Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Intro.: Patience is hard. Mark Hansen and Jack Canfield understood the truth of that statement.

  1. For over two decades Mark Hansen and Jack Canfield shared “stories of hope, inspiration, and encouragement” in their seminars.

  2. When they saw how their stories touched their audiences, they tried to find a publisher to put them into print.

  3. Some publishers thought the stories were too “nicey-nice.” Others said “Nobody wants to read a book of little stories.” Others said just plain “No!“

  4. After three years and 33 rejections, they finally found someone who would publish Chicken Soup for the Soul.

  5. Their own experience mimics the power of the stories they tell; it is the drama of triumph through hardship and the victory of the human spirit.It shows that hard work, patience and determination will pay off. If you don’t give up.1

  6. Patience is never easy – James gives us four examples of patience to help us understand how it needs to play out in our lives.

Read: James 5:7-11


T.S. Let's look at the four illustration that James gives us of patience in this short section of scripture.

  1. The farmer illustrates patience. (Jms 5:7) See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

    1. I don't have a green thumb – but, like James, I know that farmers need a great deal of patience. They have no control over the growth of their crops, they have no control over the weather, they can only wait – they need patience while they wait for their crop to be ready for harvest.

    2. Patience is not easy, but if we are willing to wait, we may be surprised by the results. Ultimately, patience is a precious commodity – Joe Treala understands just how precious it is.

(Ill.) For Joe Treala is was worth a million dollars. Treala, a resident of Gilroy, California won a million dollars when he answered the following question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” What insect shorted out an early supercomputer and inspired the term, “computer bug?” The answer “moth” was worth a million dollars to the 25-year-old computer customer service representative.

Treala took his time answering this and other questions. It took him 15 minutes to answer one of the questions. “The producers were getting kinda cranky with me,” he said. His patience was uncanny, even unnerving. But in the end, his patient ways paid off for him-a million different ways.

Treala’s patience wasn’t just shown in the way he played the game, but in how he got there.Treala tried out for Jeopardy several times, but was never invited on the show.But he didn’t give up, he kept trying to get on a game show and when he did, his patience finally paid off.2

  1. The prophets illustrate patience (Jms 5:10) Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

    1. Patience is a characteristic of believers – whenever or wherever they have lived. That of course includes those of us living in the 21st century.

(Ill.) Patricia Miller tells the story of how she learned patience. She writes: Each day I worked in the emergency room, I became more insensitive to people and their real needs. Five years of emergency room exposure took its toll. Then God intervened. I was registering a young woman who had overdosed on drugs and attempted suicide. Her mother sat before me, unkempt and bleary eyed. She had been awakened in the night by the police to come to the hospital. She could only speak to me in a whisper. “Hurry up!” I said to myself as she slowly gave me information. My impatience was raw as I finished the report and jumped to the machine to copy the medical cards. Then God stopped me, saying, “You didn’t even look at her.” I felt his grief for the woman and her daughter then, and I bowed my head, saying, “I’m sorry, Lord. I am so sorry.” I sat by the distraught woman and covered her hands with mine. I looked into her eyes with all the love that God could flood through me and said, “I care. Don’t give up.” She wept as she poured out her story. For years she had dealt with a rebellious daughter who was a single mom. Finally, after the weeping stopped, she thanked me for listening. Me—the coldhearted one with no feelings. My attitude changed that night. My God, who so loved the world, broke that self-imposed barrier around my heart. Now he could reach out, not only to me, but to a lost and hurting woman.3

    1. Learning patience is costly – it will cost me something to become what God wants me to become.

    2. Perhaps, James' third example illustrates that better than anyone else could.

  1. Job illustrates patience.

(Jms 5:11) As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.

    1. Job was convinced of God's love, God's care, God's concern – but he had to live through a tough time to find the proof and the results of that love, care, and concern.

