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Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Easter Joy



Today is Easter, and I am free because of your sacrifice for me. Today you rise from the dead so I might walk in newness of life. Today you come once more into my heart and make me your own.

You are my place of safe retreat. You are my refuge from my own self. I can retreat from others into myself, but I can never hide from myself–from my own failures, my sins, my weaknesses, and my own limitations. I find that within myself there is no relief. But in these early Easter hours I discover that you are my sanctuary. You hide me under your wings until I forget my limitations, and my failures. You hide me until my own sins are washed away and remembered no more. You hide me until relief from my failure begins to fill my heart. You hide me from myself until the relief of your grace brings great joy. 

And that is my Easter joy. You have saved me from myself. I am free of who I have been, and free to be new in you.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Miracle in Place

It was early on the Sabbath following Jesus’ crucifixion. Women came to anoint Jesus’ body with burial oils and spices. Why did they come? It was not for preservation. Embalming wasn’t something that the Jews practiced. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome had only one reason in their minds for coming to his tomb. It was the final act they could do for Jesus to show their great love for him. 

They asked each other who would roll away the stone. Even knowing a stone blocked the entrance, they continued in their journey. They had a passion. It was so strong that they continued on to the tomb. Have you ever had a passion, but let what seemed an overwhelming problem hold you back? When we often hit a problem or a stone we give up. These women preserved, and they were about to be rewarded with the miracle of a rolled away stone.

How many of us give up when we encounter what seems an overwhelming problem? How many of us don’t realize that this is the time that faith is meant to take over completely? These women continued on to the tomb. But what do we do? Do we continue or do we give up? The problem is meant to make us dependent on God. If Jesus has given you a vision, remember that it is His place to bring it into being. It is not yours. Continue on your way, and believe that it is only God's strength that moves the stone away. 

At the tomb an angel met the women and told them, “He is not here! He has risen!” Think of the impact of those words! They went to the tomb for one purpose, and left with the joy of another! From mourning to joy! From death to life! Go tell the disciples!

Consider what the women saw that morning, and what an experience it was. We read about it, but if we put ourselves in their place, we can see how overwhelmingly incredible it all was! A stone rolled away, and inside there is nothing but the cloths of mourning. And out in the world, Jesus is alive!

Whatever your passion or your purpose or your calling, remember the women who would not give up, and the unexpected joy they found when the odds were against them. They would have missed the miracle that early morning if they had focused on the stone. When it seems hope is gone, God puts a miracle in place.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dying for You

Dying for You
        “Why didn't it come true?” she cried. “I believed. I had hope.”
        There was no answer.
        “Do you even hear me?”
        “I hear you, child,” he said softly.
        “But I thought you promised. Will it ever happen?” She stood below his figure on the cross, defeated and blinded by heartbreak.
        “I’m dying right now. Dying for you.”
        She could not look up at him.
        “Look up at me, child.”
        “What do you want from me?” she cried. “Just what do I need to do to make this happen?”
        “Look up at me, child.” His voice, soft against the darkening afternoon, resonated with longing. “Look up. Not down. You must look at me.”
        She was afraid of what she would see.
        “All I ask is that you look up. Is that too much to ask? I’m dying for you.”
        She had heard the weight of his body tearing the flesh surrounding the nails. She had heard those nails pounded into his hands and feet, but she had been unable to watch.
        “Why did you take my joy away?” she finally cried, eyes focused on the ground beneath his cross.
        “You lost it by yourself,” he said. “I never turned away from you. You looked up at me that one time so long ago, and then you dropped your eyes from mine.”
        She felt the pull. It had been so long.
        Look on me. My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”
        “I don’t want to feel your pain.”
        “But I feel yours, dear child. I know yours.”
        She wanted to look up, but it would mean accepting his gift as her own.
        “Please,” he cried. “I haven’t much longer.”
        As thunder rolled suddenly in the distance, the cry of his heart resounded within her.
        “Into your hands, Father…” he whispered.
        Gripped by the terrible moment, her eyes swung upward. She barely saw his face, much less his swollen eyes, now closed in obvious agony, yet also in anticipation of imminent release.
        “Lord,” she faintly managed.
        His eyes slowly opened. Peering deeply into the crevices of her pain, her despair, her terror, he ripped them from her heart, and took them upon himself.
        “I commend my spirit,” he finished and died.
        She sank to her knees. She could not remove her gaze from his face. She was suddenly free.

