Tag Archives: endurance

Finish Well

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

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As much as I like the beginning of a new season whether that is the season on the calendar, school, Bible Study, MOPS, or even the elections, there comes a moment when the end is in sight. I spoke last night with my grandgirlie, Kate, and she had finished a week of very hard finals. A big sigh of relief could be heard all the way from California. Another, Tori, is graduating from eight grade in a few weeks, looking forward to entering high school. Her good news came via text: I MADE SRV CHEER!!!! New school. New adventures.

Sometimes, we slog it out and are glad it’s over. Other times, sadness hits when the last hour ends. But I try and remember advice I received many years ago from the teacher of our Bible Study class. It had been a year of hard study and we were approaching the final few weeks. She encouraged us to “not finish somehow” but to “finish well.”

It’s all about attitude. I want to leave nothing on the table, spend every last ounce of energy, holding nothing back, so that God is glorified and the task completed. Integrity, honesty, and balance enter the picture, particularly if a leader, but also for our own personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Who wants to leave the movie fifteen minutes before the end?

But what if the end is not in sight? the battle is not won? That’s the hard part and the point where endurance begins. Giving up is not an option and this side of heaven, it may never end. But God. He promises strength and courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Looking back over the roads of life, you may see gravel pits where you stumbled, boulders blocking the path, ditches of despair, sand of entrapment, or slippery paths of temptation but God never let go of your hand. You stand erect today with sins forgiven, new mercies, hope for tomorrow, and the joy of a home in heaven.

Don’t give up.

Finish well!

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Shiny Clay Pot

Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.

Proverbs 26:23 (NIV)

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I stopped and paused while reading Proverbs the other day. I know what silver is and I like silver (other than I hate to polish it), but what is silver dross? The dictionary tells me it is the scum formed, usually by oxidation, on the surfaces of molten metals; worthless matter; waste.

I also know that earthenware chips easily and breaks to smithereens when dropped. (I’ve done both.) So why would you coat or glaze a clay pot with something shiny but worthless?

To hide the fact that it is a fake. It looks pretty but underneath it is weak, and in some ways false. You think it looks like long-lasting stoneware but it has not gone through the fire to harden and strengthen it, one of the main differences between the two.

A fast-talking salesman or sleazy politician may come to mind, or maybe the neighborhood gossip that likes to pass along juicy tidbits so that they look better in comparison. Hollywood is classic for the smooth and shiny until the their sordid lives comes to light for all to see in the latest scandal.

But God is not finished with this lesson and offers an alternative to that smooth talk. He wants us to be strong and speak truth so as a result, He may use the refiner’s fire to accomplish His purpose.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)

Aren’t you glad God promises that these trials are only for a little while? And, in the process, we grow, our faith remains strong, and one day we will be honored along with Jesus. We have endured the fire and been strengthened in the process. Now our words bring truth and life to those we meet each day.

Shine!

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Life is NOT Fair

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3:4 (NLT)

My word for 2013 is “hope” and I recently completed Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Today, Experience Hope Through His Presence. She wrote this particular one when she was going through some very difficult health challenges and God gave her hope.

Sometimes, life is just not fair. When we signed up for this Christian life, we thought it would all be rosy. And then the trials hit and we’re thrown off balance, take a tumble, and may be angry about it.

I have a friend who is struggling in a relationship that makes no sense and all this person wants is for it TO make sense. Or, depression hits, the darkness closes in, and all we want is for the pain to go away.

I’ve heard people say that God will not give us more than we can bear. I’ve thought about this and did a little research. Actually God says:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. I Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)

We won’t be tempted beyond our ability to cope but nowhere are we promised a free ride. In fact, the promises come for help in the middle of the difficulty:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

 

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 (The Message)

This is my take-away lesson: hardship produces endurance which develops character so that I can experience joyful hope. Joyful? Hope? Yes.

Amen and amen.

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Resolve

I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. 

1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)

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Endurance. Perseverance. Integrity.

These words really test our mettle—what we are made of. Hard words. Often abandoned or ignored words. I know because I have been there, done that.

A little over six years ago, I participated in my first Beth Moore study on Daniel. As the lion roared at the end of each lesson, I often found myself in tears and finished that study with the lingering feeling that it was so good but not many of the details. Now, I’m doing it again with our local ladies.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read my earlier workbook but my curiosity got the better of me and I pulled it out. I don’t look at it until I’m completed the week’s lesson but it’s interesting for me to note a few things:

  •  I, obviously, didn’t get the routine because the first few lessons, all the blanks were still blank. I finally figured out how to catch that missing word from a woman with a southern accent that speaks a mile a minute.
  •  Some answers have the very same words both times.
  •  Some answers reflect the happenings of period of time.
  •  Some answers show that God has been working and is changing me in ways to complete His purpose for me.

The book of Daniel challenges us to live with integrity in a world filled with the Babylonian motto, “I am, and there is none besides me.” Sound familiar? Everywhere we look or read or watch today, it’s all about me. What can I get out of it? Who is going to give it to me? How do I look? What can I buy? Me. Me. Me.

But that’s not what God is looking for when He talks about integrity. As Beth describes it, “The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are—no matter who’s around.” My version, “What you see, is what you get.”

Integrity requires consistency so that I can live each day with a clean conscience in a world of temptation, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit for direction. I don’t have to rack my brain for whatever cover story I might have used the last time because the truth is easier to remember than a lie.

One last word to add to the list — resolve.

I challenge you to look at your life and assess where you are on the integrity scale. If it needs work, get to it. If it looks pretty good today, beware. Satan’s goal is to trip us up.

Remember that integrity doesn’t just happen. We must purpose or resolve to live a life of godliness and integrity. Dare to be different.

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