Welcome to another LIVE edition of Brooklands Digital Church! As always, the service is also available via our YouTube channel.
Our Pastor Rev. Karl Stanfield brings us the message today, and we have another full service in what is week three of our new live digital format.
The message is available as audio only using the LISTEN button above. An audio MP3 file can also be downloaded via the SAVE button.
The Bible readings are taken from Isaiah 40:1-8 and James 5:7-11.
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if watching the recording.
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My earliest recollection of ‘waiting patiently’ was as a child sitting with my mum in the local doctor’s surgery. It was on the main street of our small town. People were packed in tight in the cramped foyer – now that I think about it, a really unhealthy environment when people had colds in the middle of winter!
There were no booking appointments – you just turned up. When the next person arrived, a few people would volunteer to let them know the latest order of patients to see the doctor; usually with the words, ‘You’re after me!’
I think that for most of us we tolerate waiting; we do not love it; but I wonder if God has a greater purpose embedded in it. Like in Psalm 40:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)
There are three ways to wait for something, and the First Way is:
1. Waiting that is done Patiently
I am struck with James’ economy of words here in this final chapter. He writes in verse 7, ‘Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.’ (James 5: 7)
So, he isn’t talking about being patient until Christmas comes; or until your birthday arrives – or even until some project or major life change dawns. The strength of what James says about ‘patience’ is linked to the ‘Lord’s coming’. I tell you – that is realpatience! To put it another way – Patience is one of the ways we are called upon to express our faith. Faith, like patience, only works when we are in it for the long haul!
The important link between Faith and Patience is also extended to ‘Hope’. Our Hopes and acts of faith are rarely realized immediately. Usually, they require inordinate amounts of time… Perhaps that is why James opens his letter talking about ‘perseverance’.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4) Other translations have the word, ‘steadfastness’.If this sounds like an impossibility, listen to the next illustration James presents us with. ‘See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.’ (Jam 5: 7b)
Waiting for the Lord to return is the same kind of patience that a Farmer needs as he waits for Harvest and the autumn rain after a long hot and dry summer. He is waiting for something God has promised.
When setting the alarm at church, I have to push in the code and then – wait for the beep before pushing another button on the keypad. If I am in a rush, the two-second wait for that beep seems a long time! Someone has said that we are living in a ‘microwave generation’ – more and more we seem to want what we want sooner rather than later. But in the spiritual realm, this is not always the case. This is where we come to a second, and rather important, point…
2. Waiting that is done Expectantly
The next illustration James gives us is of the Bible character, Job. He was a man who exhibited this type of patience. Even through his many afflictions, he chose to wait on the Lord; and yes, patience is a choice. “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseveranceand have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:11)
Job always believed he was in the hands of God. In one sense, Job is the ultimate servant, and the God he believed in, the ultimate Master. Though he did not know what would happen to him in this world, he did – ultimately – expect the Lord to bring about the best possible outcome.
It is perhaps famously best expressed in Job’s succinct statements of faith – ‘Even though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him’. (Job 13: 15) and, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my body has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;” (Job 19:25–26) One commentator writes, ‘The word for trust used here means properly to wait, stay or delay; and it usually conveys the idea of waiting with expectation. The sense here is that his expectation or hope was in God!’
To be honest, at other times – waiting on the Lord can be like watching grass grow; and we can be tempted to think – when is it ever going to happen? However, I have to say that often I have looked out of my kitchen window and thought – wow, I need to cut the grass again – yet, it only seems like a couple of days since I did it!
Waiting is different in different seasons. Grass grows quickly in the summer months and very slowly in the winter months! Perhaps we could choose to wait upon the Lord like looking at and listening to an old-fashioned grandfather clock. You can’t see the hands move, but with each tick-tock, you know that time is slipping by.
The truth is, God is working all the time with our best interests in mind but moving at His own pace. I sometimes think that ‘Patience’ is just about understanding God’s pace, as opposed to our pace.
3. Waiting as a Testimony
Verse twelve, in this last chapter of James, is often thought by many people to be out of place here. What have swearing oaths got to do with these topics of faith or patience? The fact that James starts the verse with the words, ‘Above all…let your Yes be yes, and your No, no!’ elevates what he is about to say.
The Psalmist writes,
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gaveme a firm place to stand.” (Ps 40:1–2)
This Patience is filled with testimony! It was a big ‘Yes’; he knew the Lord would not let him down.
I am reminded that ‘Simeon, who was righteous and devout’, was waiting for ‘the consolation of Israel’ and is mentioned in the story of Christ’s Nativity. He was an old man. His waiting had been rewarded. It was the duration of his wait that emphasized his faith, not the speed with which the event came to pass!
Which is the greater faith – is it, Believing and getting it immediately? Or, Trusting God to decide when it will happen? What is the Lord asking you to wait for these days?
Both Jesus and James spoke of the importance of plain honest words. Hebrews chapter 11, the ‘faith chapter’, tells of those who waited patiently and did not receive the promised reward in their lifetime . . . But what a testimony their lives were! The writer strikingly comments ‘the world was not worthy of them…’
Then the next chapter opens with these words,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Here are Three Ways to walk the talk: do it Patiently, do it Expectantly and as a Testimony – and many will follow. Amen.