do we find peace. Teens always seem to be waiting for things — waiting to drive the car, waiting to get a job, waiting to be married, waiting for this and that. God says for us to rest in Him and wait patiently for him. He also commands us to commit our way to Him, trust Him, and he will bring it to pass. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Ask God to make His will yours also. He will honor that prayer.
Read Jeremiah 10:23-24.
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of prophesying to a wayward people who hated to hear what he had to say. Yet, He was very aware that he had to place his future in God’s hands. As we ask Him to direct our lives, we needn’t question or fear tomorrow He will lead us each day. If we base our decisions and hope for the future on anything else, we will surely be miserable and dissatisfied. Only when we follow God’s leading will we experience that inner quiet confidence that comes from knowing we are heading in the right direction. With our minds we explore our options, evaluate our preferences, seek advice, and consider the consequences of our decisions Our ways are in His hands for all time. Soli Deo Gloria.
Read Jeremiah 17:5-10.
It is all fine and well for us to say that God rewards our trust in him and all and that trusting in our own strength will bring bad results for our lives, but this passage makes it very clear that God takes very seriously his command to trust in Him. “Cursed be the man who trusteth in man.” This is not just good advice. God does not give suggestions in His Word that would be nice for us to follow every now and then. The root of all trusting in ourselves is pride which was the root of the first sin as well. God abhors it. Not only that, but it appears from verse nine that we cannot even tell when we are acting and thinking in this way! Our hearts are deceitful above what we could imagine. Think of that! We cannot even think correctly without the intervening power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds to transform them into what would please Him. May we humbly beg an all-powerful God to cleanse our hearts from all unrighteousness and to make His will ours day by day.
Read Read Judges 14:1-3.
Young people, take Samson as an example of how you should NOT demand what you want when you want it, particularly in going about finding a spouse. Look at all the trouble he got himself into because he demanded that his parents get that Philistine woman, Delilah, for him to marry. He was impatient and demanding. The time that you are single (especially the teen years) is a special time given to you by God to grow in grace and knowledge. Don’t waste your energies and emotions looking around for a boy/girlfriend. Just concentrate on your spiritual growth, seek the Lord (Matthew 6:33), let your parents have authority in this matter, and wait (Psalm 37). Don’t rush into close relationships with the opposite sex when you are young because as one wise man has said many times, “If you’re not going to Chicago, don’t get on the train to Chicago.” Translated—if you are not ready to get married, don’t go looking around for a spouse. Patience in this and so many other matters of the teen years is of great value in the sight of the Lord and He will reward that effort.
Read Isaiah 30:15 and Isaiah 32:17.
Pursuing this month’s theme for meditation, we see that when we try to do things on our own, we always seem to make a mess out of them. But, when we realize that we live under the reign of the King of the universe and live accordingly, it is then that we are truly strong. In these two brief verses nestled in Isaiah amongst God’s pleas to His spiritually wayward people, He is holding out for them the blessing of peace and quiet as a benefit of right behavior. We may believe He offers this to us also as His covenant people. This does not mean that God will fight our spiritual battles for us. When we see clearly from Scripture what we must do to be at peace in our lives, then we must do it. He will not fight the battles for us though He will give us the strength always to act biblically. Find other places in the Psalms where the Psalmist finds rest and peace with when he acts in accordance with God’s law (Word).
Read Read I Samuel 17:26-36.
Besides the great faith and courage of David which is clearly seen in this passage, another important point is brought up as to how others will view our courageous stands for the Kingdom of God. David needed, as a very young person here, to take a stand in spite of what his family and elders thought of him. He, along with Joseph, were not very popular in their families. They were godly young men and their families thought they were goody, goodies. Godly people tend to be right a lot of the time! They had to endure the rejection and ridicule of even those who should have really supported them the most. However, this passage gives a most resounding example of how we should behave in the face of blasphemy against the Holy, Almighty God. How often do we neglect to stand for right because of what it might mean to our reputation with our peers. Yes, indeed, it can be a lonely business to stand alone. But, as David testifies in verses 32 and 37, God will strengthen us for the battle. Remember, David had to throw the stone. It did not simply fly out of his hand. May we prepare ourselves for battle and then fight.
Read Genesis 22:1-12.
