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.

5 Things to Consider When Planning for a Retreat

I don’t know why, but I’ve always dreamed of leading a retreat. I just haven’t volunteered before because I know it would require a lot of work. But this time, I know that this is really what God wants me to do so I took on the role of being the retreat coordinator for the B1G South Ministry this year. We’ve started retreat planning a couple of weeks ago for our November retreat and I just want to share some important points that you need to consider when planning a retreat.

I started my career in the project management industry. Whenever there is a project, a lot of the work is invested on planning. You need to plan a lot of things: the scope, time, and cost. Having these factors sorted out will make implementation seamless and less prone to errors. The output of your planning sessions will help brief your team so everyone’s aware of the tasks they specifically need to do. When the project team knows what is expected from them, you’ll be able to easily delegate tasks and monitor the progress. Of course, establishing the scope of your retreat is also very important and will require you to focus on the following factors during your planning sessions.

 

(1) Objectives

What is the goal of the retreat? What do you want to achieve? Laying down your objectives will help steer the direction of the retreat. This will help you focus just on the important things you need to consider. When you have a goal in mind, everything that you will be doing should help attain it. Your objectives will also help you in making sound decisions. There will be times when you’ll need to make some tough choices and your objectives should be a major factor in your decision making.

 

(2) Date

Since you’ll want to have a lot of people participate in your retreat, choosing the right date is important. There’s no guarantee that a specific date will be free for everyone so you should plot a date that will encourage the majority of your target participants to attend. It’s also vital that you consider Holidays and peak season since this can affect the price of your venue. What is the ideal number of days for a retreat you ask? This ultimately depends on your objectives. Normally for us, we would always have it for 3 days and 2 nights.  Our retreats are specifically targeted towards single professionals so we usually plot our retreats for the weekend, allowing them to only take a leave from work for one day.

 

(3) Venue

Try creating a checklist of all the things you want to consider for the venue. From your checklist take note of your absolutes and good to haves. Definitely, your absolutes should be good rooms that will be comfortable for your participants. But what is the scope of a good room? Does that mean a 5-star rated room? Again, you need to align your objectives towards your target market. If you are targeting single professionals, they would most probably want a room that is at best the level of apartelles. If this is for the youth, they would most probably not think much about the type of room they will be staying in, but they would be more concerned about the facilities available at the venue. Keep in mind the amenities and costs for the venue. Amenities should help foster your objectives and also include enough recreational activities that your participants will be interested in. Before you decide on a venue, do an ocular inspection. It will allow you to get a feel of your venue and have a better understanding of what you and your team will be working with.

 

(4) Cost

If you already have past experiences in planning the financial side of a retreat, you can peg a cost that will be reasonable for your participants. Whatever the pegged cost, just remember that your budget shouldn’t revolve solely on it. This means that when you create your budget, don’t try adjusting it too much just so it would meet your pegged cost. Create a feasible budget. Include all the actual or estimated costs and then compute how much to charge each participant. From there compare it to your pegged cost. Is it above or below your pegged cost? If it is below, then you can use your new computation rather than your pegged cost. If it is above your pegged amount, then you might want to do away with some items to lower your budget. What are those items? Again, realign yourself with your objectives. The best outcome is just to breakeven but if have a retreat fund from your ministry, then maybe you can use it as leverage to lower down the cost. At the end of the day, the cost for a soul getting to know Jesus is priceless!

 

(5) Number of Participants

Create a target of how many participants you can accommodate on this retreat. But be sure that your target number can easily be accommodated by the venue. Aim for the target and let it be your vision. Put that target deep within your heart. Allow it to sink it. Allow it to motivate you and push you to reach it because you just want to share the love of Jesus to people. When you have that target, cascade it to your team and create marketing campaigns to achieve it.

In reality, there is no clear formula on how to plan a perfect retreat. Keep in mind that imperfect people are planning it. That imperfect people are working on it. The best way to ensure that your retreat will be successful is to just rely on God. With every decision, pray about it and ask God to guide, lead and give you favor throughout. In the end, if your retreat is for Him then the success should only be pointed towards Him and not you.

Note from the Author: if you want to know how the Retreat went, you may read my entries about it. Here are my experiences during the first official B1G South Retreat: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

 

For Richer or Poorer, Love the Lord

I love to travel. The two best moments for me has always been getting to the destination, and finally coming home after the long journey.  I’m always excited to get to the foreign land because I don’t know what is ahead of me.  But I also look forward to coming back  home  because it’s my place of peace, comfort and serenity. God has really blessed me with opportunities to visit and explore other countries. There were times when I spend a month away from home. I can honestly say that I have a lot of fun  but there’s always a part of me that longs to come back home. That’s why I understand why James started talking about trials in Chapter 1. When we look at whom James was addressing, we would see that he was addressing Jewish Christians scattered in different locations.

James 1:1 …To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

It was during this time that the dispersal of the early church created communities of faith within their region. James speaks with authority, just like a pastor, addressing his scattered flock who are most probably feeling the pressure from society’s influences, experiencing persecution, discrimination, loneliness and lack of resources. This is why he started talking about trials in Chapter 1 – to be joyful in trials. Because in their situation, trials were very much inevitable. But in James 1:9-12 he started addressing the rich and poor so we have to put ourselves in the right context here. Although James was still talking about trials, he was addressing the rich and poor specifically.

