Posts Tagged ‘patience’

2 Samuel 5:6-16 (Part 2 of 3)
David Captures Jerusalem

I had a conversation with a younger man yesterday about his belief that he has been called to be a pastor. It was a good and honest conversation. I remember those years that I battled the call to full-time ministry quietly in my soul and gave God every excuse for why I could not do it. God eliminated each and every one of those excuses over the years until the point, I said OK God I hear you and I submit. Once I declared it to others, it was a long road. In fact, it turned out to be about 8 years from the time I publicly declared to my senior pastor at the time until now that it took me to come into full-time ministry. I remember my first conversation about the ministry and the many conversations with my senior pastor in our South Carolina church, he would do his best to discourage me from going into the ministry. He often said that if you can do anything else, do it. I don’t think that he meant it to say that I was not capable of being a minister but rather that being a pastor is so much more demanding than people generally think. Many people think it is all just what you see on Sunday morning and it’s playing golf and having lunches the rest of the week.

He wanted me to understand that it is the hardest job you will ever have, the most draining job you will ever have, and then there are those moments where you say this is why I went into the ministry. Those highlight moments are what keep you in the ministry but they are often days, weeks, and even months apart. The intervening times are dealing with people, making someone mad about something at least once a week, navigating broken families and hurting for them deep in your soul, navigating apathy among the people, navigating busy schedules filled with the mundane tasks of running what amounts to a small business enterprise, worrying about finances, worrying about your own family because the church demands so much of your time, people wanting your favor because they think if they are close with the pastor that they are somehow closer to God and more important than other parishioners, discerning who you can trust with your inner feelings and struggles and who you can’t, struggling with how real you can be even with your closest friends, navigating deaths of loved ones in the church family, and a 1,000 or more other demands on your time. He said if you can do anything else, do it. He said if you want to get into ministry for the local celebrity of it that you can become, don’t do it. If you want to go into ministry because you think that every pastor makes what a large church senior pastor makes, don’t do it. Especially when you start out, you will not be a senior pastor of a large church, you will be an associate pastor at best, a small church pastor in some small out of the way place, or you will be a church planter. None of these are get rich quick schemes. So don’t do it, if that’s the real reason. If you want to get into ministry because you think it’s all about being on stage on Sunday morning, don’t do it. If you want to go into ministry because you think it would be a fun way to spend the remainder of your life, don’t do it.

However, he said, if you are so burdened with this calling that nothing else will do even when you consider all the negatives of being a pastor. If serving God full time is all you can do and all you can think about and everything else seems now dissatisfying or empty, then go do it. If you can deal with God’s inevitable slow timing compared to what we want as far as being a pastor, then go do it. He will test your resolve. If you can deal with that, go do it. If you cannot do anything else but follow God’s call on your life to be a full time pastor, and nothing, nothing but serving God will do, then go do it. If you can wait and wait and wait on God, then go do it. If you can serve God where you are at until God says it is time for you to fly off into ministry, then go do it – even if it is 8 years from now. Think Moses in the desert at Midian for 40 years, Joseph in prison for 12 years, Jesus serving as a carpenter for 30 years – each had long times of waiting before they came into the season where they fulfilled the purpose that God was preparing them for.

That conversation yesterday with a friend desiring to go into full time ministry reminded me of where I was at 8 years or so ago. It reminded me that we are not the ones calling the shots. God is the one in control. Why did I think about this fact when I read this passage, 2 Samuel 5:6-16 for a second time today? It was because David recognizes in this passage that it is God from whom his greatness comes. I think that was the point of my whole 8 year journey from declaration of God’s calling on my life to the now where I am serving Him full-time. It was a time where He molded me into a servant who understands that God is the one in control of my journey and I must trust that – even when I get impatient:

6 David then led his men to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites, the original inhabitants of the land who were living there. The Jebusites taunted David, saying, “You’ll never get in here! Even the blind and lame could keep you out!” For the Jebusites thought they were safe. 7 But David captured the fortress of Zion, which is now called the City of David.

8 On the day of the attack, David said to his troops, “I hate those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites.[b] Whoever attacks them should strike by going into the city through the water tunnel.[c]” That is the origin of the saying, “The blind and the lame may not enter the house.”[d]

9 So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces[e] and working inward. 10 And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies was with him.

11 Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. 12 And David realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

13 After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters. 14 These are the names of David’s sons who were born in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.

In this passage, we see that it says, “David realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king…” Although the pagan kingdoms based their greatness on conquest, power, armies and wealth, David knew that his greatness came only from God. To be great means keeping a close relationship with God personally and nationally. To do this, David had to keep his ambition under control. Although he was famous, successful, and well-liked, he gave God first place in his life and served the people according to God’s purposes. Do you seek greatness from God or from people? In the drive for success, remember to keep your ambition under God’s control.

