God Uses Time To Help You Grow

“At the right time I will hear your prayers. On the day of salvation I will help you” (Isaiah 49:8). “I am the Lord, and when it is time, I will make these things happen quickly”.

This is hard for us to accept because God’s waiting room is sometimes the most difficult place in life. We are in God’s waiting room when we’re in a hurry for something to happen but God isn’t. Maybe you’re in a hurry to graduate or get married or close a big deal. You’re watching the time get shorter and shorter, and you say, “God, there isn’t a whole lot of time left. This either has to happen now or it’s not going to happen at all.”

But God isn’t subject to time. Because he created time, he operates outside of time. That’s why the Bible says in Psalm 90:4 that a thousand years can seem like a few hours to God.

He uses time to test your faith and to build your character. While you’re working on your goal, God is working on you. And God’s much more interested in you than in what you’re trying to accomplish, because you’re not taking your accomplishments to heaven. You’re only taking your character.

A lot of times we think we’re waiting on God for something to happen, like a prayer to be answered. God says, “You’re not waiting on me. I’m waiting on you. I’m preparing you. I’m testing your faith and trying to mature you, because the blessing I want to give you is so much bigger than you can handle right now. Will you trust me?”

Delays can be part of God’s design, to teach you to trust him and to grow up in your character. Isaiah 49:8 says, “At the right time I will hear your prayers. On the day of salvation I will help you.” Not “might”—God will hear and answer and help, when the time is right.

Don’t Get Tired of Doing the Right Thing

“Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9).

If things don’t happen right away or when you think they should, that doesn’t mean you should quit. You need to be diligent. You need to have endurance. You need to keep on.

The Bible says, “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9).

This Christmas, where do you feel like giving up? Maybe you feel like giving up on your marriage. It may seem like it’s just dead and going nowhere. Maybe you feel like giving up on your career. You’ve tried and tried and tried to make a difference, and it just isn’t happening. Maybe you feel like giving up on your dream or a goal. Maybe you feel like giving up on yourself.

But think about this. A thousand years before you were born, God knew you would be reading this today, and his message to you is simple: Don’t do it. Don’t give up.

Don’t ever give up. The tunnel seems incredibly dark right now, but there is always a light at the end. It may be just around the corner! You are known, you are loved, and you have a purpose. Don’t get tired of doing what is right. Don’t think what you’re doing doesn’t matter. Don’t think anyone would be better off without you. Those are lies from the mouth of the Devil himself. Remember what God has said about you. Remember that he wants to bless you.

Don’t give up. Look up. Look up to God. Find a spiritual family—a church and a small group—to help you through the tough times. Meditate on God’s Word for encouragement.

Never give up on God. He will never give up on you!

God Is Always On Time

“The vision will still happen at the appointed time. It hurries toward its goal. It won’t be a lie. If it’s delayed, wait for it. It will certainly happen. It won’t be late” (Habakkuk 2:3).

God is never in a hurry, and he’s never late.

He’s always on time.

God’s timing is perfect, even when we can’t understand it. We’ll never really understand it, because God exists on a different wavelength. He has a different view of time because he is timeless.

The Bible talks about God’s understanding of time in 2 Peter 3:8. It says, “Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”.

Does that sound like the way you treat time? It might feel like a thousand years when I’m waiting for a meal sometimes, but we humans don’t think in those terms.

God’s timelessness has big implications for your life. When God created you, he put a dream in your heart. Most people start off with a big vision and a big goal. They have some kind of dream or plan or project for their life.

What vision has God given you? Over the years I’ve discovered that while everybody tends to start off early in life with a vision, as times goes on, more and more people give up on their dream before it’s accomplished because it doesn’t happen fast enough.

Maybe you have had your dream battered. Maybe you have had your dream broken. Or maybe, out of discouragement and disappointment, you have buried your dream. You’ve given up on it.

God doesn’t want you to do that. If God gave you a dream for your life, it will happen. It just has to happen on his timetable, not yours.

God says this about your dream: “The vision will still happen at the appointed time. It hurries toward its goal. It won’t be a lie. If it’s delayed, wait for it. It will certainly happen. It won’t be late” (Habakkuk 2:3 GW).