(Ill.) Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets. He understood a bit about patience. He said, “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”4

    1. Life goes on – and God provides.

    2. As Job waited – God provided for him.

    3. As we wait – God provides for us.

  1. God is the best example of patience.

    1. The farmer is patient, the prophet was patient, Job was patient.

    2. But James keeps the best example of patience till the end – that is the Lord Himself.

(Ill.) When Robert Ingersoll, a famous atheist who lived in the mid 1800's, was lecturing, he once took out his watch and declared, “I will give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I have said.” The minutes ticked off as he held the watch and waited. In about four-and-a-half minutes, some women began fainting, but nothing happened. When the five minutes were up, Ingersoll put the watch into his pocket. When that incident reached the ears of a certain preacher, Joseph Parker, he asked, “And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the Eternal God in five minutes?”5

    1. We use the phrase “the patience of Job” - but whether it be Job, Paul, or James, the once with real patience is God.

    2. He patiently waits for us to say “YES” to Him. And when we do, there is a celebration in heaven. And then he waits for us to say “yes” again. The story of the farmer, the prophet, and of Job, is not to teach of their patience – but to teach us of God's patience.

    3. And to remind us of the patience we need to have for the those around us. For if God can be patient with us – we need to be as patient with those who cross our paths.



1Wilson, J. L. (2009). Fresh Sermons. Fresno, CA: Willow City Press.

2Wilson, J. L. (2009). Fresh Sermons. Fresno, CA: Willow City Press.

3Adapted from Patricia Miller, “The Emergency Room,” Pentecostal Evangel (October 15, 2000) as quoted in Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (436). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

4Larson, Craig Brian and Brian Lowery. 1001 Quotations That Connect: Timeless Wisdom for Preaching, Teaching, and Writing. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2009.

5Jones, G. Curtis. 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Love – I Don't Want To Preach About It

Intro.: I don't want to preach today's sermon.

  1. It's about love – one of the fruit of the spirit.

  2. You will remember the list from last week: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

  3. But when I preach about love, I am preaching to myself as well.

Read: I John 4:7-12


Trans: As I looked at love this week, I was surprised to learn that there is one major thing we are not to love - the world. (I John 2:15)

  1. But there were lots of instruction on loving.

  2. I want to look at three of those today.

  1. God requires that I love Him

Matt 22:34-38 - But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

    1. It sounds easy – I mean

      1. I never have to face Him face to face

      2. The thing I hear the most about Him is His love

      3. Should be easy to love someone like that.

    2. But sometimes life gets in the way

      1. I had no control over the destruction caused by Katrina in New Orleans or the Tsunami in Japan -

      2. Or the Tornadoes that hit the midwest this week.

      3. I don't always know why God sends or allows these tragedies

      4. I do know that some of these are the results of own selfishness – building cheaply, lack of the concern for the consequences for our actions.

    3. I don't always understand – but God calls me to love Him none-the-less.

    4. If anyone has the right to expect to be loved, it is God – He created this world. He sustains this world, he sustains me.

(Ill.) A number of years ago I learned a lesson – to the adolescent, love seems to be more of a feeling – the hormones that flow when near that someone special. But that is just chemistry – it is not love. Chemical reactions only last so long, they run out of energy, they run out of reactants. They hardly serve as the basis for love.

Two books were written back in the mid-90's and they helped me understand what love truly is. The two books were Love Is A Choice and Love Is A Decision.

    1. I may not understand all God has said, I may not understand all God is doing, but I can choose to love Him. I will commit my all to Him, to serve Him with everything I have, with everything I am.

(Appl.) One more point. As we move through today's message, it will be important to remember that “Love is a choice” I need to make – regardless of how difficult it may be.

    1. God calls on me to love my neighbor.

Matt 22:39-40 - This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

    1. This same God who calls on me to love Him, also asks me to love my neighbor.

    2. That is easy – all my neighbors are kind and generous, they share equal responsibility for the neighborhood. You have all have neighbors like this, right.

    3. There may be no dealingghbors all like our dog – he does not bark too much. And they like our pool – and the non-paint job that we are getting on our house.