God chooses to use trials and tests in our lives to see if we are truly made of His metal. Now, of course He truly knows the outcome, but it is for us that He does these things. That is hard to believe when the trial is hard upon us. We tend to want the pain and struggle to just go away. We live in a culture which glorifies leisure and has little regard for duty. In this passage, we are not told what went on in Abraham’s mind. Did he believe that this sacrifice was the Seed promised to his forefather Adam? Or was he so certain that God would provide that animal sacrifice when they arrived on the top of the mountain? Neither he nor Isaac seemed to have questioned God on this, at least not from the text. But, even from a human standpoint, Abraham must have recoiled at the thought of driving a knife into the bosom of his only son. This was not one of those things he could talk over with his wife either. Abraham had to simply trust very hard that God was in control and “set his face like flint” for obedience to God’s command. In this test, he did not fail.
Read Genesis 12:10-20.
Since we last saw a test of Abraham’s faith which he passed by God’s grace, we must look here at a time when he should have wept before the Lord a bit before making such a rash decision. Can anyone imagine this? In our day and age, this would be spouse abuse of the highest magnitude and yet Abraham fell not once but twice into this one (see Genesis 20). What seems strange though is that Sarah was really willing to sacrifice what would have been very dear to her (her honor), for the sake of protecting a nation yet unborn. Did she really think she was doing this? It is all speculation as the Word does not tell us. This does not excuse them or us from imploring God for guidance and direction in areas where we are unsure. Actually, we are to be in constant communion with God, and reading the Word for His will to be made clear in what we consider the mundane decisions of our daily lives. It is undoubtedly best that when we are uncertain as to a course of action and we have prayed and prayed about it and God does not seem to be leading us, that we simply wait for Him to show Himself faithful. He will do so.
Read Isaiah 39.
Here is a perfect example of God testing Hezekiah right on the heels of his thanksgiving to God for extending his life after threatening to take it from him. He had just written this beautiful hymn of praise and testified to his unfailing desire to show his gratitude for the rest of his life (38:20) and now in his pride, he delights himself not in God but in the company of a bunch of reprobates! The Scripture says he was “glad of them.” We are reminded that emotion is not the fountainhead of obedience. We can fool ourselves into thinking that God would be pleased with our praise and then go off and disregard his direct commands. A little light should have gone off in his head, “No man, this is not a God glorifying thing to do.” That light would have been lit by his knowledge of God’s repeated commands to Israelite kings to not be friendly with any foreign regimes. God used this event to point out His coming punishment of His people in the form of alien bondage. May we always be vigilant for His glory and be aware of our own pride.
Read Daniel 3:8-18.
There is a point in all our lives when we must simply say “no” no matter what the cost. These three young men did not really know that they were not going to be burned alive. The history of the Reformers is rife with the stories of Christians in what we might call modern times, going to the stake for much lesser infractions. Just read Foxx ‘s Book of Martyrs, which is available at your local public library and you will see that God does not always deliver His people from the physical tortures of evil men. These young friends had stood together very long and this was not the first test. Remember that in Daniel 1, they had refused to accept the lure of even the foods to be eaten. The other important point is that they had done this together. There is power in the right peer group. If you choose godly friends, they can be of lifelong support to you and help you to be accountable to God in your words and deeds. May we all be blessed with courage to choose and keep the right companions and to obey God in spite of the consequences.
Read Luke 22:54-62.
What a blessing that this passage is in the Scripture. We are all like this. We fear for our skin. We like to fit in. Pain is not fun. Peter was going on adrenaline. He had just missed killing a soldier by a misguided swing and was now watching as his best friend was accused and beaten and bloodied. This was not at all what he had hoped for. He was frankly scared to death. Everything was out of control. He did what was natural in his human nature. He failed the test. Then came the look from his Savior and we experience that also by His grace really when we look into His word at places like Psalm 32 or 51 and see there what it was that required the ultimate sacrifice on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all fail and we should not too hastily forget those times. The Puritans used to call this period in the Christian life “a season of repentance.” It is very necessary for us to learn the lessons of a test or trial, not morbidly dwelling on our sin but contemplating the offense to the glory of God that we not repeat the sin. Let us all rely on God s grace to provide the strength for these times and submit all emotions to our will in His strength.
Read I Kings 17:8-16.
The widow had to trust that she was going to be provided for. She had virtually no means with which to support or provide for herself and her son. Elijah came to her asking for something to drink and eat and she said in essence, “If I have hardly enough food for one more meal for my son and me, how am I supposed to feed you too?” Nevertheless, Elijah assured her that she would be provided for and she had to rest in that. Sometimes we face things like this in our lives when it seems that God is requiring something rather unreasonable from us. We know that He is a God of order and reason, but the task seems daunting or the request seems too much. This dear woman trusted God and His prophet and did what we as reasonable people would say was almost a foolish thing. In faith, she went forward.
Read John 18:1-11.
