Enduring faith requires a long-term view driven by divine purpose that is specifically designed to shape your heart for the work and impact God has placed you on this earth to fulfill. And the secret to enduring is obedience.
Jesus modeled obedience in a very practical way. His example did not require years of maturing and experience nor perfect life circumstances or achievements. He simply chose to submit Himself to God and His plan for His life. He believed that the only way to please the Father was through living in obedience to Him.
“But have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Enduring faith is also rooted in our love for God. If we truly love God we will choose and commit to the process of enduring trials or tests that come into our lives. John the Apostle said that our love for God is proved by our obedience to Him.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Lastly, enduring faith requires waiting. Those who endure are promised supernatural provision to persevere to the end. Jesus goes before us and brings light to our path, we must choose to follow Him. He is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6. And when our enduring has accomplished God’s desired end, when we have been transformed by taking on more of the likeness of Jesus, we will know that God’s work in this area is completed.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
God cares for you.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
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When you find yourself in what seems like ‘the trial of your life’ with personal resources exhausted and it looks like the enemy of your soul is about to throw the crushing blow, how do you respond?
In the days of the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz the King of Judah found himself in such a situation. They were facing the real threat of a crushing blow from the King of Israel who had allied himself with Syria to attack Judah. It goes on to say that “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2)
The Lord instructed Isaiah to go speak to Ahaz a word. He also instructed Isaiah to take his son with him. I love this small detail about his son, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son.” (Isaiah 7:3) Isaiah’s son was a sign from God for Judah that “a remnant shall return.” God was letting the people know that their sin would be judged but with mercy, they would not suffer total loss, that a remnant would be left to rebuild and restore the nation.
What looks like ‘the trial of your life’ may be the refining tool that God has allowed to purge out sinful attitudes and lifestyle choices that hinder and sabotage God’s good plan for your life. The words that God instructed Isaiah to speak to King Ahaz and the people gave them the opportunity to see this trial through His perspective of faith and trust:
“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Isaiah 7:4)
God went on to put the enemy in the proper perspective; “two smoldering stumps” in His eyes and in which we are to see any enemy coming against us. Now that their eyes have been opened by God’s perspective they can see that this is a test of faith and trust in God to not only deliver but to bring them through this trial. They are left with this gentle rebuke from God:
“…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
If you truly desire to glorify God there comes a time when we must decide to stand firm in our faith, trusting in God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, no matter what trial is allowed into our lives. If we refuse to embrace His instruction our destiny in Christ will be plagued with instability, doubt and immaturity, failing to live the abundant life that Christ died to give us.
“…until we all attain…to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13-15)
Be firm in faith!
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At a very young age I became aware of my mother’s inner strength and wisdom in navigating the deep valleys of life. Her challenges as a mother of eight children with the added burden of a difficult marriage would either ‘break’ or ‘make’ her as a wife and mother.
Her dilemma must have caused deep soul-searching and the tension of daily choices that would shape and mold her world and ours forever. She was and still is a mother of influence. Her life and relationship choices were filled with love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that rested in the hands of her God for all outcomes. She exhibited a rarity that is hard to find today, a life of integrity, an unwavering faith and trust in God who brought her and her children through the turbulent waters of life.
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
My mother’s wisdom and influence shine brightly in my life and the family that God has blessed me with. May you and I follow in her footsteps, passing down to our children love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that the brightness of God would continue on.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31)
A spiritual giant of a man that we’ve all heard of at one time or another once said “When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers was a man completely abandoned to God, he understood what it meant to be a true follower.
A true follower accepts the authority of another and obeys by placing himself in submission to the instruction or orders given. As a Christian we have been asked by God to:
“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
In other words, I must offer up my life, give it away as a living sacrifice in order to truly fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I have been made holy and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is my spiritual worship, a reasonable response to God’s amazing grace deposited into my life.
How does this look in my daily walk and growing relationship with my Heavenly Father? And how will I know that I am fulfilling His purpose and will in my life? We are to follow by setting ourselves apart from this world by renewing our mind with His Word, accepting the tests that come our way that God will use to give us wisdom and discernment to know His will. All this by living in the world and yet apart from it.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Only then can the heart begin to see what it was created to be spent for.
