Perseverance

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January 7-9

Friday, January 7th, 2022

I am not normally going to post on the weekends, but this devotion came to me so I thought I would share it.

I wonder what it was like to be in Paul’s shoes. In 2 Corinthians 12 he speaks about being taken up into the third heaven. But he quickly changes his focus to his humility. Not bagging about it (because if he did he would no longer be humble!). Instead, he talks about how God keeps him from getting proud. His words: “to keep me from exalting myself.”  {Hmmm: does that speak to those who like to tell their stories for their few minutes of fame?}

But even more importantly is the lesson he is taught:  God’s grace is sufficient for any weakness. What an important truth to remember!

There is a saying, a thought, I often hear expressed which I think is very appropriate here: when you come to the end of yourself that is the best place to be. It is when you have nothing left, that you realize Christ is all you need.

Paul learned that.  He goes on to say, “Most gladly, therefore, i will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (v.9b)

That’s a good lesson for today and for the weekend. Well…for the future.

“Father, may I realize I am incapable on my own to counter all that comes. May I seek Your strength and grace to live a life which glorifies You.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

December 30

Thursday, December 30th, 2021

In this, my last post of 2021, I leave you with some words from Bob Goff. But first, my words. 🙂 As 2020 ended, it was not unusual to hear words like, “I’m so glad 2020 is ending. I am so ready for 2021.”  Hmmmm. My 2021 started with COVID long-haul that eventually led to a 48 pound weight loss in 4 weeks, several procedures and finally gall bladder surgery.  But all in all, other than some lingering smell and taste issues I can live with, I have no complaints as I can see God’s hand in all of it. Was I comfortable with it all? No, of course not. But I trust and rest in Him.

Here we are at the end of 2021 and I hear the repeat sentiments of the previous year. But I don’t hear the defeat and despair of people. Yes, the variant has reared its ugly head ahead bringing shut downs and dire warnings, mandates, and other nonsense. But I think people are tired of feeling defeated.

No one knows what 2022 will bring-except One. But it is because He knows that He also invites us to dream and to be involved in His work. Now for Bob’s quote:

When God gives us dreams, He wants us to change as we choose them. We achieve our dreams by bravely facing the lopsided odds. We might think achieving a dream is the point, but I think for God it’s more about seeing us become more like Jesus with each step we take forward. Of course, He celebrates with us too. (#365-p.418)

Those are good words to carry with us in 2022. Never stop dreaming. As Bob would say, “Dream big.” May 2022 be a year of new challenges seen; new mountains conquered; and new dreams fulfilled. All done in the power of the Spirit.

“Father, I give you my old year. It is done. I now give You reign over my new one-2022. May I follow Your dream(s) and Your plans for me.”

October 25

Monday, October 25th, 2021

I know very few people who like tests. I have a daughter who didn’t do very well with tests. We found that out early on thanks to a teacher. Call it a worksheet on a Tuesday and she “Aced” it. Call that same worksheet a test on Wednesday and she barely passed.

I can understand that. In high school I didn’t really care. In college I did. I found out in my high school Spanish class I could do fairly well in class. A test? Not so. In Geometry and Trig I could do okay in class and even as I studied. A test? How many ways can you say, “Bomb”? In college, I did okay with Greek class. I knew the words. I knew the synonyms and antonyms. In class. But give me a test? Bombs away!

Life is full of tests. Some I have passed; some I have failed. Some I have passed with flying colors; some not so. Some I was the poster child for steadfastness and faithfulness and trust; some for negativity and wishy-washedness and failure.

I’m thinking this morning of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham failed a few times along the way, but this would be his ultimate test.  Pass or fail? Stand  tall or bite the dust? Trust or waver? Genesis 22 tells us he passed. As did Isaac.

It isn’t easy when being tested. Choosing the hard way sometimes is a challenge. Choosing to trust is sometimes a real chore. Choosing to stay the course and to trust is sometimes next to impossible.

But stay I/we should. The reward is phenomenal!

“Father, may I stand firm in spite of the test. May I choose to remain steadfast and follow Your path.”

October 11

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Our small group has been discussing the topic of suffering. Last night we talked about suffering being fair or not.

We all came to the conclusion that suffering being “fair” should not be in our vocabulary.  It most certainly is not a biblical word. I think (personally) what happens to many of us is we begin to compare our situation with someone else’s and the word “fair” comes out. How many times have I heard, “I don’t understand. I give my life to Jesus, serve Him, and this is what I get”? How many times? Innumerable. We need to ditch the “It’s not fair talk” and get back to “God-talk.” We need to start saying, “What does God want me to learn or to become out of this?”

