How Long Oh Lord? – Last week we emphasized the need to encourage yourself by Hearing the Right Voice. We all go through seasons when it feels like nothing is happening, or worse, we seem to be moving farther away from our dream. Our prayers turn to complaining. I was surprised to find how many times David prayed with the phrase, “how long?” in the Psalms. Here are two of several dozen.
How long , O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Ps 13:1-2
How long must your servant wait? Ps 119:84 NIV
“Making” a move – The Lord does answer the “How Long?” prayer very clearly just as He did with David. The answer comes with an invitation to take an action that will make something happen. Most of us have been programmed to wait for God to do something when we get stuck. Yet, in reality, it’s nearly always God waiting on us to move.
Listen to the whine in Joseph and listen to the Father’s counsel in Joshua… first the whine (“why?” followed by “it’s too hard”); then the exhortation.
The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.” “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.” Josh 17:14-15
The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” But Joshua said to the house of Joseph — to Ephraim and Manasseh — “You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.” Josh 17:16-17
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t hear a lot of sympathy or an offer to do it for them in Joshua’s response; I just hear, “You can do it. Get to work and take your inheritance.”
Growing Up – When I was about 14 on the ranch, I was horseback checking cows one day far from home. I noticed a corner post was had rotted off and the fence was down. I was feeling pleased that I had found a potential problem and when I got home I told dad about it. I still remember his look. He just said, “Well, you know what to do about it.” So, I got the pickup, loaded up a new post along with the wire stretcher and took off. Fencing was never my favorite pastime. When I got back to the broken post and started digging it out I found the post was set in sand stone. It took a good hour to get the bottom of that old post out and the new one it. When I got back home that night I told dad what a job it was in a somewhat complaining tone and asked if he knew the post was set in sand stone. He gave me that same fatherly smile and said, “Who do you think put that post in the first time?” That fencing trip was the first time dad sent me off in the pickup to work alone. When all was said and done, I felt more like a man… because my dad was treating me like one… leading me to take initiative and share the sense of responsibility. Father God is doing the same thing with Kings right now.
Spiritual Maturity – When stuck, servants wait for direction, sons wait for help, but Kings make a plan and get to work. Let’s go back to Joshua (our picture of Father God).
…there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. Josh 18:1-4
Can you hear Father God asking the question, “How Long?” Joshua asks them to appoint men to make a survey, divides up the land by tribe, and tells them to possess their inheritance. Here’s how it works; God’s blesses what we put our hand to (entrepreneurial work) and gives us land we step into (initiative).
The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. Deut 28:8 NIV
…I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates — all the Hittite country — to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Josh 1:1-5
Your inheritance is waiting for you to make a plan and work it. We used to call it presumption, but now we call it responsibility. You can make your dream a reality; 1) Find the desire of your heart that maps into God’s will, 2) prayerfully make a plan to get there, and 3) put your hand to the task. There is an amazing anointing on this simple process. It all starts when you give your heart permission to dream. Instead of doubting God’s blessing on your life, give Him the benefit of the doubt and do what it takes to receive your inheritance.
Put your heart in gear – We’ve been taught our need to surrender, wipe the slate clean, and otherwise eradicate every carnal desire of our heart. Few know how to encourage the desires of their heart and find the place where our desires and God’s desires are one. I want to suggest something radical… no, Biblical! Finding the will of God starts when you begin walking toward the desires of your heart. The whole concept of staying in neutral until you hear from God has roots in faulty theology; a belief that your heart is evil and full of carnal desires. God does steer us, tweak the plan, adjust the timing, etc. But we’re the ones that offer up the plan, discern it, commit it to the Lord, and proceed with it. He likes your initiative… Your will is not an enemy; It’s a God-given gift and the desires of your heart are “normally” an expression of something God put there just like he promised, “I will put my laws in their hearts.” (Heb 10:16)
To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. Prov 16:1
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Prov 16:9
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: Ps 37:4-5
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. Ps 37:23-24
When I previously read these verses, I could only see that God intervened and saved me from pursuit of my carnal desires. Now I can see what is plainly in the text; It’s my responsibility to put together a plan based on the desires of my heart… and oh by the way, they match God’s desires.
Let My People Go – Hearts must be discerned, discipled, counseled, mentored and matured. But spiritual maturity begins when we give our hearts permission to dream and make plans around those dreams. It’s a different lifestyle. A religious spirit is really opposing your heart’s desire and trying to live out some notion of what God wants you to do (usually defined by others). One is oppressive, life-killing, bondage. But making a plan to live the dream God put in your heart is alive, creative, prosperous, contagious, generous, and fun. It’s the basis for you to “bless the nations.” (Gen 12:2-3)
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” Ps 40:6-8 NKJV
We delight to do your will Lord. It’s in our heart. How do you move the hand of God? Move your hands.
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.