Jesus told His disciples that all of them will be
hated for His name sake, some imprisoned and even killed, promised that not
a hair will get lost – but said that patience is the quality that will win
our lives in the end. (Lu. 21:16-19)
By our patience we will possess our souls - or as other translations put it – win our lives with endurance or perseverance.
We have to understand that He doesn’t mean our physical lives here, because He said that some will lose their physical lives by being killed.
So the life you and I will possess by patience is the life we have IN Him.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. – Jo. 1:4
In Him we live and move and have our being. – Acts 17:28
So the life we’re going to win or possess is the True Life only Jesus gives… and contrary to everything we want to believe in this ‘push-button society’, this life is obtained by nothing else but patience alone.
Jesus said that His disciples won’t have an easy life here on earth, but
rather the opposite!
Heaven and earth will perish but His word will last forever, right? (Matt. 24:35 / Mark 13:31 / Lu. 21:33)
Following Jesus means to bear a cross… and to bear it daily. (Matt. 16:25 / Mark 8:34 / Lu. 14:27)
Follow Jesus and you’ll be hated for His name’s sake by everyone (Matt. 10:22, 24:9 / Mark 13:13 / Lu. 21:17) – yes, even by close family members. (Lu. 12:51-53)
I know one hardly ever hears about the cross these days, but nevertheless it’s what Jesus said, so you’d better get acquainted with something you’ll need to possess true life: patience.
To better understand the nature of patience we need some fundamental truths about ‘good’ and ‘evil’… and these are completely different from all we have learned and think we know.
First we have to realise that our definition of good and evil isn’t God’s definition – how He looks at it. We have to accept the fact that everything what we do is ‘evil’ – yes, even though we look at it as good and acceptable, God sees it differently. Everything mankind does is ‘evil’… yes, and this includes even all the activities we do for God… right, even all our ‘good’ social and religious activities.
Nothing we produce can ever be ‘good’ in God’s eyes, never ever! If you believe you can do something pleasing in God’s eyes you’re in deep deception and you don’t know God at all!
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. – Is. 64:6
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Ro. 7:18
None is righteous, no, not one. – Ro. 3:10
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” – Mark 10:18
If there is only one who is good, God, how come we believe we can do
Jesus says, ‘How can you speak what is good, when you are evil?’ (Matt. 12:34)
Let me ask you, “If God alone is good, how can we not only speak but do anything ‘good’ at all, if all we are is evil, unclean and polluted?”
Please, stop for a moment, ask yourself this question – and let it sink in a little deeper.
The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’s time thought that they could do ‘good’ by doing what they thought was good and righteous. Jesus didn’t commend them at all! What would He tell us today? What would He say about us and all we do?
Let me challenge you a little more.
We all agree without reservation that what happened on September 11th, 2001 in New York was ‘evil’ and a sin, but would we agree that doing some sacrificial, voluntary help in a third-world country could be ‘evil’, too?
I can see you getting upset now … and I understand you completely! What is so ‘evil’ about helping others in need? Doesn’t God himself want me to do so? What is particularly ‘evil’ about doing this without payment? Surely doing something for others without payment is a good thing?
And this is THE problem! Although we easily agree with the ‘truth’ we’re all ‘evil’ – yes, as good believers we have to do this, right – we are still not really convinced that everything originating from ourselves is ‘evil’, unless we do it IN Him!
God isn’t in the least impressed at how we label things. He has His own standard and no matter how we define it, He sticks to His standards.
So right, all we do – our ‘good’ works, too – is evil! Why? Because all we are is ‘evil’ and we have no ability whatsoever to do anything ‘good’ in God’s eyes.
God ALONE is good! Period!
So if all we look at as ‘good’ is ‘evil’ in God’s eyes, is it possible to turn it the other way round? Can we say that everything God does – even though it might look ‘evil’ to us - is ‘good’ because all He is nothing else BUT good?
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? – Amos 3:6
I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. – Is. 45:5-7
Here we have it, in God’s word! The only one who is truly good – God – creates disasters and calamities!
Does this present us with a problem? Do we have difficulty making this fit our preconceived ‘belief-system’ of a God who is ‘good’?
Could this even, (God forbid!!!) mean that this ‘good’ God might even have plans about my life including ‘disasters and calamities’, too???
It is essential that we have faith in God as He really is. If we believe in a ‘good God’ of our own imagination, we’ll be shocked and confused when unexpected and horrifying events take place. Worse, a life of defeat is inevitable if we don’t know the God who is ‘good’ in spite of the ‘disasters and calamities’ raging around us! We will never ‘possess our lives’ in patience if we’re tricked by the enemy to believe in a god who is ‘good’ after our own limited imagination. Although we read about His love, if we have a false picture of God, seeing this love in action will result in shattered dreams and agonizing pain when God takes us through the ‘valley of affliction’.
However, His nature in being the only one who is good doesn’t change. He won’t change - He was, is and forever will be the same!
Do we have difficulties understanding this? Why? Where is the problem?
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.” – Is. 30:15-17
We love doing things our way, don’t we? We hate waiting in quietness.
“We should do something, right? God gave us mental abilities and two hands, so why sit in idle ‘quietness and trust’? Why not change my fate by what I can do? Why not take this ‘strong horse’ and fight for my desires and dreams?”
Returning, rest, quietness, trusting… these words go so perfectly with patience, don’t they? But we will have none of it! We know ‘how a thing needs to be done’! All this waiting, rest, quietness, trusting… is just too stressful!
So instead of ‘possessing our lives’ we end up as a lonely ‘flagstaff on top
of a mountain’ after our lines get shattered by the enemy all over again.
What a relief it is to know instead that:
…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Ro. 8:28
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. – Hab. 2:3+4
The passage of Isaiah 30 continues from verse 18-21:
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Do you see? The Lord your God waits, too! He waits for you! He’s patiently waiting for you to finally return to Him – your good God! Isaiah writes this beautifully (verses 22-26):
Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things.You will say to them, “Be gone!” (true repentance!) And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
Yes, you read that correctly! It is this ‘good’ God who inflicts wounds on you! Yes, He can’t bless you as long as you ‘ride your favourite horses’, as long as you choose your own action instead of ‘possessing His life by waiting on Him patiently’.
The name of the Lord is YESHUA (The Lord is Salvation)… and salvation IS His very nature. He is a God who saves! But it’s our iniquities that separate us from our God!
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. – Is. 59:1+2
Iniquities – another word for our ‘evil-good’ deeds – separate us from God. We are all ‘evil’ from birth onwards. Even what we regard as good is evil.
And because everything we do is ‘evil’, without exception, no man can ever do anything pleasing to God!
Do you see how vital this is? We don’t normally see everything we do as ‘evil’ … and think it absolutely normal to ‘ride our own ‘good’ horses’… but since everything we do is ‘evil’, this inevitably separates us from God because He can’t connect with what originates from ‘evil’.
Furthermore, doing things our way, in our strength, is cursed with great evil (see Jer. 17:5-8 in the AMP translation).
Thus says the Lord, “Cursed [with great evil] is the strong man who trusts in and relies on frail man, making weak [human] flesh his arm, and whose mind and heart turn aside from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub or a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see any good come, but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. [Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”
It is our own actions and deeds, our own planning and thoughts, which are - and always will be – evil! Without any exception! God alone is good... and all He does is good!
We only can be ‘good’ if we refrain, choose to step away from our own planning, thoughts, desires and wishes and do the works He does through us (those which He has planned for us in advance! Eph. 2:10 / Jo. 15: 5+16).
If we would only refrain from our own action God would become our salvation! Our God would become our justification and righteousness … “There is no condemnation for those IN Christ Jesus.” (Ro. 8:1)
Our ‘good actions of righteousness’ will never be acceptable before God.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matt. 5:20
This is what it means to die to self … to endure the blows and the wounds He
inflicts on us in patience. This process is painful because God doesn’t act
according to our expectations.
