Tag: patience

How Long Must I Believe?


“I am so tired of waiting!”

“If God is so good, and His promises never fail, why is it taking so long? How much longer must I believe?”

Those are honest questions, don’t you think? I mean, really. I understand Rome wasn’t built in a day, but c’mon.

Most people despise having to wait. They pray, “Lord, I want patience, and I want it now!”And honestly, it’s not easy waiting, no matter how patient or spiritual a person is.

But how long is a reasonable time to be required to wait? Whether it’s waiting for God to answer my prayer, or for a potential employer to call saying I’ve been hired, even one or two days can be a drag.

Recently, like today, I’ve found myself on edge; impatient. Frustrated for several reasons, all legitimate of course.

Since I’m sure you’re interested, I’ll give you a few examples.

I’ve been working through a course to help improve my writing, and increase my readership. I’ve been at it a whole week and I haven’t noticed any difference whatsoever. Nothing positive, that is.

How long must I wait? How long do I have to keep putting the ink to the paper? How much longer must I believe?

What would you do, if you were me?

I’ve been seriously looking and applying for a job, one that will work with my life’s focus and still bring in some good, supplemental income. Three days ago I had a very good interview, and felt I would be called back for a second one. But no word. No call. No job.

And it’s been three whole days!

How long must I wait?

There are other things I’m waiting on, as well. And like so many, I often find myself wishing I could find a way to make God and others work at my pace, not theirs. But even though I’m antsy, I can still hear the Lord speak the words of Habakkuk quietly to my heart.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…” (Habakkuk 3:17 – 3:19 ESV)

How long must I believe? Well, I suppose until I see the answer. If I’m only willing to wait a minute or two, or even a week or two, maybe what I’m calling faith isn’t faith at all.

But while I’m waiting, I think I’ll keep applying for work, and continue adding words to the paper.

Because, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And practice never hurt anyone. Besides, when patience is allowed to run its full course, I will be thoroughly equipped for every good work (James 1:4).

By the way, what do you do while you wait? How do you stay patient? I’d love to hear how you keep going when you feel like quitting.

 

Sports Fans

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Sports fans are so loyal. I should know. I’ve been a Chicago Bears fan for 30 years.

Please. I’m alright. You see, I have hope.

Interesting thing about fans: they weather bad season after losing season. “Next season!”, is their annual mantra.

The Chicago Bears’ record over the last 30 years is 264-216. That’s a winning percentage of 55%. Not great, but not bad.

But for a sports fan – it doesn’t matter at all! Why?

Because there’s ALWAYS next year. Hope.

Sports fans study the stats, team roster, draft picks, and who’s on injured reserve. If they can get close enough, they’ll even tell the manager how to run the team.

Just listen to the folks at work on Monday mornings, following a big game. Monday’s the day all the experts are out and about.

Yes, sports fans are a strange breed. They can be so frustrated and even angry (to the point of throwing pillows, books, TV remotes, etc.) about a certain play someone did or didn’t do; yet they still wear the team colors.

Amazing!

And when they talk with others, they say phrases like, “We sure beat up on those Vikes yesterday!” Or, “We really need to get a new coach and quarterback!”

Notice the way sports fans talk; it’s as though THEY own the team. Or like they put on the pads, or swing the bat every week.

Sports fans.

I’ve got a Jay Cutler doll I won from a “claw machine”. For a while I let him watch the games with me for good luck. Ha! I finally banished him to the deep, dark recesses of my basement. It was either that or I was going to start sticking long needles into him.

Yes, the basement was the better choice.

But I’m a fan! A real, live sports fan. I can talk sports smack with the best of them. And even though my team’s record was 5-11 this year, I still am able to say it loud and proud: Next year!

Yep. A strange breed of cat. Sports fans.

And as a sports fan, I believe husbands and wives should be as loyal to each other as sports fans are to their teams. Instead of trading “teams” after a bad year, learn to say, “Next year will be better.” And then study and prepare, learning all you can in order to improve your “chances” of having a winning marriage the following year.

Imagine the difference we could see in our marriage if we had the patience of a true sports fan. For instance, what if we learned to use the line Oakland Raiders fans have used for years: “We’re rebuilding. It’s gonna take awhile, but with good coaching, good draft picks, hard work, and a lot of patience, a winning team can be built.”

Folks, our marriages are MUCH MORE important than ANY sports team. Even if we really were the owners of a sports team, the team isn’t more important than the marriage.

If we can find it in our hearts to “forgive” our team for making us feel so bad, or embarrass us in front of our family and friends, isn’t it possible we can find enough grace and mercy for our spouse? Come on, you know it’s in there somewhere.

Don’t act like a fair weather fan. Don’t be so quick to trade your spouse simply because they’ve given you a disappointing season. Grow up.

Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to turn things around. But things can improve. There can be better seasons; better years.

