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Posts Tagged ‘patience’

sinai

In Exodus 24:1-10, God has just given the most important guidelines for human behavior ever given to man.  After Moses receives the ten commandments and the promises of God, he immediately begins working to share them.  Good leader Moses told the people what God expected of them.  Good leader Moses wrote it all down.  Good leader Moses got up early and worshipped.  Good leader Moses read the words aloud to the people.  Then, he covered them with the blood of the sacrifices.

Notice that Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

After God reveals himself to the leaders, he calls Moses back up the mountain.  Then, he tells him to do something very difficult: wait.

The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  ~Exodus 24:12

Wait, Moses.  Go where I tell you and wait there.  The reason for the waiting given to Moses was, “that I may give you the tablets of stone…”  Moses was to wait so God could physically give him the tablets with the commands written on them.

Moses obeyed.  He took his young friend Joshua and he went where God sent him.  He put two others in charge over the people while he was gone.  He is told to wait, and he in turn tells those under him to wait as well.

Note, good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

Moses goes up and a cloud covers the mountain.  God’s presence descended and for six days Moses waited upon God.  It was not until day seven that Moses heard God call out to him.

Note, even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

When God does appear, the text says, Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” When God appeared after all Moses’s waiting and righteous obedience, it was not just him that saw God.  All the people below saw God appear.  Moses wasn’t making this stuff up and they knew it.  There could be no mistake.  God was doing something of unmitigated importance.  They all saw and they all knew.  Makes you wonder how they could ever choose to make and worship and idol while this was still going on.  But, as we all know they did just that with the golden calf.

Anyway, Moses is no stranger to the fire of God.  When he was called to deliver God’s people out of Egypt, it was a burning bush that God chose to reveal himself and speak through.  Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.  Little wonder the Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

God kept Moses forty days and forty nights as he elaborated upon all the laws and also gave Moses the physical tablets of stone with the law written down on them by His very own finger.

Note, when God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

Just to recap, here is what Exodus 24:12-18 gives us practically to apply in our lives today:

1. Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

2. Good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

3. Even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

4. Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.

5. When God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

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Wives, husbands, and now, children, parents, slaves and masters.  Paul is leaving the Ephesian church without excuse about Christ’s call on their relationships.  In Ephesians 6:1-9, his focus is on honor, respect, and obedience.  He begins with children.

Children, obey your parents; honor your mother and father.  This command was one of God’s ten most important laws ever given.  It even comes with a promise of wellness.  What it does not come with is conditions.  It does not say, “Obey your parents when you agree with them” or “Honor your father and mother when they have been honorable to you.”  It says nothing about obeying when we feel like it, when we’re not busy, or after we have finished whatever it is we were doing before they instructed us.  The most difficult times to obey and honor our parents is when we think we know better than they.  Unfortunately, we often think so from birth.  Ere goes the curse.  God’s Word offers no concessions in this command by way of age, intellect, busyness, or stress.  He does graciously offer a promise of well-being if we obey Him in this.

Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, no matter how old we are, God commands obedience and respect towards our parents.  Children who do not obey and honor their earthly parents are often hard-pressed to be found honoring and obeying God.  It is a prerequisite to learning obedience and respect towards him.  Why?

Because God said so.  In turn, he will take care of their tendency to be harsh, impatient, and unkind with us.  God’s command to fathers is just as clear as his command to children.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Paul wouldn’t have to say this if it were not a man’s tendency to err in this way.  Children expose our immaturity in the areas of patience, self-control, selfishness, love, kindness, gentleness, peace, etc.  God is also interested in mothers’ action towards their children, but it is understood here that their role is to follow the lead of their husbands in all things.  God laid the primary responsibility of patience, correction, and Godly instruction of children on the shoulders of fathers.  Because dad is the leader, the buck stops with him.  His wife and his children alike will often behave as he has led and shown them to do.  Therefore, God warns fathers not to discourage, frustrate, or otherwise purposefully anger their children.  Kindness counts, dads.  Teach your children well.  Fathers who do not obey God often raise children who do not obey God.

Finally, slaves.  In our culture, employees.  Do your work honestly, with subordinance, and genuinely.  Recognize that you are working for God, and God will repay you for your excellence.  Likewise, masters, or employers; bosses.  Do not rule with a heavy hand or abuse your authority.  Remember that you, too, have a master and he will not favor you for any earthly reason on the day of judgement.