When I started Saddleback Church nearly 40 years ago when I was 25 years old, I was in a hurry to get everything done fast. But God said to me the same thing he will say to you with your dream: “No, it’s not all going to happen right now. But slowly, steadily, the vision will be fulfilled.”

I want you to remember a powerful truth this Christmas season: God is never early in your life. He is never late in your life.

God is always right on time.

Joseph Chose to Offer Grace

“Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly” (Matthew 1:18-19 l).

The Christmas story could have gone differently for Joseph. Think about it: God could have chosen to save Joseph a lot of confusion and pain by directly telling him about Baby Jesus. Instead, Joseph has to learn the news from Mary and possibly think his fiancoée’s been unfaithful to him.

What is God doing here? He is testing Joseph’s character. He wants to see if Joseph will be compassionate, forgiving, and loving. And instead of trying to get even or even getting angry, Joseph chooses to offer grace and let the pain go.

Mary was struggling with fear at the first Christmas, and Joseph was struggling with anger. This happens today in marriage after marriage. Often, one spouse is dealing with fear and the other is dealing with anger at the same time. Joseph had every reason to be hurt and wounded, but he didn’t attack Mary in his hurt. He offered her grace.

The Bible says in Matthew 1:18-19, “Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly”.

That’s a beautiful example of grace. Joseph doesn’t publicly embarrass her. He’s not trying to shame her. He just says, “Okay. We’re going to call off the wedding.” Joseph is put in a difficult situation, but he chooses to do what he thinks would honor God, not yet understanding that the Heavenly Father had a bigger plan for Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus.

Who has hurt you deeply? Are you still hanging on to that hurt? If you are, that’s one of the reasons you’re not joyful. You cannot be resentful and joyful at the same time. You’ve lost your joy because you’ve kept your resentment.

You’re not going to change anything by holding on to your hurt. Don’t forgive because the other person deserves it. Forgive because it’s what God has done for you. Offer grace, and let the pain go.

Do you want to be bitter, or do you want to be blessed? When you choose to show grace and let it go after people hurt you, you get God’s blessing on your life.

God’s Power Always Protects You

“And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

God is watching over you every moment of the day, just like a bodyguard would. Everything in life is Father-filtered — even the hard things caused by your sin or others’ sin — God can still use for his good.

That means God’s power protects you: “And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

When you find yourself in a situation where you feel hopeless, helpless, or powerless — that’s all a lie. You’re not hopeless, helpless, or powerless when you have God in your life.

Have you ever seen signs in front a house that says, “Protected by a security system”? Maybe we need a little sign to remind us, “Protected by God.”

The word “protect” in 1 Peter 1:5 means garrison. It is a military term that refers to sending soldiers to a town in order to protect it. They garrison the town, staying there to guard it. In the same way, you are continuously guarded by God.

All you have to do is, in faith, trust God is there with his protection.

Don’t Just Read Gods Word Study It!

“If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (James 1:25).

While you’re waiting on God to fulfill a dream or answer a prayer, he wants you to focus on what he’s told you in his Word.

The Bible is God’s Word to you. Did you know that it contains thousands and thousands of promises? Can you name one of them? If you can’t, then how in the world can you claim the promise? If you have an insurance policy but you don’t know what it covers, then you won’t know what you can claim if you have an accident.

God’s Word is the policy on your life, and if you don’t ever read it, you don’t know what God has promised to do in your life. When you don’t know what God has offered to do if you’ll trust him, it’s inevitable that you’ll be stressed out and worried.

The Bible says in James 1:25, “If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it”.

Do you want to be stressed, or do you want to be blessed?

The key to being blessed is to read, study, and remember God’s Word, and then you do what it says. The more you obey, the more you will be blessed.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).

God Has Already Written the Final Chapter of Your Life

“Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

No matter what happens for the rest of your life, if you have a relationship with Jesus, God guarantees your future. You will never be able to lose your salvation.

The Bible says, “Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

An inheritance is what you’re given because you belong to a family. Usually it’s given to you at someone’s death.

Peter gives us five declarations that describe our inheritance in heaven:

Reserved: You need a reservation to get into heaven, and you can only make that reservation through Jesus. Once you put in your reservation, it can never be canceled.

Pure: Your inheritance isn’t fake. It’s the real deal.

Undefiled: Your inheritance can’t be corrupted. You can’t lose it—ever.

