Waiting builds suspense, there is something about long pauses that builds anticipation. The X-factor does this really well……. The winner of the X-factor 2015 is……. There is that music and the heart beat that builds the excitement of who the winner will be.
But waiting can also be annoying, especially if you’re needing to get home by 1pm today and the preacher is taking a long time to say his sentences and you are sitting there thinking, come on man, get on with it!
There are things that we are good at waiting for, and other things we are not. So some of the things I am not good at waiting for are things like waiting in a queue and the person getting served ahead is just taking an age and I’m in a hurry! But I can also be good a waiting in a queue, like for going on a ride at Disneyland or some other theme park.
I suppose it depends what we are waiting for and whether we are in a hurry or not.
When we look around us, we are encouraged not to wait – we are encouraged to buy now while stocks last. Hurry before it’s too late. There is the advert from Amazon that says you can get anything you want or need next day. Even hospital waiting times are trying to get quicker.
Life seems to be faster. Life seems to be about less time to wait.
Now there are only 19 days until Christmas and we are in the period of Advent. Advent means the coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note.
For children the period of Advent means waiting for the coming or arrival of Santa. For chocoholics the period of Advent is waiting for that larger chocolate on Day 24 of the advent calendar. For Star Wars fans, the period of Advent is waiting for the fact that Christmas comes 1 week early when Star Wars Episode 7 is released.
But for many people the period of Advent can be waiting until Christmas is over – for many it can’t come soon enough because this time of year can be hard for many people and it’s always good to remember that, to look around us and see needs that can be met.
Now for Christians, this period of Advent reminds us that Christ was born. That Christ was born of the virgin Mary, in Bethlehem, in a stable and He would be the saviour of the world.
And for many around at that time, there was a waiting for His arrival. There were people eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come. There were the angels on the hillside who were so excited at the arrival of Jesus that they burst into the sky in front of shepherds – why? because they had been waiting for it. There was Simeon and Anna at the temple, who had been waiting for the Messiah to come and when they saw Him with their own eyes, they were filled with with joy. The Lord has come!
And in the run up to Christmas, in this period of advent, we celebrate His coming to this earth. That is the great message of Christmas! Where Jesus became fully man and fully God. He became Emmanuel, God with us and He became the way by which we might receive salvation. And it’s right and it’s good to remember His coming to this earth for you and I and all that it means for us today.
But if Advent means the coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note, then what does this period of Advent hold for Christians… after all we are not waiting for the birth of Jesus – He has already come – He came over 2000 years ago. It’s not necessarily something we only celebrate once a year, but Jesus coming to this earth is something that we can celebrate every day.
We will hear the song “I wish it could be Christmas every day” goodness knows how many times we’ll hear it until we get sick of it until another year comes around, but with Jesus, we can celebrate him every day and never grow tired of it. He has come to us our Lord Emmanuel.
Now one of the phrases that we hear when we read the Christmas story that we don’t think about every day is that Jesus came in the fullness of time. In the fullness of time, or when the time has fully come.
Now I like that phrase and I use that phrase from time to time. It usually revolves around some job that needs to be done but in my head it’s some distance from being achieved, so it will get done in the fullness of time. To be honest, I use it as an excuse not to do the job soon, but one day, some time, eventually, maybe… it’s a non commital phrase.
However that’s not the meaning of that phrase. It is statement that indicates that it’s not just some day in the future, but it is a predetermined, specific time. not an accident or a coincidence— as Galatians 4:4 says “But when the time had fully come, God sent His son,born of a woman, born under law to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons”
And if this phrase in the fullness of time means anything it means that waiting does have an end point because Jesus did come in the fullness of time. Jesus came into this world at exactly the right time.
Let’s look at the context
1. The Roman Empire was at the zenith of its power. Peace was established from Britain to the borders of India. That meant that citizens could travel freely, unrestricted by national or political barriers.
2. Roads reached throughout the Empire. The way was prepared for messengers of Christ to take the Gospel everywhere.
3. Greek had become the universal language of the Roman world. The Old Testament had been translated into Greek from Hebrew some 250 years earlier. Greek was the language of commerce. The structure of Greek was perfectly suited to communicate the Gospel in an accurate way due to its wide vocabulary and verb forms.
4. Greek philosophy prepared the minds of the masses. It was a common thing for people to meet together to discuss religious themes—the meaning and purpose of life, immortality, the nature of man, righteousness, and salvation.
5. A longing for something better existed in many hearts. People were disillusioned and desperate. Pagan religion was bankrupt. Philosophers only raised questions, but never gave answers. Crime was at an all-time high. Respect was lacking. Sin and corruption abounded. Disease, the breakup of the family, It was truly a time of moral and spiritual darkness. Large numbers of Gentiles throughout the Empire began to turn to the Hebrew faith in search of truth and hope because They heard about a Messiah who was to come that would bring deliverance and establish a kingdom that would be everlasting and righteous.
6. The prophetic timetable was in place. Palestine seethed with expectation of a great prophetic event.
God’s timing was perfect. Jesus came into the world at just at the right time.
But not only that, through our own experience looking back we can see God coming into our situations at just at the right time. In the fullness of time. I look at my own life and in hindsight I can see His hand bringing about things in my life at just the right time.
