Perseverance

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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.

June 30

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Do you remember the song, The Gambler, by the late Kenny Rogers? It had lyrics familiar to the gambling trade:

You gotta know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/Know when to run.

Those words are easy to see when it comes to gambling, but when it comes to life? Not so. For example, it took a lot for me to quit (fold ’em) when I played baseball or basketball. I went by the philosophy that the “game isn’t over until the last out.” Even in basketball, when a team is down by 20 points with one minute left, it is hard to stop playing. Least it was for me.

I remember twice in my college career when I folded early. So did the team. So did the coach. Both times we played teams out of our league and it didn’t take long before we all realized we were in trouble and way over-matched. (Ironically, both were before important tournaments).  Finally, in the second half, coach mercifully pulled me and “let” me enjoy the rest of the game on the bench. First time all night I enjoyed the game! 🙂

In the spiritual race/war, there are times we gotta know when to fold ’em and when to walk away or even run. It is one thing to stay and fight; it is a wise person who knows when to get out of Dodge. Yes, fighting sin and temptation and the Tempter is sometimes necessary. But so is running. Running from the temptation. Pulling back to gather strength to fight another day.

There is no shame in running to recoup. There is a problem with giving in without a fight. What I need to remember is that as I fight, God fights right alongside me. He’s got my back. And my front. And my side.  The battle is His; not mine. Victory comes from surrender…to Him. But sometimes that surrender is absolutely essential before victory is realized.

“Father, take my life and help me to fight.  Help me to also know when to run so I can recoup and regather to fight another time, another day.”

June 22

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

“The battle belongs to the Lord.” We will hear that often from pastors/teachers as they admonish us to fight on, to carry on, to not give up.

I read an interesting story from Our Daily Bread yesterday (6/21/21). During what has been The Charge of the Light Brigade, Lt. Colonel de Salis had a horse named Drummer Boy who was injured during battle. He decided his horse deserved a medal as much as his valiant men. Even though their military action failed, Drummer Boy was awarded a medal. And even though it failed, that battle goes down as one of Britain’s greatest military moments because of the valor of both men and horses.

That brings to mind several Scriptures:

“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But the victory belongs to the Lord.” (Pr.21:31) (NASB 2020)

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps.20:7) (ESV)

Those are just a couple of verses which show our strength is not our own. Nor is our strength that which is strong on earth. Over and over in Scripture we are told that God is the one who fights for us. He is the One we are to trust not that which appears strong. I like what Deut.20:4 says, “For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you the victory.” (NLT)

Not much more to say is there? God has promised to fight those battles with us and for us. Lean on that.

“Father, may I trust You when it comes to battle. Help me to stand firm against sin and evil and remember the battle is Yours.”

June 18

Friday, June 18th, 2021

HOPE.

An ‘oft used word:

  • “I hope it does/doesn’t rain today.”
  • “I hope it’s a boy/girl.”
  • “I hope my son/daughter gets a scholarship.”
  • “I hope God comes through for me.”
  • “I hope my new job is a good one.”

So many different ways we use the word hope.  Truth? We. all. want. and. need. hope. You take away hope and all you’ve got is a shell of a person left. You can see this in a person who has received the big “C” diagnosis and only given weeks to live. You see it in a parent’s worst nightmare-the loss of a child. From the biggest thing to a minor thing, we can see our lives are fueled and driven by hope. 

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” So says the old hymn.

Hope relying on things or people or circumstances will not last or hold together. Hope relying on horizontal fulfillment will not last. Only hope found vertically will stand the test of time and can be counted on.

You see…hope that lasts can only be found in a Person, that Person is Jesus. Hope found in Him will not disappoint us. (Romans 5:1-5) It will, instead, be the rock we can stand upon.

“Father, may my hope be in You and You alone. Take away all desires to find the answer to hope horizontally. Help me to push aside all the other imposters to Your throne.”