A Life of Endurance
A LIFE OF ENDURANCE
Part 5 of The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. December 10, 2017.
BIBLE READING & PRAYER: Galatians 5:22-25
INTRODUCTION: FORBEARANCE OR ENDURANCE?
The fruit of the Spirit is FORBEARANCE. When the translators of the NIV got to this Greek word, they had a choice to make. Should the word be translated with an emphasis on persevering with our friends - "forbearance," or should it be translated with an emphasis on persevering in faith - "endurance"?
Context always matters in translation. The context here in Galatians 5:22-23 is relationships: love, joy, peace, "patience," kindness ... Those are all relationship words. So, the translators chose wisely. Forbearance is all about maintaining friendships.
When we cooperate with the Spirit, we will choose to be patient with people. Ephesians 4:2 says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be PATIENT, bearing with one another in love."
That's how patience works its way out in the church. We don't walk away from friends even when they say something harsh. We bear with them, give them a break, forgive them, get over it. That's hard to do and that's why its a fruit of the Spirit. We can't do it without the Spirit in our lives.
That kind of patience is not what I want us to talk about today. I want us to focus on the kind of patience that is endurance in faith. There are three New Testament passages where "patience" is used in the context of endurance and perseverance in faith.
Colossians 1:11 "... being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and PATIENCE ..."
Hebrews 6:12 "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and PATIENCE inherit what has been promised."
James 5:7-8, 10-11 "Be PATIENT, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, PATIENTLY waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be PATIENT and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. ... 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of PATIENCE in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about."
Did you notice that in all three of those passages that "patience" is used in tandem with "faith" or "great endurance" or "stand firm" or "persevere"? That's what I'm teaching about today: How to endure under pressure. How to persevere through hardship. How to stand firm in faith no matter what.
Those three passages teach us all we need to know:
A. I ENDURE BY PRAYER.
Paul prayed for the Colossians to be strengthened with God's power - "all power according to his glorious might SO THAT you may have great endurance and patience" - Colossians 1:11.
Prayer connects us to God and his power. Think about that power for a moment:
God's power is ALL power and glorious might. It's ultimate power and authority. He is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" - Ephesians 3:20.
God's power crushes satan and his demons under our feet. It gives us victory over sins. And it raises the dead. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:31
God's power protects us. It's greater than our doubts. It builds our faith.
God's mighty power is supernatural, overcoming, demon-beating, sin-crushing, doubt-defeating, faith-building, so that we have GREAT endurance and patience.
We stand firm by the power of God. And that power is activated by prayer.
Paul experienced pressure to quit the faith; there was lots of opposition and hardship as he moved from city to city sharing the gospel. He was stoned and beaten and jailed. There were riots and trials. So, he discovered "prayer-power:"
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers."
Hardship drove him to God, desperate for help. He couldn't "rely on himself" - it was beyond his ability to endure. He needed supernatural strength to stand firm, so he prayed.
I don't pray out of duty; I pray out of necessity. I need resurrection power in my life. One of the best prayers is so simple: H.E.L.P! You can pray that anytime, anyplace, about anything. Believers have unlimited access to unlimited supernatural power. Pray and watch what God will do for you.
B. I ENDURE BY IMITATING PEOPLE'S LIVES.
We can learn to endure in faith by copying people who have endured in faith. This is a recurring theme in two of the passages I mentioned earlier:
Hebrews 6 asks us to imitate people of faith and endurance in the OT: "IMITATE those who through faith and PATIENCE inherit what has been promised."
James 5 points to the examples of the Old Testament prophets and Job: "Brothers and sisters, as an example of PATIENCE in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."
Hebrews 11 is the hall of faith, portraits of believers who endured in faith by the power of God. For example: Hebrews 11:35-37 "There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword."
And Hebrews 12 says, they did it, so can you: Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (the examples of all those people who endured; they're not watching from the bleachers), 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."
The Bible is full of mini-biographies of men and women who persevered under pressure. All these people inspire us to never quit, to press on in faith. We learn endurance from their examples:
Adam and Eve: God's promise is bigger than our failures.
Noah: God plus one obedient believer is a majority.
Abraham: God knows where he is leading us even when we're clueless.
Joseph: setbacks are setups for comebacks.
David: God's grace is greater than all my sin.
I could go on and on ...
The best example to follow is Jesus. He endured by faith in the power of God:
Hebrews 12:1-3 "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (HOW?) 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (WHY?) For the joy set before him (resurrection and rule) he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
By the example of his life and ministry, Jesus teaches us to press on to never quit:
Press on, Jesus was poor, humble, and humiliated.
Press on, Jesus resisted satan by the word of God.
Press on, Jesus endured opposition and misunderstanding and rejection.
Press on, Jesus suffered physically and spiritually on the cross.
Press on, Jesus beat down death and the devil.
Press on, Jesus is risen and ruling all things.
Don't quit. Jesus will provide in super-abundance whatever you need to keep pressing on. If you stay in faith now, you will reign with him forever.
Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Get your focus off of your problems and pain. Ignore what the world says. Forget the critics and naysayers. When that demonic voice of doubt rises up inside your head, capture it with truth and bury it with faith.
By that same faith, fix your eyes on Jesus. Copy his life. AND never, ever, quit. Don't turn back to your old life. Don't give in to unbelief. Never surrender to sin. Stand firm in obedience. Press on to win the prize. Persevere. Endure until the end.
God is able. He is able!
C. I ENDURE BY FINDING THE POSITIVES IN PRESSURE.
When hard times shake us up, it's for a reason. God's got a plan. We stay in faith by looking for God's positives, God's purpose in our pain.
Lead us to greater surrender and obedience - Hebrews 12:7.
Produce maturity (Christ-like thinking, values, character) - James 1:4.
Produce character (Christ-likeness) and hope - Romans 5:3.
Test our faith, prove it genuine, and prepare us for Christ's return - James 5:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Prepare us for an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of light - Colossians 1:12; Hebrews 6:12.
Prepare us to receive the crown of life - James 1:12.
Prepare us to reign with Christ - 2 Timothy 2:12.
It's not easy to stay in faith when people criticize us. Or when we're hurting or tired. Doubts may seem to hide God's face. Depression closes down on us. Temptation becomes an endless, nagging, obsession. But it's right there in those moments that God's mighty power for endurance is MOST effective. He won't hold anything back from you. Acting by faith in that power may feel impossible. There may be tears and desperate prayers, and everything in you might scream I can't ... BUT YOU CAN!
In 2004, the US Defense Department held a race for driver-less vehicles in the Mojave Desert - the DARPA Grand Challenge. One of the teams was from Carnegie Mellon University. Their vehicle was an old Hummer called Sandstorm.
Just weeks before the race, it crashed and all the sensors and computers were crushed. The team were already exhausted. They had spent months in the desert getting ready. Their team leader arrived at the crash site the next day and the team members were scattered around on the ground - sleeping, discouraged, defeated.
He told them to get up and get going. They were going to rebuild and they were going to race and they were going to win. And they did.
One of the guys, a computer scientist said something like this: "I though I had pushed myself to my limit. I felt like I had given everything and had nothing left. But when I was pushed, I discovered I could go beyond my limits. It was amazing."
You can endure by God's mighty power. He will give you GREAT ENDURANCE to go beyond what you think are your limits. You can't, but he can, so take one step of faith and obedience, then another, then another. God is able!