The title for the sermon this morning is “Just be Patient.”
Three words we all love to hear.
I made a list this week of some of the worst seasons of waiting:
- Waiting while your Mom shops for clothes at the department stores.
- Sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office while you’re sick.
- Waiting for your cast to come off
- Waiting for your sibling to get out of the bathroom.
- Waiting in the car to get home at the end of a road trip.
- Waiting for summer break (can I get an amen?)
- Waiting for the baby to arrive (our church wouldn’t know anything about that)
Waiting is hard. There are seasons of waiting for discomfort to end. There are seasons of waiting for good that’s coming.
Life is full of waiting. It can be said that the Christian life is one long wait.
Some of us are waiting for our spouse to change or our marriage to break free from a cycle of conflict and discontentment.
Some of us are waiting for answers to questions we just can’t get clarity about.
Some of us are waiting for tangible results and some kind of sign that we are doing something right in our parenting.
Some of us are waiting for a blessing or life change we’ve been praying about for years.
Some of us are waiting for healing after a lifetime of hurt and open wounds.
Sometimes we get tired of waiting. Sometimes we want to quit. Sometimes other paths tempt us.
James has something to say for those times.
Let’s read James 5:7-11.
I heard a Bible teacher observe that there are three situations in this passage that require particular patience:
- Uncontrollable circumstances
- Unchangeable people
- Unsolvable problems
James is writing to Jewish Christians, many of them who are poor, and most of them who are experiencing intense persecution because of their commitment to the gospel of Jesus. Many of them had lost jobs and families because of their faith. They were enduring significant difficulties and the message of Jesus to them was “be patient”.
James begins with an example of someone who knows patience – the farmer.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
A farmer’s life is a life of sowing and waiting.
The Christian life is like that.
The farmer sows today for a harvest he won’t taste until tomorrow.
The Christian life is like that.
We sow seeds today for a harvest we can’t see and won’t taste until another day.
That kind of life requires patient waiting. This morning I want to work through 4 elements of patient waiting in James 5.
Patient waiting requires faith.
Do you every hear the phrase “wait on God” and get a little confused? What does that look like? Am I just supposed to passively wait until God miraculously arrives?
The farmer waits on God by plowing his field, sowing his seed, watching for weeds and pests and preparing for harvest time. He doesn’t know when the rain is coming, he cannot control the weather, but he does his part while he waits for God to do his part.
This is faith.
Experience tells the farmer that rain has come every season of his life so far. Reason tells him it is highly likely the rain will come again.
Faith wakes up in the morning and sows the seeds.
He works on what he can control and he waits on what is beyond his control.
Patience for the Christian is an active virtue. In this passage James uses two words interchangeably: patience and steadfastness.
Patience means bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint, steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.
Steadfastness means firm in belief, determination or adherence.
Patience refers to our attitude in response to difficulty or delay.
Steadfastness refers to our continued action in response to difficulty and delay.
The opposite of patience is impatience: not willing to wait for something, becoming annoyed at delays, easily annoyed at someone’s mistakes or because you have to wait. The opposite of steadfastness is wavering or surrendering.
The greatest tragedy is a person who has labored for years, sowing seeds and waiting on God and then reaches a breaking point and gives in.
DON’T GIVE IN.
I think that many of the times we feel stuck in life it’s not because we don’t know what to do next. We know what to do. We just don’t want to do it. We’re tired. We can’t see the results. So we quit.
To the farmer, the grain gathered at harvest time is a precious treasure. It is
the expectation of receiving that treasure that motivates the farmer.
What’s the precious treasure for us?
The coming of the Lord.
The word is Parousia. The word refers to the arrival of a king or dignitary. It is used in the NT to refer to the day when Jesus returns to judge the wicked, rescue the righteous and establish the kingdom of God on earth.
Have you ever attended the arrival of a famous person?
The great treasure of the Christian life is the arrival of Jesus.
He will come to judge the wicked, rescue the righteous, reward the faithful
and make all things new.
He will bring . . .
The answer to our deepest questions.
The healing of our deepest wounds.
The righting of our greatest wrongs.
The fulfilment of our deepest desires.
The farmer sows seeds today for the precious harvest of grain tomorrow.
The farmer remembers harvest times of the past, he remembers the paycheck
and the full silos and the feasting. So he works and he waits.
His vision fills the tank when patience is running on empty.
How’s your vision?
