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Archive for the ‘endurance’ Category

A Simple Prayer

Lord,
All I ask is for the strength to hold on and make it through to the next phase of what you have for me in this life.  I do not want to find myself living a life of regret.  I do not want to see myself in a downward spiral, simply existing instead of exceeding Your expectations of me or Your desires for me in this life.
I ask this, seeking no honor for myself.  You take the credit and You get the glory for what You make of me.  Just strengthen me thoroughly to endure all that I must undertake and undergo to get where You have for me to go.

I ask this is Your name, a name that has power and might, the name of my blessed Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

If we are to become like Jesus, we will have to start to do like Jesus.


That sounds simple enough.  It sounds almost like a formula. Doing like Jesus = being like Jesus.

Really?

We can get wrapped up in a whole lot of theological theory or biblical-sounding babble that sounds good but does us no earthly (or, even eternal) good.  In the end, talk remains just as cheap in Christendom as it did in any secular sense.  At some point, we have to do more of Christianity than simply study about it and show up for church, Sunday school or prayer meeting.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

We need to do Jesus by doing like Jesus. That’s not as simple as it sounds.  Look at what Jesus went through, too.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:3 (ESV)
And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. – Mark 6:5 (NLT)
27 Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” – Mark 11:27-28 (NLT)
No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. – John 5:44 (NLT)
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? – Matthew 11:2-3 (KJV)

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
– John 6:66 (NIV)
For even his own brothers did not believe in him. – John 7:5 (NIV)

Jesus went through a lot.  He went through a lot with many of the people who should have had His back.  He withstood unbelief and doubt, even an outright walk-out by some of His own disciples.  Even John the Baptist, in his last days in prison, sent two of his own disciples to find out if Jesus was really the Messiah or not.  Jesus had to deal with all of that.

The question is whether we can do like Jesus and endure the abandonment of family and friends. 

Can we withstand those who will walk out or walk away and never walk with us again? Can we endure the doubters and their disbelief?
Can we stand firm when we have to stand alone?

No, the Lord never forsakes us.  He is with us, but we have to understand that the Lord’s work can become lonely work in human terms.  We have to accept the fact that some folks just won’t stick with us or stick by us as we continue on a journey with Jesus.

If you aim to do like Jesus, just expect to be done like Jesus, too.  Let us not forget that it was Jesus who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  It was Jesus who took on the penalty of sin upon the cross for the sake of mankind’s salvation.   If that’s how people treated the Anointed One who healed the sick and performed miracle upon miracle, how do you think they’ll do you?
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself. . .

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Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. – Proverbs 24:10 (KJV)

We need to be on fire and remain on fire in the work of this ministry.  When we lose our fire, we burn out and begin to flame out as we eventually end up running on fumes.  That should not be the case for us since we have the Helper, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, with us to help us and guide us.  Yet, we still experience such times.
We need to see how our downcast countenance can impact others, especially when we stand before the congregation or sit at the board table.  We need to understand that we have to do more than simple show up and serve.  We need to be mindful of our affect as we serve the Lord day by day.

Let us not look for a reward here on this earth.  The pay will never match up to the sacrifice.  The benefit package will never equate to the blessings that you have to bestow upon others and to witness with your own eyes.  You will never get the kudos or respect that you deserve, but you have a reward awaiting you in heaven that is great and bountiful.  Just hold on and don’t get weary and worn out.
 
“Set a man on fire and people will come from miles to watch him burn.” –John Wesley.

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“Accept God’s will in every situation.” – Andrew Murray
Things happen.  If you read it on a bumper sticker, you would probably get another version of what happens.  We just have to come to grips with the reality and fact of the matter.  Things just happen.
Things happen that are out of our control.  Things happen that are caused by our bad decisions.  Things happen because of what do or don’t do, what we say or fail to say.  Things happen.
We have to learn to accept God’s will.  We cannot simply toss around the notion that Satan is out to get us every time that we come across an uneasy situation.  We have to realize that God’s will is perfect.  He allows things to happen, even to us as his children, so that He may get the glory in the outcome.  He is always at work.  He may be working on us before He ever works it out in our favor.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trialsJames 1:2 (NASB)
God is able to work everything out.  He has a plan that is carried out through His will.  Both are perfect.  His will is perfect and so is His plan.  How He works it out will work together for our good and His glory.
 

