A Banana Tree produces…. [bananas]
An Orange Tree produces…. [Oranges]
What does the Holy Spirit Produce? [Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control ~ Ill. a mirror]
Today Patience… You know what patience isn’t: A man in Los Angeles was arrested for negligent discharge of a weapon after taking his 38 caliber handgun and shooting his toilet bowl five times. He says that he just got upset. He couldn't take it any longer. His daughter had flushed a hairbrush earlier in the day and clogged the pipes. So he shot the offending toilet. That is called “not patience.”
Jesus is a model of possessing patience: from Julie Nolan ~ “Jesus exercised patience when dealing with people, specifically the religious leaders of His day, and His disciples. Every time He told a parable, and tried to teach them something they needed to learn, one of the twelve would say they didn't understand. They were confused. He would have to explain it again, and again, in different ways. He must have been frustrated with them time and gain. But He was a patient man.”
Patience is a time of growing as you wait, not an inbetween existence trying to make it through…I write a man in prison from time to time. In his last letter at the end of January he wrote me this:
“I am doing fairly well, this place does not ooze hope, actually the opposite of that, it’s almost like so many here, STAFF, it seems that they get a perverse sense of JOY out of dashing peoples hope. I have to really feel sad for the Guys in here that do not know God, and the Redeeming Sacrifice His Son, Our Savior made for each & every one of us. The Holidays here were no big deal at all, Physically it was just another day…at times a very negative time & place, but Spiritually I was so Grateful for being Alive, and for all of the Blessings & Grace that Our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me, and try to Spread & Share God’s Blessings in this place.”
This man is a living with patience. Patience is needed when you are desperate to write the story of your life differently, skip the current chapter and get onto the “And they lived happily ever after” part. Patience is to understand God is writing the story, and the story frequently includes heartache. Success of your story in God’s eyes is not based on the outcome; it is based on how you endured the stress.
Our scripture today is a great lesson in patience. James 5:1-6 is the background of today’s scripture. James describes the situation plaguing the people. rich people are persecuting and causing problems with their oppressive ways. James is warning the oppressors that the day will come when they will weep, their riches will corrode, the fields will cry out to them, the condemnation that is coming… The calling of Christ followers is to wait. Suffering is part of living in this world, which is why we need patience. Patience is a gift of the Holy Spirit, equipping us to navigate this old world. Tension is a part of the world we live ~ as soon as Adam and Eve sinned against God the weeds began to grow! One person offered this insight: “Suffering is not the goal of following Jesus. It will, however, be a consequence…” (Labberton).
All this suffering, tension filled world, bad behavior is the background for the first words of in James 5:7: “Be patient, then…” Patience is the medicine prescribed for suffering. Be patient, then.
James describes two temptations when life is overwhelming. Surely none of us would give in to these temptations: grumbling and losing perspective.
Grumbling. READ James 5:9. When We Are Tempted To Blame Others – Grumbling will not help! Impatience with our circumstances leads to impatience with God, which in turn leads to impatience with God’s people. Are we become a nation of whiners, people demanding rights with no responsibility? We are whimps. Here are some silly complains I found:
- “On my holiday to India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”
- Following a trip to a national theme park, one angry woman complained that the sun was so hot it melted her ice cream.
- An air traveler voiced her disapproval of all the clouds in the sky, saying they ruined her children’s game of Eye Spy.
James is saying, “Christ may return at any time ready to judge. He may open the door any moment. What will he find: a grumbler, or one who is patient, growing strong in the face of opposition. Grumbling does not help.
When life is overwhelming, it is easy to lose perspective. Instead of Losing perspective, Strength Your Relationship With the Lord. This comes from a short phrase in James 5:8, “Stand Firm.” When we have problems with other people, it is tempting to pile on the problems: “such and such lied about me, they look at me funny, the gossiped and ignore me, shut me out, and they drive an ugly car and I can’t stand her hair…” That’s losing perspective, dwelling on everything that is negative, adding on, going over and over. We over-think! Instead of feeling agitated by the experience of oppression we are to develop an inner sense of stability, “Stand Firm, the Lord is coming.” We are to strengthen our hearts by waiting patiently against sin, temptation and trials.
