By a show of hands, how many of you
here this morning have a problem with a lack of patience?
Well, I see I'm in good company.
Now I am not saying all impatience is
a problem or a bad thing. As a matter of fact impatience does
fulfill an important role in our lives, in our jobs and within
the church. Impatience is what moves us to action when it
seems we're spinning our wheels and going nowhere. And
impatience is sometimes required to move us beyond where we
are to where we ought to be.
But today I want to focus the message
on the importance of patience, and how we can use patience
wisely from God's perspective.
When Jesus left this world, He
promised his disciples that he would soon return. Yet what the
disciples failed to understand was that "soon" didn't mean the
same thing to Jesus as it meant to them. To the people of
Jesus' day, "soon" meant within the next few days. So some of
them quit their jobs, sold all their goods, and gathered on a
hillside waiting for what they believed was the immediate
return of Jesus. But as we know Jesus hasn't returned yet, so
we are called to continue to wait, and wait patiently.
Now as many of us know first hand
being patient can be hard. So what are we to do while we wait?
Well James, in our scripture reading, reminds us that while we
patiently wait, we are to use our time wisely, we're to use
our time working for the Lord.
James also helps us understand
patience when he speaks of the farmer and how a farmer must
patiently "wait for the land to yield its valuable crops." A
farmer has to be patient and wait for his crops to grow; he
can't hurry the process.
But even as the farmer waits during
the summer months for his crops to grow he doesn't take the
summer off, there is still much work to be done. In the same
way we must wait patiently for Christ's return, and while we
wait there is much work that we can do.
As we wait for Christ's return we are
to spend time growing in our faith and sharing our faith with
others so that God's kingdom continues to grow and flourish.
You see both the farmer and the Christian have something in
common, they must live by faith, looking to the future for the
rewards of their labors.
Now while we patiently wait, we also
know that we'll hit some rough spots along the way, and we'll
experience some ups and downs in our lives.
And we all know that when things go
wrong, which they will from time to time, we can have a
tendency to grumble, complain, and blame others for our
misfortune. I mean lets face it; often times blaming others is
a whole lot easier than taking responsibility for our own
actions. But again James offers us some advice and cautions us
that this is not a wise use of our time, nor is it fruitful.
Therefore before we judge others for
their shortcomings, remember that Christ the judge will come
and evaluate each of us. And he will not let us get away with
shifting the blame of our own shortcomings to others.
So as we wait for the Lord's return,
we can't allow our frustration to turn us against God's
people, and we can't allow ourselves to judge. This is not a
wise use of our time. We need to stay focused on growing God's
kingdom, not tearing it down. In reality we probably all
should have a big sign hanging around our neck that reads,
"I'm sorry, be patient with me; God's not finished with me
Now patience, like most Christian
characteristics, is one of those character traits that grows
over time rather than being given to us in fullness overnight.
Patience is not automatic, although it does seem some folks
have a knack or gift for patience, but in general patience
must be learned and learning takes time and effort.
In my own efforts to learn patience
I've discovered some interesting things. First I've discovered
that to receive the gift of patience we need help, so going to
God in prayer and asking for help is a good place to start.
Unfortunately some of us when we
recognize the need for patience, and we go to pray, we say a
prayer that goes something like this: "Lord, give me patience,
and give it to me NOW!" Amen
Now I tend to be a goal oriented
person, so I establish goals for myself personally and
professionally, and then set out to achieve them. And perhaps
some of you do the same.
But what I've found in my own life is
that sometimes achieving the goal isn't as satisfying as I
thought it would be, or achieving the goal was somewhat
anticlimactic. What I've discovered is that real growth and
real satisfaction come from working towards the goal, not in
simply achieving it. Has anyone else ever felt this way?
The process of working towards the
goal is where the challenge is, not just in achieving the goal
itself. And as I've come to know myself better, I realize that
what really gets me "juiced up" is the challenge. Now this
doesn't mean I don't like to reach or achieve a goal. Rather,
what I mean, is ultimate satisfaction also includes the
process that leads to achieving the goal.