Is there something you believe God has promised you, and it didn't happen? Do you feel that God has abandoned you in your need? That He doesn't understand? How can the Savior who died for you not understand your pain? He is there for you right now. Lay your discouragement, your pain, your suffering, your disappointment, and your heart at the foot of His cross, and look up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Banish Fear

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).

Do not fear. Don’t allow it in your heart. It is evil, and destroys all hope. Fear can’t live where His love and faith abound. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NIV).

“Fear has to do with punishment.” Guilt produces fear. Sin produces fear. Fear is the blight of this imperfect the world. There is fear of illness, of poverty, of loneliness, and of devastation. Fear runs rampant. But His perfect love drives out fear. His perfect love forgives and drives out the blame of sin. Faith springs up because the one who has forgiven has the power to make all things new within your heart.

This world lives in fear. You are perfected in His love, and do not need to live in fear. Fight it. Refuse to allow it into your heart. God has not given you a spirit of fear. He has given you power, and with His perfect love, a sound mind that can banish fear.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be Filled (3)

Jesus told his disciples what to do following His ascension. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1: 4).

A Christian receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit through faith, prayer, obedience, and praise. Each one of these, active and practiced in your life, is necessary to receive God’s promise to be filled with His Spirit. Each part is necessary for the whole! It is for the healing beauty of the whole that you become a willing servant who determines to live these disciplines. You seek His heart. You don’t seek the spiritual gift. You seek the giver of the gifts.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11: 6). God does not pour His Holy Spirit into a heart that does not seek Him. Pray for greater faith to believe. Ask in faith for the Holy Spirit. Pray for greater spiritual hunger and ask for His supply.

Luke writes, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). God blesses His child with His presence when that child is submissive to His direction. Submission to God is faith in His provision. Obedience to God is necessary to receive the Holy Spirit, so be absolutely surrendered for anything He asks. 

We are instructed to give God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 11:15). Man was created to glorify his Creator! When we praise Him, (not only for what we have received but also in faith for what is to come) we are “completed” in Him! Praise Him for what you are going to receive in prayer!

Place upon His altar every preconceived notion that such an experience entails. Don’t fear His presence or whatever spiritual gift He wishes to impart. Neither inform Him which spiritual gift you need! Fall in love with your Creator, your Holy Father who wants the best for you, and sees the best in you–the one who loves you continually. He is the one who died for you–the one who rose from the dead so that you might walk in newness of life–the one who redeems the pain of the past and brings direction to your future–the one who imparts supernatural peace and joy–the one who baptizes with Holy fire.

 The Word says that we have not, because we ask not (James 4:2b). The directive is simple. We must spiritually grow in order to discover the power found in the Holy Spirit. Our commitment is the sacrifice that must be made in order to receive, and the faith that a personal Pentecost is more than just a myth.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (I Corinthians 2: 9-10).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Be Filled (2)

“When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them” (Acts 2:1-4, The Message).

Like a mighty rushing wind, the Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost. The Word supplies a scriptural basis for what the disciples received in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33. In these parallel Gospel passages, John the Baptist reveals a baptism that follows remission of sin. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).  Jesus told his disciples what to do following His ascension. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1: 4).

What is this baptism of the Holy Spirit fire foretold by John the Baptist and Jesus? It was without question the Holy Spirit which came on the day of Pentecost. Especially poignant is Jesus’ promise! “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13). “If you believe,” Jesus promises, “you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22).

The Holy Spirit fills a life that hungers for all He has to offer–for a heart that yearns to no longer limit Him. He empowers a life that hungers for spiritual, emotional, and mental wholeness–for completeness. He empowers a heart that yearns for discernment, seeks wisdom, and desires to make a difference in a dying world. He fills that place where you thought joy was fleeting. He brings instant peace in the midst of sudden pain. He lives in your heart in depths that you never thought possible.

Every day I long for all that He has for me. As I seek His heart, I yearn to know the power and the greatest joy of His presence. But I must let go of my own self, and my own desires. I must surrender my life in prayer, faith, obedience, and praise.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Be filled (1)

“Be filled with the Spirit,” Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesus (Ephesians 5:18). Why would Paul tell these Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit when they had already received the Holy Spirit when they were saved (Romans 5:1-5)?  Because the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which comes at the moment Jesus becomes Savior, is not the same occurrence as being continually filled with the Holy Spirit.  Oh, yes, it is the same all-powerful Holy Spirit, but He does not stop at salvation. 

