Have you ever prayed for patience? Something to the effect, Lord, please give us patience and hurry, which is the title of today’s message. Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit that we must have. That doesn’t seem to come naturally.
I remember reading about the famous New England preacher, Phillip Brooks. He was pivotal in the abolition of slavery. By the way, he also is the author of that hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem. He was known to be a very even-tempered, humble man. And a friend once went to see him in his office and he saw that he was pacing back and forth like a caged lion. And he asked, he said, Pastor Brooks, what’s the problem? He said, I’m in a hurry and God is not. Have you ever felt that way? We want things to happen both in our lives and maybe around us and they just don’t seem to happen very quickly.
I was in the back talking to Pastor Pheasanton just before the message and he reminded me of an old ad. I hope I’m not in trouble for repeating this. It says something to the effect, ‘Patience is a virtue we all need within. Seldom found in women, never found in men,’ because men are a little more task-oriented. But we all need to develop that attribute of patience.
Maybe before we dive off into the study today, a definition would be a good thing. What is patience? Something that the bible tells us we must have. It was in our scripture reading. A few definitions here. One, patience is the quality of bearing provocation, annoyance and misfortune or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.
Patience is an ability or a willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Patience, the quiet, steady perseverance. Even-tempered care. It means slow to get mad, or in other words the opposite of a short fuse. Patience means you’ve got a longer fuse. Someone said that if the water is shallow, it boils more quickly. So you want to have more depth in who you are.
Now, I believe we all realize that we’re not born patient. Nobody is born with patience. Maybe some of you had a little child with an unnatural element of patience. Some may have less than others. But when a baby wakes up in the middle of the night and its crying, and its maybe just lonely or its hungry or its got a plumbing problem and mom and dad are tired and they just had a long day, and you can try to reason with that baby and say, look, can you just wait a little while and let us get a little more rest and just see if you can understand? That baby would look at you like, what, there’s nobody in the world but me.
When they first come into the world, they come completely preoccupied with, I’ve got needs and every one else exists to meet my needs and they must be taught to basically restrain themselves against their natural desire to be the center of the universe. We’re not born naturally patient and it’s something that must be learned. Some of us never do. Some of us never outgrow that.
And I’m not sure that it’s better in our age than it has been in former ages. As a matter of fact, I think it’s probably harder in our age than in any other time. Patience is a very rare virtue. I mean, think about it. We’re living in the age of fast food. We want everything instantly. You just want to be able to eat right away.
And we want our cars to go faster and faster. And I don’t know about you but I time my way to church and I look at the cars that are ahead of me on the road when I come up to a red light. I look and study the cars and the drivers and just these thousands of calculations going on in my mind, which one is going to leave the line quicker because I want to pull up behind that one. Or as I’m rolling up to a light, if there’s not a lot of traffic, I don’t hit my brakes completely, I try to coast up to the light so that it turns green before I get there, of course you save gas doing that, and then you can accelerate and you don’t lose near as much speed stopping from a dead still. Anyone else? Am I the only one?
You feel like there’s just so little time and you want to go, go, go, and you can get irritated if you get behind someone slow and then everybody is passing in the other lane and they won’t let you in to pass this slow vehicle in front of you. And when you really think about it at the end of the day, all of that restlessness and that stress that percolates inside, you might save yourself ten seconds. And you wonder, is it worth it. You see cars weaving and dodging through the traffic making a menace of themselves and you catch up to them at the next light. Those are usually the young drivers.
It takes time to learn. We don’t all have it naturally. And you know one reason we have such credit problems in our country? Think about it. It’s because people want to be able to buy something right now before they really earned all the money to pay for it. So we’ll put it on a card and we’ll go into just phenomenal debt and it’s because we want instant gratification. And why do we want instant gratification? Because we haven’t learned patience.
I understand that in some countries in the world, and this is probably more prominent in China and some of the Asian countries, you don’t even think about proposing to a girl until you got a job and you got a little stash of money in the bank and you can offer some security and you have to be patient and develop those things before you have the audacity to go to the mom and the dad and say, I’d like to marry your daughter. And if you don’t have those things and you’re still in school and you don’t have any kind of prospects for employment and you don’t have any kind of nest egg, they’ll think, he must be kidding. But not so in our country and many other western societies. We want everything just right away. I can’t wait to graduate from high school so I can get married and get a credit card and get a debt. And sometimes the marriage and the debt go together. You know what the number cause for divorce is? Financial stress. And a lot of comes through impatience.
