Greater: Patience

This week’s reflection video.

Good morning and Happy Fathers Day.  I’d like to welcome anyone who might be attending Journey for the first time today.  We are very glad you took the time to be here.  We started Journey in order to help people discover the real Jesus, because we think that people who discover the real Jesus find him irresistible.

Jesus is God in the flesh.  He left heaven and came to earth in order to teach us what God is really like and to repair our relationship with Him that was broken by our sin.

Many people have this idea of what God is like.  But we have to be willing to ask ourselves a hard question, which is maybe my image of him is wrong.  So we’re going to let Jesus reset our image of God.

And this is why its so important to study the life of Jesus.  When we see Jesus showing compassion, and healing people, and treating people with respect and dignity, it’s only because that is what God is like!  That’s why Jesus tells one of his closest followers that, listen, if you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father.

And today we are going to learn that God is patient.   Jesus was patient.  And we are going to discover that it is God’s desire that we become the kind of people who naturally and easily demonstrate patience.  There is a Greater life available – and it includes the virtue of being patient.

And some of you are looking for the nearest escape.  You’re real nervous because somewhere you remember a friend say, Never pray for patience!  And you are afraid that this week is going to be difficult now – but let me tell you – your friend was wrong.  It’s okay – I’m sure they are a good person – they are just wrong here.

You want to be patient.   You don’t want to be stuck in a lesser life of being a hot head – or living with a short fuse.  “But Phil People like that about me.  No they don’t.  No one thinks it’s cute how impatient you are.  So let’s run after this godly quality of patience – let’s get after it and welcome God’s help in whatever form that comes.

But we should be honest and admit that our culture doesn’t exactly make it easy to learn patience.  We don’t really live in a world that requires much patience.

For instance – what does this do to you when you see it.  C’mon, C’Mon! What’s taking you so long!  Type faster!  Finish!  Send!

The bubbles have only one purpose – which is to tell you – hold your horses, man! Take a deep breath.  Relax!  it won’t be long now!  They are in the process of formulating a response!  Then there’s the eternity between when the bubbles go away and the text actually reaching you.  And you’re like – what happened?  Where’s the response?  It’s been at least two seconds!

Did they pass out?  Did they die?  Or worse, did they delete it and walk away leaving me to guess what they were going to say?  Are they ignoring me? !  What will become of our friendship! Oh, there it is – it’s a smiley face.  That’s nice.  Had to travel to space and then back again – took forever!

If that describes you then let’s begin by declaring that patience is indeed virtuous.  It’s good to be patient.  God is patient.  You know one of God’s favorite ways to describe himself is found in a variety of places – The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Exodus 34:6

Being slow to anger is patience.  The opposite of patience really isn’t impatience; the opposite of patience is anger.  Impatience manifests itself through anger, frustration.  Irritation.  Which is why impatience is part of a lesser life – it doesn’t make you better.  It makes you annoyed.

Thankfully, God is slow to anger.  He is not easily annoyed.  Aren’t you glad?

Jesus displayed incredible patience – especially with his disciples were at times very raw.  Like the time they asked Jesus if maybe he could call down fire from heaven and burn a village to the ground.  How Jesus doesn’t line up the disciples and dole out dope slaps to each one of them, I’ll never know.

But then again I don’t know why Jesus doesn’t do that to me either.  Except to say, I’m thankful that he’s patient.  He isn’t easily annoyed.

Some of you are thankful too right, maybe you’ve been stiff arming Jesus for years – well, good news, there will be no slaps if you turn to him, only an embrace from a very patient and compassionate Savior.

For the past two thousand years Jesus has been taking people like the disciples and like you and me and receiving us in whatever shape we come to him in.  And he forgives our sins and repairs our relationship with God through faith, and then he begins to transform us into different kinds of people and then he sets us free into the world.  He unleashes the new us on the world.

