Hebrews 12:1-4 (NKJV)
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. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
The silence before a storm seems so peaceful until you realize everything is too still. The end of the week is usually not a very busy day in our office. Students attend classes from Monday through Friday. A few meandered through using the computers in the student area but not asking for assistance. The faculty and staff did not stream through as usual with questions about attendance or other administrative duties. Even my email seemed somewhat quiet as I went through the past few months deleting and filing them into categories. The telephones which usually ring endlessly throughout the day with next semester’s students did not make a sound except occasionally. For the first few hours of the day, it did not even occur to me as I went through all the paperwork and lists on my desk completing this task or filing that. But when it finally did dawn on me that today was quiet – too quiet – it was time to start cleaning. This is what I do when I sense something coming. I clean. I organize. I prepare. My office is now sparkling clean from the top of every shelf to the complete disinfected now shiny conference table where we have lunch. My personal phone ran and now we were off to the races. The hospital had received word that the bone marrow transplant procedure authorization request had been denied. The insurance company was requesting a peer-to-peer review and the two doctors could not seem to connect delaying our son’s next step in his triumph over this wretched disease. The next hour was spent passed along people in the insurance company. I was given names and numbers to forward to the hospital which I did leaving messages with both the hospital and insurance company hoping to connect. Hanging up I began to pray for connection and clarity between both parties and the go-ahead that we have been waiting two weeks for. Now agitated I tried to become distracted in my job once more. The boss came through and told everyone they could leave an hour early since no one seemed in urgent need of us and my staff quickly exited but now I was back on the phone with the hospital and insurance agency. Our son was denied once and would be again even after the peer-to-peer review which was necessary to move on to an appeal. Hot tears of frustration were right behind my eyes as I forced them down continuing to advocate for our son. Each day was a risk where the doctors are concerned but as the nurse told me for the fifteenth time, “I understand your concern” I stopped and said, “Oh, so you have a child battling cancer as well?” “Oh no!” she abruptly responded. “Well then you do not know.” I replied. I went on to quite firmly explain I was not after her compassion, concern or understanding what I needed was action. She finally got the message and gave me her fax number to move on to the appeals process. Heading to my car, I was overwhelmed with frustration. Our insurance company has been so good in this journey paying for his care and never denying his medical needs. However, now looking ahead at what could be over a million dollars of treatment he is denied simply because he does not have the right kind of cancer again I fought against the tears. As I began pulling my car out of the empty parking lot feeling the isolation of feeling alone in this fight, a horrible sound came from the front end of my truck. Now what? I slowing pulled out of the parking lot promising to have the master mechanic in our Automotive Program take a look on Monday but with each turn of the front tire there was terrible crunching and grinding so I decided to crawl to the repair shop in five o’clock traffic. Creeping along wondering if I would make it all the way to the shop, the phone rang for round three of the battle for authorization. Well, the shop explained that I had literally “driven the wheel off my truck” and that the hub was deteriorating. I would have lost my wheel had I hit the interstate to go home. With no choice, but to fix it I was presented with a five-hundred dollar estimate. In the meantime, everyone did connect at the hospital and insurance company. He was denied twice and now it would go to appeal adding another 72 business hours to the process. The doctor voiced her apologies but explained that when it came to expensive procedure this happens all the time. Our only hope would be the appeals process. Meanwhile the shop fixed my truck and gave us a discount probably because I was on the phone the whole time and they knew our story. But I choose to think it was the Favor of God. By the time, it was just after six o’clock. My plan before all of this was to make my weekly trip to the grocery store. As I checked out with the shop, I could feel hot tears welling up in my eyes – my husband could tell they were coming. Walking to the car, he lovingly encouraged me to call it a day and come home. But I knew I needed some time, I needed to finish the course of this day. I needed to endure even though everything inside of me was yelling just give up. I will not give up but what a horrible day!
