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					                 December 16, 2007 (Advent 3 A)                            that’s why He gives us this encouragement here through his servant
                           James 5:7-11                                    James: James 5:7-11
             The Greatest Gifts Are Under God’s Tree:                              7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See
                      Advent 3: PATIENCE                                   how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and
                                                                           how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be
        I grew up in a family that didn’t have much PATIENCE when          patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9
it came to Christmas. My parents let us open gifts early – it didn’t       Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be
take too much nagging before we got to open another one. We had an         judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
Advent calendar with chocolates hidden behind each day of                          10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of
December – it was usually completely clear of chocolate by                 suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
December 5th. My brother, the engineer, could meticulously open            11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.
gifts with precision to discover the contents and line up fresh tape       You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the
perfectly over the cut seam to cover his tracks. Since we knew what        Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and
the gifts were and could open them early, guess what was left for the      mercy.
Christmas celebration? We got to open the plaid cowboy shirts with                 Notice that James uses 3 examples to teach us that Godly
silver snaps (that we NEVER wore) but that grandpa and grandma got         patience is a gift our Heavenly Father wants us to have, and to show
for us every year.                                                         us what it looks like:
        That’s just a small example of how a LACK of patience can           1. Consider the farmer: A big part of his job – the WEATHER – is
spoil things. A lack of patience can even make things downright                 completely out of his hands. He plants the seeds and does all he
miserable. It makes a work environment most unpleasant. A lack of               can – but he has to wait patiently for the sun and rain to produce
patience produces grumbling and complaining and battles at church               the crops according to God’s incredible design.
and turns God’s House into a negative place to be. A lack of patience       2. Take an example from the prophets: A big part of their job was
can make parenting miserable and destructive for both parents and               out of their hands too: PEOPLE’S reaction to God’s message.
the kids. A lack of patience pulls marriages apart and sours the home           People can be harder to predict than the weather; and even more
and can even destroy the family unit.                                           frustrating. The prophets even got themselves in big trouble for
        But – the FLIP-SIDE is also true: when Godly PATIENCE is                simply doing their job – but – they persevered. The proclaimed
present – it PAYS! I produces big dividends. I don’t mean walking               the Word of the LORD with Godly Patience and left the results
away from problems and conflicts (that just lets things fester) – I             in His hands.
mean handling them with Spirit-produced patience that is guided by          3. Consider Job: his experience reminds us that our livers are not
love / wisdom / forgiveness – so that we handle things beautifully.             under our control. He lost everything. It was a harder
That kind of patience makes for happier Christmas celebrations / a              experience than we can likely imagine having to face. But, he
great working environment / a warm and caring church / disciplined,             trusted the Lord, he got through it, and the Lord gave him
yet understood and respectful children who make their parents proud             everything back and even way more than he had before.
/ marriages that are strong, healthy, happy – marriages that are a
testimony to how beautiful they can be when Christ is the centre of it.            OK – we know it up here (in our heads): Godly patience is
        Godly PATIENCE brings with it all sorts of blessings. Since        GREAT. The LORD is patient. We know He wants us to be. I think
it improves our lives – it too is a GIFT of God. As with all the Gifts     that’s obvious – so, how do we make that happen? How can we
under God’s Tree – He wants us to enjoy it / to appreciate it / to be      become more patient? Where’s my book, “10 easy steps to becoming
blessed with it. He wants all his people to have this gift of patience –   a patient person”? Sorry. I hate to burst the bubble here, but, you
can’t make yourself patient. We’re not ABLE to do that. Patience             horrible mess. We try to run from these things and make it our goal to
is one of God’s gifts – HE produces it in his people and blesses them        keep them out of our lives . . . . we want answers, and we want them
with it. The Holy Spirit combines some key ingredients to produce            NOW. We want gratification for our desires, and we want it now. We
this priceless gift in the hearts and lives of God’s people.                 want good health, wealth, pleasure and ease and we’ll grumble /
                                                                             complain / whine when we don’t get it. It’s not fair – we should have
          I’m going to use a crazy illustration here in the hope that it     everything everyone else has – and just a little bit more.
sticks with you. Here’s a CHIA PET. You know what these are;                         We know better. But, we act like that. Even though the
we’ve all suffered through the ads on TV since the 1980’s. Now, I            JUDGE is standing at the door – listening and witnessing it all. We
want you to think of the trouble / pains / issues and struggles in your      could expect him to walk away and say, “These fools are not worth it.
life at this moment. Have you all thought of some things? Each one           I don’t want them in my home. If they won’t accept what I have to
is a CHIA PET. Sometimes they can be ugly and tear into your lives           give them, then I’ll take all my good gifts and give them to someone
creating a big mess – like my Chia Tasmanian devil here. This could          else.” That happens when people stubbornly drive Christ away from
be chronic back pain. It could be trouble at work. It could be the           the doors of their hearts.
suffering of a loved one. Maybe it’s loneliness. You have your own                   Thankfully, for us, HE’s patient. He stands there at the door
nasty “chia pets” don’t you. You might have cried out, “WHY God?             of your heart because He loves you. He keeps bearing with us and
Why did you let this miserable thing enter my life?”                         has incredible plans for us, and works within us and through us as He
          Well, here’s my challenge to you today: consider this chia         forgives us / strengthens us . . . . and, yes . .. in His grace and wisdom:
pet / this hardship – a GIFT that God has given you. WHAT?! a                challenging us with “Chia pets”. Do you remember what to do with
gift?? – yes. These things are gifts and they come with instructions         them? (Review the steps above!)
(found in God’s Word):
   1. Soak this sucker in prayer. If it dissolves and melts away –                   Open and experience those incredible gifts God has put under
       fine. Praise God. If not, praise God and go on to step #2:            His tree for you. Christ is the GREATEST GIFT and all the rest are
   2. Squish all over this thing the PROMISES of God. (God                   linked to him. Take up your “chia pet” and follow him who turns
       works all things for the good of those who love Him . . . . God       even the struggles you face into Gifts of His Grace and uses them to
       knows what He’s doing . . . .God has my best interest at heart . .    produce patience in us. Go ahead and open God’s gifts early! Open
       . . God won’t let me have a chia pet I can’t handle . . . God’s       them every day – we can never exhaust the gifts under HIS tree. The
       going to make something beautiful out of this ugly thing . . . this   more you open, the more you find. The more you begin to experience
       is only temporary, no chia pets in heaven. . . . I’m God’s child      them, the more you appreciate them and become overwhelmed with
       and Christ is my Saviour and heaven is my home . . . . .) Then        God’s incredible love. As God’s gifts fill our lives, our lives become
       what? well –                                                          a beautiful advertisement to the world that: the Greatest Gifts Are
   3. Keep it moist with prayer – and – the rest is in God’s hands.          Under God’s Tree!
          WATCH the Holy Spirit grow something beautiful and divine
on this thing: Patience. That patience is a GIFT that benefits people               Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for all your good gifts –
all around us and brings glory to God in a million different ways.           especially forgiveness / life and salvation through Jesus – but also for
          God loves producing patience in us – but we don’t LET HIM.         the “chia pets” – grow Godly patience and perseverance on them we
We hate these “chia pets”. We think that if God loves us so much,            pray, Amen.
then He should rid these from our lives. We don’t soak them in
prayer – we throw them at the wall in anger. But it comes back! Our
“friends” tell us to soak them in alcohol – but that just creates a