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WHAT I REALLY NEED IS A LITTLE PATIENCE!
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
12 JUNE 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Preparation Verse: (Psalm 46:10)
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Today, we are going to talk about patience. Do you know what patience is?
It's being happy and satisfied with where we are and what we have, even though we may desire something else.
Let's look at an example.
To say, "I just can't wait until school is out for the summer," and then
think only about what we are going to do at that time and forget about what we
are doing now, is not having any patience.
And when we feel this way, we also may irritate others, particularly our parents.
We also will find out, when summer recess finally comes, that it's not as exciting as we had thought it would be, and we say, "I'm bored; there's nothing to do!"
Because we are putting so much effort into planning and imagining what we are going to do during the summer, we find that when it actually comes, it is not all that we thought it was going to be.
And, do you know something else?
By doing this we also lost part of our happiness, both during the summer and during the time we were worrying about it coming, for we didn't enjoy the time along the way.
If we are happy and satisfied with what we already have, then when something else comes along, we find that we enjoy it even more. We will be actually doubling our joy.
It also doesn't make any difference whether we are young or old, or occupying times and places in between. What really makes the difference is the focal point of our contentment.
If we think we need an accumulation of things to make us happy, we will find that we are never really satisfied, and we will always be impatient.
But if the focal point of our contentment is the Lord, then we will be satisfied with all that we have, and find real and lasting excitement in the new things that come along. We will be patient.
There is no greater treasure to acquire than heaven, and no greater One to share it with than the Lord.
We can also be in a hurry to arrive at a solution to our problems. But if we let the Lord work on them with us, we have no need for being impatient, for the Lord knows just the right time to bring about the resolution.
And sometimes this can become confusing, particularly if we are seeking to end all the pain and suffering inflicted upon millions of innocent human beings and billions of innocent animals around the world every year.
This is because that even though we pray for peace, the suffering seems to never end.
And even though this can be frustrating, we are to continue to do everything we can to end the suffering, but we are still to wait upon the Lord for the final resolution.
As we read in Psalm 25, David seemed to have some concerns about himself and the situations around him; but note how he approaches the answers.
He does not become impatient, nor does he pray for patience. He presents his petition before the Lord and waits for His answer, knowing that God is always faithful.
1. To Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
David is not just presenting his problems and concerns. He is presenting himself.
2. O my God, in Thee I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3. Indeed, none of those who wait for Thee will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
What this is telling us is that when we become impatient, and go off and do things that we know are not right in order to achieve some purpose, we will be the ones who will be ashamed.
But those who wait upon the Lord will never be ashamed.
How do we know what God wants us to do?
We read our Bibles and we ask Him, just as the psalmist did.
4. Make me know Thy ways, O Lord;
Teach me Thy paths.
When we walk with the Lord, He will show us the way and what He desires of us.
But when we wander off His pathways, the answers don't come as easily and we become impatient.
So instead of praying for patience, pray that the Lord will show you all that He desires you to know, and then follow through by taking His advice.
Always strive to do the will of God and to improve yourself and the world around you, and you will find that there is so much to be done that you won't have time to become impatient.
Listen again to the way that David expressed it:
5. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me,
For Thou art the God of my salvation;
For Thee I wait all the day.
6. Remember, O Lord, Thy compassion and Thy lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.
7. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Thy lovingkindness remember Thou me,
For Thy goodness' sake, O Lord.
God will always come through when we pray in His will. Just trust Him!
When we are impatient in matters of God, we are actually saying that we don't really trust Him completely. We may trust God in some things, but not in all things.
How can we make the distinction? If God is holy and righteous, then all that He does must be trustworthy.
We have so much in this country, yet our desire is for even more.
We have the freedom to worship, yet we walk away from God, and our churches become weak.
We have turned away from the lovingkindness, compassion, and peace that God desires us to have for the whole of His beautiful creation.
We are actually destroying the basic reason we have these freedoms: our faith and trust in God.
The apostle Paul didn't have an easy time in serving God, but he most assuredly had the faith and trust in our Lord to wait patiently for all to be accomplished; and he never stopped working for those things that God desired him to do.
Note how he expresses this in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.
1. And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain –
All who believe in Jesus Christ are called to work with one another and with God for the furtherance of the Gospel, so that all might hear and see the life-changing effects brought about by that belief in the lives of the believers.
We come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by the grace of God, and not by anything we do.
The church at Corinth had many problems which Paul has been addressing in these two epistles. Their impatience had led them to jump upon every whim of doctrine, without first determining if it was correct or not. As a result, they put many things before God.
Here Paul is urging them, and us today, not to turn away from God and the
truth that was believed at first, thereby making the grace of God of little or
no value in their lives and ours.
2. for He says,
"At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you";
behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation" –
If we lose sight of this fact we become tired and we feel like giving up, because we become impatient. We may get the answer or the desired results in as little time as a few minutes, or it may take years; but if we become impatient and give up, we lose all that we have been working for.
So often when we are young, we can't see the full advantage of our formal education, and feel like dropping out. I felt like that a few times myself, but I'm very glad I stayed with it.
Paul, through his writings, has brought us much of what we know of the New Testament and of how we are to live as Christians. We have this because he didn't become impatient and give up.
In the following verses, Paul and the Holy Spirit try to show us, through his
life experiences and hardships, that we also ought to "hang in there." We should
give no cause to turn others away from God and the church.
3. giving no cause for offence in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited,
4. but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,
5. in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,
That's enough to make most of us lose our patience and want to give up, but Paul continues in order to encourage us to "hang on." Thus he continues with this list:
6. in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,
Not only was Paul not discouraged by the hardships, but they even brought forth the true fruit of the Spirit in him. If he had become impatient, it probably would not have happened.
7. in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,
8. by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true;
9. as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,
10. as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
True joy comes from the knowledge of salvation, and our absolute trust in God, to know that He will perform all that He says He will do.
And if we truly trust God, we should also be willing to wait on Him for the fulfillment of His promises in His own time, and not necessarily in our time frame.
In talking about the proof of kingdom life in a person, in Matthew 7:16 Jesus says:
16. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?"
The answer to this question is obviously “no.”
Therefore, if Paul had become impatient to the point of giving up or becoming embittered, he would have destroyed his testimony.
If we love God, and trust in Him, then we will also have patience; for that quality is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and it is for everyone.
We don't have to pray for patience or, for that matter, for any of the other fruits of the Spirit; for if we are truly seeking God in everything we do, and do it only in the will of God, then the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our lives, and we will also discover that we will have patience.
It isn't that we need a little patience in our lives; it's that we need a whole lot of Jesus Christ.
And with a whole lot of Jesus Christ in our lives, we won't worry about the things that caused us to seek patience in the first place, for we will have the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control of the Lord Himself, and know without a doubt that we will be in heaven with Him, because we will see right through all our worldly concerns into heaven itself. (Galatians 5:22-23)
If you think you need patience, ask Jesus to come into your life and change you into the person He desires you to be, and you will have much more.