Monday, March 28, 2011

Patience! Again?

Exquisite handiwork of God!
I recently gave a devotion to our homeschooling support group on the topic of Patience (see previous post).   As I studied all the "patience" passages in Scripture, I also had time to reflect on my own life.   And the many times in which I had a lack of it.   Funny, in a not-laughing way. 

This past weekend I went to a Christian homeschool conference.    The keynote speaker* led several sessions, and in his last one "Standing on the Promise," he gave a totally new (to me) spin on the Fruit of the Spirit.   I want to share this with everyone I know!

The speaker* mentioned that there were NO punctuation marks in ancient Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament)--which I already knew.   But I'd never given thought to the placement of commas and colons that much before.    He took Galatians 5, verses 22 & 23 which Christians refer to as The Fruit of the Spirit.    He wondered if we keep in mind the fact that Fruit is singular, then the fruit of the Spirit would be "love"---and the remaining list of attributes would be various FACETS of love when it is mixed with the Spirit.   So like this:
The fruit of the Spirit is love:   joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
He then took Love and added the definition which would lead to the next facet/attribute like this:
  • Love + emotion = joy
  • Love + confidence = peace
  • Love + time = patience
  • Love + action = kindness (visible)
  • Love + character = goodness
  • Love + commitment = faithfulness
  • Love + sensitivity = gentleness
  • Love + discipline = self-control
Isn't that neat? 

Wait for it!  Patience!!  Spring is arriving . . .
In studying this passage many years ago, our pastor  mentioned that if you look at WHERE in the list a  specific topic is---it makes a difference too.   So as I studied for my devotion, I did that, too.    Interesting to note that patience comes AFTER love - joy - and - peace.    And that from patience follows kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness....and that Self-Control is the last thing!    And isn't that the truth?   The last thing for most of us is always self-control.  

The Holy Spirit is impeccable in the way He ordered these things.   Another passage in Scripture tells us  

"All Scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting 
and training in righteousness, 
so that the man (or woman!) of God may be 
thoroughly equipped for every good work."  
(2 Timothy 3:16 & 17)

When we take the time to read carefully, and peel back the layers, there is ALWAYS something there for  us.    Every time!  

*NOTE:   Bernie Beall of "Great Commission Ministries" in Maryland

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Have you ever given thought to how QUICKLY we can do things now days?   I mean, like “instantly”!    Flip a switch and lights come on.  Press a few buttons on your microwave and lunch is ready.    Surf the internet, click here, and within milliseconds you’re transported to a distant location viewing a mother bird sitting on her nest!    

But . . . when we’re surfing the internet, and we have to wait more than five seconds for a page change, oh no! “this computer is slow!”    Really?  

Me & Dearly Beloved
My Darling Blessings + 4 others!
With whom do you have the MOST difficulty being patient?    Your dearly beloved?   Or maybe those darling blessings?   Oh, yes, we love them so much, yet how often are they the objects of our impatience?   I don’t know about you, but I find I even get impatient with myself for NOT being patient with them!

And being a home-schooling mom, wow—there’s a whole different dimension to mothering and patience!    It’s difficult enough to train children to dress and feed themselves, but then they’re home 24 hours of the day making a mess of things!   The house never looks “clean.”  The daily demands of making sure they’re all actually LEARNING something, and oh, please, do I have to re-teach that AGAIN?   Add the frustration and cost of finding the right curriculum, for how many children?  Ach!  And wait—it’s not working for your little angel?   Oh dear!   And . . . why can that child NOT remember that six times eight is forty-eight—I bet we’ve drilled that fact for three months now!?   Ugh!   I’m SO fed up with this!

Did that hit home?  Maybe a little too close for comfort?    

It would be so much easier to be patient, IF it was easier to be patient.  

Honestly I never thought much about patience other than the fact that I think I don’t have enough of it.   I volunteered to do a devotion on Patience, so I dutifully looked up about 50 Bible passages, and all I can say is WOW!   The Bible has a LOT to say about patience:  mine and God’s!  

Here are a few of the things I learned:   

First of all . . . Did you know that in the Bible the word patiently is almost always associated with another word?   Do you know what the other word is?  Take a second to think about it.    [pause]    Most of the time, the word patiently is linked with the word wait.   As in “wait patiently.”    Interesting to think that the word wait (which most of us don’t LIKE to do)…is linked with patience—since we’re all in such a big hurry most of the time, and usually impatiently!

The Bible is loaded with examples of patient waiting!   Job who remained faithful to God, even after his children were killed and his wealth destroyed and his life in ruins.    And Abraham and Sarah who waited for decades before the promise of a son was fulfilled.   

But mostly we see God being patient with His people.   It starts in Genesis with Adam and Eve and continues through the very last book of the Bible!   First Peter 3:20 tells us that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”    Were there ever people as trying as the Hebrews wandering in the desert or during the time of the Judges or those irritating Pharisees? 

