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Waiting On God!

Habakkuk 2: 1-3

When we started this series on Habakkuk he was crying out for justice.
He was disturbed with the all the evil in the world around him.
God answered his cry with a promise that He would deal with the problem of evil and injustice in Judah.
He tells Habakkuk that he will send the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to destroy the country!
In the rest of the first chapter, we see the confusion of Habakkuk.

He remembers God's promises;
He recalls God's character;
Habakkuk asked God: "How are your actions consistent with your character and promises?"
Then he waits for God to answer.

He was disturbed and he did not understand why God wasn't acting, but he was confident
that God will answer his cry, and he was determined to wait until He does.
So, Habakkuk waited.

I don't know anyone who loves to wait.
We don't like waiting in traffic, or waiting in line at the supermarket where we always try
to get in the shortest lane only to wait even longer because someone ahead of us has a problem.
We hate waiting in line at the airport.
We don't like waiting for our computers to load.

We usually have to wait to see the doctor.
We also wait for the traffic light to change.
Some are waiting be accepted in college
Others are waiting for a job offer.
Some are waiting for a bank loan.
Some might be waiting, like Habakkuk to learn what God wants you to do, and are waiting
for your prayers to be answered.

That is what Habakkuk is doing.
Waiting is one of the hardest parts of the Christian life.
Many are wondering why it is taking God so long to answer.
Waiting can be painful when we are wondering if God is really listening.

After Habakkuk told God about his perplexity in Habakkuk chapter one, he goes on to say, in 2: 1:
" I will stand up on my watch, and set me upon my watch, and set me upon the tower,
and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved
."

The last phrase may mean, " What I shall answer when I am reproved by those who will not
like my message
," or " When I am reproved by God for what I have said",
or " what He will say unto me when He answers my complaint."
Habakkuk has come to realize that he must wait upon God.
It is not enough just to pray, and to tell God about our perplexities, and just to cast
our burden on the Lord, we must also wait upon God.

It is important to commit our problem to God.

So, we must stop focusing on the problem.
Habakkuk pictures a tower set upon a high point which would have a wide view
like that which is used by military observers in order to anticipate the arrival of an enemy.
The watchman is way above the plains and the crowds of people.
He has a vantage point where he can see everything that is happening.
Then, Habakkuk says: " I will watch to see what he will say unto me."

This is an important principle in the psychology of the Christian life and the understanding
of how to battle in the spiritual conflict.
Once we have taken a problem to God, we must not continue to concern ourselves with it.
We must put it aside, and focus our attention upon God.

This is usually where we go wrong.
We have a perplexity, and we have applied the prophetic method of laying down solid truths
and putting the problem in the context of those propositions which we have laid down.
But there is still no satisfaction, and we do not know what to do.

It may be the problem of what we are to do with our lives.
It may be some situation that is confronting us, and one that involves a difficult decision.
We have failed to reach a solution, despite looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance,
and there is nothing more for us to do -- we must take it to God in prayer.

But what happens sometimes is that we get on our knees and tell God about the problem
that is worrying us, and we tell Him that we cannot solve the difficulties ourselves,
and that we cannot understand the situation, so we ask Him to deal with it
and to show us His will and His way.
Then, no sooner than we get off our knees, we began to worry about the problem again.

When we do that, we might as well not have prayed.
When we take our problem to God, we must leave it with God.
We must not brood over it any longer.

Habakkuk in his perplexity says: " I am going to get out of this depression, and I am going
to the watch-tower; I am going to the heights; I am going to look to God and only to God
."
This is one of the most important principles of the Christian life.

If we have committed our problem to God and then, continue to think about it, it means
that our prayers were not genuine.
If we told God in our prayer that we had reached a dead-end, and that we could not solve
our problem, and that we were giving it to Him, then we must leave it with Him.
We must absolutely refuse to think about it or talk about it.

We must not go to another Christian and say, " I have a serious problem, and I don't know what to do.
What do you think
?"
We must not discuss it with others.
We must leave it to God and go to the watch-tower.
This is not easy for us to do for we have formed a bad habit of talking to several people
and getting a consensus opinion.
So, not discussing it with others might not come easy, but we must discipline ourselves
to leave it with God.
This is absolutely essential!

We must never allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by a difficulty or to be stuck with the problem.
We must immediately do what Habakkuk did: " I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower."
We must deliberately extricate ourselves to be free of this bad habit.
We must detach ourselves from it all together, and then we must start looking to God -- not at the problem.

In the years that I have pastored and in counseling many people, I learned an important principle
that is applies here.
The principle is that whatever we focus our attention on grows, and whatever we don't focus
our attention on diminishes.
If you are raising a garden and you focus attention on your garden, it will blossom and grow.
But if you don't give attention on your garden, it will wither and die.

So we must focus our attention on God and not on the problem.
When we focus our attention on the problem, it continues to grow from an ant hill to a mountain.
When we focus our attention on God, the problem diminishes.

There are endless illustration of this important principle in the Christian life in the Scriptures
and in Christian biographies.
Looking to God means that we are not dealing with the problem ourselves, and we are not
consulting other people, but we are completely depending upon God and " waiting" only upon Him.

