April 27, 2014
You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt. You saw how I carried you on the wings of eagles and brought you to myself. Now obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine. But you will be a kingdom of priests to serve me. You will be my holy nation.’ That is what you must tell the Israelites.”
So Moses went back. He sent for the elders of the people. He explained to them everything the Lord had commanded him to say.
All of the people answered together. They said, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”
So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord. (Exodus 19:4-8)
And Moses came and told the people all the words of Jehovah, and all the ordinances: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which Jehovah hath spoken will we do.
And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the mount, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto Jehovah. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words. (Exodus 24:3-8)
Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab along with all whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands. The men were eager to get started and engage in the work. They took from Moses all the offerings that the Israelites had brought for the work of constructing the Sanctuary. The people kept on bringing in their freewill offerings, morning after morning.
All the artisans who were at work making everything involved in constructing the Sanctuary came, one after another, to Moses, saying, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!”
So Moses sent out orders through the camp: “Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary! (Exodus 36:2-6)
Here are separate incidents where Moses brings God’s words to the Children of Israel. They hear and they vow to obey. They have Listened to God, and they swear to Act for God.
In the first incident (Exodus 19:4-8), they had seen God’s power and they swore on the basis of that. “Wow! He made the Pharaoh bow to His demands, and He destroyed the Egyptian army when they came after us. We better agree or we’re toast!”
“OK, God whatever you say, just don’t get angry with US.”
They agreed without knowing what was in store for them.
But this was lip service. They agreed with their lips, but they made no heart commitment. They did not own their vow. They heard God’s words, but did not take them to heart.
In the second instance (Exodus 24:3-8), Moses called all the people together. Then, in their hearing, Moses read all the Law required of them, including:
They have lived under YHWH’s guidance and provision for 3-5 months. This time, they clearly have the knowledge to make an informed commitment. The People of God own the Covenant and swear to obey.
This time, they have a full picture of the Covenant terms. They heard and understood God. Now the ball was in their court. They, as individuals and as a nation, had to act out what God spoke to them.
We all know the story. They blew hot and cold. One generation was zealous for the Law and for God. Two generations later, and several after that, they were indifferent and grew to be apostate. I have never stopped to count the number of times God had to deliver His Chosen people from the disaster they fell into through their apostasy.
What was the recurring pattern, what happened to the Children of Israel time after time? What does this say about God?
In 1 John 4:8 he says, “God is love.” Since God is love, where do we discover what that means?
What is God telling us through the Beloved Apostle John?
We are God’s children and only the man who knows God hears our message; what we say means nothing to the man who is not himself a child of God. This gives us a ready means of distinguishing the true from the false.
To you whom I love I say, let us go on loving one another, for love comes from God. Every man who truly loves is God’s son and has some knowledge of him. But the man who does not love cannot know him at all, for God is love.
To us, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us has been his sending his only Son into the world to give us life through him. We see real love, not in that fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins. (1 John 4:6-11)
If God loved us as much as that, surely we, in our turn, should love each other!
God spoke to the Children of Israel, giving them his directions how they should live. God speaks to us today, giving us directions how to live.
He has spoken to us in:
We have listened to God speaking to us. We are listening today. We have completed and continue to complete the first half—we listen to God.
How do we complete the second half? How do we act for God?
You have heard it said many times before: we are the hands and feet and voice of our Lord God.
We all can look and point to acts of love we all make to one another. “Behold how they love one another!” is true of us.
What is not evident is how we act out what we have heard from God in the world. Our close Christian group is a secure microcosm under God’s love and entwined with the mutual love we all share. We reinforce one another, not only in our fellowship, but also in our relationships individually with our Loving Father.
The world at large, however, is not mutually reinforcing. There is a distinct absence of Godly love in our culture. Businesses know that the friendly, helpful approach leads to dollars, so they instruct their employees to smile. Nevertheless this is not real love.
Every day we encounter drivers who are ungracious, pushy, erratic, and offensive (it is our fervent prayer that we do not have with them close encounters of the 3rd kind).
We have had to deal with fellow employees, apparently bent on bringing us down. People, who are feeling stress, take it out on others. Bureaucrats who are serving their time for a paycheck couldn’t care less about the public’s problems or needs. The atmosphere in the world is a serious test of our love.
