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Putting on Patience - Part 1
Putting on Patience - Part 2
The Little Faith Engine that CAN!
Skillful Separation

 

Putting on Patience - Part 1

“How long, O Lord?. . .How long?. . .How Long?. . .How long?” (Psalm 13:1-4)

What would you say is the goal of your life? I would take a guess and say that whatever your goal is, peace and love is part of it whether you realize it or not.

Just think about this for a moment. What kind of life would you be living if it was void of peace? Some may have external peace in their surroundings, but internally they are filled with various wars competing for a section of their soul. The result: Little to no peace at all.

What about love? How can we not get along without being loved and loving in return? A person who feels he or she doesn’t need love has already died but doesn’t know it.

The quality of patience will go a long way toward your goal of creating a more peaceful and loving self. The more patient you are, the more accepting you will be of what is, rather than insisting that life be exactly what you would like it to be. Patience adds a necessary dimension of ease and acceptance to your life. It’s essential for inner peace and a loving self.

Here are two ways to begin developing a quality of patience in your life:

  • First, open your heart to the present moment, even if you don’t like it. If you find yourself busy doing something important and the phone rings, or there is always a knock on your door, or interruptions come at the most inopportune time, catch yourself building a mental snowball of anger before it becomes too large for you to handle. Remind yourself to relax and take a deep breath or two. Remember this: In the bigger scheme of things (compared to eternity), what you’re probably working on at that moment is minuscule compared to people and their eternal destiny. One missile fired from your tongue can do a lot of damage to whoever is your target. The mess afterwards will suddenly reveal to you that it was not worth getting upset over. But it’s too late. The damage is already done.
  • Second, look for the innocence in others. When I’m at the grocery store, I know that my patience will be put to the test. As I am pushing my cart down the isle, someone will be blocking it with their cart that’s located right in the middle. The isle is big enough for two carts to fit on either side, but no, someone has to take up the center isle while looking for their item. “Move your cart, Bozo to the side while you look for your item so that I can pass by and get to mine. Is that too much to ask?” You see, I told you that my patience will be put to the test. Just thinking about it gets me all fired up.

I’ve been practicing something lately. I look for the innocence in others. I’ve found that some didn’t know I was behind them. Once they found out, they quickly apologized and moved to the side. One I discovered was deaf and couldn’t hear. Another was so pressured in trying to find the right item for a dish she had to make in less than an hour, that she didn’t realize she was blocking the isle. Yes, I not only shop, but I talk while I shop too.

My point is, if you will see the innocence in others, you will not be so impatient with them. I don’t know how many times I got angry with the car in front of me for not signaling or for going to slow. Once I get the chance to pull up a long side of the car and get ready to give one of my favorite dirty looks – you know, the one that says, “IDIOT!” I look into the car and see an elderly man or woman just barely seeing over the dashboard of the car, holding tightly with two hands onto the steering wheel, and then my heart melts and I realize that the only idiot is me for losing my patience.

Like David, you may find yourself crying inside, “How long, Lord?. . .How long?. . How much longer?” God’s usual standard reply is: “It all depends upon you. I’m just waiting for your character to change from a little less of yourself to a little more like Mine.” Get the picture?

 

Putting on Patience - Part 2

There are two ways to gain patience...

  • Pray for it, OR
  • Develop practice periods

Let me explain.

If you pray for patience, then hold on, God will most likely grant your request by sending you some trials. Because it is the “testing of your faith that produces patience” (James 1:2-3). God can do anything. But He probably won’t give you a dose of patience without helping you in the process.

Remember this: “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed from for a lifetime.” So God is not going to simply give you patience. What good will that do for you in the long haul? Rather, He’ll help you to LEARN patience through trials. This will be better for you.

Now if you are timid, as I am, and don’t want to give God any ideas, then you may want to gain patience through the second way – by creating actual practice periods. Now this is cool -- let me explain. Practice periods are set times that I formulate in my mind to practice the art of patience. Life itself becomes the classroom, and the curriculum is (you guessed it!) patience.

Start with as little as five minutes and build up your capacity for patience over time. Pretty soon five minutes will turn into ten. Then ten minutes will develop into fifteen. Begin the process by saying to yourself, “for the next five minutes I won’t allow myself to be bothered by anything. I’m going to be patient.” What will happen next is truly amazing. Your goal to be patient, especially if you know it is only for a short specified time, immediately strengthens your capacity for patience. You will discover that patience is one of those special character qualities where success feeds on itself. Once you’ve learned you can be successfully patient in an upsetting environment for five minutes, you will strengthen yourself to press on for longer periods of time.

It’s that simple. Try it. The next time you’re at work and that cotton-picking employee bothers you with endless mindless chatter, which disrupts your train of thought; say to yourself, “I’m going to be patient with this person for five minutes.” You’ll be looking at him or her with a smile on your face, nodding your head occasionally, looking at the clock on the wall, and then when the five minutes is up, congratulate yourself. You did it! To God be the glory! He gave you all that you need to be successful. You just have to know how to use it!

