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Posts tagged ‘Endurance’

Endurance Test – Enduring Faith

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1The Christians addressed in the letter to the Hebrews had placed their faith in Christ for what He’d done for them in the past.

But times of persecution had struck. And some—ceasing to trust Christ for their present and future—were abandoning their faith.

The writer argues from the Hebrew Scriptures that if faith doesn’t lead to endurance, it’s not for real.

Interact with God’s Word

Hebrews 10:33-38

  1. The inspired writer tells us never to forget our early days as believers. What stands out in your memory about this time in your life?
  2. What does the writer specially want us to remember (vv. 32, 34)?
  3. What is the basis for this faithfulness and joy (v. 34b)?
  4. Do you know someone whose confident trust in the Lord has eroded?
  5. What kind of self-reminder would have prevented that (v. 35)?
  6. What quality should this expectation enable in your life (v. 36)?
  7. Verses 37 and 38 quote the then-current Greek translation of Habakkuk 2:3-4. Is your faith for today and tomorrow solid enough to insure that you won’t “turn away”?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for a faith that doesn’t fluctuate, but stays steady regardless of distractions, disappointments, or attacks.

Hebrews 10:32-38

32 Don’t ever forget those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail. When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity. 35 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you!

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – God Isn’t a Quitter

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Key Bible Verse: My nourishment comes from doing the will of God … and from finishing his work. John 4:34

Bonus Reading: John 17:4, 7-8, 12

Once, while Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly told you’d die at sunset today?” He replied, “I’d finish hoeing my garden.”

Our perseverance doesn’t change God—it changes us. If we’re willing to continue—even when we feel like quitting—we’ll learn lessons of compassion, understanding, and dependability.

Jesus is our ultimate example of not quitting. Even as a child of 12, He reminded His distraught parents, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).  Later, during His public ministry, He told His disciples, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God … and from finishing his work.”

Even when Jesus was dying, He rejected the challenge of the crowd: “Save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:30). It is so human to let go and quit when under fire. However, it is divine to hang in there. At the end of His ordeal, Jesus said, “‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

Many people are letting go, giving in, and coming down—quitting after 10, 20, or 30 years. How sad to someday realize that we didn’t finish our assignment.

—George Sweeting in Too Soon to Quit

My Response: On which long-term assignment do I need to firm up my grip?

Thought to Apply: The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.—David Sarnoff (broadcaster)

Adapted from Too Soon to Quit (Moody, 1999)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – What Kick?

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Key Bible Verse: For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.  – Hebrews 3:14

Bonus Reading: Joshua 14:6-12

In the 1972 Munich Olympics, Dave Wottle, wearing his trademark baseball cap, was dead last in the 800-meter race. As the final lap around the track began, Wottle charged through the pack. “Watch out for the kick of Dave Wottle!” the TV announcer screamed. Wottle overtook the leaders in the last 20 meters and won the gold medal by three-tenths of a second!

Many think, That’s exciting—that’s how I want to run. It doesn’t matter if I fall behind; I’ll make it back with a big kick as everyone cheers me on.

But in remarks at a prep-school chapel service in Chattanooga, Wottle set the record straight. “The other runners went out so fast at the beginning that they slowed down at the end; I was able to maintain the same pace that I started with. … Even though I looked like I was kicking on them, they were coming back to me.”

Wottle, one track expert explained, was “just maintaining in a dying field.”

Endurance is maintaining our walk with Christ even when no one else is. In a society of flash-in-the-pan celebrities and trendy spirituality, endurance is putting our faith to work by showing up for Christ every day, in every circumstance until the race of life is done.

—Tod Bolsinger in Show Time

My Response: What adjustments would help me maintain even pacing for the long haul?