Here are some one sentence thoughts I gleaned and wrote down from last night’s study:

  • Right in the middle of his suffering, Paul broke out in the doxology. See Romans 11:33-36.
  • In our future and about our future, God owes us no explanation.
  • Society has become a victim-driven society.
  • When you throw a pity party no one wants to come. (I love this one)
  • When we open the door to victimhood, we allow ourselves to be slaves.

And to close this devotion, here is a thought from something I read from John Piper just this morning:

Do not think that because you experience adversity in your little world of experience, the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity or our fame but our holiness that He seeks with all His heart.”  –“Good News of Great Joy”- p. 34

“Father, may I see suffering, not as something unfair or to avoid, but as a tool to help me grow into being more like Jesus.”

August 24

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Years and years ago. So many I can’t remember when or where, I bought a magnet that has been on my file cabinet ever since and the only time it has moved is when I moved and packed up everything. As you can guess, it isn’t the magnet, but what it says:

The faith to move mountains is the reward of those who have moved little hills.

I thought of that magnet saying when I read a devotion by Bob Goff (#233) recently. He writes about a long-jumper named Lex Gillette.  Lex competes in the Olympics as a long jumper. Oops, I meant to say the Paralympics as…get this…a blind long-jumper. You are probably wondering, as I did, how he pulls that off. He has a coach who yells, “Fly!” over and over as Lex sprints down the 100 meter track.  His voice guides Lex as he sprints. It’s like a homing beacon.

Amazing! Bob makes the point that if we are wondering if we should take a risk or try something, we should think about Lex. Not “If a blind man can do it, so can I” type of thinking, but the sense of learning from his heart, his courage, and his wisdom.

What struck me-hence the magnet reference-are several things:

  1. He has to trust his coach.
  2. How did he learn to run in a straight line, when to jump and how to land?
  3. What made him want to do that to start with? Did someone tell him he couldn’t?

I admire a man like Lex-a man who wouldn’t let his disability keep him down. He started with a small hill. Then, as he stretched his legs, i.e. faith, he began to climb bigger hills. Until…he moved mountains.

Maybe it is time for me, for you, to to allow our faith to develop into a mountain-moving faith.

“Father, help me to exercise my faith. Help me to remember Proverbs 21:31.”  (I encourage you to read the verse).

Bob’s book is entitled Live in Grace-Walk in Love.

August 17

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

I mentioned in yesterday’s devotion about Psalm 13, so I thought I would follow up that devotion with a deeper look into this psalm.

First, please read Psalm 13 in its entirety. Yeah…all 6 verses. 🙂

The chapter is written by King David.  Here we go:

If God truly forgot David, as he says in verse 1, then how was David able to say he trusted in God’s faithfulness? (v.5a)

In verse 1b David says that God hid His face from him, but in verse 6b he says that God has looked after him.

In verse 2a David wrestled with this thoughts and grief, yet in verse 6a he had a song in his heart.

In verse 2b David said his enemy was triumphing over him but in verse 5b he says his heart rejoices in God’s salvation.

There appears to be a discrepancy, or at best, David is bi-polar.

Here is how I see it: David’s feelings and reality were in conflict. He felt God had hidden, but he believed God was somehow good to him. He felt the pains of inner sorrow, but he believed he had every right to sing. Same with the other two.

Sometimes our feelings are too strong in how we decide. We are often anchored to our feelings. We need to believe. We need to not rely so much on our feelings and more on what we KNOW about God’s mercy, providence, love and grace.

Less feelings. More trust.

“Father, that is a constant struggle for many of us. May I live a life of faith not feelings.”

{My thanks to Randall Arthur’s book Wisdom Hunter for the insights into this passage. It is a fiction book I highly recommend. I cannot even tell you how many times I have read it and how many copies I have given away}. 

August 5

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Years ago I remember my brother, Rob, singing a song made popular (I think) by Casting Crowns. I say “I think” because CC is not my style of music. But the song had lyrics that were something like this: “Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child.”

I was thinking about how true that was. We have instances in the Scriptures where Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4). But we also know He calmed His child. Case in point: Acts 16. Paul and Silas had received a beating at the hands of the Romans and were tossed into jail. Not a nice, soft bed but stocks. I’m not sure I can think of a much more uncomfortable situation than that. But instead of complaining, moping or whining, they were singing praises. Are you kidding me?

No I am not. Then the miraculous happened. An earthquake shook the jail and all the doors and stocks were opened. They could have run but chose not to.

How like God to come through!! He did it for Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel.  He showed His glory when Solomon was dedicating the Temple. God showed up in dramatic ways.

Now…He might not be as dramatic in our lives. But He does show up. Sometimes He calms the storm and says,  “Peace be still!” And sometimes He calms His child and says, “Peace be still.”

Either one works for me.

“Thank you Father for showing up during my time of storm. Calming the storm or calming me…either one is okay. I’m just thrilled You show up and know what I need.”

