Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Perseverance’

(A personal psalm)

 

 

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

The Lord gives grace and glory;

He does not withhold the good

From those who live with integrity.

–Psalm 84:11-12 HCSB

 

I praise you, O God, that you are the Sun of my life (Psalm 84:11a), sustaining me in body, mind, and spirit, lighting my way with infallible dependability.

Just as the magnetic force of the sun keeps the planets in orbit around it, you keep me within the orbit of your love and care.

Like the sun you are my ever-present, never-changing source of power, enabling me to grow into your radiant likeness, day by day.

Even when menacing clouds of despair or discouragement roll in, your splendorous Light breaks through with encouragement, hope, and strength.

 

 

I praise you, O Lord, for being a shield around me (v. 11a)—a living shield that is always present, always on guard, and always ready to act.

Through the fiercest storms of life, you are a refuge, a stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9).

You have protected me from what I thought I wanted, life choices that would have led me down treacherous paths.

And with the truth of your Word, you’ve deflected the poisoned arrows of hurtful thoughts and harmful lies.

 

 

I praise you, O Father, for the favor and honor you bestow upon me (84:11b).

Evidence abounds every day of your loving benevolence, as you not only meet my needs but graciously supply surprise blessings far beyond necessity.

Throughout my life I’ve seen evidence of your gracious provision: financial obligations met when funds ran low, impossibly long to-do lists shortened by cancellations and changes of plans, difficult circumstances resolved.

Even though I may walk through dark valleys of illness, trial, or tragedy, I know you will pour grace into my soul, enabling me to endure.

 

 

I praise you, O God, that you do not withhold even one good thing from those who live with integrity (v. 11c).

It’s so easy to become focused on material things, even though we know that a full closet, a garage of gadgets, and a large bank account offer fleeting satisfaction at best.

Instead, your priority, Father, is providing the good things of eternal value.  You never withhold your quieting peace or soul-drenching joy, the delight of your calming presence, your perpetual strength to persevere, or the exhilarating hope of eternal life.

These good things and more are always available to those who trust in you.

 

 

Heavenly Father, when trouble invades my life remind me that:

  • My vision of what’s good is severely limited (Romans 11:33-36).
  • Your ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • You accomplish monumental purpose through the meanest of circumstance (Romans 8:28).
  • The perseverance to navigate a hard road will one day be lavishly rewarded (James 1:12).

 

 

I praise you, Almighty God, for each good thing you bring my way, each blessing mentioned here and countless more unmentioned.

Now may complete trust and enthusiastic obedience be my gifts to you.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.youtube.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.co.uk; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

 

Joseph_and_the_Amazing_Technicolor_Dreamcoat_(3640665731)

 

We’ve all heard the story of Joseph (or seen the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat). You’ll remember he’s the one who endured years of slavery and prison before his dreams (of bowing wheat sheaves and stars paying homage) came true.

We also know about Moses, an adopted prince in Pharaoh’s household who ended up in the wilderness herding sheep.  Forty years later God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.

And we’re familiar with Paul who spent years traveling from place to place and, yes, suffering all kinds of trials—beatings, imprisonment, dangers, shipwrecks—all for the privilege of serving God, introducing people to Jesus and establishing churches.

These Biblical stories and others teach us to never give up, because we never know when God will show up to turn a prisoner into a prime minister, a shepherd into a great leader, or a Pharisee tentmaker into a world evangelist.

Then there’s Jeremiah. His is a different kind of story altogether. He was called by God to warn the inhabitants of Judah that destruction would come if they did not return to God and follow his ways. It was not a one-time message. Over a period of forty years Jeremiah spoke many times of coming doom.

 

4ef160f6525a2c685725524e6193fbd9

 

Almost no one listened. (A brief revival took place under King Josiah, but when he died, the people returned to their complacency and evil ways.)

We love the stories of Joseph, Moses, Paul, and others, whose perseverance was rewarded with success. But what about Jeremiah?

He, too, persevered through trials–poverty and deprivation, imprisonment and ill-treatment, rejection and ridicule. For what? According to the evidence (minimal results for his efforts), Jeremiah was a wretched failure. Yet he had obeyed God faithfully, endured patiently, and preached courageously.

Perhaps visible evidence is not the best way to quantify success.

Instead, the true measure of success involves our characters, not our acquisitions (Joshua 1:8).

