Be Patient with People’s Progress

Outlasters_Series_Facebook_Cover_Art

 

June 11, 2017

Message Series:

Outlasters

Message Title:

God is Not Finished with People

Philippians 1:6

(unedited manuscript)

Take a look right now at this Top Ten List right here.  These are the plants that take the longest to bloom. (http://listverse.com/2013/08/11/10-ridiculously-slow-to-bloom-plants/)

  • Sheep Eating Plant (15 to 20 yrs)
  • Madagascar Palm (100 years)
  • Night blooming Cereus (1 year and only at night)
  • Narrow Leafed Campion (30,000 years)
  • Kurinji Plant (Once every 12 years)
  • Agave Americana (!0 years)
  • Queen of the Andes (80 to 150 Years)
  • Melocanna Baciffera (44 to 48 years)
  • Talipot Palm (30 to 89 Years)
  • Giant Himalayan Lily (5 to 7 years)

These plants give a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted,” don’t they?  Sometimes it takes longer then we like for the bloom of good to come out!

 

We started this series A couple weeks ago and we have gone over two actions to outlast the bad.  We said in order to do that we need to be grateful for the good in people.  Paul said of the people in the church at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you..”  PH 1:3.  Then last week we looked at how to pray positively for people.  It’s the best way to turn a relationship from bad to good.  Paul again said in Philippians 1:4, “In all my prayers for all of you I pray with joy.”

 

Today, the third path to outlasting the bad in people so you can embrace the good is: Be patient with their progress.  Paul just didn’t look at a person’s past, he also looked to their future.  He looked to their future and was patient with their progress.  Sometimes, it takes people longer to bloom than we would like.  In verse 6 of Philippians 1 Paul writes, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (NIV)  Paul says what God starts, God finishes.  What God started in your life at salvation He will bring it eventually to completion.

 

Mankind is often a great starter and not a great finisher.  Man has unfinished songs, like Mozart’s Requiem; unfinished books like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Michelango’s sculpture of David; or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan (It was started in 1892 and it’s still missing its spires).  (source: Mental Floss) {Show pictures}  Man doesn’t always finish what he starts but God always finishes what he starts.

 

God does not make a bird and give it half a wing.  He does not make an unfinished flower, or an unfinished star.  The Bible says when Jesus starts working in your life he finishes what he started.  In spite of my hangups, sins, insecurities, failures, faults, bad decisions that I face in life God is going to finish what he started in my life.  And in your life too!  You are going to make it!  The Bible says one day when you get to heaven you will be made complete, with no sin, and you will be like Jesus.  And that’s the goal.  We are all growing to be like Jesus.  God starts what he finishes.

 

How do you outlast the bad and embrace the good?  Lesson #3: Appreciate God is not finished with people.  We need to be patient with people’s progress.  To embrace the good in people we must allow for growth and for development.  Paul would tell you himself, “I’m not the man I used to be, thank God.  But also, thank God, I’m not the man I’m going to be.  I’m growing and changing.”

 

When we first meet Paul he is not the super missionary Christian who wrote half the New Testament.  In fact, he was the opposite.  We see Paul directly involved in the murder and persecution of countless early Christians.  He was a Pharisee of the highest order and saw Christians as a threat.  He saw them as blasphemers of God- deserving of persecution and death.  The first glimpse of Paul is when we see him nodding approval of the first martyr of the Christian faith. (Acts 8:1)

 

Shortly after that, as he was on his way to Damascus, Paul had a life changing event.  His plan was to arrest the Christians there and throw them in prison.  Closing businesses, splitting up children from parents, and destroying people’s reputations was all part of his plan.   On his way there Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light asking him why he was persecuting him.

 

Shortly thereafter, in Damascus, was a disciple named Ananias whom God told to lead Paul to a relationship with Jesus.  Now get this, Paul had done nothing yet.  He was a blind man in a stranger’s bedroom of a guy who he hated just a few days ago.  He was a brand new babe in Christ and this is what Jesus said of Paul, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”  Acts 9:15.  Jesus had some work to do with Paul!  Jesus started a work in Paul and he brought it to completion.  We “gentiles” in this room study his writings about Jesus 2000 years later!  What’s true for Paul is true for you and those around you.

 

Paul never lost on the fact God was helping grow more and more like Jesus Christ.  Over in chapter 3 of Philippians Paul talks about his own growth track.  He gives himself as an illustration of God completing the work in him.

 

First, he says this is my goal.  This is who I want to be like.  He says in verse 10, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.  I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection of the dead!”  What amazing goal.  Paul is saying I’m continuing to grow into being like Jesus.  To love like Jesus.  To suffer like Jesus.  And because of Jesus’ resurrection to even conquer death like Jesus.  He says I want to keep growing to be like Jesus.  How do I know that?

 

Verse 12, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ first possessed me.”  Paul is saying I’m not there yet but I have confidence that Jesus will complete the work he started in me, including the resurrection!  This is the first lesson in being patient with someone: Look in the mirror.  Paul knew he had room to grow.  You too, need to realize you have room to grow.  We are really good at giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  We need to be good at giving that to others as well.

 

Jesus famously gave a parable that illustrates this truth.  Jesus put it this way, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42  Jesus is saying before you go spouting off how other people should grow make sure you look in the mirror first.  Make sure you are growing in Christ too.

 

The first key to being patient with someone’s progress is to look in the mirror.  You haven’t reached perfection yet either.  The second key to being patient is to appreciate they have room to grow as well.

 

Notice how Paul starts verse 13, “No, dear brothers and sisters…”  He calls the people he is writing brothers and sisters.  He addresses them affectionately even, “Dear brothers and sisters.”  Paul sees these people as family.  He literally sees a bond of blood between him and them- the blood of Christ binds them together.  As Jesus followers we are to live in a family.  Here at C3 you just don’t join our church.  You are adopted into it.  You are now family.  Families help each other.  Families do life together.  Families stick together.  Families help each other grow.  Families stick together in tough times and good times.  We are not an island.  We grow up together in Christ.  All of us have room to grow and God has given us each other to help us grow.  Paul is saying I never give up on people.  We never give up on people.  This is why being part of a Go Group is so important.  Here at C3 we grow closer together in our Go Groups and help each other grow in our Go Groups. The second key is being patient with someone is recognize they have room to grow too.  God isn’t finished with them yet.

 

Paul gives us the third key for patience in verse 13, “I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgettting what is past…”  The third key to being patient with someone is to forget the past.

 

Arnold Palmer is one of the greatest golfers in the history of golf.  He is the golfer who is credited with taking golf from the elites and making it popular with the common man.  Vin Scully said, “In a sport that was high society, he made it High Noon.”  Many people born in the 1940’s became golfers because of Arnold’s popularity.  He won 92 championships and was 1960’s athlete of the decade.

 

As good as a golfer as he was, he knows more than anyone a golfer can have a bad hole.  The key to being good at golf is the ability to forget that really bad shot and focus on the shot you have.  It’s a difficult thing to do.  Especially on the hole you are golfing on has a monument erected to your incredibly bad shot- like Arnold Palmer.

 

In 1961 at the peak of Palmer’s career, at the Los Angeles Open, he his hit a good tee shot on the par 5, and he thought he get on the green with his second shot.  This put him position of a birdie, putting him closer to the leaders.

With his 3 wood, Palmer thought he hit a good shot, but it faded to the right, hit a pole, and bounced in to the driving range.  Palmer took a penalty, and hit the ball again from the same spot.  This time it went to the left and landed in the side road.  He took a penalty again.  He repeated this process many times.  When he finally put the ball on the green he had added ten strokes to his score- not a good thing.  It took him 2 putts to putt the ball in and finished with a twelve- when he had hoped for a four.  He scored so poorly he was knocked out the tournament.

 

Today, if you go to the 9th hole on the Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles you will find a bronze plague that says, “On Friday, June 6, 1961, the first day of the 35th Los Angeles Open, Arnold Palmer, voted Golfer of the Year and Pro Athlete of the year, took a 12 on this hole.”

How was Arnold able to continue to play great golf after that disaster?  He put that hole way behind him and focused on what was ahead.  Too many people like to drive by rear view mirrors instead of looking out what’s ahead through the windshield.  Forget the past.

 

The fourth way to have patience with someone is to look to the future.  Paul says, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”  We look forward to the work Christ is doing in them.  We look forward to seeing one day Christ completing the job.  By faith we believe God is working.  We never lose hope because we believe in this promise of God.  He is faithful to complete his work.  He doesn’t make birds with half a wing.  He doesn’t make incomplete stars.  Perhaps you have a friend or a loved one who is not a Jesus follower.  You can know that as you pray for them and faithfully live for Christ with them that God is working to bring them to a faith in them.

 

The common mistake we make is we judge people on the basis on how far they have to go instead of how far they have come.  Learn to enjoy people right now while allowing for growth and development.  Otherwise, they will never meet your conditions.  You’ve got to learn to enjoy them right now.  You make yourself miserable.  Enjoy your mate, your children, your coworkers.  There is no such thing as a perfect kid. There is no such thing as a perfect adult.  God is not finished is not finished with people.  Be patient with their progress.

 

There are four keys to having patience with others:

  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Know they have room to grow.
  3. Forget the past.
  4. Look to the future.

 

Paul gives us an incredible promise in Philippians 1:6, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.” (NLT)

 

Notice in verse 6 Paul says I am certain of this, I am confident of this…  Paul believed in the power of God to change human personality.  He never gave up on people.  Paul is saying we can be confident, we can completely trust, we have faith that God is not finished with any of us yet.  No one is hopeless.  Part of faith is expecting the best out of people.  There is tremendous power in faith.  Concerning this promise Paul adds in chapter 3, verse 15, “Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things.  If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.  But we must hold onto the progress we have already made.”

 

Paul would tell you that if anyone was hopeless it would be him.  In a letter to Timothy Paul calls himself the chief of sinners.  He was a murderer and persecutor of God’s people.  He was hopeless because of his mistakes.  But he also talks about how hopeless he was at being perfect for God.  He was completely zealous for God.  He says in chapter 3, verse 6, “as for zeal,…. as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.  But whatever those gains for me I now consider loss.”    He said he was faultless in pursuing laws of God.  He said that was hopeless too.  Expecting perfection is hopeless.

 

But in Christ we have hope.  We have hope because Jesus will complete the work in us.  John 1:12 tells us, “He gave us the power to become sons of God.”  The Christian life is a process.  We’re all becomers.  We’re all growing.  To outlast the bad and embrace the good, you have to enjoy people where they are now, not when they’ve arrived.   Jesus will finish what he started.  Our trust, our hope, our faith, is in no other than Jesus Christ.  The key to outlasting the bad in people and embracing the good is to be patient with their progress.  We are all children of God and inherit with children is they are not grown up yet.  God is not finished with them or you yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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