"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

HTML

BOOKMARK AND SHARE

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 5, 2016

WE COUNT THEM HAPPY WHICH ENDURE

~ By James Fire

The LORD is an everlasting LORD – Whose attributes and holy character endures forever and ever: they are unchanging (immutable) and eternal. Let's read these nine references found in the book of Psalms that describe these attributes of God that endure forever:

The Glory of God endures forever – PSALM 104:31
God’s truth endures forever – PSALM 100:5
God’s goodness endures continuously – PSALM 52:1
God’s mercy endures forever – PSALM 106:1
Consider what PSALM 23:6 states: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me* all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

To “follow” in the Hebrew is radaph and it means to “pursue, to chase down, to overcome with determined intent”! That is the LORD's intent for His children: to pursue, and chase them down and bestow upon them His goodness and mercy - all the days of our lives! . . . 



If you ever considered that you may have so exasperated and disappointed God by your failures or your besetting sins, and wonder with broken-heartedness if He is willing to yet show you mercy – one more time? Read PSALM 136!
What else of God’s endurance?

The anger of God endures . . . “for a moment”! PSALM 30:5 – weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”
His righteousness endures forever – PSALM 111:3
God’s dominion endures everlastingly – PSALM 145:13
His loving-kindness and faithfulness endures forever – PSALM 89:33
His Name endures forever – PSALM 72:17 And His Name is JESUS!

PHIL 2:9-11
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
.

What else can we learn of God’s endurance?

HE ENDURED THE CROSS! 

HEB 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds
.

What was “the joy that was set before him”? Answer: YOU! As the LORD hung upon the Cross, shedding His atoning blood for the sins of mankind, and enduring unimaginable agony, both physically and spiritually - there was a joy deep in the heart of Deity: He saw the fruit that would result as this Seed of Abraham (GAL 3:16) died, and then afterward, He would not abide alone, but bring forth much fruit (JOHN 12:24) - salvation of multitudes of souls that would become citizens of heaven, glorifying, worshiping and loving the LORD for all eternity!

We have glimpsed into the heart of God and all those glorious and awesome attributes and holy characteristics that endure, forever and ever. And we are blessed to have it so!

Now concerning ourselves:

What did the LORD say in LUKE 18:8?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?


Will the LORD find faith upon His return – will He find those who have endured all things and come to the end, holding fast (2 TIM 1:13)?

In these last days, when iniquity is abounding and the love of many is growing cold (MATT. 24:12), and the falling away from the faith is increasing day by day (1 TIM 4:1) – churches are “forsaking the fountain of Living Waters” and resorting to “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (JER. 2:13) – will the LORD find in us, in our hearts and in our lives the faith in Him, and His Word that endures?

The LORD is looking for faithfulness in His children, so that He may declare on that day “Well done good and faithful servant!” (MATT 25:21). He is looking for endurance and patience that won’t give up on the truth of His promises, amid the hardships, trials, persecutions (JAMES 5:11). He is looking for those who will abide in Him and His word to abide in them; that we may maintain bearing good fruit and good works (TITUS 3:8).

WHAT IS NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER IS SPIRITUAL ENDURANCE!

Saints, if ever there is a time to persevere with a sense of urgency; if ever there is a time – amid facing opposition, and struggles and hardships – when we will declare:
We will NOT give up! We will NOT walk away! We will NOT forsake the LORD or His ways (JOHN 6:68; Peter: “to whom shall we go?”), that time is NOW! In the midst of this crooked and perverse nation:

PHIL 2:15
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain
.


We need ‘Holy Spirit stubbornness’ so that we may endure and obtain that prize at the end, for the glory of God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ! In the midst of struggles, suffering, hardships, persecutions, etc. we must look beyond our current circumstances and focus on the LORD and His eternal purposes He is working in us today.

Crosses must be borne before crowns may be worn!

What must we do to endure?


We cannot let failure to convince us to quit:
Thomas Edison and his enduring quest for a working light bulb; he tested over 300 filaments to find one that would carry an electric current, emit light, but not burn out. A friend counseled him to give up his search, but he responded with: "Nonsense! I know that there are 300 filaments that will not work. I am free to search elsewhere for the answer!"


We cannot allow overwhelming odds to discourage us:


Apollo Creed retained his title as World Heavy-weight Boxing Champion after his bout with Rocky Balboa, who stunned fans by his resilient stamina and heart, to stand toe to toe with 'the Champ' and last to the final round on his feet.

Apollo, after reading fan mail, brooded over his win because while he retained his title, he didn't "beat [Rocky] and was intent on a re-match.
His manager attempted to discourage such a course, and when asked about it, he told Apollo:
"I saw you beat that man, and beat that man, like I ain't never seen no man beat before! And the man kept coming after you! We don't need that kinda man in our lives!"


Edison achieved his goal by his own wisdom; Rocky by his own heart and determination. Yet we have the LORD's wisdom to rely on, and His holy heart to fuel our determination!

