Cycles

How do we stay in faith in all the different seasons or cycles of life? I thought a practical way to consider this question is to use the analogy of laundry cycles.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry, but the alternative is worse, which would be wearing dirty stinky clothing, or stepping out of the shower to a sour smelling towel.

Jesus said this to the disciples in John 16:33 NLT:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

With this strange analogy, we could say that just as in this world, we will have trials and sorrows; in this world, we will have dirty laundry.

Just as there are cycles in life, there are cycles to doing laundry. We live in a world of changes, and sometimes these changes seem to go to extremes, from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other.

    • In Missouri where I live, we typically enjoy four seasons of the year. There are changes that come with each of those seasons.
    • In the natural sense, we have
      • Day time and night time
      • Rainy days and sunny days
      • We celebrate the birth of a new baby and mourn the loss when another dies

Perhaps you are familiar with the most quoted passage of the Bible about this subject of seasons. You can read it in Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter describes the seasons we face in this life. As we cycle through these times of extremes, there is a place to stand in full confidence that you are never alone and God is on your side.

Some of the cycles are an act of God; some relate to the will of man. I also believe some are strategies from our enemy, who as we know is out to kill steal and destroy. That chapter tells us that everything under heaven is changeable, however, we can adapt to this because if we are a Christian, we serve an unchanging God.

Even though we find ourselves in different cycles of life, we do not have to cycle from faith to fear or faith to doubt.

THE WASH CYCLE

Using our analogy, let us consider the first cycle we typically start with, the wash cycle. I want you to try to go inside that wash machine in your mind and think about this cycle, it isn’t just water dumping in on top of you; there is agitation!

If we consider Joseph’s life in Scripture, he is a great example of someone who endured some agitating cycles in life. His brothers wanted to kill him by throwing him into a pit, but then decided to make a profit instead by selling him into slavery. He came out of that difficult season into one of blessing where he is elevated to leadership because of the favor of the Lord that was on his life.

Then later, after a false accusation by his Master’s wife, he found himself thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit! He still had the favor of the Lord on his life, which enabled him to interpret dreams. The use of this gift provided a way of escape from the prison and elevated him to a position as an overseer for the whole land of Egypt.

Sometimes the unpleasant cycles in life  complete a work that otherwise could not be accomplished. We see this in the life of Joseph. God used the cycles of agitation to create something clean and wholesome in Joseph that prepared him for the work He had for him to do. In the end, Joseph acknowledged that it was God, not his siblings, who sent him ahead to Egypt (Genesis 45:5: 7-8).

Another example of this cycle is how a pearl forms. It starts with a foreign object like a parasite or a piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster’s soft inner body. It causes agitation and irritation to the oyster, but the result is that the oyster excretes a smooth hard crystalline substance around the irritant to protect itself. Over time, this coating creates a lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.

THE SPIN CYCLE

The second typical cycle of laundry is the spin cycle. Have you ever felt like your world is spinning out of control? Just like agitation, if I am facing the spin cycle I want to find the good in the situation. Spinning can create an opportunity to stir some things up in us.

I love the way the Passion Translation reads James 1:2-3:

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.

How many of us feel power stirred up within us when we are faced with difficulty? If we are honest, we may say sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

I equate this concept to my analogy by comparing it to a big cover I put in my washing machine. After starting that cycle, I go on about my business and when it hits the spin cycle I start hearing this awful clunking sound. When I go in there and pause the cycle, I discover that the cover has gotten OUT OF BALANCE!

What I am saying is the spin cycle has the opportunity to stir up the power that is in you through Christ Jesus to endure all things, or the spinning can create an “OUT OF BALANCE” situation in your life.

I personally believe that how we respond to the spinning is what determines the difference? The devil likes to use the spin cycle of life to get you out of balance! That is why we are encouraged in 1 Peter 5:8 to be well balanced, because our enemy is looking for every opportunity to devour us!

Let me share a tip for keeping your balance during the spin cycle of life. We can learn this from figure skaters or professional dancers, who spin at unbelievable speeds, yet never lose their balance. They employ a technique called “Spotting”, where they keep their body moving at a constant speed but fix their gaze on one spot. These professionals have to train to overcome the response our eyes have to this kind of movement.

When you are in the spin cycle of life, the key is to fix your gaze on God, who is the author and finisher of our faith! This does not come naturally, you have to train yourself to focus on God and not the problems.

THE RINSE CYCLE

The next typical cycle of laundry is the rinse cycle. It is during this cycle that many add fabric softener. I personally like the way adding Downey to my rinse cycle makes my clothes feel and smell, but I really hate how messy it can be. The compartment used for this purpose often becomes all gummed up and difficult to clean. Some people may have the attitude that the benefit just isn’t worth the effort.

