Patience

Our VBS this year was about the Fruit of the Spirit.  So, naturally, the Fruit of the Spirit has been on my mind a lot lately.  By now, we all know the song that Allen taught us, so we know that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is one of those, in particular, that I want to talk about because it is the one that I struggle with, and I know if I struggle with it, other people struggle with it as well.  That one is………………………………………………………………………………………….patience.  I was blessed this year to be able to write the puppet shows for VBS.  I wrote four.  Peace, Joy, Kindness, and Patience.  Patience was the most difficult.  Not because I had a hard time figuring out what to write, but because I had a very hard time keeping it inside a time limit.  It ended up being the longest of the four, and I still have more to say on the topic.

2Pe 1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2Pe 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
2Pe 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Wow.  That’s some good stuff.  Peter tells us that we have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness and we got those things through our knowledge of Jesus.  He tells us that we have been promised great and precious things.  That we can be partakers of the divine nature because we escape the evil of the world.  These are all things that we really want.

2Pe 1:5  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 1:6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2Pe 1:7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
2Pe 1:8  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here, Peter tells us that to the faith he already talked about above, that we should add virtue, and to that knowledge, and to that temperance, and to that patience, and to that godliness, and to that brotherly kindness, and to that love.  Notice how these thing build on each other.  If we don’t have faith, we won’t be virtuous because we won’t care about being Christ-like.  And if we aren’t virtuous we won’t care at all about being knowledgeable.  Then, for folks who struggle with patience, he takes to meddling.  He tells us that to knowledge we should add temperance, and to that patience, and then we can move on to things like godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  I don’t think it’s a mistake that he put love last.  I think Peter is trying to tell us that to truly love our brothers and sisters the way that Christ did, we have to have all these other things first.  As Greg talked about on Sunday, some of the early ones are pretty easy, but as we move on down the list, it gets harder.  Faith in Jesus and baptism isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.  And we are to constantly be working toward the end of the list.  To do that, we have to get over that patience hump.

And that’s where it gets difficult, at least for me.  Sometimes I want to spit out exactly what’s on my mind.  I feel like someone has wronged me or said something out of turn and I just want to let loose with what’s on my mind.  Sometimes, I want something and I want it now.  Often, what I want is a thing.  But, more often what I want is for someone to act in some certain way.  Sometimes, I want God to do something and I want him to use my time table instead of His own.  To get over that patience hump we may have to make a lot of changes.  We may have to grow a little thicker skin.  We may have to give our brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt more.  We may have to practice keeping our mouth closed when our first inclination is to open and let someone have a piece of our mind.  And most of all, we need to ask God to help us, and He will.

2Pe 1:9  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
2Pe 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Peter gives us a warning here.  He says that those who lack these things are blind.  And worse than that, that he has forgotten that he was purged from his old sin.  He goes on to say that we should give diligence to working on those things.  That is the second time he has said that we need to be diligent.  The first time was up in verse 5.  So, he started by telling us to be diligent and he ended by telling us again.

Now, I said before that if we ask God to help us with these things, He will.  But, He will not do them for us.  We aren’t just going to wake up one morning and be magically patient.  It’s going to take work on our part.  And sometimes, that work is hard.  That’s why Peter tells us to be diligent.  And he gives further encouragement in the next two verses.

2Pe 1:11  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:12  Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

He reminds us that we will have a place in the kingdom of God if we strive to work on these things.  And then he tells us that he will not be negligent in reminding us of these things.  And he hasn’t.  It’s written down for us to look at any time we need to.  And even though we know them, it never hurts to be reminded of them again because we all need reminders every now and then.

Maybe, like me, patience is your hurdle.  Lay that on God and He will help you.  You can also lay that on your brothers and sisters and they will help you too.  Maybe patience isn’t a problem for you, but maybe one of these other things is your hurdle.  God is just as willing to help you with that problem.  And your brothers and sisters are ready to help you too.

Maybe you have never put on Christ, and you’re thinking, “I need those things in my life.  I need temperance.  I need patience.  I need love.”  It can be yours to have.  All that it takes is for you to repent of your sins, a turning away from the sinful things in your life.  To confess before men that you believe Jesus is Lord and is the only way to eternal life.  To be buried in baptism with Him for the remission of those sins so that you can rise to walk a new life, a clean life, a loving life.  Everything is ready.  There’s no need to wait.  In coming to Jesus, it’s ok to be impatient.