Many Christians lack vision because they don’t know anything about the
return of the Lord. As long as the 2nd coming of Jesus is an abstract concept, it
will never have any power in a person’s life. So how about you? Do you know
what the Bible says about the arrival of Jesus in glory?
“Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we are waiting for.”
Let me give you 9 passages every Christian should know:
- Acts 1:11
- John 14:1-3
- Isaiah 25:6-8
- Isaiah 30:26
- Isaiah 33:17
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-55
- 2 Thessalonians 4:15-18
- Revelation 21:1-5
- Revelation 22:1-5
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
“The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”
“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.”
“51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:51-55
“15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
“21 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,'[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
The return of Christ is the one great sustaining vision of the Christian life.
Without it, the Christian life doesn’t make sense.
Without it, the Christian life is unsustainable.
Are you tired? Do you irritable and sick of your circumstances?
You need to be reminded of the return of Christ.
Can you hear it? The deep, resonant tones of a trumpet filling the air.
A great, might voice calling your name.
Can you sense it? A tingling from head to toe, a feeling of power coursing through your body and of weightlessness as your feet begin to leave the ground.
Can you see it? A sea of bodies rising together in wonder, gathering in the air and bursting out in the most incredible song the universe has ever heard.
Can you feel it? A wave of joyful ecstasy washing away sorrow. A flood of peace, driving away the strain and stress.
Can you imagine it? All self-consciousness, every ounce of shame and guilt and inhibition has disappeared forever. There’s no longer any hint of pride or greed or lust – just pure and perfect desire and complete and total fulfilment.
“Do you know it? The realization that everything you have experienced to this point was just an introductory chapter. That you are standing on the threshold of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on for ever, and every chapter is better than the one before.”
(C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle)
This is the vision that drives the Christian life.
Waiting well requires heart.
Establish your hearts, James tells us in verse 8.
What does it mean to establish your heart?
To establish something is to make it firm and stable, to put on a firm basis.
The word is used in agriculture and gardening.
A plant is established when it is deeply rooted in good soil.
You can’t just buy a plant and stick it into the ground. You have to prepare the soil, you have to water and monitor the plant until it’s roots take and it becomes strong on its own.
Our hearts are like that.
What soil is your heart sending its roots into?
The human heart requires deep and rich soil to thrive.
Strengthening your heart may mean living with unfulfilled desire.
This is very difficult to do.
But you’ll never strengthen your heart by giving it away to the lesser pleasures of this world.
Little Debbie snack cakes may feel really good in your mouth, but they have nothing to offer your body when it needs strength.
Many Christians make the mistake of believing that endurance requires killing your heart.
Killing your desire will never give you true endurance. It will only make you weak.
“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The challenge for us is that the only soil rich and deep enough for the human heart can’t be found in this world.
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”
Waiting well requires grace
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
James has been very clear about this throughout his letter.
Judgment without mercy will be shown to the one who judges without mercy.
You can’t experience the grace of God and withhold grace from others.
The challenge for us is that the moments that require patience from us make us irritable.
Do you have someone difficult in your life?
Pray one of two prayers:
Thank you Jesus that you love this person and that you died to make them yours. thank you that someday you are going to take them home.
Thank you Jesus that you love this person and died for them, please use me to help them know that.
Waiting well requires good examples
Job is a good example because he really suffered. Nobody can say Job didn’t understand pain and sorrow.
Job is a good example because he endured so faithfully. No one can say I’ve tried like Job did.
Job is a good example because in the end even Job faltered. His patience ran dry and he all he had to bring to God was doubts and questions.
Job was a living demonstration of what happens when uncontrollable circumstances turn South and Murphy’s law becomes reality.
Job was a living demonstration of what happens when unchangeable people with good intentions become intolerable and won’t go away.
Job was a living demonstration of what happens when the pressure of unsolvable problems becomes unbearable.
And when Job questioned the goodness and fairness of God, he became a living example of what happens when a merciful and compassionate God meets with a Christian whose patience has run dry.
God met Job and gave him the most priceless gift a human can receive – a direct encounter with the glory of their creator. And then God gave Job more material blessings than he had ever known.
Job became that example for us, because he was still there when the storm arrived.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Do you know that?
It’s very difficult to trust and unknown future to an unknown God.
But you don’t have to do you?
You have the example of Job.
You have the cross where Jesus surrendered his control to circumstances beyond himself, where he gave himself up to unchangeable and difficult people, where he experienced the unsolvable problem of pain.
And he did it for you.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown