August 8 – Perseverance – While displaying kindness

Read Psalm 141:5 and Ephesians 4:29

When I think of perseverance, I begin to sweat. I feel drenched, exhausted, and short of breath. You see, perseverance reminds me of training to be a stand-out athlete with lots of running and exercise. In order to be a good athlete, you must train and practice over and over. And so, all that practice and working out makes me think of running, lifting weights and…sweating.

Not my cup of tea.

I can think of other pursuits I would rather persevere towards. One such area would be to pursue kindness. We hear the slogan “Be Kind” in a lot of places today. It’s on t-shirts, posters, and embedded in children’s programming.

A single act of kindness here and there is not all that hard to achieve.

When a teacher encourages students to be kind in the classroom, they will look for a dropped pencil to pick up, or assist a fellow student in picking up trash in the hallway. Often, when students are caught being kind, they are rewarded with a treat or recognition. As an adult, it is not that difficult to contribute to a community food drive or help a neighbor care for their pets. We feel good about ourselves when we are kind.

Living a consistent lifestyle that demonstrates kindness requires perseverance. Being kind sometimes requires a person to share some hard truth. Perhaps a child needs to be corrected for inappropriate behavior, or a spouse needs to be reminded that their words hurt, or an employee needs to be told about a mistake they made. It would be easy to look the other way and ignore these problems, but it wouldn’t be kind. In the moment, the truth may not seem kind, and may not be received well. That’s why consistent kindness over time is important. Kind words and actions build trust and demonstrate love. Then, when a hard truth must be shared, it will be more easily swallowed.

Psalm 141:5 says

“Let the righteous man strike me – that is a kindness; let him rebuke me- that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of the evildoers.”

We all can begin training to be kind by following the advice found in Ephesians 4:29:

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Pursuing kindness takes perseverance as it won’t happen overnight. It takes careful practice and repeated attempts to consistently respond with kindness. Perhaps you are a person who needs to accept the truthful words of a kind person. It can be difficult to hear that you aren’t doing something correctly or need to stop doing something hurtful. You may not even perceive the behavior as inappropriate, but let the kind words of a trusted advisor sink in and change you, even though it stings.

Use your words carefully today. Be kind…even if it requires a little sweat on your part.

Tammy Finney

August 7 – Perseverance – Being honest with others

Read Proverbs 21:28

I was about 25 years old when I realized exaggerating had turned into an actual weakness of mine. An innocent extra detail, a little too much give and take with the facts. I tended to sell a story but that’s exactly what it was, good storytelling! I came from a family of great storytellers! But soon, I felt a spiritual nudge that I might need some self-discipline in the area.

I remember when the two words found in this verse leaped out at me: False Witness. I imagined someone in a courtroom telling their story, exaggerating and being overdramatic and suddenly the prosecutor reveals he has video footage of the event. The witness shrinks as his testimony doesn’t match up. This is a false witness. When it came to my own life, specifically my failures and successes, did my story match my reality, or was I a false witness?

This subject can be an undetected snare for many, especially now that social media plays such a major role in our businesses and personal lives. We convince ourselves that we’re not actually lying, we’re just “buttering the bread” as everyone does. Trying to grow our businesses or keep up a good face for our extended families.

We withhold our mistakes and exaggerate our accomplishments.

We intensely want our lives to be better, or at least look better than others. It’s an unending cycle of living in want. And as today’s verse confirms, this mindset will only perish. When we spend all of our energy keeping up the illusion of success (be it as a parent, spouse, son, daughter, business owner, Christian, etc), we rarely have the energy to actually be a success.

So, how do we turn this ship around?

It’s not as hard as you think.

Ask the Holy Spirit to begin convicting you in this area. Ask Him to give you the strength to correct yourself in dishonest moments. And now, just follow through with it. Make yourself apologize anytime you bend the truth too much in a conversation, post, tweet, email or phone call. It’s so awkward, you’ll definitely want to not have to do it often!

I guarantee you will begin to feel lighter. Your authenticity will soon give you more confidence than your false confidence ever could! I don’t think our culture realizes how dishonest we are with one another and how bad it subconsciously makes us feel. Honesty with others feels amazing!  Once we stop trying to present ourselves as “who we wish we were”, we can start becoming “who God created us to be.” Christ is the one and only witness who can proclaim exactly who you are:

“and He says: ‘You are enough’”

Nate Torrence

August 6 – Perseverance – With faith

Read 2 Peter 1:5-11 and Revelation 2:19

What sentence stuck out to you as you read the above scriptures? I know what it was for me: 

“…For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”

Wow. How amazing would that be, to figure out how to never stumble again! It almost sounds too good to be true. Peter lists the steps like a recipe:

… 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

The elusive ability to “never stumble” begins with one thing: faith. None of the above virtues can be added without it. How is your faith right now? I’m not asking about your acts toward faith (going to church, reading these devotionals) I’m talking about your sincere belief that God is real, He loves you unconditionally and has everything under control.

