Develop perseverance for Christ

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The Bible speaks of perseverance using different words and looks at different areas of life. The idea of ‘keeping on keeping on’ in Christ is however the commonality.

Develop personal perseverance for ChristPerseverance is applicable in both the good times and the difficult. Both life conditions test the legitimacy of faith. Solomon recognized these dual faces of life with their associated vulnerabilities. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30:8-9).

What’s needed is simple trust. It starts with trusting in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). A focused trust provides the right motivation to persevere. “All your heart” is what the Lord looks for, nothing less, otherwise you will be inclined to trust your own inadequate ideas and abilities.

Wisdom at work

Notice how Solomon explained whose understanding you should trust in; God’s, and not your own. We know so little about the universe and even less about our own lives. Therefore, trust must qualify itself by depending on the sovereign creator God, the God who sustains life itself; while all the time rejecting self-dependency, which is a form of idolatry.

Putting self-reliance in life’s back seat is a significant step toward a surrendered attitude. Obedient behaviour will then follow more naturally. These picture a God centred walk in your life more accurately and better equips you in allowing God to make the paths of your life straight. This does not mean everything will be sweet all of the time. But it does mean you know the one who is directing the events of life and is equipping your heart and mind to rise above the difficulties.

As the Lord make[s] straight your paths,” you will notice that keeping your heart aligned with God’s will becomes increasingly pleasurable as you explore His written Word. Prioritising God’s will for your life places life’s circumstances secondary to being who God wants you to be. Thinking that you need to figure out all the ins and outs of life needs to become insignificant. Relying upon and accepting comfort from the assurance of knowing that God has already figured everything out, instils much needed peace and joy. In this way God straightens, aligns, and directs the paths of your life.

Trust builds perseverance

Trust in the Lord Jesus inspires us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Looking determinately on the Lord Jesus, who is the source of our faith (Eph 2:8-9), places ourselves in the secondary arena of life. It’s here that the Lord develops the quality of personal faith. This is part of sanctification and transforms believers “from one degree of glory to another… which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The fact is, it’s the Lord who graciously grows Christian perseverance in the believer. He equally engages you in Christ focused living which energises the required determination for perseverance. This Spirit fuelled life can only happen as you forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). It’s a long-term vision for the Christian life that leans hard into Christ with an expectation of ever-increasing Christlikeness.

I encourage you to develop perseverance for Christ which is without compromise and refuses to allow distractions in life to deter you.

 

Hope when you are struggling with reality

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We rightly struggle when pain is ongoing and there seems to be no way circumstances will change any time soon. Even if we know the correct biblical truth, suffering can bring out unique questions and fears. Christians are not exempt from the ugly realities which complicate life.

Struggle with reality in hopeThat said, Christian hope must materialise, otherwise it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. For most believers, there are chapters in life which dish up disappointment after disappointment. Although inescapable, their pain does not have to dictate your entire life. Your attitude in times of adversity is what makes the difference. A humble heart makes biblical hope possible.

Regardless of worldly opinion or personal circumstances; “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The Lord is the centre of the universe; understanding life and personal purpose in such a chaotic world is simply not possible without a humble fear of your creator God.

While “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Obviously, there are things we shall never know or understand. However, the enormous volume of truth revealed by God in creation and God’s Word is so clear and understandable that you can cling to it. Not only so, but you can pass these truths onto your children and grandchildren. Notice that the purpose for understandable truth is your obedience.

Personal pain does not diminish God’s crystal-clear revelation of Himself or your responsibility to obey Him. Suffering does not lesson or cloud His declaration of Himself, but it does cloud our emotions which we are able to overcome through sheer determination to be faithful.

For authentic faith to live hopefully throughout suffering, stubborn determination of faith needs to be exercised. “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:14). A calm, although possibly stressed faith, grits its teeth and becomes spiritually pig-headed as it trusts God with the things we don’t understand. Despite moments of inconsistent belief, or even behavioural stumbling, you doggedly resolve to “fear the Lord.” You trust the Lord of Lords with the things you cannot control or even influence.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). Notice the connection; choosing to remain faithfully in Christ enables Him to produce spiritual fruit in and through you. Remember that at salvation, you “…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Central in your rebirth was the Holy Spirit’s guarantee of your transition from earth to Heaven. He must accomplish this to fulfil salvation’s purpose of being “the praise of his glory.” During the darkest periods of severest pain, trust God the Spirit to fulfil His guaranteed mission. Trust the God who knows and understands every part of your suffering that you do not understand. Accept that God feels your pain, He hears your groans as “we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26), “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Knowing all this enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:3-4).

Hope that is absolute in Christ

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Christian certainty of hope is absolute; it totally depends on the cross-work of Jesus Christ.

Hope that is absolute in ChristChristians approach God through faith in Jesus’s qualification of us, and not our own. Because of God “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Put simply, through Jesus death and resurrection, every requirement of God has been fully satisfied. Therefore, in Christ, “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12).

Christian hope stands solid in the confidence of Jesus Christ.  It does this by placing the outcome of present circumstances second to submitting to God’s long-term plans.  This is only possible in a Christ-centered life.  “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Realising that you are heard by God energises patience and humble expectations of Him.

The heart of hope

This is the very heart of absolute hope; we are unworthy, yet God responds to faith by accepting us in Christ. Confidence to approach God is now enabled without pride. Within the framework of God’s sovereign will, our prayers, which comply with that will, shall be answered. Satisfaction that our requests, which are within God’s will, shall accomplish His purpose for His glory in His time is realised.

Only with eternity in your heart can you affirm that “hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5 NIV). The Holy Spirit confirms the validity of God’s Word by growing peace out of God’s love within you. Hope stands secure upon loving peace. Understanding God’s purposes helps in enabling you to accept the necessity of pain. This realisation empowers His security to wrap itself around your suffering.

