One word from heaven is enough to turn any situation around. But one must be willing to wait upon the Lord to hear that word. In last weekend’s online service, Pastor Aries Zulkarnain unpacked what “waiting upon the Lord” entails.
Following his previous message on understanding the unforced rhythms of grace, executive pastor of City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Aries Zulkarnain taught the church what it means to step into the rhythms of grace on the weekend of Mar 21 and 22.
Psalms 62:1 (NIV) reads, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” The psalmist, King David, noted what it means to be saved by grace—the first thing to do is to find rest in God; salvation and deliverance come after that.
“The order is very important,” preached Pastor Aries. “In all of David’s experiences with crises and troubles, he learned that the best way to get out of them all was to wait upon the Lord until his soul finds rest in Him.”
This, however, is contrary to what Christians are accustomed to. “When we go through crises and troubles, our hearts find no rest, because we are running helter-skelter, looking for the solution,” the pastor said.
“We are in a hurry to devise our own plans to quickly get out of the crisis. We struggle to understand why a loving God is taking so long to answer us in times of our desperation, so we pray more to ‘push’ God into doing something for our situation.”
In trying times, some people may decide to change their behavior and become “good Christians”. For example, they may start praying more frequently, thinking that God would somehow be obligated to do something about their situation.
“This is what a ‘salvation by works’ mindset is,” warned Pastor Aries.
That is not to say that people should not pray. Reading Matthew 6:7-9 in the context of how God saves or delivers His people, Pastor Aries explained that God wants people to tell Him what they need, but He does not want people to use vain repetitions, thinking that they will be heard for their many words. In other words, God wants people to pray persistently, not mindlessly.
Further in the chapter, Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, and told them not to worry about their lives—He was telling them to pray so that they could enter into God’s rest, explained the pastor. When a person is worried, he becomes impatient and risks doing things out of God’s will. He might be able to get out of his current crisis, but he may eventually get into bigger trouble. But when he goes into a state of rest, his ears would be open to what God has to say.
“One word from heaven is enough to change our situation around,” reminded Pastor Aries. “The blessing of God comes out of the rest of God.”
Going back to the Psalm, Pastor Aries noted that David did not share how the salvation came. David was not waiting for God to tell him what to do, instead, he was waiting for God to deliver him.
Some may wonder how one can expect to receive when he or she is not doing anything. The pastor emphasized that waiting upon the Lord is not passive. Rather, it is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.
“God is a God of order,” stated the pastor. While there seems to be no activity, it does not mean that God is not working. When things are out of order, God rearranges things so that everything can be made right again.
In waiting in prayer, people become aware that God is still in action. It requires them to entrust themselves to the Lord and to flow with His plans.
“Be still, and know that He is God,” Pastor Aries reminded the church.
MOSES KNEW WHAT IT MEANT TO WAIT UPON GOD
In Exodus 24, God told Moses to go up to the mountain. Moses waited there for six days before God called him into the cloud. He stayed for forty days waiting upon God to speak to him concerning the laws and instructions of the land.
Pastor Aries noted that when Moses learned to wait upon the Lord, he was transformed into the image of God—and his face shone with His glory when he returned from the mountain top. When Moses returned, he only spoke what God wanted him to say.
But it was different with the people at the bottom of the mountain. Unlike Moses, the people did not wait on God—they grew restless and asked Aaron to make them a god out of gold.
“We are always looking for a religion that has no demands, only rewards. We are looking for a religion that bedazzles, and entertains, in which there is no waiting and no emptiness,” he said.
When they are waiting, people often arrive at the conclusion that this is not the kind of faith that they want. When God seems to be taking His time, people tend to look around for someone or something else that can provide some kind of activity—just as the Israelites turned to Aaron who made a golden calf, turning the people’s boredom into a spiritual activity—in order to get some direction.
“In a moment of impatience, we may turn our backs on the love of God and on God Himself. That’s what we want to avoid,” preached Pastor Aries.
Isaiah 40:31 teaches that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall run and not be weary.” The word “weary” refers to “tired of”. A person who runs and gets tired can stop and rest, and continue again. However, a person who is weary, or tired of running, will stop running completely.
“If you do not know how to rest in God, you will only know how to quit God,” said Pastor Aries.
In closing, he reminded the congregation that God speaks to them when they meditate. He challenged them to meditate on a particular verse and write down 50 things or revelations from that verse. He elaborated that out of the 50 things, the top five that speak the most to them would be revelations that came after some time of staying in God’s presence.
“In order for you to hear from God, it requires you to wait upon Him,” said Pastor Aries. “One word from heaven is enough to change our destiny.”