July 16

Friday, July 16th, 2021

If I were to pick one characteristic that was prevalent during COVID, or one that it highlighted, and one that still rears its ugly head, it is FEAR. Fear of infection. Fear of transmission. Fear of death. Fear of living life. Fear of (you fill in the blank).

This morning during my Encounter Time reading, it seems like God wanted to or had something to say about fear. First, read Psalm 118:6-9,14. “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (v.6  NLT) I encourage you to read the other verses.

Second, Joshua 6: 1-7. It was totally illogical and frankly, military suicide, to do what God told the Israelites to do. In fact, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The details are in the passage. Jericho was sealed up tighter than a drum and they (the Israelites) were told to march? Are you kidding me? What is the sense in that?

God was teaching them to stop seeing things from their perspective and their vantage point; He had a better idea. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 12:9- “My grace is all you need. My power words best in weakness.” (NLT)

When I can’t, God can.

When I’m unable, God is.

When I’m lost, God is my direction.

When I can’t see, God is my light.

It’s a promise. One I can count on and cling to. I am never alone. I am never wandering aimlessly in the desert. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (Ps.118: 8-9 NLT)

“Father, You are my refuge and my strength; my wisdom and life-giver. I have nothing to fear when I see things from Your perspective. Please help me to see things from Your point of view.”

July 5

Monday, July 5th, 2021

HAPPY (DAY AFTER) INDEPENDENCE DAY 

If you have the day off today, enjoy it.  If you don’t still enjoy it. 🙂  Let’s start your day out right though with a devotion.

Time for a quick quiz:

Do you know what the letters ADHD stand for?

  • If you answered Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder you answered correctly.  Give yourself a pat on the back.

Do you know what the letters PTSD stand for?

  • If you answered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder you answered correctly. Give yourself a virtual high five.

Do you know what the letters RADD stand for?

  • If you answered “Cool” or “With It” give yourself a big raspberry. Or do you hear that sound from one of the game shows for a wrong answer? It means Redemptive Attention Deficit Disorder (courtesy of Paul David Tripp even though he did not put it into a highlighted 4-letter statement. That’d be me).

Explanation: We serve a dissatisfied Redeemer. He does not do His work poorly or incompletely. He doesn’t walk away from us while work is in progress.  I get that way sometimes when working a jigsaw puzzle.  I will sit and work for hours until my eyes are crossed, all pieces look the same, and my butt is tired from sitting too long. I wisely know it is time to walk away and shut off the light. I can come back later and work the puzzle.

God does not have RADD. He does not work on us for a short minute and then grow tired and walk away.  Good thing. I’m reminded of the verse which says, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil.1:6)  That tells me that God stays with the project (me) until He is done.

When I’m done with a puzzle there is a sense of accomplishment, especially if it has been a difficult one. I have learned not to get discouraged by a lack of progress. Take one piece at a time. I sometimes wonder if God sighs at my lack of progress but then jumps up and down (figuratively not literally) when I stick with it and allow Him to do His work.

I’m so glad He is RADD, as in COOL. AWESOME. And I sure am glad He does not have ADHD.

“Father, do Your work and complete Your work in me. Keep me from being distracted and help me concentrate on being fully Yours.”

July 2

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Bob Goff tells the story of Walt Disney (WD) which I suspect many of us have heard:

Before WD dreamed up Disneyland, he was fired from his job at a newspaper in Kansas City because his editor said he “lacked imagination.” Can you believe it? Whenever I’m at Tom Sawyer Island (note: his personal retreat), I think about what would’ve happened if WD had dug in his heels at the newspaper instead. The world would have never met Mickey Mouse. Failure forced WD to pursue his passion.  (p.224)

He went on to say elsewhere:

Our habits shape our days, and our days make up our lives. Without much thought, we can settle into routines that keep us stagnant for decades. (p.224)

While Mr. Goff went in one direction, I want to go in another. I want to talk about failure. It is something most, if not all of us, hate to discuss or consider. None of us go into a venture, no matter what it is, thinking we are going to fail at this. If so, it is wise not to even get started.

I recently read some quotes attributed to the late coach, Vince Lombardi:

“If you accept losing, you can’t win.”

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”

There are more but these ought to suffice in making my point. Failure happens. But there is a big difference between thinking you are going to fail from right out-of-the-box and failing because you tried.  WD failed at his newspaper job, but did not allow it to curtail his dreams. There are many (and I know some) who are glad he didn’t give up.

Perhaps another quote by Mr. Lombardi will be a good ending:

It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men.  It starts in ours.

“Father, help me to believe in Your dreams for me.  Help me not to cower in fear over seemingly overwhelming odds.”

Bob Goff’s quote from Live in Grace-Walking in Love.