Summary: Sermon Series for Advent , 4 of 9 on the fruits of the Spirit
Midweek Advent Service December 11, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Be Prepared for Christ’s Coming With Patience
I. Christmas shows how patient God is with us
II. God’s patience leads us to be patient
Fellow patient Christians waiting to celebrate the birth of our Savior and his return:
As you drive by the Mississippi River, you can almost always see egrets or herons in the water. They are usually just standing there looking down. Apparently they pick a spot and wait for a fish to swim by so that they can spear it and eat it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one get a fish, but they must do it often enough to be able to survive. When I looked at tonight’s fruit of the Spirit, the picture of these birds came immediately to mind. To me they personify "patience."
As we approach December 25, we need to talk about patience. The Christmas rush makes it hard to wait in lines patiently. The excitement of seeing all the gifts wrapped under the tree makes it hard to wait patiently until the time when they can be opened. A lack of patience can spoil the holidays if we aren’t careful. It can produce short tempers and strained relations.
But even more, the lack of patience can lead us to forget what Christmas is all about. If the birds in the river weren’t patient, they would lose their next meal. If that happens too often, they would die of starvation. If Christians aren’t patient, they don’t take time to be spiritually fed. If that happens too often, they lose their faith and die eternally. Tonight we remember to BE PREPARED FOR CHRIST’S COMING WITH PATIENCE.
1. Christmas shows how patient God is with us.
“When the time had fully come.” These words often get lost in the Christmas story. But they are important. They first of all show God’s patience with us. Our God waited patiently for about 4,000 years before fulfilling the promise of a Savior that he made to Adam and Eve and then repeated through the years to the other Old Testament believers. Why did God wait so long? We don’t know; God’s Word doesn’t tell us. All we know is that when the time was right according to God’s plan, God sent his Son to earth to save the world. He patiently waited until just the right time.
As we wait for the Lord’s return on Judgment Day, we might also wonder why he is waiting so long. Again we don’t know the specific answer. All we know is that when the time is right, the Lord will come again. He will act in a way that is best for the salvation of his people. Scripture tells us: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In one sense, the reason God the Father sent his Son to earth 2,000 years ago is the same reason that God the Son will return in the future. He has chosen the time that will best serve for the salvation of his own.
We see God’s great patience throughout the Old Testament. His people, the Israelites, were often openly rebellious. Their sins of idolatry and immorality were great, but God’s patience was greater. Instead of bringing eternal death and destruction upon them, he continued to set the stage for the appropriate time to send the world a Savior.
We also see God’s great patience throughout the New Testament times and right up to the present. The Lord Jesus’ patience was tried by even his closest followers, the apostles. His patience is tried by those who follow him today. This includes you and me. Our sins of thought, word, and deed make it absolutely necessary for God to be patient. Without patience he would most certainly have already damned us to hell. But the Lord is patient, and that means salvation for all who believe in him as Savior. And that means that the sins we commit are forgiven—all because God patiently sent us a Savior who died for our sins.
Think of how we must try God’s patience with the way we go about celebrating the birth of his Son. Two thirds or more of our members aren’t here tonight. Some are absent for legitimate reasons. Others are gone because they feel they don’t have time to prepare for Jesus’ birth amidst all the other preparations they feel they must do. And even many of us here probably have trouble listening to and concentrating on the God’s Word because of so many worldly concerns and distractions on our minds. Thank God that he is patient, or we wouldn’t make it until Christmas, and we surely wouldn’t make it into heaven.