There’s something breathtaking about the potential that God sees in us.   God sees in us the potential to be able to have- not a perfect life.  But a life that flows with love and joy and peace and patience.

God sees in us the potential to become the kinds of people who have unlimited capacity to be loving and joyful. To be people who actually have within them unlimited Peace and patient.  God has an unending supply of these things and he desires to share them with whosoever wants them.

So let’s talk about patience – and today I’m going to share five things.

  1. Since patience is good, we will welcome opportunities to display it.

My guess is that this week you will NOT see any more opportunities to display patience than you had last week.  My guess is that this week you will notice them.  the Holy Spirit will remind you that this is a chance to ask God for the patience required to endure this – whatever this is – without freaking out.

Welcome those times this week when The Spirit of God nudges you to remind you that it’s going to be okay.  It’s a little chance to work on patience.

And the reason that He is nudging us is because God loves us and wants to pull us into a greater life.  A life that understands that God can be trusted even when I think his timing is off.

But please, let’s not flee from God’s efforts to make us into people who display patience.

  1. We will recognize that Impatience is a “selfish-nature” detector.

In the book of Galatians Paul tells us that all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus – who have crossed the line of belief – are engaged in a battle – that Everyone who takes their faith seriously will be in a fight.  But it’s a good fight!

See, before we place our faith in Jesus we ran our own show.  We were the captain of our own destiny so to speak.  The Bible calls this the selfish nature.  Or the sinful nature.

When we place our faith in Jesus, what happens is, we replace the government within us.  We renounce our former goverment – the sinful nature, and we announce our allegiance to Jesus, the King.  And we become at that moment citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Well, the problem is that the former government isn’t entirely gone.  They are merely exiled, and looking for parts of your life to rule.

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other…

So, what then is impatience?  It’s the remnants of the old government seeking to re-establish rule in your soul.  And what is it asking?  The same thing that the devil asked Adam and Eve, Can God really be trusted?  His timing stinks.  Take control and just make this happen!

Well impatience should act as a detector that something is amiss.  That there is treasonous activity afoot!  Impatience should alert us that our previous administration is trying to wrestle control of our life from God.  And here’s why.

Impatience is a declaration that God’s timing stinks.

Do we really want that to be your position?  And I know sometimes we think – its just who I am!  And we don’t want to make a big deal about being impatient, but I think we need to recognize impatience for what it is – a fist shaken towards heaven.  A declaration that God your timing is terrible.

But that doesn’t feel right does it?  I hope not.  Because God’s timing is never off.

I was reminiscing with my wife Jody the other day that there was a time in my life when I thought – God – your timing is terrible.  I’m tired of waiting on you.  And to be transparent – I was a 23 year old senior in college – and I was frustrated because – well it was a small school of about a 1000 people, and in the now 4th year at college I had found not one girl interested in going out on a date with me.  I don’t know – I mean – look at that guy.  Who wouldn’t want to go out with that guy?  If a guy ever knocks on your door and he looks like that don’t open it.  That guy looks like he is hiding a hatchet behind his back.

Worse than that there was only one girl in the whole school that I was interested in – and it happened to be the girl on my right, named Jody Jensen.  But the problem was she wasn’t so much interested in me at this point in the game.

Note my arm kind of sneaking in behind her as if we were something.  We were – it was called friends.  And that was the end of it.

And here’s why I say this.  The inner struggle I had with God over the issue of finding Mrs. Right was a real genuine struggle and fight.  And I was growing more and more impatient with God’s timing.

But – the fact is this.  Jody and I both agree that had we begun dating when I wanted to begin dating, we never would have stayed together.  God knew it and loved me enough to demand my patience.  He knew better than to acquiesce to my timetable.  His was right all along.

Now the danger with sharing a personal story is that surely there is someone in here who has a much greater need than that – and you might feel that I’m trivializing your issue.  And I don’t mean to convey that.  All I’m saying is that for me at 23 – at that moment I was impatient and unhappy and feeling that God’s timing was beginning to stink.