When you come out of the agitation and then the spin cycle, you have an opportunity to become bitter or better. I believe the latter is the correct choice. The key to this cycle is to allow life’s difficulties to soften us, not harden us! This can be a challenging goal to achieve but I believe the solution comes through an optional cycle that I have not mentioned yet.

PRETREAT AND SOAK

Before you go into the wash cycle with agitation, even before you go through the spinning, and before you go through the softening…..you can pretreat and soak.

I personally like to pretreat with a product called “Shout”! This is true in my spiritual life too! Before I face the cycles of life, I make a habit of spending quality devotional time with the Lord, shouting His praises, and soaking in His presence. It is in this discipline that I quickly remember that I am never alone in any season. He is with me in the good times and in the bad. My God is bigger than any cycle I will face and He cares about the things we endure, and He can use all things for good.

I hope my laundry analogy has caused you to see a difficult season of life from a different perspective. Try to always remember that it is in your shout and your praise, it is in your intimacy with your God that you are enabled to not only survive the cycles of life, but thrive in them and develop the character and endurance that is needed to walk out the destiny that God has for you!

 

 

[RB1]

Mountain Moving Faith

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Have you ever faced a mountain so big that you felt like you were trying to move it with a plastic spoon? I have described challenging times that way. Sometimes life is full of difficulties and in our own strength, it is much like that description, trying to move this huge amount of earth with a flimsy little plastic utensil.

If you feel that way today, I want to encourage you to take a step back and realize that no striving in your own strength will get it done, even if you have a bulldozer! There are times when only our faith can move the mountain that stands in front of us. Jesus said it this way:

Mark 11:22-24 NLT

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

When you feel as if the mountain is crushing you, it can be difficult to pray and believe that it will be lifted up and thrown into the sea. This is the moment that we choose faith over doubt, or faith over fear. I am not suggesting that we ignore or deny that the circumstances exists, but rather that we use our faith to stand on the promises that are provided for us in the Bible. Faith recognized that a mountain truly exists, but presents it to God. When we do this, we trust Him and we turn our striving into believing that His promises are true.

Abraham is a great example of this behavior. He didn’t pretend that Sarah wasn’t facing a mountain of bareness. Instead, he chose to believe the promise of God. He was ninety-nine years old when the Lord appeared to him and told him that He would be the father to countless descendants (Genesis 17:1-8). If you are still childless at ninety-nine years old, it takes great faith to believe this promise. What an amazing example for us to follow. The Bible tells us that Abraham never wavered in his belief that this promise would be fulfilled; in fact, we read that his faith became stronger as time passed.

Romans 4:16-21 NKJV

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

One of the keys to staying in faith instead of fear is referenced in the emphasized portion of the Scripture above. “God calls things which do not exist as though they did”. Abraham began to call himself a father long before he became a father. This is what faith looks like. We call things the way the promises of God describes them, even before we see them that way in the natural. We hope for the promises of God even before we see them with our eyes (Hebrews 11:1).

This principle also works the opposite way. When we start calling things that are not as though they are from a negative perspective, we create worry and fear. When we start using our voice to declare doom and gloom or even just to keep rehearsing the problem we are facing, the result is not faith; it is fear and worry. Stop and consider what you are declaring!

If you feel like a mountain is crushing you today, don’t lose hope, instead, tell your mountain about your God!

 

Footprint

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used the phrase “Footprints on the sands of time” in one of his poems to describe the mark that great individuals leave on history. You may say that you are not a great individual, but I would argue that we all have an opportunity to be great in some way and to someone. With that thought in mind, I want us to consider a very important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?

The word footprint can be used many ways.

  1. In detective work, a footprint can be evidence that is left behind to show what happened in the past.
  2. In archaeology, footprints have been found preserved in fossils that document prehistoric life.
  3. In the Tech world, we have a digital footprint that we usually unintentionally leave behind that often opens us up to identity threats
  4. Today we hear much about our Ecological or Carbon footprint in understanding how our earthly resources will last
  5. The one I am most familiar with is a corporate or business footprint

I completed my college degree and spent the majority of my career in Health Care Management, so this was a common focus for me. From a business footprint perspective, I want to share a quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A Strategic Guide to Adjusting Your Corporate Footprint”.

“Assessing the enterprise footprint and executing the recommended realignments are not small endeavors. Footprint optimization can be costly and time consuming. But companies able to do so are realizing short-term financial benefits and are likely better positioning themselves for long-term success.” 1

Why did I share this? Because every single one of us are leaving behind a footprint, if at the end of this blog you realize that you want to change your footprint, the good news is, you still can!

This article states that from a business perspective, it can be costly and time consuming but worth it to realize both short term and long term benefits. In our natural and spiritual walk, we too have an opportunity to assess our footprint and determine if realignment is needed.

Our lives and how we live them, all fashion a series of footprints we leave everywhere. Additionally, our spiritual lives also leave an important footprint. Perhaps you don’t feel that you were provided the kind of legacy that you want to pass on, or you feel like you are currently failing in some area, but the good news is today is a new day and the changes you make today can positively impact everything that comes after this. If you didn’t have good footprints left for you to follow, don’t let that become an excuse. Let your footprints be the ones that change the course for all future generations that follow you!

