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Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. Hebrews 12:3 (NLT)

While doing my student teaching I was also a volunteer for the schools football team. The team had a rich history of dominance in the region and won the state championship the year I helped. One of the drills that I remember the team running through was a drill in which a single blocker was matched up against two or three other teammates. Their assignment was to protect a football on the ground three feet behind him. One man against three. Not good odds.

The amazing thing to me is the number of times ‘David beat Goliath’. There were no trophies involved. No newspaper interviews. No accolades. Why did they work so hard? Pride. Pride in saying I accomplished my task. I reached my goal. I protected the ball.

In a speech to his alma mater Winston Churchill stated, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

You may be up against some seemingly insurmountable obstacle today. Perhaps you are in conflict with someone you love, or you are in financial crisis. Maybe you or a loved one are facing an illness that has little chance of successful treatment. It could be that you have a strong desire to change the world for Jesus, yet you feel all your efforts are futile. You want to do so much for Jesus but all our efforts seem to fall short.

The enemy of our souls wants to keep us in bondage to the feelings of insecurity and failure. He delights in seeing us question our abilities and our chances at success. He whispers words of discouragement and doubt every step of the way.

When the enemy encourages you to give up remember the goal you are striving for. Remember that our hero in the faith; our teacher; our source of power also endured ridicule and resentment. He battled the whispers of doubt, the rejection of family and friends; the misunderstanding of those who claimed allegiance. Yet in all this, he didn’t give up. Why? He remember the goal. He remembered the prize. He remembered who he was doing all this for…and that person was you.

Again, from Churchill, “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem”

As believers in Jesus Christ we have access to the mightiest power in the universe. As you go forth to face the challenges of the day remember that you have one walking beside you that knows the bitter taste of adversity, but also has experienced ultimate victory – Jesus Christ, our Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as I face the temptations, the doubts and all the other obstacles of my day, may I remember that you were not only victorious over your battles, you fight beside me in mine. Amen.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 1 Chronicles 17:16 (NLT)

It had been a long trip. Over 40 years since that day when the young shepherd boy had been called from the fields to meet the prophet. He still got goose-bumps, after all these years, as he remembered returning to the field and having the prophets words sink in. He would be king of Israel. He! David son of Jesse!

He remembered the adrenaline that flowed through him as the giant fell at his feet. He could still hear the cheers of the army behind him, the slaps on the back from his brothers and the other soldiers who’d been cowering in faithless fear.

Then there was the complicated situation with his very best friend in the whole world, Jonathan. The adventures those two shared together were amazing, yet bittersweet as David’s relationship with Jonathan’s father, Saul, grew increasingly volatile. A knot formed in his throat as he remembered when he heard the news that Jonathan had been killed in battle.

Now, he sat in his palace. His position as King solidified. His nation was at peace. His family content. The most important symbol of his God, the Ark of the Covenant, secure in a tent within the city. Life was good. Very good. In spite of all the adversity, pain and frustration, David could look back and say “I’ve made it. I accomplished everything I could ever have imagined and more.”

That’s when it hit him. Maybe you’ve had the feeling, maybe not. That feeling that says, “I’m so blessed, and I’m so unworthy.” Maybe you look back at years of addictive behavior and realize you haven’t had an urge in years. Maybe years in an abusive relationship have brought you into a relationship where you finally feel secure, loved, valued. Maybe you’ve worked hard your entire life and have seen career goals come and go, and now you can relax as a result of your labors.

When David got to that point in life he realized two things. One is that he was totally unworthy of all the blessings he was enjoying. The other thing he realized is that it was only because of his God that he was able to endure the trials of life

On the other hand, maybe you are still waiting to be sitting in your palace; still waiting to have that feeling of success, safety, value, appreciation. Life is hard. One crisis follows another. Hope is nothing more than a four-letter word reserved for the haves, and you’ve long ago realized you are a have-not.

David would tell you, if he were here, to keep on. Keep on trusting God for the little things and the big things. Keep on trusting God when you fail because he’s promised to forgive you. Keep on enduring the attacks because they just make you stronger. Keep on, and never forget that it’s God that will see you through.

PRAYER: Father God. I don’t have a palace. I’m not the ruler of some empire. I’m not famous. Yet, when I look at where I am today and where I deserve to be I can only say Thank You. Thank you for bringing me this far. Amen.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel. 2 Timothy 2:8 (NIV)

Just two little words but they mean all the difference in the world. Two little words that can change how we push forward during those times of grief when a dearly loved person dies and leaves us with a huge hole in our lives, a hole that will never be completely filled.

Two little words that give us strength to endure a relationship that is far from fulfilling; that shatters our dreams; that saps our lives of the energy we need to use our gifts to reach the potential long buried under the sands of time.

Two little words that offer hope as we kneel by the bed of a sick child, or read a letter from a distant son or daughter. Two little words that help us see new light in the midst of old struggle.

Remember Jesus.

Remember the one who promised he would never ever leave you or forsake you. Remember the one who lifts you up, looks you in the eye and says gently, “Then neither do I condemn thee.” Remember the one who stops from his busy schedule to touch you so that you can see. Remember the one who cries with you, rejoices with you and encourages you on the way.