But the passage of time, the gift of being able to look back – has taught me that – had my selfish nature gotten what it wanted when I thought I should have had it?  I would have ruined it for sure.

Impatience is a sure detector that the selfish, sinful old government of our life thinks it should run the show…

  1. Indulging Impatience is a soul-destroying decision. 

When we indulge our impatience, we reinforce this idea that God doesn’t care about us – and we begin to feel something that is particularly dangerous.  We begin to feel an emotion that is the most destructive emotion of all.

We begin to feel sorry for ourselves.  Self pity is the most destructive emotion of all.

Feeling sorry for yourself is a dead end that warps our reality.  Self pity drains the life out of you.  It makes you wallow in your pain without ever providing relief or mercy.

Impatience is the opposite of “The Lord is my shepherd and I lack no good thing.”  Instead it’s “I don’t have a shepherd – at least not one that cares alot about me, I guess I’m on my own.”

Self-pity is soul destroying and degrading.  When we feel sorry for ourselves, all we see is our problems.  We don’t see the good things that God has brought into our life.  It forces our eyes off of God and onto our problems.  So flee it! So don’t indulge your impatience.  Flee from it!  And flee towards love!

  1. Recognize the link between Love and Patience.

The Apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, writes what is probably the greatest paragraph on love ever written.  And when Paul sets down to write about love the first words out of his mouth were: “Love is patient.”

Now I don’t often mention greek words – the New Testament we are reading was originally written in Greek – it’s been translated into English.

I learned this week that the greek word here for patience is actually a verb and it it’s a slamming together of two words – long and wrath.  And so it could be translated – well, have you ever heard it said of someone that they have a short-fuse?

What Paul actually is saying here in 1 Cor. 13:4 is that Love has a long fuse.  Love long fuses. Let me ask you – if someone had to describe you, would they say you have a short fuse, or a long fuse.

So this week, as we interact with people, we are going to recognize that when I show impatience I am really showing a lack of love for the other party involved.

When we snap at our kids, we are going to say Lord, I need more love in my heart for my kids today.  Because Love is patient.

When we are frustrated with God and impatient with Him, we are going to pray and tell him, Lord I am lacking the love I need right now to trust you, please help me love you more.  Because Love is patient.

When you are frustrated with yourself?  When you are impatient with yourself for struggling with the same things, or not growing at the rate you want to grow?  You are going to say Lord, help me to see the immense love you have for me, and help me to embrace that love and learn to be patient with myself.

Ultimately, the way to become more patient is to become more loving, and the way to become more loving it to go to the source of it – God himself.  The closer we get to Him the more his love rubs off on us.

In a moment we are going to play a video – it’s six minutes long.  And it’s meditation on the passage of the day from Galatians 5.  I’d encourage you to engage with the video – it will lead you along.

You might feel impatient with it.  But we feel this might be the only 6 minutes you get all week to be still before the Lord, waiting patiently for him.

Use this time to draw near to God.  Allow his love to rub off on your.  Catch you some of it.  Use this time to think back and remember all the ways God was patient with you through the years.

But first, let me pray this blessing on you.

May you be the kind of person who can be patient with God.  He has not forgotten you.  His timing is not off.  He knows what he is doing.  May you think highly enough of him to trust his timetable.

May God make you the kind of person who is patient with one another.  May you patiently bear with others in love.

May you be the kind of person who can patiently endure hardship, deprivation, and difficulty.  May God give you the ability to stand up under it without despair.

And May God make you the kind of person who is patient with yourself.  You are probably not where you want to be.  But God is working, working, always working, to leading you into a greater life in Jesus.

And may you become the kind of person who can happily live an unhurried life.  May God help you ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.  Remember that the deepest part of the soul likes to go slow.  It seeks to savor rather than accomplish.  Remind yourself that the most important thing about you is not what you’ve accomplished, but who you’ve become.

 

 

 

 

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