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More Than a Conqueror

Growing up, I hated history.  To me it was endless dates and boring facts about people who have been dead forever.  I didn’t see the point of learning what size shoes George Washington wore.

But, then I got older and thanks to a coincidence involving me being sick, the TV being on the History Channel, and a lost remote control, I gained an appreciation for History.  So, I’m going to do something I vowed I would never do and that is talk about some of those people who have been dead forever.  I promise there won’t be a quiz.

Through out history there have been lots of conquerors.  I want to talk about 3 of them.  All of them did some good things and all of them did some bad things.  All of them left a lasting legacy that persists to this day.

Alexander the Great

(356-323 B.C.), king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and one of the greatest military geniuses of all times.

Alexander was one of the greatest generals of all time, noted for his brilliance as a tactician and troop leader and for the rapidity with which he could traverse great expanses of territory. He was usually brave and generous, but could be cruel and ruthless when politics demanded. The theory has been advanced that he was actually an alcoholic having, for example, killed his friend Clitus in a drunken fury. He later regretted this act deeply. As a statesman and ruler he had grandiose plans; according to many modern historians he cherished a scheme for uniting the East and the West in a world empire, a new and enlightened “world brotherhood of all men.” He trained thousands of Persian youths in Macedonian tactics and enrolled them in his army. He himself adopted Persian manners and married Eastern wives, namely, Roxana and he encouraged and bribed his officers to take Persian wives. Shortly before he died, Alexander ordered the Greek cities to worship him as a god. Although he probably gave the order for political reasons, he was, in his own view and that of his contemporaries, of divine birth. The order was largely nullified by his death shortly after he issued it.

Napoleon

(1769-1821), emperor of the French, whose imperial dictatorship ended the French Revolution (1789-1799) while consolidating the reforms it had brought about. One of the greatest military commanders of all time, he conquered much of Europe.

Napoleon was a driven man, never secure, never satisfied. “Power is my mistress,” he said. His life was work-centered; even his social activities had a purpose. He could bear amusements or vacations only briefly. His tastes were for coarse food, bad wine, cheap snuff. He could be charming—hypnotically so—for a purpose. He had intense loyalties—to his family and old associates. Nothing and no one, however, were allowed to interfere with his work.

Napoleon was sometimes a tyrant and always an authoritarian, but one who believed in ruling by mandate of the people, expressed in plebiscites. He was also a great enlightened monarch—a civil executive of enormous capacity who changed French institutions and tried to reform the institutions of Europe and give the Continent a common law. Few deny that he was a military genius.

William the Conqueror

was Duke of Normandy from 1035 and King of England from 1066 to his death.

To claim the English crown, William invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson (who died in the conflict) at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest.

His reign, which brought Norman culture to England, had an enormous impact on the subsequent course of England in the Middle Ages. In addition to political changes, his reign also saw changes to English law, a program of building and fortification, changes to the vocabulary of the English language, and the introduction of continental European feudalism into England.

In 1051, citizens in a town William was besieging, taunted him about being illegitimate. Once the town had fallen to him, he ordered that those who had abused him should have their hands and feet cut off.

These are just a few of the conquerors in our past, but there is one thing that none of them could conquer.  Death.  There has only been one person that has conquered death.  One person that controlled death.  And that person is Jesus.

Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom 8:38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We will probably never be conquerors of lands and people.  We will probably never have a lasting legacy of the type that the men I mentioned have.  But, through Jesus Christ, we can become more than mere conquerors.  These verses let us know that, through Christ, we can become great.  We can become conquerors of death, conquerors of sin, and conquerors of anything that tries to keep us away from the love of Christ.

These verses let us know that there is no problem, no suffering, no trial, no disaster, no persecution, no worry, no power, no enemy, no person, no sin and not even death can keep us from God.  All we have to do is accept his gift.

Maybe you have weight of a huge burden on your shoulders.  That burden can’t keep you away.  God can take care of it.
Maybe you have a ton of guilt.  It can’t keep you away.  God can lift it.
Maybe you want to start living your life for God.  You want to repent of your sin, confess the name of Jesus, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sin.  Nothing can keep you away.  God can remove the sin.

There is nothing God can’t handle.  God is always ready to make you more than a conqueror.