Virtue 25 - Patience

 

We’re in our BELIEVE SERIES. WHAT DO WE BELIEVE / WHAT DO WE PRACTICE/ WHO ARE WE BECOMING.

 

Today, we are talking about having the Virtue of PATIENCE in our lives.  (Fruit of the Spirit).

 

My guess is most of us are better at impatience than patience. 

 

A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard when, suddenly, the light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she was still in a mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit the car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, an officer approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.”“Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!”

 

Impatience and being like Jesus don't go together. 

 

The Bible is full of stories of how patient God was with people.

 

When you think back on the story of your own life-  how many can see that God has been patient with you?

 

Key Question – How does God provide the help I need to deal with stress?

 

God’s desire is for all of us to walk in the path of patience.

 

Key Verse – Proverbs 14:29 – A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

 

This scripture is one that I’d really encourage you to memorize, for those times when your patience is running thin.

 

Have you ever witnessed someone, not your toddler but a grown man or woman, have a complete meltdown because they don't get their way?  Doesn't it look immature and silly?

 

Key Idea: I am slow to anger and endure patiently under the unavoidable pressure of life.

 

I’d like to say that I behave this way all of the time and in every situation.  But, let’s be honest here... We all have days and instances where we mess up and are quick to get angry or lose our patience.  

 

We must learn to “endure under pressure” and be “slow to anger” to survive in this world we live in.

 

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

There was a middle-aged man who took in his aging mother. He was married and had three children. They would gather for dinner each night, everyone sitting around the table. Every night his feeble mother would do something that would irritate the heck out of him. She would spill her drink, drop food on the floor, let go of a plate of food as it was being passed. One night the man lost his patience and yelled at his mom and told her from now on she had to sit at a separate table and eat by herself. Sure enough, the next night he set up a separate card table and sat his mom and her food to dine all by herself. His young son asked, “Dad, are you putting grandma at her own table because she keeps spilling things, dropping food on the floor and breaking plates?” “Why yes son, why are you asking?” The son replied, “I just wanted to know how we are supposed to treat you when you get older and come to live with us.”

 

Offer the patience today that you would like to receive tomorrow.

 

How amazingly great our lives would be if we truly became more patient people. Well, guess what? In Christ, it can be so. 

 

In the meantime, maybe we need to peel a few of the Christian bumper stickers off our cars.

 

We are impatient, but God is patient. God’s timing is not our timing.

 

2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

 

A young boy was having trouble understanding this so he asked God, “How long is a million years to you?” God said, “A million years is like a minute.” Then the boy asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” God said, “A million dollars is like a penny.” The boy thought for a moment and asked, “God, will you give me penny?” God answered, “In a minute.”

 

Ephesians 4:2 (ESV) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

 

Because we are human we have faults. And when we encounter those faults in another person our fire can come to a quick boil.

 

Patience will dial back the knob on the burner to a low position. We’ll slow down our response. We’ll react first with love instead of judgment, compassion instead of anger.

 

A man noticed a lady in the grocery store with her 3 year-old in her cart. The child asked for cookies. Her mother said no. The little girl began to cry loudly. The mother patiently said, "Now Missy, we’re half way done, it won’t be long." The same thing happened in the candy aisle. This time the little girl kicked and screamed. The mother said, "There, there, Missy, only two more aisles and then we’ll be done." At the checkout counter, the child reached for the gum. When her mom said no she began to scream louder than ever. The mother said patiently, "Missy, we’ll be through this checkout stand in five minutes and then we can go home and both have a nice nap." The man followed them out to the parking lot and complimented the woman. "I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Missy." The mother replied, "Thank you, but, my little girl is Francine... Uh, I’m Missy."

 

James 5:7-12 (ESV) Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10  As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 12  But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

 

Today we're going to look at what James has to say on "How do you develop patience."

 

You need patience in every area of your life. In this passage, James uses the word "patience" or "perseverance" six times.

 

He uses three different illustrations to teach us when to be patient, why be patient, and how to be patient.

 

WHEN SHOULD I BE PATIENT?

 

James isn't saying we have to be patient all the time but there are three special times when you need that extra dose of patience:

 

1.  When Circumstances Are Uncontrollable

 

Have you figured out that a lot of life is beyond your control? You cannot keep your thumb on everything.

 

James uses a farmer as an example of when circumstances are uncontrollable.

 

James 5:7 (ESV) Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

 

James gives us some advice: Don't go into farming unless you've got patience.

 

Part of the job description of being a farmer is you do a lot of waiting:  waiting to til, waiting to plant, waiting to prune...  waiting to harvest… there are a lot of factors in waiting.

 

You deal with a lot of uncontrollable factors -- circumstances -- in life.

 

2.  When People Are Unchangeable

 

I should be patient when people won't change. He gives an example of the prophets.

 

James 5:10 (ESV) 10  As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

 

What was the duty of prophets?  To help people change, bring them back to God, to be different in their behavior.