Beyond the reach of change and decay: Your inheritance won’t wither, die, or lose its value.

Priceless: The value of your inheritance can’t be measured.

In fact, God has already written the final chapter of your life. If you’re a believer, you’ve got a reservation in heaven! And you cannot lose your salvation. You can trust in that. You can believe in that. You can place your hope in that.

When God Tests You, He’s Stretching You

“The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they follow my instructions” (Exodus 16:4).

You can find a lot of commands in the New Testament, and some of them are really inconvenient and uncomfortable—things like “Don’t worry about anything” or “In everything give thanks” or “Always return good for evil.” Some of them even seem impossible!

Yet every demand God makes of us is a test of faith. When God asks you to do something that stretches you, you have to decide: Are you going to trust a gut feeling that says it’s just too much for you to handle, or are you going to trust what God says is the right thing to do?

The fact is, God often asks us to do the impossible so we’re forced to depend on him.

God gave the Israelites a test in Exodus 16:4 when it came to how they were going to eat in the wilderness: “The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they follow my instructions”. He gave them seemingly crazy demands to test their faith and obedience.

God asked Abraham to leave the security of a known situation and travel to an unknown country where he had never been, to start a new nation. And Abraham obeyed and went.

God asked Noah to build an ark on dry land far from the ocean. Noah did what seemed crazy to everyone else and obeyed God.

When more than 5,000 people were hungry, Jesus told Andrew to feed them. God often asks his people to do the impossible to put us in a position where we have to trust him for a miracle. He wants to do that in your life, too.

Your faith increases not only when you rejoice continually through difficult circumstances but also when you obey immediately. That always builds your faith. When God says to do it, don’t sit around. Don’t wonder why it doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry about whether you’re able to do it in your own strength.

Just do it. Obey God right away, and trust that he will give you everything you need to fulfill his purpose. And he will grow you in faith.

While You Wait, God Is Working On You

“God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

If every prayer were answered immediately, if every need were instantly met, and if every problem were automatically solved, your faith would never be stretched. You’d be spoiled. You’d have no need for faith!

We’re humans, and we don’t like to wait. We hate it! We don’t like to wait in a doctor’s office or in a grocery store line or at stop signs. And you’d better not make us wait for our food at a restaurant!

But life is full of waiting. The Israelites had to learn this reality. Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart”. The journey the Israelites made from Egypt to Israel should have only taken a few weeks. But it took them 40 years! They wandered around and around because of their disobedience to God. And as they were experiencing one delay after another, God was testing them. He wanted to see what kind of faith they had.

God uses delays to test us, too, to see what kind of faith we have.

Do you ever feel in a hurry but believe God isn’t? God’s timing is perfect, but often his timetable doesn’t match ours. When we’re in a hurry, we always ask the “when” questions. “Lord, when am I going to find employment again?” “When am I going to find that right person to marry?” “When am I going to have a baby?” “When am I going to get well?” “When are you going to answer my prayer?”

Maybe you are in God’s waiting room right now. It’s not a lot of fun. But it is a necessary time of building your faith.

The Bible says in Isaiah 64:4, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him”.

This means that while you’re waiting, God is working. You may not be able to see it. It may be behind the scenes. But while you’re waiting for that answer to prayer, for that thing to change, for the circumstances to be different, God is working—and he’s working on you.

Giving And Faith Go Together

“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings” (Hebrews 11:4).

It’s interesting that the first person who gets mentioned in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Abel, one of Adam and Eve’s sons.

What did Abel do that caused him to be included alongside Moses and Abraham and other significant biblical heroes in Hebrews 11? As far as we know, Abel never did anything great. He never took any major risks. But he gave an offering in faith, and that pleased God. It’s not what Abel gave; it’s the attitude in which he gave it.

Giving and faith go together. God couldn’t care less about the amount you give. God doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart.

In fact, if you’re not giving in faith, don’t give, because you don’t get any credit for it. The Bible also says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

There are two ways to give: You can give by reason, or you can give by revelation. To give by reason is to figure out reasonably what you think you can give, but that doesn’t require any faith at all.

When you give by revelation, you let God reveal to you what he wants you to give in faith. It means you pray and ask, “God, how much do you want me to trust you for this time?” Then you do whatever he tells you to do.

Giving by faith helps you grow, mature, and become more like Christ!

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