Developing Patience…

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Hebrews 6:9-15 (KJV)

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

When you approach an elevator and see that the up button is lit, do you ever push it anyway?

Or when you are stuck in a grocery line that will not move, do you ever think how poorly managed the store is?

Our patience, or lack of it, spills over into many aspects of our lives.

Patience is not a natural trait that some possess at birth.

Likewise, it’s not a skill that we can, on our own, continually muster.

No, patience is available only through the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him, we will have a difficult time developing this awesome quality.

The nature of patience allows us to have the mindset that says, I’m willing to let go of immediate gratification and wait for God to supply.

Then, we’re able to experience the inner quietness that can come only from Him.

This doesn’t mean we’ll never feel pressure or stress; at times the need to press persistently toward our goals feels overwhelming, but the Lord can calm our heart.

It’s important to realize that patience cannot be developed apart from other godly characteristics.

In considering the life of David, we can see that this is true. While waiting to be made king by God’s hand, David had several opportunities to kill Saul, the nation’s current ruler. By refusing to take advantage of the situation, David demonstrated discernment, wisdom, love, and faith in God’s timing (1 Sam. 24:10-11; 26:10-11).

Patience is one of the nine qualities named as fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). So to exhibit this important virtue, we must surrender our lives to Him.

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Empowerment….

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Acts 1:1-5 (KJV)

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

The week before He would die by crucifixion, Jesus talked to His disciples about what was to come: After His resurrection, they would receive a Counselor—the Holy Spirit—who’d be with them forever (John 14:16).  

He would indwell each believer, providing His power to make it possible to live a victorious Christian life. The Lord will also empower us with His divine strength if we cultivate certain Christlike qualities:

  • Purity of heart.

Prior to our salvation, sin separated us from the Father. When we received Jesus as Savior, God washed us clean (Titus 3:5), clothed us in Christ’s righteousness, and purified us so we could become His people (2:14). Now, our part is to pursue holiness so we can become more like the Lord. Regular confession of our ungodly thoughts and actions brings forgiveness and purifies us from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

  • Obedient spirit.

Before we were adopted into God’s family, our nature was in rebellion against His authority. But since trusting in Christ, we have both freedom from sin’s power over us and the ability to choose obedience. While we will live imperfectly, the Lord looks to see if our minds and hearts are committed to following Him. Our sincere effort to obey Him brings a release of His power as we carry out His work.

When we make holiness a priority and demonstrate obedience to the Lord, we’ll receive supernatural strength to choose righteousness.

Each day, we will be filled with power as we confess any areas of sin (Ps. 51:1-2, 10), maintain our commitment to God, and follow the Spirit’s lead.

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The Quiet Voice…

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Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

People often associate the word obey with raising children—particularly when they see ill-behaved youngsters.

Submission to God’s will, however, is important at every stage of a believer’s maturity. As our faith grows, obedience becomes a cornerstone of fellowship with our Father—He teaches us more about His love and precepts while drawing us ever closer to Himself.

Oddly, as Christians get older and more mature, their obedience can diminish.

A believer may tell himself that he has learned to live righteously and therefore no longer needs to make a concentrated effort. In a short time, he will find himself far off the path God intended, wandering around with a pile of rags he thinks are righteous acts (Isa. 64:6). Disobedience says to the Lord, “I know better than You how to govern my life.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Scripture and church members are full of stories to prove that obedient submission is the only way to joy.

Nothing good can come from rebelling against the Lord, and nothing bad can come from obeying Him. Obedience is the pathway to wisdom and blessing. When we conform our will to God’s, we place our hope and trust in the One who created us and loves us without condition.

A life well lived is one in which our eyes are focused on the Lord, our ears are open to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, and our hearts feast on Scripture. When we choose this existence, we guarantee ourselves the finest that God has to offer.

There is no second best for the obedient child of the Father.

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Our Monitoring System…

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 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (KJV)

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

The apostle Paul wanted his young charge Timothy to grasp the basics of keeping the faith.

So he wrote about two men who ignored their conscience at great peril. Their example shows that without an understanding of what this gift from God is, we run the risk of capsizing our faith.

Many people mistakenly think of the conscience as God’s voice instead of God’s gift.

We were created with an “inner monitor” that acts as a moral compass for life; it points to a standard of right and wrong that can guide our decisions. But the conscience, like everything else in us, is fallen and in need of redemption.

Depending on how it has been programmed, our conscience can nudge us in the wrong direction.

Paul himself is an illustration of this. His formal education as a Pharisee had taught him that Christians were a threat to God and the Jewish faith. His conscience had been programmed to see killing them as service to the Lord. So he passionately hunted down believers without tripping an alarm on his moral compass. Only after the risen Christ met him on the way to Damascus was his conscience transformed and his life altered.

Unless we let the Lord redeem us fully, our decisions can prove as destructive as if we ignored our “monitoring system” altogether.