 

Have you noticed that people resist change?  When you make any little tiny suggestion, they resist you!

 

Do you have anybody in your life right now that refuses to change? Do you know how difficult it is to live with that kind of person? We need patience with those people.

 

James says you need to be patient when circumstances are uncontrollable and when people are unchangeable and won't cooperate with us.

 

3.  When Problems Are Unexplainable

 

The classic example he gives is in verse 11, "You have heard of Job's steadfastness..."

 

James 5:11 (ESV) 11  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 

Job played in the Super bowl of suffering.  He won the championship.

 

He was the wealthiest man that ever lived.  He had everything going for him.

 

In a two-day period, everything fell apart.  He went bankrupt and his children were murdered.  He then got an incurable, deadly disease that was very painful.

 

You think you've got problems and had a rough day!  He lost his family, his friends, his finances.

 

He was suffering materially, physically, and socially -- basically… in every kind of way.

 

One day his wife comes to him and says, "Curse God and die!"  Now that's a supportive wife!

 

God allowed the devil to take away everything in his life except a nagging wife.

 

The worst part of Job's suffering was that he had absolutely no idea why it was happening.

 

For 37 chapters in the book of Job, God doesn't even talk to him and tell him why it's happening.  There was no apparent reason for his misfortune.  Job asked the question, "Why me?"

 

Life is not fair!  That is true.  God never said it would be fair.

 

A lot of things in life just don't make sense.  Maybe we'll never understand on this of heaven.  Job didn't understand.

 

In all of that unexplained problem, Job maintained his faith. Sometimes we just can't figure out our problems.

 

When circumstances are uncontrollable, when people are unchangeable, and when problems are unexplainable you really need patience.  Why?

 

WHY BE PATIENT?

 

1.  Because God Is In Control

 

James 5:8 (ESV) You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

 

Three times in this passage, James says, the Lord's coming is near, Jesus is coming back.

 

That is the ultimate proof that God is in control.  Nothing can stop it.

 

The Bible talks a lot about Jesus' second coming -- when He comes back to judge the world -- than it does about His first coming.

 

God is in control of history -- it is "his story".

 

He's got it all planned out, everything is on schedule, nothing is late, and it’s all moving toward a climax.

 

God is in control.  God's purpose for your life is greater than any problem you're facing right now.  God is in control.

 

Some of you are experiencing a real delay right now but God's delays never thwart His purpose.

 

2.  God Rewards Patience.

 

James 5:11 (ESV) 11  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 

One Translation -  "the Lord’s plan finally ended in good".

 

The second half of Job's life was more blessed than the first half.  God doubled everything he had.

 

It pays to be patient.

 

You need to be patient because God is in control and He's going to reward patience.

 

3.  Because God Is Working Things Out

 

Often behind the scenes - in things we don't even see, He's at work, but we don't see Him at work.

 

James 5:11 (ESV)  …You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 

Notice… "The Lord is compassionate and merciful

  

God was working, all the time even though Job did not know what was going on and what was happening.  God was working.

 

A delay does not mean a denial. If you've been praying for an answer to prayer and you haven't gotten it – then you think God doesn't want to give it to you.

 

A delay is not a denial.  We have to learn the difference between "no" and "not yet".

 

There's a big difference.

 

We want it and we want it now. But we have to be patient.

 

God is at work, even when we don't see what's going on.  God was at work in Job's life, even when he didn't know, "Why is this happening to me?"

 

Story of Phillip Brooks, a famous pastor of the last century. One day he was in his office, pacing the floor, frustrated. Somebody walked in and saw him and asked, "What's the matter, pastor?" He said, "I'm in a hurry and God isn't!"

 

God says, "Be patient because I'm working things out."

 

While I am waiting, God is working.  You need to remember that!

 

Your hands may be tied and the situation may be uncontrollable but it is not uncontrollable in God's viewpoint.

 

In advance, thank God because He's working things out.

 

He gives the illustration of the farmer.  When the farmer plants the seed, he's waiting for that seed.

 

While he's waiting, God is working behind the scenes to cause that plant to sprout.

 

He's creating the conditions so at the right time, in the right way there will be a harvest.  The farmer waits, God works.

 

Philippians 2:13 (ESV) 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

 

Maybe you can't see it, but He is working in you.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV) 28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

In every circumstance in your life, God is working.  Be patient.

 

I don't know what kind of problem you have this week, but regardless of the problem you're going through (financial, relational, health) God is working in that problem.

 

Be patient and trust Him.

 

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING WHILE I'M WAITING ON GOD?

 

James says consider these three illustrations:  look at them and realize what they did and do what they did while you're waiting on God.

 

First the farmer.  What did the farmer do?

 

1.  Wait Expectantly

 

I must expect a harvest.  I must believe that it is inevitable, that I've done the right thing.

 

What does a farmer do while he's waiting on God?  Does he just set and watch reruns on television all day?