 

eac79fb6c5313818bb8b68fb51b50b24

 

The true measure of success may include the tenacity to get up every day and face the same tasks as yesterday, to persistently make choices that further God’s objectives for each of us, and to remain steadfast even when discouraged (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Last, a true measure of success is how our choices honor God (1 Kings 2:3). Jeremiah may not have turned thousands back to Yahweh, but that was not due to his lack of effort or disobedience to God. Jeremiah doggedly preached to the people of Judah—month after month, year after year.

So the true measure of success includes: 1) pursuing godly character, 2) persevering toward God-given purpose, and 3) making choices that honor him.

 

Zac-Poonen-Quote-Mans-Greatest-Honor1

 

Today, such successful people might look like:

  • The parent who has put his career on hold to invest time in his young children.
  • the business owner who drives a twelve-year old car so he can give generously to ministries.
  • The college student slowly working her way through school, anxious to return to her inner city neighborhood and teach school

For those of us looking for that kind of success, Jeremiah is our hero.

He lived out these precepts :

  • Do our prayerful best and leave the results with God.
  • Press on–day by day, month by month, year by year if necessary. Allow such perseverance to build our trust in God and strengthen our character.
  • Persist until God tells us to stop. (How do we know we’ve reached that moment? Peace, not uncertainty, will fill our spirits.)

We may not understand what God is doing, but we know him. And he is holy love and perfect wisdom.*

 

Pilgrims-Rock-gods-wisdom-is-faultless-application-of-his-perfect-knowledge-300w

 

*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, p. 129.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.christianquotes.info; http://www.pilgrimsrock.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

Ever try sleeping on a rock pillow? I, for one, can’t imagine actually falling asleep on such a hard surface.

The only person I know who had to try was Jacob of the Bible. (The story of that night is found in Genesis 28:10-22. It was also the subject of a previous post, which you can access here: Surely God Is in This Place.)

 

jacob

 

The scene above of Jacob resting on his rock pillow provides a worthwhile image for a Spurgeon quote I encountered recently:

 

“Use the Lord’s words as your pillows.

Lie down and [rest] in Him.”

 

Indeed, resting on the rock-solid assurances of God’s Word is wise advice, fostering peace within our spirits.

Just reciting scripture can provide effective comfort.

A good place to start? In the book of Beginnings. This example comes from Jacob himself:

 

fd3ddff270b84696468cc48b3a806d08

 

 

“Let us go up to Bethel where I will build an altar to God,

who answered me in the day of my distress

and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

–Genesis 35:3 (NIV)

 

Notice this excerpt is seven chapters and many years past the “rock pillow” event. Jacob is no longer a young man; he’s seventy-seven as he embarks for Bethel. And during those intervening years, Jacob has experienced many days of distress as he:

  • ran away from home (Genesis 27-28),
  • worked for his Uncle Laban who took advantage of him (chapter 29 and 31:7), and then
  • set out on his own through enemy territory to return to Bethel, the home of his father, Isaac (chapters 35).

But in the verse quoted above, Jacob recognizes that through all those challenges, God demonstrated his favor, because with the Lord’s presence comes his guidance, provision, and protection.

I, too, have experienced distressing days. Who hasn’t?

But God has been with me through them all—circumstances such as these:

  • When my husband’s boss caused turmoil for us week after week,
  • When we received the unwelcome news (five times) that we were being moved to another church*, and
  • When pressure from certain administrators and parents caused ongoing stress at school (during my twenty-six years in the elementary classroom).

Yet now, looking back, I see that in each situation God was teaching me patience, perseverance, and reliance upon him. In fact, some distressing experiences were undoubtedly designed specifically to accomplish those benefits.

From the advantage of hindsight, I can see the pathway God prepared, to get us/me through those stressful days, and how he richly blessed on the other side.

As Charles Udall observed:

 

2b474d3c1facc1c1b3f28bfe6339057d

(“In life you will always be faced with a series of

God-ordained opportunities

brilliantly disguised as problems and challenges.”)

 

I wish I could say that through all of life’s challenges I’ve rested completely on pillows of promise and statements of faith. That wouldn’t be true. But I know that scripture-promises, prayer, and faith-statements have made a positive difference. And the strength of my faith did grow through each experience.

Notice Mr. Udall says we’ll always face challenges. I can give in to the distress of that fact or choose to rest on the pillow of promise that God is preparing me for what lies ahead as well as preparing the way through it.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

I praise you, Father, for being an all-knowing God.  No event catches you by surprise; you know every challenge I may yet face. Like Jacob, I think back upon stressful days of the past and affirm your comforting presence, attentive provision, and wise guidance through it all. May I be mindful to rest on your rock-solid pillows of promise from this day forward.

Art & photo credits:  www.keyway.ca; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

 

*For those who may not know, my husband was a pastor for forty years.

Read Full Post »

(Steve and I are enjoying time with family this week.  I’ll return soon with  new posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll reblog previous ones.  Hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.  The following post was first published June 13, 2013.)

From stage left, she crosses the platform in confident strides.  One hand waves in sweeping arcs to the large audience. The crowd claps and cheers.

In the other hand, with confident ease, she holds the microphone.  And the smile—big and broad, bright white teeth visible even from the balcony.

Able to sing like a nightingale and articulate truth with conviction. Impacting thousands.

Now there is someone God is using in a powerful way, whispers an accusing voice.  Look at her significant contribution in the Kingdom of God. No doubt she’s highly valuable to him.  So what are you doing that’s important?  Your spot in the scheme of things is nothing compared to that shining star on the stage.  You might as well face the truth:  You are unimportant.  The ship of Significance has passed you by.

Sound the least bit familiar? You’re not alone. Demons use those same lies on a lot of us. Evil spirits aren’t very creative, are they?

But here’s the truth of the matter:

Each of us is the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10). The Greek word, workmanship, sometimes has the connotation of “work of art.” You are a work of art—carefully designed and meticulously executed.

The verse goes on to explain we’ve been created to do good works. It does not say the same work. Diversity of personality, talent, and interest are necessary among the children of God in order that all his plans are accomplished.

He made each of us unique, to fulfill a personalized plan. Every now and then we see such a plan unfold so clearly, we know God engineered the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a unique set of talents or gifts that work together sublimely to meet a need.

Take, for example, the naturally talented writer, who happened to grow up in a bilingual home, and studied Christian Education in college. She was especially prepared by God to write Spanish curriculum for a Christian publishing company.

Other times the plan is much less obvious, and we must trust that the task before us–caring for our families, teaching that Sunday School class, working at the homeless shelter–is indeed accomplishing divine purpose.

What we can know for certain:  each of us is valuable to God (Matthew  10:29-31).

Believe that he has prepared in advance good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Take joy and satisfaction from completing those good works.

It may not be walking across a stage with a microphone. It might mean walking across the kitchen with a rolling pin—to bake cookies for the neighbors.

That’s just a small, insignificant thing, you say?

Think about this: What if God takes particular pleasure in small things?

Personally, I’m fascinated by small things. Miniatures, doll houses, petit-point, babies!

Scripture gives us indication that God does indeed love small things as well:

Sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Two little mites given by a widow (Mark 12:41-44).

Five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:1-13).

Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Let’s never again allow those little demons of abasement to put us down. God has promised: “I will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike” (Psalm 115:13, emphasis added).

You see, in God’s sight, we’re of equal worth.

Read Full Post »

(Steve and I are enjoying time with family this week.  I’ll return soon with  new posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll reblog previous ones.  Hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.  The following post was first published September 13, 2013.)

Women's Bible Study

“I know we have to persevere and not give up on what we sense God wants us to do,” Melissa shared at Bible study.  “And from the lives of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, and others in the Bible, I know God rarely smooths out  the path perfectly.  But what I want to know is how to proceed.  I’d like steps to follow!”

Heads nodded around the table, mine included.  Wouldn’t it be nice if God laid out for us to see ahead of time step one, step two, and so on toward his perfect plan?

That idea has been circulating in my brain for nearly a week now.  Here are some observations.

1. God values our growth in faith more than our comfort in a revealed plan.   

If it was best for us to know his plan in advance, then that’s what God would provide.  Instead, he allows our faith to be tested, in order to build our character.  That is important to him:

“The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20).

2.  God values the process of spiritual growth, not just the final outcome of a purpose fulfilled.

Times of challenge give us opportunity to develop maturity more readily than times of ease.  What might that development include?

  • Self-discipline–when we tackle difficult tasks.  Granted, the Holy Spirit empowers us (Galatians 5:22-23), but we must give ourselves over to him.  How?  Through frequent prayer, offered throughout the day, consistently asking for his guidance and help.
  • Self-denial–by doing without.  However, the attentive person will soon discover much to celebrate that may have been missed otherwise:  the stunning display of God’s creation, the joy of love and laughter with family and friends, the peace and strength from frequent communion with God.  Suddenly, gratitude flourishes in the heart, and what has been given up doesn’t seem so important anymore.
  • The full meaning of love–when given opportunity to respond in kind ways to difficult people.