I want to consider four of the important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint God desires us to leave.

  1. We should live a life of godly character and conduct.

Basically, think about the example that you are setting.

Proverbs 13:22 NLT

Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.

This text deals with leaving an inheritance to our children, which is a good thing, but if all you leave your kids is a MATERIAL inheritance without leaving them a SPIRITUAL legacy, they will be impoverished, no matter how large the inheritance.

Proverbs 22:1 NLT

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

We live in an age of moral decline, where it seems like character hardly counts anymore. Sadly, this general lack of character and proper behavior has crept into Christianity. The character and behavior of Christ-followers is often hardly distinguishable from that of unbelievers today.

2 Peter 1:5-9 NLT

Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Our character and conduct should be so exemplary that we shine as lights in a dark world. As a Christ-follower, we should be different and we should act different than those who don’t know the Lord as their Savior.

Our speech should reflect that, our work ethic, and even our fiscal responsibility should be above reproach. We are a King’s kid and we should act accordingly!

1 Peter 2:9 NASU

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

  1. Love extravagantly!

The second important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint is to love extravagantly. Jesus defined this kind of love as being willing to lay down your life for others (John 15:9-10; 12-13).

Jesus displayed the ultimate love when He laid down his life for us.  For most, we will never be in a situation where we will be required to lay down our life for our family, but if faced with the choice most would do it without hesitation. Extravagant love takes this kind of love and expands it across the sea of humanity.   It requires our hearts to love others as we love our immediate family, even the unlovable and our worst enemies. Look how Jesus describes it in this passage.

Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’”

This kind of extravagant love requires God’s love to flow through us. We have to ask for help from the Lord to love this way, but it is this kind of love that will provide an optimal footprint. In the last verse of the famous “Love chapter” found in 1 Corinthians 13, we learn that three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  I particularly like the way the Message Bible translates that verse.

1 Corinthians 13:13 Message Bible

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

  1. Model Commitment

The third important action is to model commitment. Commitment is dedication to a particular organization, cause, or belief, and a willingness to get involved. People who are committed to an organization or effort truly believe that it is important, and they show up, follow through, and stick with it. With commitment, comes greater momentum to get the job done.

It seems that commitment is not as important to most people as it once was. This is especially true for the younger generation.  We seem to struggle with commitment because we live in a time that has so many choices. The fear of making the wrong choice puts people in analysis paralysis and they end up not committing to any choice.

Another reason for lack of commitment is we have trust issues. In order to trust people we have to connect with people and open ourselves up to love people. We live in an age where most are only connected with their phones and pretend to be connected with people on social media.

The problem with commitment is it requires reciprocity. That means mutual exchange or giving as much as you are receiving.  Too often, we fail at commitment because we are only interesting in receiving and not giving.  For example, I am committed to God and that makes me want to give Him praise, I want to give Him my life, my time, my talent, and my obedience. I am committed to my husband.  I strive to give in that relationship as much as I expect to receive. I am committed to my job. I don’t just show up expecting to receive a pay check when I don’t commit to perform my job. I am committed to my children, to my grandchildren, to my family and friends, and I am committed to my church! I don’t just show up when I feel like it and I try not to show up expecting to receive more than I am willing to give!

Paul describes commitment as keeping your eye on the prize and pressing toward the goal, look at how that passage reads in the Message Bible.

Philippians 3:13-16 Message Bible

13b By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. 14 I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision — you’ll see it yet! 16 Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Commitment leads me to the last action I want to discuss in aligning our footprint.

  1. Contend for the Supernatural

Contend is a strong word and it means to strive or to fight even against difficulties.  We need to contend or fight for the faith or the spiritual legacy that we must leave behind.

Jude 3-4 NKJV

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jude is specifically warning to contend against distorted or deceitful teaching in this passage. I think the verbiage here “certain men have crept in unnoticed” is interesting, because that is exactly what happens when we don’t contend for the supernatural, things creep in unnoticed that take priority over the things we should be contending for!

At the beginning of this year, the Lord told me to contend for the unprecedented. The things which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and our minds have not imagined. There is such a temptation presented to us to just settle, to accept the status quo, but if we will do what Jude tells us to do and build ourselves up in our faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, we will be empowered to CONTEND FOR THE SUPERNATURAL (Jude 20-21). It will provide the spiritual footprint we want to leave behind!

There are some spiritual things we cannot afford to stop contending for!

    • We need to contend for the lost souls all around us to be saved
    • We need to contend for revival and for a move of God to sweep this world
    • We need to contend for the unprecedented

THERE IS TOO MUCH AT STAKE FOR US TO SETTLE!

