Monday, July 25, 2016

Endurance

Enduring the Race

"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life " (Romans 2:7 NIV). 

Prayer Request: Brethren, let us join our faith and pray for our fellow Christian brethren in Russia who have been subjected by a new anti-evangelising law that limits their witnessing and evangelising activities for the Lord. To the ones who choose to go out boldly despite this law, may the Lord greatly protect you as He protected Peter and remember the Lord Jesus Christ will be with you (Acts 5:29; 12:1-17; Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:7-9). We encourage you to stand firm in the faith and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you (1 Corinthians 16:13; 15:58; John 14:16)!

Briefly, when we started this ministry both online and at home, we had many people attending and showing great interest in what the Lord was doing. We can testify that many were attracted by the visions and the Lord’s promise of His soon coming. However, not long thereafter some fizzled out after the Lord exposed their sins and challenged them to start witnessing and to lead holy lives. Sadly, some expected to hear the Lord tell them about their ‘fortunes’. Their primary concern was not to obey the Lord, but to use Him to meet their selfish needs. In a display of grave human weakness, we have witnessed how some people and after hearing from the Lord walked away from Him in a show of disobedience and wickedness. To those brethren the Lord is only good to supply their needs.

As a ministry, we have faced many challenges over the past six years since the Lord commanded us to start this ministry. Being filled with hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and counting on His grace which have enabled us to continue in endurance, passion and enthusiasm. By showing us His great love, our hearts were all the more encouraged to scorn trying situation and to focus on our relationship with Him. May the Lord grant you enduring grace to complete this race.

Enduring in the Race to Everlasting Life 

When a new Christian first accepted Christ as Lord, the excitement is so overwhelming and declaring our love to Him seemed natural. However, as we continue changes develop in our relationship with the Lord. As we get closer to the Lord through prayer and Bible reading our inner spiritual ‘man’ acquires new habits and this adversely affects the way we talk and behave.  However, by this transition, we know that our former way of living had been radically changed. In other words, the promises and expectations in which this new life is found gave us a refreshing approach to lives challenges. But as we progress we come across trying experiences, which gives us two options; to continue or to turn back. It is a natural fact that we will always be presented with these two options. And if we choose to endure, we will have to take the same attitude and commitment we gave ourselves to when we first believed. Additionally, from my own experiences as a Christian, it is easy for a believer to develop a lukewarm and discouraged attitude when the reality of suffering in the new experience manifest. We can tell, the faith is there but the ‘appetite’ and commitment becomes distant and this is when our love for the Lord grows cold (Revelations 2:4). We cannot say that we love the Lord when we have given up on our first commitment and reverted to being lukewarm. Also, we should remember that our faithfulness is measured through our endurance. In this race for immortality, the only losers are those who give up on the race and not those who end last (Matthew 20:1-16; 1 Peter 1:9; 1 John 2:25).

In the parable of the prodigal son, his vision of enjoying life away from the protective love of his father let him realise that things and possessions cannot replace the values of love, comfort and God’s protection against the ever-changing challenges of life (Luke 15:18-24). In this account, upon realising the pain of his choice the prodigal son returned to love. Brethren, we need to realise that after enduring whatever sufferings, turning back leaves with no reward and with nothing to show for what we suffered, we must endure to the end. Taking into account our Lord’s endurance, the Bible tells us that our Lord Jesus, being God (Philippians 2:6) endured many things including: the cross (Hebrews 12:2), the temptation of Satan (Matthew 4:3-11), trouble and sorrow (Matthew 26:37-39), being flogged, struck and mocked (John 19:1-3, Matthew 26:67-68), being dishonored and beaten (Matthew 27:30), being deserted (John 6:66), hatred (John 15:18; 24-25), betrayal (John 18:2-3), being disowned (Matthew 26: 69-75), insults (1 Peter 2:23), and public humiliation (Acts 8:33). Having endured all these in humility, our Lord Jesus Christ is now exalted at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19). In like manner the Lord says to us, “To Him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21 NIV).

Suffering: Strength for Christian Endurance

It is certainly not our intention to magnify sufferings, our intention is to prepare you to expect it.  As Christians, the Bible tells us that sufferings produces strength for endurance (Romans 5:3-5). We know that the Lord does not condone self-inflicted sufferings resulting from sinful conduct (1 Peter 3:17), but a suffering because of our association with Him brings eternal reward (2 Timothy 3:12). What is noteworthy, our experience in the ministry have helped us observe how some people are being attracted to the Lord through their sufferings. In their desperation, some of them needed the Lord to provide a quick-fix solution to their problems. With patience, the Lord would always rebuke them first to get their lives right with Him, and those who obeyed and endured received relief. And such relief would be two-fold, blessings to sustain their needs, and faith strength to endure and outlive the next bout of challenges. What a caring God we serve!  Also, there were another group of Christians who simply lack endurance. Some after hearing the promise of the Lord’s soon return (through a vision to us or others), they were inflamed with an evaporating excitement, but once they realized it was not as soon as they expected they reverted to ‘lukewarm mode’. These are the ones the Lord said who did not have oil in their lamps (Matthew 25:7-13). The Bible says that no lukewarm Christian will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Revelation 3:16) and rightfully so! These are people who are born again, but they buried their talents (Matthew 25:18). In a warning to all of us, the Lord said His coming will surprise all Christians, and those who are living comfortably, thinking that He will give them a final warning, when they ignore the warnings in Scriptures will be particularly surprised (Matthew 24:37).
What hinders us from Enduring? 

In our experience, we have observed a few things that serve as a stumbling block to our endurance in the faith, and these are all summed up in the Bible.

1. Putting our mind and interest on worldly things other than the things of God (James 1:14; Colossians 3:2).

2. Doubting the promises of God (James 1:6; Hebrews 10:38).

3. Lacking in prayer and Bible reading (this shows a condition of a broken relationship with God) (Matthew 26:41).

4. Complaining - this does not issue from a thankful heart, but a grieving heart (Philippians 2:14). We may also recall that the complaining Israelites did not endure, but perished in the desert, leading them to forfeit the promise of entering the Promised Land - and of milk and honey (Numbers 14:26-30; 1 Corinthians 10:5-6).

5. Giving up on meeting with other believers, and rejecting encouragement from other true believers (Hebrews 10:25).

6. Sinning Deliberately (Hebrews 10:26-30).

7. Fear of others and their ‘valued’ opinions of us (Proverbs 29:25).

In conclusion, let us therefore not allow the pressure or strong opinions of others to determine our obedience to the Lord. We should also not strive to fit in or blend with the society to please them, the will of the Lord is what we should live for. Trying to please men leads to a divided commitment. Consider that your individual walk with Christ will be used to judge you and to determine your Heavenly reward (2 Corinthians 5:10).

If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and learn to persevere unto eternal life, please get started by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed endurance in Christ,
Brother Glenn