endurance (7)

February Prayer Campaign - Pray for the church in the AP
We are continuing to pray for the forming of indigenous churches in the Arabian Peninsula as a PTAP community in February.
Suffering is normal in our fallen world, and for Believers from a Muslim Background, (MBBs), much of the suffering they experience will be directly related to following Christ.
Matthew 10:36 is often a MBBs reality: “A person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” For many MBBs in the Arabian Peninsula, this is a daily occurrence; their family may beat them, lock them out, disown them or even kill them for following Christ. As the Body of Christ, let us shore up our MBB brothers and sisters in the Arabian Peninsula by praying for them to be well prepared for persecution when it arises.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Tim 2:12
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:20
Pray for MBBs of the AP to understand that persecution is a normal part of following Christ and not a punishment for their sins or wrong choices.
Pray for MBBs to develop a clear understanding of their new identity in Christ. Walking closely with the Lord and having an awareness of living in His presence will carry them through the difficult times of persecution.
Pray for MBBs to know, understand and memorize God’s word. Often during persecution, a believer will not have access to the written word. Pray for MBBs to hide God’s word in their hearts so they can cling to truth during persecution.
Pray for MBBs to have a deep understanding of prayer. Pray for them to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” Eph. 6:18. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach them various types of prayers: listening, crying out, lamenting, praising, petitioning, and praying God’s word.
Pray for MBBs to be able to discern when to stay in situations of persecution and when to flee. (Mat. 10:23). Pray against any condemnation from themselves or others over their decisions.
Pray for MBBs to have wisdom and discernment in choosing their words and actions. Unwise words and actions can lead to unnecessary persecution, and an aptly spoken word can turn away the wrath of persecutors.
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A powerful Scripture relating to hope is Romans 15:4.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Think with me for a moment about the last two words of this verse. What does it mean to have hope? In this scripture having hope should not be interpreted as having the possibility of hope. There are places and times where having hope could be interpreted that way. When Jesus died on the cross for us He gave all of us the hope of eternal life. But until you place your faith in him you do not actually hold that hope in your hand. This verse is a stronger statement of hope. I believe having hope here means for hope to have you.

I have a close friend who would always watch the morning news on television before coming to a morning prayer meeting. He would sometimes come to the prayer meeting almost too disturbed to pray. He had trouble praising God because he was upset about problems. He wasn't able to pray for other problems because he was upset about what was on the news. I believe my friend had hope in the sense in which he belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. But his hope did not have him. He needed to apply hope to his life and especially his prayer life. It needed to grip his life.

All of us deal with this problem from time to time. But, as 2 Peter 1:4 says, we have very great and precious promises by which we can escape the bonds of the world and of our sinful nature. How do we apply these promises to our lives?

Romans 15:4 calls us to listen to the encouragement of Scripture. Are you listening to God? We need to hunger for what He will say to us in His word. Much of our anxiety as Christians would be overcome if we would allow things God has told us to grip our lives.

Romans 15:4 gives us a combination of applications. It is through endurance and the encouragement of scripture that we gain a firm grip, a life-changing grip on our hope. It is a fact that luxury, success, comfort, and  acclaim in this life can actually diminish our hold on hope by distracting us from it. It is when we are forced to endure deprivation, failure, discomfort, and discredit that God's word can speak to us most powerfully. Are you looking to Scripture for God to encourage your heart in the trials that you are facing? In times like these you need God’s hope to have a firm grip upon you.








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From time to time I have enjoyed rereading some of my favorite books. There are several books that I revisit every few years. I recently took up The Robe that I hadn't read for about 25 years. I was amazed by how much of it I did not remember. I do not mean I did not remember certain parts until I had reread them. Most of it struck me like a book I had never read. This is a fairly new and embarrassing experience for me. This past weekend we went on a short trip with my daughter's family. I was shuffling through books my granddaughter had brought to read and discovered, Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. I begin to read and laugh out loud with delight. I told my granddaughter I needed to borrow the book from her. I was quickly informed that it was my book. Sure enough I turned back to the flyleaf and discovered that the book was given me with a marvelous dedication from a friend who happens to be a really good writer.

