Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirt is... PEACE and PATIENCE

I love that these two fruits of the spirit ended up together, because I feel that they go right hand-in-hand! Having peace with God's plan for you is going to give you patience with how those plans play out, and striving to deal with the issues of life with patience is going to lead to an atmosphere of peace.

What is peace? In a sermon several years ago, I heard a story of how several painters were given the challenge of painting what peace looked like. Several people drew quiet country scenes, or maybe a family gathered around the dinner table, or a sleepy snowy town. And those things can be "peaceful". But then the judges saw the next picture, and they all exclaimed,  "That is true peace."

The painting was of a great rushing waterfall, in front of which, very close to falls, there was a tree. But what made the judges realize that this displayed peace, was a little nest on the branch of the tree. And a mama bird, completely without fear of the crashing water, sat patiently waiting for her little birds to hatch. She had peace that, though the waters were full of turmoil, God would keep the waters running their course, and she would be safe in his hand, even so close to danger.

Peace is trusting God, even when around us is chaos. Even when things appear bad, knowing that God is in control. He has planned every one of our days, and we can rest in him, knowing that he is doing all for our refinement for his glory.

I love these verses from "How Firm a Foundation".  The whole hymn is a beautiful reminder to me that we are to trust and rest in God's plan and have peace with his direction, but these verses have always been my favorite...

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

Christ says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world". We do not have peace because we are secure in the world. We have peace because the world is secure in the hand of our Lord, the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace", Isaiah 9:6. Dwelling on the Lord will give us peace in him, as Isaiah 26: 3 reminds us; "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Charles Spurgeon tells us that "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of it's sorrows, but only empties today of it's strength."

2 Timothy 2:22 says to "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart". Peace is a virtue that is a mark of those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Obviously, it starts with following Christ and his righteousness, but then it spills out into every aspect of our live. We are told to live in fellowship with all those God brings into our live, "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace", Ephesians 2:14-15.

As for patience... I am not a patient person by nature. I am rather a perfectionistic over-achiver, a quality that comes with a high level of un-quality impatience. I speak on no authority on this. I am constantly battling impatience myself. But my desire is that God would cultivate a spirit of  patience in me for "to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life" (Romans 2:7).

In my friend Katie's post today, I loved how she mentioned that God doesn't just give us patience when we ask him to help us be patient- he gives us situations that will help us grow patience! St. Francis of Assisi (no clue who he is, found this quote as a quote in a book, haha!) says that "No one will ever know the full depth of his capacity for patience and humility as long as nothing bothers him. It is only when times are troubled and difficult that he can see how much of either is in him." It's easy to be carefree when things happen as we like, but when put in a situation that is undesirable, that is when patience is needed... the definition of patience is literally "a state of endurance under difficult circumstances"! But we can "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces patience." But if we didn't have suffering, we wouldn't need patience, right? Well, Luke 8:15 says "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Those who cultivate patience will glean fruit in other areas! Isn't it amazing how every fruit of the spirit grows when one grows?! It's like planting certain vegetables in the same area of the garden together, as they will help each other grow, making each one stronger, while still each being a different, vibrant, maturing fruit :)!

When might we need patience? In any area of life! When you are babysitting and not being obeyed, you definitely need patience! Your little sibling's relationship with you is of so much more importance than that they put towels in the hamper. Of course, they need to take care of the towels, too, if they were told; but it's not life or death. You need to back down, pray for patience, and *then* talk to the sibling. I have found that speaking patiently gets just as good results, and far less tears- on everyones part. That doesn't mean that I'm never impatient. I am... *so* much. But it is so worth it to make the effort to respond in the way the Lord is leading, rather than to follow our sinful flesh. God's way is always best, isn't it :)? While I was studying patience today, I found this verse, that I think is one that I will be memorizing, because it is something I need constant reminder of: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient", 2 Timothy 2:24. Must not strive; must deal patiently with others, *even* if they are the ones in the wrong. Must be gentle to all men; even when they are being difficult and you don't want to. Able to teach; even when the pupil is a slow learner and you can bake the meal quicker and cleaner when doing it yourself. Patient; in all things.

"We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

"May the God of peace be with you all" (Romans 15:33) :).


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"May the Lord, the God of your fathers... bless you!" Deuteronomy 1:11