"Brother Saul (Paul),” Ananias told Paul following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, “the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17). Jesus’ presence on the road introduced the power of God’s glory to Saul. But he was blinded for God’s purposes. Ananias prayed, and the power of the Holy Spirit swept through Saul. As the Holy Spirit rested on him, he became Paul. His eyes suddenly received spiritual vision, and he received the infilling Holy Spirit for God’s purposes. 

After this initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, Paul continually received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit through many years of ministry. The Holy Spirit that had first come on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), was now alive in Paul, empowering him to preach the gospel in places it had never reached, and to disciple new believers to be strong and fearlessly live the message of God’s redeeming God.  It was the same Holy Spirit which, on the day of Pentecost, turned a band of weakened and tired followers, into men who would change the world.

Being continually filled with the Holy Spirit is not just for then. It is for now. It is what we need to make a difference in a world that does not know His love. In the next few days I would like to explore what this means for you and for me. It will cost us. It means dying to self in order to receive all of Him. It means allowing Him to be Lord of every area of my life. In letting go of who I have perceived myself to be in Him, I discover who He has known all along that I could be.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hope in God

My hope is in God. He made heaven and earth. Will He not provide for me?  I will set my mind and my hope on His faithfulness. If I hope more in Him, then I will have more of Him. The more I hope the more I trust. The more I trust the more faith I receive. My hope will be rewarded. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5, NASB). 

I do not need to know answers to everything I face. He knows the answers. As I learn more and more of Him, I will find the answers that I do need, and gain trust in Him to handle what I do not need to know. He is my answer to everything. As I grow in knowledge of Him, I will understand who He really is. I will know Him, and that will be enough. 

“Why are you in despair, O my soul, and disturbed within me? Hope in God, because I will again praise him, for the salvation of his presence” (Psalm 42:5, LEB).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friendship Believes

What is the value of Christian friends? Solomon writes emphatically from his perspective on friendship. “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). In Proverbs Solomon lists three strong characteristics of a good friend. He loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17); he is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); he never forsakes his friend (27:10). A friend carries the load when you are unable to take one step. C.H. Spurgeon advised that “friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend."

Luke writes of a man who would have failed without his friends. Four men carrying a paralytic can’t get to Jesus through a mass of people so they climb to the roof by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up, and observes the pallet being lowered. What does he see? Love on the faces of the men looking through the roof? Yes! He sees their hungering need for their friend’s healing. He sees great faith revealed in their faces. Jesus looks at the suffering paralytic and announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” To show the Pharisees that He had the power to forgive sin, Jesus tells the man lying on the mat, “Your sins are forgiven. Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:16-24)!

What does this example reveal? True friendship believes in the promise. It believes when another is unable to believe. It never forsakes. It perseveres against all odds. It carries what you are unable to carry. It hangs on for the miracle. 

Have you had such a friend? Have you been such a friend? There is no greater love but that someone gives his life away for another.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Shall Receive

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

What He gives is not what the world gives. His peace is not the peace caused by calm circumstance. No! His peace is the perpetual calm in the midst of any storm. It is rich, complete, amazing, supernatural, and more than can be described by any pen. It is abundantly given.

What the world gives, demands something from you. The world gives only expecting something in return. Not God. He expects only for you to receive. His peace is His gift.

Let not your heart be troubled. Don’t let it be afraid. Receive the gift of His peace. Make room for Him by clearing out the clutter of the world. Empty yourself of its demands and expectations. Empty yourself of all of you so that you can receive all of Him.

And you shall receive.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Power and Purpose

Do I realize that I must continually seek His heart, or do I believe that I am “fine”? Is He the heartbeat of my life, or is He on the outside looking into my heart? Do I even realize that He is waiting and longing to be invited into every area of my being? Do I believe that all is well when in truth I am just withering on the vine? When I believe that I am just where I need to be in my relationship with Him, then I am dying. Not dying to self, but to Him. There is none of His life-blood flowing and rendering power in my life. I have no power or no purpose.