Thought to Apply: To become a champion, fight one more round.—James Corbett (world champion boxer)

Adapted from Show Time (Baker, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – Ridgeline Reruns

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Key Bible Verse: Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Hebrews 10:36

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 10:32-38

Hiking north to south on the Appalachian Trail, I found the Smoky Mountains stretch that leads up to Mollies Ridge demoralizing. I felt like an ant climbing a giant staircase. I’d see the peak just ahead and, after a steep climb, breathe a sigh of relief, and think, I did it! Then I’d round a corner, and there would be an up-until-then hidden summit. What? There’s more? There were several premature celebrations before the satisfaction of finally reaching the Mollies Ridge shelter.

The ascent to holiness is like that. One peak after another appears as God fine-tunes our faith. In Hebrews 10:36, the writer of Hebrews calls for persevering on the path of improvement. Perseverance is by definition an ongoing pursuit; but receiving the crown of life is a one-time event. We strive to be holy for that moment when God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

Does your pursuit of righteousness seem to be nothing but an uphill climb? Be encouraged. This is the path God wants you on. He longs for Christians unafraid to take the trail all the way to the top. He’ll hike alongside you and give you rest when you’re weary. And the final reward is being with Him forever!

—Nathan Chapman in With God on the Hiking Trail

My Response: How do I respond to a succession of tests?

Thought to Apply: Victory is not won in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more.—Louis L’Amour (novelist)

Adapted from With God on the Hiking Trail (Harvest, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – The Q Word

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Key Bible Verse: When your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. James 1:4, NLT

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:1

The summer before my last year of prep school, I decided to quit Coach Marvin Goldberg’s cross-country team. I was tired of grueling workouts. I wanted some free time for things like dating. Come spring, I told myself, I’d get serious again and run on his track team, but I wanted out of the fall schedule of long-distance competition, where our team frequently contended in 10k races against college freshmen teams.

I wrote Coach about my decision. His typed reply arrived. The gist: By not running with the cross-country team this fall, you’ll disappoint your teammates, who depend on you to help them win races, and turn your back on the team’s supporters, who show up at every race to cheer your team on. But most of all, whenever you’re faced with a challenge you don’t like, or that seems too difficult, or that asks for too great a sacrifice, you’ll find it easier and easier to walk away from it.

I changed my mind, returned to the cross-country team, and helped lead it to a league championship. I can’t claim that I enjoyed myself in that effort, but at a deeper level I learned the satisfaction of accomplishing something that ended well. Perhaps in the long view of life that’s more important.

—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life

My Response: How can I learn to savor satisfaction that runs deeper than enjoyment?

Thought to Apply: It is always too soon to quit. —V. Raymond Edman (missionary, educator)

Adapted from A Resilient Life (Nelson, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – Enthusiasm Leak

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Key Bible Verse: Don’t get tired of doing what is good … For we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.  – Galatians 6:9

Bonus Reading: Matthew 24:45-51

On the first good day of spring, you get into the spirit of car washing. You wash and dry it with a chamois. You vacuum it out, take some cleaner to the bug spots, and start waxing and polishing. This is going so well that you see yourself moving on to clean out the garage and mow the lawn.

But then, as you wax and whistle, your back starts to ache, your right arm to feel sore. Your whistling slides into a slower rhythm and shifts into a minor key. Perhaps you’d better leave the lawn for another day. The garage can wait too, you guess. Doing this car is a big enough job all by itself. Well, leave the rest of the car for next Saturday too. Now find a hammock!

The sense of adventure and the rush of enthusiasm for doing good in the name of Christ can turn into a sinking sense of futility when others don’t notice or care. We’ve also felt a pain in the neck and all the adventure running off in sweat. Galatians 6:9 is a word for us spent-out Christians who’ve served until we can’t make one more phone call: we’ll reap the fruit of the Spirit in a life that never ends—if we don’t give up.

—Neal Plantinga in Beyond Doubt

My Response: A good cause for which my initial motivation is growing thin is …

Adapted from Beyond Doubt (Eerdmans, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

Endurance Test – Roll of Rejection

Endurance - Hebrews 12--1Who Said It…Gary L. Thomas

Gary is a Bellingham, Washington-based writer and speaker. In the Center for Evangelical Spirituality, which he founded, he shares how believers can learn a great deal from historic Christian traditions without compromising the essential tenets of what makes them evangelical Christians.

