Patience and Wisdom

Patience and Wisdom                                                                                    June 28, 2020
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

This verse has been on my mind a great deal this week as I’ve been pondering patience, and wisdom. They go hand in hand.

Patience isn’t natural to most of us! It seems about as elusive as wisdom!
James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach/criticizing, and it will be given to him.

These days we certainly need wisdom! So much knowledge and expertise but where are the wise voices that can be heard over the angry shouts?

Solomon wrote much about wisdom:
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Knowing that God is real, is supreme, and that He has the final say is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.
The foolish person thinks he knows it all, and he tends to despise patience.

Proverbs 2:3-12
Discern righteousness and justice, equity and every good course, wisdom will guard you.

How valuable sound discernment and wisdom is needed these days! We need to be able to discern the truth of what is really good or evil.

How did Solomon gain wisdom? 1 Kings 3:5 – 11 God came to him in a dream and told him to ask anything of Him. Solomon asked God for an understanding heart to discern between good and evil! Discernment to understand justice.

Lately we’ve been hearing shouts for justice from all sides. But, whose justice? Which justice? Justice has been reduced to what a person or particular group thinks is right.
We really need God’s wisdom and discernment right now!

It takes patience to wait on the Lord, for His guidance and wisdom. But as James tells us – let’s ask God for wisdom! I believe that with wisdom we have a better grasp of patience.

Prov 3:3-6 Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5 & 6 but the two verses preceding also are key to successful living for God: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you.”

Exercise kindness and truth; make them such an integral part of your life that they become part of who we are. Learning to lean, trust, and depend on God instead of focusing on our own understanding and opinions. Acknowledge God and He will make your paths straight. A straight path is a clearly defined course of how to proceed.

Gaining wisdom and patience from God helps us to reflect God.

Prov 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Pray for peace with God and the people who you encounter as you purpose to live so that your actions and thoughts are pleasing to God.

Next week we will  look at a couple of examples of people who allowed God to direct them, or not.

The Patience of our Heavenly Father

The Israelites took great pride in and often referred to “the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Their ancestorial fathers knew Him, their sacred writings of almost 4000 years were all about God and His dealings with and expectations of their ancestors. God of your fathers… Yahweh, the God of your ancestor David, 2 Chron 21:12 (Elijah in a letter to Jehoram)

“The God of our fathers.” Sounds like a God of the past.

Jesus changed the perspective!
Instead of God being the God your ancient fathers worshiped, God is your Father.
Jesus spoke of God as being Father more than 150 times!

God longs to be the Father of all. But, it’s up to each individual whether they will are willing to surrender their autonomous self to the Heavenly Father who expects obedience and desires faithfulness and love.

God is Father – that’s a part of who He is. What are some characteristics of a good father?

Galatians 5:22:23 Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are all attributes of God. They are the fruits of God’s Spirit when we walk with God.

James 1:19… be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (!)

James 3:17 Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable
full of mercy and good fruits unwavering, without hypocrisy.
18 and the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

As Christians we want to have our lives bearing these fruits – our lives to reflect the character of our Heavenly Father. It’s not easy when times are turbulent and Satan is at war dividing and creating animosity and hatred.  We need to listen, to not rush in with our thoughts, opinions and ideas.

Most of all we need to be slow to get angry. Anger will never achieve God’s righteousness.
Our anger will never persuade anyone that God loves them.

We need to be the peacemakers. The only way we can be peacemakers is to live in harmony with our Heavenly Father and to allow His Spirit to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise but is patient toward you, not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.
18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s not easy being patient or at peace!

Heb 12:1-2   Running a long distant race takes patience. Not only does a person have to become physically able to endure running many miles, the mental work is often even harder. The body is able but the mind becomes inpatient and wants to quit. That’s when we focus on the goal and set our mind on the goal that we are running towards. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Let His patience fill you so you may endure.

We need the patience of our Father.
This is the patience that is required.
Patience which endures over the long haul.
Patience that brings peace and unity.
Patience that reflects our Heavenly Father’s loving patience with us.
Patience that brings God’s peace.

Unity in God

It’s been a week of heavy rains, cold temperatures and social turmoil. The deluge of media stories focusing on protests and riots seems ceaseless. The roaring lion is roaming throughout the land stirring up animosity, chaos, and division.

God is the God of Unity and order. Living in the state of this world unity seems harder and harder to achieve.

Unity is sadly missing during the current social climate. What’s the solution?

