10 11 2020


I admit it, I am not very good at following directions. I don’t excel at paying close attention to someone as they spell out the specific details of what I need to do to get to where I need to be. Maybe that is why I have spent so much time wandering aimlessly while in my car. I know I would make it much easier on myself if I would just focus and stay present during the instruction portion of the program, but my attention span shrinks far too easily. But when it comes to following Jesus, I am all ears! If my heart is going to be healthy spiritually, I need to hang on every word proceeding from the mouth of God.     

In my message today, I came across these words from 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 and verse 5. It reads, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” If ever anyone had any doubt that God is taking us someplace worth going, this truth sets us straight on a path to life giving destinations. If Jesus is truly given the privilege to take the wheel, then get ready to head to the land of love with a lasting staying power. 

The perseverance of Christ is that of epic proportion. Jesus literally endured the hatred of mankind by conquering the cross and rising from the dead. This is why we are challenged to fix our eyes upon our Savior who is the author and finisher of our faith! The source of our endurance is the same Holy Spirit whose power ignited the light that our Lord needed. The Greek word translated “steadfastness” means staying strong all through grueling situations in spite of opposition from both outside and within. We can do all things through the presence of Jesus that supplies all the equipment necessary to keep on running the race when looking for a lawn chair to plop down in is calling your name.

Let me share a story about the Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The tale took place when he was imprisoned by Stalin in a Siberian gulag. One day, while being forced to slave away in sub-zero temperatures, he finally reached the breaking point of what he could humanly handle on his own. Filled with frustration, he threw his shovel down and slumped to the ground and surrendered himself to a beating from a guard that would probably end up killing him.

He had seen it happen time after time to others and now he was waiting for the first fist to batter his face. But God had other plans to encourage His servant to not give up but to look up. Without any fanfare, an emaciated fellow prisoner approached Solzhenitsyn. Simply and silently, this humble comrade scratched the sign of the cross in the mud and proceeded to disappear back in the crowd of those imprisoned.

Solzhenitsyn stared at those two lines scratched in the dirt and got the message loud and clear. Thinking of Jesus and all He went though for mankind shattered the despair that was hoping to deflate the Russian’s battered heart.  We have learned later that it was in the midst of that moment, that Solzhenitsyn knew there was something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple cross. And it was through a sincere allegiance to the power of the cross that anything was possible. Picking up his shovel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn slowly went back to work. Nothing but the encouragement of the steadfastness of our Savior could have inspired Solzhenitsyn to return to work that day. Only the presence of God at Golgotha could allow church to occur in the gulag with fresh possibilities.

Living with so much uncertainty in 2020, we all need a big God; an awesome, unspeakably amazing God. We need a God whose promises are certain; a God who’s been there before and can walk with us and counsel us and stand up for us and prepare a place for us and who can even make all things work together for good for those who love Him. And loving Him should not be as hard as we sometime make it. Remember, when we open up our hearts and choose to love God, we are privy to the secret that this love is possible because He chose to first love us even when we weren’t that loveable at all. The love of God is our beginning and our end. The love of God is our launch and our finish line. When it comes to faith, we are on the road to a paradise that will never fade away.

This is good to know when you come to realize what God’s future for us is all about. God did not create us to serve Him as much as He made us for relationship with Him. Let’s face it, God doesn’t need us to get things done and more times than not, we actually complicate the process rather than make it go smoothly. More than anything, God longs for us to stop looking for affirmation and validation in all the wrong places and to rest our weary hearts in His hands! The holy map is not taking us to a destination of mechanical duty. All signs point to us finding our satisfaction and completion in a connection that causes sparks to fly within.

God showed me a living illustration of what life is really all about the other day at my Son Joel’s Soccer Game. Joel is one of the Senior Captains on the Cape May Tech Soccer Team. On the positive side, he has become a great player, but the bad news is that they haven’t won a game all season. The other day was the stuff that dreams are made of. With the team down 2-1 to Wildwood Catholic, and with only about 15 seconds left in the game, Joel was involved in a breakaway with a clear shot on the goal. It appeared that Joel was going to be the hero and score the tying goal. With us on our feet, Joel took his shot! What 9 out of 10 times would have ended well, resulted in a ball that hit the pole and bounced out and not in. Game over! Tech loses again! But not Joel. He will always be a champion and a hero in the eyes of his Father. Nothing would ever make me love Joel more or any less. I told him how proud I was of him playing hard and leading well. And when it all wraps up, whether he scored that goal or not would not impact eternity. But living life knowing that not only his earthly Dad loved him, but his Heavenly Father cherished him too would make all the difference. We are being led to the love of God. God’s love is unconditional and forever. When you come to the end of your search for perfection here on earth, maybe you will finally be ready to look up and listen to the One who longs to lead you to Him.

We are called to pray that God’s Word will accomplish God’s Will in God’s Way as God Wants!

Prayer must line up with God’s purpose. Prayer is not trying to change God’s mind. Prayer is about transforming our desires to line up with how God thinks! If all we need is love, then it is time to listen to the One who wants to get you to experience the real thing. Pay attention to the One who paid it all to win the right to keep you safe with Him forever!



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