Category Archives: Perseverance

The Tempter

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” – Matthew 4:1-2

The dictionary defines ‘tempt’ as meaning ‘to entice or try to entice (someone) to do something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or unwise’.

Right from the first moment we meet the devil in Genesis 3, he’s doing business with humanity – enticing and offering a substitute for God’s best.

What’s interesting here is that the devil pitches up after Jesus has fasted and waited on God for 40 days and right before Jesus gets his breakthrough.

In my experience, I’ve always found that he comes around in that time between sacrifice and breakthrough. When we’ve paid a price to set ourselves apart for God, or we’ve taken an action of obedience, but we haven’t seen God fulfill his promise yet. That’s prime devil-zone.

He comes in with lies (‘what are you doing? God’s not going to come through… you’re wasting your time’) or he comes selling something less than what God has promised, but with the bonus that you can have it right here, and right now.

The passage goes on and three times Jesus resists him, until the devil finally leaves… and ‘angels attend him’ (v11).

If we stand firm through temptation, then we will receive the promise that God has for us. And it’s not some second-rate substitute – it’s the real deal!

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The Power To Remain

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” – Isaiah 7:9

External actions come from internal decisions and faith is the invisible motivator inwardly that brings about visible actions outwardly.

Our ability to remain constant and committed to a course of action depends not on our willpower or physical strength, it is the natural byproduct of having ‘SEEN’ something by faith that we just can’t let go.

When you have truly perceived something by faith, you end up standing firm not to prove a point or win an argument, but because it’s the only logical response. Others may be surprised or wonder at the level of confidence but to the person of authentic faith, there is literally no other choice!

Strength Through Softness

Romans 15:1 – Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Sometimes it doesn’t massively please us to have to put up with other people’s weaknesses!  We’d rather they just sort it out, or we don’t have to deal with them. 

But I prove myself as a mature believer, and display the strength that I claim to have, by loving others and helping them in their weakness. Not by cutting and running, but by helping and building.  While it may be easier to do what pleases me – it’s not helpful for the building up of the body. 

So if we claim to be strong, mature believers – this will be tested and evidenced by how we deal with the weaknesses of other people.  It takes huge commitment and strength to continue to show mercy and love when it’s taking a toll on us. 

But this is what Jesus demonstrated and continues to demonstrate to us!

He’s At The Door! (The Process Of Answered Prayer)

Acts 12:12 – Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Acts 12:13 – When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer.
Acts 12:14 – When she recognized Peter’s voice, she didn’t open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate.
Acts 12:15 – They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”
Acts 12:16 – But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed.

The apostle Peter is in prison, and on death row by the hand of Herod.  So the early church is praying hard out for him to be released and for God to intervene.  There’s a bunch of things in this little passage about PRAYERS GETTING ANSWERED!

1) God was working on the answer to the prayer while they were still praying

The people didn’t know it – but while they were in their prayer meeting, God was at work in Peter’s prison cell.  He’d already made it out while they were still praying!  This demonstrates the power of prayer!

Last night I found about a stunning answer to prayer in a situation I’d been praying pretty hard for.  It was such a reminder that we should continue to pray and never give up!  The devil will do anything he can to try to get us to a place where we feel like prayer doesn’t count or isn’t powerful. 

But not only that – the answers to our prayers are often taking place where we can’t even see them.  The people were unaware that Peter was already walking free as they continued on in their prayer. 

2) Can You Hear Your Miracle Knocking?

There would have been a bunch of church heavyweights at the prayer meeting – but it was the maid who heard the knock at the door.  I’m sure that the prayer meeting would have been pretty noisy as all these people cried out and interceded.  But in the midst of the noise we’re making about our troubles or issues – could it be that God has already released our answer and we don’t even know about it? 

It reminds me of the story in 2 Kings 7 where the four lepers went out and discovered that God had routed the enemy of Israel, while everyone else was still stuck inside the city fearing for their life.  Yesterday Paul Saunders spoke at The River about Jacob saying ‘God was in this place, and I didn’t even know it’. 

I don’t think it was an accident that the maid noticed before the spiritual heavyweights… it’s because she would have been listening!  Stay attuned to what is happening around you… God may have already answered your prayer!

3) Rejoice Before You See

The maid didn’t even see Peter’s face – she just heard his voice.  That was enough for her – and leaving the poor apostle locked outside she runs back to the prayer meeting to bring the good news.  Elijah didn’t see the rain, he just ‘heard the sound’, and saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand.  That was enough for him! 

Miracles will start to speak before they appear – things begin to change, a good report starts to come.  Yet the maid didn’t open the door.  The door speaks of our heart – sometimes when God starts to answer our prayers, we still don’t actually open our hearts.  We leave them closed because we maybe we’ve been hurt before. 

4) Don’t Be Surprised If People Think You’re A Fool

Every person who has been seriously used by God has gone through a process by which others thought they were a fool before God answered their prayer.  This prayer meeting of the early church – the place where people are getting healed and miracles are happening all the time – called the maid crazy because she believed that the prayer they’d all been praying had been answered!