I want to close by asking you a thought provoking question. If you are on Social Media of any kind, I want to challenge you to scroll through your timeline and ask yourself, “What does your Social Media footprint look like?”

Long after we depart earth, messages, actions, and images will be left behind for future generations to see. If this social media footprint of yours was the only information the world had about you, ask yourself,

    • Is the footprint represented accurate?
    • What does it say about you?
    • Is it the footprint you want to leave behind?
    • Is it the way you want to be remembered?

While I think we could all learn a lot about our priorities by reviewing our social media posts, more importantly I want you to think about your personal and spiritual footprint. Is it the footprint you want to leave behind? If the Lord tarries, what will your children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren tell about you? What stories will those who know you as a friend or coworker, or fellow church member or neighbor say about you? This question is important not only because we are concerned about what people will think and say when we are gone, but more because we are still here and have an opportunity to make adjustments if they are needed.

    • We have an opportunity to inspire, encourage, and motive others to live godly lives.
    • We have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and for the Kingdom of God,
    • Our decision can please our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so we will one day hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”!

I ask you one more time to consider this important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?

 

References:

  1. wsj.com 5/6/19 (Wall Street Journal April 9, 2012)

 

Take this Cup

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As we enter into the time of year when many will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I wanted to urge you to consider more closely the events that led up to the day we celebrate called Easter.

The specific event that I am referencing is when Jesus took his disciples to Gethsemane to pray. He told the men who were closest to him that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow, and he asked them to keep watch with him (Matthew 26:38).

After instructing his disciples to watch, Jesus went a little farther where he diligently prayed to the Father. The passion of his prayer is evident as one of the Gospels records that he fell with his face to the ground as he prayed (Matthew 26:39). Another records that during this time of prayer, he was so anguished that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).

The words that he prayed three different times, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In between these desperate pleas, Jesus would return to his disciples to find them sleeping and unable to fulfill his request to watch and pray with him.

At this moment in time, Jesus was in the flesh, subject to all human physical and emotional pain as he walked out the unusual and cruel destiny he was born to experience. While the disciples slept, he understood clearly the price he was about to pay for you and me, and with that divine understanding, he pled with his Father to take this cup from him.

We often think about the horrific physical torture and suffering Jesus bore for us as he was beaten to the point he was unrecognizable. We remember the crown of thorns that was pressed deep into his head, the heavy cross he was forced to carry, the nails that were driven through his hands and feet, and the spear that was thrust into his side.

We may even think about the emotion pain Jesus was subjected to, as he was mocked and ridiculed and even spit upon. The grief he must have felt as some of his closest friends rejected him when he refused to defend himself even though he was totally innocent.

Instead of only remembering these events, take a moment to go back to Gethsemane. This was the pivotal moment where we see the anguish of a decision. “Take the cup!” Jesus pled. Yet, what comes next shows his obedient character, “Not my will but yours be done!” What a significant decision Jesus made in that moment. One that forever impacted the eternity of all mankind. Jesus made the decision to walk out his destiny, which was that he was born to die! He came to this earth in human form to pay the price for our sins, to become the perfect sacrifice that provides each of us the opportunity for eternal life.

If you know the rest of the story, after Jesus suffered and died for us, he was placed in a tomb. He wasn’t there long because three days later he was resurrected, and not long after ascended back to heaven. That same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in us who believe in him!

Ephesians 1:19-22; 2:4-7 NLT

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

This weekend as we give thanks for our Lord’s great sacrifice and celebrate his resurrection; may we also remember Gethsemane. Can we learn from Jesus’ example to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done!” Let us choose to follow our Savior’s lead and walk out our God-given destiny no matter the cost, accessing that mighty power that is available to us because he was willing to take this cup.

 

Offense

Welcome to the part two of my blog post. Earlier this month, I published part one called, “Defense”. I shared of my experience earlier in life as a High School volleyball coach, and things to consider about offense and defense in an athletic competition. I used this concept to drive a spiritual point that I feel benefits all of us. Let me remind you of a couple key points.

When we think about one team being on offense and the other being on defense during a given portion of a competition, we could think about many concepts, but the one I want us to focus on is opposing forces with the end goal of winning.

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Unfortunately, if feels that we are constantly surrounded by division. We find it in politics, in the workplace, in homes and families, and even in the church. This type of opposing forces can come with a greater price than just the loss of an athletic competition. With a variety of opinions comes an opportunity for us to become offended or defensive. While a strong offensive and defensive strategy may be critical to win in sports, allowing a spirit of offense or becoming overly defensive could cause you to lose big in your natural and spiritual life.

Since these two issues can take such a toll on our love walk and our peace, I divided this topic into two parts. If you missed the first part, you can scroll down on the web site to read it at secretplacerevelation.com. Today, I want to continue the topic by looking at the offensive side.

In our humanness, we have opportunities every day to offend others or to become offended by someone’s actions or words. Many times those situations are totally unintentional and misunderstood. I can certainly say that there have been times I have been sharing a heartfelt message, only to listen back and hear that my word choices didn’t portray the message I intended to share at all.

