I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry (Psalm 40:1, NKJV).
We must learn to wait patiently on the Lord. That is made difficult in our world of instant gratification. The internet brings “next-day delivery” via Amazon. Cell phones are now walking computers giving immediate contact to the world. Texting is “instant,” and any disruptive delay of service causes anxiety. By contrast, the agricultural life commends patience to us. “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8). God does not work on our schedule of expectations. Prayer is not a demand list we take to God. No, we humbly petition Him with trust that He hears us (Ps. 40:4-5). And He does hear His people. “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me!” is the patient prayer of the righteous (Ps. 40:13). Those who patiently wait on the Lord praise Him for His deliverance and are obedient, delighting in His will (Ps. 40:2-3, 6-8). Patient trust in God’s salvation compels us to “proclaim the good news of righteousness” rather than hide God’s faithfulness and truth (Ps. 40:9-10). At all times, patiently waiting on the Lord means we seek Him and love His salvation above anything this world offers (Ps. 40:16; Matt. 6:33). Be patient, endure, imitate David’s faith, and say along with him, “But I am poor and needy; Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God” (Ps. 40:17).
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12, NKJV)
Endurance is essential to resisting the temptations of sin. Our adversary, the devil, continually probes for openings and opportunities to entice us not to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; to sin against God (Mk. 12:30). Endurance is spiritual, mental, and emotional fortitude that perseveres through the moment of trial. James reminds us of some reasons why we endure temptations. 1) Because endurance brings God’s approval. The trials of life test our faith, and the devil seeks to exploit them. When we endure them, our faith grows stronger and has God’s approval (Jas. 1:3-4). 2) Because God has promised us a reward. The crown of life is promised to those who finish the course and keep the faith, not those who shrink back (2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 10:36-39). God will keep His word to us; We must keep our word to Him. 3) Because we love God. God has promised eternal life “to those who love Him.” We express our love for God over a love of this world when we endure temptation and do God’s will (1 Jno. 2:15-17). Endurance means committing ourselves to love God with more than words, but also with our deeds (Jno. 14:15; 1 Jno. 3:16-19). Enduring temptations is not easy but possible. God gives us a means of escape, that we “may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13, ESV).
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3, NKJV)
The foundations of our society are cracked. Decades of denying the existence of God and His truth, of sanctioning the killing innocent, unborn life, of oppression of our neighbors to get ahead, and of rejecting the fundamental truths of morality and marriage – all these and more can tempt us to despair of hope and remedy. Through David, God gives us answers that look above the moment and beyond the horizon of hurt and horror. When the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can 1) Keep their trust in the Lord God (Psa. 11:1-2). Corrective truth comes from God, not humans (Jer. 10:23). He protects us from an eternal perspective that we must foster that grounds us in times of trouble. 2) Remember God has not moved (Psa. 11:4). He remains enthroned in heaven; His sovereignty secures our faith and assures us His purposes prevail. 3) Know God sees and investigates every person and judges between the good and the evil (Psa. 11:4-6). The wicked do not escape His gaze and cannot hide from His justice (Rev. 6:12-17). 4) Know God is righteous, and He loves righteousness (Psa. 11:7). He beholds and rewards those who seek peace and pursue righteousness (Matt. 6:33). The righteous remain steadfast when foundations are shaken because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. God is a consuming fire upon evil and the sustaining hope of all who serve Him “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:27-29). These are the things the righteous can do.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (2 Thessalonians 1:3–7, NKJV)
What a magnificent summary of the Thessalonian saints’ faithfulness in the face of persecution, of their tremendous example of suffering for the kingdom and its powerful influence on brethren, and of God’s justice that trouble the troublers and rewards the faithful with rest. God is righteous; therefore, so is His judgment. In the glory of Christ returns, God will right every wrong leveled against His people (2 Thess. 1:8-10). Until then, keep patiently enduring in faith and love. God sees, He repays, and He and rewards.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, NKJV)
Twice in his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul declared an obligation (along with Silas and Timothy) to always thank God for them (see also, 2 Thess. 2:13). The word “bound” means “to be under obligation” and speaks of duty, in this case, to thank God for them. Paul thankfulness was not flattery; it was “fitting” (deserved) recognition. Their growing faith and abounding love compelled Paul to thank God for them. At the same time, he commended them to other congregations as an example of patient, enduring faith as they confronted persecutions and distresses. Being thankful for one another is a precious blessing that binds Christians’ hearts together in common faith, shared love, and devoted endurance through trials and trouble (Col. 2:1-2). We are obliged to thank God for faithful brethren. And, like Paul, we can encourage them by letting them know their examples are strengthening us and others to remain faithful to the Lord.
