16
May

4 Levels of Perseverance – Succeeding in Each

Wow! My heart is so full! There is so much I want to tell you, but my thoughts are coming so fast that I have to take a deep breath and really concentrate to untangle them!

Within the next month, I hope to tell you all that God has done recently (yep, I’m leaving that teaser right there!).

But today, let’s talk about perseverance. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perseverance this way: a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Notice that little word ‘despite’ makes all the difference in the world when one is trying to understand the meaning of perseverance.

When we push through difficulties in our life to achieve our goals, we are preserving. Some days we are just trying to get through the daily routine of the house –preparing meals, getting the kids off to school, or surviving an eight-hour work day. Other times we are dealing with some really heavy stuff –guilt, depression, rejection, loss.

I would love to tell you there is an easier way through this mental stress, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I can encourage you that if you are walking with Jesus, He has your back!

For lessons in working through difficulties, we can turn to the apostle Paul who knew a few things about having a bad day.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:23-28 NIV

Most days, Paul’s tribulations make mine look like child’s play. But there are those who are certainly suffering, certainly preserving despite some really troubling situations. So what advice does Paul give?

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Rom. 5:3-4 AMP

I believe that Paul reveals the different levels of perseverance in this verse. So let’s take a few minutes to really break it down.

  1. Surface issue. Whatever difficulty you are facing, the difficulty itself is a smoke screen that is attempting to keep you in a place where you are ineffective in your walk with God. Once we can take a step back (and I’m not saying that is easy to do), we start to fully appreciate that there are boundaries. What I mean by that is, when we can remove ourselves emotionally from the situation and start to see the options we have (and there are always options), something arises in our spirit that says: “I can make it.”
  2. Patient endurance. As our mind starts to formulate an end to our situation, our spirit is strengthen and we find a resolve we didn’t know we had. Instead of living in a constant state of anxiety, we become steadfast, steady, and unwavering. And all the while, we are patient, able to tolerate all that is happening to or around us.
  3. Proven character. No other time do we learn what it means to fully trust God as when we are in situations that cause us to suffer one way or another. And as we are fighting our way through, our spiritual maturity grows. No one becomes a spiritual giant without having faced a few mountains.
  4. Hope. As we reach this level of perseverance, something in our soul explodes. We call it hope! Once we grab a hold of hope, there is no turning back. At that stage, we fully expect and believe that the situation is going to shift. And as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day our hope grows bigger.

No, no real difficulty goes away over night. But as we persevere through the situation, we change. And as we change, we become stronger.

As I went through the chaos that interrupted my life between 2008-2013, there were days I certainly felt defeated. There were days I bawled my eyes out. But day after day, I learned to persevere. When I could finally see the situation for what it was -a smoke screen meant to throw me off course- I realized there were options. I could either let it defeat me or I could turn the tables and become all that God wanted me to be. When that clicked, I was then able to patiently endure all the ups and downs that came. As I grew up spiritually, my faith rose to new heights. And as hope took a hold of my heart, I knew there was no turning back.

Since then, there have been other challenges, but I now face them with great confidence because Jesus is my hope!

I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8 NIV

Is there a challenge in front of you today? Are you preserving? If not, turn to the One who can show you how!


Amplified Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

14
Feb

Our True Valentine!

Valentines Day

Hey there! It seems like ages since we talked. I hope your New Year’s got off to a great start. To be honest, mine has been a little rocky. But I am not surprised! Anytime we put our efforts into starting over or beginning something new, there will be obstacles. I have learned those obstacles are allowed by God to refine us, to mold us, and to strengthen us for the long haul which we call life. Sure, it’s not exactly fun to go through, but the payoff is greater than the frustration, and that is something you can trust in.

So how do we endure the many disappointments and hurts that come in those seasons? We continue to lean on Jesus. Sometimes I just have my hand resting on His arm. Other times I feel like I have wrapped myself around His leg like a kid clinging to his/her parent in total fear. But here is the thing. Jesus can handle it. Even when I have a death grip on His hand, this I know – He still loves me!

So this Valentine’s Day, I want you to remember how much He loves you! I can’t think of two more fitting verses than John 3:16 and 1 John 4:19!

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

 

We love each other because he loved us first. 1 John 4:19 NLT

These are very familiar verses. Some of us have heard them a thousand times. We may even have them committed to memory. But today, I want them to speak straight to your heart. Let’s slow down for a while today and really take some time to absorb them.

I absolutely LOVE (no pun intended) that this Valentine’s Day is on Sunday. Not only will I celebrate the love I have for my husband, but first, I will celebrate the love of my Savior. It is extremely easy for us to forget in the day-to-day rush that He left the comfort of Heaven and came here to be among us. That He suffered and died a sinner’s death though He was perfect and holy. And that His resurrection provides a hope for us that we could never achieve on our own. Never.

I hope you enjoy your day, and that it brings you great happiness. I’m going to enjoy a little chocolate myself. But among the rush of feelings that this day will evoke, take some time to remember the One who gave it all for you; whose love is so pure, its transforming powers cannot be denied.

And remember this:

Jesus, I thank you that You love us even with all our faults. I give You praise for all that You have done. Forgive me when I allow the things of this world to blind me from Your grace. Tug on my heart daily, and remind me whose I am. I love you Lord and all that You are – my provider, my protector, and my friend. Today, I fall to my knees to worship You, the one true lover of my soul. Amen.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Elaine 

 


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2
Jul

Hope for Today and Tomorrow

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NLT

Tonight as I pondered what to pen in this post, I could not help thinking about all the things I am hopeful for. The past two weeks have been pretty exciting, and there were days filled with hope and promise. Much of it revolves around the dream the Lord has placed in my heart. I am thrilled by all the things that are falling into place, not just surrounding Love Echoed Back, but the future possibilities that are ahead of me as well.

However, the pressure of balancing work, home, and the call on my life has also been building. On top of everyday chores around the house, my current project list at work has become dramatically heavy as we push to meet an upcoming deadline, and I am in full prep-mode for the She Speaks Conference at the end of July.  Oh …and there is that manuscript to get back to the publisher.

Now, not for a moment do I believe the battle raging around the events competing for my time is some sudden coincidence. The devil is clearly putting up hurdles, thinking he will wear me out before I can cross the finish line. The true challenge before me is not time management, but to not lose hope!   

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