Faith is the great leap. The cornerstone of a process that leads to absolute peace. It is the resolve of all circumstances. I have had many conversations with people (Christian and non-Christian) who feel that the response, “Don’t worry, God is in control” is a bit too naive or over-simplifying for the major problems they are facing.

It’s an understandable reaction.

But God’s genius is often found within His simplicity. Faith is never flippant. We don’t say these words when we have no answer. We say them when it is the only answer. I don’t think we have touched true faith until it beckons us to step into our pain. When these are the only words we have the strength to utter. The enemy has us backed into a corner and hope is lost. Yet, we supernaturally choose to step forward with a trembling prayer that for thousands of years has moved mountains and silenced raging seas: “I will not fear; my God is in control.”

If you are facing a faith-draining circumstance today, I encourage you to persevere. Step toward your pain. Make a promise to yourself that, for the next 24 hours, you will choose to believe that “God is in control”. Let go. See what changes this choice brings to your mind, soul and body. This life is not an easy journey, but in faith, we can invite His Spirit to walk beside us on that journey. He is your partner in this. When we finally let go, our hands are free to grab onto Him.

He will never stumble!

Nate Torrence

August 5 – Perseverance – In human weakness

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9

Perseverance is persistence in doing something, despite difficulty or a delay in achieving success. 

What keeps you from persevering?  What causes you to lose long term perspective? 

There have been times in my life where I have felt completely helpless, void of strength, even to do the simplest of tasks. 

A few years ago, I had major surgery.  In recovery I was on a respirator.  I couldn’t even breathe on my own, I was helpless.  We want to be strong, decisive, capable, and able to meet daily challenges.  But there are times when we feel inadequate.  Illness occurs, our bodies become physically weak, our minds aren’t as sharp as they used to be.  We feel like we don’t even have the ability to confront the day.  We are born with limitations, or, as some would call it, weakness.  We are created in His image, and yet we are lacking.  Do you think He might have created our bodies to give up under pressure, so that we could realize that we can do nothing apart from Him?  (John 15:5).

God created us to rely on Him.  

We can’t do it all, and that’s OK. 

If we could, then we would never have the opportunity to allow God’s power to be seen in us.

“My grace is sufficient, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul prayed 3 times to have a weakness – “a thorn in his flesh” – removed.  Instead, God allowed it to remain so that His power would be seen. It was only through experiencing this weakness that Paul was able to receive the power of God.  Our weakness allows us to grow stronger in His strength, just as Paul persevered through the “thorn”.

“And my God will meet all your needs,

according to the riches of His glory in Jesus Christ.”Philippians 4:19

Paul is encouraging believers in Philippi to be content.  A few verses earlier Paul talks about how God gives us strength to be content, regardless of circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).  Even when you feel weak, He will supply the strength needed to persevere. 

God promises us His strength. As you go about your daily life, facing your own limitations, weaknesses, and fears, meditate on these promises.  In His Word we learn that He never intended to remove weaknesses from our life.  If this was God’s intention, then we’d never have the pleasure of witnessing His power perfected in our weakness.  We’d never have the privilege of witnessing His ability to supply all our needs.

So, why do we try to struggle through our weakness on our own?

Why do we let weaknesses stop us from experiencing His power?

Today, trust Him, the One who promises to supply all you need!

Trust the One who promises to perfect His strength in you!

“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”Romans 8:26

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”Ephesians 3:20

“He gives power to the weak,

and to those who have no might He increases strength.”Isaiah 40:29

Janene Nagel

August 4 – Perseverance – With pain

Read Romans 5:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Probably the worst physical pain I have ever experienced was on a cold January night in 2014 during the opening session of the yearly Kalahari retreat. I was part of the opening act and, during it, I planned on, essentially, high jumping on a stage that was several feet off the ground. Now, I played sports in high school so I thought I was, at least, slightly athletic.

In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t practice at all to see if it was even possible.

Safe to say, I slipped on my jump and skinned my shin. After the opening, I walked out to the hallway and saw blood running down my shin. Upon getting a paper towel from the bathroom and looking closer to dab it up, I saw that my shin was literally flayed open.

I could see muscle and everything.

After the shock wore off (it was a solid 30 seconds of me staring at the gaping hole in my shin), my adrenaline wore off and the pain came in a huge and brutal wave.

When we talk about pain, I feel like everyone can relate. Either we can talk about a time where we were hurt physically, but I feel like it hurts us so much more when the pain is emotional.

