Love is PATIENT

[1 Corinthians 13:1-4]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient…”

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—
 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.”  Isaiah 11:1

Genesis chapters 1 and 2 set up a beautiful love story.  A great King loved His people enough to give freedom and boundaries.  In Genesis 3 we watch as the people of the kingdom are sentenced to be separated from their King forever.  But of course, the story isn’t over.  Like any great story a Rescuer is on the way.  The King has sent for His Son.

The people wait and they wait.  For 39 books of the Old Testament and 42 long generations the people wait.  Some from the kingdom gave up hope, and some grew impatient.

And then at the beginning of the gospels we finally see the Branch that bears fruit.  The Messiah has taken up residency with the people. This mighty Branch is the Great Rescuer.  In Him prophecies are fulfilled and all is being restored.

Mother and Child

Situations that seem helpless and hopeless- jobs, finances, broken families, sickness, loved ones who lose their way- all of these begin to find new life and new growth at the hand of the King.

Today, turn your wishful thinking into patience.  Dig your roots deep in the truth that your King’s timing is perfect.  Your patience even in the midst of suffering demonstrates the depth of your roots.  Obstacles become doorways for grace and challenges surface as chances to patiently declare, “Yes.  I trust You.  I trust your timing.  I will patiently wait for you.”

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. 
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3, NIV

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8, NIV

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
I’m certain today will provide you with opportunities to grow in patience… life seems to be generous in this arena!
-When you are tempted to come up short in anger or despair in what appear to be unanswered prayers, meditate on this verse from Philippians.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4-7, NIV

-Try turning this into an activity for the entire month.  Print out a calendar or draw one out in your journal.  Write out Philippians 4:5-7 at the top.  Spend some time filling each day with something that could tempt you to worry or be impatient: specific names of family members, stressful activities, or long-standing prayers.  As each day comes focus on lifting up the things that cause you to be impatient.  You could even turn this into an opportunity to pray in color.  Ask specifically that you would feel God’s nearness and trust His timing.

Paul doesn’t say that love is wanting to be patient or hoping to be patient.  He reminds us that love IS patient.

Following,
Ginger

ADVENT RESOURCE: The Bethlehem Star.  Spend some time on the website.  I watched this DVD for the first time in 2006 and I have rented it from the library every year since. This study fascinated me and reminded me that you can press the Scriptures hard and find scientific evidence for the things that it says.

Learning to Love

Long story short: I’m learning to love.

Actually, I think I’m learning to recognize love in new ways… and that in turn is teaching me how to love in new ways.  I knew that love appeared during holidays.  I expected love in church pews and in group hugs.  I dreamt that love would start with a white dress and lead to romance always.

www.janezphotography.com

It’s not that love isn’t those things, it’s just that it has come to be so much more.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love is a cold glass of water or a hot cup of coffee.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is a an hour-long phone conversation.
Love is giggling through a meeting with one of your dears.
Love is remembering.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is in the nails and the cross.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes.

“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)

 

“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.” 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)

Where do you see love?

Following,
Ginger

Seeds of Patience

We’ve been discussing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control this week.  Welcome to part three of the discussion!

So… how do we cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives?  How can I grow the seeds of patience? . . .

Lift your voice to the Son.

Ask for it!  God loves to give good gifts to His children.  Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’t just come in an extra dallop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday?  Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one amo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Questions for you to ponder today:

-Which of these traits come most naturally to you?  Which of them don’t?

-How can you actively cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in your life?

Thanks again to TC for a great question this week!

Following,
Ginger

Have a question for me to tackle?  Fill out the form here or leave a comment!

Dear Patience: Hurry Up.

I am not (unfortunately) a person known for patience.  I spend my days working from home and I am quick to leap to impatience and irritation at everything from a slow computer to food that doesn’t heat quickly enough in the microwave.  Statistics from somewhere (if I looked them up) would tell me that our attention spans are shrinking and that we are a generation who wants everything NOW.

Question: Do I blame my impatience on the state of present culture?

I have grown up with computers and cell phones, television and microwaves.  Is patience really a virtue we should desire?

I’m going to go with a YES on that one.

 

Yesterday we started discussing a great question by TC.  She asked, “How can we actively apply and exhibit the fruit of patience in our lives?”

Patience is one of nine traits listed in the Fruit of the Spirit.  Plant yourself, connect yourself, abide with Jesus and the Bible says that the fruit produced will be these nine eye-catching things.  (Don’t you notice when someone oozes kindness or patience?)

But what happens if you feel like one or some of these fruits aren’t defining character traits for you?  Is this yet another time to throw up your hands and shift the blame elsewhere?

I don’t think so.

We were born with personality traits.  I’m fairly outgoing but my husband tends to be more of an introvert.  He can speak to a whole room of people if needed, but he won’t enjoy it as much as I will.  The Fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23 aren’t personality traits.  They are different aspects of godly character– and character is something that can be developed and grown.  I don’t get to blame impatience on my personality, even though I certainly might like to!

You see, usually impatience comes because I have unmet expectations.  (We’ve talked about these before!)  We had a plan for the day and it didn’t involve the printer jamming, our friend making us late, or the driver in front of us going 15 under the speed limit.  It’s all about control and it is all about ME.  Notice that none of the Fruit of the Spirit have to do with self-promotion.  That’s just it… it’s not about ME.

Step #1 to cultivating fruit: Recognize that it’s not about me because it’s all about Him.

Check out 2nd Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”

This passage talks about a definite change in our lives.  When we recognize that we can’t hold it together, that we’ve made mistakes (yes, sinned), and that we need a rescuer… that’s when Jesus steps in to make us new.  Notice it doesn’t say that we receive perfection in that moment.  You and I are a work in progress for our entire lives.  Remember that God is FOR us.  He’s not waiting for us to mess up, He is coming along-side us right where we are!

I recognize that sometimes impatience isn’t associated with irritability.  Sometimes our impatience looks more like anxiety and worry.  That’s still a problem because it’s basically saying that we distrust God and what He has for us.  (A great friend of mine just posted about this very aspect of patience.)  God is head over heels crazy about us and (thankfully) He is in control.  His timing is for His people.

Step #2 to cultivating fruit: Strengthen your muscles.

While there is no growth or change happening without the Lord, gaining strength in this area requires exercise.  I take the time to strengthen my arms with weights, and my spiritual life isn’t any different.  I have to daily notate where I am living selfishly and not producing good fruit.  Thankfully God seems to be totally aware of my blind spots and seems more than happy to keep giving me situations in which to recognize the lacking fruit.  “I have the slow cashier again?!” Maybe that’s an opportunity to meet the cashier and show kindness… and in doing so you utilize vast amounts of patient strength you didn’t know you had!  Growth is going to take some strength training, so don’t get frustrated if you feel like a lightweight when it comes to patience.  The time devoted will pay off.

Cultivating good fruit in our lives is a process that will take a lifetime.   I will not arrive at a point where I am never impatient, but perhaps one day I will be thought of as a patient woman.

Oh would that day come sooner! ;)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Come back tomorrow for more helpful hints on cultivating good fruit!  Be blessed!