God’s timing is perfect. It was perfect for His first advent, it has been perfect in our lives, so then we have to ask ourselves – why will His timing not be perfect in the future?
And this is where the waiting comes in, and specifically waiting for God. Because while we may not be waiting for his first advent, we are waiting. We are waiting. We are waiting for his coming again. We are waiting for Him to come to planet earth once more and this time it will not be meek and quietly in a stable, but in power and might and every eye will see and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
But not only that, there will be situations that we have been praying to the Lord for – we are waiting – waiting for healing, waiting for salvation of souls, waiting for direction, waiting for freedom from bondage, waiting, waiting, waiting.
And how are we waiting – is it building frustration because we are in a hurry for something to happen? How do we wait for God?
Well 3 ways:
1. Wait Patiently.
The first way that we wait for Christ is: We wait patiently. The hardest part of waiting is waiting. Waiting involves time, and we don’t know when our waiting will be over. If we could wait a minute or two it would be one thing, but it often involves a great deal of time.
Patience is fruit of the Spirit. It is a spiritual quality that God wants us to develop.
But as we have said already, often we are irritated if something doesn’t happen immediately, and we become impatient and try and move things along a bit, take some control, take matters into our own hands. God is looking for us to wait patiently, but neither is waiting is not a static state. It’s not sitting there in your armchair with you’re arms spread out saying, ok, I’m waiting. Anytime you’re ready, I’m waiting.
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Romans 8:24 from The Message say this: “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting”.
That’s lovely isn’t it? God is creating his life within us, and we must wait for it to come to full term.
The longer we wait, the more we hear and learn about Him for whom we are waiting. Waiting is a time when God is working behind the scenes, and the primary focus of his work is on us.
Waiting needs patience, patience and trust in God’s timing, allowing him to work in us while we wait.
2. Wait expectantly
The second way in which we are to wait is: We wait expectantly.
To use the example of the expectant mother again, who sometimes thinks, “Is this baby ever going to come?”, especially if she is past her due date. But all you have to do is look at her and you know that it is impossible for the baby not to come.
And sometimes waiting patiently and waiting expectantly seem in conflict with each other but they are not..
As we’ve said Waiting does not mean just sitting down and doing nothing. Wile we wait not only are we allowing God to work in us but we are also watching and looking for God to fulfill his promise. We are expectant. Is this the day Lord? You have to believe he is going to do it. Jim sweet example.
As I said earlier It is possible to get ahead of God when we try to work things out ourselves (when we become impatient), but it is also possible that we could miss what he is doing because we are just waiting without expecting God to really come through.
Elaborate. Sometimes easier to wait patiently than it is to wait expectantly.
3. Wait faithfully
The third way in which we are to wait for God is: We wait faithfully.
To be faithful means to be full of faith — faith full — faith that completely trusts and depends on God.
It is a faith that keeps doing the right thing even when the waiting becomes long. Waiting in faithful obedience is essential in our walk with God. We have to keep on keeping on.
Our christian life is like a race, and the race we are in is a long one, and it calls for endurance not speed. It’s not how you begin the race, but how you finish that counts.
As Rev 3:10 says, “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints”.
So in conclusion, this period of advent reminds us that Jesus came, and we celebrate this with all of our hearts – the wonder of His coming. God coming to mankind, that mankind may come to God.
But while we can celebrate this fact every day, for every day God is with us, during this advent time we can remember that Jesus came in the fullness of time. At just the right time.
And this reminds you and I, while we wait, while we wait for the fullness of time for God to bring out something we are waiting for, the challenge is how are we waiting.
Are you waiting with patience.
Are you waiting expectantly.
Are you waiting living in faithfulness to God whether that faithfulness seems to be noticed and rewarded or not.
Maybe this morning you’ve become impatient in waiting. You’re getting frustrated with a situation that does not seem to be changing. Well Jesus is here and He asks you this morning to wait patiently. Allow this time of waiting to hear and learn more of Him, to bring about in you that which He desires to bring about in you.
Maybe this morning you’ve become discouraged in waiting. You’re thinking it’s never gonna happen. Well Jesus is here and He asks you this morning to wait expectantly. Believe again and look for Him to come through, to fulfil His promise to you.
Maybe this morning you’ve simply lost that faithful trust in God. You’re not fully in the race, you’re getting off the track, you’re not doing the right thing every day. Some days are faithful, some days are not. Well Jesus is here and He asks you this morning to wait faithfully. To walk in obedience to Him.
And this morning, if that’s you, what I want to do is encourage you because there is hope, because Jesus is once more saying, come to me. And there is one song and 1 verse I believe God wants to deposit in your life today in respect of waiting. In waiting for that fullness of time moment that will happen at just the right time.
The song is this.
Your tears will dry, your heart will mend, your scars will heal and you will dance again
and of His kingdom there will be no end, for Christ our King is coming back again!
And the verse is this
Isaiah 40v31 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”
Be encouraged this morning, not only by celebrating his first advent and all that it means for us, but be encouraged to wait patiently, to wait expectantly and to wait faithfully. For in the fullness of time Christ came, and in the fullness of time He is coming again! His promise is true.