May 2015 Posts

Perseverance

Perseverance

When I was a young college student, I was being mentored by a godly man, Don Anderson. We met a couple times a week and always ended with prayer. After one of our prayer times, Don paused, looked at me directly, and said, “Rick, I notice that you keep asking God for a lighter load. But God wants to give you a stronger back.” What a truth – one I desperately needed to learn.

One of the most tragic mistakes I see people in pain making is beginning to grow and then bailing out and going backward. They quit instead of finishing the course, not realizing that in doing so the pain will remain and the joy will not stay.

God promises that He will not allow us to go through more pain than we can handle. He will supply us with everything we need to go through that painful time successfully (1 Corinthians 10:13). He knows our limits. He even knows how much we can stretch in our faith to trust Him and grow in endurance – the ability to keep going even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. This is what James calls perseverance:

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything – James 1:4 (NIV)

I used to be a runner of sorts. I ran five to ten miles most mornings. It took one painfully stretching day after another to build up my endurance, but in time running became a joy. I felt I could run forever. I was happy that I had persevered through the earlier pain and developed the endurance I had. Somehow the pain of the training paled in comparison to the joy of the run. And so it is with life as God designed it.

There is a deep-seated part of us that is convinced the key to fulfillment is avoiding discomfort. What a sorrow that must be to our Father. He wants us to stop living a false and dangerous illusion. He wants us to grow up and to mature. He wants us to be able to persevere in real life.

That is what James says: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.” We all want to be more mature. We all want to be more completely who God designed us to be. We’re not sure we can make it. But we can. We have God’s word on it.

Do not cut the process short. Hang in there. Trust God to get you through – even if you can’t see the other side of your pain. Stop fighting and resisting your heavenly Father. The pain is not evil and bad. It just hurts. There are worse things than hurting, like not growing. Learn the wisdom of hanging in there and enduring the pain – the fulfillment and satisfaction in climbing above a mountain of difficulty.

(Portions taken from: Dr. Rick Taylor, When Life Is Changed Forever, Harvest House Publishers)

5 Ways to Consistently Be in God’s Word

5 Ways to Consistently Be in God's Word

I have stored up your word in my heart – Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

The Bible is a fascinating book, and God will use your steady time in His Word to build spiritual vitality into your life. A crisis will strike, circumstances will turn against you, or you will need some strength from the Lord, and a verse will come to your mind then. Or you will need to make a decision and you will find your mind scanning things you have learned from God’s Word to get direction.

These are some ways to consistently be in God’s Word so you can be continually refreshed in your time with Him:

  1. Read

Pick a book of the Scriptures and dive in. Read a paragraph or so a day to get into the discipline of enjoying the Word on a regular basis. Think about the passage, pray about it and ask God to show you something from it. You will have days where you forget what you read very quickly, but God will also give you days where a verse will sink deeply into your soul and change your life. You will be surprised how God can bring to life an application for what you just read about that day.

  1. Study

Once you get into the habit of reading each day, slow down and dig into a passage. Keep a journal and write down your observations. I like to take one book of the Bible each month and focus on it. I will read it several times that month, depending on the length, and then try to chart it out on a page so I can see the big picture of the book.

If you want to go deeper into meanings of words and cultural pictures, use a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia that explain words, names, places and culture in more detail. You can also use a concordance to find the uses of the same word in other places in the Bible.

  1. Meditate

This is the churning of the Word of God in your mind, reading the text over and over again a number of times. Emphasize different words each time to see a more complete picture of the intent of the passage. Look for those subtle implications of the text in your life. Bring the passage to mind, think about it, put it away, bring it back up later, consider it, put it away and bring it back up again.

You can take this to the next level by memorizing a key verse or two each week. Maybe begin by writing the verse(s) on a card and keeping it with you so you can look back over it several times each day.

  1. Be Accountable

Accountability is one secret I have learned for self-discipline. Having a Bible study to prepare for or being in a group where we discuss God’s Word, where you know other people are counting on you to have spent time with God beforehand can be very helpful. Join a group or class that studies the Bible and talk with others about what you and they are learning in God’s Word. Then take some time to pray together.

  1. Find Your Rhythm

Everyone is wired differently when it comes to spending time with God and in His Word. Find the natural forms and rhythms of your life. Is it spending time in His Word at home or somewhere else? Is it a daily routine or more of a mix? Over time, find what works best for you, and ask God to help you live in that rhythm on a consistent basis. Ask Him to meet you in the time you set aside to be with Him.

The way I am wired, I try to have some alone time virtually every day that I spend in the Word and talking to God, which may only be 15-30 minutes. Then I have my couple of special times each week where God and I have an extended visit. He has proven to me those times are well worth it, and they are so refreshing when I am in them.