There are times of misunderstanding because of the perceptions of the hearers and unfair expectations of others. Adding more complication, we live in a world with countless electronic communication methods, where our written and voice messages, or even lack of response to a message, can be interpreted in many ways.

While some situations that could cause offense are very innocent, we must also face the reality that many truly are cruel. I have often said that hurt people hurt people. When we are suffering physically, spiritually, or emotionally, our actions and words may become offensive.

Regardless of the intent of another person’s actions or words, we personally have a choice whether to pick up an offense or let it go. I like to think about it like picking up rocks. I grew up in the country, and as a young girl, I played outside much of the time. I remember picking up rocks for my dad to clear for mowing or even to use to build the outline of a pretend house. I would use my shirt to gather all of these rocks, stretching the fronts and staining them as I added more and more rocks to take back to my place of building.

If you pictured every offense you are currently carrying as a rock, how heavy is your load? The reality is simple; offense hurts the one receiving it much more than the one who caused it, whether intentional or not.

I believe we are to choose to try to see the best in others. I am thankful that so many have done that for me when I have unintentionally caused pain. I also believe it is important to forgive even when the offense was intentional. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes at times. This passage from the Bible makes this clear.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 NLT

When we feel the sting of the hurt others have caused us, this passage can be challenging to follow. When the offense feels too big to forgive, just remember that Jesus is our perfect example. He was innocent, no one could find any fault in him, yet he endured such inhuman treatment when he was beaten and sent to the cross. He bore every hurt we could imagine, and he sees and understands your pain. When you are willing to let it go, he will help heal those wounds.

I am not understating the “offense” you may have endured; I am suggesting that you have a choice to make in what you do with it. You can react to it, by holding on to it and becoming bitter or you can do better by responding with love and forgiveness.

Will you lay down your rocks? Will you choose bitter or better? One of the wisest writers of Scripture said, “Love makes up for all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12b NLT). With God’s help, I prefer to throw down my rocks and choose love instead. I hope you will too!

 

Defense

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Earlier in my career, I had an opportunity to coach High School Volleyball. I joked that after five years of this activity, I decided to give up coaching and keep my Christianity. In all honesty, it was something I enjoyed for a season and I am thankful for the experience. I have been able to look back on those years and apply both the positive and negative lessons learned in many aspects of my life.

53236207_565845720580033_4070223743438290944_nThere are many things to consider about offense and defense in an athletic competition. I want to use this concept in a very different way to drive a spiritual point that I hope will benefit all of us. When we think about one team being on offense and the other being on defense during a given portion of a competition, we could think about many concepts, but the one I want us to focus on is opposing forces with the end goal of winning.

Unfortunately, if feels that we are constantly surrounded by division. We find it in politics, in the workplace, in homes and families, and even in the church. This type of opposing forces can come with a greater price than just the loss of an athletic competition. With a variety of opinions comes an opportunity for us to become offended or defensive. While a strong offensive and defensive strategy may be critical to win in sports, allowing a spirit of offense or becoming overly defensive could cause you to lose big in your natural and spiritual life.

Since these two issues can take such a toll on our love walk and our peace, I want to divide this topic into two parts. Today, I specifically want to talk about the defensive side.

Have you ever been caught off guard by your own unintended defensive reaction in a given situation? Perhaps you received some unsolicited feedback or criticism about your personal passionate projects. Maybe you are in a discussion where your opinions are overlooked or deemed unimportant. Regardless of the situation, defensive feelings and more importantly the root of the cause of those feelings are painful.

Defensiveness can be a serious problem. It can limit your growth and isolate you from risk taking, which might be required to walk out your God-given destiny. Additionally, defensiveness may limit your ability to mature as a Christian and to be used by God in ministry opportunities. As a Christ-follower, we should want to see forward momentum in our relationship with our Savior and in our efforts to share His love. If we are isolated behind a wall of defensiveness, how can we accomplish this goal?

I recently had an unplanned opportunity to face this challenge. I was in two different situations during the same time where I found myself reacting defensively. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, and I certainly didn’t like the limitations it put on my opportunity for growth. I began to ask myself why I reacted this way. In the first situation, I had to realize that not all feedback is intended to be negative; often its purpose is to help you grow. When we have received hurtful or unfair criticism in past experiences, we can unintentionally put up a wall of defense that is meant to protect us from that type of pain, but it also protects us from advice that may help us succeed.

In the second situation, I had to realize that my initial reaction was related to a passionate belief; however, I needed to take a step back and respond instead of react.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  James 1:19-20 NLT

My key take-away from this experience is this. My situation was unlike an athletic event, no one had to win! I began this blog defining the key concept of the athletic competition I was referencing as the opposing forces with the end goal of winning. It is an unreasonable expectation to think that everyone will agree with your opinions, and the reality is others are as passionate about their way of thinking as you are.