I like baked potatoes but I don’t eat them anymore because it takes almost 15 minutes to microwave them, and who has 15 minutes these days, right? Karen, yeah, she said you can get smaller potatoes. Now if she’ll microwave them as I’m on my way home then I’ll consider a potato. But if I’ve got to do it, I want something that I can eat with a can opener and a spoon. Right, men? Seldom found in men. Did I tell you that one? Patience, it doesn’t come naturally.
I remember one time, and I think I’ve shared this story before but I’ll never forget when I was living up in the hills and I cooked on a fire. I grew up in New York City, didn’t know much about cooking and one of the principle things I ate up there was macaroni and cheese because, you know, you boil your water, you dump it in, five minutes you stir in the cheese sauce and, voila, you’ve got cuisine.
But one day I thought, I can’t live on this stuff and I thought I probably ought to have some beans because I knew some other hippies that ate beans. And so I got a pot of water and I dumped the beans and I boiled them for five minutes and then I put some garlic salt in there and thought they should be ready and I went and, man, just like gravel. And so then I thought I’ll boil them a little longer and I boiled then and boiled them and boiled them. And after about 20 minutes, I just ate them anyway because I was famished and it was like gravel in my mouth and it was like gravel in my stomach. And I learned since that it pays to be a little more patient when you’re cooking beans. Or get yourself a pressure cooker. But we’re not living in the age of crock pots. We’re living in the age of microwave. More quicker.
Did you know Subway has developed a mechanism? They developed this rapid heat oven that’s even quicker than a microwave. They’ll slide your sandwich in there and they turn this thing on and it just radiates heat and they pull it out, because the microwave wasn’t quick enough. They invented something even faster. We want everything to be even quicker in this country. So I’m not sure that we’re learning more about patience.
Now, we all like to go to the store that has plenty of cashiers so you don’t have to wait in line, right? And if you ever want to know what the slowest line is, follow me. No, it’s you? I thought it was follow me because I’ll do the same thing I do when I’m driving, is I’ll be there at my favorite store that ends with the word ‘mart’ and I’ll go up to that section, it’s like a predatory area when you’re picking a line and you’re scanning what line do I get in. And there’s usually a few people lined up and I’ll think, that one looks like it will move fast and invariably they’ve got to do a price check on somebody or that person, they’re busying three things but they’ve got 19 coupons to cover those three things that they’ve got to pull out. I don’t know. And every time that happens now, I’ve learned it’s like the Lord is saying, Doug? I say, okay, Lord, I surrender. What do you want me to learn today?
Something else I’ve discovered, that if you talk to other people in the line, it’s easier to be patient if you find something to do to keep yourself occupied. And so you can turn and visit with the person in line next to you and say, are you going to eat all 20 of those Snicker bars by yourself? Something like that to strike up a conversation and you find something to talk about and you make some friends. Or enemies, if you ask that question. And so, just do something while you’re waiting. Just don’t read the supermarket tabloids that are there lined up in the rack while you’re waiting in line. That can’t be good for you.
So we need to learn patience and there’s several areas where we need to learn it. For one thing, and it’s always easy to start with this point, we need to learn patience with others. If you weren’t patient as a child, you’ll learn it as a mother or a father. You ought to learn some.
Having children really does change you. Now I don’t want to hurt anybody that’s chosen not to have children or maybe you are not able to have children, but I’ve observed that there is a little eccentricity to couples that never have children where their home, everything is a little more in its right place and there’s a little more order to it and their schedules are a little more under control. But when you’ve had children, your house looks different and it’s just like you learn about that you won’t die if you get a little messy sometimes and things don’t happen on schedule or you can survive with less sleep than you thought. And we learn things from having children.
You learn patience from other people. You learn it from your children. Someone said that insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children. You’ve heard that? Well you get patience from your children too. We need patience with others. I Thessalonians 5:14, ‘Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.’
I heard about a college student that slipped into the university chapel for one of their devotionals. He sat down to a middle aged woman that was there and he looked in the bulletin and he said, oh. He just sighed. She said, what’s the problem? And he said, oh, it’s this professor that’s speaking today. I’ve got him in class and he is the most boring man in the world. He goes on and on and his voice is so monotonous and he never says anything of real value. And she said, do you know who I am? He said, no. She said, I’m the professor’s wife. And he thought for a moment and he said, do you know who I am? She said, no. He said, hallelujah, and he got up and he left.
A little tip, if you’re at a potluck and you’re going to say anything negative about anything at the potluck, just know the person who cooked it would be sitting next to you. And if you’re going to gossip about someone, there is a higher possibility that they are going to walk by as soon as you mention their name. It just seems to work that way.
We need to patient with other people. Exodus 34:6, one of the characteristics of God that he revealed to Moses in his time when his glory revealed, he put Moses in the cleft of the rock. Exodus 34:6, ‘And God passed by before him, and the Lord proclaimed his name, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’ God is very long-suffering to us and what is long-suffering but patience?