Gary says he is a big-time introvert who runs marathons and takes his wife, Lisa, and their three kids to Starbucks “far too often.”

What He Said…Roll of Rejection

I’d been invited to deliver a commencement address as an author who also speaks widely. But I wanted the students to see someone wondering if anyone would ever want to hear what he believed God had given him to say. I knew that 99 percent of the kids wouldn’t remember a thing I said. So I prayed about providing a picture that would stick with them.

I found it in my rejections box. My family helped me staple and tape together over 150 rejection letters I’d received from publishers over the years: editors telling me my work wasn’t wanted.

When I told the young graduates that God’s calling doesn’t mean there’ll be no setbacks, I nodded to a few students who began to unroll my rejection letters. Murmurs, laughs, and gasps were unleashed throughout the auditorium as the roll grew longer and longer, ultimately stretching across the entire ballroom.

You see, many Christians don’t fail; they just quit before they get ripe.

Adapted from Authentic Faith (Zondervan, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross. Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

An Inside Job – Evil Desires

Evil Desires At War Within YouAccording to the Apostle James, all external conflict can be traced back to what he calls “evil desires at war within you” (4:1) and motives that are wrong (4:3).

For this reason, attempts at external reform will never be fully effective short of transformation of the way a person thinks.  Our “self-talk” gets to the core of our spiritual state.

The passage to be reviewed today points out some characteristics of the positive and negative attitudes that drive the way we behave.

Interact with God’s Word

James 3:13-18

  1. What sources for human attitudes are identified in these paragraphs (vv. 15, 17)?
  2. According to verse 13, what is it that makes a person wise?
  3. What satanic “wisdom” does James mention (vv.14-16)?
  4. What is identified as “God’s kind of wisdom” (vv. 13, 17-18)?
  5. What kinds of high goals is it appropriate for you to set as a believer? What kinds may draw you into greed and destructive competitiveness?

Spend Time in Prayer:   Ask God to deliver you from internal turmoil because you understand His ways and are shaping your thought life to match up with them.

James 3:13-18

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil.

16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Passed Over

Denied PromotionKey Bible Verses:  “Riches and honor come from you alone … and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:12-13

Bonus Reading:   James 3:13-18

When the CEO of our import-export company resigned, I believed I was the natural choice to replace him.  However, another person was appointed.  I was told by the board that my contributions were valuable to the corporation and that they very much wanted me to remain as chief operating officer.  But for me, a dream of many years had been shattered in seconds.

Bitterness and resentment swept over me, permeating my work and everything else.  I secretly applauded any slip by the new CEO.  As I allowed my emotions to spiral out of control, I knew I was heading for a crash.

Six weeks after the announcement, I began to see and understand a larger question: Either I believed in God’s providence and that He was sovereign, or I didn’t!  The issue was not my promotion or even the success of the company.  The issue was my spiritual attitude, and that was my responsibility to correct.

So rather than continuing to grouse, I began focusing my efforts on fixing my attitude and improving my job performance.  Shortly thereafter, the new CEO resigned unexpectedly, and I was promoted.  With my new perspective and attitude, I was ready.

—Steve Marr in Arizona

My Response: Since God is in control, I must surrender resentment about …

Thought to Apply: Keep your heart right, even when it is sorely wounded. — J.C. Macaulay (Christian educator)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Attitude Saver

VCRKey Bible Verse: “I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:33

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My daughters frequently interrupted me in the fourth quarter of a crucial game or at a crucial part of a TV mystery show for something that needed my immediate attention.  I’d eventually get up.  But even if their request was appropriate, I’d procrastinate, moan, and glare while doing the chore.

When I finally caught sight of my poor attitude, I realized I needed a different way of reacting to interruptions.  Today, the first thing I do if I’m going to watch a game or show is start the VCR.  I have a blank tape labeled “Dad’s Tape: No FooFoo Shows; Sports and Guy Stuff Only.”

