Tag Archives: perseverance

Standing in Line

Is patience really a virtue?

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 NKJV).

How would you like to spend three days and nights in the cab of a heavy truck on the river bank, waiting for your turn to cross on the ferry? Or to sleep all night sitting in a doorway so as to ensure that you would be able to buy a ticket on the train to go home for the holidays when the counter opened at 9:00 a.m. the next morning?

Such experiences are commonplace in Bangladesh and other densely populated countries of Asia. The vast number of people combined with inadequate infrastructure means that it takes a long time to do almost anything, and waiting one’s turn is simply an inescapable fact of life. Add regular floods that destroy such infrastructure as there is and the problem is magnified even more. Continue reading Is patience really a virtue?

Into God’s presence

by Barry Newton

Scripture records a mere handful of glimpses into God’s presence. Given what the Bible tells us about humanity’s inability to see God, we might wonder how even these were possible. Then there is also the question of “why?”

A straightforward reading of scripture suggests human beings are not sufficiently hard-wired to survive an encounter with God. God’s pronouncement, “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Exodus 33:20) was not a personalized indictment against Moses, but a general truth regarding humanity.

Paul repeated this principle when writing to Timothy. “God alone possess immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see” (1 Timothy 6:16). How then could anyone experience an epiphany?

While I suspect that as long as we live our understanding will be insufficient, a few clues suggest some possibilities. In John’s case, he describes himself as being “in the spirit” when he was invited to enter through an open door that ushered him into God’s throne room (Rev. 4:1,2). In Ezekiel’s case, “the heavens opened and I saw a divine vision” (Ezekiel 1:1). Such methods might also explain the other rare encounters.

Perhaps even more intriguing than how these epiphanies could occur is, “why happen at all?” God’s initiative had to cause these encounters. But why?

While scripture does not provide a frank answer, a similarity between John’s, Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s situations suggest at least one possible motive for why God made something of his presence visible.

John described his situation as, “one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). Not just John, but also his readers were going through difficult times.

The subsequent letters to the seven churches reveal that the Christians were experiencing various powerful threats against faith. Temptation ranged from caving in to persecution to embracing a permissive attitude toward evil, from the allurement of a materialistic self-assurance to trusting in one’s own spiritual reputation.

The awe of God evokes perseverance.

Consider Ezekiel’s situation. He saw something of God’s presence when it looked like all hope in God and for his people had vanished. Where was God when the pagan nation not only completely devastated the nation, but even destroyed the Temple as well?

The awe of God evokes perseverance.

In Isaiah’s case, God had an overwhelming “mission impossible” for him. Once Isaiah’s eyes have been opened to perceive God’s majesty, God informed him that he was to proclaim a message others would reject. Furthermore, he must continue to endure preaching until cities would lie in ruins.

In the face of such discouragement, what could enable someone to remain faithful? The awe of God evokes perseverance. An epiphany does not remove the trial, whatever it might be, but when we gain something of an understanding of who God really is and what he is doing, we are encouraged to persevere with faithfulness in spite of the trial.

Perhaps the reason these brief glimpses into God’s presence have been recorded for us to read is because God desires the awe of his presence to evoke perseverance from deep within us also.

Determined to be faithful

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

How will we remain faithful in a dark, evil world that is so set against God’s people? How can we overcome the perpetual temptations that assail us daily?

The first step is determination. We simply refuse to lose to Satan. No matter what, we remain strong against everything he throws at us (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-12). We brace ourselves against the wind and refuse to go down. If we do, we scramble back up to fight again (Ephesians 6:13-17).

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16).

When life pounds at us and problems mount, we remain firm.  Scripture says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2, NKJV). The imagery is of being surrounded by trials. We can easily become overwhelmed without the knowledge and comfort of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

God has assured us that we will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5). We are encouraged knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:31-39).

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

We focus our eyes on the finish line taking one step at a time (2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1). A lifetime does not happen in one moment. To be faithful for the remainder of our lives, we need only be faithful for this one moment, hour, day, week and month.

This is exceedingly easier than trying to see the distant mountain peaks, wondering how we will make the difficult journey. We remain focused on what is important and shun the rest (Matthew 14:22-33).

We plug into Scripture, tune into prayer and walk the walk of Christianity. Leaning on God’s grace and mercy, we keep moving forward knowing that if we remain with Christ, we cannot be lost (Romans 8:1).

Determination coupled with faith can repel Satan (James 4:7). The power of Christ is greater than anything the Devil has in his arsenal (Ephesians 1:19).

