PATIENCE

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PATIENCE-cheerful endurance or tolerating difficulties or delay without getting angry.  As a society, and even in our Christian society we tolerate impatience.  I believe it is one of the foremost acceptable sins that is tolerated as part of an individual’s character.  We enjoy being in the presence of a patient person, yet if someone is impatient we tolerate it.  I have spent the last 24 hours considering patience, reading Scripture about patience, and being convicted about my impatience.  I had to ask myself, “What causes me to be impatient?”  After studying Scripture and spending time in contemplative thought with the Lord, I realized that my pride is what causes me to be impatient.  My needs or schedule causes me to be impatient because I think that what I am doing is more important than what anyone else is doing. I get behind a car that is dawdling or wait at an excessively long red light, I begin to get impatient.  Someone does not perform a task or take care of something the way I think they should, I get impatient.  So the secret for acquiring patience is not by asking God to give us patience and give it to us right now.  Rather, it is dying to ourselves.

 

Humility is the key to patience.  It is putting the needs of someone else ahead of our own.  It is walking in another’s shoes and realizing that the trials they have are just as difficult as our own.  As Jesus walked the earth, He knew what was coming-His death on a cross.  Yet, this did not overshadow His earthly ministry with His followers.  When His disciples wanted the seats of pre-eminence in the kingdom, He did not lash out at them.  He patiently answered their question.  On Jesus’ way to raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead, He took some time to heal the woman with the issue of blood.  He did not rush past her knowing He had more important business to accomplish.  He made her feel like she was the most important person at that moment.  Patience, not our favorite quality, yet Jesus time and time again emulated for us what patience looks like lived out on a daily basis.  Patience does not come from being good at waiting, rather patience comes from being good at denying ourselves.  Remember, we do not truly understand another person’s life unless we have walked a mile in their shoes.  So before we fly off the handle at someone for their inconvenience in our lives or their seeming ineptness, walk in their shoes.  Stop and share a word of cheer rather than a word of irritation.  That word may change the situation for everyone involved.

 

James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work that you may be complete, lacking nothing.”

 

Danielle gave me a lovely gift for Christmas.  It is a cutting board with the “recipe for a good Mom” written on it.  On it are various quantities of a good Mom, and of course the first one is 2 cups of patience.  I told Danielle that needs to be changed to 2 teaspoons for me.  My goal is not patience but rather humility hoping that through my humility patience will be produced.  Yet, my goal is not really humility, rather it is seeing myself for who I truly am in relation to God.  I am a sinner saved by God’s grace deserving nothing but hell, yet receiving eternal life.

JOY

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JOY-We have all met someone that exuded joy.  No matter their circumstances they have a smile on their face and a word of encouragement on their lips.  It is not forced, but rather it flows from their very pores.  I love to be in the presence of these people.  They want to know how the other person is and without even knowing it their joy in life rubbed off and we walk away with a spring in our step and a lighter heart.

 

If we love to be round people that overflow with joy, then what do we need in order to have this joy.  First, we must realize that joy is not based on circumstances, but rather it is our attitude toward our circumstances.  If our attitude in life is based on the circumstances in our life, then we will never have joy.  However, if our attitude is what affects our circumstances then we possess joy.  Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it.”

 

Our daughter, Denise, had a rough couple of years.  At 15, after suffering with intermittent symptoms underwent an eight hour brain surgery to remove a cavernous angioma.  This is a tangled bunch of blood vessels that she was born with.  Hers began to leak blood and this caused the symptoms she was experiencing.  After waiting for six months for her skull to completely heal, she was able to return to playing soccer.  After playing for almost two months, she tore her ACL and was sidelined for nine months.  Again, this was a bizarre injury that caused me to shake my head and wonder why this happened.  Through all of this time of being on the sidelines and not able to play soccer, or do many things that an active teenager enjoys doing, she had a great attitude.  Through it all she never complained, she never pouted, and whenever she talked with anyone she always had a spirit of joy that flowed from her life and lips. (When she gets up in the morning this spirit of joy is not always presentJ).

