Endurance

EnduranceHere’s a word that caries with it longevity, stability and courage. When I hear this word, I think of a race and not quitting, but pushing through the hard parts and getting my “second wind” in order to finish the race. The meaning of the word has to do with “the capacity or something to last or withstand wear and tear.” Endurance is “sticking it out” in the face of hurt, pain and even threats on every side.  Paul speaks about the faith of the Christians in Thessalonica. Check this out….

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV)

 

This is a character quality that I believe to be valuable to attain. If I can endure struggle, I’m stronger for it. If I can endure pain, I’m more resistant to it in the future. If I can endure hardship and struggle, I’m more mature because of it.  My faith gives me endurance or “staying power” even in the midst of insurmountable odds. I want to finish strong this race of life and the endurance to finish is inspired by my hope in the Lord.  I don’t intend to quit or slow down in my pursuit of God’s heart!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Then and Now

young and oldIt is quite funny to look back at pictures of my younger days. I get quite a chuckle at how I looked back then. I also realize that my body was quite a bit younger back then. It’s kind of weird getting old, because in my mind, I can still do some of the things I used to do, but when I try, I realize that my mind is younger than my body.

I sometimes reflect on my spiritual journey and realize that I am much more connected to the Lord now than at other times in my life. Early on, I lived off the faith of my parents. When I realized that my faith was my own, I began to grow on my own. I must confess that there were times that I was “going through the motions” of my faith because my faith was struggling to make sense of life that was coming quickly at me.  Paul had a word for people just like me. Check this out…

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Galatians 2:4-9 NIV)

 

I think it is healthy to take a look back at the history of my faith journey. I have had my share of struggles and trouble. I can so see the hand of God in times of deep pain and struggle. I can also see His hand in times of absolute joy and gladness. There are times in my journey when I ignored Him. There are times when I felt really near to Him. I think life has ebb and flow – ups and downs. The times when I’ve been down are times when He rescued me or came near. He will be with me no matter what my attitude or my feelings are like.  God is not fickle – He is FAITHFUL!  As I take an honest look back, I’m not so faithful, but I’m still running to Him most every day. If not running to Him, I’m running toward Him!  I simply don’t know a love like His. His love, His mercy and His grace are truly remarkable and amazing! I want to live strong and finish strong pursuing His heart!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Obedient

Hands folded in prayer over open russian Holy Bible on black backgroundI was not the perfect child as some people might think. I gave my parents trouble every now and then. I was not super rebellious, but I certainly tested the boundaries. I remember being punished for my disobedience. I learned from my parents to respect authority and to live within the boundaries that are set by those in authority.  The Apostle Paul told a bit about his life prior to being arrested for preaching the Good News. Check this out…

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:15a-23 NIV)

 

I learned growing up to be obedient to those in authority. As I have grown in my faith, over the years, I have learned to be obedient to the tug of the Holy Spirit upon my heart. Paul saw Jesus in a vision and realized that he needed to change his ways. The Lord called him to preach and teach about the Way to God through Jesus. This was not popular with the religious leaders who did not accept Jesus as the Son of God.  The prophets had spent all this time telling about Jesus coming, but when He came, the Jewish leaders missed it.

Paul was never the same after his Damascus road encounter with the Lord. He lived out the rest of his life being obedient to the call of God upon Him from that vision. He was obedient in spite of some challenges and setbacks. I am inspired by his faithful obedience to the call of God on his life.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

As Usual

Man praying with the BibleThere are things that I do pretty much every day without fail. I usually start my day with a cup/pot of coffee. I don’t miss many meals. I can’t think of many days in my life that I’ve missed any meals or not had water or drink. I’ve recently learned of the value of starting my day off with a time of spiritual growth just taking in the Word of God. He speaks through His Word so often and so thoroughly that I can’t miss it.  I came across two simple words that really made me think. Check this out…

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. (Luke 22:39 NIV)

As usual Jesus prayed.

As usual Jesus led His disciples.

As usual Jesus engaged His disciples.

As usual Jesus found teachable moments.

As usual Jesus walked with integrity.

As usual Jesus healed the sick.

As usual Jesus honored the Father.

I want to see the Lord daily – as usual. I don’t want there to be anything “unusual” about me walking with the Lord daily. I want the way I engage people and work with people to honor Him. I want my integrity to be my “usual behavior”. I want to have routines and usual behavior that honors my Creator.  I don’t want to be “stuck” in some bad behavior or in a rut – I want to be faithful and honorable servant that walks with the Lord in a steady and usual manor to know Him more.   When I walk with the Lord as usual, I’m more prepared for the unusual. As usual, the Lord shows me the way and invites me to come along with Him.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Faithful Again

Word on black buttonWhen I think about my faithfulness – I feel pretty good about it. If I look below the surface I see how unfaithful I am to the Lord’s call upon my life. He calls me to consult Him in everything. He calls me to trust Him in everything and with everything. I still go my own way often. I still don’t let Him have everything. My faithfulness calls for complete trust.  He has all the resources He needs to take care of my situation and me. He calls me to help Him serve others. I simply need to be faithful again and again to His call upon my life.  Check this out…

1“Come, let’s go back to the Lord.
    He has hurt us, but he will heal us.
    He has wounded us,
 but he will bandage our wounds.
In two days he will put new life in us;
    on the third day he will raise us up

    so that we may live in his presence
 3 and know him.

Let’s try to learn about the Lord;
    he will come to us as surely as the dawn comes.
He will come to us like rain,
    like the spring rain that waters the ground.”
The Lord says, “Israel, what should I do with you?
    Judah, what should I do with you?

Your faithfulness is like a morning mist,
    like the dew that goes away early in the day.
I have warned you by my prophets
    that I will kill you and destroy you.
    My justice comes out like bright light.
I want faithful love
    more than I want animal sacrifices.

I want people to know me
    more than I want burnt offerings.
But they have broken the agreement as Adam did;
    they have been unfaithful to me. (Hosea 1:1-7 NCV)

The Lord wants my faithful love, honor, respect and obedience more than He wants anything. I must listen and learn what He’s asking me to do next. I should not think that my talent or giftedness will replace my being faithful to Him. He wants that most of all. If I’m faithful to Him – everything else that matters will follow.

Pressing On!
Dwayne