Run With Endurance

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

A few years ago my husband got really excited about running. Since he enjoyed it so much I thought maybe I should join him. The first day out I got my running shoes on and my workout clothes and I was ready to go. We stretched for a little bit and then got started. The first few minutes were easy, but I soon realized I had very little endurance. I was a mess! I couldn’t breathe, my muscled ached, and there were plenty of tears. All I wanted to do was give up. I begged my husband to go on without me but he refused and stayed right by me encouraging me and challenging me to go just a little further.

In the book of Hebrews we are encouraged to “lay aside every weight and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” You don’t just wake up one day and have the endurance needed to run a race, it takes time. Endurance is built through struggle, perseverance and trials. Endurance requires that your mind is set upon reaching an end goal and that you will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. Our goal as believers is to live a life pleasing to the Lord so that those around us can look at our lives and see the witness of a life lived by faith.

The next few runs were similar to the first but it wasn’t long before I started to build up my endurance. I must admit, if I was running on my own I would have quit five minutes into the first run, but I wasn’t alone. I had my husband there beside me being my encourager and reminding me that the end was near. As we run the race that is talked about in Hebrews we are not called to do this in our own strength. The Lord gives us the strength to persevere and He has also given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us. Not only that but we are a body of believers and God calls us to build up and support one another. If you are in need of support and encouragement call on the Lord and ask for His Spirit and call out to the body of Christ and allow them to be there for you. Or pray and ask God to show you who you can come alongside and build them up. Let’s run with endurance this race set before us!

Kim S.

His Divine Power

Today I had a root canal done; now this process was not easy. First, the Endodontic (a specialist) had to inject pain killer three times to make sure I was numb before proceeding to work on the root. Then he started to perform oral surgery on my tooth, this process involved drilling, pushing, and suctioning. The DDS was so gentle; he explained each procedure from the noise of the drills from high pitched to a loud grinding noise. He was so gentle when he placed the needle in my gums. The whole surgery took one hour. Afterwards, he explained what he did he showed me the before and after pictures of my tooth. The whole experience was awesome because I was in the hands of a gentle Doctor, who removed the decaying and infected root. He put medication in the root so it would heal. Yes there is pain, pain that brought me to dentist, pain during the removal and restoration of the root and now pain as it heals.

So too, we experience the removal of the infected decaying old man by a loving Father who through His Word and the Holy Spirit makes us new a man. Galatians 5: 17 say “The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. V 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit you are no longer subject to the law.”

Unfortunately, this sin nature rears itself when I gossip, become jealous, have selfish ambitions, quarreling, outbursts of anger and not being submissive to authority figures in my life. Praise God, that He doesn’t leave us in this state but He changes us to be like him. 2 Peter 1:3 says that “as we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness.” He has given us His word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, fellowship and worship. The more we know Him, our sinful natures is being removed and replaced with His nature. Galatians 5:22 says “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Yes, when he reveals all the ugliness in my life, he is in the process of removing the decayed old man, it is painful, but that pain results in a new person, a new life. Also during this process we have His promise that we are equipped, He gave us his divine power to live a godly life. Therefore, remember His promise, act on His promise by knowing his divine power in you.

Elsa D.

Wisdom as we Change in Order to Mature

So it has taken me 7 months to lose the weight that I have been wanting to lose (yeah). I share this, not to boast, but rather to share a point that God used this time to show me. This time around, my attempts at weight loss did not come easily at all. I was becoming frustrated and was about to give up. I began to pray really crying out for peace with where I was or for guidance with what I should do next. What worked (to manage my weight) in my 20’s did not work in my 30’s. What worked in my 30’s, did not work in my 40’s. You get the picture.

In our spiritual walk, many times we begin to take this same (lack of) approach. We think that the way we went about doing being in His Word should stay the same. We do not take into account our changes, prior knowledge, new circumstances, etc. By doing so, we may end up being stuck in our growth much like being stuck in our weight loss.
While His Word never changes (Malachai 3:6), we do. Parts of our bodies work slower and parts might stop working all together. We need to make adjustments in our approach to many things. In the same way, God wants us to exhibit signs of maturity, He wants us to be doers of His Word not just observers. He wants us to wean ourselves from spiritual milk and soft food and move into healthier, meatier food with more substance. Thus life in general and spiritually can become more meaningful.

