As I lay upon my bed seeking the Lord, I begin to sing in my mind “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV). Then I wondered, “How, Lord, do I ‘wait’? How can I draw strength if I am idle? If understood this way, it does not correspond with other scriptures.”
I researched this scripture to see what it meant to “wait upon the Lord”. The words “But they that wait upon” is taken from one Hebrew word meaning to bind together, perhaps by twisting, i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect. Here we see action on the part of the believers. When Christians come together they are strengthened; they become a much greater force. They are able to see from higher heights and to soar above the chaos that is in the world. Through their combined force, they are able to grow spiritually and are better prepared to walk in righteousness and face the enemy without becoming weary and giving up. All Christians need to participate in their own spiritual growth; they need to learn how to look up and “see” word meanings, learn to “listen” to others, learn to “share the Word” with confidence, learn to patiently submit to one another, and “be obedient” to the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 40:31 is incomplete without going to the next verse, chapter 41:1 goes directly with it, saying, “Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment [let us have the same judgment].” In this scripture, we see that the way the people renew their strength is by speaking to each other, and making judgment or you could say, reasoning together and trying the spirit to see it in the right perspective. This is not only the responsibility of the pastor of a church; it is also the responsibility of all Christians. (See Isaiah 1:17-20.)
One day I was visiting with a Christian lady who shared with me that she was troubled because she had asked a question in her Bible class that caused the teacher to feel intimidated. She truly wanted to understand the Word, but the teacher wasn’t able to bring himself to say that he didn’t know how to answer her question, nor did he take advantage of the situation and ask the members if there were any who would like to expound on the subject so he too might learn. The atmosphere was then changed from positive to negative. She was later asked by one of the members not to attend that class. She was told that she should not have questioned a teacher. In reality, were they truly fellowshipping “with” each other? Sadly, this type of incident happens quite often in Church gatherings and it should not be this way.
Christians need to come together to be a strength one to the other, to “learn” righteousness, to discover their weaknesses, to learn how to relieve the troubled, the lonely, and deserted. In the past, people were satisfied to be just benchwarmers listening to the minister without questioning the authenticity of the word given. But we, as a people, are more educated; we literally have information available at our fingertips. Now more than ever before, we can see that being of one mind is in the realm of possibility.
Believers exchanging thoughts and asking questions should not hinder the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) but should make them more effective. These ministries are for the perfecting of the “saints”, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13:11). All Christians are active in at least one of these ministry callings.
As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we really communicating and sharing in fellowship with one another or are we just coming into a building and listening to the speaker and then walking away never knowing the experience of coming together in the unity of faith?” Are we only hearers of the Word and unable to speak the Word? Christians are all called upon to judge the words that they hear according to the Holy Spirit. Any time there is opposing ideas, both cannot be true. If it is the truth that sets us free from sin and death, then it is vital that we learn which one is truth.
Our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). Every man’s work will be made manifest: for the day (the light of truth) will make it clear, because it shall be revealed by fire; the fire will try every man’s work to reveal whether it is of a truth and reveal its value. If any man’s work stands firm and true which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. We are the temple of that consuming fire, and this fire dwells in us working “in” and “through” each of us? (1 Cor. 3:13-16).
Coming together in small groups for open discussion gives opportunity for development of righteous attitudes. We are never to come together to point the finger at one another; we are to share positive thoughts, and the “you are not acting right” and the “I don’t know what to do” will come to light by the Holy Spirit through the sharing of the anointed word. (See also Philippians 2:1-3 and 2 Cor. 13:11.)
Our Lord doesn’t want the bashful and silent to always be so, or the fearful to remain fearful, any more than he wants them to remain ignorant. Ministers need to make themselves open and accountable for the word they teach or preach. How can the younger members of the body learn to hear the Spirit of the Word and interact in the Word if they are not given the opportunity to question the word without offence? They need to be encouraged to “reason together” concerning the message they hear so they and the minister might be strengthened together, buffeted, tried, and challenged in the Spirit of Truth. This is true fellowship!
Some may struggle as they experiment and rehearse the truths they hear in their spirit, but if they don’t share and question what’s being said they will miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. We all must strive to express the Word of the Holy Spirit clearly and understandably. But we must be willing to go through His winepress where the grapes are crushed. The grapes are a type of that which we produce, our fruit, and the winepress is the judgment that comes upon us by those who question us.
If Christians are not diligent, and if they refuse to study and struggle to express truth in their own words, they will not be a light to those in darkness. Ministers should encourage personal prayer and Bible study. They should encourage their students to ponder on what the Spirit is revealing to them and get it into their minds in a way that they can share it. They should stir up their minds to think through what they believe. Their faith is not really theirs until they make it theirs through research, prayer, the anointing, sharing, and expression. Oswald Chambers, in My Upmost for His Highest, wrote, “The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression and speak it clearly and boldly.”