 

We are all faced with challenging situations in life, but how do we choose to respond to them?  How do we choose to interact with others despite the challenges in our own lives?  Are we joy givers or joy suckers?  When we interact with others, do they walk away from us with a spring in their step because we over flow with joy, or do they walk away with stooped shoulders and hung head because we were a joy sucker?  The sad thing about the joy sucker is that even when they suck away all of our joy, they are no more joyful than before they interacted with us.

 

I am reminded of the verse in Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  The birth of Jesus brought hope and joy to the world.  Those of us that believe and have a relationship with Jesus need to let the joy of the Lord flow from hearts and our lives.

 

Merry Christmas!

Compassion

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No one wanted to touch him.  He was bleeding on the side of the road, moaning in pain.  A victim of a band of thieves left to die in the blistering sun.  No companion along on the journey to help fight off the thieves or help bind up his wounds.  People saw him, they walked by him on the other side of the road, his own countrymen to be exact.  His own countrymen that were supposed to be of the religious elite.  They spoke about obeying the law, but their lives were a different story.  So they passed on with a sideways glance and a desire to keep themselves clean.  The situation seemed rather hopeless for this poor injured man left to die on the side of the road, until a foreigner approached.  “…When he saw him, he had compassion.”  (Luke 10:33).  This foreigner knelt down and tended the wounds and placed him on his donkey and took him to an inn to be cared for, paying completely and generously for the injured man’s stay.  Jesus tells us “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37).

 

Have you had the opportunity to do likewise?  I have cried with friends and they have cried with me.  This is the feeling of compassion.  The “sympathetic pity and concern for the misfortunes and sufferings of others accompanied by a desire to alleviate the suffering.” (Dictionry.com). But have you gone out of your way to such an extent as this Good Samaritan did? Let me tell you my story.

 

One early morning, I was coming home from the grocery store.  (If you go at 6 a.m. you do not have to deal with all the crowds and this task gets accomplished much more quickly).  I had just made a left turn when the car in front of me ran off the road and plowed into a tree.  I stopped my car, called 911, and got out to make sure this woman was okay.  She was able to get out of her car too and assured me she was okay.  She began to tell me her story. She had recently gotten married and moved to the area and did not know anyone and her husband was at work and she was afraid to tell him about the accident.  She was very distraught. I had a car full of groceries that needed to be taken care of, so I told her I would go home and put away my groceries and come back to help her.  By the time I returned the tow truck had arrived so I waited with her while they loaded her car.  I took her home…which was 30 minutes away.  She was still so upset even as we drove home about making sure she got to her next job so I assured her I would drive her to her next job.  She wanted to go home and get changed quickly for that job.  So I sat in her kitchen… and waited… and waited…and waited.  I am not the most patient person and I did have my own job that I needed to get to. She decided she needed a shower, not just a quick change of her clothes.  On the way to her job (another 30 minutes away), she wanted to stop for coffee.  So we stopped…she didn’t even offer to buy me one.   By the time I got her to work, my entire morning was gone and I still needed get to my own job.  I struggled with my attitude and her ungrateful and “take advantage” attitude.  I had compassion at the beginning of the journey, but it soon turned to impatience and frustration the more ungrateful and self-centered she became.

 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, God does not say anything about the receiver of our compassion.  He only says we are to go and do likewise.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:40 “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” I was reminded of this throughout my journey with this women, yet I was shocked by her attitude of entitlement. Obviously, God still has some work to do in my heart.  At Christmas, it is easy to be compassionate and givers of good gifts.  Tis the season, but we must remember that if it were not for the compassion of our Savior there would be no reason to celebrate this season.  How many times am I ungrateful to my Savior for what He has done for me, the self-sacrificing compassion He had for me?  May you have a Merry Christmas!

Humility

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Humility.  What comes to mind when this word is mentioned?  Who comes to mind when this word is mentioned?  Maybe the famous song by Mac Davis comes to mind, “O Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.  I can’t wait to look in the mirror.  I get better looking each day.  To know me is to love me…”  I am pretty confident that God is not pleased with this level of humility, nor are we endearing to those around us when we think and act this way.