Benjamin Jowett, an influential theologian, wrote, “Though I am growing old, I maintain that the best is yet to come-the time when one may see things more dispassionately and know myself and others more truly, and perhaps be able to do more, and in religion rest centered in a few simple truths. I do not want to ignore the other side, that one will not be able to see so well or walk so far or read so much. But there may be more peace within, more communications with God, more real light instead of distraction about many things, better relations with others, and fewer mistakes.”

We are encouraged to make changes and adaptations, taking into account our physical and mental changes, but embracing these to help us continue to grow. With our weight management, as our metabolism slows down, we are not told to give up or to completely stop eating, but rather we are encouraged to make changes and find new approaches to food and exercise. In the same way, we should be encouraged to not stop reading His Word, but rather to find new approaches or new groups in order to foster continued growth. 2Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to a god as a workman…accurately handling the word of truth.”

My prayer is that we may continue our growth while focusing on His Word until we meet Him for even more intimate studies in heaven.

Alex B

Finding Joy in Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:1-6.

At times, the last emotion we would expect ourselves to feel is joy when we just lost our job, when the laundry pile is taller than we are, when the bills are mounting and your paycheck was gone the day you got it, when your kids are sick or when you’ve just been told that you have cancer. We don’t even want to think about perseverance when just making it through the day seems impossible. James tells us to consider these trials pure joy. What was he thinking?

Trials can make us feel depressed, helpless and out of control. When we let our problems overwhelm us, thinking that the burden is ours alone to take care of, Satan loves this. He loves it when we put all of our energy into anger and denial. Satan is waiting for the chance to fill our minds with doubt and frustration. He tells us that God allowed these things to happen to us because we don’t deserve any better. Satan may even convince us that God doesn’t love us and that’s why He allowed these trials to happen, which will eventually drive us away from God.

But according to James our trials are really sources of joy because they are signs that God loves us and wants to pull us closer to him. Trials are a good thing when they bring us to our knees to ask God for help. Our faith is strengthened as we give God the control and put our trust wholly in God’s promise. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

Paul struggled with many trials in his life but he realized that in his weakest moments, God’s work in his life was the strongest. Like Paul, we persevere when we lean on God’s power and trust completely in his promises.

God knows we are weak and our faith is sometimes shaky but the blessing for those who persevere under trial is contentment and peace. It is the contentment and peace that comes from knowing that God is in complete control of this world and He has only our best interest in mind, knowing with confidence that our earthly life will end with eternal life in heaven.

This is the joy that James is talking about; a deep-seated contentment and peace that we have through Jesus.

Patti S.

Purify My Heart

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” Psalm 119:71 This probably isn’t anyone’s favorite verse, but when you think about it, this is a verse we could use on our hearts all day long. How often do we feel afflicted during the day, by our bosses or coworkers or by inconsiderate strangers, or even by our own families? Granted our afflictions aren’t always as horrible as they feel at the time, but they’re afflictions to us all the same. There’s a phrase I hear a lot from Christians, “The enemies attacking me.” I can’t help but feel like this phrase is backwards to the perspective we should have to our afflictions and almost giving the enemy more power than he really has. Yes, the enemy attacks us, but I can’t forget abut the first chapter of Job, that Satan had to ask God for permission to afflict Job. God loves us and I’m convinced only allows affliction in our lives when it’s for good. How much more productive do you think we could be, if when something bad happens to us, instead of seeing it as the enemy attacking, we look at it as God refining us?

Psalm 66:10-12 says, “For You, O God, have proved us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.” When I first breezed over these verses, I thought, ‘That’s not right to blame God,’ but as I read them again it made sense. Everything that’s happened to us, whether we perceive it to be good or bad, was from God, with a purpose: to bring us closer to Him. How quickly might we move past our trials if we accredited them to His working in us, drawing us nearer in love. It won’t be comfortable, painless, or easy, and God doesn’t expect us to bury our emotions when we’re hurting, He says, there is a time for mourning, but we don’t need to be joyful to hold to the knowledge that it’s all for good, we just need to cling to the truth that He loves us. Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The enemy has no power over us anymore, only the power God’s given him to draw us nearer to Him. Our afflictions though painful are the cutting and polishing of precious stones, the refining of silver or gold, the long suffering of a grain of sand being transformed into a pearl in a clam.

Hannah M.