Archives for posts with tag: patience

practiceWhen I was growing up we were told, “Practice makes perfect.” It wasn’t until later when my band director then my preaching professor told me, “Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  So what did I learn from that? Don’t be sloppy in my practice unless I want to be permanently sloppy in my performance. Don’t limit yourself by how or what you practice. Make sure, as the great golfer Ben Hogan said, practice always leads to improvement.

Now, take that wisdom and apply it to your general approach to things instead of learning a specific skill. Are you well practiced at being patient? Do you have faith and grace enough to trust God to work everything together for your good? Do you have enough to trust others and be a part of a process, be a part of a conversation, to improve things?

Or, are you well practiced at being paranoid? Jumping to conclusions?  Prejudging and then planting seeds of betrayal and bias into any process or conversation of which you are a part?

Unfortunately, I’ve practiced both in my lifetime but I am asking God for both me and you to stand ready from this moment forward to, as the New King James version of Luke 22: 19 puts it, “By your patience, possess your souls.” Or, as the NIV reads, “Stand firm and you will win life.”  Yes, let’s be well practiced in the things that lead us to share in Christ’s victory!

succeedThe two calls God places upon our life are to serve as a propellant to our soul, moving us forward into newness of life. Therefore, all improvements, reformations, resolutions, and habit-changing challenges are to be governed by one call or the other.

Every work of grace will either align us more closely and intimately to loving God through Jesus Christ or appoint us more clearly to the Spirit led work of loving our neighbor.

Do not give in to despair for the God who is for you is also interceding on your behalf. Do not lose heart or quit if your will is short-lived. It always has been and always will be. The glory of a Christian is that our will is tied to a will beyond our own. When Isaiah the prophet promises strength to those who wait upon the Lord, he is using a word that means being braided or bound inextricably to the Lord. In this way, it is not our will but God’s that is being done.

Don’t grow frustrated with temporary setbacks, especially those involving your own self improvement or maturity. When these moments occur, don’t put on a cloak of frustration and bitterness but instead clothe yourself in humility. Submit yourself to those who have already overcome what you’re working to achieve.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5: 5 – 10)

If at first you don’t succeed with yourself, give yourself again to the Restorer of your soul. Make it your purpose and priority to have your life defined by the calls God has placed upon you.  Enlarge your hope. Refocus your faith. Repent again. Otherwise, you may fall prey to the temptation Eric Hoffer in True Believer talks about: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

Again I say to you, (and remind myself) if at first you don’t succeed with yourself, don’t try the world; go with God!

prodigalLast night, I was pitiful. I had a headache. I was in a bad mood and I certainly wasn’t supposed to be. We’re on vacation. We had good friends over visiting and we were playing cards: “18”. (It’s like Phase 10, only longer.) After I got stuck on hand #9 for the eighth time; well, like I said, I was pitiful.

Everyone was gracious enough to stop at that point in the game and we agreed to resume later. I got ready for bed and Karen took care of entertaining our friends.

I thought I would read today’s Scripture before going to sleep and it hit me. I soooo need to repent. I already took the Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen for my headache. But, my bad mood was trying to hang on a little bit too long.

Then, I read from Luke 15 and its description of the scribes and Pharisees: murmuring, muttering, and complaining about who Jesus is meeting, greeting, and eating with. And, a few verses later I see a shepherd who has found his sheep but is too busy rejoicing over finding him than to complain over the fact he was lost to begin with. A few verses later, I see a woman rejoicing over finding her lost coin but never complaining about her forgetfulness or the fact that the coin was hard to find.

Then, a few verses later, I see a father who is in a hurry but not to complain. He is in a hurry to hug and embrace his boy. He is in a hurry to rejoice.  He is in a hurry to meet, greet, and eat with his son.

The word for hurry is ‘ταχυς’ where we get our word tachometer. The contrast here is amazing. When faced with a challenge, God revs up his patience and compassion. Tonight, I was revving up something else.

Lord, help me when faced with the challenge of frustration or disappointment or pain to not stand in sharp contrast to you but stand in grace and glory with you, matching the challenges I face with patience and compassion. And forgive me for not being there already. Amen.

wrestling“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5: 16 KJV) Every other version I could find translates and uses the word for sins where the King James version uses the word that is translated faults.

The word, faults means to fall beside or near something. Like Maxwell Smart we “missed it by that much.” It’s not a willful thing. It’s more of a default setting we haven’t learned to break through, yet. It’s more a sign of weakness or immaturity like a toddler taking our first steps.  We know we can guide ourselves better if we crawl but we’ll give walking a try. Faults are some part of us that still has a tendency to lapse or  deviate from the truth of what God is making us to be.

We’re happy to repent and turn around and own up to our plight. We acknowledge we are a work in progress. This is not an excuse to sin. It’s a confession of reality. We’re happy to confess our faults and appreciate and covet the bolstering power of faithful prayers. We admit healing is forthcoming.  We’re like someone with the hiccups who needs to hold our breath and swallow a few more times. We’re waiting for that surprising work of grace that brings our faults to an abrupt and unexpected end. But, mostly it seems we’re defaulting to our faults. Have patience with us and add your prayers to mine and others.

Wrestling with our faults means we approach them with humility, yet with a sense of humor that carries us forward. Apply the medicine of laughter. Our case is not hopeless. We fully believe God will completely and wholly transform us. We teeter and sway sometimes even when we are in His grasp. It’s not God’s fault that we still wrestle with our faults.