Now try to break your record. Go ten minutes, then fifteen, then twenty. You know what you’re doing? You are developing the habit of being patient. If you can handle that annoying employee for 15 minutes with a smile on your face and keeping your tongue in check, you can handle anything!

Remember, not to frown, because you never know when someone is falling in love with your smile. Allow the love of Christ to permeate all of you especially your external expressions. Remember, life itself is the classroom and the curriculum is what? PATIENCE!

Now, if you don’t feel the need to do this, that’s fine. Go ahead and pray for patience. And if you don’t feel the need to do either, then we’ll just have to be patience when we’re around you and then you’ll see by our example what you’re missing out on.

Being patient will help you to keep your perspective. You will be dealing with children, your boss, a boring teacher, a nagging wife (oooooh, did I say that?), a lazy husband (is that better now?), a neighbor that blasts their T.V. or stereo at the most inopportune times, a house guest that won’t leave, a sink that always has dirty dishes, clothes that cannot be found, not to mention the remote for the T.V. (I got to talk to my boy about that one), a whole bunch of stuff. Why make life harder for yourself than it already is?

Probably the best person to be patient with is YOURSELF. Learn to laugh at yourself, we will. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just because someone doesn't love you the way that you want them to, doesn't mean that they don't love you with all they've got. Be patient with yourself (and others). This is a great way to becoming more Christ-like.

 

The Little Faith Engine that CAN!

Immediately many people gathered together [in the house], so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And Jesus preached the word to them.

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they broke open the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." Mark 2.2-5

People are always trying to invent something new. Just check out some of the things you see advertised on TV -- a mop that can clean a floor like no other; a miracle car wash device promising great results; George Foreman skillet that drains the grease from your food down into a container; a chemical substance designed to take away scratches on your car; a polish that can restore the color of silver and brass; and how can you ignore all the inventions that promises us the best exercise ever!

Is there a limit to what the mind can conceive?

But what about faith? If a Christian were to use faith as a starting point to invent something new, what would it do? Faith sees that there are no obstacles standing in the way to Jesus...

  • If there is a crowd blocking the way, no problem, just cut a hole in the roof.
  • If the floor beneath is too far down to jump, no problem, go down using a rope.

Faith is full of inventions. If you cannot get people to Jesus by ordinary methods, then faith will invent extraordinary ones. Faith is not politically correct. Faith does not ignore danger, it presses on despite of it. Faith runs the risk of shocking and surprising people. Faith dispels excuses.

Faith says, “I can. . .I must. . .I will. . .” Would be to God that you had more daring faith!

If the world can invent better mops, better frying pans, better ways to wash
your car, then why can't you Christians invent better ways of getting people to
Jesus? The world says, “Be conventional,” but faith says, “If you have to, be
unconventional.”

Look carefully at your condition? Are you in good health spiritually? Is your soul being filled daily with Jesus’ love? Have you been healed? Restored? Delivered? Now who do you know that is not as blessed as you are right now? Who do you know that doesn’t know Jesus as you do?

What is faith telling you?

 

Skillful Separation

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

  • What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
  • What communion has light with darkness?
  • What accord has Christ with Belial?
  • What part has a believer with an unbeliever?
  • And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate!" says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters," says the LORD Almighty. 2 Cor 6.14-18

While it is true you are IN the world, you are not to be OF the world. This is one of those paradoxes that the Bible often throws your way. You read that God so loved the world (John 3:16), but you are told not to love or even for that matter be friends with the world (James 4:4).

How are you to understand this apparent paradox? Quite simple: In the Bible the "world" is used in two ways...

  • First, there is a *world* populated by people, all of whom are loved by God (John 3:16).
  • Second, there is a *world system* empowered by evil, secular humanism, and sin. It is THIS world that you are commanded not to love (James 4:4, 1 John 2:15).

When God commands you to keep yourself separate from the world, He means the evil world system. And it actually isn't hard to figure out why. Satan is referred to as "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4), and "ruler of this world" (John 16:11). The whole world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19).

Keeping yourself separated from worldliness takes skillful living and a strong commitment to Christ...

  • *Skillful living* because while here, you are not to love being in the world, so you are required daily to make HARD choices that require skill and discernment on your part.
  • *Strong commitment* because while here you're required to partner with God to reach the lost who themselves are steeped in the world.

Remember, O Christian, that you are a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, keep your self unspotted from the world. Do not soil your hands and feet which one day will be a part of the heavenly kingdom. Don't allow your eyes to be windows of lust which one day will behold the beauty of your Savior and Lord. Guard you heart which one day will find its true affection in heaven rather than on earth.

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