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“ENDURING FAITH: The Heart” – Sept 29

September 29, 2013

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.””  Hebrews 10:36-38

Endurance training requires that you not stop.  The worst thing that you can do when you are trying to build up endurance is to stop.  The mind will always try to get you to stop for just a little while.

Shrinking back is a temptation of every workout that resides at the limits of my current endurance.  The temptation to grab the edge of the pool  for an extra breath rises at every turn past the mile and a half mark.  I almost quit ten miles from the finish-line of my last century ride.  On every run, I have a conversation within my head, in which I have to convince myself not to turn back and shrink the distance.

Endurance comes by continuing.

It is built by incrementally going a little further than the last time.  Endurance does not come by charging out the front door into some unknown distances.  That is just asking for an injury or at best, horrendously sore muscles that will force you to back down.  The best way to build endurance is to add it in increasing increments.

The writer of Hebrews identified a need for endurance in the faith of the early Church.  I think that his call to endurance is still as applicable today.  Many Christians bounce from one ministry to another.  Their quiet times are characterized by re-commitment.  Struggles result in a crisis of faith.

There are not enough brothers and sisters in Christ who demonstrate a faith that can be called enduring.  I think this is a critical issue in today’s Church.

There are three principles from physical endurance that seem analogous to our spiritual endurance; the heart, fueling, and breathing.

I plan to explore how we build enduring faith in the next couple blog posts but I would like to start with the heart.

HEART

Pulsometr donnay

Pulsometr donnay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first started training for triathlons, I wore a heart rate monitor, mostly because I was afraid of dying.  I would watch my heart rate while I exercised and set my pace accordingly.  The key to endurance is to work within the upper end of your aerobic zone.  This is the heart rate at which your body can provide oxygen and fuel to your muscle and remove waste.  If I push my heart rate too high, for too long, I will go into an anaerobic state and my muscles will fatigue in a manner that will cause me to stop.

When I first started to train, I tried to workout at approximately 130 beats/ minute.  Over time I have continued to increase that level.  I can now workout comfortable in the 150-160 range.  That did not just happen.  I gassed out a lot.  I coasted a lot.  It was a constant work in progress of finding that delicate balance between pushing my endurance by enough but not too much.  The trick is to flirt with that line.  I would never have built any endurance if I had not pushed my heart.

Riding the anaerobic edge builds endurance. 

Enduring faith is all about the heart.  We do what we love.  Spiritual activity is of little to no worth if it is done for any reason other than a love for God.  The problem for the Pharisees was religious activity that neglected the love of God (Luke 11:42).

I have seen Christians embark with great intentions of religious and sacrificial living that sputtered to a stop after a period of time.  They can’t keep it up.  They stop because they lack endurance.

Many may have committed to an activity based on the latest book or spiritual leader and not because of a love for God.  When they wear out on one method, they move onto the next.  They are living in a spiritual zone that is perpetually anaerobic.

We must watch our hearts.  We need to monitor our motivations if we are to endure.  Faith is easy when it is what you want to do.  We can keep going for decades when our activities are the demonstration of our true love.  The reverse is also true; we can only sustain activities that we don’t love for a short period of time.

Enduring faith comes from a heart that is doing what it loves to do. 

Now, there are other folks who live on the opposite extreme from the spiritually anaerobic.  They are doing what they love and have been doing it for years.  They are extremely comfortable in their faith but they really have not grown in years.  The depth of their faith and love for God has not changed in decades and sanctification is a strange religious term that they have not really experienced.  They have the tendency of letting their Pastor’s challenges lay at the altar.  They are masters at justifying why they can’t do any more.

These folks are lost in the comfortable  They refuse to allow their hearts to be challenged.  They like the very sustainable religious shuffle of their lives and really don’t want to take any grand leaps of faith.  Their faith has little endurance for anything great.

Endurance comes by riding that ragged edge of the anaerobic zone. 

Enduring faith comes from challenging our hearts.  We follow the Spirit’s leading and the direction of scripture.  We step out in faith and obedience and then we monitor our hearts.

If our faith is getting comfortable, then maybe it is time to pick up the pace a little bit.

Maybe, you feel the desire to go a little deeper.
Maybe, you have become aware of a love that you cherish more than God and the Spirit is calling you to give it up.
Maybe, God’s love has begun to overflow from you into a ministry that you never thought that you could do.

Push your spiritual pace; listen to the Spirit and go do it.

Maybe, you are tried.
Maybe, you are doing ministry from pure obligation to friends and family.
Maybe, you are grinding away in your faith but you hate every minute.

It is fine to pull back on your spiritual pace and catch your breath.  God loves a cheerful giver.  He will not be impressed with great sacrifice that comes through gritted teeth.

The key is to never stop.  Do not pull completely back.  There is no need to drop everything and give up.  Pull back a little bit and monitor your heart.  Allow God time to refresh your spirit at a level where you begin to once again feel the joy of your salvation.

Endurance is comes from this delicate balance of pushing and monitoring the love of our heart.

Our actions always need to be flowing from our love of God.
Sanctification comes from pushing our heart out of its comfort zone.

The combination produces a faith that will endure for the glory of God.

PRAYER: Lord, test my heart.  Show me where I can do more.  Lead me into great depths of knowing and serving you.  Keep my love for you overflowing.  Father, give me wisdom in all that I do.  Create in me a faith that will endure for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

13 comments

  1. […] from physical endurance that seem analogous to our spiritual endurance.  The pervious posts were ENDURING FAITH: The Heart and ENDURING FAITH: Fuel.  Today, I want to think about how proper breathing helps us to […]


  2. JD, good post. It connects with where I am at. I find myself a very wearied man. Jesus is still Lord, and He will always be Lord. Thanks for these good words of life.


    • You are so very welcome; I pray that our Lord strengthens you and lifts you up.
      God Bless!
      JD


  3. […] « “ENDURING FAITH: The Heart” – Sept 29 […]


  4. A good blog. I especially like the sentence in the prayer, “Lead me into great depths of knowing and serving You.”


  5. ‘Love the way you’ve captured the essence of endurance. Your comparisons to building physical endurance help to clarify, too. I especially appreciate this statement: “Endurance comes from this delicate balance of pushing and monitoring the love of our heart.” I want to write that on a bookmark, to keep with my devotional materials. It’s a good reminder for the start of each day. Thank you, JD!


    • Nancy – you are always such a wonderful encouragement to me. I appreciate your comments very much.
      God Bless!
      JD


  6. a great prayer. ditto.


    • Daryl – thanks for the encouragement.
      God Bless!
      JD


  7. This quote from your devotional is going in my journal where I can look at it often!

    Our actions always need to be flowing from our love of God.
    Sanctification comes from pushing our heart out of its comfort zone.

    The combination produces a faith that will endure for the glory of God.

    Wonderful!


  8. Thank you JD. I look forward to the next couple of posts on faith, endurance, and the heart. Have a great week ahead.


    • Hey Tahlitha – you are very welcome. I hope you have enjoyed the other posts.
      God Bless!
      JD


  9. Very good.



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