To act for God is to live out love. Bless when we are cursed. When you see those without a smile, give them one of yours. Pray for them before, during and after each encounter. Leave them with a word of blessing, whether they like it or not.
To act for God in living love is to be patient and understanding, even when things are not going your way. Recognize that the person on the other end of the phone or behind the counter has not appeared the moment you encounter them. He or she has been putting up with all kinds of people before you arrived and is aware that she or he will have to after you leave. Make you encounter as pleasant as you can. In gratitude, drop a blessing into their lives.
When you cannot get through the bureaucratic labyrinth and your frustration level grows, begin praying and reacquire the peace that Jesus alone can give. Learn to respond instead of reacting. Our immediate human reaction is usually retaliatory and offensive. However, if we refer our situations and emotions to the Holy Spirit, He generates a Godly response. We thus allow our Guide and Counselor to speak love through us.
We have listened to the Old Testament summery of the Law many times.
Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Perhaps more times we have heard Jesus summary of the Law.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)
Having listened to this, our act is to love God. Love is not just a squishy feeling in your stomach, which just might be the flu. Love is an action. You love God by:
This second half of our topic is the proof of the first. You will act for God if you have truly listened to God. We have a solid base from which to do the acts of love to those in the world, to our families and to our Lord. Go into all the world and make disciples, loving them into the Kingdom of God by presenting Christ to them through word and deed.
Our Gracious Father, we recognize we are slow learners. You have taught us this lesson of love in Your Word and from sermons all our believing lives. We confess that even after we have heard your instruction to love, like the Children of Israel, we forget and act out our worldliness.
Thank you for being patient with us and teaching us again and again the truth that love wins. Grant us the wisdom to allow Your love to so pervade our lives that it flows out in acts of blessing and words of encouragement to those who are Yours and to those who are not yet.
Through Jesus Christ our Savior, we pray. Amen
August 3, 2014
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. (Matthew 20:1-16)
This parable of the workers in the vineyard is one of the Parables of the Kingdom.
Jesus likened the Kingdom to at least ten different worldly illustrations:
Today we are looking at the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. You just read how the landowner recruited and paid his workers. Imagine the joyful surprise the workers felt when they received a full day’s wage for one hour’s labor. Wow! What a thrill!
“Hey, guys! Let’s come back to work for this guy tomorrow!”
Some will calculate that they can make it a habit to work only an hour and get a full day’s pay. A few others will have a sense of obligation and will come back to work even harder to pay back the generosity of the owner. Some folk are manipulators, while others are honorable.
That is the condition of mankind. Some people will job the system to get as much as they can, while others work the job to give as much as they can.
Our Master is Almighty God. He came into our lives with a blessing and a demand. Like any employer, He expects those whom He employs to give him a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Our work is the same as Jesus’ work, that is to do the will of the Father; to labor in His vineyard.
Some people he calls early to work. They are privileged to never know life without Jesus. Others he calls as youths. They know a life without Jesus and have tasted the bitterness of sin. Some Jesus calls late in life, even on their death beds. They have seven or eight decades of sin washed away instantly by the blood of Christ.
God, in His mercy, equally rewards each one who turns to Him. Everyone earns condemnation, but receives God’s mercy and eternal life of blessings—love, joy and peace. Billy Graham, after half a century or more of faithful labor in God’s vineyard, receives the same “wage” as the mass murderer who earnestly and honestly repents and calls upon God just before his execution.
I estimate that the majority of people—believers and unbelievers who read this parable for the first time react, “Hey! That’s not fair!” They agree with the workers who labored in the heat of the day. If the last workers who labored only an hour get a full day’s pay, those who labored all day should get a lot more.
Fair is fair. The 12-hour workers should get a full day’s pay.
The 9-hour workers should get ¾ pay.
The 6-hour workers ½ pay.
The 3-hour workers ¼ pay.
And the 1-hour worker gets 1/12th of a day’s pay.
That’s the just and proper way to pay for workers.