What's Your Sermon?

by Paula Harrington
Pulpit44.jpgI was cleaning out cabinets recently when I came across a shoe box full of cassette tapes. All were old sermons from some of my favorite preachers of years gone by.
Some of the best sermons, however, aren’t captured on cassette nor will they ever be available on the Internet. They are preached by the way ordinary men and women live their lives.
One of the best sermons I’ve ever known was on perseverance and preached by a single mother who brought her young children to Bible class and then wrestled them alone until they grew and became faithful Christians.
Another on faith was taught by a sweet lady who went through dialysis but never complained. Instead she always had a smile and encouraging word.
A powerful one on love and marriage was by a man who diligently cared for his sick wife. He would feed her, dress her, and then bring her with him to the worship service.
The greatest sermons in history weren’t originally declared to large crowds. Some were broadcast from a lonely jail cell (Genesis 41), a fiery furnace (Daniel 3), a lion’s den (Daniel 6) and a manger (Matthew 1, Luke 2,). Of course, the one that impacted the world more than any other was proclaimed in an empty tomb (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20).
Every Christian is a minister, but most will never stand at the front of the auditorium. They will quietly speak messages of love, mercy, and forgiveness in the way they treat others and handle life’s situations.
They will show the world that pain and heartache don’t define a life. They will smile or say a kind word when they could more easily walk away. They will write notes of encouragement and offer much needed hugs and in doing so will influence more people for Jesus than they will ever realize.
What are you preaching to your friends and family? Is it a sermon of love and grace or one of hypocrisy and complaining? If you haven’t started thinking about your message, today’s the day. Set your mind on things above and then with a good attitude and a servant’s heart, boldly live the Word of God.
Remember, you don’t need a passport to be a missionary and you certainly don’t need a podium to be a preacher.

Enduring The Blows Of Life

by Tim Hall
What keeps us going when the going gets tough?
ship_rescue.jpgMany analogies have been used to describe our lives on earth: voyages across often-stormy seas, climbing to the summit of tall mountains, fighting daily battles. We steer clear of comparisons like “a bed of roses” because we know one thing for sure: Life is sometimes quite difficult.
What keeps God’s people going when those blows are allowed to land? Here are a couple of passages that have helped many:
Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” Peter was granted an awesome privilege – to walk on water, just like Jesus was doing. Peter’s walk was cut short, however. Why did he begin to sink? Matthew tells us: “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30)
If we concentrate on the blows of life, we may also begin to sink. Let us learn the truth presented in Hebrews 12:2. Let us never stop “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Here is a needed admonition for those who have been disappointed in God’s decisions. Some, after suffering hard blows, consider giving up.
Once again, Peter illustrates the concept. On one occasion Jesus’ teachings offended many of his followers. Some even turned away from following him. Jesus looked at those who remained and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67)
Peter spoke for faithful disciples of all times when he responded: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68,69).
We won’t always understand God’s will for us. Sometimes we won’t even like it. But to whom will we go? Only in Christ will we find everlasting life. And one thing more we believe: “We’ll understand it all by and by.”

Live Strong

by Tim Hall
Strength is needed to face the trials of life.
lancearmstrong2.jpgLance Armstrong can truthfully be described as “a legend in his own time.” He is currently engaged in the Tour de France, a bicycle race that covers a 2,200 mile route throughout France and bordering countries.
The race would be hard if the course was flat, but much of the course goes through the Alps. This is not a race for weekend bikers.
At age 38, Armstrong has been described as a Methuselah in the sport. When you recall his health crisis from 1996, the amazement factor increases.
Given little chance to survive his cancer, Armstrong not only overcame the illness but went on to win seven consecutive titles in the Tour de France, a feat never before reached.
Last year he came out of a three-year retirement and finished third in the event. Writers have exhausted the superlatives to describe this man and his accomplishments.
Perhaps Armstrong’s most impressive feat is the establishment of the LiveStrong Foundation. Founded in 1997, the organization provides support for people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Last year alone his efforts in the Tour de France raised $50 million for this cause. Most recognizable are the yellow armbands with the word “LiveStrong”. Seventy million have been purchased by people on every continent (except Antarctica).
Rewind to 1996. Who would have blamed Lance if he had decided to give up his dream upon hearing the bleak prognosis he was given? Instead, he chose to live strong.
Christians are challenged to live strong. “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12,13, NKJV).
Sometimes we’re the ones giving strength to others. At other times we’re the ones in need. But strength is the key to surviving our race.
Paul also sounded the call: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
Without strength we’ll fall by the wayside. We’ll conclude that the mountain before us is greater than our ability. In saying such things we forget that it is God’s might that strengthens us.
Like Armstrong, we’re in a race. After pointing to people of faith who have gone before, the writer of Hebrews 12:1,2 gave this exhortation:

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

To keep the strength flowing as you run, don’t look at the mountain ahead. Look to the one who gave his life for the opportunity you now enjoy.