Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Many Times …

How many times have we heard – or said that? I heard it from my Mom, and I’ve said it to my children. Usually there’s a “not to” in there, too:  “How many times do I have to tell you not to …” There were even: “Do I have to tell you a million times …” Did you ever get tired of hearing that?

Do you wonder about God’s patience? Do we think it’s as short as our own?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:3-5)

All those things David understood, then wrote:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: (Psalms 37:7a)

God can also wait patiently while those who reject His will move on with their lives and another generation comes on to the scene. For forty years the children of Israel remained in the desert, declining to accept God’s word that the land He promised them was available. They lacked faith, though what they had seen and heard, in Egypt and in the Sinai, were God’s words.

We only have men’s writings of those events, and the ones surrounding the promise of God’s forgiving grace and mercy. How many times must it be shown before we have confidence in God’s word?

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

There are several Bible verses that tell us God is “slow to anger,” but I like Jonah’s the best. Jonah is angry with God for sparing Nineveh when he said:

And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:2)

God was patient with Nineveh, Jonah was not. It took Paul a while to learn this lesson. At first he was not patience with Christians. He did not heed what his teacher, Gamaliel, said:

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. (Acts 5:38-39)

It took a meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus for him to understand, follow God’s will and write:

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24)

What will it take for us to accept God’s will in our own lives to the point we no longer strive but aptly teach with patience?

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