Ever since our childhood we have been trained to perfect our ‘riding’ in our own way. Abandoning ‘our horses’ doesn’t come easily at all and it’s so painful to finally see ourselves a ‘lonely and forsaken flagstaff’ after all our ‘troops’ have deserted us.
But there’s always light at the end of the tunnel… and to make it to this blessed end we need patience! This patience will yield a precious reward – His eternal Life in us!
Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. – Rev. 3:10 ASV
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for Him. – Jes. 64:4
Patiently waiting on God and His word will be our salvation in the times we’re in right now – and yields a reward unheard of!
Let’s dig a little deeper!
In the beginning we read about patience as being a necessity in all those unpleasant, hateful situations we have to pass through. This kind of patience is something that gets ‘forced’ on us … we simply have no other chance but to wait till we’ve passed through the flame of affliction. Although we’d love to end it more quickly we have no other choice but are forced into waiting and patience.
But this sort of patience isn’t the topic of this article. The patience I have in focus is a deliberate and wilful decision to refrain from any action of my own and to wait for the action of God.
Although I could act from my own perception and understanding, I wilfully refrain from any action of my own and deliberately choose patience by waiting for God to act.
In other words, there is an army rushing against me but I leave ‘my own horses’ in the stable, quieten my quivering, shaking soul, resist the impulses and notions of my intellect and do nothing … nothing but turning to my quiet place at the feet of my Master.
Nobody forces me to do so, but I force myself to refrain from anything done from my own volition … and decide to patiently wait on God’s action or instruction instead.
Let’s have a look at some biblical examples:
The first two kings of Israel – Saul and David - give us a perfect illustration about what this is all about.
In 1.Sam. 13 we read about what I mentioned above. Saul has to fight the Philistines but Samuel isn’t there as expected to offer the sacrifice before battle. The enemies are amassing, pressure is rising, Saul’s men are getting impatient and want action … so what can Saul do?
“Waiting … waiting … no Samuel … I have to act now … Samuel (God) isn’t there when I need him … can’t wait any longer … so I’ll get ‘my horses’! Let’s act and do what needs to be done!”
Later we see this attitude of heart confirmed in 1.Sam 15. Saul even acts against the given orders of the Lord by bowing to the demands and perceived pressure of his soldiers, and loses everything. This IS the inevitable ‘lonely flagstaff moment’ we will face, the striking of the Lord, if we choose ‘our horses’ over trusting, waiting and – PATIENCE.
Here we see how a deliberate and wilful decision against all outward pressure could have won a life … but Saul would have none of it! So … “The Lord will take the kingdom from you and give it to someone ‘better’ – a man after His heart,” are what Samuel told Saul after he had done his own thing, and offered the sacrifice himself.
Let’s look now at how this ‘man after God’s heart’ acts. There are two pivotal incidents that reveal a drastic difference in this man’s heart.
David is fleeing from Saul’s hatred. He received God’s promise years ago, but reality offers anything but him becoming King at all. He has nothing but his life.
Then, what a chance! Deep in a cave hidden from Saul, David and his men see how Saul chooses just this cave to take a nap. What a chance!
“The Lord has given your enemy into your hands! Finally the time has come for the promise of the Lord to be fulfilled!”
Tempting thoughts, right? In 1.Sam. 24 we read that David’s own men even tried to push him to action by using these very arguments… but here we see the difference! Saul would have acted… but not so David! David deliberately and wilfully decides not to act! This decision has consequences of course! Yes, he has to roam the desert and flee from Saul even longer; yes, he has to wait even longer for the promise to finally come true! David made a wilful decision to refrain from his own action … he decided not ‘to ride his horses’ but chose to wait on the Lord.
He even gets tested a second time. In 1.Sam. 26 he again has a chance to ‘ride his horses’ by helping himself. Again the temptation was even intensified by the words of his good friend Abishai… but David had set his heart firmly on waiting and refused to help himself again. Again he chose rather to flee, rather to suffer on, than doing something ensuing from his own perception.