I have recently had several far more embarrassing incidents of memory loss. This is not my worst handicap. And I have had to ask myself if they will hinder my ability to write. The answer that came to me immediately was, 'They won't, if I do not let them.” Most of us who know God wants us to write have to work through numerous handicaps.

My favorite fiction writer is Bodie Thoene. She and her husband Brock research their their historical novels together. They have over 35 million books in print in more than 35 languages. I once heard them interviewed at the end of one of their audio books. I was amazed to learn that Bodie is dyslexic and has found it too painful to reread her own books. This is something like Beethoven writing the 9th Symphony and other marvelous works after he was completely deaf.

What are your weaknesses? All of us have them. But if you will not let them they probably will not keep you from putting words up on the computer screen and publishing them to bless lives.

Now, I fear I have been a little too simplistic. Handicaps can be terribly difficult to work through. And despite the two examples I gave, some of them are absolutely impossible to overcome as a writer. However, I do believe there are three obedient actional attitudes to apply to your weaknesses.

One of them is conviction. Do you sense a compulsion, possibly even a calling from God? Do not give up because what you face is difficult.

Another is endurance. Stay at it, work at it. Think continually about ways to cope with it or get around it. When I brought up some evidences of my memory loss to my 10 year old granddaughter she immediately begin to tell me about a study done with nuns who remained sharp because they continued to be mentally active. And it was discovered by postmortem pathologies of their brains that they actually had full-blown Alzheimer's. They had staved off the effects by keeping mentally and physically active. You can look this study up it's easy to find on Google. Whatever your handicap, don't give up on it.

Finally, and most important, pray about it. Of course God may take away your thorn In the flesh. But in many cases God will glorify Himself by turning your weakness into strength as you obey Him.







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The Brink of Your Miracle

Years ago my car engine burned up because the oil had leaked out. I’m sure the leakage had been going on for a while, but the destruction to my engine happened quite rapidly, mere moments after I saw the warning light on my dashboard.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my need for “oil” of another kind—the oil of the Holy Spirit. And I’ve also been challenged about the necessity of regularly checking the warning lights on my spiritual dashboard.

Jesus told an intriguing story about this in Matthew 25. In the opening scene, 10 young women are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Jesus said five of them were foolish, and five were wise, yet there was only one difference: The wise ones knew they needed extra oil for their lamp.

Unfortunately for the foolish women in this story, “the bridegroom was a long time in coming” (v. 5). Of course, this parable is a rebuke to those who expect Jesus to return so imminently that they needn’t prepare for the long haul, but I believe there’s another message as well: At times our faith, love, endurance, and faithfulness will be tested by our need to WAIT for our Lord to come into our circumstances with a breakthrough of some kind.

In the story Jesus told, as in our lives today, the bridegroom typically comes “at midnight” (v. 6), right when the night seems darkest and our hope is running out. However, midnight represents a tipping point in many ways, when nighttime reaches its zenith and inevitably begins to turn to day.

Recently I’ve found myself humming an old gospel song that says, “Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.” When midnight is approaching and you still haven’t seen the Bridegroom’s intervention, it sure is easy to lose heart and give up.

Paul writes about this in Galatians 6:9-10:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

So what are the lessons for us today?

First, we must recognize that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Because of that, we need to continually check the gauges on our spiritual dashboard, ensuring that we have enough “oil” for the long haul.

Second, instead of falling asleep, as the women in Jesus’ story did, we should live in great expectancy that our Bridegroom may soon come and break through with a miracle in our circumstances. Even though we may have been waiting for quite a while to have some of our prayers answered, the tipping point could be closer than we think.

In the meantime, we’re encouraged to keep “doing good,” using every opportunity to show love to the people God has put in our lives. No matter what “season” we presently find ourselves in, we’re called to sow seeds of faith and kindness. Although we don’t know “the day or the hour,” we can be confident our harvest will come.

When we take these lessons to heart, we’re sure to experience great blessings ahead—whether the Bridegroom comes as quickly as we want Him to or not. 