 

While he's waiting on the harvest, the farmer is preparing for the answer.  He's getting ready.  Waiting is a time for preparation, which shows your expectation.

 

We demonstrate our expectation by our preparation.  We get ready for the answer in advance.

 

Psalm 5:3 (ESV) O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

 

Circle the phrase… "watch".  What are you waiting and watching for from God?  What are you waiting in expectation for?

 

Perhaps you need to be healed a long-term sickness, or you need a transformation in your marriage?  Perhaps you need reverse your financial problems? Or, are you praying for God to reach your teenagers for Christ?

 

Do you really expect Him to do that?  The Bible says, "According to your faith it will be done unto you."

 

The way you get ready for something is by preparing in advance.  While you're waiting you're preparing.

 

Preparing demonstrates expectation.

 

A lot of times when I'm waiting on God, He's really waiting on me.  He was ready to give the answer a long time ago but I wasn't ready to receive it.

 

He's saying, "Grow up!  Get some spiritual depth in your life.  I want to bless your life but you can't handle the blessing I want to pour on you.When you've got some spiritual muscle in your life, I'll bless you beyond what you can imagine."  

 

Waiting is a time to get ready.  Prepare.

 

Jesus waited thirty years before he began his ministry.  Thirty years of preparation and he accomplished more in three years than we would in a lifetime.

 

Isaiah 49:23 (ESV)  …Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

 

2.  Wait Quietly

 

James points out the fact that we have a tendency to run off at the mouth when we're irritated, when we're tense, when we're under pressure, when things aren't going our way and things aren't under our control.

 

James warns us of two things to avoid.

 

James 5:9 (ESV) Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

 

Why does he talk about grumbling right in the middle of patience?  It's hard to be quiet when you're frustrated.

 

When you're frustrated, you want everybody to know about it.  You want to grumble, mumble, moan, and complain.

 

We don't mind waiting if we can complain about it.  I'll wait if I can gripe while I'm doing it.

 

James says, don't grumble.  The New English Bible says, "Don't blame your troubles on one another."

 

When you get up in the morning, do you rise and whine?  Do you hit the ground griping?

 Everything is bad!  If you come home at night dog tired, it's because you growled all day!

 

I heard about a lady who griped at her husband all the time. Constantly.  The guy died and she put on his tombstone, "Rest in Peace".  Then they went and read the will.  He willed $5 to his wife and everything else to his secretary.  She went back and changed the tombstone to "... till we meet again."

 

James 5:12 (ESV) 12  But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

 

This passage talks about making promises you can't keep.

 

Does waiting ever tempt you to swear?  Do you ever feel like cussing?

 

What happens when you get uptight?  When you're frustrated and things aren't going your way and things are beyond your control? How do you normally respond?

 

Typically, we take it out on those closest to us.  We unload on our husbands, our wives, our children, and it's not even their fault.

 

But we're frustrated and impatient.  We displace our anger and focus it on those we love the most.

 

James tells us to not do that.

 

Lamentations 3:26 (ESV) 26  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

 

Circle "quietly".

 

Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV) For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

 

Do you have a dream, a goal in life, a vision that God's given you?  God says it will be right on target, at the right time, in the right way.

 

You wait expectantly and you wait quietly.

 

3.  Wait Confidently

 

Job never lost his confidence in all that he did.  When the outlook is bad, you look up.

 

How do you do that?  You have hope.  Hope is Holding On Praying Expectantly -- HOPE.

 

When you've got a problem that's unexplainable, a person who is unchangeable, a circumstance that is uncontrollable then wait confidently.  God is working.

 

How do you wait confidently?  Sit still.  Don't get nervous, anxious.  You don't take matters into your own hands and work things out.

 

Micah 7:7 (ESV) But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

 

Where do you need to have patience this morning?  Do you have an uncontrollable circumstance in your life right now?

 

Maybe you're in a job situation and your boss has told you to do something that's beyond your control and you don't want to do it.

 

Maybe you've had a financial reversal that was beyond your control. Maybe you have a long-term illness.

 

Maybe you've got an unchangeable person in your life.  It's frustrating when you tell your kids something to do over and over and they don't do it.

 

It's frustrating when you want to make the marriage work and you're willing to change but your partner is not willing to change.

 

It's frustrating when you have a parent who's growing old; their idiosyncrasies are coming out and they're dependent upon you.

 

There's that cantankerous relative that, every time they are around, they cause problems.

 

They're never going to change.

 

You need patience with an unchangeable person.  You need patience with unexplainable problems.

 

What do you do when you have these kinds of things?

 

Remember what God has said in James.  God is in control. It may be out of my control, but it's not out of God's control.

 

Nothing is beyond His power and His purpose for my life is greater than the problem I'm experiencing right now.

 

God will reward your patience, if not in this life, He will in eternity.  God is working behind the scenes for a purpose.

 

Credits - Randy Frazee and Rick Warren