ENDURANCE

“The inward strength to withstand stress and do my best”

vs. Discouragement

I will:

·        Not be a “quitter.”

·        Accept both instruction and correction

·        Not waste my time, energy, and talent on meaningless pursuits.

·        Bend instead of break

·        Put my whole heart into everything I do.

Used with permission of Character Training Institute

www.characterfirst.com

 

As your family or cell learns about endurance this month, look for areas where we tend to take the easy road, make easy choices, or give up too quickly.  Discouragement has taken a great toll in people and ministry; Satan works hardest to get us to give up just before the victory is in sight!  Don’t try to do everything, but endure in your resolve to train your family.  Withstand the stress and do your best!  The Holy Spirit will lead and empower you!

 

            These scriptures about endurance are in order as you go through the Bible, but you may choose them in any sequence.  You could add something for the little ones by putting the scriptures on pieces of paper that you fold up and put in a jar or bowl, then have him/her pull one out and then call on someone to read it.  As you read, look for areas where endurance is called for, the rewards of endurance, or clues to enduring.  When you pray, include areas where your family members may be having trouble enduring (the heat, reading through the Bible, little ones sitting through church, in a job, on a diet, staying under authority, in a class, family devotions, reducing clutter, saving money or getting out of debt, etc.)

 

Psalm 72:17 (God’s man, Solomon)   

Psalm 102:12                         

Psalm 112:9                            

Psalm 136:1                            

Ecclesiastes 3:14                              

Matthew 10:21-22

I Corinthians 4:12

II Corinthians 1:8,9

II Corinthians 9:9

II Thessalonians 1:4,5

II Timothy 2:3,4

II Timothy 2:10-13

II Timothy 4:5

Hebrews 12:2.3

Hebrews 12:7,8

I Peter 2:19-21

Revelation 2:2,3   

 

GODLY ENDURANCE:  Our goal in character training is to be like Christ, who is the very image of God in bodily form.  Begin your study of endurance by seeing how God exemplifies that quality. 

In John 6:27, Jesus tells his followers to work for what “endures to eternal life.”  Read each of the following scriptures, asking two questions: 

 

Close by using Psalm 136 as a responsive reading that exalts God and reviews the history of Israel; every verse ends with “His love endures forever”(NIV).  Some versions say “mercy endures forever.”  Have your group read this as a responsive reading prayer, with individuals reading the first part and everyone responding “His love endures forever.”  If you were a Jewish child in the synagogue or temple, what would you go home remembering? 

 

If you were writing the history of your life, family, nation, or church, what topics would you write (corresponding to the first parts of these verses)?  Write a composite psalm from the lives of your cell members or family:  give ach person a piece of paper, then ask each one to write a short statement using something from his life where they could see God’s hand.  Go around the circle and have each one read his/hers and the rest of the group respond with “His love endures forever.”

 

ENDURING SAVIOR:  Hebrews 12:2, 3 highlights Christ’s endurance:  the very Son of God who endured the cross, shame, and opposition from sinful men.  Make copies of these verses to give to each person.  Pray for God to reveal Jesus, then have each write out all the insights about endurance he/she can find in these verses.  An alternative would be to pray then ask a member who reads well to read the whole scripture, instructing everyone to look for an insight into endurance and mark it on the paper.  Give a couple minutes afterward for them to write anything they saw in the Word.  Then have the same person or another good reader read it again, followed by some minutes to write insights down.  A third time, have someone read it and again write down any insights.  Then discuss the insights, closing by asking each one to choose one he/she will use to endure.  Some examples:  

1.       Endurance is completing what is expected of you

2.     Endurance means following in the footsteps of Jesus, who endured the cross.

3.     Glory in finishing, not just beginning

4.     Sometimes it means going through ridicule and shame

5.     Look beyond what you are going through to what you are going to

6.     Endurance perfects our faith.
 

Share a life example when you had to endure.  What did you learn from enduring?  How did  “the joy that that set before him” enable Jesus to endure?  In your area that requires endurance, what is the “joy that is set before you”?  One Christian leader has said, “Wherever I go, I can feel the attitude of resignation, criticism, and despair.”  Do we as Christians have cause for despair and discouragement?  How can Christians “not grow weary and lose heart”?  Keep focusing on Jesus!

 

 

ARE YOU DISCOURAGED?  We fail to endure when we get discouraged and decide to give up.  In the Psalms, we see times when David cried out to God in circumstances that required endurance.  Look for the difficulty he faced, then how he repeatedly ended with blessing and praise to God.  Psalm 1 tells of a tree that endures:  what allows it to endure?  Psalm 3, David works through the discouragement of many foes; in the midst of it, how did he see God?  Psalm 6 and 13 records the Psalmist (the man described as a man after God’s own heart) crying out in desperation, “How long?”  Understand his anguish by looking at the descriptive phrases such as “My eye wastes away because of grief.”  How do both Psalms end?  Use some of these Psalms to express your discouragement and then confirm your faith in God.  Write out some special ones on a 3x5 card and carry with you or put by your bed to encourage you to endure.

