Staying With It to the End
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We've all read or heard the story of Noah and the ark, and how people laughed at and ridiculed him for building a huge boat in the middle of the desert. He listened to their insults for over one hundred years. But, he never gave up or turned his back on God. He was given a job to do, and he didn't quit until it was completed. He showed a tremendous amount of perseverance to do what he did.
Perseverance. What is it? It's a fruit that we are going to need to be part of God's Kingdom. In fact, it's a command from God. In Revelation 3:7-8 Revelation 3:7-8  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things said he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens;
 I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
American King James Version×and 10, God commands us to persevere. This is what He is expecting of us. How do we do it? We can't of and by ourselves. We have to have God's spirit living and working in us. That's the only way we can endure.
Perseverance is one of the seven keys to success discovered by Herbert W. Armstrong, who studied the successful people of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as the principles of the Bible. He found that without perseverance you can't be successful. Perseverance is needed for our spiritual success as well as our success in human life.
A person who has perseverance endures no matter what the trials or how much suffering or grief he or she has to go through. It's from the root word meaning "to remain under." What does that mean? It means a man would be willing to remain under trials, if necessary, and to follow God's way. By enduring such trials, he honors God and learns lessons the trials may teach.
In Romans 5:1-2 Romans 5:1-2  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
American King James Version×we find, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." We stand not because we are human and are tough and wise, but because we have the grace of God. We have the Spirit of God. Our hope is in the Kingdom of God.
In verse 3 of Romans 5 we read, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance." It means going through the mental anguish and struggle, which sometimes includes the physical struggle of "hanging in there." It's a fruit that grows out of trials, though it doesn't seem to grow in good times. It's a willingness to stay strong through those trials.
In verses 4 and 5, we read, "And perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint; because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Satan wants to know what it will take for us to give up. He is roaring about trying to find out what it will take to shake us loose from the tree of life.
What will shake us loose? Sickness? Losing our job? Money problems? We need to know that Satan will try anything and everything. We must keep our focus on God and "hang in there" and persevere to the end. It's going to take a lot of persevering to get us there.
In Hebrews, it talks about those who were tortured, mocked and scourged and put in prison, stoned, sawn in two, slain by the sword, destitute, afflicted and tormented. Yet, they never gave up. I don't think any of us have had to experience the things they had to endure. Although we have had to go through some really tough things, it doesn't compare with what they went through. We haven't had to endure to bloodshed yet. Our calling is like a race. It really is work. It requires endurance and patience and stick-to-it-iveness.
What does it take to endure? It takes faith. In James 1:2-4 James 1:2-4  My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;
 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
American King James Version×it says, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." The testing of our faith is what it comes down to. Do we really believe in what God says and what our purpose is? The testing of our faith develops perseverance. It is the foundation upon which our perseverance is built. Perseverance and faith go together.
Perseverance is when you keep coming back, and you don't give up. You keep trying, you keep knocking and, finally, the door will open. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this, "Perseverance is a great element of success, if you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you're sure to wake up somebody." Sometimes we fail in life physically or spiritually, but we must never give up. We have to stay in there for the long haul. We have to have faith, courage, tenacity and stamina to keep going.
Anticipation can help us persevere. The Feast of Tabernacles is a special celebration kept by Jesus Christ and kept by the United Church of God today. Before the Feast of Tabernacles, when my children were little, we used to make chains. You know, the type where you cut construction paper into rectangles, and then glue them together to make a chain? We'd make a long chain and then pull one link off every day to add to the anticipation and excitement as the time of the Feast drew near. We could persevere until the Feast--it was real--we could see it approaching. It is easier to persevere when you can see that fixed date. We don't know when Christ will return, though, so it's harder for us to persevere until He does. We can't look at the calendar and know the date. And, we can't count the days until His return. Nevertheless, it's just as real.
In his commentary, William Barclay talks about perseverance and endurance. "For the Christian persecution and trouble are not the end; beyond lies the glory; and in the hope of that glory he can endure anything that life brings to him. It sometimes happens that a man has to undergo a painful operation or course of treatment; but he gladly accepts the pain and the discomfort because of the renewed health and strength which lie beyond. It is one of the basic facts of life that a man can endure anything so long as he has something to look forward to-and the Christian can look forward to the ultimate joy." Here is the recipe for endurance when life is hard and faith is difficult. We can stand up to things because of the greatness we can look forward to, because every trial is another test to strengthen and to purify our faith, and because at the end of it Jesus Christ is waiting to say, "Well done!" to all His faithful servants.
In Revelation 3:9-10 Revelation 3:9-10  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
 Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.
American King James Version×, God promises to keep us from the tribulation if we endure to the end. To fight and win, we have to be equipped with perseverance that comes from God, that comes from faith. God wants to give us His Kingdom. We have endured. God's Church has experienced some very difficult times. We've lost brethren and loved ones. Still, we haven't given up. We've endured patiently. We need to be grateful that God has helped us to accomplish this. We've hung in there. We've had to take a personal stand and be convicted. We have a lot of scars that prove we've been through the battles. We've matured and we've grown.
We've worked too hard to get where we are to let it go. Our goal is just ahead of us. It's almost within reach. We don't know how much time we have left, but we don't want to throw all the time we have put into it away. Let's not give up. Let's continue to persevere.