Lord, help us to remember that even when you call us to do something that honors you that we must learn to bow our desires and ambitions to you. We must learn to trust that You have our future in your hands. We must trust that you have our best interest at heart. We must trust that Your timing is the best timing. We may have to plow and plow and plow to the point of impatience with your execution of the calling that You gave us but we must be obedient enough to recognize that it is in the plowing that we learn how to farm in your fields. We must trust that you are teaching us the things that we will need when we come into the season that you have designed for us.

Amen and Amen.

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2 Samuel 5:1-5
David Anointed King in Hebron

Patience. It is a virtue. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit as enumerated by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. Of all the qualities of the Christian soul, this one may be the hardest one to accept and make a part of character. It is the one that God has been working on with me for the last four years in spades. I am an impatient person by nature. It has cost me a lot over the years in pain, heartache, and sometimes in my finances. Of all the qualities that I admire about my wife, it is her patience that I have learned the most from her.

To compare us in that regard, just take shopping. Elena will research what she wants. Weigh options. Look for the best combination of price vs. quality, price vs. reliability, price vs. durability. An example would be the car that she purchased right after we met. Her Chevy Blazer was about to die a slow cruel death from years and years of use. She began patiently evaluating cars that would meet her needs. Did a lot of research and then settled on a Mazda 3 as the best car for her at that point in her financial life. Then, she went shopping at several car dealerships and walked away if the deal was not right for her. Finally, she found the dealership that gave her the deal that she could reasonably afford and give her the all the options that she could reasonably afford on this cute little gun-metal gray Mazda 3 with black interior. It was an awesome car. She drove it from 2008-2016. It was our family car. When we had trips to take, it was in this car. It was comfortable and rode well for a small car. It never gave any trouble from a major mechanical standpoint. It was just the best car ever. The only reason that we are not STILL driving that car is that we gave it away to my youngest daughter to help her out in a time of real need. Elena made the right choice with her patience in looking for the right car for her (and then for us after marriage) for the long haul. Our Mazda 3 was a good looking car and one that was built for the long haul. Patience in the selection process was key to getting that right combination of stylishness, price vs. value, and durability.

She is the same way about purchases for the house, even the little stuff that you have to buy for a house. She researches. She is patient. She gets the best value. Although it is frustrating at times, her wisdom in contributing in this way to the financial success of our marriage is one thing that I love about her. She never spends money foolishly. She often forgoes buying things for herself that she really needs so as to be able to help us save money. How important that is now to cannot be understated. When we knew that the Lord had call me to full-time vocational ministry, we knew that it would be a drastic reduction in income for us compared to my income in the secular world. We began preparing by paying off debts rather that creating new ones. We began downsizing our financial appetites. We even downsized our house and our mortgage. Elena’s patience and wisdom in this regard cannot be understated either. We could have made purchases that met real needs in our life that we could have afforded rather easily but her influence on our decisions to be patient and wait on the Lord to reveal is a testament to her submission to the Lord.

She knew that someday we would be in full-time ministry. She knew that someday some church would take a chance on me so patience was called for. She was a calming influence on me as I became increasingly frustrated with the slow pace at which God was moving us toward full-time ministry. For this, I thank her for her patience and her support. God knew what He was doing when he aligned our lives such that we would meet when I moved from Greenville, SC to Rock Hill, SC (just outside of Charlotte, NC) and moved her from Clover, SC to that very same town and that very same apartment complex and that very same building within that apartment complex. What God began in Rock Hill in 2006 has now come to fruition in 2018 in Rock Island. It is ironic that we met in Rock Hill and now we are in Rock Island. The commonality is the Rock.

It has been between the towns with Rock in their names that God has taught me much through Elena and directly in His dealings with me. Through His influence through Elena and through his direct words to me, He has taught me to know the concept of “plowing the field in front of you!”.

These are the things that I thought about this morning as I read and studied 2 Samuel 5:1-5 about David at long last becoming king of all Israel. What a long hard road that was! Let us read now about David finally coming into the promise made to Him by God:

 

Chapter 5
1 Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, when Saul was our king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the Lord told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader.’”

3 So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel.

4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. 5 He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

In this passage, we see that David did not become king over all of Israel until he was 37 years old, although he had been promised the kingdom many years earlier (see 1 Samuel 16:13). During those years David had to wait patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promise. While David had to live the life of an outlaw for many years, the outlook was often bleak, but God’s promise to make him king over the entire Promised Land of Israel was now coming into focus. Following God’s calling on our lives sometimes requires a great deal of patience, and we may desire to speed up God’s plan under our own power. We may try to push forward with impatience into what we think God has in store for us. However, when we want to short-circuit God’s plan and achieve right now what God has in store for us, let us remember David’s patience. Just as his time of waiting prepared him for his important task, learning to trust God and wait patiently as He works out the details of His plan for our lives will allow Him to prepare us such that we are adequately prepared and ready when His timing is achieved.