Read God’s Plans for You by Andrew Murray and discover some of the unique things that God desires you to through your life and your ministry for His glory.

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In Times of Trouble

If you give up when trouble comes, it shows that you are weak.- Proverbs 24;10 (NCV)

You can accept it or reject it, but the Word is pretty clear on it.  When trouble comes, you need to act.  What you do during times of trouble makes a difference.  You can cave in, collapse or simply call it quits. 

What does it say about you?

What does it say about your character?

What does it say to others, especially when you are a believer?

And he said unto me My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness…
– 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

God’s grace is sufficient.  In other words, what God supplies us is just the right amount that we need when we need it.  It is sufficient.  We get strengthened in our own weakened state because of what the Lord provides us.  We do not build ourselves up in some mysterious spiritualistic manner.  We do not tap into something that fuels us and fortifies us beyond what God has endowed within us through His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God indwelling within us.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.- Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

We are strengthened as the Lord provides us strength.  We become empowered to endure us the Lord strengthens us.  We could not take all that comes upon us when we try to withstand the slings and arrows of this world.  We must endeavor to do more and to become stronger through Christ the Lord.

Look to the Lord for your strength.  Let Him have His way with you.  Submit your entire being to Him and let Him let loose upon you and unleash all that He has for you.  He is able.  He is able to do more than you can think or imagine.  He is able to do it.  Believe in Him.  Believe Him at His word.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us – Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)

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But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
– Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB)
Few seek to quietly endure the pain and agony that comes with being chosen by God for a special task.  Moses sought for the Lord to give it to someone else.  Elijah was at the brink of breaking down.  Peter had gone so far as to deny knowing the very Christ who he had confessed as the son of the living God.  Jonah had done it in both a physical and spiritual sense, running away from God.  Yet, when we look at Jeremiah, we see the weeping prophet ready to call it quits on God.
Jeremiah felt that he had been given a raw deal.  He felt he had been swindled or tricked.  He was not feeling it, especially after all of the ridicule and his calling becoming like a “reproach” for him.  He was done.  He had it.  He was ready to quit.
However, in the same breath of his resignation, Jeremiah found resolve.  In the midst of his departure, he discovered a new devotion to the Divine.  Right when he was ready to give in, he emerged with a way and a means by which to give more.  He could give more because of all that had been taken away from him and all that God was still willing to see him through.  Jeremiah found a way to give even more than what he cried out about losing.  He decided that he had enough within him for him to give more and more.

When you are ready to quit, dig deep. Take a moment and search the very depths of your soul for a little bit more to give.  Scrape the bottom of your well and see if you do not come up with something more to offer.  Don’t just get back in the race.  Get back in the running.
Give another sermonTeach another Sunday school classStay on as ministry leaderTrain someone else to serve in your capacity. Give more. Don’t give up. Just give a little more.

Teach Your Team to Fish: Using Ancient Wisdom for Inspired Teamwork

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Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials– James 1:2 (NASB)

Can you consider your troubles as times to boost your joy? James thought so.  Better yet, James believed so.  He said it to other believers about what they endure as a “testing” of their faith.  James spoke of enduring such trials, exercising patience and evolving into spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).  According to James, we should look at such times as times of hope “wanting for nothing.”

Think of it differently.  Look at your troubles and trying times differently.  See them as growth opportunities.  Some will call them life lessons.  Others will consider them moments of truth. Don’t get caught up on what they may be called.  Get into understanding that what you experience is to lead to your spiritual growth , eventually making you more mature in your faith.

Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? That may not necessarily be the case.  Look at Moses when the people of God tried his patience.  He did not just speak to the rock.  He struck the rock.  David, a man after God’s own heart, was upset when his friend was struck down for touching the ark of God.  John the Baptist sent word to Jesus from jail, questioning if He was the Anointed One or not.  Even Jesus said that there would never be one like John the Baptist, but he questioned the Messiah when he faced his pending execution.  Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? The Bible tells us: no.

The Bible is in our hands and is to be in our hearts.  It should serve as a reminder to us of how we should conduct ourselves as we seek to grow in our faith.  Some tragedies simply rock our world and throw us off a bit.  We need to grow.  We grow as we go through things in life that help build up our faith.  James’ instructions were clear.  Let it grow you as you face various trials in life, allowing your spiritual maturity to grow and shine.

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