The Power of Perseverance

Bois d’arc endures. That’s why the early settlers in our area found this practically rot-proof wood so useful for fence posts and foundation blocks.

Hang in there!

God loves people who press on—who stay the course day after day, year after year, no matter what. Marriages and congregations thrive when they possess that determination to remain true, regardless of hazards or hardships.

We must complete the course if we’re to win the crown (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Hebrews 3:14; 6:11-12).

Satan uses the long stretches to weary and defeat us—if we let him. Every Christian who quits has stumbled into Satan’s trap. Knowing we’re in it for the long haul helps us resist the temptation to slack off, slow down, or give up.

Don’t quit!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Each of these powerful exhortations is backed up with a promise. Our toil is not in vain in the Lord. We will reap if we don’t grow weary.

What is perseverance?

“It is the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope . . . . it is not the patience which grimly waits for the end, but the patience which radiantly hopes for the dawn” (William Barclay, New Testament Words, The Westminster Press, p. 144).

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you have receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36).

May these Scriptures grab us by the lapels to shake us out of our lethargy and re-engergize our resolve.

It’s time to get moving!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Not This, But This

Balanced living

Successful living involves knowing both what to do and what not to do—then acting accordingly. The whole Bible takes this balanced approach of do’s and don’ts.

The book of Hebrews was addressed to Christians who had not matured as they should and were in danger of falling away. To address this peril the writer offers both warnings and promises, rebuke and encouragement.

Do’s and Don’ts

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:11-12).

“. . . and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“‘For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:37-39).

Motivation!

Note in each case that what the future holds should spur us to act in the present. Faithful Christians, who will “inherit the promises,” are to live in view of “the day drawing near,” because “He who is coming will come.”

Note these opposites: sluggishness vs. diligence, forsaking the assemblies vs. encouraging one another, and shrinking back to destruction vs. having faith to the preserving of the soul.

Away with half-heartedness! A glorious future demands earnest, faithful service.

Too much is at stake for anything less.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Finish or Quit?

Two scenarios contrasted

What can we learn from two of Paul’s associates, Mark and Demas? Paul writes, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers” (Philemon 23-24; see Colossians 4:10, 14).

Later Paul mentions both of them again, but note the change: “. . . Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica . . . . Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service” (2 Timothy 4:10-11).

Years before, Mark had deeply disappointed Paul because he returned home instead of continuing on their missionary journey. On the next trip Paul refused to take him along because he “had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38; see 12:25; 13:5, 13). But now Paul recognizes the positive change in Mark. He who had been a disappointment has become “useful to me for service.”

Both Mark and Demas left Paul in the lurch. Whatever his reasons for leaving, Mark overcame his instability. But the last we hear of Demas is his tragic apostasy. He left because he “loved this present world.”

Learning from their experience

The same sort of scenario continues to play itself out in our day. Sitting perhaps on the same pew are two Christians. At one time Brother A could not be depended on to do his part, but that’s behind him now. Nearby, Brother B participates in the singing and bows his head for the prayers, but his heart is leaning increasingly toward the world. It won’t be long until he leaves the Lord and His church—another of Satan’s statistics.

Demas’ defection should give us pause to examine our own hearts for any indications of misplaced affections drawing us away from the living God (2 Corinthians 13:5; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). On the other hand, if we have fallen short in our Christian walk, we can take a cue from Mark and become once again “useful . . . for service.”

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Holding True

Talking the talk . . . .

“All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 19:8; 24:3, 7).

Israel made this pledge only weeks before worshiping the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-35).

Similarly, Peter denied he would deny Christ, then denied Him anyway (Matthew 26:31-35).

Though Peter stumbled badly, he repented thoroughly.

Have we ever talked a good religion but failed to follow through?

Walking the walk

If we have confessed Christ and been united with Him in baptism, let’s hold true to our confession! If we’ve fallen short like Peter, let’s turn back before our hearts grow cold.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9),

God is faithful. Let’s reflect His faithfulness!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Perspective

Have you ever put a jigsaw puzzle together without having the picture on the box?

This is somewhat analogous to Joseph’s experience in the book of Genesis.

A hard life

Years passed before he understood why he had endured rejection by his brothers, slavery in a foreign land, then being unjustly imprisoned.

Finally, enough pieces of the puzzle fit together for him to realize that God was using his suffering to bring about a wonderful result (Genesis 45:5-8; 50:20; Romans 8:28).

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Yet a life well-lived

What I admire about Joseph is that even before he could make sense of it all, he never gave in to bitterness or despair. He never gave up. Throughout it all, he was faithful.

God can use people like that!

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