It’s Smart To Be Patient

“It’s smart to be patient.”Proverbs 14:29

Your life has an ebb and flow. Sometimes God wants you to move quickly, but sometimes he wants you to slow down. As Proverbs 14:29 says, “It’s smart to be patient”

Today and tomorrow we’re going to look together at times when God wants you to slow down.

First, you should always move slowly when you don’t have all the facts. Our culture worships impulsiveness and spontaneity. It tells you that spur-of-the-moment, “gut” decisions are the right ones.

You’ve probably heard repeatedly that you should “follow your heart.” But the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Feelings often lead you in the wrong direction. So you need to rely on truth outside of yourself.

The Bible is clear about that: “What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts!” (Proverbs 18:13).

So when you don’t yet have all the facts, slow down. Don’t rely on your gut, your heart, or your feelings. Take the time to look for objective truth outside of yourself.

Second, move slowly when you’re hurt, angry, or depressed. When you’re upset, you tend to react and retaliate rather than acting wisely.

James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.

Do you see the rhythm in that verse? It says quick, slow, slow. If you’re quick to listen and slow to speak, you’ll automatically be slow to become angry. But if you’re slow to listen and quick to speak, you’ll be quick to become angry.

Proverbs 15:18 tells you what to do instead: “Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments”.

Proverbs 15:28 says it this way: “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking”. In other words, godly people put their minds in gear before their mouths.

Sometimes you’re going to feel angry, hurt, or depressed. That’s just part of life. But the next time that happens, slow down. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Patience leads to abundant understanding, but impatience leads to stupid mistakes”.

Don’t make quick decisions that you’re going to regret.

And the same is true when you don’t have all the facts. Instead of just “following your heart,” take the time to slow down and make a careful decision.

Remember: It’s smart to be patient.

Move Fast To Do Good And Accept Salvation

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” Proverbs 3:27

We’ve talked for the last couple of days about when to move fast in response to God’s Spirit. Here’s what we’ve said so far: Obey quickly when God tells you to do something. Move fast when you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Be quick to keep your promises to God. And when you’re faced with temptation, run!

Today we’re going to look at two more times when you should move fast.

First, move fast when you have the opportunity to do good. The Bible says it over and over: When you see a chance to do something good for someone else, do it immediately.

God puts people with needs in your life over and over again you just have to be on the lookout for them. Their needs might be physical. Some needs could be emotional, like a need for kindness or encouragement.

Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them”.

If, for example, you see someone who is experiencing homelessness, don’t say, “I’ve got to help the homeless someday.” Instead, help right then.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done”.

There’s never a “perfect” time to do anything. Plus, you’re not even guaranteed tomorrow. In John 9:4 Jesus says, “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end”.

Finally, the last time you should move quickly is the most important. You should move quickly when God offers salvation. God has offered you salvation, and today is the day to accept it.

When you say, “Not yet,” you’re actually saying no to Christ. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Right now God is ready to welcome you. Today he is ready to save you”.

How do you accept salvation? You turn away from yourself and toward God. You trust Christ to come into your life, forgive your sins, and make you who he wants you to be.

If you’re ready to accept God’s salvation, you can pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. I open the door of my life and welcome you as my Lord and Savior. I ask that you forgive me of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sins and for giving me grace and eternal life. Take control and mold me into the person you want me to be. Amen.

Salvation is the best gift you’ll ever be offered. Be quick to accept it today.

Be Quick To Keep Your Promises To God

“When you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible.”Ecclesiastes 5:4

You probably make a lot of promises. Think back over the last few days. You may have promised to run an errand for your spouse, to meet a deadline for your boss, or to help a child with a project. Maybe you promised yourself you’d start a new healthy habit. You may have even made a promise to God.

When you make a promise to God, you should be quick to keep it. Just like delayed obedience is disobedience, a delayed promise is an unfulfilled promise.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 says it clearly: “When you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible”.

When you started following Jesus, you probably promised him that you’d start living life according to his plan, not your own. And to keep that promise to God, there’s another time you need to respond quickly: When you’re tempted, you need to be quick to run away from that temptation!

Temptation requires that you have both preventative and emergency tactics. Preventative tactics mean that you work to keep yourself out of tempting situations. But today let’s focus on emergency tactics—what to do when you are being tempted.

The Bible clearly says what to do with temptation: “Run from all these evil things” (1 Timothy 6:11).

When you feel tempted to do something self-defeating or dishonoring to God, you should move out of the situation rapidly. In other words, you should run!

What should you not do? Don’t argue with temptation. Don’t fight it. Why? Because you’re going to lose.

If you’re watching something on television that tempts you to lust, change the channel. If you struggle with alcohol, run far away from the bar.

One specific temptation the Bible tells you to run from is the worship of idols: “Flee from the worship of idols” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “I don’t have idols in my house.”

But anything you put before God is an idol. In some cultures, people have idols that look like stone or wooden figures. But in the U.S., we’re more likely to carry our idols in our wallets, watch them on TV, or park them in our driveways.