Much of our defensiveness could be avoided if we did as James instructed in the above verse and become better listeners and slower to speak. When we can put ourselves into another’s perspective, we may see things more clearly from a very different vantage point. This is the place where compromise and growth begins and hate and division can be obliterated.

Next time you find yourself feeling overly defensive, stop and ask yourself if you are reacting or are you responding. Remember to listen for the opportunity not just the criticism, realize that you are who God says you are and don’t allow yourself to be defined by others, and lastly, relax and realize that you don’t have to defend everything. The emotional consequences of being overly defensive are simply not worth it, and the ability to relax and understand that others have the same right to their perspective is liberating.

Stay tuned for part two coming soon about offense!

Enduring Love

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As we approach the month of February, a month known for being a time for expressions of love, ask yourself what you are personally conveying to those around you. True love “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

My heart hurts from the lack of enduring love that I am witnessing all around me. Never in my adult life have I observed the level of division and hate that I see before me in so many forms. As Christ followers, I believe we are to express something greater. I am not talking about a compromising faith, but I am referencing a love that can endure differences of opinions. I believe we can stand firmly on the promises and instructions provided for us in the Word of God and continue to express love to those who disagree with our stance.

I believe this starts within ourselves, for what is in us will eventually come out. I always like to pose this question, if you are in imminent danger, with only a few seconds to respond, what is the first thing that comes out of your mouth? I would argue that your response is an indicator of what is inside of you. When impurities are heated up, they tend to rise to the surface. I learned this watching my husband make fishing lures. He melts lead to pour into molds during this process. As the metal gets hotter, the impurities rise to the top for him to scoop off.

There are moments in our lives where things are heated up. Perhaps it is a difficult situation that you are walking through, a challenging relational issue, or even a political or ethical stance that is challenged. Regardless of the cause, what comes out when under pressure is an indicator of what is inside. If you take inventory and do not like what is coming out, there is a better way. The Bible tells us, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He can help us to love in unlovable times and in the most challenging of situations. He teaches us unconditional love.

In the New Testament, Paul addressed the Corinthian church, which had become full of envy, strife, and divisions. He told them that these behaviors were evidence that they were living like mere unchanged individuals. They were not living the “Greater” life they could be demonstrating as Christ followers. In fact, he even tells them that he couldn’t share all that God had for them because of their childish state. He said he had to feed them milk instead of solid food! He challenged them to realize that each of them were co-workers, who should labor together with and for God. He told them that they were God’s field and God’s building! (See 1 Corinthians 3)

Paul’s instructions to the New Testament churches are applicable to the “Church of God” or all believers. We should be not only the field, which God cultivates, but also the house, which God builds; a house in which He intends to dwell! When we take inventory, if we find that we are full of strife and division, we can learn from these instructions that there is a better way.

Later in this same book of the Bible, Paul describes enduring love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Could we as believers strive to develop this kind of love for others? Could we instill and demonstrate this kind of love for our children, grandchildren, and all we touch? Could we imagine a world without bullying, without hate for those who look, believe, or act differently than we do? I am not suggesting that we should not have strong convictions about the clear instructions that are provided for us in the Word of God. However, we should equally have strong conviction to love those who believe differently, even while opposing what they believe in.

Jesus demonstrated the greatest love when He laid down His life for us. He did not come to bully and spew hate at those who didn’t believe as He did. He loved in such a selfless way that He endured unbelievable torment for ALL. My passionate plea is that if we call ourselves His follower, we could demonstrate His love during a time of great strife and division in our country. I am praying and asking God to invade our lives in such a way that His love is shown in and through us.

Week of Prayer – Saturday

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SATURDAY — NO PRECEDENT

On our last day of our week of prayer, I want to share about the prayer of praise, worship, and thanksgiving. These three are closely related. A heart of thanksgiving makes you want to praise and worship.  However, I believe one of the things we have to guard against is just repeating empty words that are not heartfelt.

If someone gives me an amazing gift, I don’t just continue to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, praise you, praise you, praise you!” I specifically say, “Thank you for that amazing gift”. If my spouse helps me around the house, I specifically tell him, “Thank you for cleaning up the kitchen for me”.

I believe there are times that we may be saying the words, but they are not coming from our heart. We should be specific when we thank the Lord for the blessings He bestows on us. Likewise, it is important that we think about the words that we are singing when we are offering up that type of praise. Without focus and a true heart of worship, we can be singing words and not even think about what they mean. Here are some examples of heartfelt praise and thanksgiving.

Psalm 111:1-4 AMP

PRAISE THE Lord! (Hallelujah!) I will praise and give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart in the council of the upright and in the congregation. 2 The works of the Lord are great, sought out by all those who have delight in them. 3 His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. 4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious, merciful, and full of loving compassion.