Yep.  We TRY God’s patience, too.   Passages in Proverbs repeat over and over that we should wait patiently, that God hears our cries.  Instead of waiting IMpatiently, God says “do not fret, be still.    He says to listen, to hope, to remember His promises, and to endure.

When our patience ‘wears thin’ as it often does during the course of a home-schooling day, then remember the patience God has for us and how He shows His love for us.    An instructive example (you feel smarter already when I use language like that, right?) instructive example from the Old Testament times takes place in the book of Isaiah (chapter 7).  

God sends Isaiah to King Ahaz who is dealing with two rebel forces (not exactly a home-schooling issue, unless the boys are routing the girls from the backyard tree-fort!), but the lesson is there for us.   So listen to this:  

God instructs Isaiah to encourage Ahaz that the rebellion will come to nothing, and even tells Ahaz to ask Him (God) for a sign to prove the truth of the promise.  Ahaz refuses, and Isaiah responds like this:  “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?   Will you try the patience of my God also?   Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel!” 

Ahaz didn’t want to put God to the test, but God’s unlimited patience with His people led to this wonderful promise—a reminder that He was sending His son to redeem the world!

Here’s an example from the New Testament, too; Paul writes to young Pastor Timothy:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”   

Remember Paul at one time was a leading persecutor of the early Christian church, and think of Christ’s patience with him.   Christ turned Paul’s life around and used him for such great work, to spread the gospel far and wide.   Aren’t you glad God is patient!?  

The Bible also mentions that God’s patience is a display of His power and glory.   And most importantly, God’s patience leads to our salvation (Isaiah example).   

And God continues to be patient with us, too.   

I kind of grouped together the ways Patience is depicted or explained.   Here are some things that might help you, too!

When should I be patient?   Through the night, in waiting, in affliction, in suffering, in love, and in enduring persecutions.

With whom should I be patient?   With one another and with everyone.  (Our heavenly Father makes NO distinction between being patient with hubbies or children compared to everyone else---do you find you're easier on others than on your own family members?)  

The benefits of patience?   We learn to persevere.   Our faith is strengthened. We turn to God in thanksgiving.  We experience peace and joy as we see God working in our lives.

What are the outward signs of patience?   The fruits of the Spirit becomes evident in our lives. (more on that in a second)  We gain wisdom and experience.  We show love to others.

Patience is not a “stand-alone” virtue.
The quality of patience is tucked into two very important lists of character traits that define Christians.   One is found Colossians, chapter 3.  The other list is found in Galatian which I've printed here IN CONTEXT.  

Yes, they're related!  Father & Son!
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.   For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.   …. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  [sexual sins], idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;  …. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.   Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.    Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

So we have our list of "Fruit of the Spirit", which is off-set by that list I'll call the "Fruit of the Sinful Nature".  Did you catch all those bad traits—which show up in the form of impatience?   Read it again:   The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  ...  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Think how impatience goes hand-in-hand with these ugly evil traits?

On the other hand, how interesting to note that in the Fruit of the Spirit list, patience comes after love and joy and peace….and leads to kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   See how those work together?   Let us live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit. 

I want to “Live by the Spirit,” I suppose you do, too....but let's admit right’s hard to do.  

Thankfully, we have a LOT of tools at our disposal.  Being patient will be much easier then.

Surround yourself with Christian friends.    Hold each other responsible & accountable.    Encourage each other.

Post reminders on the fridge or the bathroom mirror.   Jot reminders on a sticky-note next to the computer screen.   Jot a note on the calendar page.  

Eat spiritual food.   Your physical body needs nourishment three times a day, plus snacks (SMILE!).   Your spirit needs nourishment each day, too.   So … daily immerse yourself in God’s Word.  Set aside time each day to read the Bible so God CAN encourage you.   And also MAKE time to pray, so you can pour out your heartache and problems to the One who loves you and me so much that He sent His Son to redeem us!  

Get enough sleep.   Eat healthy foods.   It’s much easier to be patient when you’re not wiped out.  

Notice how PATIENT I am?
Patience is easier if you smile alot!
Look for signs of patience in your children.  When you notice THEM being patient, encourage them by saying something like “Thank you for your patience.  I know it is hard to wait sometimes.”   Or something like, “I appreciate how you waited quietly while I was changing Baby’s diaper.”   When you are busy noticing them, you will be silently reminding yourself of the qualities you want them to emulate, too!   

Remember:   Not everything happens overnight.   Children and husbands will respond to encouragement—the same way that you do!     So, dear mothers, be patient with them as God is patient with you.

Daily remind yourself of God’s mercy to you—and then and be merciful and patient with your dearly beloved and your darling blessings!

I’d like to wrap this with these words from Peter’s second book.   It’s much like a prayer, so go ahead and pray!

“So, then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, 
make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God.   
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation….
grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   
To him be glory both now and forever!