Thursday, March 02, 2006

passionate patience

Galatians 5:22 (NLT) 22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience…

I am involved in an undertaking where failure is part of how I succeed. Sounds crazy right? That’s right today at 11:00 a.m. I will meet with someone who is helping me become stronger and healthier and he will bring me to the point of failure several times. His name is Mike and he is my personal trainer at the gym. He will put me in several positions today and hand me weights that I will lift until my muscles fail. That’s right failure is his goal for me. Why? Because that’s how he makes me stronger. My muscles fatigue, fail, and then they rest and recover just a little bit stronger than before. All of this is only possible through failure.

I sometimes wonder if God is like that. I wonder if He allows me to come to places that are beyond my current level of spiritual strength and I experience what is perceived by me as failure, but in God’s wisdom it is part of His plan to grow me. In fact, His word teaches me that difficult times are what truly forge out God’s life in me.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. 4 And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. 5 And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Rom. 5:3-4

Listen to it again in the message paraphrase…

We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Rom. 5:3-4

A big part of God developing His life in me is through the development of “passionate patience” or endurance in my life. There is nothing comfortable or convenient about the forging of Christ-like character in our lives. There will be considerable challenges along our journey. My ability to face the giants of today is made possible by the ones that God has allowed me to face in the past.

God’s stated goal for my life is to become like Jesus Christ. Even Jesus was a student who learned valuable lessons suffering His way through difficulty. “Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience by what he suffered.” Heb. 5:8 We will be no different.

This is why we must not become discouraged along the way when we hit life’s “blessons”. Yes, it is a lesson that is a blessing. I call then “blessons”. In school our teachers often taught to the test. They brought a lesson and then gave a test. God does the opposite. He gives the test (which we often fail) and then He teaches the lesson. If we don’t quit the class-if we remain patiently determined to grow and learn we are rewarded with character-the greatest of all rewards that God gives. I must be passionate about this!

Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!— harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Gal. 6:7-9

Are you facing some challenges right now? Have you thought about giving up?

Join me over the next week here in our little daily chats and in our services this weekend as we talk about “passionate patience” and how it will make all the difference in our relationships, careers, and our dreams. God’s best is still in front of you!

Patiently yours,

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