You have two choices when problems are thrust in your path: You can face the problems trying to keep them from knocking you over, or you can look forward to God. You keep perspective by keeping your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. Yesterday I spent a bit of time with a woman in this community that recently lost her daughter. She is grieving. As she shared some of her struggles she paused now and then to say, “But I know God is in control.” That is an example of standing firm – keep looking to God no matter what….
It is a Great Temptation To Lose Patience. Remember: It Will Be Worth the Wait! READ James 5:7-8. Twice, James reminds us the Lord’s coming is near. Be patient in enduring the offenses and injuries of others because you know the end of the story: the Lord is soon returning. Some of you remember Alan Shore… years ago he did an experiment living on the streets of Bellingham for half a week. He later said he learned a lot from the experience, there was a measure of being able to identify with the homeless, but in reality he knew that in a few days he’d be back in his own bed, so the experience really was not the same. No matter what you are going through in the present, be patient, it is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, because the Lord is coming…Whatever you are going through, be patient, for the Lord will soon be here.
If I could have one short message for my voice to be heard by the Christians of our nation and world in the face of Muslim Terrorists on the March in our world, I would shout these words: BE PATIENT, THE LORD’S COMING IS VERY NEAR! When the Lord comes everything will be changed. We are temporarily homeless, uncomfortable, suffering, but a soft bed is coming soon.
Patience does not come easily. The easy road leads us to impatience. We have all experienced the hurt of mistreatment and misunderstanding: intolerable work situations, domestic conflicts, difficult relatives, individuals who take advantage of us, so called “friends” who turn against us, neighbors who believe false things about us... Our natural tendency is to retaliate, to return evil for evil, to get even, or to hold a grudge and become bitter. But there is a better way to respond to such hurtful circumstances. God is calling the Christian to overcome our natural reaction with a supernatural response. Anyone can endure when things are going well. Enduring unfair treatment with patience is a Holy attitude. James reveals that the incentive to patience is “the coming of the Lord”- James is exhorting us as Christians to wait patiently until Christ returns.
James gives an illustration, “see how the farmer waits” - the farmer is patient because the value of the harvest justifies the wait. How does the farmer wait? He goes about His business. He knows that in God’s timing the rain will come, the ground will be watered, the seeds will sprout, and the reward will be an abundant harvest. The Autumn and Spring rain refers to the general weather patterns of the land in Israel so that the early rain softens the ground and the later rain creates the lush growth for a rich harvest. The farmer must be patient, waiting, waiting.
The word “patience,” means to endure. You need patience when life is hard. Ot hurrying the story along. Suffering and patience go hand in hand. James gives two examples of why we should have patience, first there is the example of the O.T. prophets (READ James 5:10). He is referring to stories which they would be familiar of suffering in service for Christ and patiently waiting. God called the prophets for his purposes ~ if the prophets did not escape suffering why should we?
James also gives us the example of Job (READ James 5:11). In the face of unexplained suffering Job is a model of endurance (e.g. Job 1:21, 2:10, 16:9-21, 19:13-27) Job was blessed above every other man. He was prosperous and had a wonderful family. It seemed he had everything his heart desired. Suddenly the bottom of his life fell out at the hands of Satan. He lost all of his property, his possessions, his family, and his health. The suffering of Job is legendary [If you are not familiar with Job, consider accepting the 30 day Bible Reading challenge in a few months on the book of Job.] At the end of Job, the blessings of God are fully restored. The man is supernaturally patient and God restores. When You Are Tempted To Lose Patience – Remember It Will Be Worth the Wait. The Lord is coming soon!
Patience is to recognize God is the author of your story, even the heartaches. Grumbling does not help. It is easy to lose perspective, piling on, over-thinking, feeling sorry for yourself. Stand firm in the Lord. Look forward. To practice the Fruit of the Spirit of Patience is to fully believe it will be worth the wait.
An apple tree produces apples. An orange tree produces oranges. And the Holy Spirit produces people who are living a Jesus Christ life, including standing firm with Patience.