(This is a topical message on patience. I will be citing the NLT in the article below, but please read your favorite version of the Bible.)
Continuing our celebration of a Year of Jubilee, we turn in April to the Spiritual Fruit of Patience. I suppose I could give you an opportunity to demonstrate patience by giving 40 minute sermons… Instead, let’s examine what the Bible teaches about this virtue and assume that life will hand you opportunities to exercise patience.
(Newser) – “At New Zealand’s National Aquarium, workers thought Inky the octopus had settled in nicely after he was brought in by a fisherman who found him in a lobster pot in 2014. Turns out he was just biding his time. Staff at the Napier aquarium believe that after the lid of Inky’s tank was left slightly ajar one night, he climbed out, slid across the wet floor, and escaped through a drainpipe that led to the sea, reports Stuff.co.nz. The football-sized, freedom-loving cephalopod would have had to squeeze through a pipe six inches diameter for more than 150 feet to make his escape.
“’Octopuses are famous escape artists,’ aquarium manager Rob Yarrell tells the Guardian. ‘But Inky really tested the waters here.’ He says Inky—who had games, toys, and three hand-fed meals of fish a week at the aquarium—is an ‘unusually intelligent’ octopus who was ‘very friendly, very inquisitive, and a popular attraction here,’ with more personality than Blotchy, the other resident octopus. After the amazing escape, ‘the staff and I have been pretty sad,’ Yarrell says. ‘But then, this is Inky, and he’s always been a bit of a surprise octopus.’”
(Retrieved from http://www.newser.com/story/223515/octopus-breaks-out-of-national-aquarium.html on 4/14/16.)
Inky was such a smart octopus, in fact, that he learned to unlock a box to get at the shrimp treat hidden inside. If an octopus can be patient, why can’t beings with a backbone – like you and I – be patient too?
Patience is a virtue commanded and commended throughout the Bible. As is the case with all virtues, you will find that the practice of patience will make your life more enjoyable! This is the case because impatience creates crankiness and ruptures relationships.
Today we’ll see that patience is a virtue that God has shown to us in abundance. He commands His people everywhere to follow His example and be patient. Next Sunday we’ll examine how patience works in our relationships with one another.
- Wait upon the Lord to deliver you from trials (Psalm 27:14).
CONTEXT: Psalm 27 is arguably one of the most hopeful, upbeat psalms attributed to King David. V. 14 ends this psalm with a realistic note that some time may pass between promise and fulfillment; we must be prepared to wait patiently for the Lord to act.
COMMENT: Two phrases stand out.
The first is WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE LORD. To WAIT for the LORD to act is to exercise faith; it is to demonstrate trust in God. It is easier to WAIT PATIENTLY if you are certain the Lord’s promise will be fulfilled. Patience and certainty are two sides of the same coin.
– Certainty comes from experience – try God and you will find Him faithful.
– Certainty comes from knowledge of the Bible. The more you know God’s word, the more certain you are.
– Certainty comes from a personal relationship with God. The more you pray, the easier it is to trust Him.
The second is BE BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS. Circumstances and emotions will sometimes conspire to test our patience. Fear can set in and make us impatient. This is why bravery and courage are so important. The world and the Enemy will try to distract, discourage, and destroy your faith – don’t allow it! Waiting on the Lord requires resisting temptation and fighting discouragement. The Lord’s promises are worth the wait!
- Wait upon the Lord for strength to endure trials (Isaiah 40:28-31).
CONTEXT: Isaiah 40 emphasizes the divine power of God at work on behalf of His people. It was a comfort in the trying time of their captivity in Babylon.
COMMENT: We’ve already talked about fear, but during the time between promise and fulfillment, when faithful waiting is required, weariness can also set in. All four of these verses mention the weariness of life in one way or another.
These verses encourage us to depend on strength from God to empower our patience. After all, the LORD never GROWS FAINT OR WEARY (28); He is perfectly dependable. He gives POWER and STRENGTH to people who find their circumstances exhausting (29). In this life, even young & vital people experience weariness in body and soul (30), so depending on your own strength is not a good idea. Promises of restoration are made to those who WAIT on the LORD (31).
