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Wow, I’m actually following through with this post today. Must say, I’m kinda proud of myself. It has been quite a busy few weeks and it hasn’t stopped, but I find it therapeutic to blog. I choose joy today because of this:

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I’m studying James as my final assignment for this Spring semester and this verse is perfect for where I find myself. According to one of the commentaries I’m reading, “The Hebrew word behind the Greek word ‘trials’ is nasah, which means to prove the quality or worth of someone or something through adversity.”

adversity. faith. perseverance. mature. complete. that’s my desire.

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“It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayer. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing.” – George Müller

Oh Lord, help me to put this into practice.

that’s pretty much the best word to describe my current state. and i am so grateful to God. i was trying to come up with some clever post for today, some really cool way to explain how God met me in a simple yet beautiful way this weekend, but the only thing and what i think is the best thing i could come up with is the word BREAKTHROUGH.

i imagine this is how hannah felt after pleading to God for a child and leaving her plea on the altar, trusting her God. i love hannah, i love her story. and i believe i just might understand her a little more after this past weekend.

thank you Jesus.

Last week in our Bible study, Walking by Faith, we were challenged to know God’s Word and how His Word, when buried in our hearts, is one of our greatest weapons in times of battle. In our homework for the week she asked us to remember a time when God’s Word became so real for us in a time of need.

Well, every Monday I try to bring a message to the women that closes our evening and spurs us into the next week of study. I always stick to the Bible and try to discern what the Lord would like me to tell them. Well, this week, when I remembered a passage that meant the world to me in a very dark and sad time, I felt the Lord pressing upon me that I needed to get personal and tell them about that passage of scripture. I don’t like to get into my personal testimony on Monday nights all that much. Not because I am afraid of sharing, but rather because I prefer to keep all our eyes on God and nothing else. But this Monday night, I knew he wanted me to share, and this is what I said…

Almost 18 months ago, I went through one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. At the time, I felt it was my greatest failure. And the problem was I couldn’t hide. It was a public failure. The kind where everyone knew and there was no way to “take cover.” I felt exposed, foolish, embarrassed and inadequate, you name it. God had taken the people that knew me best, better than anyone, away from me and there was nowhere to run or hide, except to Him. And this was the scripture He gave me:

1 Peter 5:6-10:

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Here’s my breakdown:

v.6 for me, I had to be humbled. People that know me know that I have the stubborn will of an ox. My prayer is that as women, we will learn to humble ourselves before He has to, but sometimes we are too stinkin’ stubborn and He has to step in. But the verse continues to tell us that He will lift us up in due time. I can tell you right now, in due time, He lifted me up. Sometimes we have to be knocked down so we can get up.

v. 7 the Lord removed the people closest to me during this time and I had to cast all my cares and anxieties on Him. Even when I tried to go to people for comfort, they just couldn’t say anything that was really helpful. It was then I learned to cast all my anxieties on Him and got to see that He really does care.

v. 8 one of the hardest things to do in a time when you feel unstable is to be self-controlled and alert. In this time I couldn’t discern between the Lord’s voice and the voice of the enemy. It was like God was telling me watch out, in this refining you will be attacked. Be alert! And He was right. I was prime territory for the enemy to pounce.

v. 9 I knew that what I was going through was horrible, but I also knew I wasn’t the only woman on this earth who had been through it. In fact, God was so good to bring women into my life that could truly understand what I was going through and help knock me into place. Nothing is new under the sun.

v. 10 and this was the meat and potatoes for me.

1. the God of ALL grace, not some, ALL!

2. called you to His eternal glory – eternal glory! Never-ending glory! That is what He has called me to… absolutely incredible

3. after you have suffered a little while – it says a little while, not a long while. And from the perspective of an eternal glory, even if I suffer all my life on earth, what do 80-100 years compare to eternity? Nothing!

4.  will himself restore you – that’s it, that’s the promise right there! He will restore me. It doesn’t say maybe, potentially, it says He will!

5. and not only will He restore me, but He will make me strong, firm and steadfast! I will come out better than I went in, all because of Christ Jesus. Amen!

The key in all this to acknowledge TIME. It all takes time and the Lord’s timing is perfect, and often different than ours, BUT He truly knows what’s best. When I was going through this failure, dealing with the aftermath, I remember crying out to the Lord, PLEASE! Make this go away, just fast forward, heal my heart, get me through this already. And I prayed that for months. But God knew, I needed the refining process to get me closer to Him. If he had answered my prayers at the time, allowed me to fast forward, I would not be the woman I am today. I would not know my God so intimately and confidently if I didn’t go through His refining fire.

So this week as we learn to wait on God, remember, He will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast! Even if the situation you are in doesn’t make any sense, God knows and promises to lift you up in due time.

