Summary: Begin to realize that delays and problems are opportunities to develop patience.

Iliff and Saltillo UM churches

Third Sunday of Lent

March 23, 2003

“Expect Delays: Developing Patience”

James 1:1-4 II Peter 1:4-8

INTRODUCTION: We would all like to be able to sing the song, “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, Oh what a beautiful morning, everything’s going my way.” Sometimes we have days like that. But a lot of our days don’t quite come up to those expectations. In “real life” we experience many delays and frustrations.

We ask, “well, why can’t things go my way once in awhile? Why am I always having delays and hassles all the time?”

Peter said, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12).

This morning, I would like you to think about times when you are the most impatient. What makes you lose your patience the quickest and in what circumstances?

1. abrasive people

2. family members especially

3. delays on the interstate

4. slow rush hour traffic

5. crowds

6. a slow checkout line at K Mart

7. trying to get out of a parking lot after a ballgame

8. when surrounded by a mountain of work

9. when you are sick and waiting in the emergency room

10. car trouble leaving you stuck on the freeway

There seems to be no end to things you could name. There are all kinds of delays as well as numerous other circumstances that cause us to lose our patience. Scripture calls the many things that “bug” us and cause us to lose patience trials--it could be delays such as we have mentioned, or it could be trouble of various kinds that come our way. Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scriptures.

1. What Good Are Delays?: Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you and ask God to give you patience? When you do that you are really asking for God to send you some kind of delays or hassles. Scripture tells us that patience emerges out of trials. What good are delays? The by-product of delays and trials is patience.--the very thing we need. It doesn’t matter where the difficulties come from--whether from the outside or from inner moral tests. Also note that James uses the word trials of many kinds not just one trial. Sometimes we use the saying, “when it rains it pours” to describe one thing that happens after another. We wonder why problems seem to be “clustered” together. Perhaps the need for patience has brought these patience-producing tests in the form of delays and other problems.

James says in James 1:2 “ know that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (KJV).

In Romans 5:3, Paul also says, “we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.”

You might ask, “well if delays and problems are so good for us, should we pray that God will send us more?” I don’t think so. Life brings us these things just in the process of living our daily lives. There are enough traffic jams, abrasive people who rub us the wrong way, as well as a myriad of other things that come our way to do the job without asking for more.

Story: Not Much Of A Truck Driver Either

A truck driver stopped at an all-night restaurant in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The waitress had just served him when three swaggering, leather-jacketed motorcyclists -- of the Hell’s Angels type --entered and rushed up to him, apparently trying to pick a fight. One grabbed the hamburger off his plate; another took a handful of his French fries; and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.

The trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.

When she returned, one of the cyclists said to her, "Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?" She replied, "I can’t answer, but he’s not much of a truck driver. He just backed over three motorcycles out in the parking lot."

I’m not sure at what stage in the patience process this truck driver was in. I think the Lord may have had to do some more work.

The point that James wants to make is--”when all kinds of trials come your way, do not resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends.” Another translation says, “don’t try to squirm out of your problems.” The Message Bible says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides” (v. 2). The New Living Translation says, “when trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy...”

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