Has something in your life died that needs to be brought to life again? The death of a relationship, dream or vision, a loss or failure in your life that you are struggling through, fighting off what appears to be a permanent outcome? Then you must know in whom you can believe to bring life to your death situation.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
Martha’s first response to Jesus showing up four days after Lazarus died brings this story close to home and our own ‘death’ situations that appear to be utterly hopeless and beyond restoration. Martha had witnessed the Lord’s power and even proclaimed that she knew that whatever He asked from God would be granted to Him.” (John 11:22) Then Jesus speaks to the situation:
“…your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23)
Martha assumed that Jesus was speaking of the resurrection on the last day. Her assumption was lacking obviously when Jesus proclaimed:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)
When we believe or place our trust in Jesus, He promises to use all life situations for our greater good in the future, in His time. In other words, every experience counts, every loss, every death and broken dream. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy, even evil plotted against us He will turn around for our good.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1Peter 5:10)
“Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God…” (John 11:27)
Faith is real and we all have faith in something or someone. Faith convinces us to trust with unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.
The word faith is easily associated with religious beliefs or traditions but what about faith and healing? Do you find it easier to have faith in God yet struggle with the idea of a God who heals situations in your life or body?
There was a woman in the bible who suffered with a physical issue for 12 years, an issue of a discharge of blood. And because any prolonged bleeding by Jewish law made her ceremonially unclean it forced her to become an outcast, not even allowed to enter the Temple. A seemingly hopeless situation in her day.
One day, however, when she heard that Jesus was passing through she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will be made well.” (Matthew 9:21) It was in this moment that she placed her faith in Jesus from whom all healing comes.
When she touched His garment the scripture tells us that Jesus turned in the crowd of people, knowing that healing power had gone out from Him. He saw this frightened woman who had stepped out boldly and reassured and affirmed her healing.
“Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, ‘Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” (Matthew 9:22)
Faith heals. Faith places its trust in a trustworthy God who loved us before we loved Him. Faith believes that nothing is impossible with God.
“…if you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
Take heart, your faith will make you well.
Perseverance is the key to fulfillment. Many are inspired to fulfill their designed purpose and yet so few enter into their promise land. Perseverance implies a continued, patient effort towards a desired end that leads to fulfillment.
The decision to perseverance is just the first step, finishing well requires a strength beyond our ability. The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to persevere. He was also given assurance that he would have divine protection in his difficult pursuit of fulfilling God’s plan for his life.
“And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land…They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:18, 19)
Even with this powerful promise of protection from God, Jeremiah struggled with all the threats and opposition he received early on, just as we struggle. God used it all to show Jeremiah his need beyond his own abilities. The Lord answered his complaints by addressing his inadequacies to go the distance without God’s help.
“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?” (Jeremiah 12:8, The Message)
Like us, Jeremiah had to learn how to depend on God’s strength to persevere. With every deliverance Jeremiah’s trust in God’s power and presence grew. He achieved the fulfillment of God’s purpose for his life and received all that God promised him.
Whatever God has asked of you, His power and strength will get you there, not your’s. Choose to persevere, trusting in His daily provision. May the ‘few’ turn into the ‘many’ who persevere to the end, fulfilling their purpose on this earth!
“…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
One of the ways we can know when God is moving us from one season to another toward fulfilling our purpose is when we find ourselves facing a test. Not just any test, but ‘the’ test that if we successfully pass will usher us into the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Abraham was tested many times before arriving at the ultimate test of obeying God. First he had to pass the test of faith by believing all that God initially spoke to him of leaving his family and all that he had ever known to go “to the land that I (God) will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) God promised to make of him a great nation, to make his name great and to bless him. God even promised to bless his offspring by giving the promised land to them.
Ultimately God promised Abraham a son: “…your very own son shall be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4)
“And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)
Abraham was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) when God first called him to leave his family and travel to a land that he did not know with Sarah, his wife who was barren. And yet because he believed the Lord he was made righteous in God’s sight.
Finally, at the age of 100, some 25 years after God initially called Abraham to follow Him and after many exploits of faith that tested his obedience, Sarah conceived and bore Isaac. (Genesis 21) Then ‘the’ tests of all tests was brought before Abraham-the sacrifice of his son:
“After these things God tested Abraham…He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1,2)
Abraham had learned that he could trust in God’s provision in every circumstance even to the point of answering his son’s question of “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:6)
Abraham passed the ‘test of all tests’ by being willing to offer up his own son in absolute obedience to God who was entrusting the birth of a nation into his hands. And God lets us know in our hearts and in our lives when we pass just as He announced to Abraham when he passed:
“…now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Genesis 22:12)
Abraham could now be trusted as God’s instrument of providing salvation to the nations through His only Son, Jesus Christ one day.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Are you facing a test in your faith walk? Ask God to show you His provision in order to pass the test and enter into the fulfillment of all His promises!