I Timothy 6:11-15(NLT)
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
A few months ago, I experimented with juicing. Essentially every imaginable fruit and vegetable is put into a machine that extracts the juice unceremoniously discarding the waste to create a healthy and nutritious concoction. This may be disputed by other members of my family who abandoned this effort in the early stages. This endeavor was with a focus on better health. Over the years like many other people, I have tried various diets for weight control. I have also fasted for spiritual purposes which seemed to not only help emotionally and mentally but had obvious physical results as well. With age and many years of life, it was time to get a handle on things like indigestion and other small ailments that seemed to require my constant attention. One element of juicing is called cleansing. This is when our body eliminates all the toxins hidden within from years of food abuse. Even though it feels terrible in the beginning remarkably after a few days, you begin to feel better than ever with more energy and reduced ailments some disappearing altogether. After a couple of weeks it was clear that this type of diet agreed with my body completely. I felt better and had shed about twenty five pounds almost effortlessly. However, there was still one problem. Even though the weight was gone, my body still showed where it had been. Years of excessive pounds and five pregnancies did not yield the desired result after losing all that weight, my body did not respond immediately to the change. I began to dread the inevitable. I knew what was coming. My flesh warred against me. I was going to have to take complete charge. I needed to exercise. Just the word made me cringe. I didn’t want to do it. But the more I rebelled against it, the more I knew that it was the only way to achieve my goal of better health. So I began walking. Now after three months, I can see the results of “hard” labor although not quite there yet, I am far from where I was. At some point in this exercise endeavor, I no longer loath it but long to lace up the walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. Who knew?
I share these boring details of my life to encourage you today. It is not about juicing although I am a huge advocate. It has nothing to do with physical exercise no matter how beneficial I have found it to be. This has nothing at all to do with your body or flesh but producing a healthy soul. Many would call themselves a “Christian” if asked or say that they are a “believer” but few understand the meaning of these words as it applies to our life. Too many flabby, obese, lazy people are taking the place of the radiant Bride of Jesus Christ. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to pursue, press, persevere, and be patient as God perfects our life. But this is not an idle position. The Spirit of God is moving but no one is following. We want to pursue the Lord but choose not to move from our current position. Crying out for a breakthrough, we refuse to press. We want God’s Best but settle for less to avoid perseverance. Without endurance, there is no patience and so we abandon the effort choosing the gray area of life and middle-of-the-road mentality complaining that the Lord has forgotten us. There is no energy invested excellence anymore with lukewarm Christians producing nothing more than vomit rather than aromas of sacrifice. “But you, ________________, are a man (or woman) of God…” This charge is for you today. Are you discouraged and disgusted with your life? Do you feel like there is something more to life? Do you feel like there has to more to living or what’s the point? I have excellent news for you today! You were created with purpose! You have been called to perfection. Now what are you going to do about it?
Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
God created people with different drives and personalities. I am a very stubborn person. If you doubt me or tell me that I cannot do something due to my own limitations, I will prove you wrong to my own detriment at times. Pride will not allow me to lose. I am a fighter, but do not share these qualities as boasting. Outside of Jesus Christ and His Cleansing and Changing Power, these are acts of flesh that are not useful to God. But when submitted to Jesus Christ, they produce things like pursuit, pressure and perseverance but lack patience every single time. There are some people who wait for life to come to them. They come to Christ but stop right there. Salvation is not just making the list. Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life but it is a roster of runners after a prize. God’s Promises are a part of perfection. It requires the renewal of our mind and restoration of our heart in the Righteousness of God to attain each one. This is a process. It will require some energy and attention on your part. Following the Lord is not a passive position but passionate pursuit. Who wants an inattentive friend or lover? I get frustrated and upset if my husband ignores me. I expect him to pursue my love, press in closer, persevere when I am grumpy and be patient when I am wrong. This is what a relationship is all about. Pursuing God is not a sprint but a marathon. You are going to have to press along the way to receive your heavenly prize. Pursuit requires movement. You cannot stay were you are. Today will quickly become the past but your hope lies in the future. You must decide what you are after in life then pursue it passionately whatever that may be. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16) Jesus is sick and tired of lukewarm people. He is looking for those who will passionately pursue Him through this life into Eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NLT)
