Faith and Patience

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Faith and Patience

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 30th September, 2018

I had been thinking and praying about my message for a couple of days when Venese and I had a very brief visit to Lismore Base Hospital on Friday to see our amazing friend, Shirley Stuart.

It was a really quick visit because the nursing staff – at one stage about three or four of them – were in the middle of fussing around, checking her oxygen levels, taking her blood pressure, putting up pretty green bottles of stuff that was going directly into her arm.  They were changing fluid bags and it was hectic.

But in the middle of it all we focussed our attention on Shirley because we knew she had just become aware of the extent of her illness.  For those of you who are also good friends of Shirley, I can tell you that in that brief time with her, we could see that she is as faith filled, as spiritually strong and alive, as peaceful and trusting in Jesus on the inside as she has ever been in her life.  

If we hadn’t been in a hospital, and hadn’t been surrounded by everything that hospitals represent, we could have been having one of our usual conversations that I’m sure many of you have had with Shirls, where you both come away stirred in your spirit and full of hope and faith in God’s incredible faithfulness, love and power…  

We go back at least 25 or 26 years with Shirley.  We love her to bits.

But the reason I really wanted to share that with you this morning, is because Shirley’s life, and particularly how she is dealing with her current situation, speaks directly into what I believe God is saying to us right now.

Let me read three scriptures that get to the very heart of it.

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV),  “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

And of course it goes on later in chapter 11 to testify to those who were great examples as overcomers, with life changing and life filled faith.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 (NKJV),  “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,”

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NKJV),  “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,”

These three scriptures are the foundation of this message.

And I find it really interesting that faith and patience are two qualities of our Christian life that go hand in hand.

If you want to inherit the promises of God for your life, you are going to have to walk in both faith and patience to see those promises come to pass.

Two of the qualities that will be part of your endurance and perseverance through times of persecution, tribulation and trials in your life, with be faith and patience.

Our Senior Pastor and boss back in our Brisbane COC days was David McDonald.  He said he only ever had one message, and it was faith!  That was so true.  Every message he ever preached was about faith.  Whenever the staff had to spontaneously and randomly get up and preach a 5 minute message on faith in the middle of our staff meetings – and you can only imagine how much I loved that – David would always say, bring us a message on faith!

But I don’t recall David ever speaking about faith and patience together.  He might have; I just don’t remember.

I want to share with you why it’s really important to understand why these two qualities are specifically mentioned together.

Firstly – what is faith?  (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith has substance about it.  Faith is different to just hope on its own. Hope, when it’s not connected with God or His Word is like wishful thinking.  It’s not tied to anything.  There’s no substance to it.  It’s like – I hope I have a good life.  I hope I get a good job.  I hope the world doesn’t go crazy more than it already has.  I hope I get over this sickness.    

They are really wishy washy statements that don’t carry any power, or to be honest, any real promise of change. 

But faith – faith is grounded in the truth of God’s Word.  There are biblical foundations and keys for living that are very specific to our lives today.  There are examples of people who have walked through similar things to us, and through faith in God and His Word, they have overcome – they have conquered their obstacles.  So we have substance, confidence, evidence and certainty because God and His Word are true.

Just while we are on that, Romans 10:17 (NKJV) says, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We’ll come back to that in a minute.

What about patience?

Now this is where I see Shirley shining right now.

Do you know what I see with Shirley as she walks through this really difficult time?  She hasn’t changed!  Her faith in God hasn’t changed – and her countenance and her attitude haven’t changed.  She’s still the same old Shirley.  Her body might be weak – but her spirit is as strong as ever.  

What does that have to do with patience?

Well patience in the New Testament isn’t just about waiting passively for whatever will be will be.

Patience is about remaining steadfast, consistent, with patient endurance.  You could say that patience is being able to remain consistently the same no matter what circumstances you are facing.

Patience is so closely linked to faith because very often, the thing we are believing for doesn’t necessarily happen straight away.  So patience is needed in the period of time between when you set your faith on “something”, and the moment that “something’ actually comes to pass.

This is so different to the person who says, I’m believing God for such and such, but I’m getting frustrated waiting, I’m starting to think that God doesn’t care, I’m ripping my hair out because it’s taking way too long and where is God anyway?  

That’s not patience.  That’s hoping it will all work out, but not really having a solid anchor of faith and hope to keep you grounded and steadfast.

Jesus Himself said:  (Luke 21:10-19, NKJV),  “…“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great  earthquakes in various places, (look at what’s happened in Indonesia just yesterday) and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons.  You will be brought before kings and rulers  for My name’s sake. But  it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will  answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom  which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or  resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put  some of you to death. And  you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.

Who knows if this will happen in Australia in our time.  It may.  It’s certainly happening in other nations around the world.

 Are we to be fearful and distressed and running around like chooks with our head cut off?  No!  Jesus says – “by your patience possess your souls.”

In other words, let your patience cause you to be steadfast, confident and stable and secure… and let your soul (your mind, your will and your emotions) be grounded and remain unchanged even in the face of trouble and strife.

This is a word for some of you this morning.  You are declaring words of faith – you are trying your hardest to trust God in your circumstances…  but now it’s time to lift the bar a bit and possess your soul…  and tell your soul to be quiet!  Tell your emotions to line up with your faith and what you really do believe!  Exercise your will and decide that you are going to patiently wait on the Lord.