Now, when Cindy comes and asks for my help on something that can’t wait and there’s only two minutes left in the fourth quarter, I know the game’s being taped.  When Kari calls and needs to be picked up from cheer practice, I know the mystery’s being taped.  When Laura wants to shoot hoops with me and it’s the ninth inning of the playoff game, I haven’t missed a single run.  I can watch it later, and fast-forward through the commercials!

Your VCR can free you to meet the needs of your family—and protect a positive attitude at the same time.

—John Trent in Dad’s Everything Book for Daughters

My Response:  An adjustment I’ll make for positive interaction with my family is …

Thought to Apply:  Irritation in the heart of a believer is always an invitation to the devil to stand by.—Source Unknown

Adapted from Dad’s Everything Book for Daughters (Zondervan, 2002)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Steamed

Raking LeavesKey Bible Verse:  “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right … pure and lovely and admirable … excellent and worthy of praise.”  – Philippians 4:8

Bonus Reading:  Proverbs 31:10-12

One day Corlette said something that really disappointed me.  I went out to the back yard to rake leaves.  For about 15 minutes I treated myself to a real “pity party,” increasingly convinced that I should go back in and let her know how hurt I was.

But then, by God’s grace, Philippians 4:8 came to mind.

Ha!  I thought at first.  What’s honorable, right, or lovely about the way she’s treating me?

But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t give up.  Within a few moments, I grudgingly conceded that Corlette is a good cook.  Then I admitted that she keeps a beautiful home, practices wonderful hospitality, and has been very kind and thoughtful toward my family.  Then I remembered how much she’d supported me through some difficult times in my work.  And didn’t she even take up backpacking because she knew I loved it?

Within minutes my attitude was turned upside down and I saw the offensive comment for what it was—a momentary and insignificant flaw in an otherwise wonderful person.  I went back inside, but not to confront Corlette about what she’d said.  Instead, I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her how glad I was to be married to her.

—Ken Sande in The Peacemaker

My Response:  I’ll commit to apply Philippians 4:8 thinking to one situation today.

Thought to Apply:  If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.—Chinese Proverb

Adapted from The Peacemaker (Baker, 1991, 1997)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Lord of the Swing

Little League BatterKey Bible Verse:  “A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away.”  – Proverbs 14:30

Bonus ReadingJohn 21:1-13

Our son Eric loves baseball and has a very good swing.  But he got into a hitting slump.  He worked hard to improve his game.  But despite a good swing, kept striking out.

Before Eric’s last game this season, I prayed, “Lord, give him a successful game.”  I think he was praying too.  He went two for four, and hit the ball hard and far.  Yeah, God!

But I noticed something in his “at bats.”  He quit trying so hard.  The coaches say, “Let the game come to you.”  Eric was more at ease, more trusting of his skills and work, and seemed simply to enjoy the game.

Several disciples went fishing (John 21:1-13), but their nets were empty all night.  In the morning Jesus called from the shore, “Move the nets a few feet.”  They did, and theJesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish team went two for three, catching 153 fish.

Truth be told, they didn’t need to fish at all that night.  Jesus was roasting fish as they labored.  He’d provided their needs, just as He’d promised.  And the catch of 153 fish would fund their next day’s needs, too.

Driven workers need to relax and let the game come to them.  Jesus is Lord of the “swing” as He is of the seas.  We take ourselves far too seriously—and our Coach not seriously enough.

—Lonnie Allison in CenterLine

My Response: I’ve been uptight about _____.   I’ll ask God to work it out His way.

Thought to Apply: Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.—John Wooden (college basketball coach)

Adapted from CenterLine (Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, fall/03)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will. Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Rough Day at the Office

Rough Day at the OfficeKey Bible Verse:   “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.” 2 Corinthians 4:8

Bonus Reading:  Proverbs 3:5-8; 18:14; 24:10

Do you allow business problems to ruin your entire day?  Problems with staff, customer complaints, and difficulties in production are inevitable.  At some point in your career, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed.