The City of Seattle just raised the minimum wage from $9.32/hr. to $15.00/hr, that is more than a 50% increase. That means that if a burger joint hires an unskilled high school dropout, the owner must pay her $15.00/hour. Well, fair is fair. The fellow behind the counter has two year’s experience, He knows the job inside and out. After two raises he now receives $12.00/hr. If the owner raises him to just $15.00, he is cheating the experienced worker. In justice for his experience, the owner should be paying $18 or $20/hr. Fair is fair.
Is God cheating the workers in the Kingdom who have always been His chosen people? They have grown in Christ. They have served God and His people for years, some for many years. Are they getting a raw deal because crooks get into the Kingdom on the same basis as the long-term workers?
Of course not! You knew the answer before I finished the question. Well, if this is not cheating anyone, how can that be?
Jesus used these Parables of the Kingdom to show what the Kingdom of God is LIKE, not what it IS.
Heaven is actually none of these things. It is like nothing we have ever experienced before. It is beyond our wildest imaginings. Paul spoke in his second letter to Corinth, chapter 12, of the man who was given a vision of “the third heaven”. Paul said, “he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” It apparently was glorious, but he could not express it in human language.
We live in a material world, but we try to understand Heaven, a spiritual world. To do so we must throw out all understanding of how things are. In the first place, Heaven is eternal. It has no time. This means there is no first, second, last.
Heaven is infinite. It has no space. This means there is no distance, no up or down. The physical laws that govern our universe do not apply in Heaven.
However all that is spiritual will be in Heaven. The fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in everyone. Peter talks of our love for Jesus who we cannot see, and of “joy unspeakable and fill of glory”. In the Revelation to the Apostle John, there appears to be perpetual worship of Almighty God. All these spiritual things we, you and I, will experience in God’s Kingdom.
Every believer, whether translated or raptured, will be a part of that innumerable throng worshipping around the Presence of God. Because there is no space, we will not be in ranks, but each will be as close to God as every other. All these spiritual truths will be in Heaven and we will all experience them.
Paul teaches us that we will know fully, as we are also known. God knows us completely. In His Kingdom, we will completely know each and every other person, and they will know us just as completely. Intimacy of relationships will give us all a loving heart for one another. However, since God is infinite and we are not, we probably can never know Him completely. Yet we will have an enormously greater knowledge of Him than we are able to have in this life.
As we begin to expand our perceptions, we can gain an appreciation of the otherness of Heaven. And yet it will not be alien to us who are believers. We have an appreciation of how good and comfortable it will be to be in the Presence of the God who loves us, the Savior who died for us and the Holy Spirit that has been teaching us all through our lives in Christ. There will be a familiarity of heaven, because we will be home at last.
You can see that the rewards in Heaven are magnificent; they are fabulous. All the world’s treasures fade in comparison to the Treasures Old and New in God’s Kingdom. The necessity of differential of rewards for different skills, achievements or number of hours worked shrinks to insignificance. Whether one is paid one day’s pay for two days work or for one hour of work is negligible in the scope of the blessings of God’s kingdom.
There will be no competition for rewards, so God’s generosity will be hailed by all. The love that will be manifested in us will cause us to rejoice in God’s blessings to others as much or more than in His blessings to us.
When we appreciate the magnitude of God’s blessings that await us, it will cause us to be willing to work unstintingly for our loving Father. Our gratitude will impel us to labor in His vineyard through the heat of the day. Our love will move us to willingly engage in hard, tiring labor.
You see God is a merciful and loving Master, and yet He is a hard taskmaster. He is so because the fields are white unto harvest and the time on this material earth is short. We must work diligently for the night is coming when no one can work.
God hires us on for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months of the year. We get no lunch break, no sick days or weekends or holidays off. But we do get marvelous job security and His retirement plan is out of sight.
Our love for our Master will press us into the work. Our gratitude for His blessing in this life and in the glorious life to come should lead us eagerly to put our best efforts into the work of the Kingdom. In this frame of mind, rewards become immaterial in both senses of the term.
Immaterial, that is, not a concern to us.
Immaterial, that is spiritual, and not material.
Our rewards will be in Heaven; however, just living the life in Christ here and now should be reward enough.
The days are short and the night is approaching, so our every effort should be bent toward harvesting souls for God’s Kingdom. The time is not far off when the government will seek to put a stop to anyone speaking name of Christ, even in private. The time is not far off when brutal persecution—first fines, then jail, and later torture and death will be the lot of outspoken believers. The time for our proclamation of the Good news of God’s Kingdom is upon us. The time of our service for our Master is here. Seek now to be a laborer worthy of your hire.