 

ENDURING EXAMPLES: 

ENDURANCE IN NATURE: (2 sessions that all ages will enjoy)

Camel:  a camel is very unpleasant in many ways but its endurance makes it very valuable. Using a picture of a camel (available on the online Character First library), make a display of things to “advertise” this amazing (even if ugly) creature:  The Enduring Wonder!.  Write amazing facts about a camel which makes him very enduring.  Then discuss how you can learn about endurance from these.  To get you started:

·         A camel know his limits – know your limits and don’t promise or attempt more than you can complete, leading to nothing being accomplished.

·         One camel can carry up to ½ ton on his back – don’t take the easy way out; do as much as you can and push to do more as you progress

·         A camel never says never about what it will eat – don’t be picky, but be willing to keep on in less than optimal circumstances.

·         A camel drinks 30 gallon of water in 10 minutes – when resources are available, use them to the highest.

·         A camel keeps all his fat in the hump, making him cooler in the heat – What unnecessary “stuff” weighs us down and makes it harder to keep enduring?
 

Palm tree:   “A tree cannot stop the storm, but only those trees that bend will endure and survive.”  Although we are to stand firm in our convictions, we must choose the right response instead of resisting with a hard countenance and will.  Psalm 92:12 promises that the righteous will flourish like the palm tree, a tree that can endure more wind, slashing, and drought than any other type of tree and one that bears sweeter fruit with age.  A “palm tree” Christian is described in II Corinthians 4:7-12. Give blank drawing paper to each cell member and have each one draw a palm tree (perhaps an artist can lead this), then around it write these secrets of a palm tree.  You may want to write out the following 9 truths about a palm tree on separate pieces of paper and have each member choose one to read.  Then have the group discuss how it applies to us as enduring Christians. (Taken from ATI Wisdom Booklet 11, IBLP):

PALM TREES…

1.      Reach upward rather than outward (growth disks stacked on top of each other, rather than concentric rings show growth; the segmented trunk allows bending like a segmented straw or our backbones)

2.      Leaves allow the wind to pass through them with a minimum of resistance

3.      Straighten as soon as a storm passes (the trunk is made of elastic fiber that springs back and will bend any way)

4.      Depend on many roots to anchor them securely (roots are not branched so all are strong and do not pull out easily)

5.      Rely on deep sources of water that remain during drought (enabling them to survive even in Sahara Desert)

6.      Have a tough outer surface that is not damaged by physical abuse (sap flows through whole trunk, not just through one layer)

7.      Can survive extreme heat, but will wither in cold

8.      Produce fruit when mature (dates, coconut, major source of food in Africa and Middle East)

9.      The old and battered produce the sweetest fruit (See James 1:2-4)

 

Biblical examples:  II Timothy 2:3-13 uses a number of examples of endurance; look at each of the following to see what we can learn about this character quality.  Pray v. 7 first – that the Lord will give insight.   Divide into four groups with each one taking one example, exploring for “Clues to endurance” which they can share with the group:

q       A soldier (v. 3-4)

q       An athlete (v.5)

q       A farmer (v. 6)

q       Paul  (also read II Timothy 4:7,8)

Is your life an example of endurance to others who may be discouraged? 

What rewards of endurance are found in verses 11-13?   

 

CHARACTER SKETCHES, Volume II, has a unit on Endurance, five sections that each has a nature story and a Bible story to accompany a key to endurance:

These make great family readings and even school curriculum.

 

HOW TO ENDURE:

Endurance was seen in the life of Harriet Tubman, called “Moses” to many slaves she helped lead out of slavery.  A past bulletin gives 3 clues to endurance in her life: Endure suffering, stand for what is right, find others to trust.  The Bible also gives clues to successfully endure; look up these scriptures and see what the clues are and how you can use them in your life:

ü      II Corinthians 1:8-11 (rely on God, hope in His deliverance, and prayers of other Christians)

ü      II Timothy 4:3-5 (keep a clear head and keep on doing your duty)

ü      Hebrews 10:23-25 (hold on to hope, meet with and encourage other Christians)

ü      Hebrews 10:32-34 ( focus on your better and lasting possessions)

ü      Hebrews 12:2,3 (remember Jesus’ example; keep your eyes on Him)

ü      Hebrews 12:7,8 (see it as discipline and proof of your being God’s child)

ü      Revelation 2:2,3 (endure for Christ’s name)

Harriet Tubman knew the risks of her calling, but also its rewards.  Knowing the rewards for endurance also helps us to persevere; what are they?

ü      Psalm 112:9 (brings honor)

ü      Matthew 10:22 (salvation)

ü      Hebrews 10:35-39 (rich reward, God’s promise, God’s pleasure, saved)

ü      James 1:12 (remember that it leads to a crown of life)

ü      I Peter 2:19-21 (commends you to God and you become like Christ)

 

WITHSTAND STRESS

A video introduction on Endurance is available in the Resource library and contains two excellent introductions: one on the life of Harriet Tubman emphasizing that our current stresses are preparing us for future successes, and one giving ways to “never give up.”  The egg-breaking illustration on the second section would be an excellent object lesson to introduce a discussion of withstanding stress.  The scriptures above could be used along with this.  Another helpful idea is on building “margins” into your life – don’t schedule every moment in your life, then you can respond to opportunities and people as they cross your path. 

