This week’s memory verse:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 (emphasis added)
Fresh beginnings. The newness of it, the potential, creates excitement. We often can’t wait to get started. But the middle is another story all together. Somewhere in the middle the battle begins. We can’t go back, but we’re weary in the moving forward. All the new has worn off and we get impatient. Suddenly we find ourselves wondering, What was I thinking?!
Patience is the place where the middle meets the road because the writer of Ecclesiastes was right. The end is better than the beginning, but we need patience to get there.
God’s vast patience ushers in on wings of grace. He’s willing to wait for the perfect time. Until all those who will come to Him have come. He’ll not tarry when the Day does come, and on that day we’ll see. Our eyes will behold what all this patient waiting is meant to do. Oh, what a glorious day it will be!
Love is patient.
Some translations say: long-suffering or suffers long.
The Greek translated here means: to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
Read James 1:2-4
What should we consider all joy?
What do trials produce in us?
When we consider our own trials as joy and persevere through them. Not wavering in our faith. What is the result?
Complaining often reveals a lack of patience. We want circumstances to change, people to change, or change in ourselves to happen in an instant. When it doesn’t, we complain.
What might happen if you chose to see the things you complain about as an opportunity to become mature? lacking in nothing?
There was a time I complained about everything. When my marriage was new and we were young, very young, I complained about having no help around the house and not having enough money. The more I complained, the worse things became. I wanted my husband to change. The way I figured it, if he would just listen to my complaints and do it my way, then life would be full of joy.
After being married about four years, I remember thinking, “I’m still married. He’ still the same person. What’s changed?”
The answer, “ME!” I’ve changed. I thought my hubby needed an overhaul, but I was the one God changed from the inside out and the transformation happened so slowly I didn’t recognize it.
God’s patience for me taught me patience for others.
In our complaining, we’re like the two-year old throwing a fit, and in His perfect parenting plan He uses our circumstances to bring about spiritual maturity.
Read 2 Peter 3:9-10
What purpose does God’s patience serve?
God’s patience has one purpose… to bring His children to Him. He doesn’t lose His patience like we do. There is never a point when He snaps because there is not enough patience in Him.
Read Romans 2:4-5
At what point does God’s stored up wrath come down on someone? Do you see this as God losing patience? Is that even possible? Why or why not?
How have you seen God suffering long for you? What area in your life has been transformed through His patience?
Is there a Bible story or Scripture that comes to mind when you think about God’s patience toward His children?
He has suffered long since the Fall of man in the garden of Eden. Jesus suffered long for us on the cross. The long-suffering patience of God’s love brings about salvation.
What emotions stir as you consider God’s patience for you?
Consider who God’s asking you to be patient with, suffer long with or for, to bring about salvation.
Lord, bless us with the patience to love those in our lives who need to be set free.
This week’s spiritual discipline:
This week’s discipline might be tough because we get into a rhythm as we go about our day and develop habits when it comes to waiting. Consider how you wait.
Do you find yourself choosing the shortest traffic line as you approach a stop light? Do you look for a bank teller with no line?
This week choose the longest lines when possible. Look for opportunities to build relationship and share God’s love as you wait. Help the frazzled momma entertain her kids in the waiting. Talk to a stranger about their day. Smile at the cashier when you finally get there.
Take time to enjoy the waiting.
Questions for your Summer Soak Journal:
What happened when you chose a longer way? Or did you? If not, what kept you from giving the spiritual discipline a try?
Is your schedule so packed, you have no margin? Ask God if all the doing is His doing or yours?
Who did you encounter in the waiting? Did you speak to them, encourage in some way? How did it feel to choose to wait?
Patience is one characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Ask God to reveal His patience with you. Pray for those you want to have more patience with.