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HATE THE WAIT?

The Book of James is written to give very practical guidelines and instructions in the matter of developing a life-style of Christian faith that really works. Developing and growing faith takes work, commitment and consistency! It requires purpose, persistency and perseverance! It does not happen by accident or coincidence. And it does not take place over night or quickly; it takes time and patience.

Learning to wait is a hard lesson in life, even though we are well accustomed to it. We wait for meals to be prepared and served. We wait for doctor and dentist appointments, prescriptions to be filled. We generally wait in line to pick up our eye-glasses, to renew our driver's license or car tabs. We wait for security processing at airports, train stations and sports arenas. Of course, the list goes on and on; waiting is no stranger to us. James, the Apostle, shows us when, why and how to develop patience and in so doing, we grow in Christian faith.

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord! The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance (patience) of Job. . . ." (James 5:7-8; 10-11a) Wow, James speaks to us right where we live. Are we listening to the Holy Spirit who talks to us about the truth James declares?

So, James tells us WHEN TO BE PATIENT. First, we must exercise patience when we are in Uncontrollable Circumstances. Just like the farmer who cannot control when it rains or how much it rains, we have circumstances arise that we cannot control. We will either trust God and rest in Him when we have uncontrollable circumstances, or we will panic, become irritable, impatient and discouraged. "Be patient then, brothers. . .See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is. . . ." (James 5:7) How long are we to be patient? Watch out here for James' answer! Not for a day, or week, or a month or. . . .! But UNTIL THE LORD'S COMING! Until Jesus returns to earth, we are to be patient. Rest assured in this truth: JESUS IS COMING BACK! We don't know when; it could be today, tomorrow or later on. He promised He would return and as Biblical prophecy concerning His return is unfolding before our very eyes, we should be expecting Him! Our only concern is to be personally ready, to be in right relationship with God by giving our lives to Jesus!

Second, we are to be patient when People Suffer. "As an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord." (James 5:10) The prophets were persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death, all because they spoke in the name of the Lord. Christians in many parts of our world today are suffering for their faith in Jesus. They are persecuted severely, tortured, imprisoned, torn away from families, brutally held hostage, and executed, just because they have faith in Jesus. Have you noticed the growing hostility to Christianity and utter intolerance for those who live for Jesus right here in the United States? One of the dominant issues in the up-coming elections in the USA will be Religious Liberty. There are all kinds of suffering people face, physical, emotional, social, relational and spiritual. We must pattern our response to suffering after the prophets who demonstrated patience.

Third, we are told to be patient when Problems Are Unexplainable. "You have heard of Job's perseverance. . . ." (James 5:11b) Read the fascinating and inspiring account of Job, in probably the first of the books written in the Bible. Job lost health, family, fortune, livestock, friends and reputation for no explainable reason. All we know is that God and the devil had discussions about the man Job. When God confronted the devil about his activities, the devil confessed he was going around seeking someone to put into trouble. God said to the devil, "Have you considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:8) Unbeknown to Job, he suffered the attacks of the devil because of God's trust and confidence in him as a man who had faith, trust and relatinship with God. God put forth Job as one who would maintain his relationship with God in the midst of satanic attack. Job persevered; he endured though he did not understand the reason for his suffering, We must exchange our problems for glorious opportunities to demonstrate to this unbelieving, hostile and evil world that genuine faith in God can remain strong in the face of unexplainable situations, even of pain, hurt, and suffering. How are WE dong with the WHEN to be patient?

Now, let's look at the WHY BE PATIENT. The first reason to be patient is Because God Is In Control. "Be patient and stand firm because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5:8) This is resting our hearts in God based on the ultimate certainty! Until Jesus returns, we know that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." (Psalm 46:17) ". . .the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." (Ephesians 1:11) God is sovereign, directing all things freely according to His royal counsel. "I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things. . . ." (Isaiah 45:7) Job said, "I know that you do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) GOD IS IN CONTROL! We hear and say this truth all the time, and yet we can be the biggest skeptics. Let's believe it and act upon it, never regarding this truth to be a mere cliche', platitude, or an over-worked trite remark!

The second reason to be patient is Because God Rewards Those Who Persevere. "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered." (James 5:11a) "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. . . ." (Matthew 5:13-14) "For you have need of endurace (patience), so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He promised." (Hebrews 10:36)

Third, we practice patience Because God Is Working All Things Out. "You have heard of Job's perseverance, and have seen what the Lord FINALLY BROUGHT ABOUT. (caps added) The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:11b) Remember this: DELAY DOES NOT MEAN DENIAL! God does work out all things in His way and time. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. . ." so that . . ."we are conformed (or made to be in) the image (likeness) of His Son." (Romans 8:28-29) How are we doing with the WHY of being patient?

Lastly, let's look at HOW TO BE PATIENT. What do we do while we are waiting on God? First, we Wait Expectantly. "The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil. . . ." (James 5:7) The farmer fully expects a harvest in due time. "I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for He has promised." (Psalm 130:5 - Living Bible Translation) We demonstrate our expectancy by our preparation, and we prepare to expect by saturating our mind and spirit with God's Word. The Lord says: . . ."No one who waits for My help will be disappointed. " (Isaiah 49:23) While I am in "God's Waiting Room", God is working. As the praise song says: "He is working; He never stops working. Even though I don't see it or feel it; God never stops working."

Second, we Wait Quietly. "Do not complain. . . ." (James 5:9) Many times, it is best that we wait on God in silence. Too often we are quick to talk, even complain that "we have to wait." "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently. . . ." (Lamentations 3:25-26) "These things won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" (Habakkuk 2:3 - LB)

Third, Wait Confidently. ". . .you have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings. . . ." (James 5:11b) "But as for me, I will watch (wait) expectantly (confidently) for God. . . ." (Micah 7:7) "Rest (be still) in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act." (Psalm 37:7)

While we wait patiently for God to act, we do not waste time, energy or recuse ourself or twiddle our fingers. NO! We take this opportunity to be in God's presence, read His Word, pray and seek Him! It's an opportunity for spiritual development, trust cultivation and growth. It is an opportunity to strengthen our heart. "You too be patient; strengthen your hearts. . . ." (James 5:8) "All of you who wait for the Lord, be strong, take courage and He will strengthen your heart." (Psalm 34:24) How are we doing with the HOW of being patient? I hope our thoughts here will help you overcome the "Hate of the Wait".

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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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