Right now as I meet me three month anniversary of being the administrative pastor at Calvary Church of The Quad Cities here in northwest Illinois, I must continue to be patient. But without the history of learning to plow the field in front of me and trusting God that I learned over the years waiting to get here and through the influence of my wife, I could easily become impatient. I am 55 years old. I have a relatively short time to be productive for the Lord, by my estimation. Without the example in real life of the patience of my wife, without the direct teachings of the Lord to be patient and just wait on Him, I could try to short circuit God’s plan for me here at this place at this time with these people in this place. I must trust that my senior pastor will develop me into the pastor that God intends me to be. He put me under the leadership of Pastor Tim and I have learned over the years since hearing the call to ministry to trust the Lord. He constantly pours into my heart that I must plow the field in front of me and trust Him with what’s next. Be faithful where you are at. Plow the field in front of you. God will reward your patience and obedience. Sure, we as limited mortals want to jump ahead to what we think it is that God has in store for us. But one thing have learned in the years since graduating from seminary, it is to plow the field in front of you. God has a reason for you to be in the field that you are in so plow. Just plow. Be faithful. Work the soil that you have in front of you. Work it to the best of your ability and to the glory of God.
Just as I learn patience from my wife that it does get rewarded. Her patience in buying that Mazda 3 a decade ago gave us a car that saw us from Rock Hill, SC to Livermore, CA to Lyman, SC and had we not given it away it would be here with us in Rock Island. Patience lead to the right choice there. Patiently waiting and learning over the years at Livermore Alive Community Church under Pastor Luke Brower readied us for waiting and learning over the years at LifeSong Church under Pastor Jeff Hickman. Thus, patience now at age 55 as I serve at Calvary Church and Pastor Tim Bowman is something that is easier for me to do. Without the experiences of the past and the example of my wife, I have come to see the value of patience. In patience, comes humility. In patience, comes trust in the Lord. The plowing of the field in front of me has led me from Rock Hill where I met my wife to here in Rock Island where, after years of patience, we are now serving the Lord full-time. I am now able to just say to the Lord, do with me what you will at the rate and pace that I trust you know that is best for me. I trust that He has me under the right man at this right time. Plowing the field. Plowing the field in front of me. Trusting God with the rest of it. He has not guided me wrong in the past – from Rock Hill to Rock Island.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 1:1-16 (Part 1 of 3)
David Learns of Saul’s Death

Yesterday, I told my senior pastor that whatever choices he makes I am subject to them and trust his judgment since I am the rookie on the pastoral team. Sure, there are dreams that I have to fully flesh the “pastor” part of my title at church. There are so many things that I want to be a part of, to lead, to be able to show what I got and that I am more than just a finance guy, that I really am a pastor and that I can be all that the title entails. However, the timeliness of the conclusion of my study of 1 Samuel and the beginning of my study of 2 Samuel is not lost on me.

When you wrap up 1 Samuel and begin 2 Samuel, you mostly want to reflect on David’s patience and loyalty. David was a patient man in these years. He lived in the wilderness. Subsisted off of whatever was available along with his elite fighting force. Even though Saul was trying to kill, David was loyal to his king. He had at least two opportunities to kill him but did not. Even in his direct confrontations with Saul, he begs the king to relent so that David could serve his king. David knew that through Samuel, God had anointed Saul as king and it was not his place to be anything but loyal to him and to preserve Saul’s life whenever he could.

There is a lesson in humility that the conclusion of one book and the beginning of another has brought to my heart. Although I have done nothing to suggest that I want to short-circuit the leadership of my senior pastor, it is a reminder that whatever choices that he makes as what he allows me to do and not do in my development as pastor is because he is God’s anointed leader over my life. He has been the pastor of Calvary for 23 years now (since God founded the church through him). I am like a rookie draft pick coming into camp to start playing professional football. A rookie may have all the talent in the world but if he does not submit to the leadership of the team – the coaches and the older players, he will not succeed. A rookie football player on a professional football team has so much to learn about the game and how being a full-time professional player is way different from being a college player. So, God has reminded me that whatever choices that my senior pastor makes about me, I trust that he has a plan for my development. I trust that God has placed him over me for a reason and that I can learn so much from him. If he says wait, I must wait. If he allows me to do more and more, it is because he thinks that I am ready. I must trust God with the pace of my development as a pastor and that my senior pastor is the one whom God has anointed to be over me. I must respect and honor him with the pace and simply trust and pray that through God’s anointing that he will grow me and round me out as a pastor.

That’s the first thing that I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 2 Samuel 1:1-16, and began to write this, the first of three blogs on this passage. That idea being that I must trust and honor the wishes of those who God has placed in authority over me and follow that path at the pace that God has for me through my senior pastor. His wisdom about being a pastor is far, far greater than mine and God has allowed him to stay at this time for 23 years. I gotta trust that. Wouldn’t you? Sometimes, in our self-centered flesh, we think we know better than God and how He plays out the plan for our lives. However, we must trust God with the pace at which He walks us down the path. Let’s read this passage now:

1 After the death of Saul, David returned from his victory over the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s army camp. He had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head to show that he was in mourning. He fell to the ground before David in deep respect.

3 “Where have you come from?” David asked.