We see this pattern of refraining from one’s own action but waiting on God’s help or instruction displayed throughout David’s whole life. (1.Sam. 25:32-33 / 1.Sam. 30:6 / 2.Sam. 5:24-25 / 2.Sam. 15:14) With Bathsheba he failed, but this failure didn’t change his heart’s basic motivation, as we see in his reaction to Nathan’s words.
David’s heart was different from Saul’s. Both had been tested, but the heart made all the difference! One lost everything, even his life, by choosing his own actions – the other wins everything and the promised kingdom by choosing suffering in patience.
In 1.Sam. 13:14 we read that David was a 'man after God's heart’. So what
qualifies a man to be a man after God's heart?
Both Saul and David were filled with the Holy Spirit after Samuel's anointing ... but this wasn't the criteria, right?
It was David's wilful decision to refrain from 'riding his horses' - his decision to suffer on, rather than helping himself to make God's promise to come through in his own way, which qualified him. David chose waiting, trusting, suffering - and with this he made a wilful decision to be patient.
We know that God doesn't change so to become a 'man/woman after God's own heart' today means that we had better have a good look at this patience, too.
It’s all about this wilful, deliberate decision to choose to suffer rather than to act on one’s own understanding that I’m writing about here. This is the Patience that possesses life – life eternal!
This patience is a fruit of the Spirit, for all those who walk in the Spirit and who have crucified their flesh and its desires.
Therefore possessing patience means to possess LIFE DIVINE ... we possess
the very LIFE of God … because with Him there is no transience ... no
change, no time-pressure ... everything is ordered by Him from the beginning
So patience is the key-ingredient found in every true believer’s life (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets, Jesus, His disciples).
You can’t be connected with the eternal God and not need this kind of patience! Impossible!
In the very moment one is possessed by God, eternity takes over and all the
hurry, scuttle and scurry of mankind cease … come to an end in His divine
Impatience however is closely connected to our desires. We want and can’t endure the tension of waiting. This is intensified even more by our insecurity which terrorises us with the question: Will we ever get what we long for?
With God all our days are written in His book before we were made in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139:16)… and all His promises are YES and AMEN in Christ Jesus our Lord (2.Cor. 1:20).
So Jesus said:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life … For the Gentiles (unbelievers) seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matt. 6:25, 32+33
You already possess all the things He has planned for you. You can’t miss
one of them! Of course this doesn’t mean doing or having what you want – and
it’s painful if He takes away what you want – but IN Christ you already have
everything God has planned for your life. It will surely come to pass (Hab.
2:3). You can rest assured; you already possess all you ask for after His
will (1.Joh. 5:14).
Everything you and I do, without any exception, is ‘evil’ – because we lack the ability to do right or good things (Ro. 7:18) – everything we do or produce is ‘wood, hay and straw’ in God’s eyes. To build with gold, silver and precious stones pleasing in God’s eyes instead, we need abilities which DON’T originate with us. Read 1.Cor. 3:12-15. Only God possesses these abilities. God doesn’t act on our bidding, however – and never will! He is God and we’re the work of His hands.
What is the point in being like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle – painful correction – to do God’s will? So why not stop right in our tracks, leave ‘our horses’ and place our trust in God alone, wilfully, deliberately choosing quietness, rest and waiting? Why not choose the only way we can ever do anything ‘good’ in God’s eyes? Why not choose PATIENCE and with it possess LIFE everlasting?
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! – Ps. 32:7-11
As long we ‘ride our horses’ we’ll feel the painful blow of our loving Father disciplining us – but the very moment our desire dies eternity starts to take over. Until this blessed breakthrough we have to fasten our hearts to His word and eternal promise and wait patiently for it to break forth.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Heb. 12:5-11
Impatience is bound to transience ... patience is bound to Eternity!
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. – Is. 26:3+4Possess your life – choose PATIENCE!
In His Service