 

yes my friends, i came home from work last night and there in my basement, was water AGAIN! yes, i got mad, i think i actually punched the stairs a few times. all i could think was my new baseboards are going to be ruined!! thankfully the new carpet isn’t down yet… well, anyway, my patient and enduring roommate, who has been sleeping the living room for almost two months now, sent out this awesome prayer email for us both today. it would be a huge blessing to us if you could fight for us in prayer :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Friends and Family =)

Man, I feel like as of late I am writing a lot of emails requesting prayers. Indicative of the times we’re in, huh? But praise our Lord that a) Because of the work of Christ on the cross we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need b) we do have the Body of Christ, so that we may call on eachother in our times of need. So thank you for taking the time to read this.

Friends, I’m requesting prayers for my roommate Lindsey and I. As many of you know, it has been a tumultuous year for us both: 2 home break-ins, 3 basement floodings, series of car vandalism and accidents and half a years worth of unemployment…the list can truly go on. And this is all what’s going on outwardly–God is still doing a work of “expunging” on the inside as well! Oi! What has been amazing though is to see how God has ordained our friendship for this season and we are truly growing and being refined as a result. It hasn’t been easy, but God is “proving” our faith, which is truly worth so much more than all the riches of this world.

Weird things have been happening as of late: In addition to me living in the living room for almost 2 months and Linds in her room (w/my entire room crammed in there), this Sunday when I woke up to get ready for church, a car in our parking lot caught on fire!! No, it wasn’t mine, believe it or not, but I called 911. Just the previous night, Linds and I had a really awesome time with the Lord and we prayed through a lot. Then last night, when we just both happened to be home (which is rare), our basement semi-flooded AGAIN. Praise God the new carpet wasn’t down, but we scrambled to save the new baseboards from the nasty water. As I’m sure you’ll agree, this isn’t just coincidene or a lesson to learn in relinquishing control of possessions–I can honestly say we’ve laid our gifts down. We’re just realizing that this is SO much more a spiritual battle because we see God moving in our lives, and frankly satan hates it. satan wants us so discouraged, distracted and full of doubt of the FAITHFULNESS, POWER AND PLANS of God.

Friends, we have sensed so much of a calling by God into ministry that it’s no wonder satan wants to hinder us from being a light, voice and the extending hands and love of Christ. A friend reminded us about Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem. If I can put it this way, the workers were building for the Kingdom with a trousel in one hand and a sword in the other. As she put it, the battle came to them. That’s exactly how we feel. We humbly ask for your purposeful and powerful prayers. We need the Word of God to dwell in us richly and our minds to be sober and ready for the battles that keep coming to us.

As Linds said this morning, “satan is a punk!” We want to stand firm always in the Lord and we know we cannot do that in our own strength. We know something is on the horizon and we don’t want to grow weary in this battle.

Please pray (and definitely not limited to):
-Peace over our home and the things God has entrusted to us. They are His and so are our lives.
-Unity and the love of Christ in our friendship. That lies would be quickly seen and dealt with in truth and we’d only be strengthened. That no division would stand.
-For a sober mind and discernment of what is the enemy’s doing–he is sly/crafty, but God is greater in us!
-There’d be a deepening of God’s Word in our lives and a deeper knowing of Him
-For Linds as she leads the women’s bible study in God’s Word, disciples women and for whatever may be next
-Shelly as she disciples women, part of worship band/choir, and for confirmation of God’s calling regarding missions

Friends–THANK YOU!! We love the Body of Christ and we are making petitions on your behalf as well. We are committed to that. Any words of encouragement we will gladly take =). We love ya’ll.

God bless you all,

Shelly Torres and Lindsey Crystal

today pia and hiked up and down the stairs at palos for three hours with 35 lbs. in our packs. the best part of the day, overhearing someone doing the same thing tell his friend, “unless i am in your will, you better slow down!” classic!

it was super hot and humid today and by the time we were done, you would have thought we had jumped in the pool (sorry for the gross picture). needless to say, the glacier on top of rainier sounds mighty alluring right now!

as i type this i am eating a frozen pizza. the fact that it is an organic vegetarian trader joe’s pizza makes me feel better about not cooking something healthy (and no i am so not a vegetarian, just like the veggies on the pizza) .

anyway, i’m home and eating when according to my training schedule i should be doing 45 minutes of cardio tonight. i have been so tired lately though, i know this is a much needed evening off. i thought training for marathons was hard, but the discipline and strength required for this adventure really makes marathons look like a walk in the park.

recently though, a dear uncle of mine sent me an email and wisely reminded me that He who is in me is greater than any strength i might be building while training.

ephesians 1:18-20 says, i pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. that power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.

wow! God gives that power, the power that He used to raise Christ from the dead, to those that believe. amen! His word also says that i can do all things through Christ and His power is made perfect in my weakness. hallelujah!

so no matter how tired i might feel, no matter how weak i might seem, i will boast all the more gladly in my weakness as his power is made perfect. if i can pull this- rather, when i do pull this off, God will get all the glory, He has given me the grace, discipline and stamina, through His mighty, mighty power, to stand on that mountain top!

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