Waiting and Worship
Text: Psalm 40
Proposition: For every one thing that we do towards God there are six that He responds with, especially when that that one thing is waiting on the Lord.
Introduction: So when it comes to red lights, traffic jams and long trains at a railway crossing, how good are you at waiting? What about line ups at the grocery store, coffee shop and bank, are you a waiter? Waiting is an exercise in patience and most of us are just not that good at being patient. I read a quote this week about patience that went, “Patience is like good motor oil. It doesn't remove all the contaminants. It just puts them into suspension so they don't get into your works and seize them up. Patient people…can put a lot of irritants into suspension.” (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr). If that automotive quote doesn’t work for you then this from Adel Bestavros might better fit, “Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith.” But I think Charles Spurgeon also had it right when he said, “Those who do not hope cannot wait; but if we hope for that which we see not, then with patience we wait for it.” We’re going to look at two things this morning. The first is what exactly it looks like to wait on the Lord and the second is the incredible response of God to the person who does so. Turn with me to Psalm 40.
I. Earnestly, Passionately, Thankfully, Joyfully…Wait on the Lord.
When we think of the word ‘wait’ it seems to us to imply a passive action, like just sit there and patiently wait for the train to by. But I don’t think that is what is implied in this phrase. It has the idea of a soldier waiting for battle, keeping mentally alert, physically ready, equipment prepared. Look at how David waited on the Lord:
Earnestly (vs4,5)… Whatever it is we put our trust in then that is what we are earnest about. If it’s property or wealth, then that will be what excites you. If your trust is in God it will be Him you earnestly seek. Then David says an amazing thing, He says that God is thinking about you, and not just an occasional thought. As you earnestly wait on the Lord, reading His Word, seeking Him in prayer what you soon discover is that you are important to God. God’s thoughts towards you are so numerous they could not ever be counted. Consider that and let it move you to become earnest in the way that you wait on the Lord.
Passionately (vs 11,12)… Passion is about feeling, what do you feel in your heart when you can’t see the way before you? God’s tender mercies are like a soft touch to your cheek, they calm your soul. His lovingkindness and truth preserve us in a world where we are in over our heads. We are in too deep not just because there is evil in the world but more so because within each of us there is a sin nature. Sometimes we feel such shame, such guilt, such sin that we are not able to look up to God. There is this deep crushing feeling that we are not good enough for God and that is the precise moment that lovingkindness, truth, God’s tender mercies step forward. Passionately wait for the Lord, cry out to Him with all your heart. As you wait on the Lord let your mind rest on the truth that God does preserve us.
Thankfully (vs 13-15)… When was the last time you simply thanked God from the depths of your heart? Does He deliver people from defeat, does He really help people who have been beat up or run down or stepped on by others? Have you been mocked, accused, then know that God knows, cares, delivers and helps. As you wait on the Lord and especially if this what reality looks like to you right now then I want you to do something extraordinary, I want you to thank God because He is your help, He will deliver you…wait on the Lord.
Joyfully (16,17)…Why is anybody joyful? I’d submit that it’s because they know how the story ends. They know that this thing called salvation, this great rescue plan of God for all who will seek Him, this is greater than all our sufferings. Eternity with no more sorrow, eternity with no recurring nightmares, no relapses, no more being alone. Continually this viewpoint of salvation invites us to say, “Though I am tiny and needy, God is magnificent. This God thinks about us, helps us, delivers us. Joy is what I feel when I think of Who He is and how this story ends in Christ. So though I still wait, “Do not delay O my God”, I’m joyfull.
How do you wait on the Lord… Earnestly, Passionately, Thankfully, Joyfully.
That’s the first part, how to wait on the Lord. Now let me show you a six to one ratio of how God responds to that one act of our waiting on the Lord.
II. God’s Response To Those That Wait On Him.
In verses 1-3 there are six things that I want to quickly draw your attention to. These six things describe God’s response to those who wait in the ways we’ve just described.
1. He Inclined to me. Do you remember those pictures from long ago of Jesus reaching out for the lone lost sheep that was trapped on a ledge below Him? That’s the sense of the word, ‘inclined’. Don’t ever think that God has somehow forgotten you or that He is angry with you for something done in the past. If you will wait He will incline.
2. He Heard my cry. How many times did David cry out to the Lord? I think it was more than once. Was it that God didn’t hear the first time? Not at all He hears and yet He does not tire of your requests. He hears and knows and in His wisdom He delays to answer, yet He still bids us to pray, to continually come to Him.
3. He Brought me out of the miry clay pit. A clay pit is a place where no matter how much you struggle to get out you can’t break free. In fact the more you struggle the more stuck you become. Have you ever been stuck in a situation that was like that? As David waited on the Lord, God did what David couldn’t, He brought him out of the miry clay.
4. He Set my feet upon a rock. Where the clay had no bottom to it and I sank in it, the rock is a solid place. No more sinking, now I stand on something that supports my weight, that steadies me. I’m safe when I stand on the rock of Christ. If we will wait upon the Lord then that is where He will take us.
5. He established my steps. It’s one thing to be saved from the miry clay but God also has purpose for our lives. He never intended that we just camp on that rock for the rest of our lives. Now He establishes our steps, one step at a time. Move, grow, even stumble from time to time, but get up no longer afraid of falling.
6. He Has Put a New Song in my mouth. So how many people has God pulled out of the miry clay of sin? Thousands, even millions, even hundreds of millions, that’s how many. Did He put a new song in each of their mouths? Yes. When God changes your life by drawing you to faith in Christ there is a new you that He has His Holy Spirit strengthen and build. That new song is how you express the wonder of what you now experience. It’s new to you, it’s new because it’s not what you used to sing, if you sang at all. The new song is all about praise to God, it’s unmistakably different. Many will hear the song, see the one who sings it and know that life has come in where before there was only death. Only God can do that and the effect of your new life in Christ is what God uses to draw others from the miry clay. “Many will see it and fear and will trust in the Lord.”
So if you are standing waist deep in miry clay right now and want know the next step, recognize the truth of verses 6,7. What they say is that God doesn’t want your sacrifices, He’s not interested in what good you can do or what good you haven’t done. You don’t do good to be good. In other words there’s nothing I can do as far as good things go that will make God like me more. I can’t become good by doing good. When I get that it’s why it says, “My ears have been opened.” So then how does any person get right with God? The only answer is they take shelter in the only sinless person who in God’s plan took our place that we would be free in Christ. “Behold I come, in the scroll of the book it is written of Me.” From ages long ago, before the world was, Jesus Christ delighted to do the will of the Father. The Law of the Father was written over the life of Jesus Christ, the Law that said life is in the blood and the shedding of the blood takes away or makes atonement for the sin. It was pointing to His blood as that which would permanently and perfectly pay the price for our sin. In Christ we rest in His goodness and from that place we do good. That is what God intends in each of our lives. First turn from the broken attempts at doing good as an effort to be good. That in God’s eyes is what sin looks like, an attempt to come to Him on our terms and efforts. Turn from your sin, believe in Christ, rest in His goodness. Your sins are forgiven in Him, in Him you stand clean before God and in Him we continue to wait on the Lord.