1. There is a bumper sticker, “If God puts you on hold—Don’t hang up.”
a. How many have ever been put on hold?
b. How many have ever gotten mad when you were on hold?
c. How many have hung up?
3. This sermon is about what to do when God puts you on hold.
B. PEOPLE WHO WERE PUT ON HOLD
1. Moses was on hold for forty years on the backside of the desert, before God spoke at the burning bush.
2. David was chased by Saul for sixteen years in the wilderness, before he was crowned King of Judah.
3. Jesus let Lazarus die, then waited before showing up at the cemetery. He kept Mary and Martha waiting four days.
C. SOME PEOPLE GET THROUGH IMMEDIATELY
1. Jairus came to beg for the life of his daughter, Jesus went with him immediately.
2. The nobleman came to beg for the life of his sick son, Jesus healed him immediately.
3. The man who was lame 37 years at the Pool of Bethesda, immediately walked.
D. WHY GOD PUTS US ON HOLD
1. You are on hold because God is testing your character. “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations (different kinds of testing), knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2,3).
Here’s the way the NIV interprets this passage:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testings of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4 NIV).
We are to hold on by faith, which means we bring honor to God; but it also means we develop stronger faith in Him.
WHY? We are on hold to make us more like Jesus.
2. You are on hold because God is purifying your motives. Sometimes we are put on hold because God wants to check the motives of why we ask, or why we work. Note what James says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lust” (James 4:3). In the NIV James says, “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3 NIV).
3. You are on hold because God is focusing your faith. There are many times when we lose our focus. It may be because of fear, impatience or doubts. Mary and Martha sent a message to tell Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. The sisters expected Jesus to heal from a distance, but He did nothing for two days. Then Jesus took approximately two days to get to Bethany. Lazarus had been dead for four days. In the interim, Mary and Martha both kept saying to one another, “Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother had not died” (said by Martha, John 11:21). “Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother had not died” (said by Mary, John 11:32).
Mary and Martha doubted the Lord could raise him from the dead. They were weeping because Lazarus died, and they lost their faith in Jesus as the miracle worker. They had more faith in death, than they had in Jesus who said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
James tells us something about how to focus our faith. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like the wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the LORD” (James 1:6,7). NIV puts it like this: “But when you ask, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the waves of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the LORD” (James 1:6,7 NIV).
4. You may be on hold because God may be dealing with unconfessed sin.
Sometimes when we do not hear from God, because of sin in our life. Isaiah says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your...