“I escaped from the Israelite camp,” the man replied.

4 “What happened?” David demanded. “Tell me how the battle went.”

The man replied, “Our entire army fled from the battle. Many of the men are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.”

5 “How do you know Saul and Jonathan are dead?” David demanded of the young man.

6 The man answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear with the enemy chariots and charioteers closing in on him. 7 When he turned and saw me, he cried out for me to come to him. ‘How can I help?’ I asked him.

8 “He responded, ‘Who are you?’

“‘I am an Amalekite,’ I told him.

9 “Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’

10 “So I killed him,” the Amalekite told David, “for I knew he couldn’t live. Then I took his crown and his armband, and I have brought them here to you, my lord.”

11 David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.

13 Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, “Where are you from?”

And he replied, “I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land.”

14 “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” David asked.

15 Then David said to one of his men, “Kill him!” So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. 16 “You have condemned yourself,” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the Lord’s anointed one.”

In this first passage, we see that David had great faith in God. He waited for God to fulfill his promises. The book of 1 Samuel tells of David’s struggles as he waited to become king of Israel. King Saul became jealous of David because of the people’s praise for David’s many accomplishments. Eventually, Saul’s jealousy became so intense that he tried to kill David. As a result, David was on the run for many years. For many years David hid from Saul in the barren wilderness south and east of Jerusalem and in enemy territory. David may have wondered when God’s promises would come true, but his struggles prepared him for the great responsibilities he would later face as king. However, despite all the animosity Saul held toward David, David still shows in this passage that he was loyal to the man who was king and defended his honor as king.

That’s David’s lesson here. When we are seeking to follow God, we must trust his timing and not our own. Sure, I bet David wanted to jump past all the running and hiding, but he was patient and trusted the Lord that there was a purpose for his time on the run. I am certain that David learned much about governing and about the common people during his time on the run that God wanted him to know when he became king. Similarly, my senior pastor, a great man of God, has a plan and a pace for my development as a pastor. I must trust that. I must honor the pace he has for me. I must trust that he will allow me to do more and more when he thinks that I am ready for such things. I must trust the process. Everything that I see, hear, watch, soak in right now will be useful to me in the future as I mature as a pastor. I must study the process. Subject myself to the process. Honor the process as devised by my senior pastor. Patience is the word of the day. Patience is what has been demonstrated in spades by David.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 19:11-17
Michal Saves David’s Life

I remember an episode of The Big Bang Theory entitled “The Egg Salad Equivalency” in which Sheldon presents a scenario to the girls on the show about a real life situation over which he wants advice on how to react.

In this so called hypothetical scenario, the characters had the silliest of names. There’s Ricardo Shillyshally. There was Tondelaya della Ventimiglia and Sheldon renamed himself as Doctor Einstein von Brainstorm. The names were changed, in Sheldon’s mind, so no one could figure out who he was really talking about. Or so he thought. Just the outrageousness of the names made the scenario presented in the scene so hilarious. For the purposes of our blog today, I will borrow two of the names from that episode of my favorite show. I will use Ricardo Shillyshally and Tondelaya. However, in my scenario, Tondelaya will become Ricardo’s daughter instead of co-worker. Let’s present the scenario now…

There is a man, let’s call him Ricardo Shillyshally and Ricardo had a daughter named Tondelaya Shillyshally. Ricardo loves Tondelaya without reservation. He just wants what’s best for Tondelaya. He sees Tondelaya wasting her potential. He has helped her out of several jams in life. He has given her cars. Tondelaya disappears from Ricardo’s life for months on end over the past four or five years. She surfaces in his life when there is a financial crisis in her life. She swears every time that Ricardo helps her that she will be more active part of his life. But again and again, she disappears from his life and will stay underground and away from him until the next crisis occurs. Ricardo doesn’t understand why she disappears, but the contact always stops. Phone calls are not returned. Text messages are not responded to. Maybe it’s because she thinks Ricardo will demand changes in her lifestyle. Who knows? The contact always stops after a week or two after she has gotten what she wants.

Ricardo just wants her to quit living her hand to mouth existence and grow up. Tondelaya says she has a job with a baby sitting service now so according to Tondelaya she is working and has a career. Ricardo just wants her to use her brilliance to become something greater than a babysitter. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with being a babysitter working for a babysitting service but most girls who do it don’t do it forever. Some do. But most don’t. Ricardo knows that this is just the latest in a line of jobs for Tondelaya who is avoiding having to grow up.

Ricardo just wants her to be able to take care of herself when he’s gone. He doesn’t want to go to his grave worried about her. He doesn’t care if she is corporate CEO or salesperson at a shoe store or whatever. Just whatever that maybe, just be able to have a house or an apartment, a place to live and be able to put food on the table and pay for your own transportation. These are the simple hopes that Ricardo has for Tondelaya. He is not requiring that she do what he thinks her potential is (which he thinks is great since she is so smart just naturally). He thinks that anyone who can justify her hand-to-mouth existence as being temporary and the greatness being just over the next hill for a decade has great ability if applied to her true talents and giftedness in life. His prayer for her is that she finds her passion for what she wants to contribute to the world and is able to feed and clothe herself and put a roof over her own head without anybody helping her. That’s all Ricardo wants for Tondelaya as any parent wants for their child.

