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Presuming on God's Patience - Life of Christ Part 86

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 2, 2023 7:00 am

Presuming on God's Patience - Life of Christ Part 86

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

We were riding in the car and we were on the way to my son Justin's high school football game. It was my wife Brenda and myself and my 10-year-old son Jonathan and we were late. The babysitter was late showing up. I was in a part of Arlington I'd never been to before.

I don't think I was lost, you know, and the games already started. We'd stopped real quick to pick up dinner. We were having crepe de la Big Mac and we had our dinner. And so as we're riding along, Jonathan's in the back seat and I handed back to him the huge drink that comes with these dinners. And I said to him, now Jonathan, do not spill this drink. You understand?

Yes, I understand. So we're driving along and I suddenly saw the road that I was supposed to turn on but I was going a little bit too fast, you know. So I had to stop, slow down real quick and make a sharp turn. And as soon as I made the turn, I heard this kslosh. Every parent knows that sound. That is the sound of a drink going onto the floor. And so without even turning around, I just said, no, you didn't.

He said, I'm sorry, Dad. It just jumped out the cup holder and onto the floor. And we didn't have a big spill. We had a supersized spill.

You understand what I'm saying? So I'd seen a 7-Eleven. I ran back to the 7-Eleven in the car, ran in, got a roll of paper towels.

And I'm outside in the car. Now remember, this is not the lead sled. The lead sled, I'd have just let it slosh around until it dried later on.

But this was the good car. So I ran out. I'm on my hands and knees kind of mopping and sopping this 500 ounces of soda up.

Because no matter how hard you press, the more of it keeps coming. We moved Jonathan's backpack over so I can get to an area where he'd spilled it. And there was this white sticky stuff all over the outside of his backpack. And Brenda looked in it.

I'm busy mopping. What she found was that he, instead of eating it, he had taken his yogurt and put it in his backpack. And it had split open. And it had leaked all over the inside of his backpack. But not just one yogurt. There were two yogurts in the backpack. Now he only gets one yogurt a day, so your guess is as good as mine how old the other yogurt was. And in his backpack is the yogurt, the strawberry, the blueberry, just kind of swirling around in here. Webster defines patience like this.

Not losing self-control while dealing with trouble. He said, Lon, how are you doing? Very bad.

Very bad. Now Jonathan felt terrible about this and he came back later and he apologized. He said, Dad, I know I was wrong. He said, but you know, really, I wish you'd have been a little more patient. I said, well, John, I agree with you. I need to apologize to you. So, John, would you please forgive me for having thoughts of homicide?

He didn't know what homicide means, so he goes, Well, sure. But, you know, it occurred to me as I thought about it later, everybody who's messing up always wants the person in authority to have a little more patience. And so that brings us to what we want to talk about this morning because we want to talk about God and about God's patience with us and what that really means and all that's involved in that. So here in our story, this is all about God and his patience and I want you to read it with me and then let's see if we can take it apart, put it back together and answer the most important question, which is, so what?

Okay, here we go. Verse 33. Listen to another story, Jesus said. Remember, he's talking to the religious leaders of Israel, the rabbis, and he said there was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, built a watchtower around it.

In other words, he provided everything that this land needed to be successful. And then it said that he rented the vineyard out to some farmers and went away on a journey. This was very common in ancient Israel for a landowner to get tenants to come and live on the land. They would make a contract together where the tenants would agree to pay the landowner a certain amount of money when the harvest came in and then whatever they collected above that was theirs.

And so they had this deal. Well, when harvest comes, the landowner expects to get his money. Verse 34. And it said when the harvest time approached, he, that is the owner, sent his servants to the tenants to collect the fruit that they had agreed upon. Now let's stop for a moment and see if we can identify who's who in this little story so far. Who do you think the owner is that owned this piece of land? Well, it's God, right?

Okay, obviously God. What is the vineyard that he has dug and prepared? Well, it's the nation of Israel. You know, he established the nation of Israel. He cultivated the nation of Israel.

He did everything the nation of Israel needed to be successful in the kingdom of God. Who are the tenant farmers that are managing this estate for him? Aren't they the rabbis and the religious leaders that he's talking to right now?

They are. And finally, who are the servants that he had been sending to ask for the fruit that was due him? Well, these are the prophets down through the centuries that God had sent saying, hey, guys, I want you to obey God and God wants to reap the fruit from the nation of Israel that he deserves.

Okay, everybody got who we are. And it's interesting to notice that this parable accurately describes the way the religious leaders of Israel down through the centuries had treated all of these prophets God had sent them. Flip over to chapter 23, if you would. Chapter 23, verse 29. Jesus says to these same guys, woe to you, verse 29, you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs for the prophets.

You decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ha, well, if I'd have been here back then when these people were killed, I would never have taken part in the shedding of the blood of the prophets. So verse 31, you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Now let's stop and ask you the question, if you were the landowner, if you were the owner of the land and this is how the tenants were treating you and your servants, what would you do to them?

Let me read just a little bit more to you. It says, verse 35, and the tenants seized his servants and they beat one of the servants and they killed another servant and they stoned a third servant. This is what Jesus said they did, right, down through the centuries.

And he sent other servants more than the first time and the tenants treated them the same way. If you were the owner of the land, what would you do to these guys? Say, Lon, are you kidding?

Are you kidding? Man, I'd crush those arrogant bums. I mean, how dare they treat me, the owner, with that kind of contempt?

We had a deal. How dare they beat my servants and do that to them? I'd nail their mangy carcasses to the first barn door I could find. Well, what did God do with them? Look, verse 37, it says, and last of all, he sent his son to them. And he said, they will respect my son. Boy, the owner displays an amazing patience with these guys and he says to himself, you know, maybe these tenants misunderstood. Maybe there's some confusion in the contract. Maybe they're mad and angry because I didn't come myself and I only sent them servants. Maybe I offended them in some way.

Maybe this is my fault. So I tell you what, I'll send my son. And if there's any misunderstanding, my son can clear it up. And if there's any offense that I've caused or injustice that I've done, my son will make it right. So he sent him his son.

Man, you talk about going the extra mile. Well, what did they do? Look. But when they saw the son coming, verse 38, they said to each other, hey, look, here comes the heir. Let's kill him and take his inheritance. So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and they killed him. Now, in ancient Israel, if a piece of land didn't actually belong to anybody, then whoever was squatting on it at the time got it. And here's what they figured.

They figured, okay, the owner's a wimp. We've killed a bunch of his servants, beat up a bunch of his servants. He hadn't come back and done anything.

We haven't suffered any consequences. He's a wimp. He's never going to do anything. Let's take the heir. Here's the heir. We'll kill the heir. That old wimp will die somewhere in exile. He'll never come back and deal with us.

The land will be unclaimed and we can have it. You see what they were thinking? So they kill him. Now, who do you think in the story the son is that was sent by the owner that they kill? Jesus Christ, whom these guys are going to play a major part in killing within three days.

That's right. Now, let's look at the end. Verse 40. Therefore, Jesus says to these rabbis, he says, okay, guys, that's the end of the story. Now, I got a question for you.

Here it is. When the owner of the vineyard comes back after they've killed his servants and killed his son, what will he do to those tenants? You guys tell me. You're the teachers of the law. You're the rabbis.

You're the experts. You tell me. What will he do to these guys? They go, hi, Jesus, are you kidding? This is a no brainer.

This is easy. Look, here's what he'll do. He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, they said. And he'll rent the vineyard out to other tenants who give him the share that he was due of the crop at harvest time. He said, man, I'll tell you what he will do, Jesus.

He'll get rid of those lousy bums and he'll put some people on the land to take care of it who will treat the owner right. Jesus says, congratulations, guys. You finally got one right, didn't you? This is right.

This is good. Now, Jesus said, let me tell you how this relates to you. Verse 43. Therefore, Jesus said, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you. According to your own sentence, we're going to take it away from you.

And it's going to be given to a people who will produce the kind of fruit that I expected you to produce, but you didn't. When did this happen? Well, it happened in 70 A.D. where 10,000 Roman troops, three Roman legions visited Jerusalem. You say, were they on a social call? No, they weren't.

You say, were they coming to take a tour? No, they weren't. They came, surrounded the city because the Israelites had revolted against Rome. They starved the city into submission. They tore down the walls of the city, burned the temple to the ground, razed the city, burned down every building. They killed most of the Israelites living in Jerusalem.

The rest of them they took into exile and they made it a capital offense for any Jew to be found within the borders of Jerusalem, punishable by death. Did God take Israel out of the center of his program? Yes, he did. And you know who he put in?

It says here, I'll put somebody in there who will produce fruit for me. You know who he put in? He put the Gentiles in. He put the church in.

And for the last 1900 years, the church has been producing the kind of fruit for God that God wanted Israel to produce, but they never did. Did the owner come back? Yes, he did. Did his patience run out? Yes, it did.

When it did, was there any remedy? No, there wasn't. Did Jesus do to them exactly what he said he was going to do, what he threatened he was going to do?

