Endure . . .

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12 NLT

When it comes to handling trials and temptations, we usually look for prompt answers instead of patient acceptance.

When there is pain, we run to self-medicate.  
When there are problems, we self-solve.  
When there are pressures, we self-sooth.

If it gets too much to handle, we let go . . . abandoned to passivity instead of accepting responsibility.

James tells us there is “blessing” from God when we are resilient and refuse give up, give in or get out.

He reminds us, “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)

Patient Endurance.  Our first reaction to patiently enduring is too often, “Oh no . . . not again”, while God wants us to respond, “Ok . . . what can I gain”.  Every challenge is a chance to grow.  Patient endurance leads to persistent encouragement.  Paul encourages the Christ-followers in Corinth, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Cor 10:13 NLT).  We are not alone.  We are able to handle it.  A solution is available.

Promised Crown.  The word used for “crown” is “stephanos“, which can also refer to a “reward” or “laurel wreath.” In the original Greek Olympics, the winner of a sporting contest was honored with a laurel crown.  Just as a runner perseveres through the difficulties of the race so that he might reach the finish line and receive the reward, Jesus is waiting to place a crown of life upon our head when we reach the finish line after persevering through pain, problems and persecution.  Jesus’ promise and presence provides us peace in our problems.  He comforts us, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

Focusing on Christ Jesus gives us a freedom in our challenges.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Heb12:2 NLT)

Be patient and keep your eyes on the prize.

Hang in there because He is there.

The One and the 1

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:7

The physician Luke records a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day over those who were spiritually lost.  The Pharisees focused on the found . . . Jesus looked for the lost.

The Savior told stories of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  The lost sheep was sought after by the shepherd . . . the lost coin was found in a routine cleaning . . . and the lost son was waited for.

In each parable, there was celebration when the lost was found.

Read More

Peace Out? I Don’t Think So . . .

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NKJV

Nearing the end of His life, Jesus began preparing His followers for the life changing challenges they would soon face.  Amid describing His death and their persecution, He reassures them of His peace that will soon be their peace.

In each of our journeys, we face times of chaos, confusion and conflicts.

Uncertainty can lead to uncharted waters.  

Read More

There Is Someone Who Cares

O LORD, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.
Psalms 88:13 NLT

The “Blues” genre of music began near the end of the 19th century.  It is soulful.  It is reflective.  It is introspective.  “Blues” share the “personal woes in a world of harsh reality.”[i]

Often our greatest sorrows can only be expressed with song.  Words are not enough.  Writing may not be adequate.  The powerful partnership between lyrics and music can soothe, satisfy or simplify the soul.

Psalm 88 has been called the saddest of all psalms.  Spurgeon gives us insight, “whoever wrote the Psalm must have been a man of deep experience, who had done business on the great waters of soul trouble.”[ii]

The psalmist shows his pain, shares his problems and surrenders his pride.  There is Read More