Is this what I bring to a hurting friend or a hurting world? No power or purpose? If I bring a heart which will not surrender to God’s purpose then I reap my own self-sufficiency. A heart that is not surrendered to Christ needs nothing more. A heart that believes it lives for Christ, but does not, is a heart that doesn’t realize it has its own agenda. When I bring such a heart to ministry, I am impotent and purposeless. This is the greatest danger–a stagnant heart-attitude. Instead of bringing life, it brings death. 

“Those whom I love,” Jesus implores, “I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelations 3:19-20). When I bring a surrendered heart, I bring one that is easily rebuked and disciplined. It is not hardened or self-sufficient. When I am willing to listen to His voice instead of my own, I have invited Him to come in and change me. 

He knocks, and it is up to me to open the door. He will not force His way through the door of my heart. I must yield and make the effort. He is knocking today, and longing to be invited into all the crevices of my life. He yearns to bring life-changing power to my heart, and through a yielded life, deliverance to a hurting world.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3 John 2

3 John 2
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (NASV). “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers” (KJV)
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In 1979 I was told I had cancer. When I read these words, God spoke directly to me. The Lord placed my name after “beloved”. I was His beloved. He wished for me to thrive and be in health! My mind focused completely on these words, and I decided they were His promise for me! He wanted me well! I read the second half of the verse, “even as thy soul prospers”. When my soul thrives and prospers, His promise is for healing for whatever my need. My soul thrives out of love for Him, and in return I prosper and discover His health. With spiritual growth, I can believe in God’s healing even when I haven’t experienced it, because with a prospering soul, God bestows greater faith to believe. With greater faith I also learned that the healing my mind envisions may not be what God has for me. But it is always for my spiritual best.

If you are struggling, latch on to this verse and let it take root in your spirit. Study. Dig. Seek. Pray. Grow. You will realize that with spiritual growth comes your own promise of healing.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trust in Him



Fear of what lies ahead can be very strong and frightening, but belief in God's faithfulness can give us greater faith. We don't live in the future, and we don't need to worry over what may or may not happen. We live in the here and now. 

How many of us struggle to figure out what is going to happen? We shouldn't try. It is a good thing that we do not know everything that is to come. God keeps it from us for our own benefit. Having a strong faith is more important than knowing what is ahead. Faith is worth too much to sacrifice in an attempt to bring peace to our minds. What we discover might be more than we can bear. Faith rises from an intimate knowledge of God. And the peace that comes from that intimacy is beyond human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). 

When we ask Him to take care of all that we face, we must trust Him completely to take care of it. When we give Him our worry for the present and our concern for what is to come, we must empty ourselves completely of all that hinders His work in us. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). He longs to be free in us. If we hold on to fear that defines who we are, there is no room for Him. There is no freedom. 

If I pray for Him to save me from difficulty and worry, then I must trust that He will. If I don't trust, then I become helpless and powerless. He is my rescuer and wants to rescue me. Instead of fighting His help when I am drowning, I will trust in His faithfulness to lift me out of my sea of despair. He calls me to launch out into the deep. I will not fight my rescuer because I fear drowning. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of His power and His love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I will not drown. I can depend on Him.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Live in My Peace

“Be still and know that I am God,” He speaks to my heart. “It is only when you reach this tranquil inner place that my deep work can be done in you. It is only in this stillness with me that your mind and spirit will be transformed and renewed. If you live in me, quietness, assurance, and strength will revive. This assurance springs from deep faith in my promise and power to take care of all that concerns your heart. Find this assurance. Seek it, and once you discover it, hold on to it, and never let anything cause you to sacrifice it. Take rest in me always, and live in my peace.”

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Tool in His Hands

A tool is not worth anything until it is used. If I am a hammer, I can’t pound a nail if someone does not pick me up and put muscle behind me. To be a tool in God’s hands, I must allow Him to pick me up and put His spiritual muscle behind me. I have no skill or power on my own, but as a tool in His hands, my skill is limitless; my strength is assured. Unlike a hammer, I have a will to surrender. I might try to hammer that nail myself, but it will be crooked, and even bent. My power is limited, and my view is flawed. His view of that nail is perfect, and in His hands, I can hit that target perfectly. Consider the tool He has called you to be, and allow Him to empower your target–your vision.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Prayer Relief

What keeps some Christians from turning to God when their burdens grow overwhelming? You would think that He would be their first avenue for relief, but often He isn't. Perhaps He hasn't answered prayers in the past the way they wished. Perhaps it is because they don't feel His presence, and they are afraid to try again. Perhaps the prayer which had once been a close friend now seems so old and distant. Whatever the reason, they feel alone and separated by a wall that has grown in its immensity. 

