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Worship Message-Patience


Patience

I recently read about a man who admits he does not have much patience. An example

he gave was about something that happened near Chicago, where he lives. He was in a

hurry one day - he was late for an appointment - when he approached a highway toll

booth. That was not unexpected. He was used to them in the area. And normally he

had exact change to pay the 40-cent toll. But that day he lacked the exact coinage he

needed.

Not wishing to be delayed more than absolutely necessary, he whipped his vehicle across

three lanes of traffic to get to the shortest line with an attendant on duty. That is when

he noticed that in the car ahead of him, the driver not only lacked exact change. He

lacked any money at all, which means he could not pay the toll.

When that happens, the attendant has to close the window while he or she finds an

official form. Then a pen needs to be found. Then the attendant leaves the booth, locks

the door, and walks in front of the car, where he or she writes down the license number

before he or she goes to the driver’s window and hands the form to the driver, who is

required to write down his or her name, address, phone number - and, as the man who

tells this story adds, no doubt his social security number, home bank, political party

affiliation, and the names of all family members, including second cousins.

All that happens before the attendant returns to the booth, unlocks and opens the door,

shuts the door, puts the official form down, opens the window, and is finally ready to

wave the penniless driver on his or her way.

All that happened before the man who admittedly suffers from a lack of patience finally

got to give the attendant his dollar and receive his change and be on his way.

Does anything like that ever happen to you? Maybe not a toll road, but something else

that causes you to be impatient? Speaking of traffic, there is a light at 48th and Old

Cheney Road. If you happen to be heading south and get to the intersection just as the

light turns red, you are doomed to sit, like forever, until the light finally changes to

green. Actually, I have timed it a few times over the years. And guess what. It is not,

like forever. It’s only, on average, 75 seconds, which, in the scheme of things, is not all

that long.

But do you have trouble with patience? And not only with traffic, but in any way or with

anyone? If so, today’s topic will be very relevant. It will be relevant because we are

going to talk about what the Bible says about having that character trait.

I looked online to find a list of Bible verses in which God addresses the topic of patience.

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I was amazed to see the very long list of such verses. We are certainly not going to cover

them all, but there are some that will be highlighted, beginning with some that remind

us of the patience of God.

I am thinking, for instance, of something that happened very early in the Old Testament.

Remember that the first two people created by God blew it when Eve and then Adam ate

fruit from a tree they had been forbidden by God to eat from.

That was disobedience of God. An act that could have resulted in God turning His back

on them and promising to never have anything to do with them ever again. God would

have been justified in leaving Adam and Eve alone and helpless.

And yes, God did banish them from the Garden of Eden. The place God had placed

them. A wonderful place with everything they would ever have needed.

But listen to Genesis 3:21. “The LORD God made for Adam and his wife Eve garments

of skins, and clothed them.” God clothed them, which protected them from the

elements and kept them warm

Again, God could have left Adam and Eve to their own devices, but He did not. Which I

think was a display of patience. Yes, Adam and Eve had done wrong, but maybe they

would change. God was patient enough to keep them safe in hopes they would change.

We are going to be jumping around the Bible some today, but let’s next consider

something that happened early in the New Testament with a man named Peter - the

apostle of Jesus who often bragged about how strong he was, but who so often, when

faced with trouble, failed miserably.

For instance, one night, when the disciples were struggling in the midst of a bad wind in

the middle of the Sea of Galilee - this is recorded in Matthew 14 - Jesus walked up to

them. He walked on the water, coming up beside the boat the disciples were in. When

He got to them, Jesus encouraged them to not fear.

Peter was pretty impressed with that. So impressed he asked for the opportunity to join

Jesus on the water. Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter did. He got out of the boat. He actually got to Jesus.

But then he began to notice the wind, and he became afraid. At that very moment -

when he took his eyes off Jesus - Peter began to sink, whereupon he cried out, “Lord,

save me!”

Jesus could have ignored Peter’s prayer. At the least, Jesus could have spent a few

moments chastising Peter, pointing out that his words were a whole lot more impressive

than were his actions. But, just as God had been with Adam and Eve, Jesus was patient

with Peter. Patient enough to immediately reach out His hand and catch Peter, after

which Jesus calmed the wind.

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Patience. God showed it to Adam and Eve. Jesus showed it to Peter. I assume we can

all think of times in our own lives when God - when Jesus - has shown patience to us.

And even if we cannot think of specific times, we know He has been patient with us.

Remember Romans 3:23? I know I mention this verse quite often, but it is important

for each of us remember the teaching in the verse. Romans 3:23. “For all have sinned

and fall short of the glory of God.”

We all fail. Either we have or we do. Not a one of us is or at least has been perfect.

Since God is perfect, He would be justified to refuse His help to us.

But He does not refuse. In fact - I John 1:9 - “all who confess their sins [all who repent

of their sins and ask Jesus for forgiveness] are forgiven and cleansed [they are saved

from what has been done wrong.]” That again is a display of patience on the part of the

Lord.

And guess what. The patience we receive from God is the very patience we are give to

others.

Of course, we know, do we not, that being patient with others can be difficult to

accomplish? But when we are not patient, terrible things can be said.

The one who wrote about his lack of patience in the toll booth line also listed some of the

comments that can be made when we lose patience with others. As I read the list, I kind

of shuddered. I hope I never have said - I hope I never in the future say - any of these

things. But I mention them to kind of shock us into thinking about the things that can

be so easy to say to others. What we might say if we are not patient.

A husband. How easy it can be for a husband to insult his wife if he is impatient. And

hey, maybe not with her, but with something else. Saying things insulting her

appearance or how she keeps the house. Things that can wound. And yes, many times

the husband will apologize, hoping his wife will forget what he said. But does the

forgetting happen? Maybe, but it is tough to forget such things since the wounding is to

the heart.

The same thing happens to the heart when a wife says to her husband - or at least acts

like it - when a wife says, “You are pathetic.”

I am not sure why I remember it, but I do recall my mother saying a few times to my

dad, “If I was married to a real man, [such and such] would be done.”

Even as a child, I wondered, and I do now, how my dad felt when he heard those words.

I hope I never find out personally how it feels. And I know I won’t because Lynna Gene

is very kind. And hey, maybe my mother had good reasons to make such a comment.

But maybe it came because of a lack of patience?

Have you ever heard a father - or maybe a mother - say this to one of his or her children?

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“Just hit the ball, will you? All the other kids your age can hit the ball. What’s wrong

with you?”

Or a mother - or a father - say this to one of her or his children? “Just get out of the

kitchen, OK? All you are capable of doing is making a mess. Just go do something else.”

O how about an employer saying this to an employee? “Why do I even pay you? I can

do better than that. Get out of my way.”

The purpose of mentioning those hurtful comments is not to put any of us on a guilt trip.

Instead, the purpose is to remind us of how easy it is to say inappropriate things when

we are impatient. And to convince us to listen to what the Bible says about the need for

patience.

Including two verses in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 15:18. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife.” That is certainly the case with the

comments just mentioned. “But he who is slow to anger [a man - or a woman or a child

- who is patient] quiets contention.”

Proverbs 16:32. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his

spirit than he who takes a city.”

Those verses tell us the danger of impatience. The danger is strife. They tell the benefits

of patience, which are strength and the quieting of contention. May we use both those

verses as reasons to ask the Lord’s help to have patience - to develop that character trait

or to continue to grow into more and more of it.

And if we need another example of it, let’s again consider the Lord. Earlier we talked

about patience shown to Adam and Eve. Earlier we talked about patience shown to

Peter. Let’s now talk about Psalm 103:8. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to

anger and abounding in steadfast love.

As verse 9 has it, God does chide His people when they - when we - do wrong. He does

become angry if we sin.

But the promise is that He will not always chide. The promise is that He will not keep

His anger forever. Instead, He will show patience. So much so that when we are sorry

for whatever it is we do wrong, He will - this is verse 12 of Psalm 103 - He will “remove

our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west.”

Which is an amazing thought. Have you heard it explained before? If you go north, you

will eventually get to the North Pole, at which point you will start going south, until you

reach the South Pole, at which point you will start going north again. If you start out

going south, you will eventually start going north before once again heading south. The

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point being that if God removed our transgressions as from as the north is from the

south or the south is from the north, we would keep running into them, over and over

again.

But if you head east, you will always keep going east. You will never meet west.

Applying it to God’s promise, when He takes our transgressions away, we will no longer

be affected by them.

That is proof of God’s mercy and grace. It is proof of His slow anger and steadfast love.

It is proof of His patience. He is patient enough to not turn us away. He is patient

enough to keep working with us, helping us to grow in our faith in Him.