By understanding the divine gift of conscience, we stand a better chance of staying on course and away from trouble.

What’s more, if we submit our conscience to the Holy Spirit, we will find safe harbor when storms threaten our faith or future.

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When Silence of Heaven Does Not Mean Approval…

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Romans 2:4-5 (KJV)

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

 Have you ever ignored the press of conviction upon your heart?

Maybe you rationalized your wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He’d put a stop to things by disciplining you.

Psalm 50:21 reminds us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval.

Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord’s patience. When God seems slow to react, we might hope He’s overlooking our transgressions–we’d like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience.

 But thankfully, the Father knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response.

Motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His children to righteousness, God refrains from doling out immediate punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Spirit’s proddings to impact the believer’s heart. The weight of conviction is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to godliness.

 However, we’re a stubborn people.

There are times when we persist in sin because the sentence against an evil deed isn’t executed quickly (Eccl. 8:11). In this dangerous situation, it’s possible to immerse ourselves in sin and harden our hearts against the Lord.

 Then the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance falls on spiritual ears rapidly going deaf.

As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. The Lord is not slow; He’s patient.

 Do not abuse His patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord

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Pray in Every Situation…

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Romans 8:26-27 (KJV)

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Most Christians feel they need help in order to pray effectively.

Even the apostle Paul admitted that he sometimes did not know how to petition the heavenly Father as he should. In the supernatural exchange between God and believers, the Holy Spirit acts as a vehicle for our communication, laying our needs and desires before the Father.

We humans make our requests with a very limited knowledge of the future and an impaired sense of what is actually best for us.

Consequently, circumstances arise that cause us to wonder how we should pray. If all we know to ask is, “God, what is Your will?” then the Spirit, who knows the Father’s plans for us, tells Him of our need for understanding.

Our Father does not hide His will from us.

He desires to equip believers with all the information necessary for making right decisions and for being continually conformed to the likeness of His Son.

Just as the Spirit carries our needs to God, He also clarifies the Father’s will to us.

Some people find the power of prayer intimidating— “Be careful what you pray for, because you might get it,” goes the old joke. Believers sometimes quit praying before receiving an answer, because they are fearful of making the wrong request. However, the Holy Spirit’s divine nature prevents Him from going before God with a petition that is outside the Father’s plan. Instead, He intercedes to make the right request. He also impresses upon us the need to adjust our desires.

Therefore, we can pray in every situation, knowing the Holy Spirit is our Helper.

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The Emergency Telephone Line…

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 John 14:16-18 (KJV)

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Did you ever wish for an emergency telephone line that rang in heaven?

The truth is that we have something much better. The Holy Spirit lives inside us to be our helper in every situation.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus warned the disciples that He was about to depart.

The news probably upset them, even though it wasn’t the first time He’d spoken of His death. But the Lord offered His followers reassurance that He would send them another Helper. The Greek word for “another” implies that the new Helper would be like the previous one—in other words, a divine being with access to the Father. As promised, God’s Spirit came to dwell in everyone who receives Jesus Christ as Savior (Acts 2:1-4).

Our Helper has a distinct role within the Trinity.

The Father reigns over all, while the Son sits at His right hand, interceding for believers. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit enables Christians to accomplish the work God has designed for each one to do.

The Father knew we couldn’t follow Him without help—that was why Jesus told the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until after the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Whatever we are called to do in daily obedience or in lifelong vocation, our Helper offers direction. And when we are beset by tough times or temptations, God’s Spirit provides strength and encouragement.

The Holy Spirit is intimately involved in our life.  He is more a part of us than our bones and blood.

We are privileged to have a divine Helper guiding us on the path of God’s will.

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Building New Character….

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Romans 8:29 (KJV)

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

God predestined us to grow into His likeness, but this doesn’t happen at the moment we are saved.

While we are redeemed by the Savior’s precious blood and immediately have a new heart, our transformation is a lifelong process.

The Holy Spirit enables this journey. Growth is impossible without Him, regardless of our efforts.

Yet we can welcome or hinder His transforming hand.

One way we give God willing access to our lives is by obeying this mandate in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Everyone chooses either a biblical or worldly philosophy as his or her source of truth–and that choice shapes the mind and spirit.

Therefore, the Lord tells us to immerse our mind in Scripture, allowing Him to mold us into His beautiful image.

The Bible story about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness illustrates this principle. After saving them from Pharaoh’s abuse, God did not bring them immediately to the Promised Land. The Lord knew doing so would bring sinful ways with them. Instead, He led them to the wilderness and gave the Ten Commandments.

Only after they learned to obey and turn to almighty God were they ready for the next step.

The process of sanctification isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s often painful for us, just as it was for the Israelites. In God’s amazing wisdom and love, however, He knows what we need to leave our old ways that lead to death.

And He builds new character in us–full of life and joy.

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