Charles Stanley - Patience is Essential To Experiencing God's Best
When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, immediately the Holy Spirit came into your life to seal you as a child of God. That's the reason we know that we are eternally secure. It is His work and not our conduct that makes acceptable to God. And in the process of doing so, when I think about that, I think about the fact that the Holy Spirit sealed us and equipped us to do whatever He called us to do. Many people will live out their life in church, baptized early in life, heard lots and lots of sermons, and will never understand that God never intended for them to live the Christian life. He didn't, He intended for them to allow the Holy Spirit who lives within them to live out the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, we are not only equipped to the salvation, He's equipped us to do whatever He has called us to do, whatever He has made us to be and made us to do. So, when you think about your life and you think about the challenges you face, remember this: that you are already empowered by the Holy Spirit to live and to face any situation, any circumstance of life. He didn't just save us and let us get along the best we can. So, when you think about your life, and you think about things you face, when you face difficulties, would you say that you're a patient person? And the truth is, all of us probably have areas of our life that it's difficult for us to stand by or hold back what we think or what we'd like to do. But patience is a gift from God, but it isn't something we work up. It is a gift of God through the Holy Spirit.
When you were saved, He sealed you as one of His children, and He began to release in your life, if you'll allow Him, the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, and so that's what I want to talk about. I want to talk about this whole issue of how essential it is that you and I experience God's patience in our life because it affects every single thing we do. And one of His primary objectives is to enable us to walk patiently in our Christian life. So, listen to this, Psalm twenty-seven verse fourteen, "Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord". Well, why would he say that? Because to wait for the Lord, sometimes we have to be strong and we have to take courage. Because sometimes pressures are there for us to make decisions in our life. Husbands and wives, families, business, whatever it might be. He says wait.
In the thirty-seventh Psalm in the seventh verse he says three times, "Rest in the Lord," in this passage, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, do not fret". The fortieth Psalm says, "I waited patiently for the Lord, And He inclined to me and heard my prayer". Look at that, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me". He heard what I was talking to Him about, and He answered my petition. So, patience is very important in every aspect of life. So, how would you define patience, if somebody said, "Well, just define patience for me". What would you say? It's the quiet, uncomplaining endurance under stress or annoyance, or long-tempered. So ask yourself the question: are you quiet and uncomplaining when things don't go your way?
And let me give you the simplest definition of patience. Listen to this: patience is the will to wait. That's all you need to know. Patience is the will to wait. That is, situations come our way, we have to make decisions, and yet there are times when we don't know what to do, or times when God gives us a check in our spirit, and we have to make a decision. Will I wait for God's direction, or will I not? Most people don't want to wait. They want God to act on their timetable. Think about this, we would acknowledge that God's omniscient, He knows everything. We would acknowledge that He knows all about us. We would acknowledge that He knows what's best for us. And yet, we come to those situations where God tells us to wait and we don't want to wait. And so, we come up with all the reasons why we shouldn't have to wait. We look at other people and they have this, and they have that, and why should we have to wait? Because God in His infinite love and power for us knows that at certain times in our life, certain things don't fit. That is, God created us to do what? To live for Him, to serve Him, and to reflect Him. He created us to live out the life that He's placed within us.
Whenever I want something He doesn't want me to have and I insist on having it, I'm being impatient. Whenever we push God, "Well, Lord, I've waited long enough, it's time for me to have what I want". Watch this, God is your greatest protector. When He says no, listen, don't think about it as God rejecting you, it's God doing what? Protecting you. When God says no, it's a word of protection. We oftentimes think, "Well, God, if You loved me, You'd let me have this, that, and the other". It's the will to wait.
