Written and preached by David P. Nolte

2 PETER 1:5-11

From Wesley's journal: "Sunday, A.M., May 5: Preached in St. Anne's. Was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday, P.M., May 5: Preached in St. John's. Deacons said 'Get out and stay out.' Sunday, A.M., May 12: Preached in St. Jude's. Can't go back there, either. Sunday, A.M., May 19: Preached in St. Somebody Else's. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn't return. Sunday, P.M., May 19: Preached on street. Kicked off street. Sunday, A.M., May 26: Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service. Sunday, A.M., June 2: Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway. Sunday, P.M., June 2: Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me." That's perseverance. To diligence, faith, moral excellence, knowledge and self-control, we need to add perseverance. Perseverance refers to "the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose." It implies endurance, steadfastness, patience and persistence. It is "stick-to-it-iveness," "hang-in-there-ness" and "never-say-die-ness."
    1. There are four main ways in which the word is understood:
      1. Endurance. The ability to put up with aggravation. Jesus endured. We are to endure. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:2 (NASB).
      2. Patience. The ability to wait for something to happen. Most of us want what we want when we want it! But James says,"Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near." James 5:7-8 (NLT).
      3. Persistence. Hanging in there, doing what we need to be doing. In the parable of the soils, Jesus said, "The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15 (NIV).
      4. Remaining steadfast to the end without falling away. Like Paul, who said at the end of his life, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful." 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT).
    2. Perseverance is running the race to the finish; it's doing the job to completion; it's waiting to receive that for which we hope. Perseverance looks forward in hope, stands firm in trial, refuses to give up. Perseverance is not quitting when quitting is easiest.
    3. To illustrate: Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl; The one was wise, and a cheery soul. The other one took a gloomy view And bade his friend a sad adieu. Said the other frog with a merry grin, "I can't get out, but I won't give in; I'll swim around till my strength is spent, Then I will die the more content." And as he swam, though ever it seemed, His struggling began to churn the cream Until on top of pure butter he stopped, And out of the bowl he quickly hopped. The moral, you ask? Oh, it's easily found! If you can't get out, keep swimming around. Our Daily Bread.
    1. Perseverance doesn't just happen. You don't wake up with it like you do morning breath. You don't inherit it. You have to put some effort into it.
    2. There is a three-fold demand if we would persevere. The demand is for:
      1. Decision. Jesus said, "take up your cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23. Like the song says, "I have decided to follow Jesus .. No turning back, no turning back!"
      2. Determination. We must determine that we will persevere. Paul made that decision, saying, "No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven." Philippians 3:13, 14(NLT).
      3. Dependency. Paul said, "I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." Philippians 4:13 (NLT).
    3. The Christian Endeavor Pledge contains all these elements. It says, "Trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would like to have me do. That I will make it the rule of my life to pray and to read the Bible every day, and that I will support the work and worship of my own church in every way possible. And that just so far as I know how, throughout my whole life, I will endeavor to lead a Christian life." Decision, Determination, Dependency. That is the demand of perseverance.
    1. Perseverance is demonstrable. Others can see it when they observe us in trials and tasks. We demonstrate perseverance when we stick to the job, when we courageously suffer afflictions, losses, pains, sorrows and grief.
    2. Consider some who demonstrated perseverance:
      1. Job, of whom we read, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about." James 5:11 (NIV).
      2. Nehemiah, who when opposed by God's enemies, said, "Should someone in my position run away from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won't do it!" Nehemiah 6:11 (NLT).
      3. Paul, who persevered under horribly adverse situations. "Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm." 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (NLT).
    3. Let me show you a demonstration of perseverance. A Christian woman wanted her husband to know Christ but he steadfastly refused. Besides living the life before him, she prayed for his salvation. It took 52 years, but she kept living and praying and the man turned to Christ a few years before he died. That's persistence in prayer.
    1. Perseverance moves us toward a goal; it always takes us forward. Perseverance moves us toward:
      1. Persistence takes us toward consistency. If we just keep doing something, we become consistent at it. Practice makes perfect. That's true in athletics, in music, in art and in every other discipline of life. Paul urges consistency in godliness. "Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT).
      2. Perseverance takes us toward strength. This works in body-building or in any sort of exercise. No pain, no gain. James said, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3 (NIV).
      3. Perseverance moves us toward trust. Hebrews 10:35, 36 tells us "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (NIV).
    2. Perseverance is a walk, a growth process, a moving toward holiness, maturity, faithfulness and Christlikeness.
    3. Eamon Coughlan, the Irish world record holder at 1500 meters, demonstrates the need for the forward motion of perseverance. On March 6, 1987, he was running in a qualifying heat at the World Indoor Track Championships in Indianapolis. With two and a half laps left, he was tripped. He fell, but he got up and with great effort managed to catch the leaders. With only 20 yards left in the race, he was in third place - good enough to qualify for the finals. He looked over his shoulder to the inside, and, seeing no one, he let up. But another runner, charging hard on the outside, passed Coughlan a yard before the finish, thus eliminating him from the finals. Coughlan's great comeback effort was rendered worthless by taking his eyes off the finish line. It's tempting to let up when the sights around us look favorable. But we finish well in the Christian race only when we fix our eyes on the goal: Jesus Christ and eternal life. The direction of perseverance is forward, onward, to the goal.

How we begin is not the whole story. It's how we finish that counts. We have all seen great "come-backs" in sports events. A team can be down by as much as 20 points and rally to win. That's perseverance. The race is not to the swift, but to the enduring. Christ is more interested in your perseverance than you are. He works in the Christian to provide strength and will to endure to the end. Perseverance is crucial. A runner does not win unless he crosses the finish line first. A boxer does not win unless he can answer the bell and fight another round. A man does not succeed if he quits the job before completing it. We are called to persevere. Have you even started with Christ? Have you started, but grown slack? Have you grown slack and given up? This is a day of new beginning. Decide today to follow Jesus - to follow and to never turn back.

Frogs from NavPress Illustrations; Woman praying, Knight; Coughlan, Daily Bread

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