Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 20 April, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 13, (Chap. 13)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 99-102)
Endure – We live in a world that is permeated by persistent crises. We really can’t escape the mayhem and confusion all around us. Some people retreat into an emotional bubble, hoping to find a safe harbor from the nagging problems that confront us all. Inevitably, we discover that our enclaves of escape are not as safe as we think. Jesus, in praying to the Heavenly Father said His intent was not to remove the disciples from a chaotic world, but to make sure they found safety amid the confusion. Jesus prayed, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one (cf. John 17:15, NLT).” Jesus had told the disciples previously that they were not a part of the world-system, which contained elements of evil and destruction (cf. John 15:19, NLT). We must learn to endure, since we must live in this world. Jesus said despite the decline of morals, the truth, and godly virtues, all who hold to His teachings and live according to the kingdom standards He has taught will be saved (cf. Matthew 24:11-14, NLT). The Greek word for endure or endurance that’s found in the New Testament is hupomeno, which means “to stay behind” or “to wait.” In the Greek culture of that day the term meant, “I will stand my ground.” This affirmed a person’s “Not giving up, or giving in to pressure.” Jesus later told the disciples that the reason they could and should endure was because of His own example and the impending victory over death and the cross (cf. John 16:33, NLT). After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the theme of endurance continued within the Christian community. Paul reminded Timothy, his son in the faith, that the emergent generation of Christians had every reason to “endure” in their ministry, because of the foundation of Christian teachings they had received (cf. 2 Timothy 2:1-3. NLT). It was shortly after persecution under Herod Agrippa when James addressed a young Christian community. The commentators of the NLT suggest James is considering these issues: “How can we be faith friends of God like Abraham? Can we resist the pressures, our rebellious human impulses, and the influence of the devil? Can Christians live together in peace as we seek solutions to life’s problems?” To these questions, James offers an encouraging admonition. Christians are told the testing of their faith will strengthen their endurance, causing growth (cf. James 1:3-4, NLT).
Testing and God’s Promises - The expression of the confidence we have in faith often is derived from the trials we experience. When life takes an unfamiliar turn, our faith is tested. Three years before Peter was martyred in Rome, he wrote his first letter to Christians in part of the Asia Minor. He told them the trials they were encountering, and the testing of their faith, would endure all persecution (I Peter 1:6-7. NLT). While God does not tempt us, we can be tested. James says: “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else.” (Cf. James 1:13, NLT). In the Greek New Testament, the word for testing is perirazo (pi-rad-z0). The term means literally “a way of determining the quality of something.” The testing we endure affirms our faith in Jesus Christ, and in His promises. The Christian’s ability to endure trials and testing, is what builds spiritual character. People from ancient times believed the character was shaped and strengthened through testing (cf. Proverbs 17:3, NLT). Few knew this more intimately than Job, who believed that if God allowed him to be tested, he would prevail in the end (cf. Job 23:10-11, NLT). Job also acknowledged that God alone controls the destiny of all persons, whether good or evil. Although God can and does test us, His promises are certain. The endurance of our faith yields blessings we could not have imagined. Paul’s great prayer for the saints at Ephesus reveals how God blesses us when we obey Him (cf. Ephesians 3:16-19). In spite of all that’s confronting us in our crazy world we must, as Max Lucado recommends, “Keep Believing God’s Promises.” He says further, “The engineer has not abandoned the train. Nuclear war is no threat to God. Yo-yo economics don’t intimidate the heavens. Immoral leaders have never derailed the plan. God keeps his promise.” We must encourage each other to endure and overcome any and every trial that comes our way. After all, as Christians we are the beneficiaries of rich and precious promises (cf.2 Peter 3:13, NLT).
What We Believe
When we endure, God’s promises are fulfilled!
1. It is through endurance that our faith grows!
2. Fulfillment of God’s promises are signs of inner growth!
Matthew 24:11-14, NLT
“And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampart everywhere and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”
John 16:33, NLT
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.”
2 Timothy 2:1-3, NLT“Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. Endure suffering along with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
James 1:3-4, NLT“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
I Peter 1:6-7, NLT
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead. Even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
Proverbs 17:3, NLT
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold. But the Lord tests the heart.”
Job 23:10-11, NLT
“But He knows where I am going. And when He tests me,I will come out as pure gold. For I have stayed on God's paths; I have followed His ways and not turned aside.”
Ephesians 3:16-19, NLT
“I pray that from His glorious,unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”