 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 AMP

O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known His doings among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His wondrous works and devoutly praise them! 10 Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 11 Seek the Lord and His strength; yearn for and seek His face and to be in His presence continually!  

The first reason we should worship, praise, and offer thanks is simply because He is worthy of it. Secondly, it releases great power. God has ordained it to be that way. After Solomon’s temple was completed, we read what happened when the people gathered to offer praise and thanksgiving.

2 Chronicles 5:13-14 AMP

And when the trumpeters and singers were joined in unison, making one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and other instruments for song and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever, then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Worship, praise, and thanksgiving are so powerful, and they can be a mighty weapon when we walk through times of testing and difficulty.

 Phil 4:6-7 NASU

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 What happens when we refuse to get over into fear, but we offer up our prayer with thanksgiving? If you keep reading that passage, it tells us.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Another Scripture that shows the power of praise during times of difficulty is when Paul and Silas were in prison. These men had been beaten badly and they were in a horrible place with their feet in chains, yet they were still praising God. That praise had a powerful result!

 Acts 16:25-27 NASU

 25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

Because of this display of power, the jailer and his family were saved!

Praise, worship, and thanksgiving will keep your prayer life balanced. Without it you will be too concentrated on the difficulty, and give too much credit to the enemy. With it, you will be less focused on the problem and more focused on God your provider!

Prayer Focus:

  • Pray for the eyes to see and ears to hear the things God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor. 9:12)
  • Pray for revelation of the bottomless things of God.
  • Pray for God to move in us and through us to do greater things than even Jesus did while on the earth, with signs and wonders following us.

Scripture Focus:

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV: 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

John 14:12-14 NASU :”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Ephesians 3:20 NASU: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,”

Jeremiah 33:3 NASU: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Jeremiah 32:27 NASU: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

Luke 12:31-32 NASU: “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Hebrews 10:23 KJV: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

1 Corinthian 12:4-11 NASU: “4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

1 Corinthians 14:12 AMP:  “12 So it is with yourselves; since you are so eager and ambitious to possess spiritual endowments and manifestations of the [Holy] Spirit, [concentrate on] striving to excel and to abound [in them] in ways that will build up the church.”

 

Week of Prayer – Friday

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FRIDAY — YOUR CHURCH

We have been providing some prayer tips each day to help your prayer life to flourish during our week of prayer. I hope you will incorporate all these different tips into your own individual prayer life after this focus week is over. Today I want to share with you about two important aspects of prayer, the prayer of agreement, and the act of listening.

One of the things we have tried to encourage this week is the prayer of agreement. We have posted specific topics to pray about and specific Scriptures to pray throughout the day. Additionally, for those who are local, we have been meeting every night for an hour to have a live event of corporate prayer.

Some may have the attitude that I can pray better on my own in the privacy of my own prayer closet. I agree that we all should certainly pray individually and our prayer life may be different when we are praying alone than it is when you are corporately praying. However, both types of prayer have an important place.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:19-20 NKJV:

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

 From a practical perspective, what might that look like? Well we have had many opportunities to practice this during our week of prayer together. When someone is praying about a focus topic, you can join in and pray in agreement instead of just listening to that person pray.

Why is this type of prayer important? One reason is that unity is a powerful force! One of the best examples of united prayer is found in Acts 4, when the religious leaders threatened to hurt Peter and John unless they stopped preaching about Jesus.  The church’s response was to go to prayer in one accord.

Acts 4:24; 31-32 KJV

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

I won’t read the whole prayer that covers the next 7 verses, but at the end of the prayer we read in Acts 4:31-32

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:

I think it is interesting that the first verse I read says, “They lifted up their voice to God in one accord”. It doesn’t say voices. It was a united prayer that made the place literally shake!

We read a little later in Acts that Herod killed James and imprisoned Peter, and once again the Bible tells us that, “Prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12:5 NASU). If you read the whole story an angel of the Lord came and Peter’s chains fell off and he was able to walk right out of that prison. The power of their united prayer broke the chains that held Peter. There are so many chains that need broken off so many people we know. The solution is for a united church to come together and pray the prayer of faith in one accord.

The second prayer topic I want to quickly share is about listening. If I called my husband on the phone and I said, “Where are you? When are you coming home? What are you doing tonight? Did you have a good day at work? What are your plans for this weekend? By the way I need you to take the trash out. After that can you run to the store for me, I need bread. I need you to throw in a load of laundry. I have to go, I will talk to you later, good-bye!”

Can you imagine a one-sided conversation like that where I ask all these questions, make a bunch of demands, and then just end the conversation?

Can I suggest that if we are not careful, this is often what our prayer conversation sounds like to God. It is so easy to be caught up in asking God all the questions we need answered, and list all the needs we have, but forget to stop talking and position ourselves to hear His response.

Learning to “be still” in His presence is often a discipline that is hard to learn but practice and you will get better at it. I just want to encourage you to develop this practice. Listening for the voice of God is an essential part of your prayer time.

