Recommended approach

Sojourner's paradigm challenges atheists and skeptics to make a shift in the way they examine and approach the claims of the Bible and Christianity. It is best to first watch the gospel message video and read the foundational truth of God. Other blogs speak on a variety of topics.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Keep on keepin' on

The Bible has much to say about the need to persevere. Right away the question might be, if Christ is doing his work within us, what need is there to persevere? Perseverance is not the same as working our way towards acceptance by God. In fact, perseverance is an opportunity to strengthen our faith as the trials of life come our way. The definition of perseverance according to Encarta dictionary is a steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks. James had this to say about the subject, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4. Therefore perseverance is an integral component of our maturity in Christ. In the 5th chapter of Romans Paul points out that we rejoice in our sufferings, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Without perseverance, the Christ follower would stagnate. The Christian’s character, his or her heart, would not develop. We would lose hope.
We may at times feel that life has become too difficult. We may feel that God has abandoned us. We need to be reminded that Christ himself persevered. The same Spirit which strengthened and empowered Christ lives within those who call upon the name of the Lord. “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11. One of the ways, then, to persevere, is to stay connected to Christ. In the same way we must stay connected to the Word of God and to His Church. We may often find Christians isolating themselves during times of testing. Peter, when asked by Christ why he and the other disciples did not abandon him after so many others did so, answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. Such should be our attitude.
One aspect of perseverance is often the need to wait. Waiting is something most of us to not tolerate very well. Counselees will want to overcome issues quickly but we can point them to such passages as Psalm 27:14 which reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
We also need to understand and act upon one more component of perseverance. If we are to persevere, we must continually pray. Jesus is our model. During his earthly ministry he often went aside to pray. He knew his strength came from his Father. In Luke 6:12 we are told that Jesus, “… spent the night praying to God.” Paul wrote in Phil 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Paul once spoke of a brother in the Lord named Epaphras who wrestled in prayer for the believers. Prayer is hard work. Instead of striving in our own energy and strength, we should strive, or persevere, in prayer.
The ability to persevere is not its own reward in this lifetime only. James tells us, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. The writer of Hebrews provides us with a portrait of the who’s who of faith and an example for us to follow. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Heb. 11:39-40. Then we have these propitious words written to spur us on towards endurance. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb. 12:1. How is this possible? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Heb. 12:2-3. This is a message every believer needs to take to heart.