“You have need of patient endurance, so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)
Yesterday, in looking at the question of “Where’s the power” in our churches today, we focused on the obvious need for a complete commitment to the Lord Jesus. Part-time commitment cannot hope to gain God’s full-out response to us. He will love us and care for us (because we ARE His children) but He pours the fullness of Himself only into those who have poured the fullness of themselves into Him.
This was so clear when we read of the early Church – they were abandoned to God, and He used them in mighty ways to impact their world.
Today, we must touch on something that is not so obvious – yet essential to our understanding of the link between our commitment to God and with His power working in, and through, us.
In the first days of the Church (just after Jesus had ascended to the Father’s side), all the disciples were operating under Jesus’ final command. It was a very simple command – with an astounding promise… Jesus told them to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49b) Easy. Hunker down in Jerusalem until God shows up and changes your lives forever “not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)
What they were not told was the specifics. It was just… “Go… stay… wait.” Then: “Goodbye.” (As Jesus went up into the clouds and disappeared).
I don’t think we should miss this – because it is so essential in our relationship with God. Have you ever noticed, in Scripture, just how often God makes a promise to someone and then makes them wait patiently for the fulfillment of that promise?
Abraham had to wait 25 years (for his own heir to be born). Joseph had to endure many years and many misfortunes before he saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. Moses had to endure 40 years of exile before he was ready to be God’s deliverer. David was God’s chosen king but had to spend many years on the run from a jealous Saul, before he could become Israel’s greatest king. And on and on… The promises of God are seldom, if ever, bestowed immediately.
The reason should be evident to us. The promises of God come to those who have an enduring faith. To those who refuse to give up on God (even when they might appear foolish to trust in Him for so long!). This is because our hearts can only grow up right and true in the “soil” of a hopeful faith. In many ways, we are not ready to receive what God offers until the promise has become our consuming passion… in every fiber of our being.
This was “in play” in the early Church… One hundred and twenty souls were “staying” and awaiting the promise. They were there, trusting in the Lord’s promise.
But here’s the sad part… The Bible tells us that approximately five hundred believers saw the Lord after His resurrection (1Cor. 15:6), but of those five hundred, ONLY 120 remained in the upper room to “stay and wait” for the promise. We know nothing about the other 380, except that they were not there for the greatest event in the Church’s early history. Maybe they had things to do. Maybe they WERE there and bugged out early. Maybe they lost hope. Maybe they were perturbed that they had to wait so long… longer than they thought was necessary.
But only the 120 remained – and were at ground zero when the Holy Spirit fell in power, to empower (Acts 2:2-4)!
This lesson is more important than we know. In our microwave, credit-card, Instagram society… our churches are not exempt from the pressures to see instant gratification. For this reason, the promise of God’s power can be so appealing… and so frustrating at the same time.
We want God’s power. We want to see our church services filled with God’s miracles. But are we willing to wait in the “soil” of enduring patience for what God desires to give?
There is no doubt… the promise of God’s Holy Spirit is ours. But with the promises of God, there seems to be a personal “staying and waiting” period to make us ready to receive what only God can give. Are we truly ready for what God desires to do in and through us?
Sometimes, it is true… only time will tell.
Prayer Focus: God, ready my heart for receiving everything You desire to give… and set my mind on patient endurance, with my hopes fixed upon You.