1. God's patience is Amazing
16 "But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands.
17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,' or when they committed awful blasphemies.
19 "Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.
21 For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.
VERSE: They refused to listen and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy. You did not abandon them. (Neh. 9:17)
Seeing how God continued to be with his people shows that his patience is amazing!
In spite of our repeated failings, pride, and stubbornness, he is always ready to pardon (Neh. 9:17), and his Spirit is always ready to instruct (Neh. 9:20).
Realizing the extent of God's forgiveness helps us forgive those who fail us, even "seven times seven" if necessary (Matthew 18:21-22).
God's patience should not be taken for granted.
If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you."
VERSE: If you break the covenant of the Lord your God by worshiping and serving other gods, his anger will burn against you, and you will quickly be wiped out from the good land he has given you. (Joshua 23:16)
God was supremely loving and patient with Israel, just as he is with us.
But we must not confuse his patience with us as approval of or indifference to our sin.
Beware of demanding your own way, because eventually you may get it-along with all its painful consequences.
God's patience is an expression of his love.
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'
20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.
24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
VERSE: So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.
In two preceding stories in Luke's Gospel, the seeker actively looked for the coin and the sheep, which could not return by themselves.
In this story, the father watched and waited.
He was dealing with a human being with a will of his own, but he was ready to greet his son if he returned.
In the same way, God's love is constant, patient, and welcoming.
He will search for us and give us opportunities to respond, but he will not force us to come to him. Like the father in this story, God waits patiently for us to come to our senses.
2. Develop your patience by waiting
1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.
2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
3 "What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked. "Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered.
4 The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.
5 His attendants answered, "Haman is standing in the court." "Bring him in," the king ordered.
6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought to himself, "Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?"
7 So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor,
8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.
9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'"
10 "Go at once," the king commanded Haman. "Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended."
11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"
VERSE: That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the historical records of his kingdom so they could be read to him. In those records he discovered an account of how Mordecai had exposed the plot of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the eunuchs who guarded the door to the king's private quarters. They had plotted to assassinate the king. (Esther 6:1-2)
Mordecai had exposed a plot to assassinate Xerxes-thus he had saved the king's life (Esther 2:21-23). Although his good deed was recorded in the history books, Mordecai had gone unrewarded.
But God was saving Mordecai's reward for the right time.
Just as Haman was about to hang Mordecai unjustly, the king was ready to give the reward.
Although God promises to reward our good deeds, we sometimes feel our "payoff" is too far away.
How can our patience be strengthened?
Be patient. God steps in when it will do the most good.
Patience is developed through hardships.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-12
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
4 Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you
7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. (2 Thes. 1:4)
Paul had been persecuted during his first visit to Thessalonica
5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.
6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,
7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus."
8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.
9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
No doubt those who had responded to his message and had become Christians were continuing to be persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles.
In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he said that Christ's return would bring deliverance from persecution and judgment on the persecutors.
But this caused the people to expect Christ's return right away to rescue and vindicate them.
So Paul had to point out that while waiting for God's kingdom, believers could and should learn perseverance and faith from their suffering.