I saw a senior citizen at the gym the other day; he was probably in his mid- to late-sixties, and he walked across the gym floor with the use of a walker. I thought that was quite admirable, that even though he was confined to the use of a walker, he didn't let that stop him from maintaining a work out regime. It wasn't until I took a closer look at him that I realized he had a prosthetic right leg from the knee down.
My admiration and respect for this man increased manifold - but that wasn't all: a little while later, as he sat down at this work out station, he reached into this wide nylon sleeve strapped to his walker, and pulled out a clear tube, draped it over his neck, and inserted the breathing apparatus into his nostrils so he could breath oxygen from the tank!

Despite the many limitations, this man was determined to work out! THAT is endurance!

What does Scripture teach us about what’s necessary in order to endure? What words are associated with this idea of enduring? Abiding. Continuing. Waiting and not fainting ... Hoping and Trusting. Patience. And many more besides, but we will look at these for today.

First of all: Abiding – An audio-book of Andrew Murray's ABIDE in CHRIST is available here. And if you would like a copy of this marvelous book, check out this link.

JOHN 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

To abide is to dwell, to linger, ‘to hang out’, to make one comfortable in one’s surroundings, to make oneself at home. This we are to do with the Vine, the LORD Jesus Christ. And just as the branch draws all that it needs from the Vine, so too, if we are to endure – we must draw all of our strength, all of our determination, all of our wisdom, guidance; all from the LORD Jesus, and none at all from ourselves.
We are to remain firmly rooted and planted in Him!

PSALM 1:1-3
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper
.

Where are you planted? By the river of eternal life? Or in the desert of this barren world?
O.A.S.I.S.  In a world of deceitful, sinful empty mirages, amidst the barren bleak deserts of parched souls, there is an OASIS – Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies!
The tree planted by a river will have the deepest of roots, the greatest resiliency against storms and the most abundant of ripe fruit.

EPHESIANS 3:17-18
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God
.

“Rooted and Grounded” – in the Vine, in the “love of Christ”. What do you think? Will the one who is “filled with all the fullness of God” be able to endure? The one who knows the love of Christ that goes far, far beyond head knowledge but permeates the heart and soul will be able to endure!

Consider the parable of the sower (LUKE 8:5-15) – four different conditions of ground, but only the ground free from the stony places, the thorns and the fowls of the air brought forth fruit from the seed that was planted there. In that good soil, there were no agents of Satan allowed to come and steal away the seed; there was no hardness of heart that resisted the seed; there were no lusts and passions for the riches and pleasures of this world that choked out the seed. There was soil that was prepared for the seed, tilled with repentance, humility and sincerity. The seed endured in such soil and brought forth much fruit. All for the glory of GOD (JOHN 15:8)!!

Another word associated with enduring:
Continuing . . . In the Word of God as a true disciple:

JOHN 8:30-32
30 As he spoke these words, many believed on him. 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
.


A liberated saint that holds onto the truth of the Word, one who is free and no longer tangled in sin and burdened with the weights of guilt and worldly baggage (HEB 12:1), finds enduring far easier, running the race with patience.

Also regarding the Word – the Bread of Life:

JOHN 6:27
27 Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed
.

And remember this:

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! If you want the quality of enduring in the power of God, consuming the 'meat' of the Word' . . . "which endures unto everlasting life" and you will be amply provided to do so!

Continue in the love of God; apart from being inspired by such love, nothing we do will amount to anything and be counted as worthless (1 COR 13:1-3).

JOHN 15:9-10
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love
.

Continue in obedience to the faith, the Word of Truth, the only sure foundation that will ensure that the building founded upon it will endure (MATT 7:24-25)!

COL 1:23
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister
;

Let Brotherly (and Sisterly) love continue (HEB 13:1) – by such love encourage and exhort and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of the saints, we help our family in Christ to endure!

-          An expedition at the South Pole in the early 1970's: during blistering, blinding, powerful storms – team members would tie themselves together in a single file. The last team member at the end of the line was severed from the others during a howling, dangerous storm. He lost his way, and the others couldn’t even hear his cries for help.

By the time they learned what happened, it was too late to go out and look – the storm was only getting worse.
They would head out at daybreak when the storm ended to look for their lost friend.
The next day when they opened the door of their laboratory shelter, to their horror, they saw their friend, frozen solid like some morbid statute; a monument of facing the storm alone . . . only thirty feet from the shelter. 

He failed to continue, to press on – and it cost him his life!

Waiting – Not fainting

PSALM 27:14
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord
.
ISAIAH 40:29-31
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint
.

There is much in this world that would give us cause to faint, to give up, to surrender – discouragements and disillusion, heartaches and hardships. How do we prevent defeat?
To wait on the LORD – What does this word “wait” here in Isaiah mean?

It is “a focused, undistracted attention that has 100% expectation in receiving something”.
Think of a Little League catcher: He throws his ball straight up into the air, and keeping his eye on it, he catches it on its way down. He expects the ball to come back down, once he has thrown it up; his experience has taught him that.Likewise as we send up our prayers to the LORD, with a focused, expectant heart, we wait on the LORD and His answer, holding our hands out, prepared 'to catch' the answer when it arrives.