So, ask yourself the question: would you say that you are a patient person? Now, just think about it a moment. Would you say that you're a patient person? That is, that you calmly tolerate the delays that God places in your life when He says no. You come to Him for something that you believe is the will of God for your life, you ask Him about it, and yet, watch this, here's what happens. You ask the Lord about it and you don't hear anything. And you ask Him about it and you don't hear anything, and so you say, "Well, must be okay because God didn't tell me I couldn't". Don't ever go that route. If you say, "I'm going to do this because God hasn't told me I shouldn't," what about waiting for God to tell you that you should? And so, we can manipulate the Word, and we can manipulate circumstances in order to justify our own desires when oftentimes they are handicaps in our life. They're the seeds of destruction in our life because we're not willing to wait for God.
Listen, would you agree that God loves you? Would you agree to that, say amen? Well, some of you do, some of you don't. God does love you, and let me ask you a question. You love your children? Come on, now. Do you love your children? Okay, if they ask you for something that you know that's going to hurt them, do you want to give it to them? Well, why do you expect God to do that? You ask God for something, and sometimes God says no. Then here's what you do. Oftentimes people say, "Well, I'm gonna get in the Scriptures, find out what God says," I've heard this so many times. And so, they'll go in the Psalms and the Proverbs or somewhere, and they'll look around, they'll find a passage that says, let's see here, now they'll look and look and look and they'll say, "Well, surely, God must be saying something to me". And they'll find them a verse that says that they can interpret that God says yes, and they say, "God told me I could do it". That's not the way God operates.
Listen to this, when you were saved, the Holy Spirit sealed you as a child of God, lives within you twenty-four hours a day. One of the primary purposes having written your name in the Lamb's Book of Life, having sealed you as a child of God forever. He lives within you to direct you. To give direction for your life. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and patience". That's part of what He does in our life. So, you have within you the absolute truth, the right compass, the one who's going to give you the right direction every single time you ask Him. That's who He is. Because God knows how complicated life is. He didn't just leave us here apart from the Spirit. He told His disciples, He said, "Sit down in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high". "You can't live out the life I've given you without the Holy Spirit". And so, that's exactly what they did. They waited till He came and entered them.
When you were saved, the Holy Spirit came into your life, sealed you as a child of God. You're always a child of God, you can't be lost. Once sealed by the blood of Jesus, you can't be lost. But you can certainly mess up your life by not listening to the Holy Spirit who came to live within you to give direction and guidance and clarity at every single aspect of your life. So, patience, patience is critical. Listen to what He says, "The fruit of the Spirit," that is, you can expect the Holy Spirit to express Himself in the following ways: "Love, joy, peace, patience". So that you have the One living within you, willing to direct you in every circumstance of life.
So, let's think about it for a moment. What's required of us to have patience? We have requirements, and I've been a Christian for seventy-three years. And you know what? God has never misled me. Have I always made the right decision? No, I haven't. But you know what? Every single time if I made a wrong decision, I had to face it. God, You tried to get my attention, I wasn't listening. And after a while, you learn that never pays, and you follow His will, you walk in His ways. So, what requirements do I have in my life if I'm going to be patient? First of all, I've got to have faith in God. I have faith in God to believe that He will direct me every single time, whatever I need, whatever direction, because He promised to do so. Second, I must have the spirit of obedience. If I have an obedient spirit, I choose to obey God. I may falter in that by missing it somehow, but the Holy Spirit is there to enable us to give us guidance, to do what? To follow Him. Then, of course, here's what's happening. The discernment of God's timing. The Holy Spirit will show us when.
Oftentimes, we will ask Him for something that's not His will at the moment. It's not His plan right now, but His plan later. And what we have to do is be wise enough to say, "Okay, God, if it's not Your will or if it's not Your will now, give me the grace to wait until You give me permission to have or to go, with whatever it might be". Then, if I'm going to be patient, I've got to love God. If I don't love God, I'm not going to be patient. If I don't love Him, I want it now. If I don't love Him, I want things to work out the way I want them when I want them. And yet, if I'm going to be patient, I've got to love Him. In other words, if I love Him, I will be patient. If somebody says, "Well, I love God, but". No, there's no but. If I love Him, I will be patient. If I don't love Him, I don't trust Him, I won't be patient.
