Tag Archives: endurance

Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

It was a day of errands and driving, and a true blessing to spend time with a woman who has long been a mentor to me. We talked about the real meaty things of life, right to the point. She is honest and wise. I’ve known her over half my life and it’s not long enough–I find as we’re both getting older and my own seasons are changing, there is still so much to learn.

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

I think about examples–especially in regards to parenting and mentoring. One friend nearly despised his father for the type of husband/father he was–and yet, later in life, became just as harsh and hurtful as his dad. I feel certain he never wanted to become that way, but how did it happen?

My mentor and I talked about relationships and truth and integrity. We talked about perseverance. We touched on legacy, and I considered hers as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is a model of a life lived in love. I thank God for her influence.

When someone sifts through the pieces of life I’ll one day leave behind, what will my story tell? Because my life will tell a story. Will it show Jesus? Will it be defined by love?

I cling tightly to God’s enduring Word.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT

Lord, I thank you for dear friends like family who have helped me and encouraged me, for women who’ve taught me how to love and serve by example. Thank you for your Word that is true and convicts and corrects. Thank you that you love me so much to equip me to do good work. Help me to remain faithful to the things you have taught me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 42; Mark 12; Job 8; Romans 12

Joseph’s story speaks of patient endurance. Betrayed. Forsaken. He continues to be true to God, no matter the circumstance. He stands before his brothers in advantage.

Job and his friends try to make sense of his devastating loss and suffering.

The widow offers up abundance from scarcity.

A question from the crowd, “Should we pay taxes, or not?”

The religious elite–their flowing robes, their seats of honor, their long prayers belie true motives.

Every person has a story to tell.

In Romans 12, Paul offers a key to the good life–God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
    I will pay them back,”
    says the Lord.

20 Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
    If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
    burning coals of shame on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:2-21, NLT

Father God, this life is vapor thin. My days tell a story of what matters to me. If someone were to examine my life, what story would they uncover? Help me to keep my eyes on you in all things.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 34; Mark 5; Job 1; Roman 5

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12, NLT

My dad died last weekend. It wasn’t expected. This week has been focused on completing tasks: contacting friends and family; notifying professional contacts; meeting with the funeral home and cemetery; picking out his clothes.

Each day has held unexpected challenges. Logistical. Financial. Emotional. I’m sure everyone walks a similar road that first week. We bury him tomorrow. Many other things will be buried with him tomorrow too: the untold stories of his history, the future occasions we would have gathered together, the possibilities of what could have been. It’s hard.

I’m thankful God has met me through every step of this way. He’s poured out grace, strength and provision. He’s cleared a way for me to walk, and has helped me step over the obstacles. I cling tightly to him. He meets me where I am, today too, in the reading.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:1-11, NLT

Father God, sometimes heaven seems far away–but it is very near. Thank you for your great love for us, that you would send your Son to die for our sins and ignorance–not only that we would be forgiven and restored, but that we could experience life in full with you here and after. Thank you that your gift is free on belief–and because of this, I know my dad is safe in your care. Help me, Lord, to guard my heart these coming weeks–to meet the new tasks, to process the deeper thoughts, to create my own legacy. Thank you for not abandoning me, but for meeting me in every step of this. I lift my head to hear your song, and I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 14; Romans 12; Jeremiah 51; Psalm 30

There’s a Hebrews verse that has spoken to me over the years. In Romans 12, I hear Paul from the sidelines, “Run your race!”

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT.

Run your race.

 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability …speak out, serve, teach, encourage, give, lead, show kindness (and do it gladly). Romans 12:6-8.

Run your race.

Really love. Hate wrong. Honor each other. Work hard. Keep praying. Romans 12:9-13.

Run your race.

Bless those who persecute you. Live in harmony. Never take revenge. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:14-21.

Run your race.

The running is sweaty and messy and painful and ugly … but sometimes the view is beautiful; and the breeze is refreshing; and you meet new friends along the way; and you know that you aren’t alone. Or forsaken.

Run.

Father God, I don’t know the course, but you do–and it is good and pleasing and perfect, your will. Even on the hardest days, where would I ever want to be but in your will? Thank you for loving me the way I am, in progress. You created me–the messy parts and the beautiful parts and the quirky parts. I want to keep my eyes fixed on you, Author and Perfecter. Help me to throw off the things that hold me back from living the life you’ve called me to.

Courtney (66books365)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1 NLT.

 

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1 Samuel 5,6; Romans 5; Jeremiah 43; Psalm 19

There’s nothing like a hearty measure of pressure to bring out my bad side. As the pressure increased, so did my impatience and irritation. I’m thankful that I was able to identify the source and realize the target–it stopped me in my tracks, but still, tracks were made. I had apologies to make. Then I sat in a room to gather my thoughts for twenty minutes. (And I might have cried.)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3 NLT.