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"'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine"....Exodus 19:5
Heavenly Father, we long to abide in Your Presence all the days of our lives and in eternity. Therefore, Lord we commit our way from the hour of our redemption and rejuvenation to now, the rest of this year and always, to obey You, listen to You, walk in Your Ways and Keep Your Covenant.
Thou hast shown us the way of all Truth. I thank Thee, Oh Lord.
Thou hast given me the Road Map and the spiritual fuel to go the distance. I am so grateful, my God.
Thou hast given me the Faith and Endurance to persevere until the end. I am all in for ever, oh God.
Thou hast shared Thy bountiful Goodness and all the Earth which You create and watch over. I am so humbled, my God.
Thou hast taken me out of the pit, sit my feet upon a rock, put a NEW song in my mouth - a hymn of Praise to our God. I will proclaim Thy Name throughout the Earth, for as long as life shall last.
I rest under the Shadow of Thy Wings.
I bow down in the Sanctity of the Throne Room.
I surrender to the Will of Christ.
I commit my ways and will to the Obedience You asked me to choose.
I am Yours. I abide in Thee and long to dwell in Thy Holy Presence on a soon coming day, choosing as King David wrote for my life verse "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple".
On this I stand, oh God, and not just me but all who love Your appearing! Even so, come Lord Jesus! In Your Name I pray. Amen. 

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Most of us are leery of praying for patience. We are familiar with the story of a lady asking D.L Moody to pray for her to have patience. The great evangelist bowed onto one knee and began praying for the woman to undergo tribulation. Discomfited, she tapped him on the shoulder and said she needed patience not tribulation. He then rose and showed her Romans 5:3 where Paul, by the Holy Spirit, tells us that tribulation develops patience or patient endurance.

However, I believe we miss the point of this passage when we think we should never to pray for endurance. That attitude reflects the values of our sinful world that believes we should avoid everything painful or difficult in our lives. Paul goes on to say that the patience tribulation produces develops character and character produces hope.

My wife and I recently watched the final episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries on PBS. I found it difficult to watch the first half of the show because Poirot was portrayed as bitter and vindictive because of his pain and physical debilitation. I do not want physical difficulties to be an excuse for bitterness or harsh words from my heart and mouth.

We are to desire God’s transformation of our character so fiercely that we welcome the pain that God uses to produce it. This comes very close to home for me. I thank God that my cancer has not progressed as rapidly as my doctors feared. I know that is a result of people praying for me. But I still deal with constant, if minor, pain. It is easy for this to make me irritable. But that is not the effect I want it to have on my attitudes and behavior. I pray for the endurance that produces sweetness of character as I draw nearer at whatever pace to our everlasting hope.





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Love that lasts

"In this modern world we live in, love is ended before it's begun."  Commitment--an old-fashioned word--is still the key to lasting marriages and enduring relationships. God's love is the ultimate example.

“Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers, Whose loves in higher love endure;

What souls possess themselves so pure, or is there blessedness like theirs?”

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Waterfalls of time cannot extinguish love’s eternal flame.

Rivers of catastrophe cannot drown its commitment.

Love is stronger than death—love endures forever.


Love hangs on through hours, days, weeks, and years.

Love perseveres through glacial passage of time.

Love  is infinitely  patient—it never gives up.


In life’s waiting room, we calmly anticipate God’s tomorrow.

The trial of our faith will determine if we truly believe God.

God is being patient with us—let’s be patient with Him.


At Calvary, He crossed His heart to express His undying love.

Our Savior Jesus paid for His bride with His lifeblood.

We can prove our love for Him by obedience.


God has planned a marriage feast to honor the Bridegroom.

Engagement gives time to get ready for the wedding.

Before we know it, the great day will arrive.


Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel.

But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.

Genesis 29:20 NLT


Johnny R. Almond

                Pastor, Colonial Beach Baptist Church, Virginia

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized

Book available through local bookseller or preferred on-line retailer.

Author’s blog www.GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized.com

[This devotion was based on/adapted from Day 20 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]

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