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James 5:7-12 


Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. [8] You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. [9] Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. [10] As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. [11] Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. 

[12] But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment.  NASB

For some of us, it would be easier to climb Yosemite's Half Dome, on one leg, with our hands tied behind our back then it is to do what James tells us to do in this passage of scripture-be patient. When I lived in Albuquerque, the men in my church would often tell me, "Slow down Pastor, don't be in such a hurry." Part of the reason was that New Mexico is the land of Manana, just about everything can wait there. But part of it was they'd spotted a restlessness in my soul-an impatience that constantly drives me to do more in less time. An impatience that reduces productivity over the long haul and retards a person's ultimate potential.

James tells his readers to be patient. Just as the farmer has to wait for her seed to germinate, sprout through the soil and become a plant that gives her produce, so must we be patient. 

Patience is a precious commodity. How valuable is patience?

For Joe Treala is was worth a million dollars. Treala, a resident of Gilroy, California won a million dollars when he answered the following question on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,""What insect shorted out an early supercomputer and inspired the term, "computer bug?" The answer "moth" was worth a million dollars to the 25-year-old computer customer service representative. 

Treala took his time answering this and other questions. It took him 15 minutes to answer one of the questions. "The producers were getting kinda cranky with me," he said. His patience was uncanny, even unnerving. But in the end, his patient ways paid off for him-a million different ways. 

Treala's patience wasn't just shown in the way he played the game, but in how he got there. Treala tried out for Jeopardy several times, but was never invited on the show. But he didn't give up, he kept trying to get on a game show and when he did, his patience finally paid off.

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Like it did for Mark Hansen and Jack Canfield.

For over two decades Mark Hansen and Jack Canfield shared "stories of hope, inspiration, and encouragement" in their seminars. When they saw how their stories touched their audiences, they tried to find a publisher to put them into print. Some publishers thought the stories were too "nicey-nice." Others said "Nobody wants to read a book of little stories." Others said just plain "No!" After three years and 33 rejections, they finally found someone who would publish Chicken Soup for the Soul. Their own experience mimics the power of the stories they tell; it is the drama of triumph through hardship and the victory of the human spirit. It shows that hard work, patience and determination will pay off. If you don't give up.(Fresh Illustrations

Failure doesn't have to be fatal. Too often we give up before we realize our potential. Most people wouldn't have pressed on past 33 rejections, but Hansen and Canfield did, and millions of readers are glad they did.

Too often people let one set back or failure define their lives. Jack Kilby could have done that, but he didn't. MIT turned down Jack Kilby's application for admission because his Math scores were too low. As a result, Kilby never received much training in physics and didn't get the education he desired. But on December 10, 2000 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences gave him the Nobel Prize in physics. 

Why? Well he only invented something that has probably changed your life and has definitely changed history-the microchip. (Fresh Illustrations didn't let a setback keep him down, he patiently pursued his dreams. He didn't give up.

Sometimes people create their own problems that they have to work to overcome in later years. In 1991 Michael Bennett made a mistake that cost him dearly. While a freshman at a Christian college, North Park University in Chicago, IL, Bennett was arrested with a friend for armed robbery. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in jail. Bennett was down, but he wasn't out. While in jail, he began boxing. His sentence was reduced to 7 years and when he was released he got a job working long hours in a steel mill. 

Bennett became a proficient boxer. He was the 1999 World Champion and 2000 US Champion. He is getting his life back, as evidenced by the confidence the USA boxing coach placed in him by making him co-captain of the 2000 USA Olympic team that competed in Sydney. 
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Bennett's story illustrates that even when someone makes a major mistake, they still can turn their life around. As every boxer knows, being down doesn't necessarily mean you're out. 

Bennett didn't win in Sidney, Cuba's Felix Savon beat him, knocking him out of the tournament. In a post fight interview, Bennett said, "We're still all happy because we came out here and did our best and that's all we can ask for from anybody," Bennett said, "to get out there and give 110 per cent, just hang on don't give up, don't quit, only the strong survive."

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Something Bennett learned the hard way. His determination and patience makes him a champion, with or without a gold medal.

Whether it is overcoming rejection or failure, successful people have the ability to endure and the patience to overcome the obstacles in their way.

In this passage, James tells us, we need to be patient with God, we need to be patient in circumstances and we need to be patient with one another. We need to be patient with God because he is in control and everything will work out in the end. For now, we often get discouraged because it looks like evil is winning while good is losing. It is hard to see the rubble from the twin towers without asking God why he doesn't intervene and triumph over evil. Exactly what He is going to do-in His time.

Matthew 24:44 (NASB) says, "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." The day will come when He returns, but until then, we are to be patient. The writer of Hebrews wrote: "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure." (Hebrews 6:11 NIV)

As we are patient with God, so are we patient in our circumstances. Life doesn't always go according to our plans-actually, it rarely goes according to our plans. Perhaps that is why James warns against making plans that we can't control in the previous chapter. In Galatians 6:9, (KJV) Paul encourages us to endure through difficult circumstances. He wrote: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

The Christian story is one of overcoming our obstacles and our sinfulness. Paul wrote:
"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions," (Col. 2:13 NASB)

Failure doesn't have to be fatal, you can experience the life-giving power of forgiveness and become "alive in Christ."

And because failure is a common denominator in the human experience, we are to be patient with one another. In Romans 15:5-7, (NLT) Paul wrote, "May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other--each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other. [6] Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [7] So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified."

Like Job, James wants us to be patient with God, patient with our circumstances and patient with one another. And if we will, we will find "God's best" for us and experience the compassionate and merciful outcome God has planned for our life.

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