Sometimes life’s demands leave me feeling empty, wondering if I will be replenished.

How can I run on empty?

I took the afternoon off to refuel–sitting under a walnut tree on a picnic blanket to eat lunch with my kids. The cool temps and the clear blue sky hinted at fall.

I can’t always stop the earth’s spin to take a picnic break, and so I thought on what I need to do to prepare for the next leg of the race.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6 NLT

My words and actions declare a message too. This is a recurring refrain for me.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NLT

Dear Jesus, I think I’m going to be sticking as close to you as I can this year. Let me rejoice as I run. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 3; Psalm 85; Isaiah 31; Revelation 1

Do not be afraid. God fights for you. This was in Deuteronomy 3, along with testimony of God’s protection and provision. Lately I’ve come up against situations where I remind myself to trust God. In a place of hindsight from ugly battles, I can see how he has fought for me and protected me. I can trust him going forward too.

He speaks peace to his faithful people, but let them not return to their foolish ways. Psalm 85:8 NLT.

Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Psalm 85:12 NLT.

Depending on strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord. Isaiah 31:1. I’ve looked to my own strength too often, instead of God’s. I’m learning more and more to rely on him, and to take my thoughts to him in prayer.

I know the glorious day will come when each of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images your sinful hands have made. Isaiah 31:7. Thank you, God, for showing me what I placed before you–so I could walk away from it and worship you.

Freed us from sin by his blood. He has made us a kingdom of priests for God his Father. Revelation 1:5b, 6. Made us a kingdom, here, of priests. For God. That certainly reframes the morning.

John, a brother and partner in suffering, in God’s kingdom, in the patient endurance that Jesus calls us. Revelation 1:9.

Lord, thank you for these words today, to sit with you over coffee. Thank you for speaking into my life with words of trust, protection, freedom. Thank you for showing me a bigger picture (of suffering and battles and your strength). Love you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 28; 1 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 7; Psalm 45

I was a late bloomer athletically.  During most of my school years, I was one of the slowest boys in my class, year in and year out.  I’m not sure when that began to change, but by late in high school I could keep up with the pack when running, and in my college years I discovered I could actually leave many behind in a sprint.  Only in sprints though.  I had developed a quick but short-lived burst of speed.  Several times I began a jogging regimen only to remember a couple weeks into the process that I absolutely hate distance running.  My all-time record distance is a two-mile run.  Noteworthy, it is not.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Paul uses athletic events such as foot races as metaphors for our spiritual journey.  He doesn’t mention the distance of the race he has in mind, but for the comparison to have any validity, he must be referring to a long distance event.  My spiritual growth remarkably mirrors my running achievements, and thus you may correctly imagine that I find this passage  somewhat concerning.

My spiritual growth tends to come in sharp bursts followed by distressing plateaus or even periods of backtracking.  I see the growth I’ve undergone, or I revel in new knowledge or a breakthrough in understanding that God has provided me, and I stop growing while I indulge my sense of satisfaction.  On occasion I’ve even gotten so confident I’ve grown past a given sin that I’ve gotten complacent and fallen right back to the struggle I had supposedly overcome.

Paul urges us to instill in our spiritual growth the attitudes of an elite athlete in training.  Stopping in the middle of the race course to revel in my progress along the track…  Getting so confident in my lead that I actually backpedal along the more scenic sections of the course so that I can take it in all over again…  Paul says that’s no way to run this race of the life of the Believer.

Enduring self-discipline.

Constant clawing and scratching for every new inch of the track.

Steadfast determination to never give up ground.

Focusing on the prize awaiting every victorious servant of God.

Doing all things that draw me closer to it and doing nothing that carries me away from it.

These are the attributes of any Olympic runner capable of grasping a prize of limited value.  Paul invites me to consider how much more I should be doing to win a prize of eternal value.  My conclusion?  Far more than I’ve ever done thus far.

Dear God, You’ve taken me far from where I began in my journey of sanctification and service in Your glorious name.  At times, You’ve grown me in ways and with speeds that took my breath away.  In between those times I’ve often sat idly waiting, distracted from the goals You’ve set before me.  Forgive me.  Build within me great energy and endurance.  Teach me to keep You and Your plans for me in the forefront of my mind at all times.  Show me how to love all actions that bring me closer to the man You desire me to be, and teach me to hate every use of my time and energy that takes me in other directions.  Make me into a servant that pleases You, one with a record of service that is worthy of the time You’ve given me on this earth.  Amen.

Michael  (mmattix)

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