#302 - Live Life At Its Best, IV - Patience ( 9 Sept 2007 )

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Music

“Joyful, Joyful...”
"Heav’n is Here"
"I Would be True"

“Prayer for Blessing”
“At the Edge of Tomorrow”

JONATHAN PIERCE – “Flying Without Wings”

The Message

Message by Robert H. Schuller

My son, Robert, and I are doing a series of sermons under the title, "Live Life at Its Best!" where we focus not on mediocrity, but we rather concentrate on paying the price to achieve excellence, the best, in the one chance we have to live.

In the history of great literature, go back to Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, then on through the Dark Ages to Shakespeare, now to the contemporary age and check the hearts of the most reputable universities in the world today, and you cannot find a more significant teaching of the emotionally strengthening principles than that of the Christian faith.

Two thousand years ago, a man named Paul was converted to Jesus Christ quite remarkably. And then he discovered living a life at its best and he gave us these principles that are phenomenal.

"The fruit of the Christ Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, long suffering, kindness, gentleness and self control." (Galatians 5:22)

Live life at its best: Learn patience.

That principle I'm dealing with this morning is not an easy one to learn because we are an instamatic society, aren't we? You know in my lifetime if you wanted to get a message to someone in a hurry it was simple ... SPECIAL DELIVERY. The message would reach its address in approximately two days instead of four. Well, because we became a little more impatient, soon someone conceived an idea called "Overnight Delivery" ... guaranteed. Wow! That was the way to send a message. Then along came the FAX. In a matter of minutes the message was received. But that's not fast enough, now we have e-mail and instant messages.

Yes. We have become, through technology, a high instamatic society. But that does not help to create what we need most ... and that is patience. Because we have to learn that life’s greatest values aren’t available at an instant command’s notice. Technology can never ... must never ... cause a rose to bloom immediately. Flowers, to be enjoyed, need time to grow. Personalities, in order to become mature and reasonable, also need time to learn, and, as I am experiencing, that takes a lifetime.

Yes, even in our spiritual practices, we have become impatient, and our prayers become much like this patience prayer I read this week.

The Patience Prayer:
Lord, give me patience.
And I want it right now! Amen.

Patience is what we all need to learn today. And I have too many pages of material in preparation for this message today. And the thoughts are enormous and so many. I cannot get my arms around all of the applications of this one word patience.

I have a big tree by my garage door. It is a Canary Island pine, over 100 years old, and I just can't get my arms around it. I've tried many times, but my arms only get halfway. It's just too big, and that's the way I feel with this subject of patience. There are so many questions that come to my mind like ...

What are you waiting for today?

What do you hope to get this week?

Where do you need patience today?
As a student? As a professional? In your career advancement? Internal changes in the superstructure of your work place as supervisors are shifted around? Where do you need patience? On the scale? In your checkbook? We all need patience for various reasons.

We have in our culture today an infectious appetite for inappropriate sensual delivery systems. Sensuality is so prominent. "Show more skin," says Hollywood. What is happening? To have real fulfillment in living live at its best is to have a God-given goal that will consume you that you would die for and never give up! That's true in a marriage. It's true in family relationships. It's also true in career development. It’s true in your spiritual attitudes for God. It all comes down to this principle of patience.

I think patience is the very core of living. In my book, "Move Ahead with Possibility thinking," which I wrote in 1967. I said,

"Patience is spelled f-a-i-t-h."

Yes, it takes faith to make patience workable.

I received a telephone call sometime ago from a young girl. She has watched the Hour of Power and the message she gave was, "I don't have a grandpa and I watch you on television every week. I'm just a teenager, but I've said to myself, 'That's my grandpa.’ So you are my grandpa, Dr. Schuller, and I need to talk to my grandpa. I'm in terrible pain. I was a virgin and I got raped. It hurts so bad." Since she was in driving distance of the Cathedral she came to see me in person and after I spent time with her listening to her pouring out her pain to me. I tried to counsel her and had a prayer for healing for her. As she left my office I said to her, "God will answer that prayer, I promise you." What I didn’t tell her was that it may take quite a while and I don’t know how God will answer it.

I hadn't heard from her until the other day I got this letter where she wrote, "Dear Grandpa, We met in your office two years ago. Together we prayed for the ability to feel God's presence through those dark memories and the ability to forgive those who performed evil and for a rebirth of happiness and faith. After our meeting I expected immediate results and found none!" (Patience! God never answers the question that starts with "why" or with "when." Remember that.) "I expected immediate results and found none. Then some months later I sat in a library at UCLA, sheltered by these towering books, something pressed forcibly against my skull. I could feel it was iron and a voice said, ‘Give me your money or I'll blow your brains out.' Then, I experienced one of the most instant spiritual moments in my life. Here I was, being held up with a gun aimed at my head, and what should come through me, but a calmness. It had to be the presence of God. In that moment I experienced an overwhelming peace. I cannot explain it except to say it was the answer to the prayer in your office months and months before, because suddenly I wasn't afraid. I didn’t shiver or quiver. I simply said, 'God, I don't want to die. I want to do something amazing for you in my lifetime.' And then, in that moment, I felt all the past grudges and the hurts melt away there with a gun at my head. I sensed that there were angels in the corridor. I think I learned my greatest lesson, that God answers prayers, but we’ve got to be patient and let Him answer at the time and in the way He knows best."