It’s not in the bible and it’s probably not true but it’s an old Hebrew legend that one say Abraham was waiting in his tent in the cool of the day as the sun was going down and he saw this old traveler going by and Abraham went out of the tent and he said to the man, he said, it’s getting late, you don’t need to go down the road. He said, come in and you stay with me. And the old man obliged and Abraham brought him in. He sat him down and he washed his feet, had Sarah cook up a meal for him and they presented the meal to him, brought him into his tent and the man began to eat. And Abraham said, well, don’t you ask God to bless your food? And the man said, I don’t recognize your God, I only recognize the god of fire.
And Abraham became incensed and he said, away with you, you’re not going to recognize God. He chased the man out into the cold. And then the Lord spoke to Abraham and said, Abraham, Abraham. He said, here I am, Lord. He said, where is that old man that I sent to you? He said, Lord, he didn’t acknowledge you or thank you for his food and so I chased him away. And God said, Abraham, I’ve been putting up with him over eighty years, you couldn’t put up with him for one night?
And you think about it, God loves people. Jesus is very patient with people. How patient is Jesus with us? I actually wrote a song, which you’ll be happy to know I won’t sing right now, and it’s a little chorus called ‘Be Patient with Me, O Lord, I Pray.’ And sometimes I think, Lord, how long are you going to be patient with me. If God is willing to forgive us 10,000 talents then we ought to forgive each other 42 pence. And how much patience does he have with you? And so he wants us to be patient with other people.
And I’ve just learned, whenever I become restless and impatient with somebody else or sometimes you’re standing and, let’s face it, have you ever stood and listened to a story that you didn’t really want to hear, a little too much information? But it can be rude to say, I don’t want to hear it. You’ve got to care about some people.
Sometimes people just need someone to talk to and so sometimes I’ll be listening to somebody and God just wants me to be ears for him. You represent the ears of Jesus. This person needs someone to talk to and I may not be 100 percent bought into what I’m hearing but while I’m listening, I’m thinking, Lord, I want to be like you. I’m becoming like you. And you just realize that you develop his character when you’re patient. God is long-suffering to us where we need to be with each other. Amen?
You know, one time Paul became irritated at John Mark. Mark had become discouraged on one of their missionary journeys and he abandoned Paul and Barnabas and Paul said, enough of that, I’m never taking Mark with me again. As a matter of fact, next missionary trip, Barnabas said, okay, Paul, let’s take Mark with us. Paul said, not on your life, he’s a quitter. He left us last time, got discouraged. We don’t need him with us. Barnabas said, give him another chance and be patient with him. And Paul said, no, I’m not going to be patient.
They had a big argument. Do you remember this in the bible? They split. Barnabas and Paul split and became two separate missionary teams. Barnabas and Mark and Paul and Silas and God ended up working it together for good but then one of the last things Paul in his last letter, Mark changed. He says, everyone has left me and they’ve gone to Pamphylia. But bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry. Mark had become dependable. He was young and sometimes you’re young, you’re impatient and you get discouraged and he just needed to mature and we need to be patient with people because you don’t know what a person is going to turn into.
How many times was somebody written off as a failure and then later they prove the person wrong? Somebody that worked at the US Patent office once actually said, everything that ever could be invented has been invented. And they said that like in the 1880’s. It’s just crazy when you think about it. Thomas Edison, his teachers wrote him off as an imbecile. Yeah, he actually had problems hearing and his mind was still going all the time that he was bored with his classes and the teachers lost patience. Albert Einstein, same thing. They thought he’s never going to learn to talk. He’s never going to learn to talk. He didn’t talk until he was four and then was finally acclaimed as a genius. So you’ve got to be patient with people. God is not done with us and he’s not done with them.
We need more patience with ourselves. Do you ever get discouraged that you’re not progressing more quickly in your Christian walk and sanctification? Now, don’t become too complacent with yourself because if you’re not growing you shouldn’t be comfortable. There ought to be sanctification in growth that you can see that you’re going through a transformation but then there’s the other problem, you become discouraged because you don’t see growth fast enough.
Sometimes it feels like we’re going two steps forward and one step back. Luke 21:19, the bible says, ‘By your patience, possess your souls.’ It does recognize that if Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith, that he that began a good work in your will perform it until he comes again. Now, there’s a process and he’s working.
Sometimes I become impatient that I’m not growing more. I read about these great men and women of faith and the great reformers in the bible and their dedication and their consecration, their love for God and I think, man, I’ve been at this for 35 years now. What’s taking me so long? And you can get discouraged. Anyone else ever feel that way? And we want to develop more of Christ’s character. It doesn’t always come the way we think it’s going to come.