When we hold back because of timidity, we will be betraying the sacrifice of Christ. When we fail because we have not tried, we will be failing our Loving Father. While God will save each and everyone he has elected, still he intends for each and every one of us to speak the word in season and out of season. In so doing, we can be God’s instruments to bring others to Jesus and salvation. The act of witnessing, laboring in God’s vineyard, is an exciting challenge. And then when one we are witnessing to turns her heart or his heart over to Jesus, God rewards us with an overflow of His joy unspeakable and full of glory.
“Why stand ye here all day idle? Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you!”
Our Gracious Master and Lord, You have commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, making them disciples. We have done so, more or less. Give us the understanding that this world is our temporary field of labor. Here we are charged with being responsible to be diligently laboring to take the good news to those in the world around us.
Holy Spirit, give us boldness beyond our nature so that we can, without fear, tell others about Jesus loving sacrifice for them. Give us the confidence that we will have the words to say. Instruct us in the Scriptures and give us the knowledge to speak in ways that will touch the hearts of others.
Our generous, merciful Father, pour out upon us Your power to be Your workers, eagerly pursuing the labor. Give us the freedom to shrug off negative responses and refusals. Grant us the joy of leading many to Jesus, and then greeting them as new brothers and sisters in Christ.
O God, we are Yours. Make us conformed to the image of your Son our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 20 1-16 Laborers in the Vineyard
John 4:34-38 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
“Jesus said to them, “My food is doing the will of him who sent me and finishing the work he has given me. Don’t you say, ‘Four months more and then comes the harvest’? But I tell you to open your eyes and look to the field—they are gleaming white, all ready for the harvest! The reaper is already being rewarded and getting in a harvest for eternal life, so that both sower and reaper may be glad together. For in this harvest the old saying comes true, ‘One man sows and another reaps.’ I have sent you to reap a harvest for which you never laboured; other men have worked hard and you have reaped the results of their labours.”
John 9:4 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
“We must carry on the work of him who sent me while the daylight lasts. Night is coming, when no one can work.”
September 1, 2013
The Lord will bless your towns and your fields.
The Lord will bless you with many children, with abundant crops, and with many cattle and sheep.
The Lord will bless your grain crops and the food you prepare from them.
The Lord will bless everything you do.
The Lord will defeat your enemies when they attack you. They will attack from one direction, but they will run from you in all directions.
The Lord your God will bless your work and fill your barns with grain. He will bless you in the land that he is giving you.
If you obey the Lord your God and do everything he commands, he will make you his own people, as he has promised. (Deuteronomy 28:3-9)
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’
He answered, ‘Yes, here I am.’
‘Don’t hurt the boy or do anything to him,’ he said. ‘Now I know that you honor and obey God, because you have not kept back your only son from him.’
Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a bush by its horns. He went and got it and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Abraham named that place ‘The Lord Provides.’ And even today people say, ‘On the Lord’s mountain he provides.’
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time, ‘I make a vow by my own name—the Lord is speaking—that I will richly bless you. Because you did this and did not keep back your only son from me, I promise that I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the seashore. Your descendants will conquer their enemies. All the nations will ask me to bless them as I have blessed your descendants—all because you obeyed my command. (Genesis 22:11-18)
Almighty God, you are infinite in all ways, and yet you condescend to love and care for us. You have the whole universe to watch over and order, still You have such concern for us that you called us into Your fellowship. You have just as much communion with each one of us as we open ourselves to You.
Father, when we stop to contemplate Your majesty and compare our paltry accomplishments, we are awestruck at the enormity of the difference between Your glory and our lives. We can hardly comprehend the magnitude of Your Gift to us, the sending of Your only and most precious Son to demean Himself to live as we live. We shudder when we become fully aware that Your Son, our Lord Jesus who is and ever was Lord God Almighty, took our place on the cross, bore our sins, experienced in our place the penalty for our sin. He has given us that most precious Gift, Himself.
Before our Savior placed Himself on the cross, in His celebration of the Passover, He included those of us present here today in his blessing of the Disciples, in His declaration of love, in His Communion of His Body and Blood, and in His High Priestly prayer.