These might sound like tough words when you are going through an emotional time…  

Don’t get me wrong…   It’s OK to express your emotions.  It’s definitely OK to be real about your circumstances.  But we can’t let our emotions rule our soul because if we aren’t looking to get our strength and wisdom from God, we’ll most likely look at medicating our emotions with something else.

If you think that’s hard – listen to James.  

James 1:2-8 (NKJV),  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is  a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Where do I start?  

Count it joy when you fall into various trials.  Really?  Joy?  

God is always looking at the bigger picture.  

He’s not testing you!  He’s testing your faith!  He’s not testing whether you really love Him.  He’s not testing your salvation.  He’s not trying to break you.

He says that the testing of your “faith” produces patience.  And when patience is allowed to have its perfect work in your life you become complete – lacking nothing.

That would be an awesome place to be.  Complete and lacking nothing!

But faith doesn’t produce God’s kind of patience if we are in unbelief – if we actually doubt that what we are believing for will come to pass.

Far from being steadfast and stable we become like a wave tossed around in the ocean – like an double minded, unstable person.  

As much as I’m personally not a fan of tribulation… I can see that God uses those things to develop my character – to refine me – to strengthen me.  And if the end result is being made perfect, complete and lacking nothing, then in the big picture, that has to be a good thing!

Those who don’t know Jesus, who trust in the things of this world, are constantly looking for whatever makes them happy.  Happiness is the goal.  How often do you hear people say about their own children, “as long as they’re happy…”

But the trouble with happiness is that it’s only around when things are going good.  Happiness depends on circumstances.

What God so wants for us as Christians is that we are filled with joy.  And the joy I’m talking about is part of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 (NKJV) – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering… etc.”

Joy comes from knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit on the inside.  True joy doesn’t come and go – it remains always deep on the inside.

Shirley has a joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.  Her physical body is under attack – but her joy is causing her to laugh regardless.

I mentioned before that we have to be real about the things we are facing.  God hasn’t called us to pretend that things are OK when they are not.  He hasn’t called us to live in denial and unreality and become weird.

Nevertheless, our words carry power, and they reflect where our faith and patience are at.  

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV),  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

The truth is, we will eat the fruit of our words…  one way or another.  

If we speak death and fear and unbelief over our circumstances, then we will eat the fruit of the effects of those words.

But if we face the reality of our circumstances, and then speak words of faith and life and Word-based hope over them, we will eat the fruit of that!

What words are you speaking over your life, your future, your marriage, your finances, your family?  We eat the fruit of our words!

In that place between the declarations of faith and the moment the answer comes – that place of waiting – do our words reflect steadfastness and confidence and total trust that God is in control and His will is perfect?

Do we believe that our character and Christ-likeness – our perfection and completeness – are being hewn in the Master Carpenters workshop – with a bit of chiseling here, a bit of polishing there, a bit of sandpapering, some rubbing of iron against iron…

How much do we want to please God with our life?  

In that incredible chapter that highlights the lives of those filled with faith, it says:

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV),  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

We won’t please God without faith – faith that is patient, steadfast waiting and endurance.

Diligently seeking Him includes diligently seeking His Word.

How can we put our faith in His Word if we don’t know what it says?

How can we grow in our faith if we don’t read His Word?

Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God!

We have all been given a measure of faith as a gift.  But faith grows and matures and develops within us through the Word.

If we don’t know what the Word says, then all we can do is hope in general that everything will be OK.   

But I love it that we can search out the word and find those scriptures that speak of healing.  We can seek out what the word says about finances.  We can seek out what the Word specifically says about marriage, about the future, about church…  The bible is a manual for living.

And when we put our trust and faith in what it says, God is really really pleased.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV),  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

God so desires to reward us for a life lived by faith.  There are rewards in this life – but they can’t be compared to the rewards that are stored up for us in heaven.  

But there’s something in the waiting.  He is in the waiting!  He is in the Word filled with promises.  He is in the future.  He is in eternity.

We have so much to be thankful for.  Our very lives are gifts from Him.  Our salvation is a gift from Him.  Surely that’s enough reason to want to please Him by living a life of faith!

Colossians 1:10-14 (NKJV),  “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,  being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

All we can do is respond in faith.  We can’t earn anything.  We don’t deserve anything.  We have nothing within ourselves that we can bring.

But we can please God simply by stirring up within us the gift of God that He has place there Himself.  Stir it up in worship.  Stir it up by speaking out your own testimony.  Stir it up by reading and meditating on the Word of God. 

Just a last thought…  Even in the midst of the terrifying and incredible things that the Apostle John experienced as it was revealed to him the revelation of heaven and the end times,  he says:

Revelation 14:12 (NKJV),  “Here is the patience of the saints; here  are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

Faith and patience will be our testimony as Christ’s followers right until the end.

I believe we are meant to be cultivating our speech and our actions in a way that pleases God…  and that begins with faith…  and it grows and endures with patience.

If you are unsure where to start, why don’t you at least spend some time going over this word…  it’s on our website.  I’ve used a lot of scriptures as I always do.  And I’ll never polities for that.  It’s the Word that changes us.  But there’s so much more I feel God wants to entrust us with.  If we take a step towards Him – I know that He will faithfully lead us into more.  We are born for more!

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