Yes, he did. Verse 45, and when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parable, they knew he was talking about them. Boy, weren't they smart. And they looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the crowd held that Jesus was a prophet. But hey, they found a way to arrest him and they found a way to kill him, just like Jesus said they were going to do. Now that's the end of our story, but it leaves us with a really important question, and what's the important question? So what?

You know, it's interesting. The Bible says that any thinking person can look out at the world, at the creation, trees, grass, the sky, the planets, the sun, the moon, and can figure out that there's a God. The Bible says that because if you look at that, you know you didn't do it. You know I didn't do it.

You know nobody you know is capable of doing that. So there's got to be some being somewhere bigger and stronger and more powerful who did all of this. The Bible says anybody who can't understand that is a fool. The fool has said in their heart there's no God. However, you can't know anything about that God just by looking at trees and rocks and rivers and oceans.

You can know there is one, but knowing who he is, what his heart is like, what makes him tick, what his values are, why he acts the way he does, you can't know all those things unless God tells you more specifically, and that's why God wrote the Bible. That's what the Bible's all about, at least in part, is telling us who is this God who did all of this stuff out here? What's he like? What are his values? How does he function, and what does he expect from us? Now in that regard this story explains to us a major piece of who God is and what God's like. And in that regard what it tells us is it tells us that this God who made this world is an incredibly patient being. That he is a God with great long suffering, to use a Bible word.

I mean he's long suffering even with people who are in your face with him. You can't be any more in your face God than these tenants were with God. He sent to them and said, now do your share of the bargain, and they beat up the servants and brutalized them and killed them and said, in your face God. And yet in spite of this, look how patient God was with these guys.

He grants them every benefit of the doubt, he keeps sending them emissary after emissary, finally sends them his own son whom they reject and they kill. And you may not realize this but we need to make sure that we point out that even after they killed his son, God in his mercy and in his patience gave these people 40 more years of mercy and grace. Remember I said the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.? Well Jesus was crucified in like 31 or 32 A.D. There was 40 years in between where Peter and Paul and James and John and all of the leaders of the early church were in the streets of Jerusalem every day preaching about Christ, healing in the temple, confronting the Jewish high council. They were dying in the streets for their faith like Stephen. They were going to jail for their faith, appealing to the Jewish people for 40 years to acknowledge Christ as their rightful Messiah, to repent of their rebellion against God and to reconstruct their lives around Jesus Christ.

Forty years more God gave them before the Roman army ever showed up. Was God patient with these people? You bet. You bet. And this supernatural patience is an integral part of who God is. Would you have been that patient with these people?

Are you kidding? But God has a supernatural patience. Listen to a verse out of the Old Testament, Numbers chapter 14. It says the Lord is patient, slow to anger and abounding in love and he is willing to forgive sin. He's patient. He's slow to anger and he's willing to forgive sin. And the word that's translated here, patient, is a really interesting, interesting picturesque word.

It's really two words in Hebrew. The first word means to be slow and the second word means to get red in the face with anger or to have your nostrils flare with rage. And what this really says is God is the kind of God who is slow to get red in the face with anger. He's slow to have his nostrils flare with rage. He's long suffering.

And he's proven it. Hey, you know, when Noah was building the ark, you know how big the ark was? The ark was bigger than this building. The ark was absolutely humongous, humongous. And it took him 100 years to build it.

And that's a long time. But when you only got a hammer and a saw and some nails and, you know, a couple of sons who'd rather go play golf than build, it takes a long time to build a boat that size. It took him 100 years to build the boat. Well, for 100 years, 1 Peter chapter 3 says, people were coming by and going, What is that crazy thing you're building? 1 Peter 3 says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. For 100 years, he used those opportunities to explain to everybody around him what was going to happen. Hey, you know, God's going to send a flood if we don't turn around, if we don't get right with God, you need to get right with God. 100 years.

Is that patience or what? And how about O Pharaoh? Did it ever occur to you that the tenth plague, the one where the firstborn of everyone in Egypt, except that the Israelites died, did it ever occur to you that could have been the first plague? I mean, did Pharaoh deserve it?

Sure. Could God have made that the first one and skipped the first nine? What did he need frogs and lice and all this other stuff for? Do you know what he was doing? He was being patient with the man. He was giving him nine plagues to change his mind, nine plagues to do a U-turn in his attitude before he dropped the big one. Was he patient?

Yes, he was. And the neat thing about God is, friends, whenever anybody is willing to make that U-turn, listen to what the verse says, God is willing to forgive sin. Whenever anyone is willing to make that U-turn, like the Ninevites did when Jonah showed up, like little old Zacchaeus did up in the Sycamore tree, like Paul did on the road to Damascus, whenever anybody's willing to take advantage of the patience of God and make that U-turn, you know what God does?