Prayer Focus:

  • Pray for your pastor.
  • Pray for increased effectiveness as your church reaches your community.
  • Pray for spiritual growth, biblical literacy, and church health.

Scripture Focus:

Matthew 16:18-19 NKJV: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”  

Ephesians 4:11-14 NKJV: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”

1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 NKJV: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Ephesians 1:15-23 NKJV: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

 

Week of Prayer – Thursday

49759142_2027278693974945_5993067695480766464_nTHURSDAY — OUR WORLD

We have been discussing the ABCs of prayer the last two days. Monday we learned that “A” stands for “Abiding”, yesterday we discusses “B” which stands for “Believe”. Today let’s consider “C”, which stands for “Continue”.  Originally, I told you that the “C” stands for “Continue to pray, but my goal is to encourage you to continue period.

  • I want you to continue to participate
  • Continue to pray
  • Continue to abide
  • Continue to fast
  • Continue to believe

Two other words that describe our teaching focus for today are perseverance and persistence. I have a sweet friend, who says some funny things at times that we are not quick to let her live down. A few years back, we were attending a prayer conference, and we went to Red Lobster during their annual “Endless Shrimp” campaign. When the server came to take our order, she said, “I will take the keep it coming shrimp please”. We all burst into laughter! I had to share this story because I believe it is a humorous way for you to never forget to “Keep it coming”! Just think of it this way…God is saying to you:

  • Keep your prayers coming
  • Keep your praise coming
  • Keep your devotion coming
  • Keep your petitions coming
  • And so on….

A familiar passage is found in the second part of verse 16 in James chapter 5.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16b NKJV).

 I love the way that passage reads in the Amplified Bible.

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

 When we continue to pray, we stick with it all the way until the end. That means when God puts a person or a situation on your heart, you continue to pray about that until the prayer is totally answered or until the burden lifts and you sense victory.

Sometimes we see answers to prayer quickly and sometimes we have to continue to pray. In the passage that I shared above from James 5, if you continue to read it says:

James 5:17-18 NKJV

 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

If you go back and read this account about Elijah in 1 Kings 18, he went to the top of Mount Carmel and knelt down to pray for rain. He sent his servant Ahab to go look toward the sea to see if rain was coming. When he came back and reported that there was nothing, Elijah kept praying and sent him back again, in fact he sent him back again seven times!

After the seventh time, Ahab reported to Elijah, “I see a cloud as small as a man’s hand coming up from the sea!” (1 Kings 18:41-44)  Elijah prayed and he continued to pray until he saw victory. James uses this example and says about it, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]”(James 5:16b AMP).

As you likely know, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He liked to teach using parables. Depending on which version of the Bible you are looking at the one found in Luke 18 is often called either the “Parable of the Persistent Widow”, or “The Parable on Prayer”. I want to share it with you.

Luke 18:1-8 NLT

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'” 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Perseverance is important, but it is a word we don’t always like, because if you are to persevere, you must need to push through some kind of difficulty, opposition, or delay. Perseverance often makes me think of endurance, which gives me a picture of a long distance runner.

I have never enjoyed running. When I was in high school, I was on the track team for all the wrong reasons.  I liked to do the jumps or maybe the short races or relays, but I certainly wasn’t committed enough to be the one who ran the long distance races. Those races required too much perseverance. The ability to push through the pain and fatigue when you feel like your lungs are on fire and your legs cannot move another step.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

This passage describes our spiritual race during times that require perseverance. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus since He demonstrated for us not only how to start a race, but how to finish it!

In the middle of the race, there are times you feel all alone and you may be tempted to question if you are in the right race. We sometimes feel this way when we are in the middle of a situation in which we have been praying and believing for victory and we have not seen an answer yet.

Perseverance is needed when God SEEMS to be absent and SEEMS to be silent! Scripture tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). This is when we stand on the Word of God. A very familiar scripture found in Galatians 6:9 AMP reads:

“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

Let me tell you two of the greatest enemies in certain stages of the race is doubt and disappointment. When you are in a season where you have been believing and standing in faith for a long time, and your answer has not yet manifested, it is tempting to begin to question if you really heard from God, or if this commitment to the race or to prayer is really worth it.

In some situations, the risk of disappointment is so great that people give into hopelessness instead of standing in faith and staying in the race. In these times, you must contend and persevere! You have to “Keep it coming”!

I want to encourage you today to “Continue”!

Prayer Focus:

  • Pray for the unreached.
  • Pray for missionaries throughout the world.
  • Pray that more people would hear God’s call to missions.

Scripture Focus:

Mark 16:15-16 NKJV: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”

Matthew 18:12-14 NLT: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

Luke 19:10 NKJV: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

John 4:34-37 NLT: “Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true.

Matthew 9:37-38 NLT: “He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

2 Peter 3:9 NKJV: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Matthew 24:14 NLT: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”