Remember, the best is yet to come. When?

Next year, sports fans.

And with God, all things are possible.

How Well Do You Do At Waiting?

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Is suffering for a long time the same as long suffering? Does waiting for an answer to prayer endanger the lives of those near and dear to you? While you’re waiting for God to answer, do you cause others to “suffer” right along with you?

If patience is really a virtue, how come we have such a hard time waiting? Where’s the power to wait if patience is all it’s cracked up to be?

Can patience really hold us steady? What anchors our patience to the ground, keeping it from blowing all over the countryside?

Have we put such an emphasis on believing, only to neglect the exercise called patience?

Patience has quite a reputation. It’s something nobody wants to ask for, but everyone needs. Some despise the very idea of patience, while trying the patience of everyone around them.

There are those who won’t wait, can’t wait, for anything or anyone.

They’re also the slowest, most aggravating people in the world.

They demand everyone give them the benefit of the doubt, but doubt the word of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They’ll ask a question, but before an answer can be given, they’re out the door running like a wild banshee.

Hunting for someone to answer their question.

Are you a patient person? Are you disciplined enough to pace yourself, drive the speed limit, and get enough rest or do you always race your engine, squeal your tires, and run into things while trying to keep your life on the road? Are you dangerous to be around because you can only trust God for a short period?

Have you reached out in faith to grab hold of a promise from God more times than you care to remember? Have you held on long enough or did your hand cramp, dropping both the promise and your patience?

Have people doubted your ability to believe God? Have YOU wondered about it?

Maybe your patience should be tested a little more often. After all, testing builds endurance.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36 NLT)

Faith wasn’t designed to go the distance by itself. Faith is only NOW, not tomorrow and the next day. Faith requires assistance from its pal named Patience. When those two work together, the promise becomes the possession.

“Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.” (Hebrews 6:15 NLT)

The Mean Time

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The saying goes something like this: “I’ve prayed and asked God to help me with thus and so…in the meantime, I’m not sure what to do.”

Sound familiar?

Have you had “mean time” moments? If so, you will probably agree that the “mean time” can be extremely mean; filled with pressure, worry, and disappointment. But those times cannot be avoided; they are part of the faith process, as described in Galatians 6:

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10 ESV)

The process: do good, mean time, due season. Or as a farmer would say: plant the seed, wait, harvest the crop.

Petition God, wait in faith, realize the answer.

We Need Patience

20130509-103348.jpg“For you have need of endurance (patience) so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”(Hebrews 10:36 ESV)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (patience). And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)

Every promise of God is “yes” and “amen” in Jesus! However, that doesn’t mean every promise is instantly realized.

Every promise RECEIVED is tried and tested. In other words, every time we receive a promise from God, that promise brings with it a test.

Huh?!

It’s like this. Say, for instance, I receive the promise “believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.” Okay, I choose to believe. I follow His word, believe, and now I’m saved. Hallelujah!

But I don’t feel saved, look saved, act saved, talk saved, or even eat saved! But His Word says I AM SAVED, if I’ve received His word, His promise.

So what keeps me, guards me, and gives me strength during such a time of testing? Patience. Endurance. Steadfastness.

Without patience, our faith isn’t strong enough to hold on to the promise. The writer of Hebrews says, “be followers of those, who through faith AND patience, inherit the promises.” As gold is tried by fire, so is our faith. And patience is the spiritual force that keeps us from burning up when the fires of testing begin to blaze.

Recently, I had a situation where my faith was tried by fire. It felt like My faith was burning up! It became so warm in me that I came close to dropping the promise just to cool off a bit.

About a year ago, I sensed the Lord directing me to write books; books to encourage, challenge, and help the Body of Christ mature. I wrote one last year, “The Power of Encouragement” which I self published. Soon after the book was completed, the Lord gave me an idea for another book, which I finished last fall.

I didn’t want to go the self-publishing route this time so I set about looking for publishers, literary agents, and the like; someone to whom I could submit my manuscript.

My, what a process! I couldn’t find anyone who appeared the slightest bit interested in reviewing my work. I became so discouraged I said to my wife one day, “I think I’m going make the manuscript free to the world! All they’ll need to do is write, requesting a free PDF file of the book.

She thought I was wrong!

What?!?! Me wrong?!?!

She told me, in so many words, I needed to trust God. So, I backed off of the idea and kept looking around for a publisher I could connect with.

4 days later I discovered a company who allowed me to submit the manuscript.

Exactly 2 weeks later I received an email from the company stating their love and excitement about my book! They wanted to publish and market it for me!

What’s more, they were a Christian company, operating on Christian principles. Plus they receive 10,000 manuscript submissions each year but only publish 4-5%! And they were interested in me!

After spending a few days talking with the company rep, praying and researching everything, the publishing process began.

I had need of patience. God doesn’t make promises without making a way for them to be fulfilled. But I almost gave up too soon!