Only God! Praise His name, He desires unity among His followers and when we turn to Him He will give us endurance and encouragement to live in harmony with each other. (Rom 15:5-6)
“… accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other…

Jesus knows how hard it is for us to be in unity! Look at His disciples! There must have been times of tension and animosity between some of them. We have Matthew who collected taxes for the Romans, and then there were two who were known zealots: Thaddeus, also known as Judas the Zealot and Simon the Zealot. It had to have been only Jesus Himself that caused these three to get along! You can imagine the discussions Jesus had with the disciples in teaching them to behave with respect and eventually love towards each other. As followers of Jesus they became united, because of Jesus!

During his last evening with them Jesus specifically prayed asking the Farther for unity among His followers: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11

John 17:21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us, may they be one as We are one.
17:23 I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

There are two reasons that Jesus prays for unity for all believers:
1) so the world will know Jesus was sent by the Father
2) so the world can know that God loves us as He loves Jesus

Romans 15:5–6 “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

God wants us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” Ephesians 4:3.

Ephesians 4:2-6
I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
JB Phillips New Testament for Modern Readers

Just as Jesus’ disciples learned to be united together through Him, the Holy Spirit is in the work of uniting us together in Him.

Satan seeks to destroy unity, peace and replace it with greed, chaos, and division. In Jesus Christ we have the protection and power of God to let go of self, to accept life with humility and patience. Because of the unity we have in Jesus we can make allowances for each other, because of love.

Bind us together with Your Love, Heavenly Father!

The Trinity

The Trinity                                                                                        June 6, 2020
As beings created in the image of the omniscient God we want knowledge.
As children we demand answers to our What and Why. Humans tend to love mysteries… ones we can neatly solve.

We’re really not thrilled with mysteries that we can’t sleuth out answers to. We want to make sense of the unknown, to solve them with our reasoning and understanding.

There is one mystery that we humans simply do not have the capacity to fully unravel and comprehend. Not for lack of trying! We use various illustrations which we think helps us to grasp the concept. Eggs, water/ice/steam, triangles, to name a few.  But none of them really works.

The concept of God as three in one: One God yet three distinct persons has long been a concept that is hard to wrap our finite minds around.

Three distinct Persons in One God. All three — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — have been around for all eternity; all three co-exist so that all can be apparent at the same place at the same time, as at Jesus’ Baptism:
God the Father speaking
God the Son being baptized in the Jordan,
Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus.
Each of the Three present, talking to each other as distinct Persons.

In grappling with the Mystery, St. Augustine came to equate the life of the human soul with the Triune God’s image. The soul remembers, it knows, it loves. These are three activities, and yet they are the activity of one soul. But it still falls short when we contemplate “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

He is
He knows
He loves
With Him, these three are one.

God is omnipotent
God is omnipresent
God is omniscient – all knowing

God the Father
God the Son
God the Spirit

Three persons and one God: all equally divine, all absolutely God, one nature, one reality.
God is one.

We’re firmly told in Deut 6:4, and numerous times throughout the Old Testament:
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. I am the Lord; Besides Me there is no God. Is 45:5 No other God, no other God.

So, what about the Three in One God, what we call the Trinity?

The first revelation comes in the beginning when God said “Let Us make man in Our image… And God created man in His own imagine in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen 1:26, 27

John the Apostle wove God as One yet three throughout his gospel. In fact he bookended declarations of Jesus as God at the beginning and end of the Gospel of John.
John 1:1,2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 5 is full of declarations of Jesus’ authority and equality, especially vs 18 He was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 8:58 Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” Ex 3:13, 14

In the Jewish understanding of God, the Great I AM, there was no debating that Jesus was declaring Himself as God. The Jews were so outraged by Jesus’ statement that they picked up rocks to stone Him to death.

Throughout John 14 Jesus claims His relationship with God, the Father: 10 – 11 I am in the Father, the Father is in Me. The Father will be glorified in the Son.

Then Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth  “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever. But you know him for he lives with you and will be in you. But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” 16, 17, 26

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

John 16:7 Jesus sent the comforter, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.”

John 16:13-15 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

John 20:28, 29 When Thomas worshiped Jesus and declared, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus does not correct Thomas. Instead, he calls him blessed. As the Truth bearer Jesus would not have allowed Thomas to worship him as Lord and God, if He wasn’t.

Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Later when he told the disciples that he would send the Spirit of Truth He was equating Himself to the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at some verses which distinctly show the existence of the three persons of the Trinitarian Godhead existing at the same moment of time.

Matthew 3:16-17“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’”

Jesus states in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”

The Apostle Paul made many references to the God who is Three in One:
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

I Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The Bible ends with Jesus declaring “I am the Alpah and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

God doesn’t expect us to be able to fully understand how He is One, yet Three, He only desires that we believe – to fully embrace Him and be devoted to Him in order that we might live for Him and have eternal life with Him.