The good news is that God is still there, and the wall can come down. One chink in that forbidding structure, and it can tumble into pieces. One prayer from the heart-one cry from the spirit, and the barrier is gone. We might not know what to pray, but the cry of the spirit does. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). It is in surrender of myself to God, and in the groan of my spirit, when no words can express the pain in my heart, that I find peace that passes earthly understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), and I can breathe again.

If it has been awhile since you have prayed from the heart, He is still there. If it has been awhile since you felt His presence in prayer, He is still there. If it has been awhile since your heart has known one-on-one, spirit-to-spirit release, He is still there. Prayer always returns when you once again open the pain in your heart to the Holy Spirit. It is like an old friend who has never tired of the delay, but has waited patiently for you to discover the joy of release in that friendship once more.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wisdom Thoughts

“God alone knows the way to Wisdom; he knows the exact place to find it. He knows where everything is on earth; he sees everything under heaven. After he commanded the winds to blow, and measured out the waters–arranged for the rain and set off explosions of thunder and lightning, he focused on Wisdom, made sure it was all set and tested and ready. Then he addressed the human race: ‘Here it is! Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom, and Insight means shunning evil’” (Job 28:23-28, The Message). After His great creation, God focused on wisdom. At the tree of knowledge of good and evil, He gave man the freedom to choose. With the decision to explore its fruit, man opened the door to a knowledge God knew He could not handle. “Fear me, and respect me,” God said, “turn from evil”. This is where my wisdom will begin in your life.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). This fear is one of awe–of respect–of one that stirs obedience. This fear recognizes the power of God, and that He is in control. This is where wisdom begins. With knowledge of who God is, and how great is His power and love, comes understanding upon which faith grows.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-8, NIV). I have not because I ask not (James 4:2). I have not because I haven’t sought (Matthew 7:7). If I doubt Him, why should I receive anything from Him? I will ask for wisdom in faith, believing that He shall give it.

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6, NIV). When God’s wisdom is sought then God’s truth is made known (Luke 6:33), but just because you know God’s truth doesn’t mean you will submit to it. Knowledge cannot become understanding until it is applied.

Revere God. Pray for His wisdom. Believe, and don’t doubt you will receive. Seek it in His Word. Apply it to your life. Submit to its guidance, and receive greater understanding upon which faith is anchored.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Joy of the Purest Kind

JOY OF THE PUREST KIND
“Consider it pure joy,” James writes, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance! Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4). Spiritual maturity is achieved through perseverance. It must be finished in order to handle life’s unexpected circumstances. What a riveting image! There is a work inside each believer, and it can only be completed through endurance! The Lord’s perfect will is for faith to spring up in the midst of hardship. It is my decision whether the lesson is learned.

            Trials and suffering should inspire spiritual growth. Peter writes, “These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7). The trying of your faith during hardship can develop the ability to persevere. Christ reveals that we are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Perseverance is meant to spur each believer on toward this goal (Matthew 5:48). 

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (II Peter 1:3-4). God has given His promises so that we have the strength to stand against sin, to be part of His very nature, and to grow spiritually. To escape sin’s grasp, and to be more like Him, spiritual growth is not an option. Peter explains that we must add to faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. We can’t add these alone (II Peter 1:5-7). Only the Lord supplies the strength for this accomplishment, but we make the decision to step out in faith.

I must grow in perseverance through times of suffering, and be available for His purposes. My faith in Jesus Christ should be my most valued possession! My attitudes, thoughts, and desires should be those of an adult, and should be first to arise in difficult circumstance. Most of all, they should spur me on toward the perfection found only in Christ. What I have within must be tested to see if it has any worth. Untried, it has no value, but tried, it is refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit. “Consider it pure joy,” James writes. That I should joyfully learn perseverance from suffering? God wishes me to understand that it is a joy of the purest kind.

KNOWING JESUS

  Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing...