Perseverence

On Stormy Waters?Premium Content

(Based on Matthew 14:22-34)

Experienced fishermen shuddered when the wind howled out of the mountains and onto the sea. Then the waves became choppy and unpredictable. Men who worked these waters knew to haul their sails and make for harbor.

But sometimes-and this night was one of them-high seas would not permit sailors to gain the shore.

The small boat circled the middle of the sea, an eerie spot, wild, unsettled, dangerous-and according to some reports-haunted. In watery graves below lay the sailors' fellow fishermen waiting for them to join them, their boats reduced to waterlogged splinters,their bones picked clean by the same denizens of the deep they had come to harvest.

By three in the morning, as a false dawn dimly lit the sky, the men had been pulling on the oars for hours against the wind. No nearer shore, shelter, or sanctuary, exhaustion was setting in.

Then one man caught a glimpse of something unsettling on the seas. For a few moments, a trough obscured his vision, and while he waited for the lift of the next wave, he pondered whether he was seeing things. When the wave lofted them upward, he looked steadily over his shoulder. There it was again!

He gave a shriek of terror and pointed as the boat was again swallowed by a curl of water.

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Heart Hope at the End of Your RopePremium Content

What produces or gives your heart sustained and real Hope? Can you do anything that produces Hope?

But I need something more! I've tried everything and nothing helps. I am at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Romans 7:17a and 24, The Message


Before we can get a hopeful answer to this predicament, we first have to arrive at the door of giving up! Just like Paul; who remember, had a religious pedigree as long and as impressive as the State of Texas is wide-we must exhaust all of our personal resources.

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Perseverance is KeyPremium Content

Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
--James 1:4

We go through periods when we seem to be standing still or slipping backwards. Perseverance is what brings complete recovery. Committing myself to the task before me, one minute at a time, one day at a time. There are rewards along the way... goals that have been accomplished, the sense of well-being, clarity of heart and mind.

Pushing too fast before you are ready or being critical of yourself for not getting through it faster can prolong the process.

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When Our Beliefs are Called into QuestionPremium Content

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Disciplines

Speaking from experience, Philip Yancey writes, "For nearly everyone, doubt follows pain quickly and surely, like a reflex action. Suffering calls our most basic beliefs about God into question." Suffering often causes us to doubt, to question our beliefs, to wrestle with everything we ever thought we knew about God: about who He is, about what He is up to, about the very nature of His heart. All these doubts and questions can be fertile ground for spiritual growth. Go ahead and out, question, wrestle – just be sure to use this time and out to seek to know him desperately. He will keep your heart open to God so that you can hear the answers to those questions.

How do we keep our hearts open? How do we grow closer to God in our trials, instead of crashing down into bitterness and despair? That is where the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines come in.

The Physical Disciplines

Taking care of our bodies

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

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It's the Waiting in RecoveryPremium Content

Recently, I chatted with a young girl I've been mentoring. She's currently in an eating disorder treatment facility- and fighting her treatment. She has flat out refused to eat, drink or take any medication. She's been closely monitored, mainly due to a recent episode in which she swallowed glass.

Yes, you heard me right; she swallowed glass.

I asked her what brought this on and she responded she wanted to feel pain and she was tired of waiting for her recovery. I don't think it has sunken in that recovery is very much a process, not an instant cure.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Are You Living the Jabez Experience?Premium Content

He (Jabez) was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, "Oh that you would bless me and extend my lands! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!" And God granted him his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10, NLT


Before you impugn this request as being too "me" centered, consider the following. According to Scripture Jabez was a man described as honorable. And as to motive; a deeper look will reveal a very God-centered heart. Jabez clearly reveals that it has always been God's desire to bless and prosper His children.

Let's consider an expanded (amplified) version of his prayer. This is a look behind the words "bless me" to their shades of meaning. Jabez' prayer actually provides a window into the true heart of God. And it reveals that our only true route to being a blessing for God is by embracing all of His blessings toward us. Consider this version as a revelation of some of the multitudinous ways God desires to Bless His Children Daily!

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Five Things We Must Do as Christians

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NRSV
Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

In the middle of the conclusion of Paul's letter, in between the "Timothy and Apollos may come to visit" and "Everyone here sends their love," Paul writes these short two sentences. Perhaps they should have been written at the beginning as the title for this letter (if letters had titles). Certainly, they are important not only because they summarize what Paul has been saying, but because they summarize the Christian life.

Here, Paul tells the church in Corinth to do four things:

  • Keep alert

Fear and What to Do About It Premium Content

Everybody in this world who has any understanding of the world, experiences fear, likely everyday. There are the common fears such as: living in a safe city - you don’t want to be murdered, raped, robbed or beat brutally. These are understandable fears. But who controls the fears you have? Do your fears control you or are you in control of your fears? This is a huge question and one that needs to be discussed and clarified. Because there are actually 2 different types of fear for those who walk in the way of God, we need to differentiate between the two. The fear or reverence of God is a good fear, but not the one we will discuss here. Daily fear and fear that burdens us is the fear we will be discussing.

The Bible contains dozens of people who were afraid. Some of them experienced more fear than others, but just because someone does not fear as much as another, does not mean their fear is any less legitimate.

A small list of people who feared in the Bible include, but are not limited to:

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Is Obeying God Simply Resulting in Hardship for You?

"Does Job fear God for no reason?"
Job 1:9 ESV

This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, Job. But there are many today who might be asked the same question with justice, for they love God (after a fashion) because he prospers them; but if things went badly for them, they would give up their boastful faith in God. If they can clearly see that since their supposed conversion, everything has gone well for them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house.

Being Victorious Over Your Enemies

Deuteronomy 28:7
"The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways."

Every believer has enemies. In fact, every believer has three enemies: Satan and his hoards, sin, and our own mortal flesh. Notice that I didn't mention other people... precisely because our warfare isn't against other people (for whom Christ also died), but against principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). But we do have enemies and we should be doing battle everyday against those enemies. The wonderful thing is that those enemies are already defeated. In fact, they don't simply skulk away from the direction they came. The Lord routes them in seven different directions! They fly pell mell, unable to even chart a course, due to their fear of the Lord's armies.

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