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Ignite!

Anything: Patience
This sermon was prepared and preached by Pastor Mike Rose at First Federated Church in Des
Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, June 22, 2008.
Copyright © 2008, First Federated Church

Our Sunday morning focus is the theme of our 2008 Missions Conference – Ignite: Anything,
Anywhere, Any Cost.

The Cost of effective ministry? Everything you have, everything you are, everything you hope to be.

Matthew 16:24, NASB, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and
take up his cross and follow Me.”

Anywhere = Going where Jesus says go – Acts 1:8, New American Standard Bible, Jesus said, “But
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both
in Jerusalem (hometown) and in all Judea (The next town) and Samaria (the town after that) even to
the remotest part of the earth.”

Anything = that can mean many different things to different people. As I’ve poured out my heart to
God asking for His direction promising that I will do anything He asks of me, I have often heard
nothing but silence. But a few weeks ago as I repeated that prayer to God, His Holy Spirit spoke three
words into my mind and heart: Purity, Patience, Perseverance.

Two Sundays ago I spoke about the need for purity in our lives, purity in our ministry. Why is
Purity so important? Because, without purity, the Lord will not use us as an agent for transformation
in the Des Moines-metro area.

To my very core I believe that God wants to rebuild First Federated Church and use it to reach the lost
and mature the Saints. I really do!

Honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. But, despite what I believe the desire of God is
for us, I know this: He will not use us if we aren’t committed to walk with Him in purity.

Along with purity, God pressed on me the word patience. What is Patience? It is the ability to
endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset.

As I said, I believe God desires to rebuild First Federated, but He isn’t going to do it according to my
timetable or your timetable. He will do it after He has prepared and equipped us for the work He
wants us to do.

In the meantime He has some pruning, fertilizing, cultivating and changing He wants to do. And the
message I am tasked to deliver today is this: as He does His preparatory work, He wants us to be
patient and wait on Him.

Now if you’re like me, you want it all now! But there are reasons why NOW is the time for
preparation instead of conquest. Take your Bibles and turn to Exodus 23. In the past two weeks, I
have been re-reading Exodus. I’ve read it out loud, stopping at various points to meditate and give
God a chance to speak to me.

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Exodus tells the story of how God:

• Delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt


• Directed Israel toward the land He promised to give them
• Gave Moses The 10 Commandments and other laws for successful living

I marveled at the many things God did for Moses and Israel. I was astounded that the many wrong
attitudes that both Moses and Israel expressed toward God, and of their occasional moments of faith
as well.

But, as I read through Exodus 23, specifically verses 20-33, I was astounded at the direct
communication that God’s Spirit gave to me. Let’s read these verses, and then I share with you the
application I believe it has for First Federated Church.

God communicates to Moses: 20“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along
the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21“Be on your guard before him and
obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My
name is in him. 22“But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your
enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23“For My angel will go before you and bring you in
to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites;
and I will completely destroy them. 24“You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do
according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in
pieces. 25“But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and
I will remove sickness from your midst. 26“There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land;
I will fulfill the number of your days. 27“I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion
all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28“I
will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites
before you. 29“I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become
desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 30“I will drive them out before you
little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. 31“I will fix your boundary
from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I
will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32“You
shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33“They shall not live in your land, because they
will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

As part of their preparation to move into the land, we find God informing Moses and His people that
He would be the source of strength and provision to bring them to the place He wanted them to be.

Verse 20 – “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring
you into the place which I have prepared.”

Clearly, God is committing Himself to ensure the ultimate victory for His people. And don’t let that
word “angel” throw you off. Notice in verse 23, the angel is referred to as “My Angel,” and in verse
21, God says this “angel” has the power to withhold forgiveness, that He bears God’s name in Him.
Many scholars believe this “angel” is non-other than a pre-incarnate (clothing in humanity)
appearance and ministry of God the Son (Jesus).

Now the importance of understanding verse 20 is this: too often we get a revelation or insight from
God about something He wants us to do, and we lace up our bootstraps, grab our gear and head out

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with our face in the wind to make it happen, only to discover in a short time that we’re exhausted,
frustrated, bewildered and on the verge of quitting. Anybody ever been there?

What happened? We jumped out in front of the God; we tried to tackle His agenda in our strength; we
didn’t take into account that a God-sized agenda requires God’s strength to do it.

