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The Waiting Game
Scripture: Acts 22:16; Psalms 91:1; Acts 11:19-26; ...
Track 6 of 15 in the Paul: Grace & Strength Mixed Together series
Running time: 57 minutes, 12 seconds.
Waiting is hard to experience especially when God doesnt reveal what his plans are, what the time table is and if He is even on board with what you want to do in life. Many times in scripture the waiting period in someones life is described as being in the shadows. And when Gods servants emerged from the shadows, their impact was usually big. Here is a principle to hold onto when you find yourself playing the waiting game: Exceptional work is preceded by extended waiting.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Waiting Game

Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

I don’t know about you but this is a powerful statement made by a man who was probably terrified to see or meet the fearsome Saul of Tarsus. Yet the question is a very powerful one to ask and to answer. What are you waiting for? Is there anything out there in life you want to do or get accomplished that you are waiting to do? What is causing you not to move or get what needs to be experienced or finished? What are you waiting for?

Someone describe for me what waiting is like in your life? Is waiting something positive and helpful or something very annoying? What about our culture and society, is it funded on waiting or are there other acts of behavior that is much different? Are there different definitions for waiting that you might have experienced?

Those who are in the scriptures regularly and study the different characters found in the Bible are quick to learn that one of God’s best tools to prepare his servant for an important task is the tool of waiting.

Principle: God prepares and makes ready His servant to do great things through the discipline of waiting.

In fact the British author, James Stalker writes it this way: “Waiting is a common instrument of provincial discipline for those to whom exceptional work has been appointed.”

The words in scripture that best describe the discipline of waiting are Delay, Lull, Pause.

Lets be clear on this, when we talk about waiting as a discipline, we are not talking about punishment but the ability to wait and move when the time is right in God’s calendar, not ours.

How many awesome things do you think you have missed in life because you were moving too fast? How many parents say that they aren’t ready for their kids to go to college because they grew up too fast and the parents didn’t have enough time to enjoy their kids growing up? They were so busy raising their kids instead of enjoying their kids.

How long are you willing to wait for something precious or important in order to receive and enjoy the experience?

Waiting is hard to experience especially when God doesn’t reveal what his plans are, what the time table is and if He is even on board with what you want to do in life. Can you give me some examples of characters in the Bible who God disciplined through the act of waiting?

Many times in scripture the waiting period in someone’s life is described as being in the shadows. And when God’s servants emerged from the shadows, their impact was usually big.
Here is a principle to hold onto when you find yourself playing the waiting game:

Exceptional work is preceded by extended waiting.

This week several of our high schools and colleges celebrated the graduation of their graduates. I can remember when I graduated from college. I was ready to get out there and win the world. I had great plans and high expectations. I worked hard on my resume to make sure it was perfect and presented my credentials in the best light. At 22 years old I was ready to perform the next great awakening.

The problem was though, that is not at all how God works. In almost every case God prepares His servants most often through extended periods of waiting. These periods are designed to hone skills, break wills, to shape character and give depth. While He works, we wait.

There are so many scriptures that rest on the principle of waiting. The one that stands out to me the most is one that I have to constantly remember and think about.

Psalms 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

To me the picture that comes to mind is when one or all of my kids would try to run ahead of me in the mall or some place crowded and the words that would always come out would be “wait”. Ryno learned how to ride his big bike this weekend and it was impossible to keep up with him on a bike that could move a lot faster than the little one he use to have. I was constantly yelling to him way down the street to wait and not go across the street. Waiting on God means not to run ahead of Him or his preparation for our ministries impact.

I don’t know about you but I find myself in a hurry a lot of times. Most of my mistakes at work usually happen when I’m in a hurry. What about you, do you find your life more on the hurry side or on the waiting side? Which do you prefer?

We read in scripture that Paul too had some waiting time before God really used him to the fullest. Soon after his conversion and baptism, Saul went to Arabia for three years to be taught by God, to learn in solitude the things God wanted Saul to know. Shortly after he returns to Damascus, Paul finds himself a wanted man and has to flee. His friends help him return home to Tarsus. Most scholars believe Saul spent almost 5-6 years in Tarsus waiting on God’s timing for him to come out from the shadows. By the time the Apostle Paul was ready, he was probably in his mid-forties.

By the time we get to Acts 11, the fire of revival was sweeping the region. Even though Paul was in the waiting mode, the Holy Spirit wasn’t. The message of Jesus was spread to almost every area mainly to Jews but that began to change. Peter met with Cornelius (a Gentile) and God showed to both Peter and the church that the Gospel was to go out to all men, both Jews and Greeks.

Acts 11:19-24 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Something is radically missing from this scene; can someone tell me what it is? Why send Barnabas to Antioch? Acts 4:36 tells us that Barnabas was from Cyprus and several people in Antioch were also from there. Barnabas was perfect to go there because he knew the language and knew their culture.

There is a significant point found in this passage that many in the church today forget; even I do this from time to time but God is working on my mindset and changing me. What is it?

True or False: People are brought to the Lord, not to the Church. It is Jesus who adds the believer to His Church, not us.

If this is true, then how should this impact us here at MPCC?

As this great revival is going on, Paul is in the shadows in Tarsus, many miles away from Antioch. I didn’t really think about this before until I started to prepare for this lesson but life for Paul probably wasn’t very cozy. He returned home to an area that was very Jewish converted to believing that Jesus is God and His Lord. I doubt that revelation went over very well with the Jewish authorities in Tarsus. Most likely he would not have been welcomed in his own home, his own community or his local synagogue. Most scholars believe he would have been in hiding. But don’t miss the big picture here; it was during this time that Saul lost his confidence in the flesh that he wrote about so many times.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4, 7 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

To understand the context of this passage better, if we do the math, 14 years from the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians would have been the time he was still in Tarsus. Paul, in the shadows was learning to count on God and not on the flesh. This was Paul’s greatest potential weakness since being a former Pharisee. Time in waiting helped to sure that problem in him. It didn’t just magically go away once he was converted to Christ; it took some time to remove so Paul was ready for what was really coming his way. Paul goes on to say:

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Have you ever prayed to God to help you in a great time of need and God seemed silent? I’ve herd people express that God isn’t listening or doing anything? Based on what Paul wrote in verses 9-10, what could be going on? Does God listen and act to our requests?

Acts 11:25-26 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

There is something really important here; it was Barnabas who went looking for Saul. Saul didn’t flood the ministry scene with his resume looking for a job. Saul waited until God called him.