Colossians 1: 11          NLT

We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

If I could say this better than Paul did, I would. However, he so wonderfully hit upon exactly what we all need. This struck me as something he could have written yesterday as he was thinking about the Corona Virus crisis and all its attendant problems from supply shortages to economic fluctuations and the rest. I suppose, each generation has its challenges, and we are all in need of the same grace, comfort and divine strength as the previous generation.

Has there ever been a season when your patience was stretched further than it has been in the last two years? Endurance?! You bet we are in need of endurance. We certainly need strengthening. I’ve seen so many who are run down to the last ounce of their endurance, but God picks them up and off they go again. We have all been tried in what seems every possible way these last two years which is why we need a prayer like this, and I do pray this prayer over you all today.

There is a word which encompasses all the blessings Paul prays for. It is grace. Grace is hard to define but you sure know it when you see it. One definition for it is courteous goodwill. I like that. It shows the poise and kindness of a Father who could deal out punishment but chooses not to. Goodwill represents the Fathers consistent best intention for you. I think of courteous as well mannered, elegant and classy. It is that kind of goodwill his grace shows us. He empowers and sustains us with the gentleness of a Victorian gentleman. His words are kind and gentle, a balm for a troubled spirit. His grace isn’t demanding but it is uncompromising. Father’s grace picks us up when we stumble. It treats the wound and restores us. Grace is a beautiful thing.

One might also be intrigued that Paul would preach joy and thanksgiving considering he wrote this letter from prison. He had a personal revelation of God’s grace coming on the scene to meet needs. Paul experienced God’s power strengthening him, giving him the patience and endurance he needed. We, too, are in need of the sustaining power of grace. May it overwhelm your problems and refill your tank today.

Divine Destiny

Hebrews 12: 1       (New Living Translation)

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

This may be a familiar verse to you however, I appreciate how the New Living Translation puts forth the ideas in such a straightforward and simple way. The NIV Bible says to run the race with perseverance. The key, though, is the imparted knowledge of how we do this. It is one thing to mentally nod in agreement to run the race with all perseverance but how? What does that mean in every day application?

This translation explains that the way to successfully run the race God has set before us is to keep our eyes on Jesus. It is so easy for us to get into a works mentality when we read a verse like this and begin to look at our own strength, i.e. what should I do, when should I do it, how much should I pray, how long should I read my Bible? It becomes a list of New Year’s resolutions which rely on our will power and determination. That, however, is a prescription for failure. We have done attempted to run this race in our own strength before and have failed. Now is the time for a new model, a new prescription and one that is guaranteed to succeed.

The Passion Translation gives us further insight into this winning method, “We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.” Isn’t that well stated? This is a race of faith, so we learn to fix our eyes upon Jesus. He is the author of our faith. The Passion Translation takes the explanation one step further by teaching that the way to keep your eyes on Jesus is to “look away from the natural realm.” In other words, we must cease looking to the world for our answers. We must look to wisdom and of course, the Spirit of Wisdom is of our Father.

We need to learn how to inquire of the Father and how to focus on Jesus? What does that mean? For one thing, it seems to mean to turn our eyes away from worldly wisdom. If we try to live on a diet of the world’s thinking, we are going to be malnourished. Certainly, most of us pray asking Yahweh for answers but do we hear Him? Do we pause to listen? One aspect is turning away from worldly media and wisdom, but the second part is turning to Jesus the initiator and perfecter of our faith. This involves developing our hearing. We cannot afford to walk around deaf anymore. The world’s way of thinking is killing us. So, how do you hear God? Where do you look when you put your eyes on Jesus?

Jesus said he only did the things he saw his Father do. In fact, what he really said is that he could do nothing of himself but rather only what he saw his father do. That is a pretty powerful statement. If we apply Jesus’ model to our lives, as I understand many Christians try to do, then where do we look? How do you really put your eyes on Jesus? Are you using the visionary capacity that is granted you in the Holy Spirit? Are you using meditation to allow Jesus to commune with your mind and spirit? Are you reading the Bible keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus there? These are all questions we should ask ourselves. We have been given the mandate, to “run with endurance the race God has set before us.” We have been told the means for accomplishing this is to fix our eyes upon Jesus. How do we even know we are running the right race if we don’t tune in to Jesus?

We each need to watch Jesus, listen to him and commune with him constantly so he can show us and even tell us what path to follow, what steps to take. As long as we follow our ideas, or the world’s wisdom we will frustrate our divine destiny. It is early in the year, only the 9th, so let’s each determine to slow down and seek our God. Let’s find out what is on His mind and what plans He has for us this year. Then, when you have clear direction from the Father, then run, run with Jesus the race Yahweh has ordained for you. It will be really fun and very rewarding.

God . . . endures

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love is not a sissy. It is strong and tough. I am reminded of the old Timex commercial which proclaimed that a Timex watch could “take a licking and keep on ticking.” Well, love is the same way. It does not falter in tough times. Love is the strongest force in the universe. Love is not a sissy and it’s not for sissies. Love has a backbone and that shows when the chips are down.

Since God is love, then He does not falter either. He endures eternally. You well know that life is not always easy. There are challenges but none of these things ever faze God or diminish His capacity to keep on loving you, believing in you and helping you. Further, no mean thing you may have ever said about God or to God can limit how much He loves you. God’s love takes a licking and keeps on ticking. It is not the casual love that blooms in spring and has run its course by winter. Whether we ever express any affection towards God, He will continue to love us forever. God even loves the person who hates Him. If there is a person in your world who denigrates God, you can look at them and know that God loves them with everything He is because He is love.

And if you know anyone who has ever shown love to anyone or anything, then He has to have a measure of God in him because God is love. Any measure of love is a measure of God. Isn’t that good news? Truly no one is lost to us. We always have hope because love never gives up, never loses hope and endures forever.