As a farmer waits for growth and ripening, so we must wait for progress in our lives.

Overheard – Patience in Affliction

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:7b-8

The farmer waits. Crops must germinate, grow, ripen. So must your life. Wait.Faking patience. Our own thinking tells us, of course, the lack of affliction causes us to act patient.

That is true.

And as long as all we are concerned with is acting the part, a lack of affliction will suffice.

True patience. The Word of God has a different take on it.

God says we need affliction, troubles, problems, even suffering, in order to learn true patience.

Fake patience will evaporate in any trial. And trials will come.

You know it, too: No pain, no gain, right?

James uses the farmer to illustrate the necessity of waiting and the reward for patience.

When a farmer plants his seeds, he knows that he will have to work and wait before he will see the fruit of his labor. First he tills the ground. Then he plants seed and prays for rain. In a few days he sees something coming up through the ground.

What would you think of a farmer who harvested his crop after those few days’ growth? Would he have anything worth eating or selling?

No, he needs to wait more, be patient more. He wants a strong, mature crop. That takes time. He has to work—tilling, weeding, irrigating—and wait until the process is complete. If he harvests too early, he will ruin it.

Parents must be patient too.

The first nine months seem to go forever. It’s a difficult wait, but a good chance to do the work of accumulating baby supplies. The next few hours of working and waiting for delivery to be over can seem like forever, too. We do warp time, don’t we!

But immediately after that all waiting is over, right? Wrong.

It’s time for a different time warp.

Parents work for years, caring for a child and instilling in him the training, discipline and encouragement he needs to mature enough to survive on his own.

Sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back. After all, they DO say we spend two years teaching a child to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives teaching them to sit down and hush. Heh heh.

It’s that way for every parent. Do not think for one minute that if you ditch your child, you will relieve yourself of the waiting, of the work of learning patience. You don’t really know patience unless you’ve waited for a prodigal.

Yes, child-rearing takes patience. In the same way, our Father is patiently training, disciplining, encouraging, and maturing us—through our afflictions—to be more like Jesus.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4

As we anticipate the rewards of patience, we can endure whatever happens in our lives. We can cope when we remember that heaven is forever and earth is passing. When the ground is shaking all around us and we are tempted to despair, we know God loves us and is with us. We can be patient because we know Jesus will come again and all bad things in life will finally be set right.

We do not merit any blessing from God, regardless of our personal right-doings. All blessings come from God’s mercy, and without God’s mercy and compassion toward us, we would be at Satan’s pleasure all the time and life on earth would be like Hell.

As it clearly is, for some people.

Same for our children. We love them and show them compassion, supplying their every need, for no reason other than our loving mercy. When we do not, their lives are like hell.

Never forget that.

If we want the blessing of whole adult offspring, we must humble ourselves and patiently endure the working and waiting.

The masses…

As a farmer waits for germination, growth, and ripening, so we must wait for our lives to show progress.

Most people today are characterized by impatience and love of ease. They are motivated by immediate and shallow rewards. They seem unwilling to work and wait. They are lured by lottery, credit card debt, and get-rich-quick schemes. They look to preachers who will feed this attitude, teaching Godliness as a means of gain. They have itching ears.

Quitting seems easier.

We should work and wait for the autumn rains. Really.

Don’t quit.

Especially do not quit on your family.

Overheard: Mary Was a Mother . . .

The preacher said:

English: element of a stained glass window of ...

Element of a stained glass window of the 17th century, representing the crucifixion of Jesus, Church Saint-Etienne du Mont, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34-35

So went the prophecy spoken over Jesus and Mary when he was presented at the temple as a new-born. A sword would pierce her soul.

We see the Cross differently than Mary did. We see the punishment for our sin, the Lamb of God, atonement, salvation, and eternal life. We look back at the Crucifixion. We gloss over the agony of the Cross because we cannot imagine such horror. Mary saw it as it was happening. She saw her child suffering.

But it was happening before Mary’s horrified eyes: Her child’s blood running down, His labored gasps for air, nails piercing his hands and feet. And there was nothing she could do to help her child.

She saw her child publicly disgraced as He hung naked on the Cross. Crucifixion was intended to be humiliating and painful as a deterrent to crime. All the pride Mary felt for her son was now turned to disgrace in the public eye.

She saw the death of her hopes and dreams. This was the son who was to care for her in old age. This was the son who had achieved so much fame. Her hopes and dreams were great but now they were crushed. Her son was dying. She felt like dying, too.

At the Cross, a sword pierced Mary’s soul. While Jesus purposely suffered to redeem us, Mary was there unwillingly, weeping over the injustice, watching her son die a cruel death. The sword was piercing the heart of a mother’s love.

Jesus was dying for her sins as well, but He also knew what she was suffering. Therefore, as her son, He provided for her future on earth, as well as in Heaven, while He hung on the Cross.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27

The cost of our salvation includes shame, suffering, and sacrifice. Willingly, Jesus walked into such a death for us, with a love greater than a mother’s.

Overheard: At the Foot of Mt. Sinai

Recently our church studied the Book of Acts.

We saw early Christians respond with courage to severe persecution.

We saw miracles were normal for the early church.

We might say such strong faith is something we long to see in our church.

But do we really?

We sing, “Revive us again,” and “Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.”

But do we really desire and plead for the presence and power of God to revive us?

I wonder if we are content with the “mercy drops”.

Maybe really we are satisfied to have the Lord simply break through, every now and then, to do a mighty thing or two among us, but we really aren’t serious when it comes to wanting to see the full power and presence of His Holy Spirit.

Now some say we are living in a different dispensation and that the age of miracles is over — that was for a specific time and place to authenticate the message of the apostles, but we no longer need that today.

English: Sunrise on Mt. Sinai in Egypt
English: Sunrise on Mt. Sinai in Egypt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really!!

The church doesn’t need the power and presence of Holy Spirit today?

Miracles are happening in mission fields where people have never heard of Jesus, why not here?

Is not “Jesus Christ […] the same yesterday and today and forever” as it states in Hebrews 13:8?

I’m afraid we have become comfortable and accustomed to the absence of God’s Presence in our meetings.

In reality, maybe the Presence of God scares us, just as it scared the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, and as a result, we don’t experience the miracles of God.

And our faith is dying.

When God sends forth the Holy Spirit, amazing things happen:

Barriers are broken.

Communities are transformed.

Unity is established.

Diseases are healed.

Addictions are broken.

Marriages are reconciled.

Hope is established.

People are blessed.

Revival comes.

That’s what the preacher said.

And we know there is more he didn’t say.

Much more.

Let’s go for it.