This is the Peter we know so well, even as we look in the mirror. He is the leader of the group, ready to really take charge of this situation. Where was his head? Did he really think he could outmaneuver an entire large detachment of trained soldiers with one sword. Get real. Obviously, he had little experience with the weapon. He completely missed the cutting off the head. He was not thinking and yet we would have to say that his heart was with His Master in wanting to protect Him. But God does not promise to bail us out of every unthinking position that we get ourselves into in spite of what may be very good motives. We must consider the cost of building the tower before we begin. We must use our heads and submit every emotional response to the will. In fact, it is a good idea for young people to especially do this in the volatile situations in which they find themselves running on adrenaline. That alone should be the clue that we must simply stop and turn from the course and think. If we wait on the Lord, He will provide the answer.
Read Matthew 14:22-33.
In this passage, we see Peter at his prime so to speak; that is, in his human nature. He is so very much like us. The disciples are afraid and Jesus has comforted them with His presence and all Peter wants to do is to be with His Master. And Jesus grants his request. This was truly a test of faith for him. Jesus is not toying with him but using this incident as well as others of Peter’s own making, to mold him into the man he would become; the great Apostle and inspired author of Holy Scripture. What is so very helpful to us is to know that the lessons were truly learned and that God could use someone as apparently unqualified to give us lessons on patience and joy in the midst of persecution (see 1 and 2 Peter). So often we pray for things that we know for sure would be best for us and yet they are not. But, God may grant us those requests to try our faith and refine us in the fire to be found as gold for His use. We must keep our eyes fixed, stayed, on the goal that is set before us and on the Cross of Christ which is our glory.
Read Philippians 1:1:14.
This passage is a great encouragement to any who may be in the bonds of some struggle or handicap over which they have no control. Think of this. Paul, the great missionary preacher, had fearlessly preached the gospel and suffered much for its sake. He had been persecuted and now was in bonds or chains in prison and could not do that to which he had been called. And yet he did not let that stop him. The calling was there and He simply adapted however he could. We see that in this perseverance he was blessed by God so that this seeming problem turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. Philippians 1:14 says, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” He did not just sit in prison and pine away with the desire to be out preaching in some synagogue somewhere. He used the opportunity to preach even in prison and God rewarded that with believers there (remember the Philippian jailer) and with the emboldening of the other pastors to preach even more fearlessly. We must use our seeming weaknesses and our struggles for the glory of God and in His power move forward in the life and tasks he gives us to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.”
Read Matthew 9:18-22.
Here is another example of a person who had great desire and motivation to be healed by our Lord. But, she was afraid. Here she was a timid woman knowing that Jesus had many things to do and would not likely pay attention to her. In fact, it is likely that the type of her disease excluded her from many Jewish activities and even ostracized her from worship. However, she needed to press through those natural tendencies and even the fear of rejection and of public ridicule and even punishment of the Jewish leaders. She really had hoped to get this taken care of without any real public notice at all. Jesus did not let that happen but dealt gently with her. We must remember that her faith made her well because the blessings of the kingdom come to those who look to Jesus for the solutions to their problems, not because of any power of faith in itself.
Read Mark 10:17-22.
The rich young ruler is an example of one who wanted to do things his own way and not by faith. At this point in his life, he had apparently not yet received the gift of faith prerequisite to true salvation. Yet we see that the Scripture says that Jesus loved him. Whatever the final outcome or who this man may have been, the lesson is that we cannot try to work our way into heaven or into the blessings of time and eternity. It simply cannot be done. If we have not true saving faith, there is no hope. Of course, all the elect will be given grace by the Spirit to trust and be justified and then want to do those things the law requires by His grace. But, the point here is that mere human strength and effort is not enough. Jesus told him to go sell all things because Jesus knew that the man’s heart was not right and that such a request to follow the tenth commandment to not covet would be too much for him. Where are we before the Lord and Savior of His people? We must examine ourselves to see if we are truly His also.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6.
This is the capstone of our meditations. Here we have the wonderful admonition of the Scriptures in all that we do in the coming hours and days and years and ages of our lives. We cannot go forward in our own strength. We lean on Him and trust in His Word for our guidance in life and holiness. We must examine ourselves daily to see if we are truly living for Him and not leaning on our own understanding. It is a constant struggle but not without hope or without the strength of the Holy Spirit. For young people especially this is a hard thing to do. We want to live our lives and have our fun and yet have the blessings of the covenant. We cannot live on both sides of the fence. We must make a commitment to the truths here laid down and we must do that publicly for His glory and kingdom.