I sometimes wonder if this is why God
in Christ hasn't returned yet. Perhaps God also gets
satisfaction from seeing people work through the faith
process, working through challenges and seeking him for help.
Sure it would be easy for God to snap
his fingers (metaphorically speaking) and save the world, but
will that bring true wholeness if we haven't struggled through
the process of coming and growing in faith.
I've also realized that exhibiting
patience does not have to be time wasted or dead time, if one
is pursuing growth. Often those periods where patience is
required is a time of faithful preparation so that after the
goal is achieved we're better prepared for the outcome, or we
better understand the achievement from an eternal or divine
All of us here at one time or another
have attended school, or will. Well we attend school to
prepare us to get along in this world. School offers us the
education required to get a job, and so on. Without this time
of preparation we would struggle greatly to live and function
in this world.
Yet for most of us there was a time
when we couldn't wait to be done with school, so we could get
on with life. We couldn't wait to get our drivers license so
we could let our hair down and hit the open road. But without
patience and using this time for preparation, getting a job
and driving would be more difficult.
If Jesus returns and we aren't
prepared the results could be deadly! If we don't understand
our faith, if we haven't received Christ as our Lord and
Savior, if we don't understand what's going on, eternity
becomes nothing more than a word. So we do need to be patient
for the return of Christ, but we also need to use this time of
Over the past two months several of us
have experienced this same kind of feeling as we've started
our Saturday evening Contemporary Worship Service. We feel
strongly that God has led us to offer an alternative style of
worship here in this community, so we stepped out in faith and
as you know we've started this worship service.
When we kicked off this ministry 8
weeks ago we were hoping that over time we would fill the
sanctuary, and I still believe this to be a valid goal and
where God is leading us. But being the impatient person I tend
to be, I wanted the sanctuary filled by week 2.
In reality what we've experienced over
the past 8 weeks is anywhere from 10 to 25 people attending
our Saturday evening service so far, and we are seeing God at
work, as more and more new people are coming to worship, and
are beginning to inquire about creating a praise team and
What we've learned throughout this
process is that God is telling us to be patient, don't focus
on numbers and use this time of patience wisely. So even
though people aren't yet lined up outside to get into the
sanctuary on Saturday evenings, every worship service, without
exception, has been spirit-filled, full of energy and very
much a service of worshiping God. We walk away blessed every
Saturday evening (as I pray you do tonight).
In other words, while the community is
becoming aware of the new worship service we are engaging in a
time of intentional preparation as we work out the kinks of
our new worship service, and as we better determine the
worship needs of the community.
So that's what we're doing, and every
time we run into a challenge whether it be an impatient
attitude (usually mine), a logistical or technical issue, God
has been there to provide what we needed when we needed it:
encouragement, a solution we hadn't considered, and an
attitude of faithful patience.
Also, we must realize taht even when
our impatience is for what we think are good and godly
reasons, Like our contemporary worship service, God still may
say wait, I need to prepare you and I need to prepare others.
Just as a farmer needs to prepare the fields so a fruitful
crop is produced, so too does God need to prepare the soil of
our hearts so that we might be fruitful in our endeavors.
As our children wait for Christmas Day
with anticipation and expectation, we ought to be using the
time between now and then not to just decorate, shop and wrap
gifts, but we ought to use this time to also tell our children
about the birth of Jesus and what Jesus' birth means to them
and the world.
As we know all too well, eventually
the gifts that are given on Christmas Day will be tossed aside
as they become worn, broken or boring, sometimes faster then
we as parents and grandparents would like to see. But the gift
of Jesus Christ and all that his birth means is a gift that
our children will retain for a lifetime. It's the one gift,
the only gift, that keeps on giving.
As we patiently wait for the coming of
Christ, as we wait the next 2 weeks to celebrate Jesus' birth
again, we ought to use these weeks as a time of intentional
faith preparation, teaching our children the truth of the
Christian faith and why the birth of Jesus is to be celebrated
and lifted up! Therefore, I encourage all of us to work
faithfully to grow God's kingdom, knowing that Jesus will come
again when God determines the time is right. Be patient in
your waiting and use this time to grow in the grace and love
of our savior Jesus Christ.
Read other messages by Pastor Wade