How do you deal with emotional pain? How do you process through it? What role does God play in this healing process? Are you even healing from your pain?

One of the greatest things I have learned in my faith was that pain has a purpose. In our reading today in Romans, Paul is writing about a tough situation he is currently in. He is writing a letter to the church in Rome from prison. He knew his time was coming to a close and he was soon to be executed for his role in advancing the gospel.

If Paul can pen his encouraging words in Romans 5:3-4, how do any of our pains (physical or emotional) even compare?

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Do you go so far as to glory in your sufferings? Are you able to zoom out of our scenario and see the long game of pain? Can you see the upcoming perseverance, character and, ultimately, hope that will come as a result of properly working through your pain?

What pain are you currently experiencing? What pain is a part of your past that you haven’t healed from?

What steps are you going to take in order to see your pain from a new perspective?

What potential benefits do you see from viewing your pain from a different lens?

What promises of hope does Jesus give us for the pain we experience throughout our life?

Jake Lawson

August 3 – Perseverance – While parenting

Read Proverbs 17:6

You could say that the season Kelly and I are in could best be described as…

Chaos.

As of this writing, we have an almost 5-year-old (going on 15) boy, Matthew (Mattie) and a 9-month-old girl, Emma.

The majority of the days involve attitude, whining and timeouts. Before Emma was born, Kelly and I outnumbered Mattie so we felt like we had a better handle on things. Now that it’s man-to-man defense, it gets a little more interesting.

Through all the chaos, I firmly believe that having kids was the best decision Kelly and I ever made in our married lives. While, most of the time, it’s stressful, you feel unconditional and sacrificial love for your kids.

Emma’s too young to sass us (yet) but Mattie has uninvited Kelly and I from his upcoming birthday party several times, even though we’re paying for it, but he has also, without any prompting, hugged us saying that he loves us so much.

If you’re a parent, you understand this season. If you’re in the same season or you want to have kids one day, our reading in Proverbs today is a challenge to us all:

“Old people are distinguished by grandchildren; children take pride in their parents.”

During the storms of parenting, it is hard to persevere. However, I encourage you to zoom out and see the greater perspective. Are the battles you are picking with your kids so that they will become the man or woman God created them to be? If the answer is yes, stick to your guns!

At the end of the day, I want to be a dad that Mattie and Emma are both proud of. I want them to be proud to be a Lawson. Now, I can tell you that this won’t happen because I give in to their every wish and desire. Instead, I want them to understand who God created them to be and how much Kelly and I want them to succeed in life.

Are your kids proud to have you as parents? Are you making eternal investments in them every day? In what way is your godly legacy going to pass on through the generations?

Friends, it’s hard to see the greater picture. However, as a parent, you are uniquely positioned to raise up the next generation! I encourage you to be the spouse and parent that others can take pride in…not because you make life easy for them, but because you are guiding them towards Christ and the life that He has for them!

Stay the course! Your children are a gift : )

Jake Lawson

August 2 – Perseverance – In the race of life

Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

1 Corinthians 9:24b

“…I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”  verse 9:27b

In high school golf matches, players and fans get disqualified. Basketball players get disqualified from games for their actions or words. In high school basketball, you are disqualified if you have five fouls.

Sports are like life – things go wrong. Just like in our lives.

How you react makes all the difference.

What an amazing challenge it is when things go wrong. I try to run in a way to get the prize of eternal life but then I fail. So, I pull up my socks and keep going and I try to run in a way to get the prize and I get knocked down again. I fail because of my own decisions and my own lack of perfection.

It is an ongoing challenge.

The Christian life is like a race and like a fight. You are running to honor the name of God and fight against evil.

The way we run and the way we fight make a difference. Do we use God’s weapons of love, patience and kindness, like Jesus Christ? Or do we use the weapons of evil and violence in this world? Either way, it can be contagious.

If we run in such a way as to get the prize, it means we are striving to do and be like Jesus. We can encourage others in our language, actions and, perhaps, motives. If we live a life of immorality, we are living to honor and please ourselves, not God.

The way we run and the way we fight make a difference in whether we have a share in the gospel (verse 23), whether we seize the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (verse 24) and whether we gain the crown of righteousness and life (verse 25). We have to work and plan with our actions to not be disqualified from the race (verse 27).

“FIX MY EYES” is a song by For King and Country taken from Hebrews 12:2 that gives some ideas on how to run the race:

“I’d love like I’m not scared,

Give when it’s not fair,

Live life for another,

Take time for a brother,

Fight for the weak ones,

Speak out for freedom,

Find faith in the battle…

Fix my eyes, on You.”

So, persevere by never quitting through prayer and patience.

Never give up.    

Tom Weckesser