James 1:3-4, ‘Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience but,’ catch the rest of this verse, ‘let patience have its perfect work, that you might be perfect and complete and lacking nothing.’ Is there a way to let patience have its perfect work quickly? How would you let patience have its perfect work impatiently? Does that make sense? So in order for us to let patience have its perfect work, we need to wait.
There’s a song, I don’t know all the words, but it says, ‘He’s still working on me,’ kids sang, ‘to make me what I ought to be. It took six days to make the moon and stars, Jupiter and Mars.’ I don’t remember it all. ‘How wonderful and patient he must be, he’s still working on me.’ And so, don’t get discouraged but also make sure you’re not standing still. Make sure you are making progress and moving. Sometimes the Christian life is more like a wide river than a narrow rapid and you can hardy measure your progress sometimes. But you need to just believe that if you’re doing your part to walk for the Lord, you’re feeding your soul, you’re spending time in devotions, you’re praying every day and trying to see God’s working in your life, then you’ll grow.
Patience comes typically through trials. Now, this is the part nobody really wants to hear. II Corinthians 6:4, ‘But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience in tribulations, in needs, in distresses.’ A young Christian went to morasses in Christian one day and he said, brother, will you please pray with me that God will give me patience? He said, well let’s kneel and pray right now. So the young Christian knelt down with the old man and the old man said, Lord, send this young man tribulation in the morning. Send him tribulation in the afternoon. Send him tribulation in the evening. And the young fellow tapped him on the shoulder and said, no, no, I didn’t say tribulation. I said pray for patience. The old man said, but the only way you’re going to get patience is through trials. It seems like that’s how you develop. If you pray for patience, you’re kind of asking God to send you delay.
But keep in mind in the bible when it’s talking about patience, it doesn’t mean sitting in a doctors waiting room looking at your watch. Patience means sometimes working and enduring, being patient doing what God is giving you to do where you maybe want to do something else and you’re waiting on God to work through you. Romans 12:12, ‘Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation.’ That’s where we demonstrate our patience is when we’re going through trials, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
Back in the days of the pioneers, if somebody got to town a little late and they missed the stagecoach, they’d say, well I guess I’ll have to wait a couple weeks for the next one. Today, if we miss one of those compartments in a revolving door at the airport, we’re restless. Do you know what I’m talking about?
I probably have learned a lot about patience in public travel, airports in particular. You know how many times you get on the plane, you’re so excited and you’re going to make your destination, all of a sudden the captor comes over the loud speaker and there’s a mechanical problem or there’s some weather problem at the other destination or they’re waiting on a bag that hasn’t shown up or something like that and you’re looking at your watch and you’re thinking, does he know that for me to make my connection and make my speaking appointment, he can’t leave late because I’ve got a 45 minute window between flights.
And you can get so stressed out and finally I said, all right, Lord, if I’m doing your work and you’re in charge of everything, if you want me to be there, you’ve got to work it out. And I’ve learned to adjust. I really have made progress. You’d be proud of me. I’ve learned to sit back and say, I can’t help it, Lord. It’s in your hands. It is what it is and you’ve just got to hand things to the Lord. If I make it, I make. If I don’t, maybe I’ll make it and my bags won’t and I’ll preach in my tennis shoes. And that’s happened and then God usually works things out.
How many times I’ve become restless because I’ve been late and God had an appointment I didn’t expect with somebody, or I missed the plane and I end up sitting on a plane next to the right person that you’re going to visit with and you’ve just got to learn to put it in his hands and say that God is going to work it out and he teaches us through the trials that we go through.
Much of the bible was written through God’s people developing patience. Where was Moses when he wrote Job, Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy? He was in the wilderness probably taking care of sheep when he wrote Job and Genesis. And then for the other books, he was in the wilderness again taking care of God’s sheep, his people. Do you think they thought it was going to take them 40 years to get to the wilderness from the land of Egypt to the Promised Land? Talk about a detour. I mean, if the pilot comes over the loud speaker and says, folks, we’re going to have a little delay. It’s probably going to take 40 years before you get to your destination.
While I’m on the subject, delay is a lot easier to handle if you know at the outset something about the trip. Case and point, if I say, look, let’s drive together to the Bay Area and you say okay, you get in the car, we take off. After three or four hours you start to say, are we there yet? If you started to say are we there yet after 15 minutes, I’d say, you should have known before we began the journey how far we’re going and there’s going to be an investment of time and so it’s going to take a while. But if I say to you, now we’re going to drive to New York, after three to four hours, if you start saying, are we there yet -- have any of you ever driven with kids? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? And sometimes you just have to say, stop asking me. We’ll get there when we get there. Or you try and give them something to do.