However, right now, Ricardo knows that the next phone from Tondelaya will be when she is in a financial jam and needs her daddy, Ricardo, to help her out of it. He prays that one day the cycle will be broken and she flies like Ricardo knows she can. But for now, he will love her. But for now, he is weary that she will reappear when she needs something next time and then disappear again and continue to live in her hand-to-mouth world where success remains just over the next hill.

That story of Ricardo Shillyshally and his youngest daughter, Tondelaya, reminds us all of how sometimes a family member will use us to get what they want. That’s what I thought of this afternoon as I read through the passage, 1 Samuel 19:11-17. Let’s read it and then deal with how we respond to such things:

11 Then Saul sent troops to watch David’s house. They were told to kill David when he came out the next morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t escape tonight, you will be dead by morning.” 12 So she helped him climb out through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then she took an idol[a] and put it in his bed, covered it with blankets, and put a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

14 When the troops came to arrest David, she told them he was sick and couldn’t get out of bed.

15 But Saul sent the troops back to get David. He ordered, “Bring him to me in his bed so I can kill him!” 16 But when they came to carry David out, they discovered that it was only an idol in the bed with a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

17 “Why have you betrayed me like this and let my enemy escape?” Saul demanded of Michal.

“I had to,” Michal replied. “He threatened to kill me if I didn’t help him.”

In this passage, we again see Saul put a family member in a compromising spot. He put his daughter in the position of either enabling her father to get what he wanted or doing what is best and right in this situation. How many of us reading this blog have a family member who takes advantage of the fact that we are kin to them to further their own agenda? How many of us reading this blog have a family member who uses us to get what they want and then disappear until the next time they need something. How many of us have broken hearts over these situations? I am sure that Michal did not flippantly disobey her father. She probably agonized over it. She probably wanted to give her father what he wanted but she had to weigh that against what was best and right.

In today’s story, it is Ricardo Shillyshally and Tondelaya, his child. But the story is quite familiar. You can insert your own names of how this situation (whether it be family members, friends, distant relatives, coworkers, and so on) applies to you. We’ve all experienced being used by someone to get what they want.

In today’s passage, Saul simply uses his own daughter to get what he wanted. He did not care that Michal may have loved David. That was of no matter to Saul. He wanted David’s head and nothing else would do. It didn’t matter if he had to use his own relationship with his own daughter to get to David. Only Michal realized that Saul was not being a godly man in his request. He was asking his daughter to betray her husband. He was asking her to be a party to murder. What he asked of his daughter was so wrong on so many levels. But did that matter to Saul? No. He was trying to get what he wanted in his jealous rage. Nothing else matter. Relationships did not matter. Loyalty did not matter. Family did not matter. It was just Saul uses whatever way he could to get what he wanted. It was Saul manipulating his relationship with a family member once again (remember in the last passage he ask is other child, Jonathan, to participate in something that was morally wrong).

So in the 21st century such things still happen. People use us. People manipulate us to get what they want and then sometimes disappear from our lives when we are no longer useful to them in their self-centered world. How do we respond?

Patience, prayer, and discernment is how we respond. Biblical patience is tolerant of the imperfections, faults, and differences in others. It gives the other person time to change and room to make some mistakes in the process. Paul lists patience as the first quality that describes love (1 Cor. 13:4). If you’re not patient, you’re not loving! It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Like all fruit, it takes time and effort to cultivate. Patience with others does not come naturally. It is counter-intuitive to our nature. When others use us to get what they want and disappear, we typically want to hold back and get angry. That’s our natural inclination. To be patient with someone who uses us to get what they want is a tall order. Is it not?

Patience only comes through prayer. Prayer is not where we demand of God to do things our way but we ask Him to work in a situation that we cannot solve. We in that process give up control of the problem to the Lord. We pray for the person who just seems to want to use us for what they can get. We pray that God brings about situations in their lives that will reveal their need for Jesus Christ. We pray that God brings about situations that will bring them to see God’s love for them. That will change everything in their lives just as it did for us. When we pray for them to come to Jesus, it will change their mindset on everything including how they treat other people.

God certainly wants us to be patient with others. It is definitely a fruit of the spirit. God wants us to have a forgiving spirit and that is only achieved through patience. Patience is only achieved through prayer. In the meantime, though, until the person that uses us displays the fruits of the spirit that we have prayed for, God gives us discernment. Discernment is when we love people just as God requires but discernment is God-given wisdom in knowing how to respond. Discernment is loving people but responding in ways that are healthy for both parties. Discernment is sometimes loving people with a “no”. Discernment is sometimes saying no because it is best even though saying yes would be easier.