So, ask yourself the question: would you be considered by your husband, your wife, your friends, people you work with, do they see you as a patient person? Now, there're only two answers. Yes or No. Yes, they do. No, they don't. And that's because of your conduct, your conversation, and your character around them. If love myself, if I love things, if I love other people more than I love God, I'm going to satisfy myself. But God wants the best for His children. There's not a single person who can say, "Well, God doesn't want the best for me". Yes, He does. "Well, if He did, He'd-a given me her or him or this or that". No, the reason He didn't give you that's because He does love you. Because God's love for us has no limitations. And that love is so powerful that God will say no. When He knows that what we want is not of Him, He's going to make it known to us. The fruit of the Spirit is patience: willing to wait long when necessary.
So, you ask yourself if that's true. Now, it takes courage to be obedient to God. It takes courage to be patient because sometimes - and I can think back in my life at times when I thought, "Well, Lord, I'm coming to the edge over here, and if You don't do something soon, I'm gonna fall off the edge". What? Do you know who's on the other side of the edge? Almighty God. You're not going to fall off the edge. There are times when God will let us get very, very close to what we think is an ultimate, unchangeable desperation, but He's always there. He's a God of love, of direction, guidance, and counsel in our life. It takes courage to trust Him and, simply said, I have to be determined to wait.
Now, I could give you a lot of illustrations of people over the years that I've counseled to wait about something they were going to purchase, wait about something in their marriage, wait about something about their children, or young people about decisions they're making about college, and so forth. Every single time that I can recall when a person heard godly counsel and chose to do it their way, it never ended the way they intended. You know what? Because God wants the best for us. And He says, "I will guide you and teach you in the way which you should go". Watch this, we started off by saying patience is the fruit of the Spirit. It's a gift from God, which means that you have within you the capacity to make wise choices. The fruit of the Spirit is patience.
The Spirit of God will exercise patience in you, for you, to you, through you in your behalf because that's the will of God for us, that we follow His will, walk in His way. And God knows that there are difficult times and difficult situations that we face, and sometimes we don't know what to do. He's there to show us what to do. If you're a follower of Jesus, if you're a Christian, if you've trusted God in your life as your Savior, you have within you the ultimate, ultimate, ultimate, ultimate Counselor for every single solitary situation in life. He will direct you. God would not withhold truth from you. He's not going to withhold wise counsel from you. If you don't have wise counsel, it's because you've not asked Him. Why? Because He loves you unconditionally. He wants the best for you no matter what.
So, the fruit of the Spirit is patience. Patience is not a popular subject. You know why? I'll tell you why, because we want what we want when we want it, how we want it, that's it. And when we can't have it, we don't want anybody telling us why we can't. I understand that. Jesus had the same thing when He talked. People didn't want to hear some of the things He said, but that's okay. So, let's think about it for a moment. Why do we say that patience is essential to experiencing God's best? Number one, it's essential to a life of obedience to God. If I'm going to obey God, I got to listen to Him. I must hear Him and I must obey Him. If I'm going to obey God, I must be willing to give up my own personal desires and opinions at times in order to do what He says. That's God loving me.
Watch this, whatever you're going through, and you're praying about it, and God says no to you, watch this, when He says no to you, what is He saying? Here's what He's saying: I love you. God's no is I love you. And somebody says, "Well, no, when God says no to me, I get angry". No, when God says no, He's saying I love you. Then think about this: it's essential to building a good relationship with other people. That is, patience. If you're going to have good friends, you have to be patient with them, and I don't need to tell that if you're married, you have to have patience with each other. Wherever you work, you have to have patience. It is not only a gift of God, it's a requirement to be able to get along in life with your children, with your husband, with your wife. If you live with somebody who has no patience, that is a very, very difficult situation.
