Thursday, July 28, 2016

Persevere—You’ll like what comes next

Persevering in the midst of a trial is difficult. Giving up is appealing, but realistically, is surrender an option? If not…

How do we persevere?

First, we admit our humanity and our inability to go it alone.

In the Bible, we see Moses, Job, King David, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul, to name a few, caught between the proverbial rock and hard place—with the hard place usually being death.

Job said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9-10). We then see his humanity in the next chapter when he sits down and laments his own birth (Job 3). 

Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He prayed twice for God to take the cup of crucifixion from him but ultimately yielded “may your will be done” (Matthew 26:38-42).  

The Apostle Paul “pleaded” three times for his thorn to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). 

We see each of these men in a state of human despair, yet they didn’t rely on humanity to save them, because, frankly, it wasn’t equal to the task. So what was their secret to persevering?

If you read further into the book of Job, the Gospels, and the letters written by the Apostle Paul, you’ll see that when these men cried out, it was to God.

As Christians, we know our perseverance comes from God. He said His grace is sufficient for all things. He’s not going to allow a trial into our lives that He's unwilling to equip us for. We must "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and delve into the Word and see God's promises and instructions laid out for us through His apostles.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:17-21 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 

That sounds like a pretty good formula for persevering. If we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, we won’t grow spiritually faint and lose heart. We’ll also be able to throw off that which tries to hinder us—namely Satan.

But what’s the purpose of a trial? Why doesn’t God just fix things? In other words…

Why do we persevere?

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 

…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3-4 

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16 

In addition to the spiritual growth we experience, our ultimate reward will be in heaven.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promisedHebrews 10:35-36 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 

Are you walking through a trial and having trouble persevering? Be encouraged by God’s Word that He keeps His promises, He walks with you through difficult times, and your faith will grow. In turn, you'll often find yourself in a position to encourage someone on the path behind you going through a similar trial.

Best of all, you’ll stand before God one day and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21),  

Do you have a Bible verse that has encouraged you during difficult times?

If you need prayer, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

“Woman Climbing Rock” image courtesy of olovedog at
“Young Woman Praying” image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
“Faith and Believe” image courtesy of the pathtraveler

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wringing Our Hands Isn’t An Option

Feeling despair is easy with current world events. If you live long enough, you realize the world seems to go from one catastrophe to another. And certainly, our nation hasn’t seen this much inner turmoil since the 1960s and 70s.

Where do we find relief?

The key is not to give into despair. Wringing our hands isn't an option for Christians. Our role is to lead when it comes to bringing peace, hope, and optimism to those around us.

How is this possible when it feels like the world is crashing around us?

Because our lives are not rooted in external circumstances.

We are not of this world. We are to be peacemakers—not of worldly peace but inner peace (Matthew 5:9). This begins with resting in God’s assurances.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT 

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT 

If our minds and hearts aren’t focused on the promises in God’s word through Bible study and prayer, Satan will work to render us impotent in our Christian walk by sidetracking us with worry and anxiety.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT 

Jesus warned of hard times in Matthew 24. He specifically warned Christians that we would suffer because of him. But we don’t have to get dragged into the propaganda wars that engulf social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Christians can and should mediate to diffuse divisiveness and show compassion. Stand up for the oppressed and weak. Champion what is right. In doing so, never lose sight of bringing the hope found in Christ Jesus through salvation, the peace that envelopes the believer, and our spirit of optimism that radiates outward to others.

Hope that is found in Jesus’ words:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13 NIV 

Isn’t this a great promise to hold onto in the midst of worldly turmoil? If we stand firm, we will be saved.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV 

We all have a story to tell!

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
~Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915

Revere Christ. Be prepared with an answer for the reason of your hope. Be encouraged that angels are around us with echoes of mercy and whispers of love. We are born of His spirit and washed in His blood!

Share that encouragement with those around you. Bless others with your story of hope, peace, and optimism rooted in Christ Jesus.

What’s your favorite Bible verse that lifts you up when you’re tempted to despair?

If you need prayer, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.

Lost in His Love,

©Laura Hodges Poole

“Holding Hand Gesture” image courtesy of Ambro at
“Ray Blue Sky” image courtesy of pakorn at
“Bible” image courtesy of pazham at
“Silhouette of a Man” image courtesy of markusa at