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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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"The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6). "However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands" (Nehemiah 9:30). "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Phillips Brooks, who is best known today as the author of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, he suffered moments of frustration and irritability, as do we all (or at least most of us).
One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked. Brooks replied, “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt the same way many times? I sure have! Here's an interesting thought to muse; How often are we impatient with God?
On the other hand today we want to consider God's patience toward us. We observe God's patience on both the small and large scale, from our individual lives to His dealings with the nations.
God's patience is so often a blessing but at times it's also a mystery. Today we consider the mysterious aspect of His patience. As we observe the increasingly frayed moral and spiritual condition of America and all throughout the world we marvel at God's patience and wonder just how long before He pronounces judgment. Of course we now live with the consequences of sin and disobedience which is a part God's judgment.
Our daily verse describes the patience of God in regard to His dealings with the nation of Israel; "You bore with them for many years". This describes the period prior to the Babylonian Captivity. Many years were actually many centuries. God had spoken again and again through His prophets all through this time period. The NIV states, "For many years you were patient with them."
Nehemiah served the Lord around 450 BC after the captivity when the people had returned to settle in Israel. In chapter 9 of his short book we have a sweeping panorama of the previous thousand years since the great Exodus. God had been patient and had warned His people repeatedly. They paid no attention and faced various judgments, resulting in the Babylonian captivity which ended about 100 years before this verse was recorded.
Consider the timeless truth in this verse as it relates to your life, the church, or your nation. Without question we can all conclude that God is patient and enduring. Surely He has been gracious in sending many, many prophets who, like Phillips Brooks, were "preachers of the Word of God" commissioned to admonish and warn. I'm particularly intrigued with the phrase, "yet they would not give ear". The NIV states, "yet they paid no attention." It's a glimpse not just of the past but also the time period in which we live.
The King James Version uses the word "longsuffering" to describe God's patience which is included in the nine fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22,23. Romans 2:4 asks the human race, "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
How much attention is our modern culture paying to the warnings of God? What about much of the church? What about us today? When it comes to spiritual warnings, let us have the same response as young Samuel, who exclaimed, "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, Your patience and longsuffering toward a rebellious, hardhearted people is only possible because of Your loving compassion and tender mercies. You are slow to anger and abounding in love, full of forgiveness and healing. We are the undeserving recipients of Your remarkable redemption made available to all who call upon Your name. Thank You for bearing with us and loving us long before we responded to Your love. Help us to look intently into Your Holy Word and apply its teaching so that we enjoy freedom from sin, unceasing joy, and the promise of eternity spent with You. With sincerity of heart we praise You and thank You for Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.
Today we are getting a significant snowfall, forecast for 6 inches but it's still snowing and we may get even more! The birds are happily feeding as the snow begins to pile up. This goldfinch perched on the bird feeder snowman is right outside our office window.
A Special Day
Today we reflect on God's faithfulness and patience as we were reminded of a wedding anniversary taking place today, Wayne and Yvette Gallagher. Here is a message written right after their wedding.
Officiating the wedding: Wayne and Yvette determined early on, as they pursued their relationship, they would wait until their wedding ceremony to enjoy their first kiss. They kept their word and at this point of the ceremony Stephen's excitement at being the one to give them permission to enjoy their first kiss was captured on camera. There were a number of Teen Challenge students present so it was a very emotionally charged congregation who witnessed their vows and verbally celebrated this very special moment. I (Brooksyne) tease that Stephen couldn't open his mouth this wide in Lancaster County without some fly making its way in.
Yvette has a remarkable testimony.
Wayne, a Teen Challenge graduate, and Yvette planted a church in Southbridge Massachusetts about three years ago. They're giving their all, God is blessing, and we rejoice!
Yvette's daughter Nicole (pictured with her husband Eric) graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has made Yvette a grandmother twice. She too has a remarkable testimony of salvation, deliverance and healing.
Yvette's son, Joseph, is a youth pastor in Philadelphia and married Lori, the daughter of Phil and Carol Menditto who pastor the church. They were friends of ours all the way back to Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in the seventies. Here are some photos from Joey's wedding in 2010 (open page then scroll down).
As I consider the Lord's work in Joey's life I recalled a photo of him and my Mom taken in 2001 when he came down to visit us shortly after we moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. Mom had such a love for people and I have no doubt that she prayed for Joey many times as well as so many who were burdened for this family. Joey was saved, delivered and called into ministry where he is being used of God to reach others for Christ.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Kindness" Video Chris Tomlin
For further study:
"The Patience of God" Chapter from "The Attributes Of God" by A.W. Pink
"Longsuffering" Notes from the Precept study Bible.
"The Patience of God" Article by Harry Reeder "A second display of God’s patience is His patience with the world and its rebellion against Him. This patience is described in the book of Romans: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Rom. 2:4–5).
In the exercise of His common grace, God displays patience and forbearance with the world. But patience and forbearance ought to lead men and women to repentance. Instead, it emboldens the unbeliever in his sinful rebellion and mocking of God, and the patience of God is then turned into a rationale to rebel further against God. This does nothing more than store up greater judgment because of their ungodly response to His kind patience."
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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