And this is often my daily prayer:

God, help me to be a better child.  I know I do not honor you when I fail to honor my parents.  Help me to be a better parent.  I know my children will not grow up and obey you if I do not deal kindly, patiently, lovingly, and gently with them now.  God forbid they turn away from you because of my disobedience!  Help me to be a better worker in all that which I have been given to do.  I fall so short so often wasting time and sloughing off into an attitude of selfish laziness.  Help me be a better manager over that which I’ve been given charge.  Redeem my relationships at home, at work, and in the church.  Forgive me; forgive me; forgive me; forgive me.  God, give me grace where I have so often erred in these most important matters.  Amen.

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In Ephesians 4, prisoner Paul urges his Christian brothers and sisters to “walk worthy” of their call.  His rationale is found just preceding in chapter 3.  He reasons that because Christ is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine, and because he will do so by his power and for his glory through us, we, therefore (Ephesians 4:1), must walk worthy.  How?

Humility.  Gentleness.  Patience.  Longsuffering.  Love.  Peace.

These are the ways in which we “walk worthy” of the gospel.  The goal is unity.  Paul makes himself very clear.  He reminds his readers that there is but one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all.  Paul is looking for these Christians to transform from sinners who were all going their own ways to saints all going the same way.  The chief end is unity, oneness, peace, and mutual edification.  Christ wants us to do the same.

Little wonder why he uses the “body” as an illustration.  As he goes on to differentiate between different giftings, he continues his insistence on unity.  One body; different gifts.  In other words, don’t fight over them.  They are different, not better or worse.  And they all belong together; working together.  Just as we don’t cut off our hands or ears when they fail to function the same as our feet or our eyes, we ought never to disregard or dispose of other believers when we discover our differences.  Neither should those differences debilitate us in any way.  On the contrary!  Our differences ought to complement us!  As we come together and cooperate, we grow up into a mature, living, whole body.

Unity is how we will grow.

Unity is how we will stand firm.

Unity is how we will avoid being deceived.

Unity is how we will be strengthened in love.

But unity will take work.  It will require humility when pride is welling up like a storm.  It will require gentleness when being harsh seems more than fitting.  It will require patience when we’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity.  It will require longsuffering when we have already suffered longer than we could have ever imagined.  It will require love when others have proved unlovely at best.  It will require peace when our flesh begs for war.  Is it worth the trouble, church?  Paul insists.

These are the thoughts I collect as my wandering heart wonders how God will ever right the odious discord that still exists in my own life.  How do I speak the very necessary truth in love when I have been hated?  How do I exercise earnest humility in the face of raging pride?  Or worse, what of humility when the pride is mine?  How will gentleness avoid giving way to arrogance when patronizing insincerity and condescension begins?  Worse yet, what if I am patronizing and insincere?  What of when I condescend?  Lord, let it not be!

Perhaps it is not time.  Perhaps God will try my patience…more.  Perhaps he will ask me to suffer long…er.  Perhaps this learning to hold my ever untamed tongue is, in itself, peacemaking.  I don’t know for sure, but I know He will lead the way.  He will choose the time.  He will mend the brokenness and heal the pain.  I have precious little doubt that two hard-to-swallow words answer every last one of my questions: “Trust Him.” 

God help me walk straight.  Help me to walk worthy as I wait.  I know you can do much more than I have asked in ways I can’t even begin to  imagine.  For your own glory, bring harmony to your body.

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cowgirl

Gentleness.

I fold my fairly drawn from a baseball hat piece of paper back up and place it in my Bible.  My husband’s newly instituted family devotion time is already proving its potential to keep me honest about my own failures. Not only that, but I’ve got a five-year old who, if I didn’t know better, could most definitely pass as the Holy Spirit incarnate.

Without reservation, every time Mommy begins to lose her patience, her temper, or even so much as her tender tone, Miss Maylee rearranges her five-year old face indignantly and asks, “Mommy, are you forgetting your gentleness?!”

“Yes.  And your sisters are forgetting their love and kindness towards each other.”

Little wonder why Daddy drew patience.  Even the Lord must lie lenient on a businessman picked to preside over a five female filled household.

We were doing a lesson on what the Bible terms “the fruit of the Spirit.”  These nine character traits are tangible evidence of God the Holy Spirit working in and out of the lives of believers.

Daddy drew patience; Mia, self-control; Addie, love; Maylee, kindness; Mom, peace; me, gentleness.

Ah, gentleness, how you elude me.  I’ll be the first to admit that this has certainly never been my strong suit.  If it were literal fruit I’m sure my gentleness might resemble more of a raisin than a grape.  For a first-class faulting finding, fact feeding, wanna-be fighter, the closest I ever come to gentleness is just being quiet.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…right.  But what is gentleness, really?