Sitting on the mantle in front of me as I write this is a US Flag folded into a triangle. It’s a special flag given to the families of veterans when they die. The flag is special. Not because of the nation it stands for, or the freedom that flag represents. It’s special because that flag was given when my dad died. Sitting beside that flag is a picture of dad. When I look at those two items there is almost always a memory of all he meant to me, and a reminder that someday we’ll be united again in glory.

Paul, in perhaps his final hours tells his young pastor friend to always remember Jesus. Always take him with you, remember that he is the basis for all we do. He is the motivation for our existence, indeed he is the very reason for our existence.

Take the banner of heaven with you today. Have a picture of Jesus placed firmly in your mind. Regardless of the hurdles you encounter on the journey, he will always be there with you. He’s the shoulder you can cry on; the friend you can vent to; the partner you can celebrate with. He loves you. Never ever forget that, and because of his great love for you, you are always on his mind.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I have many challenges ahead of me today. Thank you for the promises you have given me of your constant companionship and unending love. Fill me with your Spirit and empower me to see your way on the journey. Help me remember you. Amen.

I ask the Father in his great glory to give you the power to be strong inwardly through his Spirit. Ephesians 3:16 (NCV)

One time I met a person while camping that told me about an experience he had about 15 years earlier. The guy seemed like a regular guy, nothing stood out about him. Plain and simple. But his story still makes me shake my head.

He and his fiancé’ (now wife) decided to take their boat acrossLake Erieto a restaurant on a small island for supper. During the meal they overheard some other guests talking about a storm that was on its way. They finished eating and decided to make a run for home since the sky didn’t look all that threatening. Long story made short, they didn’t make it. The boat was swamped by a wave from the fast moving storm. The couple spent 8 hours in the icy water clinging to the overturned boat, in the storm before being rescued. It was a phenomenal story of strength and determination

I hear similar stories and wonder what it is that gives people the inner strength to endure, to press on in the face of adversity when death seems immanent. What is the trigger in our minds that tells us, against all odds, I can make this happen? What motivates us to say “I will not be defeated?”

Stories of physical determination are intriguing to say the least, but what of our spiritual lives? What can we rely on for the emotional strength we need to endure addictions, to stand up in the face of abuse or persecution, to face job loss, cancer or divorce? What can we cling to when our kids take the wrong path or we lose a loved one? How can we pick up the pieces after natural disaster takes all we have?

The humanist will tell you we must rely on our inner being. You just have to believe in yourself. Have the will to succeed. Go the extra mile. While there may be some truth to that, just believing in ourselves is no guarantee of peace. Sometimes it just leads to denial.

The ‘religionist’ will tell you to rely on your faith. They have an easy answer to all the obstacles. They set up rules for you to follow. If things go bad they simply point to the rules. If you are enduring struggles you must have broken a rule. Follow the rules and all will go well. Believing in religious systems won’t, in and of themselves, offer much comfort.

The weakness in the humanist and religionist view point is that they both tell you that YOU are the main source of strength. Believe in yourself. Believe in, and follow the rules. You are the common denominator in endurance.

Jesus says, rely on me. With his Spirit within you, even though the world crumbles around you inside you know who is in control and it’s not you. It’s not ‘faith’ in yourself, it’s the spirit of the  almighty creator God who just happens to be passionately in love with you!

Stop trying to do life in your own power. Ask the creator God of the universe to indwell and empower you. Life may not get easier, but by God’s strength you will find a way through it all.

PRAYER: Father God. I’m tire of trying to do it myself. I hear all these voices telling me I CAN but I can’t! Forgive me for trying it my way. Indwell and empower my by your Spirit to endure what lay ahead. In Jesus name, Amen.

When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on…Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it…” Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (NLT)

The Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land! After years of captivity they were going to finally receive the land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Joseph. It wasn’t an easy journey. The people grew tired of setting up and taking down camp. They missed the comfort of Egypt, even though they forgot about the abusive pain that they endured while there.

Soon they came to Mount Sinai and things got better. They had food provided to them daily, the Lord kept them in the shade of His cloud by day and they had the pillar of fire to keep them warm on the cool desert evenings. For two years, although they were surrounded by wilderness, they lived in comfort on the mountain.

Soon the word of the Lord came to them. You’ve stayed here long enough. This mountain-top experience has to end so that you can receive the real promise, the ultimate blessing of the land I have prepared for you. Pull up stakes. Head into the Wilderness so that you can receive something much better than you have now.

The message is much the same for us today. We have dreams. We have things we’d like to do. But we grow comfortable in our surroundings and don’t want to venture out. After all, who’d choose to be in a wilderness when we can enjoy the mountains.

If we want to receive all that God has for us it is impossible to stay in our comfort zone. But often it is easier to stay where we are. We don’t like hardship. We want to be comfortable and experience all the good things of life and God. But growing doesn’t come when we are comfortable. Growth, true Spiritual Growth, comes during those wilderness experiences when God teaches us to trust in Him.

Our Heavenly Father uses the hard times of life to teach us lessons we must learn to glorify Him. His goal is, and always will be, to give us the things we desire, to show us His good and perfect will. Until we are ready to leave our comfort zone and venture into the wilderness we will never experience the promises God has for us.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I confess to you that I far rather prefer comfort and mountain top experiences than I do the hardship of the wilderness. I know that I need to travel through the wilderness in order to receive all you have for me. Please give me the courage to step out, to get off my mountain and follow you. Strengthen me as I go through the wilderness and help me trust in You. Amen.

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