What does this word “renew” mean? It means “to exchange [their strength]” 
We cannot endure in this walk of ours with the LORD if we rely upon our own human, frail, unreliable, insufficient strength. Yet if we surrender ourselves and seek the LORD's strength, this is a trade up! We renew - or exchange our strength, for His! And his is utterly strong, reliable and wholly sufficient!
Thus we shall never need to faint if we wait on the LORD, and seek to renew/exchange our feeble strength for His everlasting strength.

Let us remind ourselves about the sower of the seed – and may we continue to sow the seed of God’s Word into our lives – and not faint:

GAL 6:8-10
For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not
.


So, words thus far associated with enduring:

Abiding. Continuing. Waiting – Not fainting. What else?

Hoping and Trusting

ROMANS 5:1-5
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that (1) tribulation works patience; And (2) patience, experience; and (3) experience, hope: And (4) hope makes not ashamed [does not disappoint]; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The saint, who has the indwelling Spirit of God residing within, will encounter troubles and trials, but the same Spirit will grant us the tenacity to remain steadfast - and wait patiently for the storm to pass. As we wait, the trial unfolds and God's hand moves (seen or unseen) and resolves the distressing dilemma (PSALM 107:5-7); we experience the LORD as our Deliverer, and that brings us hope. That same hope empowers us in the next trial in life, and sustains us, as we expect God to move on our behalf, just as He has done previously.
But He may tarry longer next time, before He brings that deliverance: remain steadfast and immovable (1 COR 15:58) and experience once again, His deliverance.
For those whose faith is strong, and with intent on God's part to make it even stronger, He may allow a trial to continue indefinitely - even to the end of this terribly short life, and bring deliverance by bringing that precious saint Home . . . 


We find hope in the proven faithfulness of God, as we see Him in Scripture, in the lives of saints that we know personally, and in our own lives; such is a powerful ally in the key to endurance. It can be said, 
Hope is the wind that blows in the sails of endurance, and keeps us sailing through the seas of strife and the cyclones of despondency.”
A word that is a synonym for endurance – patience!

JAMES 1:2-4
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing
.

2 THESS 1:4
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

The farmer doesn’t expect harvest just after he plants the seed. The student doesn’t expect a degree after his first class. The aspiring athlete doesn’t expect a gold medal after his first work out. The soldier doesn’t expect a purple heart after just enlisting in the service. These all exercise patience, knowing that there is a process and a waiting period for the end result!

Speaking of soldiers: the Christian life is aptly compared to that of a soldier – a warrior in Christ (2 TIM 2:3-4 – “endure hardness.” I remember a Men’s retreat where I taught on this verse and later that night, while sleeping on my air mattress, it sprung a leak! After an hour or so, I found myself lying on paper thin vinyl on top of a hard wood floor!
The next morning I was rather sore indeed, and as I went outside for my personal devotions, enjoying the beautiful Catalina Mountains in Tucson, AZ I remarked to the LORD how uncomfortable that experience was. I could almost sense the LORD telling me, "Well you're the one who was teaching how we need to endure hardness, right"? My laughter echoed off the mountain side!). 


A soldier’s life is not about obtaining comfort, but about obeying command. And we do not fight FOR victory, but FROM the place of victory – and that place is between the Cross of Christ and that empty tomb! We are “more than conquerors” (ROM 8:37) because of this truth.

We are to endure afflictions2 TIM 4:5; We endure temptationsJAMES 1:12; We endure to obtain God’s promisesHEB 6:15; We endure by eyes of faith, fixed upon God – HEB 11:27; We endure chastening by God our loving Father, who corrects us for our benefit – HEB 12:7.

Consider the lump of worthless clay and how it is transformed in the hand of the potter into a vessel of beauty and honor. It is a very long process, but for those who are willing to yield to the process - and endure all that this entails, the transformation is a certainty.
For an awesome presentation on how the LORD deals with us as a potter does the clay, watch this video with pastor Pat Lazovich of Calvary Chapel Sierra Vista!

Homework – Compare the spiritual process as we read in ROM 5:1-5 to 2 PETER 1:4-10;

JAMES 5:11 
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

As we yield to the LORD, allow Him to do His work of grace in our hearts and lives, He will enable us to endure all that this life entails, the good and the bad and even the ugly - and at the end, having endured all things, we shall meet our LORD face to Face, and we shall indeed be counted happy . . . "blessed" because we endured and shall glorify God for His tender mercies and agape love forever and ever, world without end!

UPDATE:
For more on this, consider this article by Greg Reid: SNARES In The MINISTRY.

2 comments:

Nancy said...

Very good. We were blessed by the Lord's goodness this very cold Saturday morning.

James J. Fire said...

The Name if the LORD be praised!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
ReferenceTagging.tag();