What is Spiritual Perseverance?

Man in the Desert

Let’s try to define first what perseverance is. Perseverance according to Merriam-webster:

Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. The action or condition or an instance of persevering

 

But what is the difference between the general definition of perseverance and spiritual perseverance? Or what is spiritual perseverance? Is it entirely different from its standard definition?

I like what Oswald Chambers said in his book “My Utmost for His Highest”:

Perseverance is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen…A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated

  

Some may say that perseverance means that you need to endure but the tricky part is we may endure just for the sake of enduring, or wanting it to come to pass. But as what Oswald Chambers said, it is more than enduring. Enduring can be done with power of our will or positive thinking. Isn’t there too much self-help books already to help derail us from what spiritual perseverance is? Part of spiritual perseverance is enduring but that is not all. Because spiritual perseverance is working your faith despite opposition, knowing with full confidence that God would do what He said He would do. Spiritual perseverance is always held together by the foundation of who God is. It is not allowing defeat because your faith is telling you to hold on to this everlasting God, who gives us the victory in our Christian life

When I think about these things, I am reminded about Nehemiah in the Bible. In Nehemiah 1, he was moved to pray and ask God to help him in his desire to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He took the step of faith, asked permission from the king in Nehemiah 2 to allow him to rebuild wall – and when it was approved, he then went on with this great task. And when we’re always assigned to do a great task for the Lord, we can expect that there will always be opposition and sometimes even ridicule which Nehemiah experienced.

Nehemiah 2:19 - But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

Nehemiah 4:7-8 - Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.

 

We see that even in Chapter 6 of Nehemiah, there was still opposition:

Nehemiah 6:2-4 - then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.

 

Take note of what was said in verse 4. Four times this was done to Nehemiah, but he remained firm. He persevered. He did not merely endured but he spiritual persevered. He persevered because he knows what God has called him to do. He said, “Why should the work stop…” He was so focused on the task assigned to him and in his faith in the Lord that he knows his Lord will make everything come to pass as long as he remains faithful to what was entrusted to him. And indeed, the wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

You may be going through a tough time right now. You may be experiencing disappointments in life. Your work might be crumbling right now and you just don’t know what to do. But if you know that you are walking rightly in the Lord, just continue to persevere. Trust Him and know that He is in full control. Do not focus on the circumstance but on who God is. He is a good and faithful God. He knows what He is doing. Or maybe you are experiencing setbacks in your ministry. Spiritually persevere. If you know that this is what God called you to do, then just be faithful in what He has entrusted you to do. In the end, it’s not about you. He will be the One to make your ministry successful – not you.

Life will always bring you sour apples, but you can always turn them into sweet juice only because of the Lord. When things are tough – spiritually persevere by working your faith in putting full confidence on who the Lord is and what He can do.

If you are going through a tough time right now, leave a comment below so I may be able to pray and hopefully, encourage you.

3 Lessons from the Start of Nehemiah’s Ministry

Nehemiah is known to be one of the greatest leaders in the Bible because he was used by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  Personally, this chapter in the bible holds a dear place in my heart ever since B1G Connect conducted a series on it and I was asked to preach Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah 10 and Nehemiah 13.

Let’s start with a brief background. The King of Babylon took all of Judah into captivity (II Kings 24-25). The Babylonians got to Jerusalem, destroyed everything – the temple, the walls of the city, the fortress areas and anything of value. Everything was in chaos. The city was reduced to rubble while they marched back to Babylon with their captives and seized treasures. Just imagine how terrifying of an experience captivity can be. When people are captured, they are forcibly taken away from their homes and their land and they are then made into slaves. They are then treated with disdain and abuse, which is what exactly happened to the Jews. It was only when Persia conquered Babylon that the Jews were allowed to return to the Promised Land. So you can visualize what it looked like in Nehemiah 1:3.

3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Nehemiah wanted to know the condition of his city so he asked his brother about it. When he heard what his city has become, he sat down and wept. For months he mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. We can see this in Nehemiah 1:4.

 

(1) The burden deep within our hearts can be an indication of what God wants us to do.

No one asked Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, but because he felt the immense burden, he translated it into action. If you want to know where God is calling you to serve or what he wants you to do, it’s usually related to your burden. That burden will carry you and move you through what you need to do. And when you start to feel that burden, the best thing to do is to take the time to pray about it. This was the first thing that Nehemiah did – he prayed.

