Matthew 10:21-22 (NLT)
A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.
All I can say is “Sorry Ladies, he’s taken!” He has been for sixteen years today. The day that I stood in a little church with a handful of people to say, “I do!” seems like a lifetime ago but the love I feel for the man I gave my heart to before God has only grown over the last several years. It seems like we have always been together although it is hard to see where time has gone. It grew into a home with five kids, two dogs and a mortgage so quickly. Anniversaries give us a moment to pause and reflect on just how far we have come or how much time has passed. Life is filled with breaths and footsteps that pass by so quickly. For much of our life immaturity and inexperience causes us to take them for granting missing moments with potential that we would gladly reclaim. Memories are made hopefully good ones. Anniversaries mark periods of endurance in our life. It marks the path of those who we love and care for enough to remember whether here or long gone.
What is endurance? To endure means to hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding. It means to bear without resistance and with patience. Endurance is to continue to exist. Looking beyond the boundaries of my life into the world in which we live it is sad to see the condition of love in the world. Jesus said that sin would be rampant and love would grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) He was definitely spot on. Not many couples who we know and love are still together. Jesus promised that those who endure to the end would be saved. What did He mean?
Psalm 136:1 (NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
His Faithful Love endures forever! Do you believe that? God’s Love for us endures. (Romans 8:38-39) The Word of God promises that there is nothing that can separate us from His Amazing Love. But why would it say endures? Well, I may not know you but I know me. God’s Love would have to be unconditional, unfailing and faithful to continue beyond all my faults and failures. I am completely unworthy of His Love outside of His Grace. Psalm 136 reinforces over and over again that His Love endures forever. It is this concept of love that must change how we feel about endurance. Endurance is hard. We must have certain qualities in life that come from God to learn to endure and be successful in loving others.
I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
If I could give anyone marital advice in sixty seconds or less, it would be this. Do not attempt it without a relationship with Jesus Christ. You are going to need Him constantly throughout the duration of your union. When two imperfect and independent people filled with their own dreams and desires unite for a common purpose, there better be a whole lot of grace. Grace comes from knowing Jesus Christ which humbles us to accept our partners without expecting them to fill the void meant for God. When God reigns in our marriage and home, the weight of responsibility is shifted and our expectation is for Him to be perfect, all-knowing and righteous. We expect the Lord to meet our needs, grant our wants and fulfill our desires so we are free to love each other without being disappointed.
Love never gives up. It endures. Love never loses faith. It endures. Love is always hopeful. It endures. Our love for God and each other should endure through every circumstance to be real.
2 Corinthians 6:3-4 (NLT)
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.
The past season of our life has been a very difficult one. Many couples do not survive ordeals such as cancer. Rather than rallying together for a common cause, they are torn apart by fear. But the truth of the matter, people give up on people for much less. We enter relationships with other people waiting for the other foot to fall and filled with distrust. Everyone else has let us down so this person probably will, too. You want to know a secret. They are going to let you down. In fact, you are going to let them down, too. We are not perfect. We are forgiven by the Grace of God whose love endures no matter what we do, how we live or how far we may fall. The moment we call out to Him, He rushes to our side. We must learn to love EVERY OTHER PERSON we come in contact with the same way. But first, let’s start at home.
Everything we do should represent our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything. How we live definitely makes a difference. It should be for His Glory. His Glory surrounds us when we live in close fellowship with the Lord. Love is that fellowship. When we love the Lord things will change or love does not exist. If I did not change, my marriage would not have lasted. If we both continued to seek our way and only think about ourselves, we would not be together today.
2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT)
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.
There are three qualities of endurance in this passage. The good soldier represents commitment. Soldiers lay down their life to pursue a common cause. It is a selfless act of giving up their life to secure the lives of others. To endure we must have the same level of commitment to the Body of Christ as a soldier to his unit. They are willing to die for others. Am I? Are you? Love is giving up our way to walk together. This will take every ounce of commitment that we have in ways we have never known. But it will be worth it!
Athletes cannot win a prize unless they follow the rules. Good one! Discipline. Love is an act of discipline. On those days it doesn’t look like it should or make us feel good, we discipline our body, mind and spirit to keep moving. During much of the time our son was battling cancer, it felt like all I could do was put one foot in front of the other. You know what? We made it. It was hard. Some days I crawled, fell down, didn’t want to move, but discipline said keep going the finish line is just ahead. We only lose the race of faith if we give up. Is that even a consideration when we are promised to always win?
Finally, the hardworking farmer should be the first to enjoy the fruit of his labor. The farmer represents patience. Every season of our life requires a wait time. Heck, just buying groceries makes me wait and exercise patience. Patience is a process. We are not born with it. The farmer waits for his crops to grow. Though it may seem longer than we expected or think we can last, the Goodness and Unfailing Love of God is working in our life making the impossible come to pass. Love is patient. Always. Even when we don’t want to wait anymore, those who endure will make every effort to hold on a little longer.
2 Timothy 2:10-13 (NLT)
So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
Not only does my wedding anniversary significant because I married my best friend and love of my life, but it represents the giving of our life to God. That’s what hooked me. When he told me that he loved God and wanted to know Him more. Done! Get the ring! I knew this was my life partner and soul mate because I felt the very same way. Every day has not been perfect. But the majority of them, pretty darn good. I know that I will live the rest of my life with this wonderful human being because of the unfailing Love of our God!
I am willing to endure anything if it will bring glory to Christ. On this I have been tested, I was surprised at my own response. The revelation that our frail human love can get so wrapped up in Jesus that natural circumstances cannot touch it is overwhelming. I had to make a choice in our journey with our son. Would I love God no matter what happened? I struggled with it. God if I say yes will you take him away because God I don’t want to give him up. If I say no will I lose my soul forever and will he die for my disobedience? These things circled in my head. I prayed and agonized over this and then I finally fell completely broken before my Father as I heard His Voice, “My love never fails, it never runs out, it never gives up…” It was then I knew that no matter what happened in the coming months, years and for the rest of my life I could trust Him simply because of His Unfailing Love that endures forever.
James 5:10-12 reminds of Job. He endured great suffering but never ever gave up on God’s Love even when holding it by a shoestring of faith. He just stayed right there. This is endurance. Commitment, discipline and patience will enable us and empower us to endure. The Love, Goodness, Kindness and Graciousness of God is undeniable for those who choose to endure. Will you? Will I? Celebrate God’s Love today by deciding to hang in there just a little longer. Make it an anniversary and take a moment to reflect on all the great things that He has done for you. Every good thing in our life is evidence of Him. Take a moment to tell Him how much you love Him and appreciate Him for love that never fails but endures forever.
I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT)
And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.