Patience! Where do you need it today?

Who needs patience because they are waiting for you? A letter ... a call ... a gift ... a commitment.

How patient is God with you?

At the core of living is something we all need. It’s called faith. We all need faith ... believers, unbelievers ... atheists, devout people alike. Every human being needs faith. You cannot live without faith. You have to have the faith that the sun is going to come up tomorrow ... no matter what your religion is. So we all need faith and patience is at the core. St. Paul, later on in Galatians 6:9 wrote these words that I have kept on my desk a long, long time.

"Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

It was 50 years ago this month that I came out to California in a '53 Chevrolet with a 25 year old wife, a son, Robert, six months old, and a daughter, Sheila, four years old. And we came here because we were absolutely convinced that God wanted us to come here and start a church and change the world. I came here and I made a commitment like I did when I got married. I said, "Lord, I accept this call, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til the end of my life." I made that prayer, a real commitment. Well, next year we will celebrate 50 completed years behind us. It will be the 50th anniversary of this church and we are planning exciting anniversary events now. Through these years I needed this constant reminder to have more faith and patience from these words of St. Paul.

"Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

That's patience!

What does patience do for you? (1) Possibilities are discovered. If you hang in there, stay with it, you're going to see possibilities you would never have seen before. Because changes are happening all the time. New inventions, new discoveries, new healing powers, new drugs, nano-technology. Young people today have a phenomenal future ahead of them. Yes, new possibilities are discovered by those who have the patience to keep up the research through patience.

(2) Plans are unveiled - that you didn't have on paper

(3) Problems are solved - in an unexpected way - you call it 'a miracle'

(4) Perils are faced - yes, you confront the risks courageously

(5) Pain is endured - tough times never last, but tough people do

(6) Paths are opened up - what looks like the end of the road becomes a bend in the road ahead

(7) Providence is revealed - yes, time will prove that "all things work together for good to those who love God and keep His commandments"

(8) Prayers are answered - GIVE GOD TIME!

(9) Power is delivered to you, through Patience from Jesus. Fantastic!

Yes. what do you have to be patient about today? Who is being, and has been, very patient waiting for you to respond? You are testing somebody's patience. Who is this? How patient is God with you? How patient is Jesus Christ, waiting for you to accept Him as your Lord and Savior?

Your mother prayed for you. You probably haven't responded. Your pastor preached a sermon and you said, "That makes sense." It's right, but you’re not doing it. Maybe it is tithing. God is waiting for you to give your whole life to Him in faith and to give up this business of constantly trying to find answers where there are no answers and you just have to give up all the arguing and just give your life to the Lord. God is waiting for you, He's waiting for me. We have to find out when and where it is and be prepared not to keep God waiting any longer.

Does God's patience ever run out?

When you die is that the end of it as far as God’s patience with you? I don't know. I just don't know. Somehow, somewhere you need to grab hold of faith and say, "I've waited long enough to make a decision." How do you know when that time is right for you? I can't tell you but I've introduced you this morning to the most important issue in living ... and that is living in the time zone. How do you live life at its best? My only answer has been prayer. Connect with God, connect with Jesus Christ. All my life I’ve been saying, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) I believe it ... I know it ... but now I know why it is true. Studying for this message I realized why I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Because Jesus Christ gives me patience.

Who is waiting on you? God?

When St. Paul was converted, think of this, he fell off a horse, instantly heard Jesus Christ, and was converted. He went to Damascus and his blindness was healed. He was now a Christian out on his own. He doesn’t know the apostles, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Where do you think Paul goes from Damascus? Don’t you suppose he would run immediately to Jerusalem to find the apostles? I would think so, but he didn’t. What did he do? He went to Arabia ... for three years ... all alone ... to think through his conversion experience to sort it out. Finally, after three years Paul went to Jerusalem where he met Peter and said, "I’m a Christian." Peter said, "Tell me more." Peter became a Christian walking and living with Jesus. Paul never did. He didn't know Christ’s private life. He didn’t know Christ’s teachings. The two experiences of Paul and Peter were so different. Paul had an experience with Jesus Christ and he knew it was as real as Peter’s. This Christ was real and after three years of meditation, Paul knew that his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ was a reality. And Paul and Peter together became the powerful leaders in a new Christian movement.

Patience builds faith power.
Patience builds courage power.
Patience builds 'waiting on the Lord' power.
Patience builds confidence in God's timing,
that in the fullness of time God will make His move and it will be right. Patience!
Years ago I preached a message entitled, 'How God Always Answers Prayer.' And any prayer ever prayed by anybody listening to the sound of my voice is going to be answered. These were my points:
When the request is not right, God answers 'NO' ...
When you are not ready, God answers 'GO' ...
When the time is not right, God answers 'GROW' ...
When everything is right, God says, 'GO' ... and all heaven breaks open!
That’s patience!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your patience with me. You are calling me to have faith and I know today that means trusting more in You, God. Take control of the timing in my life. I need patience to live life at its best, and Lord, teach me to be as patient with others as You are to me. Amen.

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