4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

 

(2) Spend time in prayer to align yourself with the Lord and to seek his guidance and favor.

It took Nehemiah 4 months to pray for his burden. Why do we need to pray? Because we need to align ourselves with want God wants us to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by burdens or desires inside so it’s important that we spend time in prayer. The heart is deceitful above everything else and through prayer, we are covering our desire or burden with protection, that if this is really what God wants us to do, He will go ahead with us. It’s ok to spend a couple of weeks in prayer but it’s also a good idea to put a time table to it.

 

(3) Step out of Faith

And after the 4 months that Nehemiah spent it prayer, he stepped out of Faith. We can see that in Chapter 2.

I was cupbearer to the king.

2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

He was a cupbearer. He was aware of how important his position was and that he had access to the king every day. The king was vital in ensuring that the wall will be rebuilt and Nehemiah clearly understood that he needed to get the approval of the king before he made any moves. So in prayer, he lifted this up to the Lord as well. He took his step of faith and showed sadness in front of the king even though being sad in the king’s presence is considered to be a sign of disrespect. The king could have asked Nehemiah to be thrown into prison or worse, beheaded. But the hand of the Lord was upon him and the king just asked him why he was sad.

And the rest as they say is history. If we look at Nehemiah’s life, we’ll see how God was with him all along. It started with a burden which he lifted up in prayer to the Lord. When the right timing came, he stepped out of faith and from then on, the Lord was able to use him mightily. Sometimes, we just really need to take Nehemiah’s lead and step out of faith. We can’t ignore the fact that we will have to face uncertainty, but if we know who our God is and if we make sure that we have it covered it with prayer, we can rely on the truth that the Lord will always be faithful to us. He can use us mightily for this work.

There is no better privilege in life than to part take in the work of God. We are only his instruments. We are vessels of his love and grace. As we lay down our lives for him, may we grow in our understanding of who God is and live a life of worship.

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my Nehemiah 1 Sermon in B1G South for the retreat volunteers call. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

Nehemiah 13 Sermon

How it should have ended. These are words that we should think about when we read the last chapter of the book of Nehemiah. Before Nehemiah 13 we see the people rejoicing! The wall which was rebuilt after 52 days is now being rededicated and everyone is celebrating. But suddenly, when we read through chapter 13, the perfect ending that we were expecting isn’t going to happen due to a lot reforms Nehemiah still needed to implement. Nehemiah has left and gone back to his duty as a cup-bearer to the king. When he returned, he saw that his people were sinning against the Lord once again.

  • The rooms in the house of the Lord was desecrated
  • No one was supporting the work of the Lord once again
  • The Sabbath was not being obeyed
  • People were intermarrying again

This moved Nehemiah to rebuke his people and execute reforms that will ensure they don’t sin again. When you read through Nehemiah 13 you will actually see that he did a lot! He could have been disappointed with what happened. He could have left the judgment to God. But he didn’t. He was a man of action. There was nothing in his heart but the love for the Lord. His desire to please his God pushed him to do greater things. That’s why in the end, with a clear conscience, he was able to say:

Remember me, O my God

 

There are 5S that we can learn from Nehemiah. These are 5S that Nehemiah wasn’t:

  1. Nehemiah was never Self-reliant
  2. Nehemiah was never Scared
  3. Nehemiah was never Silent
  4. Nehemiah was never Side-tracked
  5. Nehemiah never tolerated Sin

How can we become like this man? How was he able to act this way? I believe it was because of his intimate relationship with his God. He loved his God so much that his actions naturally flowed from him to act this way.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

 

If you look at the book of Nehemiah there are so many factors that make up the book – a great leader, a man of God, a stubborn generation, and a wall that needed to be rebuilt. But if you’re really going to think about it, it is really just about God. How God needed to get the attention of his people by allowing them to be captured by the Babylonians and have their wall destroyed. How God can use someone to do great things because of his love for the Lord. If you’re going to look up the word “remember” in the book of Nehemiah, there are a lot of instances where Nehemiah would recall what the Lord has done for his people – how the Lord has been faithful. The law and even the covenant was not able to ensure that the people would be righteous. Here we would see that only through an intimate relationship with God can one person really be victorious. Only through abiding in Jesus will we be able to say someday, with a clear conscience, “remember me, O my God.”

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