Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marks of a Christian: Patience

James 1:4

The apostle Paul declared that he bore in his own body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was referring to the physical scars of persecution that he suffered because of his testimony of Christ. As Christians we also should bear certain identifying marks. Spiritual marks of being a born again child of God. One such mark should be the mark of "patience". What does it mean to be patient? Webster's definition is 1) bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint 2) steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity 3) not hasty or impetuous. Literally it means to be willing to suffer. It means self-control, it means the ability to wait and not rush into things.
We need to be manifesting patience in our lives today. In today's lifestyle everything seems to be "rush-rush". That even comes into people's ideas about worship services. "Make it quick and painless." "Let's get it over with!" Listen to the Word of God. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him..." cf Ps. 37:7a
I. Examples of Patience.
    A. Moses.
      1. God had given him the responsibility of leading over two million people.
      2. They were unfaithful and ungrateful!
      3. They murmured and complained against Moses to the point that God was ready to kill them and start all over again with Moses. cf Ex. 32:7-10
      4. But Moses was patient through the years and never quit!
    B. Job.
      1. God allowed greater trials in his life than any of us have ever had to face.
      2. His wife and friends forsook him!
      3. Job at time wondered why all of the things that had happened...had to happen to him.
      4. Note: Job 1:21 & Jas. 5:11
    C. Paul.
      1. We know that he had some physical infirmity...a thorn in the flesh.
      2. A lot speculation as to what it may have been, but regardless it pictures Paul's patience and endurance.
      3. At the close of Paul's ministry he writes to Timothy and declares the marks of distinction that were apparent. 1Ti. 3:10
    D. New Testament Congregations.
      1. The Thessalonian Church. cf 2Thess. 1:4
      2. The Church at Ephesus. cf Re. 2:2
      3. The Church at Thyatira. cf Re. 2:19
II. Qualities of Patience.
    A. The ability to wait.
      1. The most difficult part of a battle is the waiting.
      2. Soldiers ready and prepared to do battle with the enemy, but must wait until the order is given to charge!
      3. We must not rush ahead, but we must learn to wait.
      4. Isaiah 40:31, "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."
    B. Patience means resignation.
      1. We must resign ourselves to the will of God.
      2. A story is told of man who visited an institution for children who were deaf and unable to speak. He wrote a cruel question on the blackboard, "If God loves you, then why did He make you as you are?" A little girl walked to the board and wrote Matthew 11:26, "Even so, Father: for it seemed good in thy sight."
      3. Patience is understanding that we have a Sovereign God who has a plan and purpose in everything that He does!
      4. Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him..." cf Job 13:15
      5. Jesus said, "...Not my will, but thine, be done." cf Luke 22:42
      6. Have you resigned yourself to God's will in your life? That is patience.
    C. Patience also means endurance.
      1. This means over the long-haul.
      2. The race that Paul talks about is not a sprint it is a long distance marathon.
      3. The finish line is when we meet Jesus!
      4. Only around 5% of new businesses ever last long enough to become a success.
      5. Many people will join the church, but only a few will stick it out! We couldn't hold all the people who have been saved and joined this church! (864 who have joined)
      6. People make many promises and make commitments, but only a few will see them fulfilled.
      7. Preachers are giving up the ministry and Missionaries are dropping from the field. Example of Dennis Mays: 3 1/2 years of deputation and after only 2 months on the field, they give it up and come home!
      8. We need patience for the long run...Jesus never promised that it would be easy! But He did say that He would never forsake us or leave us!
Are our lives characterized by patience? It is a spiritual mark of Christ. We need it in every area of our lives, but especially as we serve the Lord. How do we get it? Pray for patience! Some say, "Oh no! Tribulation worketh patience!" Yes, but patience matures us in Christ. And we all need to grow more like Him. Trust Him tonight, rest calmly in Him, and wait upon Him.

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