The key is how you respond.  Wasting energy complaining won’t help to overcome the situation.

It’s like sailing on the ocean during a major storm.  You can’t stop the wind or the waves, but you can bail water out of the boat.

When problems threaten to crush you, look for positive action you and your staff can take.  Attack the problem where you can make the most difference.

Ask yourself what you can change with your available resources.  Identify three things that will make a 50 percent difference.  Then establish an action plan that involves both you and your staff.

Set other, less important, issues on the back burner, and tackle the important priorities immediately.  Next, identify lesser issues that you can solve, then keep moving down your list of priorities until everything is back under control.

As you take decisive action, your problems won’t crush you, and you’ll eventually win again in your business.

—Steve Marr in Business Proverbs

My Response:  One step I could take to improve my outlook is …

Adapted from Business Proverbs (Revell, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Boring to Meaningful

Military Desk JobWho Said It…Doug Wendel

Doug Wendel is a Navigator staff representative ministering to East Asian students at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.  Asian Americans are the fastest growing of U.S. ethnic groups, currently numbering some 11 million.  This number is expected to quadruple to 40 million within 40 years.

Doug’s all time favorite movie is Chariots of Fire.  He likes to read books about the Civil War or World War II.

What He Said…Boring to Meaningful

As a 19-year-old, my self-centered life in the U.S. Air Force was characterized by dissatisfaction.  I worked at a “boring” desk job and lived around other unhappy airmen who gave themselves to all sorts of sinful pleasures.

Then one night I heard a clear presentation of the gospel and placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I asked God to take away my sinful, self-centered desires and replace them with His desires for me.

The next morning when I awoke, I was still living among unhappy neighbors and I worked at the same desk job. My outward circumstances hadn’t changed a bit, but over the weeks and months that followed, my inner attitudes changed.

My desk job became a place to learn endurance, to share my new faith in Christ, and to glorify God. I began to see my neighbors as lost people who needed to hear the life-giving message of the gospel.

God answered my cry for inner change and gave my life meaning and purpose by transforming my self-centered attitudes into God-centered ones.

Adapted from Discipleship Journal (9-10/99)

Prayer for the Week: I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

Endurance Test – Patient Endurance

Patient EnduranceThe Christians addressed in the letter to the Hebrews had placed their faith in Christ for what He’d done for them in the past.  

But times of persecution had struck.  And some—ceasing to trust Christ for their present and future—were abandoning their faith.

The writer argues from the Hebrew Scriptures that if faith doesn’t lead to endurance, it’s not for real.

 

Interact with God’s Word

Hebrews 10:33-38

  1. The inspired writer tells us never to forget our early days as believers. What stands out in your memory about this time in your life?

 

  1. What does the writer specially want us to remember (vv. 32, 34)?

 

  1. What is the basis for this faithfulness and joy (v. 34b)?

 

  1. Do you know someone whose confident trust in the Lord has eroded?

 

  1. What kind of self-reminder would have prevented that (v. 35)?

 

  1. What quality should this expectation enable in your life (v. 36)?

 

  1. Verses 37 and 38 quote the then-current Greek translation of Habakkuk 2:3-4.  Is your faith for today and tomorrow solid enough to insure that you won’t “turn away”?

 

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for a faith that doesn’t fluctuate, but stays steady regardless of distractions, disappointments, or attacks.

Hebrews 10:32-38

32 Don’t ever forget those early days when you first learned about Christ.  Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail.  When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy.  You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity. 35 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens.  Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you!

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

 

Endurance Test – God Isn’t a Quitter

Francis of AssisiKey Bible Verse:  My nourishment comes from doing the will of God … and from finishing his work.  – John 4:34

Bonus Reading:  John 17:4, 7-8, 12

Once, while Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly told you’d die at sunset today?”  He replied, “I’d finish hoeing my garden.”

Our perseverance doesn’t change God—it changes us.  If we’re willing to continue—even when we feel like quitting—we’ll learn lessons of compassion, understanding, and dependability.

Jesus is our ultimate example of not quitting.  Even as a child of 12, He reminded His distraught parents, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).

Later, during His public ministry, He told His disciples, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God … and from finishing his work.”  (John 4:34)

Even when Jesus was dying, He rejected the challenge of the crowd: “Save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:30).

It is so human to let go and quit when under fire.  However, it is divine to hang in there.  At the end of His ordeal, Jesus said, “‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

Many people are letting go, giving in, and coming down—quitting after 10, 20, or 30 years.  How sad to someday realize that we didn’t finish our assignment.

—George Sweeting in Too Soon to Quit

 

My Response: On which long-term assignment do I need to firm up my grip?

 

Thought to Apply: The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.—David Sarnoff (broadcaster)

Adapted from Too Soon to Quit (Moody, 1999)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

 

Endurance Test – What Kick?

Race - Final KickKey Bible Verse:  For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.  Hebrews 3:14

Bonus Reading:  Joshua 14:6-12

In the 1972 Munich Olympics, Dave Wottle, wearing his trademark baseball cap, was dead last in the 800-meter race.  As the final lap around the track began, Wottle charged through the pack.

“Watch out for the kick of Dave Wottle!” the TV announcer screamed.  Wottle overtook the leaders in the last 20 meters and won the gold medal by three-tenths of a second!

Many think, That’s exciting—that’s how I want to run. It doesn’t matter if I fall behind; I’ll make it back with a big kick as everyone cheers me on.

But in remarks at a prep-school chapel service in Chattanooga, Wottle set the record straight. “The other runners went out so fast at the beginning that they slowed down at the end; I was able to maintain the same pace that I started with. … Even though I looked like I was kicking on them, they were coming back to me.”

Wottle, one track expert explained, was “just maintaining in a dying field.”

Endurance is maintaining our walk with Christ even when no one else is.  In a society of flash-in-the-pan celebrities and trendy spirituality, endurance is putting our faith to work by showing up for Christ every day, in every circumstance until the race of life is done.

—Tod Bolsinger in Show Time

 

My Response: What adjustments would help me maintain even pacing for the long haul?

 

Thought to Apply: To become a champion, fight one more round.—James Corbett (world champion boxer)

Adapted from Show Time (Baker, 2004)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

 

Endurance Test – Ridgeline Reruns

Mollies RidgeKey Bible Verse:  Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will.  – Hebrews 10:36

Bonus Reading:  Hebrews 10:32-38

Hiking north to south on the Appalachian Trail, I found the Smoky Mountains stretch that leads up to Mollies Ridge demoralizing.  I felt like an ant climbing a giant staircase.  I’d see the peak just ahead and, after a steep climb, breathe a sigh of relief, and think, I did it!

Then I’d round a corner, and there would be an up-until-then hidden summit.

What?  There’s more?  There were several premature celebrations before the satisfaction of finally reaching the Mollies Ridge shelter.

The ascent to holiness is like that.  One peak after another appears as God fine-tunes our faith.

In Hebrews 10:36, the writer of Hebrews calls for persevering on the path of improvement.  Perseverance is by definition an ongoing pursuit; but receiving the crown of life is a one-time event.  We strive to be holy for that moment when God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

Does your pursuit of righteousness seem to be nothing but an uphill climb?

Be encouraged.  This is the path God wants you on.  He longs for Christians unafraid to take the trail all the way to the top.

He’ll hike alongside you and give you rest when you’re weary.  And the final reward is being with Him forever!

—Nathan Chapman in With God on the Hiking Trail

 

My Response: How do I respond to a succession of tests?

 

Thought to Apply: Victory is not won in miles but in inches.  Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more.—Louis L’Amour (novelist)

Adapted from With God on the Hiking Trail (Harvest, 2002)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

 

Endurance Test – The Q Word

Run the Race with EnduranceKey Bible Verse:  When your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.  James 1:4, NLT

Bonus Reading:  Hebrews 12:1

The summer before my last year of prep school, I decided to quit Coach Marvin Goldberg’s cross-country team.  I was tired of grueling workouts.  I wanted some free time for things like dating.