4) Expect Answers To Your Prayers

I think it’s very telling that this group of people were having a prayer meeting for something that they obviously didn’t believe was going to happen!  In fact, they have more faith that it’s Peter’s angel than Peter got out of prison!  And if it was Peter’s angel knocking on the door – why didn’t they go ahead and open up the door, rather than calling the maid crazy?! 

5) God’s Answers Will Keep On Knocking

God knows that we’re not always the sharpest at picking up on when He’s doing something.  Fortunately for us, He doesn’t just knock once – but keeps on knocking!  He calls us to be persistent in prayer with Him, because He’s persistent with us! 

God Is A Finisher!

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done – Genesis 2:1-2

I’m a great starter!  I get lots of ideas for things, and have found myself on the starting line of numerous projects over the course of my life.  Unfortunately I can’t always say that I’ve also found myself crossing the finishing line.  Anyone can start something – but not everyone finishes what they start.

But God is a FINISHER.  He doesn’t leave things incomplete.  It’s absolutely against His character and nature to do so.  When he begins something, He not only intends to finish it… He WILL finish it!

This gives me great hope when I read verses like:

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” – Philippians 1:6

My life is a work in progress.  But the one who is working on me is unbelievably persistent!  He… just… keeps… going… until… it’s… done! 

So… if God is a FINISHER and a COMPLETER – and He’s called me to be conformed to His likeness, then I too have to get serious about finishing what I start. 

There’s a process here too – FINISHED… RESTED…. BLESSED.  When something isn’t finished, we find it hard to rest.  We keep thinking about it, it dogs us at the back of our mind.  There are many people walking around today stressed simply because of the number of half-finished things they’ve got going on.  Completion brings rest.  And rest brings blessing.  To enter into a life of rest and blessing – one of the most practical things we can do is COMPLETE things!!

The Process Of Refining

For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined.  You brought us into prison. You laid a burden on our backs.  You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us to the place of abundance. – Psalms 66:10-12

When you’re walking with God, the destination is ALWAYS worth whatever hardship you have to walk through to get there.  What I’ve discovered though, is that in order for me to receive ALL that God wants to give me, He has to expand me, mold me, and strengthen me.  Otherwise I don’t have the capacity to take what He wants to pour out on my life. 

The process by which God works in us so that He can give us more is called REFINING.  Precious metals are refined in the fire, so that the impurities are separated from them.  Then they emerge sparkling! 

In this passage we see the process of testing and refining that God does in us in order to bring us ‘to the place of abundance’. 

You brought us into prison – one of the ways that we’re tested is that we’re kept in a place or situation that we find really hard to stay in.  In this place we have to make a choice to either be overcome or to overcome.  Just like Joseph – he could have wallowed in bitterness in the prison that he found himself in.  But instead he got his gift active, and he made the most of the situation.  He overcame – and he passed his time of testing.  The prison prepared him for the palace. 

You laid a burden on our backs – recently I finished reading Bear Grylls’ book ‘Mud, Sweat And Tears’.  He gives an account of the SAS training he went through – where they were regularly tested with carrying immensely heavy loads while running across desolate country and having to reach a destination in a certain time.  The loads we carry can be responsibilities and roles, they can be health issues or financial crises, they can be relationships and people connections.  But a burden is not just an everyday load – it’s when it’s really loaded up.  Again, God allows this so that we can TAKE MORE.  I’ve watched over years as those that God is preparing for leadership have been given what seemed like impossible burdens to carry – and yet not only have they carried them, but they’ve prospered while carrying them.  They’ve kept great faith and attitude. 

You allowed men to ride over our heads – another way that God expands and grows us is to put is the place where we are mistreated by those around us.  Sometimes there’s genuine reasons – we may be a bit arrogant or don’t know how to say no.  But sometimes, we find ourselves persecuted without reason.  How we respond in these situations is also part of a test. 

We went through fire and water – situations that burnt us, and places where we literally thought we were going to drown. 

All of these are preparation.  None of us enjoy them – but they get us ready for the place of abundance.  One of the things that will keep you going through a time of trial is to know that it is actually all for a reason.  The things we walk through can seem at times unbelievably harsh and incredibly unfair, but if we can rise up above them – then we find the way through to the place of abundance.  And what we discover in that place is that we now possess the ability to hold on and remain in the place of abundance, because we have been expanded and grown in the place of testing. 

Unstoppable!

Exodus 1:12 – But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out.

When the Israelites were living in Egypt, they were put to forced labor.  Not only this, but their work was made incredibly difficult.  It was a real time of hardship.

Yet in this hardship, the nation of Israel experienced stunning growth.  The Egyptians continued to afflict them, but the more they did – the Israelites grew in number and spread out further across the land. 

We all suffer afflictions in life – and we can allow them to break us or make us.  God’s plan for us is that we would grow continually and in all seasons.  When things are good – we grow.  When things are difficult – we keep growing. 

What can the devil do with a Christian that continues to grow no matter what is thrown at him?  We move to a place where we become unstoppable!