God in his mercy relents and he forgives and he restores and he heals. This is the kind of God we're dealing with. This is what this little story teaches us about God. Now, if you're one of those, sir, yes, sir, people with God, if you're one of those people who when God asks for it, you do it, there's no question, there's no argument, you never drag your heels, you never dig in, you never complain, you never whine, you never resist, you never question, it's instant obedience every time, first time. If you're one of those folks, then you know what, the patience of God is pretty much a non-issue for you.

You don't need it. But if you're like me, if you've got a heart like I've got, and I suspect most of you probably do, if you've got a heart that's willful and stubborn, if you've got a heart that's headstrong and arrogant and pigheaded, like I do, and if when God talks to you, sometimes it takes you a while to bring yourself around to the point that you're willing to do it his way, like I have trouble with sometimes. If you're like that, then let me tell you something, friend, you wake up every day thanking God that he's a patient God, thanking God that he's a tender God. Hey, I got to tell you something, I wouldn't even be as patient with me as God is.

You understand? And I like me, and I know how to be nice to me, and I wouldn't even be as patient with me as God has been sometimes in the past. Look, I'm honestly trying to please God in my life, and I think a lot of you are too. But we don't always perform the way we wish we performed, and I'm so grateful we've got a God who takes a long time to get red in the face and who's patient and tender with us.

Now, that's great, and that's true of God, but there's another side here that's also in this story, and that is that, friends, we need to be very careful, in spite of the fact that God is a very patient God, we need to be very careful about presuming on the patience of God. That's what these tenants did, didn't they? They looked up presume in the dictionary. You know what it said? It said to presume is to take arrogant liberties with something, or to take inappropriate advantage of something, to turn an advantage into license.

Isn't that what these guys did? Didn't they take inappropriate advantage of the patience of the owner, and they turned it into a license to disobey him and to defy him? Man, presuming on the patience of God, this parable tells us, is dangerous. Yes, is God patient? Is God tender?

Yes. But to presume on it, at some point, the patience of God runs out. Didn't it run out with these tenants? And he showed up, and when he showed up, he took judgment on them swiftly and without remedy. There's a balance here, friends. And as much as the first truth that God's patient encourages me, hey, the second truth that presuming on God's patience is dangerous, boy, that sobers me. You say, yeah, but Lon, how do you know when you've presumed on God's patience too much? Well, the answer is, you don't, until it's too late. And that's why I would urge you, this is a game of Russian roulette that's not smart to play.

Not smart to play this game. A couple of years ago, I was down at the beach. We had a staff retreat, and Brenda and I, we were excited. We were getting away for a couple of nights down at Bethany Beach, and our whole staff went, and her folks were staying with my little girl.

Most of you know my little girl has a real bad seizure disorder. She's three now, but she was one then. And we were a little scared about leaving her because we just didn't know what might happen, but we needed to get away, and so her parents stayed there. And we had a nurse friend who came in at 5 o'clock in the afternoon when she got off. She stayed all night until she went the next morning.

It just made us feel a little more secure. So we're down there at the beach, and we get a phone call about 9 o'clock at night saying, hey, your daughter's had a terrible seizure. The rescue squad had to come and get her.

She's in the emergency room right now. We don't know how it's going to turn out. So we run through everything in the car, and we headed back from Bethany Beach. Well, if you haven't been to Bethany Beach, you know Route 404, you know the infamous 404 going to the beach. And it's a two-lane road.

It's flat as a pancake, and there's nobody on it at 10 o'clock at night when we were. And so I was going a little bit faster than the posted speed. My daughter's in the emergency room. Posted speed was 50. I said, well, Lon, just out of curiosity, how fast were you going?

I fluctuated, but I was somewhere up in the neighborhood of 75 to 80. My daughter's in the emergency room, folks. I'm trying to get home. There's nobody on this road.

It's empty. Brenda said to me, don't you think you're going a little fast? And I said, hey, hey, any state trooper who stops me when I explain to him what the deal is, there's not a state trooper anywhere that's going to give me a ticket. Would you call that presuming on the state law? I think I covered Delaware in about 22 minutes.

No, not actually, but it felt that way. So I'm driving through Delaware, and we pass a car going the other direction just, you know. And I look at my rear-view mirror, and I see the red and blue lights go on, and I see this car do a U-turn, and it was a state trooper going the other direction. There was no way he could radar me, but, you know, after a while, I guess if you're a state trooper, you know when somebody's going too fast. So he pulls me over.

I see your registration. You know, yes, sir. Mr. Solomon, do you have any idea how fast you were going? Well, yeah, I knew, but I didn't know whether I should tell him.