None of these valuable traits of discipline, selflessness, and love would fully develop without lessons of experience.

3.  God values the development of our prayer lives–not for his benefit, but for ours.

Jean Nicolas Grou, a Jesuit priest of the 1700s, described healthy prayer as humble, reverent, loving, confident, and persevering.  As we practice those traits in our prayer lives, surely they will overflow into our character, in our actions and reactions.

Patient pursuit, then, is best applied to God’s ways, and then to God’s plan.

(photo credit:  http://www.st-tims-church.org )

Read Full Post »

(In honor of the beginning of another school year)

Have you ever tackled a long-term project that lasted five or ten years? How about twenty years?

And as part of that undertaking, did you learn twenty-eight languages?

Few if any of us could answer yes to those questions. But at least one person of history could: Noah Webster (1758-1843).

MTIwNjA4NjM0MDA4MDc3ODM2

Webster was a student at Yale during the Revolution. But he left school twice to fight in battle. Upon graduation he became an attorney and a schoolteacher. It was the latter position that prompted him to write textbooks for many disciplines, including: spelling, grammar, history, geography, government, agriculture, economics, meteorology, medicine, zoology, and morality. (Whew!) He earned the title, “Schoolmaster of America”, as a result of advancing education in the fledgling country.

And then, of course, there is his iconic dictionary, the project that took twenty years to complete. As part of his research for that volume, he learned the twenty-eight languages mentioned above, including Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit. Webster also traveled to England and France in order to access ancient works in their libraries that were not available in America.

Once completed, Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language contained 70,000 words. Not only were the etymology, pronunciations, and definitions included for every word, he added a sample sentence of how each word should be properly used.   Many of his examples came from the Bible.

100260

Webster also dedicated the work to God: “To that great and benevolent Being…who has sustained me…and given me strength and resolution.”

As if all those textbooks and a meticulously researched dictionary weren’t enough for one lifetime, Noah tackled yet another project, a modern-language Bible. This volume he was able to complete in just five years, taking advantage of all he had learned about words while developing the dictionary.

webster-bible-large

Why did Webster feel another translation of the Bible was warranted? He explained in the preface to his Common Version of the Holy Bible (1833):

 

“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best

corrector of all that is evil in human society—the best book for

regulating the temporal concerns of men and the only book that

can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity [happiness].”

 

No doubt there are many who would refute those remarks by saying, “That’s just one man’s opinion.”

But when, for example, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are applied, who can argue that society does not benefit?

Noah Webster also credited Christian principles for the civil liberties enjoyed in the world:

 

“Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its

origin to the principles of the Christian religion…the religion

which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and

His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence;

which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and

a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to

this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

(from Webster’s History of the United States, 1832)

 

Again, can it be argued that a religion which encourages humility, piety, benevolence, fairness and equality is bad for society?

It is for these reasons Webster believed that a Christian education was beneficial:

 

Any system of education…which limits instruction to the arts

and sciences and rejects the aids of religion in forming the

characters of citizens, is essentially defective. In my view, the

Christian religion is the most important and one of the first

things in which all children under a free government ought

to be instructed.”

(from a letter to David McClure, October 25, 1836)

 

Webster also gave this advice to civic students which is appropriate for every citizen:

 

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for

pubic officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God

commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in

the fear of God (Exodus 18:21).

6b1a5bea871620ef2ae6b214ce090c98 

If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men

in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be

made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local

purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to

execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on

unworthy men; the rights of the citizens will be violated or

disregarded. 

(from The History of the United States, “Advice to the Young”)

 As we begin the countdown to Election Day, 2016, I find Noah Webster’s advice to be just as applicable today as it was then.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.biography.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.baumanrarebook.com; http://www.buzzquotes.com.)

Read Full Post »

“You have made man a little lower than the heavenly beings…

You made him ruler over the works of your hands…

All the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and…

All that swim the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:5-8, italics added).

4553514-More-Underwater-Fish-1

 “Paths of the seas.” What might that refer to?  That question crisscrossed Matthew Maury’s mind frequently.

Maury had always loved the sea, prompting him to join the U.S. Navy at age 19, in 1825.

Life at Sea

The second ship on which he served, the Vincennes, included a library. Matthew was eager to learn, and spent his spare time studying navigation. Sometimes he chalked out problems in spherical geometry on cannon balls. When the Vincennes circumnavigated the world, Matthew received practical experience in the subject.

