Saturday, July 30, 2016

PRAY FOR.....PERSEVERANCE

....and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:2b-5).
Perseverance and Persistence are not the same thing. In everyday, whether you and I think Biblically or not, these two actions carry completely different meanings and results. Persistence is an action with a goal in mind to achieve.  If we had a project to complete, whether it is meeting a sales quota for XYZ Widgets (or in 2016 – for Essential Oils) we would persist through normal working hours and even breaks and lunch to get the job done. Persistence is a commitment and sticking with, in our case here – intense prayer, praise and supplication.

Perseverance on the other hand, is getting through difficulty without losing your focus, your character, your testimony and your relationship – first with God and then with those around you. Persistent prayer will bolster your faith and draw you and I closer to the Flame, the Consuming Fire of God, while Perseverance will use that  Faith, buttressed by prayer to see us through our circumstance. Persistent Prayer will enable us to praise God in the storms of life, so we can persevere and make it through even stronger than when we began the journey through the dark valley of life’s troubles.

The verse above has to be taken in the order as the Holy Spirit instructed the writing of the Oracles of God. But catch this amazing statement in Romans 5:3 which comes just after the Apostle writes that we rejoice in Hope of the Glory of God (Verse 2b). He does something which is antithetical to weak modernistic thinking.  God says through Paul that “we also glory in Tribulations”!  This is not what the corrupt western culture and its psychology of prosperity teaches us! Who in their right mind will “glory in tribulations”? We should! It takes a lot of Godly gumption to be like Job. Here he is –  all his children died. He  lost everything and then got violently ill. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Yet, Job declares “though He slay me, I will trust in Him”! (Job 13:15)

Looking at verses 3 and 4 again, we see that these same trials, hard times and terrible circumstances and Tribulations (from health to financial and relational) lead to Character. However, we are not getting from experiencing the trials and tribulations of life to being a person of solid Christian character WITHOUT Perseverance! This is as plain as the black and white ink the pages of the Book of Romans. The rest of the blessings from the Godly Character which result from Perseverance – Hope and Joy, will be null and void if we do not stand strong in the face of adversity.

Do not believe the untruths of the New Age and/or the Prosperity Gospel that Christians are not supposed to get sick or have hard times.  It was the Suffering Savior Himself – Jesus – Who said “in this world you will have troubles, but behold, I have overcome the World”.  Our Creator, Lord and Savior has not just overcome the world but He has taken the sting out of death and offered joy which can never be taken away – if we persevere.

So how do we walk this out? How do we persevere. First of all, we cannot – at least NOT on our own! Second, we can only persevere in His Strength, His Power and His Love, under the umbrella of His Grace. Third, we MUST pray our way through this, standing on the following Scripture “He (God) only is my rock and my salvation, my Stronghold; I shall not be shaken (Psalm 62:6).

Heavenly Father, we can only make it through the storms, trials and tribulations of life, if we grow into the Mindset of Jesus Christ, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross and not despising the pain, persecution and shame, yet He persevered to sit next to You in Glory for all time. Lord, while we are weak in body and a lot of times, weak in resolve and even Faith, help us oh God. Please help us. We believe. Help our unbelief. Help us not to be distracted by the injustice, pain, ungodliness and worse we see around us, which increases in intensity...sometimes even unbearable intensity. Lord, we can do nothing without Christ Who strengthen us, therefore in this time of Trial and Tribulation, first help us to have Your mindset, Your perspective through the pain and trouble and loss so that we may persevere and endure through it all. We know sometimes Your answer is now, and we have to move on, or we may lose everything, but this endurance which You have enabled in us will strengthen our Christian integrity and Character and draw us even closer to the Flame, to love, serve, adore, magnify, lift up and bless Your Holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Great God, King, Redeemer and Friend Who led Job to proclaim "though You slay me, I will trust in You". May this be our refrain. Amen

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