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28, NKJV)
The Christian’s confidence of eternal salvation in Christ is not over “when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). Confidence or boldness before Christ when He returns will happen if we “abide in Him.” To abide means to continue, to dwell, to remain. The verb “abide” is written in present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. That means we are commanded to abide; it is not a suggestion. It means every Christian is the subject of the command, and that abiding in Christ is presently taking place. Being a Christian is a daily decision and daily action of continuing to be faithful to Christ. We must continue to live in Christ to have bold assurance before Him at this coming. Scripture says, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). And again, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14). Do not only begin to be a Christian, but also continue to be faithful to Christ every day. Abide in Christ now, and you will have bold confidence in Him at His coming. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 10:32-33).
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14, NKJV)
Patient endurance in the face of trials is a virtue of faith. When faced with a situation that calls for waiting, some do so out of anger, ready to exact revenge on their oppressor (Romans 12:17-21). Some wait with distressed hearts, anxious over an outcome that is beyond their ability to see (Matthew 6:34). Others wait with boredom and complacency, disinterested in the events to come. But, the one whose heart is set on the Lord is not deterred from trusting Him. David exemplified the patient endurance of faith: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). When enemies surrounded him, he would not be afraid (Psalm 27:3). Patient endurance requires courage to trust the Lord’s deliverance, and to keep on fighting. David’s ability to patiently endure trials was anchored in his desire to seek the Lord and dwell in His presence (Psalm 27:4-5). Whatever trial you face, continue living faithfully to the Lord. Be strengthened, and be bold. He will strengthen your heart, and you will see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13).
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10–11, NKJV)
Perseverance. Steadfast endurance, patient continuance. Perseverance defines a growing, fruitful faith, come what may. When opposed, the patient perseveres, waiting for the divine blessing they know will come (James 5:7). By patience, the heart is established (James 5:8). Knowing the Lord is just and that He will execute justice against evil is our incentive to persevere through the sufferings imposed by the unjust. The prophets and Job are examples of such perseverance. God’s prophets were threatened, harassed, rejected and killed, yet still they rose up early and spoke God’s word to a rebellious people (Jeremiah 26:1-6). Job’s suffering was intense, but he endured, and God’s merciful compassion was abundantly supplied. The Lord will return, bringing blessings to those who trust Him and patiently wait for Him. Even when the way is hard, add perseverance to your faith, and it will bear fruit unto eternal life (2 Peter 1:5-8).
And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. (Hebrews 13:22, NKJV)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews had admonished them of their need for endurance (Heb. 6:11-12; 10:36; 12:1-2, 7). Now, as he concludes his epistle, he urges them to bear with his word of exhortation. This reminds us of our need to accept the word of God without complaining and disputing, but to have ready hearts to hear and do His will. It is for our good that we bear with the exhortations in God’s word. Our faith is not only produced, but strengthened by bearing with the word of God. By using God’s word, we exercise our spiritual senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14). Instead of growing tired and impatient with God’s the word of exhortation, let us yearn for it, feast upon it, and live by it.
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:1–3, NKJV)
The presence of God’s grace does not eliminate the necessity of faithful endurance in the Christian’s life. Many believe the impossibility of apostasy doctrine, resting their case (in part) upon the magnitude of divine grace and God’s ability to save. We would never deny God’s ability to save and the greatness of His grace. Without God’s grace, we are lost (Eph. 2:4-5). At the same time, grace without faith will not save the lost (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:8-9). Thus, Paul urges Timothy to be strong in grace by fulfilling his service as a good minister of Christ. He was to be teaching the gospel and enduring hardship as a soldier of Christ. Please do not expect grace to be poured down on you from heaven like water out of a pitcher. Grace is strong where faith abounds. And, faith only abounds unto salvation when it is at work doing the will of God (Jas. 2:17-24). Therefore, to be strong in the grace of Christ. Be a good soldier and live by faith, doing the work that the word of His gospel sets before you.