You notice that it’s easier to deal with delay if you stay occupied? Okay, let’s see how many red Volkswagens we can count on the road. And you just give them something to do because the time seems to go faster if you’ve got something to do. When I fly, I always take with me something to read because if there is a delay you want to be able to occupy yourself. Or I take work with me so I can do some writing, trying to stay busy. Time goes a whole lot faster if you have something to do.
All right. In being a Christian, if you know on this journey that sanctification is a process of a lifetime, it’s easier to handle if you know something about the trip. Do you see what I’m saying? Now for a Christian, how long is life? Eternal. It’s for those that are lost it might be 70, 80, 90 years. But for a Christian, life is eternal. We have problems thinking in the perspective of God, that’s why Peter said a day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.
When you live forever, you don’t measure time the way you do in the limited dimension that we’ve got. Our lives are so short in passing it’s like a vapor, the bible tells us. We’re in a hurry because we feel like we’re running out of time but if you’re a Christian, are you running out of time? Once you get Jesus and you receive the gift of everlasting life, you can afford to be more patient. You cooperate with the Lord, God has his own schedule. I sometimes think like Phillip Brooks, Lord, I’m in a hurry. Why are you taking so long?
We’ve had a lot of project at Amazing Facts, evangelism projects and it seems like they often get bogged down in some kind of delay. The bigger the project, sometimes the more time of investment. And I say, Lord, why do we have this delay? Why is this taking so long? All the people we could reach if this would go faster. But sometimes those delays are God’s means of teaching us faith and prayer and trust and reminds us also that God doesn’t need us to preach the gospel. He can do it with angels. He could speak from the heavens with his own voice. Our being involved is part of our sanctification process.
Which brings me to the next point, we need to pray God will give us more patience with God. I don’t mean that disrespectfully but sometimes we need patience with how fast we think God is moving on things. Psalm 37:7, ‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.’ Wait patiently for God, is God late? Psalm 27:14, ‘Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and he will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.’ It says it twice there. Wait on the Lord.
How many prophecies have been given in the bible that still are not fulfilled or they took hundreds of years to fulfill? God makes a prophecy to one prophet and says there’s going to be a king coming. Well, this king doesn’t come for hundreds of years. Or he says, look, you’ve misbehaved so you’re going to Babylon for 70 years. God doesn’t measure things the way we do. And when we lose patience with God, what are we at risk of really losing? Eternal life.
A familiar story, go in your bibles to I Samuel 13, and we’re going to read Verse 8. The King Saul, I Samuel 13. First I’m going to read from I Samuel 10, just to give you the backdrop. Samuel the prophet told King Saul, that tall handsome king, you’ll go down before me to Gilgal and I’ll surely come down. This is in the context of a battle with the Philistines. I’ll come down to you and offer burnt-offerings. Samuel said, I will come and offer burnt-offering. Before you go to battle, I’m the priest and I will offer burnt-offering and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you will wait, you shall wait. You will wait until I come and I’ll show you what to do.
Then you go to I Samuel 13 where you’ve got this story and starting with Verse 8, ‘And he waited seven days according to the time set by Samuel, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal and the people were scattering from King Saul.’ The army said, look, the priest isn’t here. The Philistines are getting bigger and bigger forces. They’re gathering together and we can’t defeat them and they begin to hide. They had been subjugated by the Philistines for so long. That’s back, of course, in the time of David and Goliath when the Philistines had the upper hand. And Saul, the king chosen by God, anointed by the spirit, anointed by the Lord, became impatient. He said, Samuel is delayed and he thought I better take matters into my own hands. He waited seven days but he didn’t come so Saul said, bring a burnt-offering, a peace offering here to me. The king is not supposed to do that. He offered burnt-offering. Now it happened as soon as Samuel came. As soon as he had offered his burnt-offering, Samuel the prophet came.
How often is it true? The people got tired of waiting for Moses and they said, let’s make a golden calf. Why? They became impatient. When Moses was delayed coming down the mountain, Exodus 32, the people became impatient. What happened to Saul when he became impatient? Samuel came and said, what have you done? Saul said, well, when I saw the people were scattered from me and you were not here within the days appointed and the Philistines were gathering together at Michmash. And they said, the Philistines are now going to come down to me at Gilgal and I have not yet made supplication to the Lord. Therefore, I feel compelled that I offered a burnt-offering. And Samuel said to Saul, you’ve done foolishly. You’ve not kept the commandment of the Lord, your God that he commanded you. For now the lord would have established your kingdom. You were being tested. You were being tested. How did he test him? Through delay. He says, but you lost patience. And he said, now you’re kingdom will not continue. You lost patience. You’re going to lose the crown. Is that still true today? If we lose patience, how many people have lost their temper and they lose their walk. I mean, as a person, when they lose their temper are they really with the Lord? Patience. Count to ten. If that doesn’t work, count some more. Count to ten again. He became impatient. He couldn’t wait.