Upon returning to the States, Matthew took an examination in navigation and passed. He was then appointed acting sailing master on the Falmouth. Along with the ship’s commander, he was responsible for navigating the course, steerage, and sail trim.

Next Matthew determined to learn about winds and currents. He discovered that no one had charted such information for the treacherous Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America. He kept meticulous records during the voyage and wrote about his findings in a paper, published by the American Journal of Sciences and the Arts.

In 1834, Matthew married Ann Herdon, and they settled in Fredericksberg, Virginia.

Maury’s life was certainly following a positive trajectory. And no doubt, as a strong Christian believer since boyhood, he saw each new opportunity as a blessing from God.

Plan B

But in 1839, Matthew was injured in a stagecoach accident.  The final result:   permanent lameness.  Never again would Maury be able to work aboard a naval vessel.  His career came to an abrupt end, and Maury fell into despair.

Surely he must have wondered, What am I to do, Lord? The sea is all I know.

But Maury did not allow his despair to debilitate him. He used his convalescence to continue studying navigation, meteorology, winds, and currents.

Was God behind that compulsion? Perhaps so. In 1841, Maury was offered a position as manager of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the depot for charts and instruments. This position was perfect for him, requiring the exact knowledge and abilities he had acquired.

4 arthur

 

In 1852-1853, Maury brought together ten major maritime powers of the world. In unanimous agreement, they began to compile unified records benefiting all mankind. For the next thirty-five years, more than a million ships’ logs were sent annually to the observatory. From those records were developed wind and current charts for the globe.

Pathfinder of the Seas

Meanwhile, Maury sought for the meaning of that mysterious phrase in Psalm 8:8, “the paths of the seas.”

As he studied those ships’ logs being sent to the observatory, he compiled charts of ocean-wind and sea currents. He set adrift weighted bottles that would float slightly below the surface of the water, where they would not be impacted by wind.

Instructions inside each bottle informed the person who found it to return the bottle, with the location and date of its discovery. From his charts and experiments, Maury was able to determine the “paths of the seas,” including the Gulf Stream.

Pathfinder of the Wind

Maury also proved the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:6:

“Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns.”

Further study and experiments indicated that the wind did indeed move in circular patterns. Today we call them jet streams. Maury’s investigations led to a better understanding of weather, and predictions became more reliable.

Plan C

But despair entered Maury’s life again when the United States declared civil war. As a citizen of Virginia, he felt obligated to side with the South, giving up the position in Washington at his beloved observatory. Jefferson Davis, President of the South, sent Maury to England as an ambassador for the Confederate States.

After the war Matthew spent three years exiled in England. Many honors were conferred on him during that time, but his heart was still in the U.S.

Did he wonder once again what God might be planning? Perhaps he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, arrange circumstances so that we may return to America.”

In 1868, the U.S. offered general amnesty to ex-patriots and Matthew sailed back to the States. He accepted a position at Virginia Military Institute as professor of meteorology, a position he held to the day he died, February 1, 1873.

maury2187

Matthew Fontaine Maury, a self-taught navigator of the seas, astronomer, meteorologist, author, and educator, always sought to prove:

“The Bible is true and science is true,

and therefore each, if truly read,

but proves the truth of the other.”

–Matthew Maury

 

And though he may not have set out to do so, Maury also proved:

“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

With the advantage of hindsight, we can readily see this promise grandly fulfilled in Maury’s life. Yes, he suffered pain and hardship. All saints of God do (Romans 8:17).

But! God brought Maury through every challenge and used him in mighty ways—ways that impact our world to this day.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Lord, I am deeply grateful you are the one who plans each of our lives. What comfort to know that an all-seeing, all-wise God is orchestrating not only the main events of life, but every single day. I pray for your grace, in order to be accepting of disappointments, knowing that you will bring good out of every situation. In fact, you may very well be preparing something important. I want to trust you without hesitation.

(Psalm 139:16; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10)

 

Sources:  The Founders’ Bible, https://answersingenesis.org; http://www.cbn.com; http://www.creation.com.)

Photo and art credits:  www.travelblog.org; http://www.firstladies.org.)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Our News from Italy

Notes to our Prayer Supporters

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Faith Barista

Because some days you need a double-shot of faith.

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and reflections by Heidi Viars

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

Holley Gerth

Live fully * Love Bravely

Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Healthy Spirituality

Nurturing Hearts Closer to God

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Jody Lee Collins

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions