Proverbs 16:32-33 (NLT) Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
Patience and self-control have proven quite beneficial yet the most hard gained lesson in life. I was born quite impatient. Waiting is not my natural response in any situation. Self-control is definitely a quality of the Holy Spirit and nothing I have derived from myself. This morning I opened the Word of God looking for purpose and a promise to remind me why I engage in the good fight of faith day after day. The Lord has been good to me. His Promise is that His Grace is enough for me (2 Cor. 12:9) so surely if I toss down my shield and sword for one day – I will be covered. I serve the Lord simply because I love Him. I also know now why new mercy is necessary on any given day – well, every day to be exact. It is given so in the midst of opposition and adversity that grows in my persistence to follow Christ that I can “still dare to hope” when I remember that “the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness; His Mercies begin afresh each morning! (Lamentations 3:21-23)
“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” What’s the point of faith? Why must we learn to be patient? What is the betterment of self-control? If the Lord determines every outcome, why not just sit back and relax? Why must I stand on faith? Why do I need His Word? What is the point of His Spirit? Why do we follow Christ if we are all going to end up in the same place? Truthfully and transparently – I have discovered that the more immersed I become in my pursuit of Christ the more detached I feel from ordinary life. Always looking for His Handprint in the midst of chaos and uncertainty I wonder if maybe just maybe I have taken it too far. After all, I am only human. God created me and knows my limitations. So why must I press, push and pray until something happens. Isn’t it already predetermined by predestination?
Patience is better than power. Why? Power gives us the false confidence of control in life. Our power is limited by our inability to be perfect. Due to our fallibility, there is no possible way for us to be in complete control. Self-control is better than conquering a city. This thing called faith has the potential to produce great glory in our life. Our purpose is to be the Sons and Daughters of the One and Only True God. Our process is called life. Those that endure to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Yet in the midst of this process, there is a disconnection from the world and its problems that creates a longing and yearning for the Kingdom. How does one deal with this displacement? How do I continue to stay engaged until the end?
Matthew 13:10-13 (NLT) His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
There are some days when I feel like a foreigner. We are called to be temporary residents yet the isolation and lack of community in this place can be overwhelming. People flock to churches each week. They hear the same word. Yet the seeds of faith found in God’s Word are scattered. Some hear the message but do not understand it so the evil one snatches it before a single root can form. There are those who receive it with hope and find a sense of joy that is quickly overshadowed by the problems of life so that give up on it quickly. There is seed that never makes it past the cares, concerns and worries of life to the heart. Only a few seeds will make it to the good soil of the broken heart ready to receive the faith that is offered in following Jesus. But what about the rest…
Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. If I hold it in my hand, it will die there. It must be planted and allowed to reproduce in my life which requires all the patience and self-control that the Holy Spirit and I can muster. It is in this tiny seed that I can have new life. As for “good soil” in my heart, it is brought forth by brokenness. It’s funny that as my mom continues to recover from open heart surgery that I have become more aware of how important the human heart really is. Listening to a doctor talk about her inability to maintain a steady heartbeat, he shared that her heart has been cut and handled – this is its response to the violation. My mom must be patient as the process of healing is well under way but to also be mindful that once her heart was manipulated it may never be the same. The Word of God that has been planted in my heart must grow. Growth potential in Christ will always displace self. We must be patient. We must maintain self-control – not responding to the change or the pain but the promise that is being birthed in our disposition.
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
The wisdom that I have found in the Lord is labeled “wait”. Patience is birthed in our wait times. Though it seems like I have grown more patient, it is not hardly enough. I must wait on the Lord and endure to the end. No matter how frustrated, uncertain or overwhelmed I become – I must wait on the Lord. The Lord has ordered my steps with purpose. I have a future and hope found only in Jesus Christ. I can choose life or death today. It is in each moment that I decide to wait just a little longer for the Lord. It is decided in the crucifixion of my flesh to gain self-control. There are some days it is easy as hope in the future is as clear as day. But in those moments, days and seasons when I am begin tested for genuine faith and valid trust in the Lord, that I can see nothing but solely must rely on what I know of the Lord that I must seek more wisdom and grow the knowledge base so my roots will grow deeper in a love though fathomless requires faithfulness to be seen.
My thoughts are scattered today. I cannot understand the activity of God. I hate those days that seem like two steps forward and three steps back. I am terrible at line dancing including the electric slide. If given the opportunity, I will take you out inadvertently just trying to learn the steps. Lord, I need patience but hate the process most days. I desire self-control but my pride is hurting. I know You! I love You! I trust You – even on those days it seems hard and overwhelming! You have a plan for my life that is good and beneficial. It is Your Desire to bless me with every good thing Your Kingdom has to offer. Help me to keep planting today even though I don’t feel like it. Challenge me to press and push each seed just a little deeper and wait for each one to grow. I must not abandon my field but dig in to watch and wait until you come. I know that you are coming!
Proverbs 16:1-3 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
“The Lord examines their motives.” Faith is my motivation today. Nothing more and nothing less. It is the only thing that has allowed me to live through what I thought might surely kill me. The hope that I have in the Lord is life to me. We can make all the plans that we want but God will always be available to clue us in to His Way, His Plan and His Purpose. We may be pure in our own eyes but time and time again I have discovered in the Word of God and by His Spirit that my right is not as important as His Righteousness and sharing it with others. God does not cram righteousness down my throat or gloat in it – the Lord offers His Righteousness to me as a life giving gift smothered in grace that makes my worthiness of it unimportant. He is patient with me. The Lord exemplifies self-control because while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. The Lord examines the motives of my heart searching for a commitment to Him rising from faith, surrounded in trust, governed by patience and maintained by self-control. What will He find today? Will I continue to live a committed life based on what I know and not what I feel? I hope so. If I fail, then what? His New Mercy will be waiting for me again tomorrow.
Proverbs 16:22 (NLT) Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools.
As my life advances, those things that I once thought were important really aren’t anymore. It is true that people mellow with age. Brokenness will change hearts and minds, too. Patience is an invitation to be broken again and again as we give up our need for immediate gratification to wait on the Lord to grow His Plan and Purpose from the mustard-seed called faith that He has planted in us. Self-control keeps us from abandoning the field allowing others to reap the reward. I can live a disciplined life and experience the Blessings of God through the law of sowing and reaping. The Lord always honors His Word. Discretion is one’s ability to make the right choice based on the knowledge and discipline that they have acquired. It is to decide based on fact rather than impulse. It is to wait and watch for the Lord even when nothing points to His Arrival. Faith grows in the waiting. It responds to His Promise and not our predicament. There will always be days when you question what you are doing with your life based on the results. The Holy Spirit encourages us to wait and watch some more. To be patient. To maintain self-control. This is a trait of endurance marking those who will be saved.
Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.