Come spring, I told myself, I’d get serious again and run on his track team, but I wanted out of the fall schedule of long-distance competition, where our team frequently contended in 10k races against college freshmen teams.

I wrote Coach about my decision.  His typed reply arrived.  The gist: By not running with the cross-country team this fall, you’ll disappoint your teammates, who depend on you to help them win races, and turn your back on the team’s supporters, who show up at every race to cheer your team on.

But most of all, whenever you’re faced with a challenge you don’t like, or that seems too difficult, or that asks for too great a sacrifice, you’ll find it easier and easier to walk away from it.

I changed my mind, returned to the cross-country team, and helped lead it to a league championship.  I can’t claim that I enjoyed myself in that effort, but at a deeper level I learned the satisfaction of accomplishing something that ended well.  Perhaps in the long view of life that’s more important.

—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life

 

My Response: How can I learn to savor satisfaction that runs deeper than enjoyment?

 

Thought to Apply: It is always too soon to quit. —V. Raymond Edman (missionary, educator)

Adapted from A Resilient Life  (Nelson, 2005)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

Endurance Test – Enthusiasm Leak

Lack of EnthusiasmKey Bible Verse:  Don’t get tired of doing what is good … For we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.  Galatians 6:9

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 24:45-51

On the first good day of spring, you get into the spirit of car washing.  You wash and dry it with a chamois.  You vacuum it out, take some cleaner to the bug spots, and start waxing and polishing.  This is going so well that you see yourself moving on to clean out the garage and mow the lawn.

But then, as you wax and whistle, your back starts to ache, your right arm to feel sore.  Your whistling slides into a slower rhythm and shifts into a minor key.

Perhaps you’d better leave the lawn for another day.  The garage can wait too, you guess.  Doing this car is a big enough job all by itself.  Well, leave the rest of the car for next Saturday too.  Now find a hammock!

The sense of adventure and the rush of enthusiasm for doing good in the name of Christ can turn into a sinking sense of futility when others don’t notice or care.  We’ve also felt a pain in the neck and all the adventure running off in sweat.  Galatians 6:9 is a word for us spent-out Christians who’ve served until we can’t make one more phone call: we’ll reap the fruit of the Spirit in a life that never ends—if we don’t give up.

—Neal Plantinga in Beyond Doubt

 

My Response: A good cause for which my initial motivation is growing thin is …

Adapted from Beyond Doubt (Eerdmans, 2002)

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.

 

 

Endurance Test – Roll of Rejection

RejectionWho Said It…Gary L. Thomas

Gary is a Bellingham, Washington-based writer and speaker.  In the Center for Evangelical Spirituality, which he founded, he shares how believers can learn a great deal from historic Christian traditions without compromising the essential tenets of what makes them evangelical Christians.

Gary says he is a big-time introvert who runs marathons and takes his wife, Lisa, and their three kids to Starbucks “far too often.”

What He Said…Roll of Rejection

I‘d been invited to deliver a commencement address as an author who also speaks widely.  But I wanted the students to see someone wondering if anyone would ever want to hear what he believed God had given him to say.

I knew that 99 percent of the kids wouldn’t remember a thing I said.  So I prayed about providing a picture that would stick with them.

I found it in my rejections box.  My family helped me staple and tape together over 150 rejection letters I’d received from publishers over the years: editors telling me my work wasn’t wanted.

When I told the young graduates that God’s calling doesn’t mean there’ll be no setbacks, I nodded to a few students who began to unroll my rejection letters. Murmurs, laughs, and gasps were unleashed throughout the auditorium as the roll grew longer and longer, ultimately stretching across the entire ballroom.

You see, many Christians don’t fail; they just quit before they get ripe.

Adapted from Authentic Faith (Zondervan, 2002)

 

Prayer for the Week:  Thank you, Savior, for enduring all the way to the cross.  Give me the stamina to be a finisher.