Saul was someone who used people to get what he wanted. He tried to use his kids to get what he wanted (to kill David). However, even though Jonathan and Michal loved their dad, they had the discernment not to follow through with Saul’s immoral requests on them.

Who is it that has used you to get what they want? Remember patience. Remember prayer. Remember discernment.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 13:1-14 (Part 2 of 3)
War with Philistia, Saul’s Disobedience, and Samuel’s Rebuke

There was a song by the late, great Tom Petty entitled “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. The title of the song is appropriate for today’s lesson. Saul could not stand the waiting so he decided to take it upon himself to offer a sacrifice to God. He was impatient on God’s timing.

Sometimes, I get that way too. Ever since God gave me the desire to go into ministry, there has been a lot of waiting. What is it that He wants from me? I have been waiting for six years. Sure, there has been preparation to go through that I thoroughly believe was necessary. Getting my masters degree in Christian ministry was an eye-opening and faith-deepening experience for which I am eternally grateful. My understanding of Scripture and eagerness to be in God’s Word was exponentially increased by that experience. But it was my expectation that as soon as my degree was handed to me by NGU President, at that time, Dr. Epting, that the skies would open up and a church would magically call me to be their pastor or a large church would call me to be their executive pastor or that God would give me a burning desire to start a church in some community somewhere. That was back in May 2014 when I graduated.

Since then there have been lots of applications for executive or administrative pastor positions through Vanderbloemen and churchstaffing.com. There have been four positions for which I have been granted phone interviews. Two of those resulted in follow-up video call interviews. One of those resulted in an over the weekend visit on-site. That one was this time last year, back in January 2017. On that one, my wife and I came oh so close to landing the administrative pastor’s position for a church in north central Ohio. After that, it has been a yearlong dry streak for on-site interviews. We have another one coming up next weekend. The waiting has been the hardest part. The difference between this one upcoming and the rest is that I did not apply for this job. The church’s founding pastor sought me out after doing a search for candidates on churchstaffing.com. So, this one feels different than the other jobs I have pursued.

When we went through the extended interview process last November 2016-January 2017 for the position at the church in Ohio, I felt like I needed to press. I felt like I needed to do and say the right things in the process. It seemed to me that I was pressing. I was like a quarterback whose team is down by two touchdowns with a quarter left to play in the game and who thinks he has to make plays and he presses and overdoes it and throws an interception. Instead of letting the game come to him, he presses and makes a mistake. That was how I felt. Nervous. Pressing. Trying to do things under my own power.

However, this time around, a year later, it is almost as if I don’t care if I get the job or not. This job is farther away than the one in Ohio last year (sometimes I argue with God – why can’t you put me in position for a job around here, why do you grant me interviews for jobs 8-12 hours away from South Carolina?). This time around, I am not putting any pressure on the process myself. I am going into this next weekend with the attitude of “if God wants this, He will make it happen!” Maybe, it’s because the job is far away from home in a much colder climate. The low temperatures next weekend are projected to a raw temperature of 6 and 7 degrees the two nights we will spend there. The wind chills for overnight lows those two nights will be subzero. Maybe, I have just resigned myself to always just being on the edge of ministry and never really in it. Maybe, it was the severe disappointment of what happened this time last year. Maybe, though, this time, I am just letting the Holy Spirit take hold of the process. Last January, I was going in looking for reasons to take the job. This January, I am going in looking for reasons not to take the position and only one reason to take it. That reason being that the Holy Spirit will make it abundantly clear, I mean really and abundantly clear, to both Elena and me that this church is the place where we are supposed to go. I am going in with no expectations and no desires other than that. There will be a million reasons for us not to pack up and go and only one reason why we should – that God has made it abundantly and expressly clear that this assignment is what is next for us, no other reason.

That’s the lesson from last January to this January. Let God lead and not try to make this happen in your own power. I mean I am not going up there trying to flub it up and not get the job, but I am going up there with no pressure in my heart. I have simply decided to wait on God. That is the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 13:1-14, this morning for the second of three readings of it – that idea of trying to push God along because we are impatient. That idea of how Saul was pressing and was not patient. That idea of how Saul simply did not wait on God to reveal. Let’s read the passage now:

Chapter 13
1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years. 2 Saul selected 3,000 special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. He took 2,000 of the chosen men with him to Micmash and the hill country of Bethel. The other 1,000 went with Saul’s son Jonathan to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.

3 Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba. The news spread quickly among the Philistines. So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, “Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!” 4 All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever. So the entire Israelite army was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000[c] chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! They camped at Micmash east of Beth-aven. 6 The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. 7 Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

10 Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

In this passage, we see that, rather than waiting for a priest, Saul offered a sacrifice himself. This act by a non-priest was against God’s law (Deuteronomy 12:5-14) and against the specific instructions of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 10:8). Under pressure from the approaching Philistines, he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed God. He was doing a good thing (offering a sacrifice to God before a crucial battle), but he did it in the wrong way. Like Saul, our true spiritual character is revealed under pressure. The methods we use to accomplish our goals are as important as the attainment of those goals.