Wrestling with our faults means we are constantly asking God to redirect our steps and fine tune our attitude. We’re asking God to turn us from being a hindrance to another person’s conversion and success and more of a help. You are looking at an unfinished work. wrestling-marcusaurelius

So, wrestle with your faults. Put your words together and let the inward fault lines be spoken aloud. Identify them as best you can. Laughat the futility of your faults keeping you from being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Freely ask for prayers and be free and faith-filled in praying for others. By grace through faith, we are and will be saved and we are and will be healed from all our faults.

waiting“But they, that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 31)

We live in an era of impatience but we are not the first to do that. Every generation has needed to learn how to wait: wait for the rain, wait for the sun to break through, wait for labor to be rewarded, wait for Christmas to come, wait for the war to be ended, wait for our loved one to come home, wait for the Lord to return.

How do we wait where waiting renews our strength instead of sapping it away from us? How do we wait so we mount up with wings as eagles and not get stuck fidgeting and impatient? How do we wait where we can run and not be weary, walk and not faint?

We wait in alignment with the Lord. The Hebrew word for wait means to bind together or to twist and rope together. Whenever I hear this word, I think of a gospel song we sang years ago, Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up in Jesus. We realize we are never waiting alone. When we wait for a spouse to come on out to the car, we are not in the car by ourselves. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2: 6)

We wait in faith believing. Yes, we know what we wait for is coming. But, the greater aspect of waiting in faith is believing that God is the source of our strength and renewal, not the speedy conclusion to our waiting.  We know that the help God gives is real and will be on time. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. (Hebrews 11: 6)

We wait to practice for other times when we will have to wait. It’s called resistance training. Some could call it interval training. It could be an interval of 30 seconds or 30 minutes or 30 days or 3o years. We will wait and see. We acknowledge “hope deferred can make the heart grow sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13: 12),

We wait with the joy set before us. When we wait for a spouse to come on out to the car is waiting all about us or (wait for it) the joy of seeing them beside us. Our focus is not on the empty seat but on the joy of its filling. When we’re in the checkout line (Isn’t it always the slowest one?) waiting gives us an opportunity to bless, encourage, and see how we might be of help to others who have to wait like us.

We wait to share the strength we have received from God with someone else. Have you ever been close to one when they’ve gotten off balance? Without thinking, you reach out to stabilize them and bring them back to being upright. This is what God says He does when we wait on him. Literally, when He renews our strength, the Lord slips his strength over to stabilize us in the awkwardness and imbalance of impatience and bring us back to be upright before him. (God might use someone close to us to help with this.)

We wait to match our character to God’s. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40: 28 – 29)

This is how we wait. Well, now that we know how to wait we can practice. I know I need the practice. My wife will confirm that. 🙂

 

tortoiseandhareOne of the best one of Aesop’s fables that I read as a young boy was The Tortoise and the Hare.  I also remember the Bugs Bunny version. What do I remember from that story? “Slow and steady wins the race.”

What has that got to do with the way of grace? It speaks to the quality of God’s grace. It is like the steady stream talked about in Psalm 46 that “makes glad the city of God”.  It’s not a splash here and a splash there.

So many live horrible lives today because they live hare-able lives. They know how to jump in, start fast, wear themselves out running full tilt from one thing to another; finally, quitting or at least taking a break before they finish.

God says, His grace is like a river. We step into it and it will bear us steadily along. It will take us to places we could not go by ourselves no matter how fast or energetic we tried to be.  Romans 5 tells us we have been given access into this grace through Jesus Christ. As a result, crossing the finish line victorious becomes a matter of entrusting our lives to Him.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.  He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Ephesians 1: 6 – 11 NLT)

Our prayer is that we stand within the steady downpour and flow of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit moving us along in obedience and holy fear.

fugitiveRemember our goal. We want to walk with God. Remember what we know. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8: 28) Remember God’s promise. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8: 29) Remember how the Apostle Peter says it, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1: 3–4)

This phrase, “having escaped the corruption in the world” intrigues me. We lament the greed and waste and selfishness that lies all about us but the Apostle Peter states God’s grace has allowed us to escape. Literally, we have become fugitives from the corruption in the world by means of evil desires. We are those who have run away from the lusts of the world. Now, a fugitive lives differently than a normal guy so it stands to reason that the way we show mutual affection or demonstrate brotherly kindness will be different, too. The world, not having escaped the corruption that permeates it, not having “received a faith as precious as ours” (2 Peter 1: 1) may not and most likely will not react to our kindness the way we want.

Do you remember the scene from the movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimball? Dr. Kimball has made his way back to Cook County Hospital to seek information about the one-armed man that killed his wife but during an emergency he saves a young boy’s life. Is he congratulated or thanked for his good deed? No, those in charge want to find out who he is, detain him, and keep him from doing such unauthorized things in the future.

So, as we add mutual affection to godliness we’ll remember how a fugitive acts. Number one, in all that we do we aim to avoid calling attention to ourselves. If we can accomplish everything under the radar, we’re fine with that. Number two, we don’t take advantage of our friendships or put our friends in harm’s way. If we need to work out something together, we do because we love and trust one another. Number three, we do the things we do so that the truth will come out.

Our affection or kindness avoids the two extremes of superiority and idolatry. We’re not better than others because of our faith but neither are we chumps or wimps because of our faith. We are not boastful nor are we in bondage to the opinion of others. Our kindness just like our faith is up to speed when it exudes moral excellence, is based on knowledge, demonstrates self-control and patience, embodies godliness, and gives mutual affection.

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself as you share the faith of the fugitive.

This is an excerpt from our new book, The Pathway of Grace: Learning to Walk with God set to be released in January 2014. Copy and paste http://eepurl.com/lqfeL and sign up today to find out more about the books, music, and events provided by Norman Ramsey Ministries and receive regular posts from me teaching the way of grace.