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It's all about perseverance...

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...not perfection!!!

As we all know this christian walk is not easy! We all struggle with those inner desires to do what's right. Oftentimes we find though, that we end up doing the things we wish we had not! This can be very frustrating for all of us!
We struggle with our walk always trying to be "perfect" and "get it right". We get upset when we fall, or make mistakes. And often times we spend more time beating ourselves up, than what we actually did, that was wrong to begin with!
I have been there myself, time and time again! I often struggled with feelings that I had let God down, or that I was'nt good enough. Or that I had failed in my walk of faith.
You see this christian life can really be hard to understand sometimes. As new believers we feel God's love, mercy and grace and we are excited! As time goes on we (hopefully) begin to mature in our faith and walk it out as God has called us to. We learn more about His word. We pray, begin to really listen and hear (and understand) His voice. Seek His will for our lives, what He would have us do. We have begun to "progress". But the one thing that happens to many of us is that we begin to think that we have to "attain perfection". That is we have to become "perfect" to be accepted. Now this is partly true, and partly not true.
You see God does require a perfect sacrifice for sin. That sacrifice though, comes in the form of Jesus! Often times we will beat ourselves up trying to be perfect and earn our salvation when its already given to us! You see we are to become "perfect" (that is become "perfected"), but its only through Jesus that we can truly be, "perfected":
  "For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."
                                                  (Hebrews 10:14 NKJV)
You see we are to be "perfected", but its Jesus's work on the cross that perfects us (i.e. "saves" us)! He saves us by His grace, sets us free to work for Him. Our work does not justify our salvation, only Jesus does! There are those that will try to justify their faith by their works, but it cannot be done! You see our works come from our faith! Not our "faith" from our works!! Works only show that we do have faith (James 2:26)!!!
Nothing can earn our salvation:
 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
                                                  (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
Sometimes however, we buy into the lie that we must work towards perfection. We beat ourselves up trying to be perfect. But we must stand firm on God's word and trust that, "He that begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). You see God's Holy Spirit is working within us to change us. To "conform" us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). It does not mean that our salvation is being justified, it means that He is making us more like Him! Afterall the price for salvation has already been paid!!
Now there is something that is required of us. What is this requirement? "Perseverance". That is, to "persevere" in our walk of faith. What does it mean to perservere? It means that we continue, hold fast, keep going, persist, stand firm, "stay the course" in our faith:
  "who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God."
                                              (Romans 2:6-11 NKJV)
 "By your patience possess your souls."
                                              (Luke 21:19 NKJV)
 "but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end"
                                              (Hebrews 3:6 NKJV)
  "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain."
                                              (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NKJV)

You see this walk is about persevering (walking out our faith patiently, trusting that God will keep His promise). Keeping the faith!
 Now it will not always be easy:
  "And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."
                                              (Matthew 10:22 NKJV)    
And we will not always get it right, we will "fall" make mistakes, but what is important is that we keep going. We keep getting up when we "fall". We do not loose hope, or our faith, but we keep "pressing on". We keep putting our trust in the Lord!  Some how though, we seem to get so obsessed with trying to be perfect all the time that we miss the whole concept!
 What is this concept? That because of God's love and grace, we are offered salvation through Jesus's sacrifice (John 3 :16). A free gift! Not our own merits (Ephesians 2:8-9)!! We are "set free" to work for Him! And we are to be sharing with the whole world God's love and salvation message, i.e. "the gospel message" (Matthew 28:19). It is so simple! But yet we, as humans, seem to always end up making it so complicated!!
It's ironic how we sometimes will talk about God's grace while trying to justify our walk at the same time!
Now, some will say that we must do what's right (follow God's commands). Should we do what's right, follow God to the fullest? Of course we should, absolutely! But we should never buy into the "lie" that we are earning our salvation. If we could have, than Christ died for nothing! But He became that perfect sacrifice which was required so that we could be saved (Hebrews 9:28)! So we are "perfected" by what Jesus has done for us! Not us trying to "perfect" us!! 
Why do we always try to do this on our own? Do we think we are not good enough? Have to "earn" our way? Well, realistically we really are not good enough:
  "Every one of them has turned aside;
         They have together become corrupt;
         There is none who does good,
         No, not one."
                                                     (Isaiah 53:1 NKJV)
 But despite this God loves us and chooses to redeem us and have a relationship with us:
  "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
                                                 (Jeremiah 31:34 NKJV)
We have such a hard time accepting God's grace, even as believers! We think we must prove to God that we are "worthy" of His love. But you know what? It cannot be done (Galatians 2:16)! But our own "poor" self image tends to make us believe that we must earn our way.
 Also, the world we live in tells us everyday to strive, work, earn, be perfect. But with God? He just asks that we turn to Him (reject our sin) and accept His love and grace and forgiveness through Jesus! And put our trust in Him!! It's so simple that many of us just don't seem to "get it". You see when we repent from our sin, turn to God? We become children of the Father:
  "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
                                                      (1 John 3:1 NKJV)
And any father who loves His children will discipline them when they fall and make mistakes:
  "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

      My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
      Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
        For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
      And scourges every son whom He receives.”

  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
                                           (Hebrews 12:5-10 NKJV)
God will discipline us for our benefit, not our demise! To help us become more like the people He would have us be. Sometimes we become sorrowful, or "em-bittered" over our correction, but He does this for our benefit. To help us "grow" in Him. We should never be discouraged when He corrects us!
You see we all make mistakes! It's just the human factor. None of us are immune! In fact Paul the apostle struggled himself:
  "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin
                                                    (Romans 7:14-25 NKJV)
So you see just like Paul, we are not going to be perfect! But yet we have been "perfected" by Jesus's sacrifice on the cross! And what is expected of us is to keep "pressing on", that is, keep persevering in our faith, our walk. And when we fall (sin), get back up and keep going following the Lord (with His help of course!)!!!
So the next time you think you have to earn your way and make yourself "perfect". Read God's word and remember this! It's not about earning salvation (Jesus already took care of that)!! Its about getting back up when we fall (sin) and keep going!!! it's about keeeping the faith!!!! It's all about p-e-r-s-e-v-e-r-a-n-c-e!!!!!
And here's some "food" for thought:
  "Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
   Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
                                                      (John 6:28-26 NKJV)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
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POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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