Habakkuk looked at this problem, but he couldn't see a solution.
He was confronted by the fact that God was going to take those appalling Chaldeans
who were worse people than his own nation, and was going to use them for His own purpose.
He could not understand it, nor reconcile it with the holiness of God.
But he could and did take it to God.

Then having done so, he looked to God, and stopped looking at his difficulty.
We can always find spiritual peace by looking to God.
That is what Paul meant in Philippians 5: 6, 7: "... in nothing be anxious."
It doesn't matter what the cause is, we must never let ourselves be anxious,
and never let ourselves be burdened and overcomed with care.

We have no right to be perturbed.
Anxious care is not only spiritually crippling, but it is also physically debilitating.
Never be anxious but " in every thing" -- this is all-inclusive -- it means everything.
It means that " by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be "
made known unto God
."
And then, " The peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus
."

So Christian, get up in your watch-tower, and just keep looking up to God.
Look at nothing else, and especially, don't continue to look at your problem.
Look only to God.

After we commit our problem to God, we must expect an answer from Him.
Habakkuk says: " I will watch to see."
The task of a military watchman is to keep his eye on the landscape in front of him
for the slightest indication of movement of the enemy.
Habakkuk is looking for the answer.

After we have prayed to God, we must expect answers to our prayers.
After you have prayed, you must continue to look to God and eagerly wait for the answer.
We must be like Habakkuk on his watch-tower expecting the answer to come at any moment.

God will answer, and He may answer in a number of different ways.
For instance, we can expect God to answer us as we read His Word for this is the most
common way in which God answers us.
Many times as we read the Bible, we will be given a wonderful insight upon our problem.
It is the Word of God, and He speaks to us as we read it.
And as we read it, we should ask ourselves what God is saying to us,
and we will probably receive our answer.
So, we must watch and wait for it.

Sometimes God answers us directly within our spirit.
Habakkuk said: " I will watch to see what He will say in me."
God speaks to me by speaking in me
God can lay something upon our mind so clearly that we are certain of the answer.
He can impress something upon our spirits in such an unmistakable manner.
When this happens, we find that we are unable to get away from an impression
that stays on our mind or heart.
We try to rid ourselves of it, but it keeps on coming back.
This is how God sometimes answers our prayers.

Then there are times we receive answers of our prayers by God providentially ordering
our circumstances and the day-to-day happenings of our lives so that it becomes
very clear what God is saying to us.
God never calls us to do any work without opening the door.
He may take a long time, but if God wants us to do some special task, He will shut other doors
and open the one that He wants us to enter.
Our entire Christian life will be directed to that end.
This is true of all Christians.
This is a common experience of the Christian life.

God often allows obstacles that perplex us, but the way ahead remains clear.
Gods will is certain.
So, we must be watching for God's answers, and be able to recognize them when they come.
When we commit our problem to God, we must expect God to answer.
We must also compare one indication of guidance with another, because God is always
consistent with His dealings with me, and I can expect them all to converge.

So, We must watch and wait for the answer.

The third principle illustrated for us in Habakkuk is that we must watch eagerly and persistently,
like this watchman up on his tower.
We must believe that God is always true to His word, and that His promises never fail.
So when I have committed myself and my problem to God, I must continue to eagerly loo
for the answer because I know that God will answer.

If I believe God is my Father, and that the very hairs of my head are all numbered,
and that God is much more concerned about my welfare and my well-being than I am myself;
and, if I believe that God is much more concerned about the honor of His great and
holy name than I am, then it is dishonouring to God not to look for an answer
after I have prayed to Him.
It reveals a serious lack of faith in us.

Nothing shows the character of our faith as much as our conduct and attitude after we have prayed.
Christians of faith, not only prayed, but they expected answers.
Sometimes when we panic, we pray to God; then after the panic is over, we forget all about it.
The test of our faith is whether we expect an answer.
Habakkuk stood upon his watch, and set himself up on the tower.
Though Habakkuk could not understand God's actions, he took the problem to God
and then looked for an answer.
And so must we!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and pastor was arrested in April of 1943
for conspiring against the Nazi regime, and was eventually executed.
Shortly before his arrest, he had become engaged to a young woman named Maria.
It was several weeks before Maria learned of her fiance's imprisonment.
Little did either of them know that never again would they see each other outside
the walls of a prison.

They were able to correspond with letters which were published in a book called,
"Love Letters from Cell 92".
In December of 1944, after 18 months of imprisonment, Bonhoeffer wrote Maria a Christmas letter
in which he said, "We've now been waiting for each other for almost two years, dearest Maria.
Don't lose heart!"
And then, he sent her a poem which ends like this:

"By kindly powers so wondrously protected
we wait with confidence, befall what may.
We are with God at night and in the morning,
and, just as certainly, on each new day
."

Bonhoeffer knew what it was to wait.

Some of you may be waiting on God right now.
What should you do?

I would suggest that you do not fret against the Lord.
I would also suggest that you do not panic.
And you must not try to take matters into your own hands.
Do your duty each day as God shows it to you.
Surrender your life to the Lord — "Thy will be done."
Patiently, wait on God.
Get ready for the blessings that will come tomorrow by doing God's will today.

Remember the great promise to God to every waiting Christian:
"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 fain
t" (Isaiah 40:31)

Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White