All of us need to express patience, and all of us need to be able to express that patience toward other people because other people make mistakes. We can all get impatient if we're not careful. But you notice something? Impatience never cures anything. It doesn't. You have within you the Holy Spirit who will give you clear direction about anything in your life you're concerned about. Anything! Any relationship, whatever it might be. And think about this, timing is so very important. Timing is important in sports, important in finances, important in relationships, important in war, important in photography. Timing is very important. God is always there within you as a follower of Jesus. Have your Holy Spirit within you there to give you clear direction in any and every circumstance of life if you're willing to wait for Him. "Wait upon the Lord". Does He give you clear direction immediately?
Oftentimes He will, but a major decision in your life, you may have to wait until God tells you what to do. Are you willing to wait? Do you treasure the wisdom of God? Do you value the wisdom of God? Do you prize the wisdom of God? Do you desire the wisdom of God enough to wait until He makes it very clear what you should do? And I've seen so many people make decisions that they knew they shouldn't have made. But here's what I hear oftentimes: "Well, I waited for three months. Well, I waited for six months. I waited for two weeks. I waited and waited and waited. Nothing ever happened, so". So what? "So I did my own thing". God loves us. He only wants the best for us. When God says wait, here's what you listen to: "I'm loving you". That's what He's doing. He's loving us when He tells us to wait.
Remember we said patience is simply the willingness to wait. And when we wait, we see God at work. And oftentimes, I've watched this in my own life. Having to wait and wait and wait about something, and then watch God finally bring it to a conclusion. Over and over and over again, my response has been, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, thank You, dear God, that I waited. Thank You, Jesus, that I didn't step ahead of You". Most people today probably are unhappy because they have refused to wait upon God for direction about something in their life. Lot of people are in deep trouble today because they didn't wait. How many times have I talked to people who are married who've said to me, "I knew I shouldn't have done that". Why did you do it? "Well," they'll give me some reason. Or, "I made this decision in my life and I never thought about asking God".
What I want you to see is one simple thing: God loves you, He created you, He has a purpose for your life. You may not know what the purpose is. You may have lived two-thirds of your life, never even asked God about anything. But I'm telling you, He loved you, He saved you, He has a purpose for your life, a plan for your life, and He will make it clear if you will ask Him and relax. Don't push Him. In other words, you say, "Well I've waited two weeks". That's long enough. That's long enough from your finite mind. It's not long enough. Watch this, let me ask you a question: is God perfect? Say amen. Well, is He late? No. Then why don't we wait for Him? If we say He's perfect and He's not late, then if I'm waiting, I'm on time. I'm waiting till God says this is the moment. I'm telling you with all of my heart, you can never lose. Never, never.
Now, if I were about twenty-five years old and telling you that, you'd forget it. I can tell you at eighty-five you never lose. And I've been in some of the toughest situations, very difficult situations, traumatic situations. Never, never, never, never lose waiting upon God. Trust Him, listen to Him, wait for Him, and watch to see what happens. Well, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, none of this'll work, won't work. And so, I'll simply say this to you: you will struggle through life and make many mistakes and end up in a disaster without Christ in your life. But if you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins, surrender your life to Him, you have this awesome, eternal, omnipotent asset, the Holy Spirit giving guidance, direction, and perfect timing, if you'll listen to Him. And I would encourage you if you're not saved, never trusted Christ, settle this issue and let the Lord Jesus Christ become the master of your life, life's going to change. Listen, don't live a life outside the will of God because to do so is live outside the blessing of God.
Father, we love You and praise You and thank You that You never make a mistake, always perfect. Your timing is perfect to the second. We pray the Holy Spirit will speak to every single person here, that we all examine ourselves afresh and anew about the degree of patience we have or do not have. You know who's seated right here, right now, who's facing a decision this afternoon, tomorrow, or sometime this week, or before the week is over, major decision in their life. God, I pray that You'll give them wisdom enough to wait until they hear clearly from You what they should do and to be confident that You will always give them clear guidance in everything. We love You and we praise You for it, Father, in Jesus's name. Amen.