Feast of the Heart: On Perseverance… In Community
Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race? (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7)
Persevere with God’s People… And the Angels Above
In the bible, perseverance has to do with God’s work in and for His adopted children—E.g., any human being who has been heartbroken and humbled, repented of their sin and beseeched Jesus Christ to forgive them, save them from hell, and be the Lord of their life as His disciple on mission as His light and salt in a dark and decaying world. Many mistakenly pivot perseverance on a new Christian’s dutiful discipline or continued faithfulness. While these things are essential to our experience of security in Christ, they do not determine it. Perseverance is a work of God whereby He seals and secures His adopted children as such to the very end, to glorification. This Christian teaching glorifies God in His kingly power to keep His children spiritually safe in His arms for all time. It is upon this platform of assurance and divine security that an adopted child of God joyfully, not fearfully, nourishes his relationship with Christ and freely, not full of guilt, serves Him through the person and power of the Holy Spirit in him or herself.
Run the Good Race… The Angels Above, Saints by Your Side, Witness and Encourage You!
“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. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. “(Hebrews 11:39-40, 12:1-2)
How are you doing stewarding the only day you’re given to do so? Yesterday is gone; tomorrow is not yet; today, God’s eternal now, is fully present, freely offered, and filled with ways for you to be a “little Christ” (Martin Luther) exactly where God has providentially planted you for fruitful living (Galatians 5:22-23)!
To what extent do you realize that this day, motivated by love of God and neighbor as self, done even half-way well, will secure for you happy yesterdays and hopeful tomorrows? Or would you, in fact, prefer the far-too-familiar and despairing pattern of 50% anxiety about your yesterdays, 50% worry about your tomorrows… and 0% joy and peace left for your todays?
God has a far, far better way… And it does not depend on what even too many folks in the church describe as luck, good fortune, karma, or some such anxiety- and worry-producing crud: In Christ, it’s guaranteed by the unbreakable promise of God Himself.
TODAY… are you immersed in a culture of increasing marginalization as one who believes in Jesus Christ and True Truth? What will you do TODAY (Psalm 95:7-8) to devote yourself entirely to keeping your eye on the prize, Jesus Christ, the maker and perfector of your faith, and The Kingdom to come? Are you seeking to glorify God, blessing others, and repenting daily in being a witness for Jesus with many days of few rewards but potentially significant ridicule and scorn from those whom you wish more than anything could know the joy of living purposefully and in complete assurance that a death to the old self, a re-birth, a new meaning-in-mission, and the historical resurrection of Christ provides YOU?!
How will you persevere in faith and community TODAY? Or have you been running… will you run the race all alone?
Whether or not you’ve run a marathon, hit the wall at 20+ miles, and been encouraged to finish the race well by the many people around you, please reach out TODAY and invite a “fellow marathoner in the faith” into your race and your trials and your victories… and you into his or hers.
There is indeed “a great cloud of [supernatural and incarnational] witnesses” all around you; and with you every step of the way who need your loving encouragement to persevere (1 Thessalonians 3:13), run the good race (Galatians 5:7; 2 Timothy 5:7), as much as you need theirs.
Run the race… it’s a mine field! Lay aside every form of worldly, fleshly, and devilish reward and distraction. Keep your eye on the resurrected Christ—Who was and is victorious for you! Do not grow weary or lose heart! And please, please… don’t run it alone, beloved. Satan has a much harder time separating several soldiers from one another on the battlefield… and believe me, he’s ramped-up the war machine on virtually every battlefront.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” (Eric Liddell, “Chariots of Fire”)
How About You? Do you know your story, yourself, your gifts, talents… and are you using it for God’s glory and other’s blessing?
Fill in the blank below with how God made you like no other human being on the planet so that you feel God’s pleasure when you are living intentionally and using your gifts* for Jesus Christ’s glory… and the blessing of others:
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me to excel in ______________________*. And when I serve in faith I feel His pleasure and the joy of those I treasure.”
[*evangelism, prophecy, leadership, hospitality, giving, exhortation, mercy, wisdom, ministering, discernment, exhortation, administration, pastoring, service, etc.]
The particulars of my own story has led to this sort of person: Meyers Briggs: ESTJ; DEAA: Analytic, Amiable, Driver, Expressive; Spiritual Gifts: Teaching, Wisdom, Exhortation, Encouragement, Discernment; Passion: Theodicy.
And don’t forget, God is planning something much, much better for your faith in word and deed than the praise of men, a temporary ego boost, or anything as near-term and [temporally, eternally] dissatisfying as a shot to your pride, pretense, high-mindedness, your right to look down on others, or… especially… earning God’s favor in any way!
God’s Plan of Redemption is focused on bringing THIS world to a fully-renewed state… and YOU are playing a vital role in doing just that: The people you positively influence in the name of Jesus TODAY will have a better life NOW, and will carry on the marks of that Grace and Truth into eternity, Beloved! How we live as a Christian is not a small matter… at all.
TODAY… [the only day you have to live more fully for Christ] if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart…” (Psalm 95:7-8 — parenthesis added)
When facing a world as self-serving as it can be these daze, feel 1,000% confident as you wake each today and say, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord [world], choose this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, WE will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14–15, parentheses, emphasis added).
Perseverance of the Saints