Mindset changes perspective

By having a God centered mindset, you can place problems in a subservient place. Next, you can elevate God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to the highest position in your priorities. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Confidence in the Lord grows out of your knowledge of Him which is obtained from the Bible. Scripture elevates your God centered thoughts to the highest priority. This grows the environment within you to identify God’s grace which develops your perseverance. Meanwhile, God’s mercy provides the required resources you need to endure through times of trouble.

Romans chapter 12 offers possibly the most comprehensive explanation of applied hope. Notice the way in which the applications flow from hope. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends…” (Romans 12:12-19 NIV).

Today, I encourage you to choose hope which is absolute in Jesus Christ. Surrender to the Lord; turning to Him as your only Saviour.

 

A hope that does not disappoint

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When life dishes up disaster, it’s all too easy to become spiritually despondent. It’s during these times we discover the truth about who we are and who we truly trust in. Whether your pains are the result of your own actions or sent by the Lord, your spiritual state of health will always show itself.

A hope that does not disappointPain from unattended struggles can overwhelm you into thinking life will never be what it once was. In such times you need an unmovable spiritual rock to rest on.  An unshakable relationship which is not dependent upon your performance but survives entirely upon the other carrying you.

As a believer, you need to recognise that your circumstances can never change God’s nature. Simple faith, simple hope, confesses above all else that “…you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalms 86:15). Faith energised hope worships before it requests, it praises before it complains, and it waits instead of seeking self-solutions.

Joseph Hart (1712-1768), penned the following lyrics. His understanding of God’s trustworthiness is clear and simple.

How good is the God we adore
Our faithful, unchangeable friend
His love is as great as His power
And knows neither measure nor end
‘Tis Jesus the first and the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We’ll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that’s to come.

Hope with design

You see, hope which is squarely fixed in Jesus Christ as Lord does not disappoint . When all else in life fails, you can trust in the holy character of God.

What’s more, the psalmist assures us that the Lord’s attention is captivated by those who fear Him. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalms 33:18-19). Rather than focus on a desired outcome, God’s steadfast love” should be in focus. The emphasis is on the eternal things first, and earthly matters second. Obviously, survival is important to us, and God knows best how to accommodate all your needs in this life and for eternity.

You see, the psalmist recognised God’s control over the timing of life’s events. He recognised God’s ability to restore the quality of your life to precisely where He wants you. He also knows how best to change and equip you with a mind wanting to praise Him. “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Psalms 62:5-6).

Humility is significant

Humble faith recognises and trusts God as the source of hope. Therefore, hope is patient with its author; knowing that He’s rock solid in His determination to fulfil His will for you. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Saviour is constantly training and equipping you for future works which you are presently unaware of (Heb 12:11).

I encourage you to place your desires for the future in the Lord who governs that future, and suffering shall be put in perspective under His care. We hope in God more than we hope in our circumstances. We trust Him to restore us so that we shall “…again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalms 42:5-6). I encourage you to invite the Lord Jesus Christ to grow within you a hope that does not disappoint.  Consequently, hope honours the Lord, it strengthens others, and it shall lift you up.

Hope can abound above pain

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Hope which abounds is a wonderful thing. The apostle Paul explains hope this way; “let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Faith, love, and hope are a formidable spiritual trio! When the Holy Spirit infuses these within you, your whole world changes; your focus becomes fixed firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ with all else becoming secondary. Hope starts at the cross. Salvation is the beginning of authentic and eternal hope in Jesus Christ.

Hope can abound above painHope can exist in both the saved and unsaved alike, although the focus of both is different. For the believer, hope is focused in a person; and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledged that the Thessalonians were known for their “work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Therefore, the present outcome of hope for the believer is of secondary importance, giving preference to the person of their hope.

For the unsaved however, their hope is focused in things, human relationships, and favourable outcomes to circumstances, wealth, possessions, or maybe achieving personal goals. Solomon sums up the result of mortal hope which unbelievers have; “…his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too” (Proverbs 11:7). Mortal, worldly hope lacks the ability to deliver anything beyond the grave.

That said; believers often struggle with two perplexing issues when suffering difficulties. Job speaks of the first; “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfil my hope” (Job 6:8). Sometimes God’s children feel as if their prayers are unanswered or somehow overlooked, especially during painful periods. One of the challenges with prayer is that we invariably have expectations of God. So, when He does not respond the way we expect, we create our own struggle.

Second; when we don’t feel the positive emotions expected during life’s trauma, we can become despondent. These emotional shortfalls are often amplified by society’s focus on comfort. Our culture justifies complaining when discomfort occurs. Frequently discomfort is interpreted as being wrong or even evil.

This mindset is exacerbated by only thinking of pain as negative, destructive, and of no value. Therefore, it’s often concluded that discomfort must come from our arch enemy. This line of thinking is quite wrong; it’s unproductive, self-destructive, and dishonouring of God.

Listen to how Paul prayed for the essence of genuine hope to be active in the lives of the Roman believers. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

  • God is not only the source of spiritual hope; He is the essence of hope, with His Son Jesus Christ being the embodiment of hope.
  • Hope has the capacity, by Holy Spirit power, to fill you. That is, to be the controlling influence.
  • Controlling hope is able to overshadow pain, fear, and doubts, with joy and peace. This occurs through the God gifted mechanism of belief. Believing is an intelligent, and conscious, faith choice.
  • The Holy Spirit instills hope which abounds. That is, hope energised by the Holy Spirit has the capacity to be better than, and to overrule the pains of life.
  • This happens as you “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).

I encourage you to seek authentic hope which abounds above the pains of life, in Christ.

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