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
Everyone responds to pressure differently. Some people thrive in high stress situations while others simply shut down. Pressure is a part of the life of every single believer. It is an unavoidable aspect of perfection. Don’t believe me? “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38) When you give God your life, He takes your gifts and abilities so they can be “pressed down and shaken together” to make room for more. The problem is no one will allow themselves to be broken to release the Glory of God hidden in their life. We are too busy holding it all together yet crying out for the Lord. Trust is absolutely essential to be pressed by God trusting that you will not be crushed. Dependency on the Lord allows us to be perplexed but not driven to despair. Jesus must be our refuge in order for those who hunt us to be disappointed. The Holy Spirit is inside of you ready to pick you up if you fall and assist you when you grow weary. Why do people expect a breakthrough with no pressure? That’s like looking at a wall and expecting it to fall rather than hitting it with a sledge hammer to do the job! God has given you permission to press in. Jesus gave you the privilege and His Spirit has empowered you to do so. What are you waiting for? Quit pressing people to meet your expectations and putting pressure on yourself to perform but rather press into the Lord. He has all that you need. When you are pressed, the Glory of God will run over and be poured out into your lap when you choose to press in!
Luke 11:5-9 (NLT)
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
As the mother of five, I know the meaning of persistence. When any of the children want something they come to us and ask. Fair enough, I would expect this of them. But God has given us a child that is shamelessly persistent. I am not sure if it is just her God-given personality or the fact she is the “baby” in our family but when she wants something… anything... she will stop at nothing until she gets it. Although it can be frustrating, you have to hand it to her it works more in her favor than not. Her siblings will give in just to make her stop asking. She is relentless. I pray that she pursues and presses into the Lord with the persistence she shows in her flesh. Persistence is a requirement for those who desire the Promises of God. It is not about pestering the Lord until He delivers. Persistence implies confidence in the one you are pursuing and pressing for what you desire. The man did not stop knocking in the parable of Jesus because he knew that his friend had what he needed and would surely give it to him. The Lord wants us to express such confidence in His Ability to supply all we need and to fulfill our heart’s desire. But we lack endurance choosing to give up and settle for less than God’s Best due to doubt rather than waiting for the Lord to perfect that which concerns us! We must build endurance day by day. It is a process. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5) People who have faith in God will live what they believe demonstrated by trusting Him. Such believers will have confident hope that the Lord will deliver and are persistent in their pursuit of the Lord, pressing into His Presence and petitioning their Father for His Promise! Jesus is looking for persistent people who will stop at nothing to be found perfect in Him. Your flesh will rebel because it cannot survive the process of perfection that gives us a brand new life. (Matthew 9:17) No pain, no gain. Persistence is for those who truly desire all that God has promised them and will endure to the end to have it.
James 5:7-8 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
The greatest struggle in my life is the one called patience. I am eager for the harvest but do not want to wait for it to grow. The Lord is dealing with me in this area on so many levels that I laugh when presented with another opportunity to wait knowing the Lord is involved. My grandmother used to tell me all the time to have patience. “Lori, you must have patience” – I can hear her sweet voice in my head. People say don’t pray for patience. I don’t think it matters if you pray for them or not. Patience is part of attaining the Promises of God for your life so get ready to wait. Stop looking for immediate gratification from God and strive for His Perfection. It is the Prize of Faith reserved for His Children. Why settle for a paid bill or new car when the Blessing of the Lord makes a man rich and adds no sorrow with it! God’s Promises come by faith and endurance which require a wait time. Endurance thrives on it. “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” (Hebrews 6:10-12) God is with you in the wait times of life. He is watching what you do and how you do it so that He can bless you for it. Rejoice in times that require patience because His Perfect Promises are coming your way!
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You heard the Word and answered His Call, now it’s time to do something about it. Get up and get moving. That’s right! You cannot pursue God sitting on your butt! You cannot have a breakthrough until you press in. You will not have victory without a little perseverance! You must wait on the Lord patiently as He perfects your life! You entered this Race of Faith by Grace now go for the win! All you have to do is make it to the end!
I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.