James 1:9-12

9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Let’s look at descriptions of the rich and poor based on the book of James alone. Notice that James has been constantly addressing the rich and the poor throughout. We’ll see that that they are being described and mentioned in James 2:1-7 and 5:1-8.

 

The Rich The Poor
Fine Clothes (2:2) Dirty Clothes (2:2)
Good Seats in their assembly (3:3) Stands or Sits in the Flood in their assembly (2:3)
Withholds the wages they can pay (5:4) Cheated of their pay (5:4)
Luxurious Life (5:5) Condemned and Killed (5:6)

 

James 1:9 - But the brother of humble circumstances…

The word “Brother” addresses a believer. He is someone who is part of the family of Christ – part of the church. How did he describe his brother? A brother of humble circumstances. A term used to describe the poor or someone of low position. He wasn’t addressing the poor in general. He was addressing a poor brother. Poverty was common among those who were dispersed since they had very little resources. From the descriptions above, we would see how humbling their situation was. I believe humility starts when you acknowledge that you own nothing and are not entitled to anything. But as James continues in verse 9, he is addressing his poor brother to glory in his position

James 1:9 - But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position

He can rejoice, glory, exalt and be lifted up because his standing before God is that of exaltation – he is spiritually exalted. As he realizes that he owns nothing, he depends on the one who controls everything. Since there is nothing you can be proud about, you can glory in that position where you find contentment in God alone. You can glory in the fact that you have finally learned what is important in life. That point where you realize that God is all that you need.  You can exalt in the fact that it’s not about you, when you’re not centered on your “entitlement.” Everything you need is in God alone. Find your joy in trials because of your spiritual exaltation, that God is making you mature and allowing you to have the right perspective as you strive to be more Christ-like.

James 1:10 – And the rich man is to glory in his humiliation…

In this passage, the rich man is most probably a believer as well. He is to glory in his humiliation because of trials since he realizes that riches cannot provide the solution and exemption to trials in life. That once your riches are taken away from you, it forces you to go back to the understanding that all your possession was never yours in the first place. One rich man who gloried in his humiliation was Job. Job was a man who lived a prosperous life but because of God’s plans, everything was taken away from him. His family, health, and properties were all taken away from him. But he gloried in his humiliation and was found blameless. How he responded was more than commendable:

Job 1:21 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

To glory in humiliation is to be brought back to reality that “your” riches are merely temporary. Just as it is being compared to a flower in verse 10 and 11

James 10 -11 …because like flowering grass he will pass away For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed;

Just like a flower’s beauty is temporary. Riches can bring you pleasure for the moment, but you will never be able to bring all your riches to eternity. In a blink of an eye, everything you own can be taken from you.

From this, we learn three important lessons about trials.

 

(1) Trials are not dependent on status

For the rich, having lots of money won’t guarantee a solution. When you lose someone you love, even if you have all the money in the world, you won’t be able to buy his or her life back. Patience and endurance can’t be bought. Money simply cannot buy everything. For the poor, even if you don’t have enough money, that still doesn’t guarantee that you will be exempted from experiencing trials. Problems and more problems will come as we pass through this fallen world. But you can find glory in the truth that all these trials can develop something greater in you! It makes you more mature and allows you to stretch your faith as you depend on God alone.

 

(2) Trials allow you to see more clearly

Both rich and poor should realize that there is one truth that we can always rely on – in God alone we trust. It’s realizing that in the midst of having nothing, as long as I have God – I have everything. It’s realizing that even if I have all the wealth in the world, it is never truly mine, but God’s and I am just a steward of his blessings. Therefore, I will not put my security in my earthly possessions but in God alone.

 

(3) Trials brings blessings

James 1:12 – Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him

 

Fortunate, well-off or happy is the man who endures trials because he is rewarded. He is commended by the master. The crown of life is a reward and the reward comes with the acknowledgement from God that we have that “life.” We have endured and have been preserved because of our love for him. We are part of his church and we suffer with him because we love him. This is the mature kind of love. Love that is not based on emotions. We are being compared to the bride of Christ and this is our commitment to Him. To love and worship Him not matter what. For richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, in trials or in happiness. And when we realize this truth, it develops our maturity. Maturity shown in our patience, endurance, eternal Perspective, joy, dependence and love for the Lord. Trials strip us of our worldly dependencies and we are left to find security in God alone. Trials show us the character of our faith and perfects us to Christ’s likeness.

You may be going through a trial right now. You may be in a financial slump. You may still be looking for work for more than a year now. You may be praying for a partner in life, but still waiting for an answer. There may be tension within your family because of your faith or you may be experiencing problems in your relationship with your office mates. Or you may have lost someone you dearly love. Just remember, He is all you need folks. In moments of trials, He is always there. He is all you need. Let Him take you through. You just need to endure and persevere. Respond in faith and obedience – it is not meaningless. It is producing in you a glory that far outweighs them all. Allow it to develop maturity in you. That you may grow in your love for the Lord based on truth and not emotion. And when the day of judgement comes, may you someday hear – “Well done good and faithful servant.”

 

 

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my James 1 Sermon in B1G South Connect entitled “For Richer and Poorer – your marraige vow with the Lord”. 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.

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