Hebrews 6:13-15 (NKJV)
For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
God has a plan for my life. It is a good one with a future and hope. His Word tells me that even on the days when nothing seems right and everything goes wrong. I know this because I found it in His Word and decided that it is backed by the Word (Jesus Christ) who as the Author and Finisher of Faith is working it into my heart and soul so that I will endure until the promise comes. I will not patronize you telling you that I know how you feel and empathize with your position right now because I most certainly do not know how you feel and my humanity does not allow me the selfless level of compassion and care that is available in His Unfailing Love. I share all this with you because you cannot give up. You must endure to the end to receive your promise. I must make it to the end of this course to claim my prize. Although what I desire above all things right now is the health and well-being of our son, your goal and pursuit may be very different. But what the Lord is doing behind the scenes of these situations is securing our faith and making us righteous. That is God’s Goal in all of our testing and trials in life, we must endure the process of perfection to be found complete in the day of Christ’s return. The whole process is defined by Jesus Christ. He found inexpressible joy as He endured the Cross. We must find the inexpressible joy of righteousness produced only in endurance even when we think it might kill us because as the Scripture above clearly states if you are reading this today, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” which means you are not dead yet!
Malachi 3:1-3 (NKJV)
“Behold, I send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver that they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.”
When Jesus Christ returns, the only thing that will deliver us up from judgment will be righteousness. Right standing with God is fully dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Now the Word tells us over and over again that God looks at a man’s heart so religion which simply allows us to live in clean clothes will be burned away immediately exposing the person, his motives and intentions toward God. This is important because there are a lot of Christians who claim to be believers but do not have Jesus Christ living in their heart. When we stand face-to-face with God, He will not ask us “why should I let you into Heaven?” He is going to burn away every excuse until He gets to our heart and if He does not find Jesus Christ there – well its game over. Righteousness with God is firmly and completely established by faith and confident hope in Jesus Christ that keeps us in the race even in the most horrendous conditions because we know that endurance is a requirement to finish the race and claim the crown of righteousness that awaits those who do.
Matthew 13:19-23 (NKJV)
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The explanation of Jesus Christ of the Word working in our lives tells the secret of success in winning the race of endurance set before us. It describes four different kinds of Christians. First there is the casual Christian who hears the Word of God but doesn’t receive it into their heart. This person wants the things of God but has no interest in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They try to act right and blend in with other believers. The enemy snatches them away without any resistance at all. The next describes the complacent Christians who hears the Word and only believes the parts that benefit their own selfish purpose. They are the people who want Jesus to be their Savior but are not interested in Him being the Lord of their life forsaking righteousness which requires both. They like the new spin that the world has put on grace in the seeker-sensitive churches that claim those who love Jesus can live however they choose under the freedom of grace. That’s as ridiculous as the concept of an open marriage which violates the whole covenant purpose of marriage in the first place. Because they are not rooted in Jesus Christ, at the first sign of a storm they are carried away in darkness. We also see compromising Christians in this passage. These are the people who love Jesus but also remain firmly infatuated with the world and all its things. They are unfruitful believes because the contents of their heart is corrupt no matter how good their life seems to be to onlookers. Anyone who calls on the Name of Jesus Christ but is unwilling to live in right standing with God according to His Word is unfit for the Kingdom. To live any other way is opposition to Jesus Christ who is the Way, Truth and Life. But then we have the confident Christians, oh how I want to be this one! This is the believer. The believer takes the Word (Jesus Christ) and continuously plants Him deep in their heart, weeding out the false doctrine of this world, nurturing the Word with the Spirit, doing what it says, holding on to it until it comes, overcoming opposition by standing firm on faith that produces confidence in God’s Love and Faithfulness. He hears the Word, receives it (takes hold of it), buries it, cultivates it, waits for it and patiently endures until it produces the promised harvest in their life. These are the ones who choose to endure even when all hell breaks loose and the violent storm rages overhead. They will not be moved because they are rooted and grounded in the Word of God – His Name is Jesus Christ. This is the person who God labels “righteous” and invites into His Kingdom forever. I want to be that one. The Word of God is the most valuable tool we possess when it comes to righteousness.
Matthew 24:8-14 (NKJV)
All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Leaving the car shop yesterday, I was done. The “poke me with a fork” kind of done. I needed the new mercy promised for the next day just to help me finish this day. I could feel the complaints rising within me but refused to let them out evidence that God’s Spirit really must live in me to keep this big mouth shut. A few tears did fall but I still refused to give in. Not that crying is bad because the Word of God says that they are so precious to God that he collects every single one. I retraced the events of the day not to solidify my complaint but rather look for His Goodness and attach a promise to my petition for His Help. Thankfulness usually pulls my out of the bog of discouragement and disappointment the enemy lays before me. In the midst of confusion of the enemy authors and offers as “truth” when it is only a lie, I began to throw the Truth at all his lies. Thank you for the two years that our son has lived despite the enemies attack. Thank you that he is in good health now and Your Hand of protection evident in his life. Thank you for the wonderful doctors that you have given him. Thank you for all the people working hard and long to make this thing happen. Thank you that You are the Healer giving him the promise of life. Thank you that our son is a believer. Thank you God that he knows you and trusts you with his young life. Thank you Lord for insurance that has covered every single incident so far. Thank you for the resources to pay for this car repair today. Thank you that the wheel did not come off potentially harming me or my family. Thank you for a record-breaking rapid repair. Thank you for favor with the shop owner shaving ten percent off my bill. Thank you that our tithe is working in our favor. Thank you that you have prepared every step in this road to recovery for our son and that is not a delay but a defined step by You. Thank you…and the list just kept getting longer and longer as I went. I began reciting the many verses of Scriptures the Lord has written on my heart to keep it from breaking in this battle over the past two years. By the time I pulled into the grocery store, I could feel His Hand releasing the burden that the enemy had skillfully strapped on my back. I made it through a horrible day and laid my head on my pillow peacefully and slept completely through the night. This is God’s Word working in my life. It is holding me together through the midst of the storm. On the outside, He is making a way for me to survive the sorrows that He spoke of. More importantly, inside my heart He is preparing me for the righteousness found by those who endure to the end stepping out of this life into Eternity.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love suffers long, but rejoices in the Truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. This would be my cut to the chase version of love. God’s Love is defined in these verses as that is how He loves us – faithfully and unfailingly despite our inability or unwillingness to love Him the same way. But grace did not exempt us from trying but rather empowers us to be successful in loving God long. It enables us to rejoice in the Truth, bear all things even those we do not have the strength to, believes all things are working for our good who love God and are called to His Purpose, hope all things no matter what the report of the enemy or earthly perception of your situation knowing that your God is able and faith releases the impossible to be found by hope, and finally endures all things. You have the power to endure. His Name is Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word lives in you if you allow Him to. Calling on the Name of Jesus Christ is not enough – you must believe. Believing is not enough unless you decide to pursue Christ over the things of this world. The fight of my day yesterday can be summed up in one thing – money. The insurance denied the request because of money. The car repair was a bit inconvenient but ultimately it only cost what? Money. Love overcame the world yesterday as it does every time. God is love. Jesus Christ demonstrated the greatest love of all when He died for my sin. In one simple act, He suffered long but remained kind. He rejoiced in the Truth that through His Sacrifice we could be with Him forever. He bore all things some too horrible to comprehend. He believed in us enough to die for us. He hoped that we would all be saved enough to pay the price not only for believers but also for the casual, complacent, and compromising people. He endures all things patiently waiting to return. Why does He wait? To give us time to believe so that when His Father examines our heart – He will find Jesus! I love Jesus Christ. I will rejoice in the Truth even when the lie seems so real. I will bear all things by His Grace and Mercy. I will believe all things by faith. I will hope for all things in righteousness by enduring all things until He comes. I want this to be me. How about you? What do you want in life? The choice is yours. To love Jesus requires faith, hope and endurance for righteousness sake. Otherwise, you don’t really love Him at all.
Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV)
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My Soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Yesterday was horrible. There were some very low points yesterday when I just didn’t want to push through anymore and too discouraged to press on. I am by nature very tenacious and not one who usually gives up or gives in. But yesterday if someone would have handed me a towel, I probably would have thrown it in. But even when I thought His Mercy for the moment had run out, I found a hidden supply. It was His Word hidden in my heart. It was the reservoir of love, peace and joy that I did not realize was there. When my mouth began to speak it over my life faith and hope began to take over and strategically kill the lie of the enemy trying to take over my heart and mind. Thank you God for the Word that gives me the strength to endure when all my strength is gone. Thank you for the Spirit living in me that takes the Word and makes it work in my life. You are an awesome God. Your Love truly is amazing. Your Care for me is impeccable. I know this by the Word you have invested in my life. May I learn to endure so that I will be saved in the end and my hope is that the only thing you will see when examining my heart is the Face of Your Precious Son who is the Word wrapped in flesh whose Name is Jesus. I will not give up. I will press the Word deeper and grow in the Knowledge of His Great Love!
Ephesians 3:15-18 (NLT)
The Creator of Everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s Love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s People should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.