All posts by Pat Gustafson

From The Desk Of Pastor Stan

Hello Bethel Wesley and friends, I thought I would try something different to see if you like it. I would like to share my favorite sermon for the month. This month’s sermon is “Learning to Wait on the Lord” which I preached on Father’s Day. Please pay attention to the scriptures noted in the sermon, as they will enable you to get a better understanding of the point I’m trying to drive home.

QUESTION: “What does it mean to wait on the Lord?”

ANSWER: The command to wait on the Lord is found extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is more about waiting for the Lord’s providential care, but most New Testament references relate to Christ’s second coming. In all cases, it is about waiting expectantly and with hope. Fundamental to being able to wait is trusting God’s character and goodness. <!–split–>

Waiting on the Lord is something the godly do. It’s about holding on tight, hoping with expectation and trust, knowing that our Lord is not making us wait just to see how long we can “take it.” There are times when God will delay His answer, and we will at times wonder why He seems so reluctant to intervene in our affairs: “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:3). But, knowing the Lord, we trust that He will come at the perfect moment, not a second too soon or too late.

Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan. Trusting God with the timing of events is one of the hardest things to do. The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” is not far removed from the truth of how we often approach matters of spiritual growth and the Lord’s will. To wait on the Lord produces character in the life of the Christian in that it involves patience (see James l:4). Waiting involves the passage of time, which is itself a gift of God.

The word wait in the Bible carries the idea of confident expectation and hope. “For God alone my soul waits in silence . . . my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:1,5 ESV). To wait upon the Lord is to expect something from Him in godly hope, “and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). We wait on the Lord in a way similar to how we wait on the arrival of out of town relatives, with loving anticipation of seeing them again. All creation eagerly awaits God’s restoration: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Those who wait for God to keep His promises will not be disappointed.

Waiting on the Lord involves being at rest in the Lord. Psalm 23 provides a lesson concerning being still. Sheep will not be at peace near rushing water, but they will lie contentedly by “still” water, and that’s where the Good Shepherd leads us (Psalm 23;2). The words “He makes me lie down” can be translated “He causes me to rest.” When we, like sheep, are still, we are resting in the Lord and trusting our Shepherd. Being still means we have ceased from following our own agenda or ingenuity; we have stopped trusting in our own strength and will power. We are waiting upon the Lord to exchange our weakness for His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” and, as he gains spiritual insight, he understands that the affliction is a protective suffering meant by God to keep him from sin. As a result, the apostle is content to rest in God’s grace. God does not remove the thorn; He gives Paul a place to be still in the bearing of it. Paul learned to be still and wait on the Lord.

To wait on the Lord is to rest in the confident assurance that, regardless of the details or difficulties we face in this life, God never leaves us without a sure defense. As Moses told the panicky Israelites trapped at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The heavenly perspective comes as we focus not on the trouble but on the Lord and His Word. When it seems God has painted us into a corner, we have an opportunity to set aside our human viewpoint and wait upon the Lord to show us His power, His purpose, and His salvation.

When we don’t choose to wait on the Lord, we solicit trouble for ourselves. Remember how Abraham and Sarah did not wait on the Lord for their child of promise; rather, Sarah offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to have a child through her. The account in Genesis 16 and 18 shows that their impatience led to no end of trouble. Any time we fail to wait on the Lord and take matters into our own hands – even when we’re trying to bring about something God wants – it leads to problems. When we “seek fir the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, ESV), we can allow God to work out the rest of the details.

This doesn’t mean we sit idly by as we wait on the Lord to act on our behalf. We should not spend our time doing nothing; rather, we should continue to do the work He has given us to do. Psalm 123:2 says, “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he show us his mercy.” That is, we should look to God with the constant anticipation and willingness to serve that a servant shows to his master. The idea of waiting on the Lord is not like waiting for the dentist in the waiting room (thank goodness!) Rather, the sense of waiting on the Lord is somewhat akin to what a waiter or waitress does in a restaurant. Our attitude and actions should be as those of a waiter anticipating and meeting the requests of the one he’s waiting on. Our waiting on the Lord is not biding our time until we finally get the service we’ve been waiting for; it’s filling our time with service to the Master, always on our feet, ready to minister.

The command to wait on the Lord means that we are to be near Him and attentive so that we may catch the slightest intimation of what He wants for us. We naturally think of ourselves as self-sufficient. We turn here and there and expect help from our own ability, from friends, or from circumstances. But in the spiritual life we are taught to distrust self and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting on the Lord involves the confident expectation of a positive result in which we place a great hope – a hope that can only be realized by the actions of God. This expectation must be based on knowledge and trust, or we simply won’t wait. Those who do not know the Lord will not wait on Him; neither will those who fail to trust Him. We must be confident of who God is and what He is capable of doing. Those who wait on the Lord do not lose heart in their prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (I John 5;14). Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Prayer and Bible study and meditating upon God’s Word are essential. To wait on the Lord we need a heart responsive to the Word of God, a focus on the things of heaven, and a patience rooted in faith.

We should not despair when God tarries long in His response, but continue to patiently wait on Him to work on our behalf. The reason God sometimes waits a long time to deliver is to extend the goodness of the final outcome. “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18, ESV).

Stay Safe in the Heat

We can get overwhelmed by heat. Certain factors increase the risk. Anyone can be affected by a heat-related illness. But it is more common in infants, young children, older adults and people who have chronic health conditions or when outdoor temperatures and humidity levels rise. The good news is, there are ways families can prevent these illnesses. <!–split–>

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute! Vehicles heat up fast, even on cool or cloudy days.
  • Check weather reports regularly. Watch the temperatures and the heat index. Watch for heat warnings and advisories.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear clothing that is loose, lightweight and light colored. This will absorb less heat and allow sweat to evaporate better.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other sugar free fluids, even if you aren’t thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Provide plenty of water for pets too.
  • Limit outdoor activities. Avoid strenuous activities, including exercise, during the hottest part of the day (usually between 10 AM and 4 PM)
  • Prevent sunburn. Getting a sunburn can make it harder for the body to stay cool. Keep babies under 6 months of age out of the sun. For older children and adults, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher any time you go outdoors. Wear a hat and sunglasses too.
  • Keep your home cool. Use air conditioning if you have it. Otherwise, use fans to keep air circulating in your home.
  • Seek relief. If you do not have air conditioning, spend a few hours a day somewhere that does. For example, go to a local mall, library, senior center or cooling station.
  • Check on loved ones and neighbors. Older adults and people with health conditions are often more sensitive to the heat. When it’s warm out, check in regularly with any family members, friends or neighbors who fall into one of these groups.
  • Be alert for signs of heat-related illness. Heat cramps – heavy sweating and painful muscle cramps or spasms. Heat exhaustion – heavy sweating, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and cool, pale skin. Heat stroke – very high body temperature, hot red skin, confusion, fast pulse, dizziness, throbbing headache, shallow breathing, seizures and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency!
  • Medical help. Any symptoms of heat stroke require immediate medical treatment. Call 9-1-1 or your emergency number right away!
  • Get medical help if the person has high blood pressure or heart problems, symptoms do not improve within 1 hour, symptoms worsen.

Have fun and stay safe this summer! Your Parish Nurse, Kara

July Fellowship Luncheon

Join those of retirement age (55 and older) for the July Fellowship Luncheon on Thursday, July 25 at Noon in the Activity Center. This month’s menu: POTLUCK – Bring your favorite dish to share! Table service and drink will be provided. Please RSVP to Steve or Mary Ann Harvey at 786-2062.

Church Yard Sale

A Yard Sale in the church parking lot is coming up on August 3 or 10 from 9:00am-Noon.  There’s no charge for a table and people can donate their profits to Our Conference Our Kids project. Each individual is responsible for setting up and taking home unsold items.

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Come to an informational meeting on Sunday, August 25th from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at Bethel Wesley. You will learn: *the importance of self care; *crisis preparation strategies; *effective communication strategies; *understanding diagnoses, treatment and recovery; *NAMI and community resources. This free seminar is led by trained people with lived experience of a mental health condition.

Ice Cream Social

The United Methodist Women (UMW) of Bethel Wesley will be dishing up ice cream and goodies – Come and enjoy!

Sunday, 23 June – 4:30-6:30 pm – Activity Center

Tickets available at the door.

$3/Adults.  $2/Kids (10 & under).  Price includes pie or cake, ice cream, drink.

Also available:  $3/Sloppy Joe or Polish Sausage.  $2/Hot Dogs.

June Fellowship Lunch

Join those of retirement age (55 and older) for the June Fellowship Lunch, Thursday, June 27 at Noon in the Activity Center. Cost is $5/person. This month’s menu:

Indoor picnic:  Chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and dessert.

Please RSVP to Steve or Mary Ann Harvey, 309-786-2062.

Save the date!! “Church Casserole Cook-off” will be Saturday, November 2 from 4 – 7 pm here in the Activity Center of Bethel Wesley.

Event attendees will enjoy a buffet meal from Jeff’s Market, Blue Grass.  Quad-City cooks are invited to prepare and enter their favorite casserole(s) in main dish, side-dish, and dessert categories to be judged by event attendees.  Silent auction, food baskets, prizes, and entertainment by a local comedy troupe round out the festivities. 

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children 6-12, and children 5 & under are free.  Funds will directly benefit the food pantry and hot meal site hunger ministry of Churches United.