Which, again, we are to do for others. Which leads me to two passages I want to

highlight as ways to explain patience. How to have patience. If we obey these two

passages, we will be patient with others.

One of the passages is what is often called the Golden Rule. It is Luke 6:31. And by the

way, that verse is at the end of a paragraph. Earlier, we are taught to love our enemies

and do good to those who hate us and bless those who curse us and pray for those who

abuse us, and to turn the other cheek when we are struck and give to those who want to

take from us or who beg from us.

All of that is then summarized in Luke 6:31. “As you wish that men should do to you, do

so to them.” And hey, do we not - each of us - want to be loved and have good done to us

and be blessed and prayed for and given second chances? If that is what we want done

to us - if patience is what we want - that is what we are to give to others.

The second of the passages takes us even further than that. It is Philippians 2:3. “Do

nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than

yourselves.”

Before that verse is a challenge to be unified with fellow believers. Something that

requires having patience with others.

After that the thought continues as we are instructed one way to be humble and

therefore patient. We are each to look “not only to our own interests [our own needs

and feelings], but also to the interests of others.” As we do that, we will hopefully

understand others better, which should result in more and more patience with others.

And yes, all that is possible, Jesus being our example. He is interested in what we do.

He takes the time and makes the effort to search us and know us. As discussed earlier,

He is patient when we come up short, giving us second chances - and third and fourth

and so on chances.

Patience. That is a character trait God wants to see in us. And you know what? There

never seems to be much benefit from impatience.

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Thinking again of traffic, a couple weeks ago I was driving east on Old Cheney Road. As

Lynna Gene can attest, I never get in too much of a hurry when I’m driving. But I do like

going the speed limit.

That morning, the car in front of me was going maybe 23 in a 40-mile-per-hour part of

the road.

I said to myself, “Can we move?” When that did not happen, I whipped around that car

and shot up to the speed limit. Until I got to the next light, which was red. Guess what.

Before the light turned green, there was that car, right behind me. My whipping around

had accomplished nothing.

And it got worse at the next major intersection, at which there was another red light.

Guess what. While I waited in the going straight ahead lane, the car I had whipped

around, which was in the left turn lane, got the green turn arrow and actually proceeded

through the intersection before I did.

Impatience often accomplishes nothing. Not just with traffic, but in other ways, too. As

mentioned earlier, it can lead to very hurtful words in relationships. But listen to these

words from II Peter 3:9, which lead to the closing comment of this message. “The Lord

is forbearing toward you [He is patient toward you] not wishing that any should perish,

but that all should reach repentance.”

Specifically, Jesus is, according to the verse, delaying His return to give people more

time to come to Him and be saved. But as discussed earlier, He is patient with everyone,

either to give them more time to accept Him or, if they have accepted Him, to give us

more time to grow in our faith.

Can we be patient? Patient enough to encourage others to accept Jesus? Patient even if

they struggle with making that most important of all decisions? And patient even if

those who do believe in Jesus struggle a bit with their growth?

Can we be as patient with others as God is with us? Can we be as patient with others as

we want others to be patient with us? Let’s do that. Let’s work on that - with the help of

God.

Today’s closing song is the hymn Have Thine Own Way, Lord.

We are going to sing the first two verses. Verse 1 will remind us to be willing to be

molded and made by the Lord to follow His will, including the part of His will that we be

patient.

Verse 2 will be our request that He search us and try us, the goal to be cleansed from

anything that would keep us from being patient.

I will then talk about verse 3 before we close by singing verse 4, in which we will ask for

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the Lord’s guidance and the Holy Spirit’s power to live for Christ. Once again, including

obeying His call for patience.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Thou are the potter, I am the clay!

Mold me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Search me and try me, Master, today!

Cleanse me from sin, Lord, wash we just now,

As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

In verse 3 there is the reminder that sometimes things in life can wound us. Sometimes

severely. We thought in the message about some comments that can wound us. We

know there are other things that can wound - financial problems, disappointments,

things not turning out as rosy as we might want. Any of those things can test our

patience.

But look. Power - all power - surely belongs to the Lord. And what He has, He shares

with His people. So yes, let’s allow Him to touch us and heal us as we grow in every way,

including in our patience.

Verse 4, which will also serve as today’s benediction. So let’s end with an “amen.”

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Hold o’er my being absolute sway!

Fill with Thy Spirit ‘til all shall see

Christ only, always, living in me!

Amen.

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