(Ill.) But, the truth is, we all have neighbors like those Samaritans. The woman from Samaria told Jesus, “Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Neighbors we don't want to associate with. That was the fact as Jesus began telling the story of The Good Samaritan to illustrate the principle of a neighbor. Here was a Samaritan who finds an injured Jew – yet he, that Samaritan, unlike the Priest or the church leader who saw the Jew, took time to care for him and made sure he would be cared for.

(Ill) Gordon McDonald tells the story of a family trip. My wife, Gail, and I were flying to Boston. We were seated near the back of the airliner in the two aisle seats across from each other. As the plane loaded up, a woman with two small children took the row of seats in front of us. Another woman took a seat across the aisle next to one of the kids, and the mom held the other child on her lap. I hoped the kids wouldn’t be noisy.

My prayer wasn’t answered. The two children had a tough time. The air was turbulent, the children cried a lot—their ears hurt—and it was a miserable flight. The two women kept trying to help and comfort these children. The woman at the window played with the child in the middle seat, trying to make her feel good and paying her a lot of attention.

Things went downhill from there. As we got toward the last part of the flight, the child in the middle seat got sick. The next thing I knew she was losing everything from every part of her body. The diaper wasn’t on tight, and before long a stench began to rise through the cabin. It was unbearable.

I watched as the woman next to the window patiently comforted the child and tried her best to clean up the mess and make something good out of a bad situation. The plane landed, and when we pulled up to the gate, all of us were ready to exit that plane as fast as we could. The flight attendant came up with paper towels and handed them to the woman in the window seat and said, “Here, ma’am, these are for your little girl.”

The woman said, “This isn’t my little girl.”

“Aren’t you traveling together?”

“No, I’ve never met this woman and these children before in my life.”

Suddenly I realized this woman had found the opportunity to give mercy. She was, in the words of Christ, the person who was “a neighbor.”1

    1. We each have opportunities to be a neighbor – whether it be as a Good Samaritan or as showing grace to someone who least deserves it.

    1. God expects me to love my enemy

    Matt 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"

      1. Now God has gone too far – asking me to love my enemies – those who are trying to persecute me.

      2. Maybe it does not make sense to me – but a little over 200 years ago one pastor made sense of it.

    (Ill.) Ephrata is a small town in Pennsylvania just south of where my son lives. In the early days of our country, a well-known church made its home. Peter Miller was the pastor. Pastor Miller was known for his knowledge of foreign languages and was asked to translate the Declaration of Independence into seven languages by the Congress of the United States.

    In Ephrata lived a man by the name of Wildman who took it upon himself to ruin the reputation of Pastor Miller. But Wildman was also scheming against the United States and was arrested for treason. He eventually was arrested and sentenced to be hanged.

    The preacher started out on foot and walked the all seventy miles to Philadelphia to plead for the man’s life. Washington heard his plea, but responded by sayings, “No, your plea for your friend cannot be granted.”

    “My friend!” said the preacher. “He is the worst enemy I have.”

    “What!” said Washington, “you have walked nearly seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon.”2

      1. That's what love for an enemy is all about. Going the extra mile for them – even if it makes no sense.

      2. I don't know if you have enemies – but there is a wide range between neighbor and enemy. And I don't think Jesus intends to exclude any of them.

    (Appl.) Take a minute. Sit back, eyes closed. Think for a minute – who is the hardest person you know to love. Maybe it is a neighbor. Maybe its a social worker. Maybe it is someone you thought was a friend – who is the most unlovable person you know.

    Now imagine that Jesus is sitting over here – and he tells you, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

    Today, make the decision to begin to pray for that person.

    Conclusion: I did not want to preach this sermon

    1. I need to love God
    2. I need to love my neighbor
    3. I need to love my enemy
    4. And none of that is easy for me or for you
    5. Pray

1Larson, Craig Brian and Phyllis Ten Elshof. 1001 Illustrations That Connect. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2007.