– NEW STRENGTH
– We find three encouragements to keep moving forward:
— FLY HIGH ON THE WINGS OF EAGLES
— RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY.
— WALK AND NOT GROW FAINT.
As this encouragement was first given to the Jews who’d been held captive in Babylon, it seems likely that the movement motif is to lift up the hopes of the returnees. God is saying, “The journey is long and a lot of work awaits those who return. But don’t quit; I will strengthen you for every step of the journey back and for every stone lifted to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and the temple within.”
These promises remind us that patience is not merely a version of endurance; there is more to waiting than passively standing by until something happens. Patience is the virtue in which we surrender the illusion of control. We learn by experience to depend on God for the strength we need to wait upon Him. If we fail to be patient, it is a failure to be faithful.
- Wait upon the Lord as He waited upon you (1 Peter 3:9).
CONTEXT: Peter’s second letter attempts to provide some perspective. He’s trying to show us WHY these things are important. What we believe and what we do based on those beliefs have eternal consequences, which is as important as things get.
COMMENT: In v. 8, Peter tells us something important about God – He is eternal. That means He is not stuck in any one moment in time like we are. Because that is so, He is not SLOW about keeping His promises just because we perceive a long time between promise and fulfillment.
Peter wrote that SOME PEOPLE (v. 9) use this as an excuse to be antitheists. He had earlier (v. 3) identified them as SCOFFERS. People will find lots of excuses to reject and mock the truth, and to persecute the faithful: the seeming slowness of God is one of them.
God is not SLOW. Instead, He is being PATIENT with the human race. He is giving everyone MORE TIME to REPENT.
Why? Because, at this moment, the love of God moderates the holiness of God: HE DOES NOT WANT ANYONE TO PERISH. It is never God’s will for anyone to go to hell. That outcome is the product of their will, not His. It is God’s will that everyone should REPENT and live eternally (see Ezekiel 18:23 and 1 Timothy 2:4). Rather than being evidence of God’s non-existence, impotence, or indifference, it is yet another sign of His mercy. The point is, God is PATIENT (see Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalms 86:15; Jeremiah 15:15; Romans 2:4; 9:22) and His children are identified by patience.
At a time of His choosing, the Father’s holiness will take precedence over His love and judgment will be served (10). Because we don’t know when that time will be, TODAY is the appropriate time to be saved.
Vernon McGee tells of a southern pastor who preached a powerful sermon on Isaiah 40 and concluded it in this way; “Brethren, this church, it needs to walk.” This comment was met with a chorus of “amens” from the deacons’ bench.
Encouraged, the preacher continued, “Brethren, this church, it needs to run!” This comment was met with an even larger number of affirmative “amens.”
His voice reaching a crescendo, the preacher said, “Brethren, this church, it needs to fly!!” Several people said, “amen and hallelujah.”
Then the preacher said, “Well, it’s going to cost money to make this church fly.” One of trustees said loudly, “Let her walk, brother, let her walk!” (Through The Bible, Vol. III, p. 287.)
Let me introduce you to what may be a new word: ENNUI. It is defined as a” lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction.
“The French loanword ennui comes from the very same Late Latin word that gave us ‘annoy’ – ‘inodiare’ (‘to make loathsome’). We borrowed ‘ennui’ several centuries after absorbing “annoy” into the language. ‘Ennui’ deals more with boredom than irritation – and a somewhat specific sort of boredom at that. It generally refers to the feeling of jadedness that can result from living a life of too much ease.”
(Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui on 4/14/16.)
I believe the word “ennui” sizes up one of our problems in the American Church. We’ve been complacent, bored, and asleep at the wheel. We’ve allowed secularists to define our culture and push us to the margins of political and public consciousness. Then, ironically, our complacency turns to impatience with one another and petty differences cause deep divisions. This does not honor God and is properly understood as SIN. God has been patient with you and I, so we should exercise the same patience toward one another.
Patience is a virtue commanded and commended throughout the Bible. Hasty words are as destructive as hasty actions; they both make life unpleasant. To sum it up, we’ll be happier and more holy if we remember to slow down and be patient.