By Donna Richard
“firmness of purpose, ability to continue trying to do something although it may be difficult.”
Determination is what God stirred up in His people in the past as He continues to do in people today.
As I reflect on the past year, I wonder about the coming year. Will it have joyful times, challenges and trials, heartbreak and adventure? Will the economy change, new health situations arise, loves ones passing away, or persecution increase for followers of Jesus?
And how will I respond? Will I have gratitude, determination and perseverance? Will I keep my eyes on God – trusting He is perfect, His ways are purposeful and His persistent love will guide me in all situations?
Ezra, a scribe, priest and author of several Old Testament books was given a task, a daunting job, one in which he was to record the rebuilding of the Temple after the exile of the Israelite people to Babylon. He was to know the law of God and tell it to the Israelites. He was given the task to appoint magistrates and judges for the region. He was given leadership and “the good hand of his God was upon him.” Ezra 7:9
This had to be an overwhelming task, to build the foundation of the Temple as well as teach and share the law of God given over 1000 years before. But, God started it by “stirring up the hearts” of Cyrus, King of Persia, the priests and Levites and even the people to come back to Jerusalem; 50,000 willing to begin this task (Ezra 1)
In the midst of Jerusalem, there were still those that didn’t want to see this building. Adversaries from far and wide came, some to deceive, others to frustrate their plans. (Ezra 4).
But, God’s purposes are not thwarted!
“God’s plans cannot be thwarted. Therefore, hide yourself in Him; the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and they are saved.” Proverbs 18:10
Determination was and continues to be a characteristic Christians must embrace to follow God.
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. Keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15,16
How do we develop and practice determination?
-We need to know the gospel message and seek God for opportunities to share with others.
-We need to recognize the enemy that uses persecution. When slander comes our way, we respond to the attacks with God’s truths and words.
-We need to show our confidence in our God and faith as we show respect to those who perhaps mock us.
-We can pray for those that make false statements about us, that they will feel ashamed and realize their need for the saving grace that only Jesus offers.
I want to be purposeful to be determined to live for Jesus, ready to share with gentleness and reverence. I want to stay faithful, enduring whatever level of persecution I may face so that ultimately, other might be save. That’s one of God’s greatest desires – salvation for all.
“The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
“The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.” Oswald Chambers
God desires to stir us up to have a strong foundation, being determined to find ways to share the gospel message, grow in Him and serve courageously in whatever He brings our way. Will YOU be determined to follow Him?