So here’s another way you might think about it: What person or thing do you idolize? Success? Beauty? A favorite athlete or sport? A certain celebrity? Social media?

No matter what your idols are and no matter what your temptations are, the strategy is clear: Run away. Don’t argue; don’t fight. Just run. If you don’t want to get stung by the bees, get away from the hive.

Remember following through on your promises matters! So when you’ve made a promise to God, be quick about keeping it!

Hurry To Obey God’s Commands

Without delay I hurry to obey your commands.” Psalm 119:60

Yesterday we talked about what it means to “walk in God’s Spirit.” Sometimes God’s Spirit tells you to move slowly. Other times you should move quickly. Today we’re going to talk about two times when you should move quickly.

First, you should move quickly when God tells you to do something.

The Bible is filled with instructions for life. The Bible calls them commands, and God wants you to obey them.

Parents often give their children instructions. If the child replies, “I’ll think about it,” then the child is disobeying.

The same is true for God and you. When God tells you to do something, he expects you to obey quickly.

In Mark 1:17, Jesus says to two fishermen, “Come, follow me”. He was asking them to walk away from their careers. It was a big deal.

Their response? “At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18).

When God asks you to do something, he wants you to do it immediately.

Psalm 119:60 says, “Without delay I hurry to obey your commands”. When it comes to obedience, hurry is a good thing.

Second, move quickly when God’s Spirit reminds you that you need to ask for or offer forgiveness. 

Holding on to guilt or resentment is like drinking poison. It can eat you alive. Jesus says it like this in Matthew 5:23-24: “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God”.

Not even your worship of God is reason enough to delay forgiving or asking for forgiveness. If something isn’t right between you and another person, the time to make it right is now.

When God tells you to do something or when you need to be reconciled with someone, don’t delay it’s the time to move quickly.

Your Timing Is Everything

“There is a right time and a right way to do everything, but we know so little!” Ecclesiastes 8:6

In many aspects of your life from business decisions to your closest relationships timing can make all the difference. And, as a follower of Christ, its critical for you to stay tuned in to God’s timing.

Every great accomplishment involves timing. A successful football catch requires incredible timing between quarterback and receiver. In business, good timing in the market particularly decisions about hiring and expanding can mean everything. If you sing, you know how important it is to keep time with the other musicians.

Many years ago, a pastor wrote a book. In the first chapter he compare leadership to surfing. No surfer says, “Let’s go make some waves today.” Surfers can’t create waves in the ocean. Only God can do that. Surfers wait for the waves that God creates.

That means surfers spend a lot of time waiting. Sometimes they might see a wave and let it go, knowing it’s not the right time. Then the surfer sees just the right wave, starts paddling faster and faster, catches the wave, rides the wave, and gets off the wave without wiping out.

Surfing looks easy, but it requires a lot of skill. The same is true in life. You have to develop the skill of timing. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 8:6, “There is a right time and a right way to do everything, but we know so little!”.

There’s a rhythm to life. Learning to do the right thing at the right time takes skill. Christians often call that skill “walking in the Spirit.” The more you grow as a follower of Christ, the better you get at walking in the Spirit. Sometimes God’s Spirit leads you to run fast. Sometimes he leads you to walk slowly.

For the next several days we’re going to look at when God usually wants you to speed up and when he might want you to slow down. You can live life trying to make your own waves. Or you can learn to see and catch the waves God is making all around you.

Why God Created The Universe

“Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us . . . His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.” Ephesians 1:4-5

The whole reason God created the universe is because he wanted a family and that family is the church. His church is the only reason the universe exists.

Did you know that before God thought of the universe, he thought of you? That’s how valuable you are; that’s how much you matter to God.

How can you tell something is really valuable to someone? By looking at what they’re willing to pay for it. Christ died for the church. When someone’s willing to give their life for something, it has incredible value.

The Bible says, “Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us . . .His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Long before God made the world, his unchanging plan has been to accomplish his purposes through the church not through nations, governments, or corporations. Earthly institutions are temporary, and they’re not big enough to tackle all the global problems. Only the church is big enough. And only the church will last forever.

Let’s put this in perspective. It’s estimated there are about 2.5 billion Christians in the world today. That’s more people than live in China, the world’s most populous country.

So, not only does the church have the greatest participation on the planet, but it also has the highest motivation: God’s love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us”.

Isn’t it incredible to know that the church, the whole reason God created the universe, is motivated by God’s love? That’s just another reason why there is no greater privilege than to be part of God’s family.

Help Others Get Into God’s Family

“In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.” John 17:18

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God has given you a mission in this world. You’re not here just to take up space; you’re not here just to strive after your own personal goals. 

You have an assignment from God himself. Once you’re in God’s family, your life changes. You have a new reason for living. Your life isn’t about you anymore; it’s about God’s mission.  

God’s mission for you fits into his mission for all of history. God created everything in the universe because he wanted a family. He didn’t need Earth. He didn’t need the other planets. He didn’t need the stars. He created all of it because he knew some of the people he created would willingly choose to be part of his family. 

The mission that God first gave Jesus he now gives to the body of Christ the church. Once you know Jesus, you have to go! You must tell your friends and family about him. But you can’t stop there. God has never made anyone he doesn’t want saved. He loves everyone across the entire globe.

God wants you to live out his mission everywhere: in your family, your community, and the world. His mission for your life is both global and local. The Bible says, “Now the Lord says to me, ‘It isn’t enough for you to be merely my servant. You must do more than lead back survivors from the tribes of Israel. I have placed you here as a light for other nations; you must take my saving power to everyone on earth’” (Isaiah 49:6).

That’s God’s plan for the world. That’s his mission for you. He wants everyone on Earth to know him. And he wants to use you to make that happen. 

God’s words in Isaiah aren’t just for missionaries or pastors. If you’re in his family, he gave his mission to you!

The Right Motivation For Obedience

“You are my friends if you do what I command” John 15:14

Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command”.

You can’t say you love Jesus and then go live like the devil. You can’t say you’re a Christian and then keep living a self-centered life. You can’t say you’re a follower of Jesus and then pick and choose the verses that you want to listen to and ignore the ones you don’t. Jesus says you’re his friend if you obey him and his commandments.

Why do Christians obey God? Nonbelievers get this wrong all the time. They say, “I don’t want to be a Christian, because I don’t want to obey God. You believers obey him out of guilt or fear or obligation, and I don’t want that for my life.” 

But why do we really obey God? Because he loves us! He wants the best for us. He loves you like nobody else will ever love you.

The Bible says the only reason there’s love in the world is because God is love. We don’t obey God out of fear or guilt or obligation. We obey God out of love because he loved us and saved us.

When I was a kid in college, a guy came up to me and said, “You’re restricted.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Because you believe in God. You can’t do any of the fun stuff the rest of us do.”

I looked him in the eye and said, “I could take all the drugs I want to take. I could get stoned all I want to get stoned. I could drink all I want to drink. I could go to all the parties I want to go to. I could go to bed with as many women as I want. But here’s the difference: Jesus changed my want to.”

I didn’t want to do those things then. I don’t want to do those things now. They are cheap, phony thrills that give a temporary kick to life, but then they kick back. They may look like freedom, but they don’t last. They lead to despair, not dignity; they end in depression, not delight.

Jesus said, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me . . . When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:9-11)

God doesn’t want you to obey him because you’re afraid of him. He doesn’t want you to obey him because you’re scared of punishment. God wants you to obey him because of love. It’s his love that leads to true joy.

To Be God’s Friend, Value What He Values

“Some of these people have missed the most important thing in life—they don’t know God.” 1 Timothy 6:21

The key to a friendship with God is deciding whose friendship you want most.

You don’t have time for everybody to be your best friend. You’ve got to decide who you want most to be your best friend.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:21, “Some of these people have missed the most important thing in life they don’t know God”.

They know all the baseball scores. They know the stock market quotes. They know the top 10 songs. They know who’s in and who’s out in every soap opera. But they don’t know God. They’ve missed the most important thing in life!

If you’re not a friend of God, it means you care about something else more. James 4:4 says, “You should know that loving the world is the same as hating God. Anyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes God’s enemy”.

When James writes “loving the world,” he means loving the value system of the world. God wants you to love people, but that doesn’t mean you have to love the world’s value system. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the distractions of life. And when you love the world’s value system, there’s not much room to love people. Instead, you love materialism. You love pleasure. You love popularity. You love prestige. You love passion, possessions, and position.

But God loves people. And he wants you to love them too. One way to show your love of others is by taking an interest in their interests. In other words, what is important to you becomes important to me (always within the context of biblical truth). 

That’s how you show your love of God too. If you’re going to be a friend of God, then you’ve got to care about what he cares about and stop caring about the things he doesn’t care about. God doesn’t care about your image. He’s not interested in your status. He’s interested in your character not how you look but who you are.

Are you ready to take a practical step toward friendship with God? Choose to value what he values.

Give God Your Best Time

“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.” Psalm 25:14

If you want to build a deep relationship with God, you have to slow down and be quiet.

Friendship with God is like any other friendship you have to make time for it. If you don’t make time for your human friends, they’re not really your friends. You make time for your friends. If God is going to be your best friend, you’ve got to give him your best time.

The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

To know God better, you have to be still so you need to have a daily quiet time with him.

Psalm 25:14 says, “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises”.

Many people don’t know God. They haven’t experienced God’s love. They don’t know why he does what he does. Yet the Bible says that friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him in other words, those who slow down and spend time with him.

What would a friendship be like if you never invested your time in it? Friendships need attention. You will never know God intimately if you only go to church services. 

You’ve got to read God’s Word and ask him, “God, is there anything you want to say to me?” You don’t have to use any fancy phrases or words. Just talk to him authentically. And then listen!

The Bible says it like this: “When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production . . . Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matthew 6:5-6).

Slow down today, focus on God, and listen as he speaks to you about his grace.

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