Someone is usually not a hero because they’re braver than anyone else but just because they’re braver ten minutes longer than anyone else. And that’s so important that we learn this lesson. And right after the people made the golden calf, they got tired of waiting for Moses, then Moses came. So it’s almost like God has warned us that he’s wired into the salvation process, times of testing to see if we will wait, if we’ll trust the Lord or if we’re going to become restless and want to take things into our own hands. It’s very dangerous.
You know why there is a fight between Muslims and Jews and even Christians around the world today? You know what that all can be traced back to? God said to Abraham, I’m going to give you a son through your wife Sarah. He said that when he was 75. And he says, Lord, I’m getting old. And he got tired of waiting and he said, I’m going to help the Lord out. Took another wife named Hagar, had a son named Ishmael who became the father of the Muslim nation. And all this dispute of these religions around the world today and all that conflict can be traced back to Abraham becoming restless and saying, I just can’t wait. I’m going to help God out, like Saul. Like Aaron when they made the golden calf, we’re going to help God out and become impatient.
David, he really was a different man in the sense that God anointed David as king and then even after he was anointed as king he had to wait for years before he got the crown. But he waited. He had several opportunities to take things in his own hands, to kill King Saul and just make himself king, but he said I’m not going to help God out. He said, Lord, you anointed me. You’ll work this out your way, your day, your timing. And God ended up blessing David. He became the great king of Israel because he learned to wait on the Lord. We lose so much when we lose our patience. Run ahead of God in that way.
Bill Gothard said, ‘Patience is accepting a difficult situation without giving God a deadline to remove it.’ Children of Israel lost patience at the Jordan river, wandered 40 years. Revelations 2:3, when Jesus is speaking to the church there, he said, ‘You have persevered and you have had patience and you’ve labored from my namesake and have not become weary.’ God wants us to learn that gift of perseverance and patience. Now, notice perseverance and patience is not just waiting and doing nothing. It means enduring, staying busy for God and not becoming discouraged. And yet we’re all so restless, we want to rush ahead of the Lord or we become irritated when things aren’t happening fast enough.
I think you heard me tell you the story about the old man that pulled up in a busy city intersection and when the light changed and he stepped on the gas, the car chugged and died right there in this intersection. And he tried to start it and he flooded the engine and it turned over and it turned over but he couldn’t get it started and all soon there was this orchestra of cars behind him because he was blocking the turn, honking their horns. And finally, exasperated and feeling helpless he got out of his car and he walked back to the first car behind him and he said, look, I’m having trouble starting my car. He said, if you’ll go up there and try and help start it, I’ll stay here and honk for you. Sometimes we’re impatient with people and you’ve just got realize they’re doing the best that they can. It doesn’t come naturally.
Patience is a fruit. Have you noticed that? It was in our scripture reading. James 5:7-8, ‘Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit.’ You’ve got to wait for fruit. ‘He waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently until he receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.’ Patience is not a radish that grows in three weeks. It’s a fruit. It takes time to develop and to ripen.
Galatians 5:22, ‘But the fruit of the spirit’ is what? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Patience is in pretty good company. How important are love and joy and peace? We all want peace. Peace in the kingdom. We all must have love. We all want that joy. We’ve got to have patience. And I don’t think you can really have joy and peace if you don’t have patience because if you don’t have patience you’re always restless. It is the fruit of the spirit.
I Corinthians 13:4-5, describing love, ‘Love is patient.’ One of the first descriptions. Love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant, so forth, but it says, ‘Love is patient.’ So God is love. If we want to be Christ-like, was Christ patient? Think about the patience he had with the disciples. And we need that also. To do anything great takes time.
And for Christians, for our lives to be built, you are a living temple, to be build into the model or the image of Christ, it doesn’t happen overnight. The Statue of Liberty, from the time that Frederic Bartholdi came up with the idea to build this colossal statue and make it a gift from France to the United States, it took 21 years from the idea. By the way, he got the way through traveling through Egypt. He saw these colossal statutes they made and said, I’d like to make something like that. And there was a great affinity between France and the US back then and now all we have is French fries. But they wanted to do something great. We’ve fought together in several wars. Twenty-one years. Well, it still stands today, doesn’t it?
