This morning, we continue our message series, “All In.” So far, we were challenged to be all in for Jesus because Jesus is all in for us. We were reminded to apply that small, but huge word: commit. As we commit to being all in for Jesus this year, we may need to simplify our lives. Last week, we were reminded that another possible way to be all in for Jesus this year is to simply DO IT AGAIN.
This week, we’re continuing on that theme as we learn the value of perseverance.
As the day of the Lord draws ever nearer, we know full well from Jesus, Himself, that this world is going to grow darker. He said that wars and famines and earthquakes and persecution and hate rising and love growing cold were only the beginning signs of the end times (Matthew 24). He said that only the one who stands firm, the one who perseveres until the end would be saved.
For those attending our Bible Study Thursday evenings, you’re well familiar with the concept of perseverance. As you’ve been persevering through chapter after chapter of the conversations about the trials and tribulations of Job, you’re learning what perseverance truly looks like. AND, if you persevere until the last part of the last chapter, you’ll see just how valuable perseverance is! You’ll read about what awaits those who remain steadfast their trust in God through adversity.
God’s word calls us to:
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Now, let’s be honest. Reading through the story of Job and thinking of the attributes of God that I see through it, compassion and mercy do not initially come to mind. After all, the only thing that God withheld from the hand of Satan, himself, was Job’s life.
Well, Satan was permitted to take everything except for Job’s life along with his wife. And… What an encourager, support, and helper Job’s wife was, too! 🙂
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Permitting someone to endure pain and suffering and loss and torment as God did with Job is not how I would describe a compassionate and merciful person. This would be true of God if the suffering was the end of Job’s story. This would be true of God if there was no purpose behind the pain. This would be true of God if doom was Job’s destiny. However, it was not.
Perseverance. Job displayed a deep understanding of perseverance in his response to his wife. “Should we accept only good from God and not trouble?” Job displayed a tremendous trust in God when he lost everything and fell to his knees in worship proclaiming, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, yet still His name is to be praised!”
Do not good and trouble both serve a purpose? Isn’t it through the troubles that we grow the most? Isn’t it through the troubles where our faith and trust are truly tested and put on display for all to see? Isn’t it only through troubles that God’s miraculous, mighty ability to save is made known?
Anyways, back to the fullness of God’s compassion and mercy through perseverance…
The Greek word (oiktirmōn) used here for mercy is used only two other places in the scriptures and they are both contained in just a single verse. The other place is in Luke 6:36 where Jesus calls us to be merciful as our Father is also merciful. It is a far stronger and weightier meaning than just the fact that God is merciful. This word is both an adjective and verb. Merciful is not just an attribute of God, it is simultaneously an act of God. God is AND acts mercifully toward us. It’s who He is and what He does.
Likewise, the Greek word (polysplagchnos) used here for compassion is used only in this single verse. It carries the idea that the core of who God is, at His heart, is entirely full of affection for us. God is full of compassion and mercy. This is a far more powerful and far-reaching statement than we realize in the English language! God is full of compassion and mercy!
When trying to reconcile Job’s life with what James wrote, I came to realize this. First of all, it was James who gave those attributes of God in reference to Job long after Job lived it. James wrote this in hindsight. Job didn’t describe God as full of compassion or mercy in chapters 1-41 anywhere that I could find.
What is the point that James was making? What is it that God is speaking to us this morning?
Persevere and don’t give up on God before the last chapter is written! Perseverance is patiently doing what is good and right despite adversity and hardships. James described perseverance as patience in the face of suffering. No matter how SEVERE things may get, we will walk PER God’s word! You know, PER-SEVERE! We were reminded last week of the parable of Jesus about the unjust judge and the widow to teach us to?
ALWAYS PRAY AND NEVER GIVE UP!
ALWAYS PRAY AND NEVER GIVE UP!
Sure, we read 41 long and painful chapters of adversity and hardships and loss, but don’t give up before the last chapter! In fact, it’s not only the last chapter, but the last half of the last chapter of Job where we see the undeniable evidence that God truly is full of compassion and mercy!