We are tremendously blessed by Your love, Your complete acceptance, and most generous gifts. We acknowledge our unworthiness. We can barely begin to appreciate the magnitude of the gifts you have given us.
Because of all you have done in our lives, we open our hearts to give you thanks. Because of all you have given to us we lift our voices in praise.
While these promises we have read were for us, they were specifically granted to God’s Chosen People. This day Jews in Israel are surrounded by enemies who desire to drive them into the sea.
America has not only been a bastion of freedom, but also an example for all the world to see how God blesses the nation whose God is the Lord. And yet we have begun turning our backs on YHWH to pursue our own interests.
Acknowledging that we cannot live a godly life without the power of the Holy Spirit, and confessing our sins—blatant, secret and unknown to us. Let us before we come to Communion, ask Forgiveness for ourselves and confess our need for Christ.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6)
The grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; (I Timothy 1:14-15)
… that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace. (Ephesians 2:13)
… for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works, that no man should glory. (Ephesians 2:8)
Therefore, ministering to you in the name of Christ, I declare that your sins are forgiven to the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
There I sat looking out of the 4th grade window. It revealed a sparkling blue May sky. It was open to allow the dulcet breeze to waft in. The weather was unusually warm and superb for the Puget Sound region. But there I was stuck in a classroom for two more weeks. I liked my teacher and learning, but I wanted to be out in the fields with Blackie. I wasn’t thinking of all the summer farm work that was ahead. I could only think of the longing to be free. I was impatient for school to be let out and I could enjoy the beautiful, warm out-of-doors.
Had I been patient I might have thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful late May and early June weather.As it turned out that year, the day after school closed for the summer, the cold rainy Puget Sound weather set in for the rest of June. Work did not wait. Hoeing beans, gathering eggs, lopping heads off chickens and myriad farm chores buried my dreams of freedom in a cold, soggy reality.
Human nature is like that. We are pressing on into the future, too busy looking forward to smell the flowers along the way.
I suspect most people recognize the value of patience. Most people who do not have patience know they need to acquire that virtue, but they are too busy. It becomes a vicious cycle. One does not have patience, because of life’s demands. One knows life would go better it one had patience, but the business of life must not be slowed down enough to acquire it; and so life continues at an increasing pace and the longing for patience gets lost in the dust of one’s speeding into the future.
Drivers are often impatient with heavy traffic. So they change lanes to the one that seems to go faster, only to discover that the car that was behind them in the previous lane is passing them.
I have been traveling a street, and have had another driver speed by me, changing lanes furiously out of sight. A few blocks later, I have passed the furious one at a traffic light.
“Time and tide waits for no man.” St. Marher, 1225
They say that as you grow older time speeds by at an increasing pace. The pre-teen feels it is an eternity until the day he or she has the 13th Birthday! The 18 year-old girl anxiously awaits the day when she will be 21 “forever”. It doesn’t work that way. Too soon after her 21st birthday, she longs to get back to that age. The 80 year-old looks at her husband of 58 years and wonders where nearly six decades have flown.
However, time is inflexible, but is very inclusive. Each person gets exactly the same allotment of minutes in each day. There are always, for each person, 1,440 minutes each day and 365 days each year. The question is how we use them. Profitably used, they can enhance not only one’s own life, but the lives of those connected. Used negatively, they can harm others and will eventually harm oneself. Even wasted time has personal and social consequences.
Time is a very interesting element of life. We live in an instant of time. Each moment is separate from the one just past and the one yet to come. We cannot touch either the past or the future. We can neither change the past nor the future. Our triumphs in the past gather dust and others forget them all too soon. The future may be predictable but is filled with the unpredictable. The best we can do is prepare for what we expect to come.
In my youth, I read a lot of science fiction. Many authors explored time travel. There was a common understanding that to go back in time to change (perhaps improve) some event in the past can have unexpectedly dire effects on one’s present. The hero in one book determined that atomic power was too dangerous. He used atomic power to go back in time to kill Alfred Einstein. He returned to his own present in his atomic-powered time machine. He was summarily executed for possessing atomic power.
Travel into the future has other hazards. How would someone from 200 years ago adjust to live in our modern civilization? It would be a change that might drive him out of his mind.