Did you know how long it took the Washington Monument to get made? Thirty-six years to build that. There was no excuse for it, other than the fact that it was a government project. Well, and of course the Civil War happened in the middle of it all so there were several distractions and they ran out of money and they had problems. Can you imagine living in Washington DC and watching that thing under construction for 36 years? What would happen to your faith in the government at that point? But it’s still there today, isn’t it? Had a little earthquake, just shook a piece off it but it’s still there.
Anything big like that, it takes time and we lose so much when we become impatient. I wonder how many miracles that we have not witnessed because we became restless. How many times we’ve walked away impatient when God was about to do something fantastic where if we had just gone a little longer, a little farther? I understand that in 1997 the Jell-O Company celebrated its 100th anniversary. Jell-O was invented by a gentleman by the name of Pearl Wait. I think you might have him up there on the screen. Yeah, Pearl B. Wait. That was his name. He was a contractor plus he went door to door and he sold homemade remedies. He was actually working on a remedy, a laxative, this is the truth, and they had developed gelatin pellets that you could add water to and make gelatin and his wife thought about putting some fruit in it and he said, this is great. And she named it Jell-O. Well, he didn’t have much patience door to door. He tried to sell it door to door and he sold some and people received it modestly but he said, I bet I could sell this, people are enjoying it, and sell the patent to somebody and someone right there in town by the name of O. Frank Woodward, O stood for Orator. What a first name. Orator Frank Woodward. He was a little more of a business man. He said, this is a great invention. He bought the patent for the Jell-O and within eight years made a million dollars on the company and nobody in the Wait family inherited any of the money that comes from the one million boxes of Jell-O that sell daily because he just didn’t stick with it a little longer. I guess you could say Wait couldn’t wait, and so he lost so much. We need to hang on.
Galatians 6:9, ‘And let us not be weary and well-doing for in due season we will reap if we faint not.’ Now especially for us who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, let’s not become weary. One of the things that Peter said will be a characteristic of the last days is men will be mocking and scoffing, saying where is the promise of his coming. And even people who have the name Adventist could become to doubt the advent, it’s really tragic, or the eminence of the advent. The Lord said that would happen. Jesus said that would happen.
Have you read in Matthew 24 where he’s talking specifically about his return? He closes out that chapter talking about two servants. He says one is a faithful, just servant doing his master’s will, giving everyone their meat in due season. But then there’s an unfaithful servant. Matthew 24:48, it’d be good for you to look at this, ‘But if that evil servant says in his heart,’ not even outwardly, ‘my master is delaying his coming,’ he’s late, or you become impatient waiting, ‘and he begins to beat his fellow servants and eat and drink with the drunkards,’ in other words he starts living like the world, ‘the master of that servant will come on a day that he’s not looking for him, and an hour he’s not aware of,’ if that servant loses patience.
Then you go to Matthew 25 and what’s the next parable Jesus tells right after this story about the ten virgins? They’re all waiting for their lord to come and it says, ‘While the bridegroom was,’ what? While he was delayed. I wonder if the Lord is trying to tell us something. When Samuel was delayed, Saul couldn’t wait. He lost the kingdom. When Isaac was delayed being born, Abraham got in trouble. When Moses was delayed coming down the mountain, and Jesus tells us all these parables, when the bridegroom was delayed, to remind us that maybe God knew there was going to be a delay. Now, a little delay is better than a disaster.
You look in the book Habakkuk, if you can find that there in your bibles, there’s a prophecy. Notice it’s about the coming of the Lord. Habakkuk 2:2-3, ‘Then the Lord said, write the vision and make it plain on tablets that he might run who reads it for the vision is yet for an appointed time. But at the end it will speak, it will not lie,’ notice, ‘though it tarries.’ Why did he include that? ‘Though it tarries, wait for it because it will surely will come. It will not tarry.’ In other words, he says, though it tarries, it will not tarry. What does that mean? That means though it appears to be late, maybe part of God’s plan is to filter his people in the last days with a test. A test of sincerity.
Do we really love him? Will we wait for him? How many people have been in the situation where you prove your love by waiting? Sometimes man goes off to the service to fight a war and he’s got a girlfriend when he leaves, or a wife. He says, will you wait for me? Some get Dear John letters before they come back and others find their wives or girlfriends waiting for them because of love. And the Lord is wanting to know, do you love me? If I’m a little late, are you still going to be ready and waiting for me? We need to have patience.
Did Jesus say, ‘Occupy until I come?’ The secret of patience is doing something else in the meantime. The secret of patience is doing something else in the meantime. He’s given us something to do, hasn’t he? Never think that God’s delays are denials. Hold fast, hold out. Patience is genius. I think it was Ben Franklin that said, ‘He that has patience can have what he will.’ We’ve got to learn how to hold on and be persistent and be patient.