You know, I thought. So, you know, I said, well, yes, sir, you know, I can get close, sir. And he said, where are you going? I said, well, my daughter's in the hospital. I told him the whole story. And I said to my wife, there is not a state trooper anywhere in Delaware who will give me a ticket understanding that's where I'm going. He said, sir, you just met the first one.

I said, what? You're going to give me a ticket, and I'm going to the emergency room to see my daughter who might even be dying at this moment, and you're going to give me a ticket? He said, sir, I don't care where you're going.

You do not have the right to do 80 in the state of Delaware. I said, yeah, but he said, sir, there is no but. Right then the phone rang in the car, and there was the emergency room calling to get some advice from us as the parents what they could or couldn't do.

You know how that goes? And I think he thought I might have been lying to him. So when they called, I said, yeah, hold on a second, and I handed the phone out the window and said to the policeman, would you like to talk to the emergency room? You think I'm lying to you? I'm not lying to you. Here's the emergency room.

Talk to him. He said, no, that won't be necessary. I said, I'm not lying to you.

I'm telling you my daughter is gravely ill, and I'm trying to get back there. So I gave the phone to Brenda, and he said, Mr. Solomon, I'm not going to give you a ticket. He said, but you're going to drive 50 miles an hour, because what good is it if you get killed?

What's your daughter going to do if you get killed? He said, so to make sure you drive 50 miles an hour, I'm going to follow you to the state line. I said, you're going to what? He said, yes, sir, you and me, we're going together to the state line, and we're both going to drive 50. So what do you think my wife said after this was all over?

She said, what every wife is wired to say at that unique moment in a man's life, told you, that I presume a little bit on the state of Delaware. Yeah, yeah, that wasn't such a good thing to do. Would that guy have been right in giving me a ticket? Yeah, sure he would have. I appreciated his patience and his mercy.

But you know what, friends, let me tell you something. This is exactly what these tenants did to God, except they pushed God too far and God did do something to them. And that's why the Bible says, 1 Corinthians 10, 22, do we provoke the Lord to anger?

Are we stronger than he is? Listen, it is not a good idea to push the patience of God. And if you're here, let me say in closing, and you're not a Christian, God's been asking you to give up your own way to heaven, to admit your sin, and to accept him as your personal savior, to trust what he did on the cross as the only way into heaven. And you know, God's been patient with you if you've been saying, no, no, no, no, no, or else you wouldn't even be here and be alive today. God's been very patient with you. But could I appeal to you, don't be like these tenants.

Don't do what they did. They presumed on the patience of God and they interpreted the patience of God as weakness. It's not weakness. God's not weak.

It's mercy. But don't push it too far. Yes, God's patient, but don't push it too far. And if you're here and you've never trusted Christ and God's been appealing to you, I urge you, man, don't push God until it's too late.

You drop over with a heart attack, it's over and done. I saw the bumper sticker that said, some people who plan to accept Jesus at midnight die at 1130. And that's true.

Be careful. And to those of us here who are Christians, could I say to you that I believe that many of us presume on the patience of God. We say things like, well, I know God wants me to deal with this area of my life. I know God wants me to deal with this area of my life. I know my sex life needs some attention.

I know my dating relationship's not everything really it's supposed to be. I know in business I cut a few corners. I know I did this. Yeah, but you know what? God is patient and God loves me.

God is patient and God loves you. That's half of the story. The other half of the story is, don't presume on that. Be careful.

Be careful. God's looking for people who will say, God, thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your patience. Help me turn that mercy and patience into obedience. Don't let me use it for license. And if you've been using the mercy of God and the patience of God as license, then I'd like to say to you this morning, that's what these tenants did. That's not smart.

That's not smart. Turn it into obedience to God. And I hope what we've shared today will change your life. Let's pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for telling us in the Bible who you really are. Thank you for teaching us how you operate and what makes you do and say and react in the ways that you do.

Thank you for teaching us this morning that you are an incredibly patient being. And your mercy and your long suffering is positively supernatural with folks like us. But by the same token, God, remind us that your patience is not intended to be presumed upon.

That's not why you give it to us. You give it to us so that we can turn it into an opportunity to obey you. And Father, for those of us here who may be presuming on your patience, forgive us. And help us to take stock of where we stand as a result of hearing the Word of God this morning. And if there are areas of our life where you've been asking us to give attention and change, help us not be like these tenants who, in a sense, say, God, in your face. But help us take advantage of your patience and obey you. Change our lives by what we've heard here this morning, I pray. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 08:17:03 / 2023-12-02 08:30:21 / 13

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