A lot of times, we want to do God’s job for Him. We want to get out ahead of God. Things aren’t happening as quickly as we want them to happen. Sometimes, it is in the waiting that we learn to be dependent on God. Man, what a relief it is when we let go and let God. Learning to trust the Lord completely with our lives is one of the toughest things we have to learn as we mature in Christ. That’s the difference between me last January and me this January – I am just at the point that I am trusting God with whatever comes our way in the ministry field. I have no more preconceived notions as to what God will do with our calling. Maybe that’s the point. Complete dependence. Completely open ears. When we quit trying to control everything, the white noise stops and we can hear God’s voice. That’s the approach I am going to take next weekend – quietness and calmness, listening for God to make it clear to us if this IS the place. If it is, He will make it clear. He will make a way.

Amen and Amen.

1 Corinthians 13 — Yesterday, we talked about how pretty much every gift given from God is meaningless unless we love, unless we show love, unless we act in love. Then, that begs the question, What is love? In this next paragraph of this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes love. It reminds you of that scene from the movie, Forest Gump, when he asks Jenny to marry him for the first time and the speaking parts of the scene end with Forrest saying, “I might not be a smart man, but I do know what love is!” Paul, in this paragraph, tells us what Forrest already knows. Since love is the central theme of Christianity, we will spend a few days here on these definitions of love. Just think how patient Forrest was with Jenny. That was patient love. That was abiding love. We can learn a lot from how Forrest loved Jenny.

The first definition of love is that love is patient. Right out of the gate, Paul uses patience to describe love. It must therefore be a primary characteristic of love. Just as food labels are required by law to list the ingredients of food you purchase in their order of relative content in the food. If patience is listed first, it must mean that Paul sees it as the most important ingredient in love. What is patience then? Dictionary.com defines patience as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. It goes on to define patience as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Patience is also quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence. To be patient is to have these qualities and to live out these qualities. Love is patient.

According to gotquestions.com, patience is noted as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is also mentioned there, revealing the close connection between these two attributes. Both love and patience are products of the Spirit’s presence in one’s life. Without patience can we truly love? The lack of patience in relationships means that we are not willing to invest in them. Lack of patience with others means that we see our agenda as greater than theirs. Impatience is the fruit of selfishness.

Patience means setting aside getting my needs met. That is where impatience is born is in our selfish, depraved, sinful desires to get what I want and I want it now! We start out young being impatient. Babies that do not get their needs met immediately shower us with their curdling cries and screams. We come into this world wanting what we want and wanting it now. Patience only comes when we care about the needs of others more than our own needs. Think of the wife how suffers through decades of her husband’s alcoholism but still loves him. She still sees the best in him.

Patience gives us hope. Patience believes in the best in others. Just think of the joy that she has when her husband finally admits his problem, joins Celebrate Recovery, and begins his sobriety journey. Impatience would have ended that marriage decades ago. Patience is rewarded in this scenario we are talking about. Often the strongest marriages are those that have survived devastating setbacks, pain, and troubles. When marriages come out of the valley, one or the other or both see the godly love that has been shown them by their spouse and it deepens their love for one another. Without patience that would never happen.

Patience sees potential in others. Patience allows us to nurture that which is good in others. It allows us to invest in another person even though right now that person is so annoying. Patience allows us to give them space to be themselves. Patience concentrates on that which is good in others rather than that which annoys us.

Patience allows us to grant others grace, the same grace that we have been shown by Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In a world where Christians are bombarded by a world now that sees what is wrong as right and what is right as wrong, patience can be in short supply. We want to wash our hands of a world gone mad. We may find it disgusting and it may turn our stomach and make us nauseous to watch Bruce Jenner in an evening gown being rewarded for his courage. We can lose our patience over things like this because it just seems that the world now glorifies everything that is the opposite of what we think is right. But weren’t we ourselves ones who used to shake our fist at God by the way we lived our lives in opposition to Him. Unless you were one of the lucky ones who accepted Jesus as your Savior as a child, then, you and me have lived lives that grieve the heart of God. It was not until God allowed circumstances in our lives to bring us to our knees before Him that we quit shaking our fist at God. We must be patient with those whose lifestyles are in opposition to God’s Word. We must offer them the same grace that we have been given.

Patience allows us to be like Jesus. When we are like Jesus, it means that we don’t write people off as beyond redemption. We don’t write people off because what they do makes us sick to our stomach, literally. Jesus would have encountered Bruce Jenner not rejected Him. Jesus would have ate dinner with a same-sex couple. He would have not waffled on God’s truths with them. He would have told them like it was, but He would have done it in a way that made them think. He would have done so in love. Imagine the patience of Jesus with us sinners. He loved us. He sat down with us in the midst of our sins. He went to the cross and died for us and patiently waits for you to accept Him as your Savior even now while you shake your fist at Him.

Jesus, The Holy Spirit and The Father are one. In Scripture it says God is patient. According to gotquestions.com, since God is love (1 John 4:8), He is necessarily patient. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6; see also Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). Even in judgment, God’s patience is evident: “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20).

