Through faith and patience we inherit what was promised.
The purpose of patience is not to help cope with frustration, but to inherit the things God has promised us.
The patriarchs of the Bible had two things in common; faith and patience. It took a long time for Noah to build the ark, and eighty years before Moses could lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. However, the person the Bible uses to best illustrate patience is Abraham. He received promises from God, but none came without great patience. He was promised that he would become the father of many nations, that Canaan would be his, and that he would be blessed beyond imagination. These promises were only fulfilled with amazing faith and patience.
The older you get, the quicker the years fly by. If you are a senior, you know a year is gone almost as soon as it starts. You realize that your entire life will pass by with amazing speed. Soon, you begin to think more like God; this is how He sees things.
"Oh God, a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night."
God's plans take time and patience.
No Patience Means Trouble
Without patience, you will falter in your walk with the Lord. Many leaders-in-training jump ship for lack of this fruit of the Spirit. Furthermore, the reason the Sabbath exists is to instill in us the essential qualities of faith and patience.
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their own works...Let us therefore enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." Heb. 4:9-11
Sabbath is a time to take your hands and thoughts off everything and rest in the provision of the Lord. We have come to understand that patience is abnormal. Children are almost completely void of it. A parent's training helps give children enough experience to learn patience. This is important, because if they don't learn, their lives will be a mess.
When Abraham was 75, God promised he would be the father of nations. But he and Sarah had no children.
It seemed only natural that when he was 86 and Sarah was 76, they lost patience and took matters into their own hands. It was Sarah's idea that Abraham marry Hagar, the maid-servant, and have a child that would belong to Sarah and Abraham.
So Abraham forsook patience and fathered Ishmael, whose descendants would create conflict for his and Sarah's children for thousands of years to come.
When Abraham was 99, the angels visited him and once again told him that he would have a son. The following year, they had Isaac, the father of Jacob and the nation of Israel. Without sufficient patience, we resort to our own efforts and do things that greatly harm the plans of God for our lives.
All of us should learn from Abraham's example. He took a self-made path that was not from God, and suffered the consequences as a result. Once you receive a promise, folks may pressure you to step out and make the promise happen, yourself. Be mindful; it may not be God's will for it to happen that way or at that time.
If you try to press forward without the Lord's guidance, that will produce an "Ishmael" and will only cause you trouble and strife (see Heb. 6:15).
Patience, But Not Laziness
"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
I have learned to keep myself active in serving the Lord. I do what He calls me to do, and I receive promises, but I refuse to be lazy. After obeying the directives of the Lord, I leave the grandiose promises with Him. I have faith they will come to pass, but I wait for the Lord's direction.
Sometimes, I wait a long time, and some words I received years ago have yet to be fulfilled. While waiting for the promises, I serve the Lord in other ways. I involve myself in the creative arts, in preaching and in building.
Nevertheless, I am always ready to move forward to fulfill God's promises over my life at the slightest nudge from the Lord. I intentionally refuse to make something happen without the Lord telling me to do so. I live the Sabbath every day, as I put my faith under His leadership. My life is full of God-ordained activity, and I do not want to produce something that is not His perfect will.
God's Plans Continue
Even though we may not see His promises being fulfilled, the plans of God continue. If we are disciples of Christ, we will remain active working for Him.
Before Abraham fathered Isaac, he had to circumcise the men in his household, including himself at age 99 and Ishmael at age 13 (see Gen. 17:10).
On the same visit, when he was 99, the angel of the Lord informed him of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was called upon to intercede for their inhabitants.
The plans of God are always in the works. Even though the great promises for our lives may seem delayed, we will always be called to obey the Lord and serve Him.
The Process of Patience
The growth of patience involves the trials of our faith. The Bible says these tribulations produce pure gold. The Lord develops patience in us through our trials, and that gives us experience. We might want to be careful when asking for more patience, for the answer usually means more trials.
"You may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of great worth than gold...though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Chrsit is revealed." 1 Pt. 1:6-7
We learn that trials produce God's purpose in our lives. Through trials we gain patience, experience, character and hope. Our trust in the Lord grows.
"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance of patience; and perseverance of character; and through character, hope." Ro. 5:3-4 (NKJV)
The Apostle James says it like this: "The testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it's perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Js. 1:3-4 (NKJV)
This is how we are made complete. Tribulation works patience in us, and patience produces Christ-like character and hope for the future.
Patience is not just a quality of good behavior. It is a supernatural, indispensable, fruit of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
When we step forward to exercise the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit moves upon us so that the fruit reaches a level beyond human effort. That is why these qualities are called the fruit of the Spirit. God works through us.
He is our teacher. He helps us choose the high road when faced with adversity. Supernatural love, joy, peace and patience will shine in us. When patience works, we are complete. It is time to let patience have its perfect work, so you receive your promises from God.
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