One definition describes gentleness as, “The value and quality of one’s character.  The quality of gentleness is colloquially understood to be that of kindness, consideration, and amiability.  Aristotle used it in a technical sense as the virtue that strikes the man with regard to anger: being too quick to anger is a vice, but so is being detached in a situation where anger is appropriate.  Justified and properly focused anger is named mildness or gentleness.” ~Jan Garrett

I’m an extremist.  Too quick to anger or too quiet where proper anger is appropriate.  Yep.  Sounds about right.  That’s Lori in a nutshell.

I had the pleasure of attending the Fayette County Fair with my husband, along with Little Miss Holy Spirit, and her sisters, Little Miss No Self Control and Little Miss Lack of Love.  They were climbing up a knotted rope to get to a slide.  When Little Miss Holy Spirit got to the “tippy top” (as she calls it), she decided it was the perfect time to readjust her getting-too-small-had-to-wear-them-sister’s-hand-me-down-cowgirl-boots.  Mister Growing in Patience and I watched helplessly as she nearly fell backward down onto the five climbing children behind her and metal platform below.  No casualties, though.  Thankfully, we were spared a trip to the ER by mere virtue of her fortunate ballerina balancing act.  Mister Growing in Patience got quite mad at my poor shoe choice and I did what I always do in these kind of awkward moments – as the five-year olds say, “I B-ed quiet.”

It got me to thinking…

Maybe this gentleness gig  isn’t an either/or kind of choice.  Maybe it isn’t an either flip out or say nothing kind of prerogative.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s supposed to be more like pray about what makes us angry, find a focused way to deal with it and take appropriate, albeit affectionate, action.  Balance.

All of the Christian life, practically, is about balance.  Balance.  So, I don’t know about you, but I’m putting on a pair of boots – I mean fruits – that actually fit before I try to walk the line.

” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22

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Roll with the punches.  As an obsessive runner/ home school facilitator/ family business bookkeeper/ mom of three/ caregiver of one, you’d think I would understand this concept by now.  I’m forever forced to improvise, make due, makeshift, and man up.  But, no.  Boxing has proven otherwise.

I love structure.  I love security.  I want to know the next ten moves, the revised itinerary, the game plans from A-Z, and the three alternate fire escape routes.  I often speculate on whether God placed me in my positions as a lab-rat gone bad experiment or just felt unusually comical the day he planned out my steps.

I cannot go one day without having numerous infringements upon my time, my schedule, my plans, and my chosen path.  But are any of those things even mine to begin with?  Not really.  They (and I) belong to a sovereign God who have given them to me only to manage, not to own.  I am not the deed holder on any of the above.

Many who talk to me about home schooling say they do not “have the patience” to do such things.  My reply is always the same, “Neither do I!”  And neither do I have the patience for bookkeeping or parenting or cooking or cleaning or doing anything contrary to that which my insatiable flesh desires.  I want to live outside and write books and ride my motorcycle, my dirt bike, and swim and shadowbox and run and explore – preferably alone  every single day for goodness sake!  Help me!

Hello, my name is Lori and I am a selfaholic.

When I first starting living into these various I-did-not-sign-up-for-these callings, I was poindexter at the dance; Saint Susie at the saloon; a lineman trying to limbo.  I felt like a rigid, stiff, stick figure without any joints.  I simply could not move.  I was much more married to structure than I am now – more than a decade later.  I guess I am at least starting to roll.

Still, somewhere along the line I always seem to get into trouble in the ring.  The fight is fierce for that which I do not feel like fanning into.  When the punches start to fly at me with full-on fury and faster than a five foot female fighter’s hell-fire, I guard up, but I do not get out.  I duck, but I do not drive on.  Coach says I’m only half-committed to my damage control defense and my fight back formulas.  I get the first move and then I set my opponent up to blast me with my incorrect second, third, and fourth moves.  He says that when I am under attack, I have to fully commit – either to roll out or fire back.  Do both and I’m toast.  A knockout is certain to befall me if I fail to find my focus.  If I’m half committed – either offensively or defensively, I’m in trouble.

So, I either have to beat ’em to the punch or fix my feet to be quite fancy.  If my hit drives me back, it’s the wrong move altogether.  I have to learn to stop the rigidity and roll with the punches.

To learn that physically will doubtless help me improve it practically.  Whatever happens, I must learn to commit fully.  Half commitments, half-hearted hits, and hurried deviations will land me life-down on the canvas and my calling.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. ~Isaiah 30:21

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“Balance.  Position.  Timing.  Boxing comes down to those three things.  If you get ’em, it won’t matter how much bigger or stronger your opponent is.”  

“Life comes down to those three things, Coach.  Maybe if I can learn them here, I can apply them there.”