It is much better to be patient with the time we live in. Whatever needs improving must be done in the context of our present civilization.
From John Ploughman’s Journal, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, On Patience:
“Patience is better than wisdom: An ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains. All men praise patience, but few enough practice it. It is a medicine that is good for all diseases:”
My driving habit was to drive 5-7 mph faster than the limit. My rationale was that it was fast enough to keep away from those who drove slowly and not as fast as the speedsters. It was within reason, so the police, were unlikely to notice and stop me for speeding.
I was driving at my normal speed one day, when the LORD said to me, “Scofflaw, scofflaw, scofflaw.” (the term for those who scoff at laws). He kept it up until I slowed to the speed limit. I set my cruise control and watched the other divers speed around me. Since that time, I have learned that God can still get you there on time, even when you start late.
“All things come to him that waits” is an adage that teaches patience. When you are content to wait and receive in due time what you long for, it removes much of the stress out of life. Impatience leads to worry and worry leads to anxiety, which leads to heart failure. A healthy dose of patience each day can extend your life.
There is another truth: delayed gratification is an indication of maturity. Thus being able to wait patiently for what you desire or need gives you a freedom that impatient youth do not possess. Youthful eagerness to be out of school on a sunny day was foolishness. The world does not work that way. Later in life I had enough experience to know that scheduled times would come around when their time was right, and not before. Being impatient or anxious would not bring them sooner.
“An ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains” Charles Spurgeon
What did the English Evangelist Charles Spurgeon mean when he said “An ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains”? I have been in the situation where I was trying to accomplish something by a boring, tiresome and repetitious activity. I have said to myself, “There’s got to be a better way.” I then spent time attempting to find a “better way” only to discover the time I wasted could have been better spent patiently doing the repetitive action and finish the task. Sometimes it takes more wisdom to do it the “old fashioned way”, manually, then to try to improve by mechanism or electronics.
Rushing into things actually often delays accomplishment. Whereas, approaching a problem deliberately and with patience gives you a more complete understanding and therefore a better outcome. It is better to exercise patience than to frenetically try to think of another way.
Our society has become an instant society. Instant pudding signaled the beginning. Instead of mixing ingredients, cooking them until they thickened and then decanting them into dishes to cool, cooking labs came up with thickening agents. One only has to mix the pudding powder with milk, then pour it out. As it stands, it thickens. This cuts the time significantly.
In my parent’s generation, the houses they bought were for cash. They saved for a number of years until; they had enough to buy a home. After WWII, the GI Bill and FHA were passed into law, opening up credit to millions of home buyers. My first experience with credit was Mobile Oil that issued books of punch cards that had numbers of gallons. As you turned them in you were billed for the amount.
The first general credit purchases were with metal charge plates issued by department stores. The plate carried the purchaser’s name and address. The plate was placed in a stamper that duplicated the customer’s information in carbon copy on a charge slip.
Diner’s Club was one of the first credit cards. By 1950 Diner’s Club and Bank of America had caught on. Petroleum companies were among the first to issue credit cards.
My first cards were for gasoline. My Income was short and I built up so much debt that I could not pay the monthly balances (you could not roll balances over then). I disposed of the cards and had to write humbling letters to the three companies stating that I would be charging no more gas and be paying $10.00 a month until the balances were paid off. Only one company gave me grief.
This increasing ready cash on credit fueled instant gratification and undercut the virtue of patience. No longer was delayed gratification necessary. “Easy monthly payments” were the rule of the road. There is (in my opinion) a pernicious ad on a billboard in Seattle, “Let your home provide non stop adventures”. This really means you use your home equity loan to buy your fun now and do not worry about the reality of paying it off forever.
Thus the American culture, from individuals to the National Government, has been proclaiming the gospel of instant gratification and kicking the can of consequences down the road. “Live today, for tomorrow we die,” has become the underlying dirty secret that no one will talk about. The lack of patience to acquire what we want, will require us some day to pay the piper.
Patience is a virtue that causes us to wait for the acquisition of both needs and wants. There is a great deal of satisfaction in having finally acquired something that truly belongs to us and not the bank.
The other side of patience is with other people. God created mankind to live in community. While there are hermits and recluses who live comfortably alone, they are the exception. Relationships all around us are from the instant “Your total is $89.25. Thank you, have a nice day,” to marriages of 60 years or longer.
God has created all people unique, both physically and attitudinal. Many are fun to associate with, some are pleasant, some are wishy-washy, and others are very hard to get along with.
It is easy to be patient with those who are fun and those who are pleasant. It takes more effort to be patient with the wishy-washy. And it takes long suffering patience to be in relationship with the acerbic personalities.
God teaches us that Love is patient.
“Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, ” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (Living Bible).
In older translations the Greek is μακροθυμέω, literally meaning “long-spirited”, thus “patient, long-suffering, forbearing”. This combined with kindness is one of the traits of love. This love is that which does not seek one’s own pleasure from another, but gives pleasure to another.
This love is that which does not seek one’s own pleasure from another, but gives pleasure to another.
So, patience as a trait of love is to bear the acerbity of others with kindness. Not returning in kind, but absorbing the bitterness or anger with grace. A real life situation is one where a person in fury calls you foul names, but you respond by blessing them and praying for their peace. You readily confess your fault and seek their forgiveness. When you are not at fault, you do not assert your right, but patiently bear the brunt of the anger.
Patience comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the nine fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of patience is a variation of the same word in Greek as a trait of love. This is an indication that patience is not of human origin, but is a manifestation of God in the lives of people, whether they are believers of not. The image of God is impressed upon all mankind. Tragically for some it is so smothered that evil predominates. In contast, for most people, though they do not realize the source, God’s grace comes through all their worldliness and human desires to bless others.
Each of us have problems of personality. We tend not to see them in ourselves, but can readily see them in others. Some of us are hard to live with.
“Many people are born crying, live complaining and die dlsappointed; they chew the bitter pill, which they would not even know it was bitter if they had the sense to swallow it whole with a cup of patience.” Charles Spurgeon.
That cup of patience can be administered by a loving friend who is willing to offer patience in exchange for ones tears, complaints and disappointments. People motivated by God can offer this ministry to the hurting world. God has called all people to be in relationship with one another. He has done that so the strong can help the weak; the loving can give to the unloved and the patient can bear with long-suffering the anger and bitterness of the hurting.
John 3:16 is a verse of Scripture that most people in our culture know or at least is familiar to them. This signature verse packs a world of meaning, but it can be summed up in “God gave!”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8
Another explication is in Romans 5:8. Here is the love of God made clear. Even when a person is unworthy of God’s love, even when a person is opposed to Him, God is patient with us. His love is not diminished.
“ But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Far above anything we can expect, God’s patient love is present in our lives long past the time when we continue to reject Him. From the Beginning, He knew each person who would be finally open to the Holy Spirit. In His love He made provision for each one. That provision is in the illogical, incomprehensible (but true) sacrifice of His only beloved Son to allow us to become able to be adopted into God’s family.
Jesus, God’s Son in human flesh, wholly God and wholly man, became the sacrificial Lamb of God. In our culture, the concept of a blood sacrifice is strange and even repugnant. And yet, in God’s economy that is the way sin can be cleansed. An innocent victim must die and its blood applied to cover and wash away sin. This process makes the subject clean and worthy to enter into God’s family.
God is patient to await the right moment in each person’s life when that process of applying Christ’s blood to one’s life can occur. He is long-suffering with our rebellion, but he never, never, never gives up on a person. In concord with His Father’s love, Jesus went willingly to the cross and voluntarily bore each person’s sins on His infinite shoulders. When Jesus, the Christ, died, He carried our sin into the grave and left them there when He was resurrected.
He is long-suffering with our rebellion, but he never, never, NEVER gives up on a person.
Therefore, unbelievers have not only available to them for their choosing life eternal, but also the fruit of the Spirit. Love that is patient and kind is available to believers. It is our joy to offer that to the world. The people around us are in desperate need of what we have in Christ. We have the glorious responsibility to teach the wounded where to find healing. We have the high privilege of sacrificing our comfort to bring surcease into lives of the frenetic. We have the precious opportunity of sharing the inestimable and infinite love of God with unbelievers all around us.
