Old Brick Reformed Church, Organized 1699

490 Route 520 • P.O. Box 153 • Marlboro, NJ 07746

Office Phone: (732) 946-8860 • Office Fax: (732) 946-9254

Secretary's Email: secretary@oldbrickchurch.orgInfo

Sunday Worship: Cancelled Until Further Notice

Pastor Kaden's Sermon Notes for Sunday May 24, 2020

"Waiting on the Lord"

How patient are you? How well do you do when you have to wait for things? Over the past few months, we've all had to wait for a whole host of things. We wait in long lines to buy groceries. We're waiting for the Governor's o.k. to return to work and church. We're waiting for the nod that will give us approval to visit loved ones and friends in nursing homes once again. And, as we wait for these things and others, all the while our patience is being put to the test.

Watching news broadcasts lately from across the country, it appears that for some folks their patience has worn really thin. Sign carrying crowds have taken to the streets, exercising their civil liberties; angrily protesting lock down orders. Others, experiencing an incredible financial strain because their business has been closed for so long have reopened their business in direct defiance of government mandates. While receiving daily fines and facing possible imprisonment they stand in defiance because they're patience has reached its limit, they've tired of waiting.

They remind me of the man who was in a supermarket food shopping. He had a baby in the shopping cart and the child was screaming bloody murder. A woman happened to be watching the man and she was impressed as she heard him repeat, over and over again, "Keep calm, Albert, it will be alright. Keep calm, Albert, everything's going to be o.k." The woman was so impressed she went over to the man and said, "Sir, I have been watching you and I have to commend you for being so patient with little Albert here." The man smiled at the woman and said, "Thank you, Madam, but I am Albert."

Again, how patient are you? How well do you do when you have to wait for something? How well is your patience holding up in light of the impact coronavirus has had upon you?

The weeks feel like they've been kind of a blur to me lately. One week seems to spill over into the next quickly. Have they felt that way to you? The days move on so rapidly I sometimes have to stop and think about which day of the week it is. And because this may be true for you too, you probably aren't aware of it but Sunday, May 24th is the Sunday before the celebration of Pentecost. Pentecost, the day we remember the disciples receiving and being empowered with the arrival of the Holy Spirit is next Sunday, May 31. This Sunday represents therefore, an in-between time in the life of Jesus' disciples. Only a short time before Jesus rose from the dead. For the next forty days, Jesus makes various post resurrection appearances to his disciples until his ascension back into heaven. Following his ascension, obedient to an angels command, the disciples return to Jerusalem and wait for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 1, Dr. Luke records all of these events. He writes:

"In my former book, (the former book being the Gospel of Luke), Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

After his sufferings, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

Jesus tells the disciples they are to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit would empower them to be Jesus' witnesses throughout the known world, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, so the disciples wait in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of Jesus' promise. And what did they do as they wait on God for the Holy Spirit's coming? Did they just sit on their hands or tap their fingers on a desk impatiently? No, not at all.

G. Campbell Morgan helps us to understand what their waiting time was like when he says: "Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means first, activity under control. Second, readiness for any new command that may come. And third, it means, the ability to wait patiently until the command is given."

I like that. G. Campbell Morgan teaches us, waiting is, activity under control, it's active engagement. The disciples were busy as they waited on God. They didn't waste this time. They invested this waiting time in prayer. They devoted themselves to worship. They supported and encouraged one another. They lived in hopeful expectation. They believed the Lord would be faithful to his promise so they stayed spiritually sharp and alert.

For some people waiting can be really hard, it tests their patience. They don't like to wait for anything. They want everything done in a hurry. They want to know the answers to the who, what, when, where, and why questions right away. They can't stand having to wait especially when it seems there is no end to the waiting period as it feels to so many right now with coronavirus.

God, however, doesn't work like that. God's timetable is often very different than our timetable. God is patient and long-suffering and his ways are often mysterious. He sees the entire picture while we only see "through a mirror dimly" right now. So, we often have to wait on God until he clears things up for us. In such moments of waiting we must do as J. I. Packer suggests, "live out the belief that God is ordering everything for the spiritual good of his children." What have you been doing in these days of waiting? Are you investing the time, or have you been wasting time?

I wonder if you've ever heard the story about the bamboo tree? Someone plants the seed, they water and fertilize it, but the first year nothing happens. The second year they water and fertilize, and still nothing happens. The third and fourth years they water and fertilize the tree and again, nothing happens. Then, the fifth year they water and fertilize it, and sometime during the course of the fifth year, in a period of approximately six weeks, the bamboo tree grows, (now get this), roughly ninety feet.

The question is, did the tree grow in six weeks or did it grow ninety feet in five years? The answer is that it grew ninety feet in five years, because had the planter not applied the water and fertilizer each year there would have been no growth, no bamboo tree at all.

We've all had these kinds of bamboo tree experiences in our lives. We're experiencing one right now. How is God using these waiting days of coronavirus to nurture and grow our faith? And, perhaps a better question, how patient are you as you wait for God to reveal His will?

Hymn writer Fanny Crosby wrote over 9000 wonderful hymns such as "Blessed Assurance, To God Be the Glory, and Safe in the Arms of Jesus." She wrote one hymn however that almost got lost and that would indeed have been sad because the words of this great hymn encourage us to wait on the Lord. Appropriately, the hymn is titled: "Wait on the Lord". Here are some of the words:

Wait on the Lord, wait cheerfully, And He will thy youth renew;
Wait on the Lord obediently, Whatever He bids thee do.
Wait on the Lord, for whom hast thou, On earth or in heaven but He?
Over thy soul a watch He keeps, Whatever thy path may be.

The disciples waited on the Lord and, on Pentecost Day, the Spirit of God arrived with tremendous force and power. He transformed these once reluctant followers into bold and vibrant witnesses for Christ. And the Holy Spirit will do the same inside each of us as we yield our lives to his control.

Did you realize, you and I are in a waiting period in the life of the Church right now? Well, we are. We are waiting for our Lord's return to the earth at his Second Coming. The New Testament calls the second coming of Christ, "the blessed hope of the church" and it really is. Jesus will return in glory to establish his kingdom forever.

Until the Day of his return, let's wait patiently on the Lord. Let's wait cheerfully, obediently, eagerly, and let's continue to serve him faithfully each day by doing his will. Let's invest this waiting time wisely in prayer and worship. Let's be his witnesses in the world, spreading the gospel and sharing the Good News of Christ with others. And let's encourage one another to remain faithful to Jesus until... HE RETURNS!

Need more? Why not take a look at the following:

Psalm 27: 1-6, 11-14, Psalm 130, Isaiah 40: 25-31, Matthew 25: 1-13, Titus 2: 11-14.

God bless you all

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17

Just a footnote: And let's not forget, on this Memorial Day weekend, all who have made the supreme sacrifice for our freedom. Let's remember them and their families who have paid such a great price.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor George Kaden

Reformed Church
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RCA The Reformed Church in America is a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

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