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
If you’re looking for better days, stop looking behind you or all around you! In the kingdom of God, the good ole’ days are always ahead of you in your future. Your future is full of hope and promise; God has promised this! David wrote this reminder in the midst of his adversity while he was still waiting on God’s anointing and promise to be fulfilled:
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
David was anointed king over Israel at 15 years of age and he didn’t actually take that role for another 15 years. He spent many of those years running for his life away from the first king of Israel, Saul. It was the time between the promise of God and its fulfillment that he wrote this Psalm. We read often times when David was facing harsh adversity and the only way that he was able to persevere and push forward to fulfillment was to build up his own faith and remind himself of God’s promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them! We can learn much from his example!
Although none of his immediate circumstances agreed with him, David remained confident that he would see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living. When I mentioned that your best days are still ahead of you, you may have thought, “Well sure, when I finally enter through those pearly gates.”
God is challenging us to expect to experience His goodness here on the earth. Jesus even taught us to pray that God’s will would be done here on the earth even as it is in Heaven. Paul reminded us of this:
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
The struggle is real! The flesh is trying to kill us because it keeps on wanting to sin. However, the Spirit is working to resurrect and revive us because He keeps on giving life! The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave dwells in you and is giving life to your mortal body. Resurrection power dwells right here within us! Eternal life begins for us the very moment that we accept the salvation of Jesus!
Remain confident that you will see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living! Good things are coming your way! There are promises yet to be fulfilled! There is revelation yet to be received! There is revival still to be realized! In the Kingdom of God, there is always more and in the Kingdom of God, there is always an abundance.
Isaiah and Ezekiel and John all got a glimpse into the throne room of Heaven and you know what they saw? They saw four strange-looking creatures covered in eyes around the throne of God and day and night they never stop crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come.”
For eternity, they have seen God with all of their eyes and yet they still constantly find something new to praise God about all day and all night! The glory of the Lord is unfathomable! The wisdom of God is manifold! If you’ve given up hope, then you’ve simply looked away from Jesus!
Get your eyes off of the storm and back to the One dwelling right there with you in the middle of the storm that is just about ready to drown you as He completely calms it with just a word. PEACE, BE STILL! Not sure why we refer to the analogy of the storms of life and Jesus calming them? Well, it comes from this simple testimony recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels:
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
The key to successfully persevering through those times when everything inside of you just wants to give up is to look not at what is happening around us, but to WHO God is! Remind yourself of His character, of His attributes, and of the mighty works that He has done before. It is about being all in by placing all of your trust in the unseen God and not in the seen troubles surrounding you.
It’s about trusting the process and not forgetting where you are headed on the other side of this challenge. Better things are coming your way! Better things are still yet to come! Greater things are what God has planned and prepared for you so long as you don’t give up before you get there!
Jeremiah goes on and on lamenting in the book of Lamentations and honestly, it’s too depressing to even quote here this morning. You’ve been hearing enough depressing news this week already! However, in the midst of his lament, he writes this:
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
Affliction and grief is not truly the will of God. It is the consequence of living in this world broken and corrupted by our sin as well as by the attack of our enemy as we see in Job. God may permit it, but His will lies in the end and not the means. His purposes are not to destroy us, but to give us hope and a future. They are used to work the will of God in our lives by using the trouble and the good to mold and form and shape us like a potter and clay.
He may permit it and allow it, but it is ultimately used for our good and His glory. He may permit us to be broken, but it is so that He may heal us correctly. He may allow us to be torn down, but it is so that He can build us up better. He may allow the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy, but He will repay double, resurrect back to life, and rebuild!
The Lord is not only full of mercy and compassion, those mercies and compassions are new every morning! Great is the faithfulness of God! We need only wait patiently on Him as we persevere through the tough times.
Yes, we persevere through the tough times, but they are not our destiny! They are not the end of our story! They are not the plans and purposes of God! They are just a tool which God uses to work together good in our lives.
Sorrow may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)
We end with this reminder:
2 Peter 3:1-9
1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Although we’re waiting patiently on the promise, although we are in a time of perseverance, God is not being slow in keeping His promise to us. His delay is for our good and benefit although we can’t possibly see now how that could be true. Although it may feel like torment now, it may be viewed as a blessing in our future. We may see how God was using our season of perseverance as a call to repentance.
To repent is to change the way that we think about something. We may need to repent even of how we view the fulfillment of God’s promises. As Peter wrote, God is not slow as some understand slowness. God’s timing is perfect and His ways are good. God is full of compassion and mercy!
As you commit to being all in for Jesus this year, persevere!