Ultimately, eternal life is given to the patient. Romans 2:7, ‘Eternal life to those who by patient continuance and doing good seek for glory.’ So while we’re being patient, we’re not doing nothing. We’re being patient while we’re doing good. ‘Patient continuance and doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality.’ Hebrews 6:12, ‘That you do not become sluggish but imitate those who faith and through patience inherit the promises.’ We get it through faith and through patience. And then Jesus said, ‘He that endures to the end,’ endures what, endures delay possibly, ‘he will be saved.’ James 5:11, ‘Behold we count them happy which endure.’
And you’ve heard of the patience of Job. I mean, even Job’s wife got discouraged and she said, just curse God and die. Job’s friend sat with him for seven days and then after that, they said, you must have done something wrong. And as that time went by everyone lost faith in Job, but Job knew about his relationship with God. You’ve heard of the patience of Job and you’ve seen in the end that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. In the end, did he doubly bless Job because he held on?
Joseph, he spent 13 years suffering as a slave and a prisoner and then what happened? He became prime minister of Egypt in a day. He maintained his faith. He did not let go or get discouraged. I already told you about David. Paul was in prison. Much of the New Testament was written by someone who knows about patience because God had told him he was supposed to talk to the emperor in Rome. He ultimately did but he spent years in jail. Paul had learned, I’ve learned whatever state I’m in to be content.
Isaiah 40:30-31, ‘Even the youth will be faint and weary and the young men will utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They’ll mount up with wings like eagles. They’ll run and not be weary. They’ll walk and not faint.’ Finally, God will give us patience. Anyone need more patience after thinking about it today? I do. You know of course I’m talking to myself. You can ask Karen, I’m better. Seldom found in men.
When we travel somewhere, I always want to be the first in the line at the airport and I want to get there early and I just want to go, go, go. Anyone else like that? And usually just before we take off, Karen says, I’ll be right back. Just before they start boarding she says, I’ll be right back. But we’ve preserved our marriage now. Once I get the tickets, I give her her ticket and I said, I hope I see you there when I land. That’s how we work things out. It’s so stressful to wonder. I’m always afraid. Am I going to get my pillow? No one gets pillows anymore. Am I going to get my seat by the aisle? Am I going to get any overhead space? And so I have to pray for patience. I hope you’ll pray for me and I’ll pray for you if it doesn’t take too long.
Romans 15:5, ‘Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded towards one another according to Jesus Christ.’ Colossians 1:11, I’m giving you several verses here, ‘Be strengthened with all might according to his glorious power for all patience and long suffering,’ same thing, ‘with joy.’ How could I be joyful while I’m being patient? You’re sitting here going, all right I’ll be patient. How can you have peace and be patient? But that’s the point, you can. You just give it to the Lord and say, Lord.
I wonder how many people have taken antacids and have all kinds of health problems and stress problems because they’re restless, because they’ve not learned to have that fruit of the spirit called patience that comes through practice. It’s like a muscle. You get it through trial, through delay and you learn to just let it go and trust the Lord. I’ve come a long way so I know there’s hope.
I Timothy 6:11, ‘But you, Oh man of God, flee these things and pursue.’ It’s not just something that we take it when it comes. Pursue it. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, the other fruits of the spirit. Pursue patience. Does that mean we’re to pray for tribulation? I hope not. But we embrace it when it comes. When you’re met with delay or you find yourself doing something, you wonder, Lord, how long do I have to do this? How long do I have to work with this boss that’s so difficult, or work in this job? My heart is not in it. Or whatever it might be. They that endure unto the end will be saved. God is telling us, be patient.
Finally, Revelation 14:12. How are God’s people identified in the last stage? Well, we know they keep the commandments of God and we know they have the faith of Jesus but you know what it says before the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? ‘Here is the patience of the saints.’ Especially as we’re living in this last day when people are scoffing and mocking and saying where’s the promise of his coming? Is he ever going to come? How much longer are we going to be in this wicked world? Jesus said it will get so bad that if time should last, no flesh would survive.
In the context of all of that, God’s people are supposed to hold on and not lose faith. And then when we get our glorified bodies and we enter eternity, we’re all going to gather around the Tree of Life. I want to call a special meeting with all of you and we’re going to take off our watches and stomp on them. Won’t that be nice? We’re not going to have to worry about time anymore because we’ll be in eternity and you’ll have plenty. You can talk to me as long as you want about whatever you want and I’ll listen because I’ll know I’m not going to miss the train, I’m not going to miss the plane and I’ll have eternity, the sort of worlds unknown. In the meantime, we’ve got to pray that God will give us that gift of patience, and he will. He promised he will.