“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)
As we begin a new year, I’d like to point our attention to several “couples” in the Bible. No, these aren’t literal married couples, rather couples of words that often go together in Scripture. Words like “faith and persistence,” “pain and suffering,” “failure and fullness,” and so forth.
Today we’ll look at the first couple, faith, and persistence. It’s worth noting that the above verse from Ephesians, follows Paul’s instruction on the whole armor of God, which he begins in Ephesians 6:10 by saying: “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” In our walk with Jesus there is no strength but God’s strength; there is no “mighty power” except it’s given us from God.
The purpose of God’s armor isn’t simply to protect us from attacks from without, but to be a constant reminder of our need to be ever aware of the disciplines and attitudes that emanate from within. Most of our obedient walk with Jesus begins with a decision, not made once for all time, but renewed day after day as we continually remind ourselves of whose we are and why we entered this fight of faith in the first place.
Faith is the foundation of our journey with Jesus. In Hebrews 11:6 we read: “And it is impossible to please God without faith.” Faith is the fundamental conviction upon which the structure of our commitment to Christ is built. But as vitally important as faith is, it’s valueless unless and until it’s given visibility through our persistent efforts to make much of Jesus, while making less and less of ourselves.
Rick Warren made an interesting observation when he wrote: “Moses realized this important truth: You can only accomplish the impossible when you see the invisible.” Jesus reinforced this idea in Matthew 19:25-26 where we read: “The disciples were astounded. ‘Then who in the world can be saved?’ they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.’”
We’ll struggle understanding salvation and how to walk faithfully in it unless and until we understand that humanly speaking it is impossible. That’s why it’s so critical that we walk by faith and not by sight. Until by faith we see that Jesus is God in human flesh who laid down His life for our sin, rose from the dead, and ascended back to the Father to continually bear intercession for us, His followers, we’ll wrongly believe we’re responsible to walk in our own strength.
Yes, of course, faith must be matched by persistence and perseverance, but again, those efforts aren’t our attempts to take things into our own hands and live out our faith in the flesh. We persistently seek to magnify Jesus in the energy of the Spirit who resides in us. We persevere in exalting Jesus in everything we think, say, or do through the power of the Spirit as we yield more and more of who we are to the Spirit of Christ who indwells us.
Rick Warren said it this way: “God will give you strength to persevere. He’ll give you the power to keep working on the marriage that seems hopeless. He will give you the power to pick yourself up when you’ve fallen. He can give you the power to keep going when you’re on the edge of bankruptcy. He’ll give you the power to keep your convictions when all the pressure around you says to give in. The key to faith is to be persistent. Keep your eyes on God, not on your problem. God’s power to keep going is always there for you. You just need to ask him for it.”
Our part is faith. His part is to fill and empower us to persist in that faith until He calls us home.
Blessings, Ed 😊