Don’t give up on His promises! Don’t give up on God! If you are certain about His direction for you, “let patience have its perfect work in you…”

God’s Word is yes for you. Faith and patience is your yes to Him.

Amen!

Seeds and Seasons

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Seasons

Every Seed Has Its Season…

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)

There is a season for everything God has established and wants to establish.

Every living thing reproduces after its kind; every tree, plant, animal, bird and man, “whose seed is in itself” has the ability and the mandate to reproduce. Each seed, which is essential for reproduction, has a gestation season; time during which the seed is buried, out of view.

Typically, smaller things don’t need as long to develop, while large animals need a much longer period. For example, an elephant’s gestation season is about 640 days! Amazing!

We understand the plant and animal kingdom function according to the law of “seed time and harvest.” “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Gen 8:22 NLT)

The spiritual law of sowing and reaping operates along the same principle. “…A time to plant and a time to harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2 NLT) In fact, the Kingdom of God can best be understood by studying the law of seed time and harvest.

In Mark, chapter 4, Jesus taught several parables about sowing and reaping and understanding the Kingdom. In the first 8 verses He shared about the “sower sowing seed”. Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Mark 4:9 NLT) In other words, don’t let His words go in one ear and out the other.

Jesus then makes a statement, in response to the disciples’ questions, that is a powerful revelation regarding seeds and seasons. “Don’t you understand what I’m saying? Come on, guys. Understanding this word will open up everything else I’m saying.” (Mark 4:13 paraphrased)

Through the rest of the chapter, Jesus explains the Kingdom of God using the example of sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting. For example, Jesus said “the sower sows the word.” He then gives different scenarios, but the common thought is “sowing and reaping.”

In verses 21-25, though mentioning a lamp on a lamp stand, He continues His theme. A lamp is to be used for its designed purpose, same as a seed. “Nothing hidden which will not be revealed…” is connecting with the seed analogy. Whatever is planted is what will be harvested, or revealed. Everyone will see it, as if it’s under a light. “Take heed, pay attention, how you hear. The way you hear is the way you’ll walk in the Kingdom.”

In essence, “hearing God’s Word” is the same as the Word being sown into our heart.

Continuing, in verse 26, Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (verses 26-29 NLT)

Scattering seed, sowing seed, is how the Kingdom of God operates. In everyone one, for everyone, through everyone.

No exceptions.

Whatever we do for, or against, others is the same as sowing seed.

Whenever we honor someone, we sow seed.

If we ever complain about someone, oops, that’s sowing seed.

When we hear someone speak the Word of God, they are sowing into our lives. It’s important for us to continue the process by receiving the word, hiding it in our heart, so it will not be dug up by some old dirty “bird”!

Every seed must be hidden, planted, for a season. How long of a season? As I mentioned earlier, it will vary based on the seed.

The seed’s season is where we can get tripped up!

Huh?

The length of time the seed (the Word, or whatever we’ve sown) has to be hidden can get us frustrated with God and others!

Better?

People who plant gardens every year understand the “season” aspect. In fact, we probably ALL understand it from a natural standpoint. That’s one reason Jesus used the planting and reaping analogy when explaining to us how His Kingdom operates.

But it isn’t just the sowing and reaping. For there to be a harvest, there must first be a growing season. That’s the time none of us like.

What happens if a baby is born too early? And what if a “word” from God isn’t allowed to grow to full term? If a premature baby may die, what about His promises? And though a premature baby may live, there could be serious complications.

Remember Abraham and Sarah? They got tired of the “planted” or “hidden” promise; the growing season. They wanted to “see” the harvest, the promise, so they decided to “help” God. However, the season of God’s promise was cut short by their impatience. God worked it out anyway, but there were (and still are) complications.

I understand there are other ways of explaining “seasons”. After all, it IS important to know WHEN and WHERE to plant seeds. In my opinion, though, people can be a little TOO concerned about the when and where, to the point they don’t plant anywhere or anytime. That is NOT the will of God.

“I don’t want to waste my seed!” Who said you would?

GOD said, “whatever you sow, that shall you reap.” Go ahead, sow like that’s all you have to do!

But understand the Kingdom of God operates according to seed time and harvest; and every seed sown must have a season to grow. The bigger the promise, act, dream, whatever, the longer the season.

The season it is hidden from view.

The season where our patience is tried.

The season we stand and say with Habakkuk, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17,18

As believers in Jesus, we live in the Kingdom of God -” a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year! (Deuteronomy 11:12 NLT)

“They (we)are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their (our) leaves never wither, and they (we) prosper in all they (we) do.” (Psalm 1:3 NLT)

“Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”(2 Corinthians 9:6-10)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9 NLT)

Remember, EVERY seed has its season. And, allowed to grow, the seed will produce after its kind!

Have you been planting? Are you patiently waiting?

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