 

Humility is one of those qualities that is a product.  It is not like patience or kindness that we must make a conscious effort to work on in our lives.  Humility is not calling attention to our acts of service or the many qualities that we may have.  According to I Peter 5:5 “…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  This tells us that our humility comes with a reward from God, grace.  Rather than clamoring and clawing our way to get what we feel we deserve through the boasting of our many good deeds, our many fine virtues, or our indestructible character; we live our lives in humility and God will give us grace.  Would we not much rather receive the good things we do not deserve (the definition of grace), rather than fight our way to the things we think we deserve?

 

I love Christmas.  I love the songs of Christmas, the Christmas books, Christmas baking, special Christmas food, etc.  One of the things I especially enjoy is the thoughtfulness at Christmas.  I enjoy thinking of a gift to give someone that totally surprises them and brings joy to their face and that warm fuzzy feeling in their heart.  This is what God’s grace is like.  He gives us what we do not deserve, and when we receive it we are even more humbled that God thought enough of us to give us this gift, even though we do not deserve it.

 

So how do we go about putting humility into our lives?  We cannot be humble if we keep expecting God to give us any type of grace.  It is not going to God and saying, “I was humble in this particular situation, so what do You have for me?”  As I Peter 5:5 says we must “clothe ourselves with humility.”  It becomes a part of our everyday attire that we do not think about we just are.  C.S. Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  Rather than put yourself down when someone gives you a compliment, say “thank-you” and give God the glory.  A humble person does not draw attention to themselves, yet after we have been with a person with true humility we are a different person.  They left a trail of joy, a smile on our faces, and that warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

 

It’s easy at Christmas to think of ourselves less, tis the season.  What about when Christmas is over and the doldrums of January hit?  True humility is not fickle, changing with the wind, rather it is a becoming outfit that when practiced in a truly godly way leaves smiles and tears of joy.  Be encouraged.  God’s grace is a much greater gift than anything we could demand ourselves.

Love

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I remember a conversation I had while in college.  (Those were the years we had to define everything, quantify everything, and solve everything.)  The discussion on the table was, “What is love?”  My reply was quite simple, “Love is a feeling and a commitment.”  Someone said, “No, it is just a feeling.”  My reply to them was, “No, because there will be days when there are no feelings, and on those days the commitment is what holds the relationship together.”

 

Our feelings are so fickle.  May be your feelings are not fickle, but mine are.  I can be laughing one minute and crying the next.  This week-end I was actually doing both at the same time, and I was not crying because I was laughing so hard.

 

I am teaching the 3rd -6th grade young ladies at church from Ephesians 2:8-10.  The purpose of these lessons has been to teach them what our purpose in life is.  According to Ephesians 2:10 “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Our purpose in life is to perform the good works that we were created for.  Before we can even perform these good works, though, we must be a child of God.  We learn about that from Ephesians 2:8, 9.

 

So what then is our purpose?  What are the “good works” that we are to perform?  We must love!  If we look at Philippians 2, we see that we are to have “the same mind, and the same love” as Jesus.  What kind of love did He have?  Sacrificial love.  Was His love based on how He felt or the commitment He had to His Father and to us believers?  His love was based on a commitment.  Jesus being fully human and fully God at the same time was able to understand our frailties.  Is there a time while Jesus was on the earth that He did not sacrifice?  Was there a time that He was not faithful to the commitment He had made to His Father and to us?  No.  He healed thousands, He fed thousands, He counseled thousands, and He taught thousands.  If we are to have the same love and the same mind that Jesus had than what does that mean for us?  We must sacrifice.  We must love not based on how we feel, what we will receive in return, or if it is easy.  We must love as Christ did.

 

We see as Christ agonized in the Garden over what was to come, that if He was not completely committed to the will of His Father, He would have not followed through…but we know that He did.  This shows us even with Christ that His level of commitment was higher than His emotions.

 

So how do we love?  Christ is not calling us to die on a cross.  He is not asking us to feed thousands with a few small fish and loaves.  He is not asking us to teach thousands.  What if our commitment to love sacrificially changed the course of one person’s life?  Would it be worth the sacrifice?  Rather than theorize about it like we did in college, do something about it.  Sacrifice in your love.  Stay committed.  Don’t let the tide of your emotions change the way you treat another.  LOVE!