People, understand:

• God never calls us to run ahead of Him.


• His plan is always to go before us, to prepare the way.
• When we are walking behind Him, we never have to kick doors down, He opens them.

Let’s take note of another important issue: God’s promise of strength and provision was conditional
–iIt was conditioned upon the people’s purity/holiness.

Verse 22 and following: 22“But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an
enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23“For My angel will go before you and
bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and
the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.

I don’t want to be long here, but let’s be reminded from two Sunday’s ago, that when God’s people
obey His voice and walk in Holiness before Him, He wins the victory and the people rejoice. But, just
as with Ai, when God’s people go their own way, God steps back and let’s them fall in utter defeat.

Here’s something I take from this: If God calls a people to a work, and for an extended time all they
see is decline and defeat, there’s reason for those people to take a look at their holiness or lack there
of.

God reveals to Israel that He will win the victory, and He calls them to purity. But notice, He also
calls them to patience..

Verse 27 and following: 27“I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the
people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28“I will
send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites
before you. 29“I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become
desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 30“I will drive them out before you
little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.

Here’s the third lesson for us: God does His thing in His time for His reasons. The land was as good
as theirs – it was their destiny. But God was not going to give it all to them in a year, but over time.
Why over time? Because they were not yet prepared to handle it all. There had to be growth for them
to possess the land in the way God wanted them to possess it.

Now, this is where God yanked my chain and gave me a message for myself and for First Federated
Church: God has a great work for us, but He will not let us enter that work until we are ready to
do it.

You say, “Pastor Mike, what do you mean? We’re ready for the work, we’ve got all we need to do
effective ministry. We’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the location, we’ve got staff – we’re ready!”

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I know that’s what we want to believe, but believe me, we’re not ready. Let me explain.

The simple truth is, if God were to bless us, and our congregation grew by 500 new people in the
next year, the weight of that growth would crush us.

You probably don’t know this, but in the past 18 months, we’ve had three or four Communion
Coordinators quit. Why? Because of the stress of:

• Trying to get people to serve.


• People consenting to serve, but then backing out at the last moment.
• People who consented to serve, but then didn’t show up at the appointed time place to get
their instructions.

Now, for a church like Federated, coordinating and serving communion should be as simple as taking
a nap, but instead it is a struggle. I ask you, if we can’t be effective in our communion service, how
can we be effective at other ministry that requires more work and more dedication?

Truth is, the 20 years of struggle that Federated has endured has taken a bigger toll on us than we
want to admit. And while there is great ministry around the corner for us, there’s a significant amount
of rebuilding, retooling and re-educating that must take place before we can fully engage in all that
God has in store.

Now, no one here wants effective successful ministry more than I do. I didn’t uproot my whole life
and come to Iowa just to keep status quo. And if I’m not careful, I can become so impatient for
things to be as they should be that I get discouraged, become critical and eventually look for “greener
pastures” – and so can you.

But God says to me, “Be patient! I’m going to do a great work, but I’m not going to do it all in a
year, maybe not even two.”

Just as God told Moses – I’m going to do it little by little to:

• …give you a chance to grow.


• …give you a chance to weed out things that need to go.
• …give you a change to build up things that need to stay.
• …establish things that need to be added.

Conclusion

I close with this. The Elders and I see God doing remarkable things. He is tearing out, building up,
creating new things. As He does this, we are doing ministry. But the ultimate ministry He has waiting
for us is bigger than we are presently able to handle, and so we need preparation, and preparation
requires time, and giving it time requires patience.

What to do?

1. Be aware of the need for patience. Be aware that tribulation is what builds patience when we
submit to God’s work in our trials – James 1:2-4.

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2. Be aware of God’s preparatory work and submit to it. Don’t try to get ahead of God. Work at
walking with Him, through times of preparation as well as time of great service.
3. Be in prayer for the ministry God has for us. For all church leaders and servants, that we will
rightly discern when God says prepare, go or stop.
4. We need dedicated, committed people to help with communion service. If you can be part of
that team, Tom Hefner is in the foyer ready to receive your name.

We must always remember it’s His ministry, we are His people and He is our head directing us.

We say, “God, I’ll do Anything” God says, “How about having some Patience?”

The First Federated Church copyright, above, is for the sermon itself, not for any items quoted in the
sermon, unless otherwise stated. All quoted items are done so in good faith, and the source is
attributed when it is known.

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