God grant us that joy! Hallelujah
ANSWER: The answer is simple: God ordained it. It is also infinitely complex, far beyond our understanding. God in His wisdom from before He created the world, knew that man would break fellowship with Him, sin and fall away from God. In the counsel of His wisdom and at just the right time the Son of God chose to set aside His glory and without surrendering any of His Godhead, was born fully human.
The infinite God became a finite man without diminishing Who He was as God and without being any less a man. The Son did this because He loves people so very much that He was willing to pay whatever price it took to redeem individual people.
His sacrifice of His own glory, His taking on the burden of all the sins of mankind, His willingness to subject himself to the humiliation of flogging and an horrific death, His willingness to experience His Father’s rejection of Him as sin-bearer, and finally suffer death—real cessation of life—were that price. Yes, the Son of God paid a high price for you and for me.
I cannot conceive of how God could fit into the minuscule frame of a man—physically, emotionally, mentally and into a soul. Yet it is true. This is beyond our ken, as many of the ways of God are. We look at the life of Jesus and we see simply a man was so utterly devoted to God He calls Him Father. However, that is a material perception. Yes, Jesus prayed often, perhaps continually to His Father. Still He and His father were (and are) one. God is a Trinity and inseparable.
There is another mind-boggling truth: As Jesus died on the cross, God died on the cross. He experienced real death, but God is greater than death. In so doing, God destroyed death as it encompassed the Lord Jesus Christ. He rose victorious over death as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
After His resurrection, when Jesus met with the Disciples and others, His celestial body was in material form they could handle. He could eat. Yet, the material world could not limit His body even though it was material (one of our great promises is that we, upon passing through death, the defeated enemy, will have bodies that Jesus demonstrated). Some people believe that the Son of God will always be in bodily form as He was in His resurrection appearances.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that Son of God was, is, and always will be the God/man. He identified so with His beloved creatures that He will always bear us in His image. God honors us over all creation by becoming human and bearing our image. This is a mystery that none of the angels of heaven will ever experience. Thus, mankind is truly the crown of God’s creation!
Holy Spirit, our God and One whom empowers, draw me into Christ. Cause me to yield to His control of my life. I need His cleansing of the sin in my life. I earnestly desire for Christ’s life to be manifested in my life. I cry with Paul, “For me to live is Christ.” I long for that to be true.
I confess the truth to You that “the world is too much with me.” Therefore, O Holy Spirit, I need You to empower my spirit to resist the inroads of sin. Help me control my eyes and my mind. Strengthen my spirit to use those sin-thoughts as promptings to praise the Lord and to immediately confess and surrender again and again until Christ is made manifest in my thoughts and imaginations of my heart.
My Jesus, my Savior, envelope me in Your robe of righteousness, that I may be a light of truth in this world. I recognize that I am not worthy, but You have chosen me. You are cleansing me. Build in my heart a sure foundation to contain your love. Make my heart a fit vessel that does not leak, but does overflow so that Your love that brims will spill over into the lives of those who You bring into my life.
Make me a light that shines as a beacon, drawing men and women to You. Make me into a window, transparent of self that reveals the character of the Savior—His love, His compassion, His patience, His grace.
Make me a light that shines as a beacon, drawing men and women to You. Make me into a window, transparent of self that reveals the character of the Savior—His love, His compassion, His patience, His grace. Use me, my Lord, to fulfill Your purposes in the lives of those You assign as my responsibility. Give me the resources to attract others to You. Give me the boldness to speak Your name, regardless of the cost. Give me the sensitivity to Your Spirit to hold my tongue and allow Your to work in their hearts to perform that glorious heart transplant—removing the stony heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh in love with You.
Father, my God, You have redeemed me from a Christ-less eternity. You sent Your son to save me from eternal destruction. I am acutely aware that before the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Jesus in a way I could not resist, I was hell-bent on the road to everlasting destruction. In Your infinite grace, You chose to adopt me into Your family. You, my loving Father, sent the Holy Spirit to draw me. You my gracious Creator, sent Your eternal Son to die for my sin, You, my empowering God, sent Your Spirit to arouse me to Who You are and alert me to the disaster my life was before You redeemed me.
All glory, majesty, dominion are Yours. All praise, honor, adoration belong to You, Almighty God.
Hallelujah to the One God in three Persons.