Balance.  Analytical thinkers like me have a lot of trouble with this.  We like to lean to the extreme end.  The black end or the white end feels much more natural than the mushy grey middle.  But, when you lean, you fall.  Life is a tightrope and each of us must hold the pole.  If we do not compensate equally on both sides, every move will prove disastrous.  

 Position.  I’m often either so close that I cannot protect myself or so far away that I cannot make any kind of decent impact.  I stand up when I should be crouching down.  I crouch down when I should be standing up.  I punch when I should be blocking.  I block when I should be punching.  I’m stiff when I should be loose.  I’m loose when I should be stiff.  I think I need to learn how to dance before I learn how to fight.  Proper position is imperative throughout the duration of every fight.  

Timing.  Oh, timing, how you elude me!  Timing is everything.  That’s why I got nothin’.  Too fast and overzealous and I am a wrecking ball.  Too slow and unengaged and I become another statistic who missed her best shot.  Both leave me full of regret.  Until I live, eat, and breathe training – be it with boxing or brotherly love – I will not possess the art of proper timing.  

What I’m really grasping at in all of these is precision.  I want to hit the mark.  No wavering.  No leaning.  No falling.  No missing.  No fouls.  No prematurity.  No hesitation.  Precision is what I pine for – and that takes pain, patience, and potential.  

 “You’re killing me!” 

“I’m training you.”

How many times I have cried out these words bantering my Maker!  How many times he has calmly answered the very same way.  

Self-pity is not part of the protocol when one is on the roster to learn practical precision.  No amount of pain or impatience will arrest the progress of the person in whom God sees the potential for perfection.  

Balance.  Position.  Timing.  The life of a Christian is rooted in these three things.  If you get ’em, you will overcome the opposition regardless of the difficulties.  Be precise.

Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. ~Ecclesiastes 7:18b

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Job has finished making his case.  His counselors have no further reply.  The reason they give for their silence is Job’s self-righteousness.  Unfortunately, they failed to see that he was righteous before God and not just in his own eyes.  Rather than owning their misjudgement and error concerning him and his situation, they self-preserved in silence to make themselves appear right when – even when they had no suitable arguments left.  Such is the method of many who value pride and ego over truth and love.

Fortunately, in Job chapter 32, a young moderator, Elihu, shows up with greater wisdom and impartiality than both Job or his counselors.

Elihu begins by offering the reason for his apparent lack of presence up until this point.  This has been quite a heated discourse, and long.  Where has this guy been the whole time?

 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.

6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:

I am young in years,
    and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
    to declare my opinion to you. ~Job 32:4-6

Elihu was young.  He was inexperienced.  He had respect.  He knew the danger of speaking in haste or out of turn.  He understood authority and submission.  Elihu was patient as well as wise.  But, now that his elders have proven fools, he can no longer hold his peace.

Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
    let me also declare my opinion.’

11 “Behold, I waited for your words,
    I listened for your wise sayings,
    while you searched out what to say.
12 I gave you my attention,
    and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job
    or who answered his words…For I am full of words;
    the spirit within me constrains me.
19 Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent;
    like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak, that I may find relief;
    I must open my lips and answer.
21 I will not show partiality to any man
    or use flattery toward any person.
22 For I do not know how to flatter,
    else my Maker would soon take me away. ~Job 32:10-12, 18-22

Elihu did not just bust in as the credits were rolling and blast Job with his two cents.  No.  He had been listening intently all along.  He had been watching and waiting for a proper opportunity.  He was not quiet for lack of knowledge.  He had much to say on the matter.  Elihu was trusting God’s timing more than he was trusting his take on the situation.  

Now, Elihu must speak.  His elders have retired.  His passion is burning.  His God’s glory as well as his friend’s well-being is at stake.  Elihu enters the scene righteously angry. (Job 32:2-3, 5)

Elihu honored Job not only by owning him the good man that he was, but also by exhorting the wrongness of his fault.  He was angry at Job for misrepresenting God’s righteousness for the sake of his own.  He was angry at Job’s friends for their lack of love and their misrepresentation of Job’s reputation for the sake of their own prideful need to be right.  Despite seeing that they could disprove neither Job’s good example nor his good argument, they yet held onto their own to save face.  They would not concede though they had no valid charge and no solid ground.  They would not yield though they had no reply.  “They could not make good the premises and yet they held fast the conclusion.” (Matthew Henry)

The unfair injustice of it all was like a fury in the heart of Elihu.  Only after much patient listening, the young man speaks.  For five chapters he leads on.  He makes way for God to enter.  This is how young men and women ought to approach hopeless, difficult, infuriating situations.  

Lead on, church.  Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRkIQ1Djlbs

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