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Archive for the tag “Endurance”

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

It’s Inevitable

Can it get more bizarre? We have less than a week now to one of the biggest elections in my lifetime. I remember Watergate. I remember Carter’s presidency. I remember Bush/Gore election and waking up the next morning to find out who actually won. We’ve had a few twists and turns throughout our history, but really can it get any worse? But God is in control of all of it, and He is never surprised. He knows exactly what’s happening here and knows how it’s all going to turn out. I know God’s hand is in this election process. I mean, really. God has been all over this election period from day one when each candidate chose to run; and when each and every one of them dropped out until we’re left with these two.

And here we are with six days to go. On Wednesday next week, life as we know it will go on. Change will happen regardless of who is behind that desk in the oval office. Change is inevitable. We either go with it or fight it, but it’s going to happen regardless. After all, God’s Word has already told us things are going to spiral out of control in the last days. Yes, the last days have been since Jesus returned to heaven. But He told us it’s going to be like a woman in labor. The pains will come closer and closer together until that moment of birth.

I think we can all agree that the pains have grown closer and closer over the last several years. God’s word tells of the prophecies in the end, and we’re seeing a good bit of these things today. He tells us to be watchful and anticipate the end. I have struggled with the concept that all this (picture hands waving in the air) will come to an end one day. I have read Revelation – I know what it says about the end of time. But to believe that one day I could actually see it come to fruition seems a bit far-fetched. Why did He choose us to go through this period (if it truly is the end)? We could have all been born in a different century.

I don’t know when we can anticipate the rapture; before the tribulation period or after or maybe right in the middle; who knows? I do believe we’ll have to go through some times of suffering. Pruning will have to happen – to each of us personally and to the Church Body. Branches have to be pruned in order to be fruitful. These last days will be fruitful and persecution of the Church is inevitable – every branch of the church no matter where it is located needs some pruning. The American branch has been sitting pretty for a couple of centuries, but things are going to change. It has to. God foretold it in His Word. If God said it, then it will happen just as He said. Persecution is coming; it’s just a matter of time.

The thing about persecution, we are told to count it as joy when we experience suffering (James 1:2). In the early days of the church, the apostles rejoiced after being flogged because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul “boasts” about all the suffering he endured for the sake of the Gospel message. Of course, that was back in the day; surely we won’t have to endure such things, right? I cry over a stubbed toe!

I have noticed that we don’t get out of this life without some kind of suffering. If we are doing God’s work, then we will suffer in some way. Satan hates God and because of his hatred of God, he hates us. Anything Satan can do to thwart the plans of God, he’ll do it. Satan will try to take us out, but nothing can get to us unless it comes through God. God will only allow suffering for His purpose. Suffering will purify our faith. Count on it. And count it as joy because we have been counted worthy to suffer for His Name. Let it be as He said. And let us be found faithful to the tasks in this time and place for we are here for such a time as this!

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14

The Vision

Do you have a vision of the future? Do you dream about what your life will look like in five or ten years? I can’t really say I have a great vision of the future. Sometimes, it feels like the future is very dark. Just look around and see all the things happening. It can be nothing but doom and gloom. I believe we are meant to dream though. God places in us a passion for something. It’s a matter of discovering what drives us to fulfill our purpose. We all have a unique calling. I believe there is a beautiful future ahead for each of us. Even in the presence of such oppression and darkness. God has something amazing for us. We are in the times before Jesus returns. God chose us for this hour. It’s no accident that we are here for this hour. We are here for something greater than what we could ever ask or imagine! Just imagine that!

There is a vision of the future that I get excited about every time I think about it. Every single day, we are getting closer to seeing Jesus. Even if I do not see Him coming in the sky – I will see Him when it’s my time to leave this earth. We are closer to seeing Him, but are we ready? We are told that Jesus will come when we least expect it. Beth Moore told her simulcast audience a couple of weeks ago to stop saying Jesus is coming on this particular day. She said that it’s delaying the time because we are expecting Him on that day! (She gave a humorous account of our predicting something that no one can predict).

Last week I wrote about The Day. Jesus sang the song as He was leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane – this is the day that the Lord has made. Finishing my thoughts about The Day, there is another day in which we are to rejoice. God set a day when Jesus will come once again for His bride. I think Jesus is at the threshold of heaven waiting for the word from God to “Go!” God is patiently waiting on the fullness of time. We are to be watchmen on the wall. We are to be about God’s work. We are not to be caught unaware. We are not to be in situations that we would be embarrassed if Jesus came for us. We are to have our conflicts resolved; forgiveness should be offered. We are given tasks to fulfill. We should not delay doing them. It’s time to get it done. We are to run our race until the end.

The vision for the future is bright. It is not a hopeless situation, but a hopeful expectation. Times are definitely rocking toward a dark day when the heavens will roll up and all hell will break loose. As long as the light is still shining on the people of God, we still have time to act. We still are able to reach those who are walking in darkness. God is still calling people to Himself. God has promised many blessings to those who endure until the end. Let’s run with endurance. Let’s face the giants of oppression with the power we’re given in Jesus Christ! We are not meant to shrink away, but stand in fight with the determination of a champion prize-fighter! We have already won and we need to remember who we are! We are victorious in the battle.

The vision of the future is brighter still. And we will rejoice together with one voice for the glory of the Lord! Jesus had that day in mind when He endured the cross; He endured the cross with joy because He had a vision of the future joy that surrounded the throne of God. As disciples of Jesus, we are the children of light. We are not meant to hide our light. Let it shine before all humankind so on that day, all the nations will be represented in front of the throne – REJOICING! Lord Jesus come! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! For this is the day that You have made; we are rejoicing with heaven for this day! And all God’s people said – AMEN!

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” John 12:35-36

Endurance

Last week, I listened to the Passion Conference on LiveStream. There were some awesome speakers who brought a fresh word to me. The conference is led by Louie Giglio (Passion City Church) from Atlanta. The teachers brought some powerful words to my ears. I listened with anticipation of what God was going to say to me. This was the first time I had listened in to this conference. I don’t know what previous conferences were all about, but this one was bringing awareness to the plight of 27 million who are held in slavery. The conference is kicking off an “End It” movement (check out the website www.enditmovement.com). Francis Chan spoke about being a part of the battle. Beth Moore spoke on Jesus’ last Passover meal. John Piper spoke on embracing the suffering. And then the conference was wrapped up with Pastor Louie.

Pastor Louie spoke about the dry bones passage found in Ezekiel 37. I love this particular passage. He brought home the fact we are to be anointed with the Holy Spirit in order to work in the power of the Holy Spirit. The night before, John Piper spoke about embracing suffering just as all who are called to the cause of liberation have to endure. There is a prize for those who endure the suffering. The prize is found on the other side of heaven and it is worth it all. In the passage, God had to put the breath (the Holy Spirit) in the slain in order for them to live. Once the breath of God entered the bodies, they stood up and were a vast army.

God is calling us to stand up. There are many who need for us to take up their cause – to fight when they can’t do so. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us, in order to fight the fight. We need to embrace the suffering that will surely come when we take up the cause of liberation. Jesus came for our liberation. He embraced the suffering he knew that was coming on that Passover night. He fulfilled the Scriptures in every sense of the Word. The Passover Lamb was slain, the bread was broken, and the cup (of wine) was poured out for each of us. And once it was finished, He sat down at the right hand of God. The race is before us. The course is set. Will we finish the race or give up because it costs us too much?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

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