God and You: Endurance

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The Bible uses the word “endurance” (sometimes translated as patience) 32 times in the New Testament. It’s a combination of the words “under” and “remain,” literally meaning to remain under challenges we face. One of the most famous occurrences of this word is in Romans when Paul says that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3, 4 ESV).

Remaining under adversity produces character and that character produces hope. The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the races that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Attaining, building, and running with endurance begins to build character that, in turn, produces hope.

Enduring hardships becomes challenging when we don’t completely rely on God. Enduring our afflictions aides in the comfort of our fellow brothers and sisters in their time of need: “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings we suffer” (2 Cor. 1:6). Putting God first means that we learn, as difficult as it is, to endure. Endurance comes at a great cost. But when we endure, we become invaluable to others who are suffering also.

God First

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Our theme this year is “God First.” When Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, God also gave him the greatest commandment. That is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV). God reminded the Israelites to follow the commandments, “that it may go well with you.”

The biggest part of loving God and following his commandments is to bind them on the heart (vs. 6). Learning the commandments so they can be lived out was not just a head exercise, but was one of the heart too. And the Israelites “shall teach them (the commandments) to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (vs. 7).

God was essentially saying that he was to be on the hearts and minds of people constantly. This is far removed from how we connect with God today. Many Christians have been Christians for decades and have never read the Bible from cover-to-cover. The Israelites, on the other hand, recited them every day, seven days a week. God commanded them to impress them upon their kids and to talk about them all the time. This new year will be a year of shifting our priorities and putting God first in all that we do.