If we are to be like Christ, if we are to be little Christs, we must have love in our hearts for others. We must be able to set aside our need to have our needs immediately met. We must have godly patience with others. We must love them to the cross. Sometimes that takes long-suffering patience. Patience is the hallmark of love. Patience means never giving up, never writing off, always hoping, always seeing a child of God in others even when they are shaking their fist at us and everything that we hold dear. God, grant us patience daily! OK. Let’s go watch Forrest Gump again!

Luke 1:5-25 — Prayers of the faithful are answered. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But, God does answer the prayers of those who seek His will in His own due time. Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you wait 30 minutes after lunch by the pool or the lake before you could go swimming. Those waiting periods were excruuuuuuccccciiiiaaaaating. Remember the long trips in the car on family trips…are we there yet? Are we there yet? It’s kind of like that for today’s devotional.

Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t merely go through the motions in following God’s law. They backed up their outward compliance with God’s law with inward obedience. Unlike the religious leaders whom Jesus called hypocrites, they did not stop with the letter of the law. Their obedience call from the heart and this is why they were called “righteous in God’s eyes.” God answers the prayers of those who earnestly seek Him. Do you think that God will answer the prayers of those who are not seeking to be in alignment with His will. It is clear from scripture that God not only hears prayers of His saints, but that He also answers their prayers. God says to Christians that He will listen to your prayers. However, our prayers must be in alliance with God’s own, perfect will (Matt. 26:39). Our prayers must be after God’s own heart. We must seek His will. However, the question remains, does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? I Peter 3:12 plainly says that God will hear a believer’s prayer but not those of the unsaved: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” He will answer. The answer may be an immediate yes. It may be a no. It may be a not now. He answers. He answers the priors of those who are submitted to and seek Him. The prayers of those who are evil fall on deaf ears.

In Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were not “for show” believers and they certainly were not non-believers. They were barren with no children. They prayed, and prayed, and prayed for children. The difference between Zechariah and Elizabeth was that they trusted God with the answer. They were righteous people. They were submitted to God’s holy will for their lives. There was pain and suffering. There was humiliation. However, they never gave up on God. They knew that God will answer the prayers of the righteous in one way or another and in His due time. Do you feel like God is not answering your prayers fast enough. When we get angry at God for not showing any sign of having answered our prayers, we are acting as if He is a vending machine God. Push the button, and the answer to the prayer comes out. We in our freeze-dried, microwave, drive-thru, 30 days to a slimmer you, instant coffee, fire the coach if he doesn’t win in 3 seasons, if I don’t like it I will return it kind of world, we have a hard time with God not giving us immediate answers. We want prayer-boom-answer. I am as guilty as anyone. I have finished seminary at age 52 and I am impatient. I want to hear the answer to my prayer now. I must learn the patience of Zechariah and Elizabeth. I must remember Moses had to wait a long, long time in the desert wilderness before He was called. Although lives are shorter now, I must remember that Moses did not begin his ministry until He was ready in God’s eyes – when His earthly life was two-thirds over. We must be understanding of God’s sovereignty and His timing and we must be patient and trusting of the Sovereign Lord of the entire universe, the Sovereign Lord of all eternity. How did Zechariah and Elizabeth not lose faith. They knew that faith involves trust. Faith involves submission. We must trust that God is working, working, working. We must trust that He is wiser than we. We must trust that He wil answer our prayers the way that He as Sovereign Lord wants to answer them.

God often answers the prayers of His faithful in ways far beyond what we could have imagined. For their persistent but trusting prayers, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers were answered mightily in God’s due timing. For their patient trust and their seeking of God’s will, they were to be rewarded with the birth of a son who would make the way for the Messiah. He was to be the forerunner. He was to light the fires. He was to mark the way toward righteousness. He was to call out the hypocrites and point them toward salvation. He was to be John the Baptist. Their prayers were answered in a son. They prayers were answered in an amazing son. God hears your prayers, oh, you who earnestly seek Him. He will do so abundantly. He will answer the prayers of the faithful and will do so in ways we could not have imagined previously. He is a mighty God. When we get ourselves out of the way and our demands for immediate response and seek and believe that God will answer in His way and in His time, He will bless our persistence and our patience and our seeking of His will.

Father, I am flesh and bones. I am flesh and bones in the 21st century where everything is fast, fast, fast. We think our internet is not fast enough when it does not respond in under 1 second. I am impatient. I want my answers from you now, oh Lord. I get frustrated when you don’t give me immediate answers to my prayers. Father, teach me the patience that I need. Father, you know my heart. I am not perfect but I do so love you and what you have already done for me in my salvation through Your Son. Help me to pray for your will not mine. Help me to be patient and perseverant in my prayers to you. Help me more than anything to trust that You are God and You will answer in the way and in the time that You desire as my Sovereign Lord. Please forgive my impatience Lord but please remember my love for you, Oh Lord, Most High. Amen.