 

WHY NOT JUST GIVE UP?  Look up these scriptures to give you encouragement to endure:

Jeremiah 12:5  (Trains and strengthens you for bigger challenges)

Matthew 10:22  Mark 13:13  (Salvation comes to those who stand firm to the end)

Galatians 6:9  (will reap a harvest from sowing good)

Hebrews 10:19-39  (looking for a better and lasting possession, receive the promise)

Hebrews 12:1, (causes us to throw off hindrances & sin,  

Hebrews 12:7-13  (see hardship as our Father disciplining a son so we can share His
                         holiness and enjoy a harvest of righteousness & peace, healing)

James 1:12  (receive a crown of life)

James 5:11 (God of compassion and mercy has blessing ahead)

I Peter 2:19-25  (become like Jesus)
Revelation 3:11-13 (will be an eternal pillar engraved with God’s name in His temple)

 

ENDURING IN MARRIAGE:

This report from Focus on the Family gives us further evidence that God’s ways are always right!  Strengthen marriages by sharing life examples and practical ways to apply the 3 factors at the end. 

STAY MARRIED, STAY HAPPY!
   Couples who stay in an unhappy marriage and tough it out until things turn around are more likely to be happy five years later than those who decide to divorce, according to a new study from the University of Chicago. Of the unhappy partners who ended their marriage, about half were happy five years later. But of unhappy spouses who took a "work-it-out" approach and stayed together, about two-thirds were happy five years later.
   The study, which looked at data on 5,232 married adults from the National Survey of Families and Households, also found that the most troubled marriages had the biggest turn-arounds, with about 80 percent reporting happiness five years later.
   In an attempt to discover what factors helped unhappy marrieds turn things around, 55 adults who were "marriage survivors" were asked to identify what led to the positive changes in their relationships. They felt their marriages improved in one of three ways:
*   Marital endurance. The partners did not work on their marriages, but over time, job situations improved, children got older or better, and ongoing problems were viewed in a new perspective.
*   Marital work. Spouses actively worked to change behavior, solve problems or improve communication.
*   Personal change. One or both partners found ways to improve their own happiness despite a mediocre marriage.

I WILLS:


KEYS TO BUILDING ENDURANCE

An endurance bulletin gives 5 keys to building endurance.  Enlarge them with the truths of scripture:
1.  Know the goal (Hope)  Hebrews 12:1,2, also see scriptures in “Hope, the Antidote for discouragement.  What is the goal of CFM?  Do you have hope that it will happen in your family?
2.  Take one step at a time (Try) Proverbs 4:25-26
3.  Find support (Learn)  Loneliness makes endurance difficult; see scriptural examples of  Elijah in I Kings 19:10, Jesus in Matthew 26:40, Paul and Demas in II Timothy 4:10-11.  Read the exhortation of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Hebrews 10:23-25.  How can you help others endure in the vision of CFM?
4.  Renew your energy (Rest)  God has always made provision for rest – in the 7th day principle of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3) and in the spiritual rest He provides (Hebrews 4:1-5). 
5.  Finish well (Overcome):  (II Timothy 4:7-8)  Many begin well, but the true test is ending well.  Proverbs 24:16 contrasts the endurance of the righteous with that of the wicked.  What do you think makes the difference?

 

HOPE, THE ANTIDOTE FOR DISCOURAGEMENT:  the opposite of endurance is not giving up, but the discouragement that leads to giving up.  In a past bulletin, “Keep Hope Alive” gives three things people must believe in order to endure (present inconvenience will pass, their efforts will yield satisfactory results, their lives will count). Discouragement turned a whole nation back to the wilderness in Number 13,14.  Did the Israelites believe those three things?  Did Joshua and Caleb believe those three things?  Think about Joshua and Caleb enduring the consequences of others’ decisions without bitterness (Numbers 14) – they also had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, although they had been confident in God being with them to take the promised land.  Share a time when you had to endure the consequences of another’s decision.  How can we endure victoriously?

o       What two things in Romans 15:4 give us hope? 
o       In I Thessalonians 1:3, faith produces work and love prompts labor, but what inspires endurance? 
o       Why do you think hope is called an anchor in Hebrews 6:17-19? 

 

EARN A MEDAL:  Invite a person in your group or that you know to share medals he may have earned in the military, etc.  Each of them is a commendation for special service or valor.

Then read I Peter 2:19-21 and ask what Paul said was commendable (earned a commendation) for Christians (v. 19, 20—bearing unjust suffering, suffer for doing good).  Make a list of Paul’s “commendations” in II Corinthians 6:4-10 and 11:23-29; if he had received medals for enduring, he would have had a “chest full.”  How do you think he was able to endure through so many years and hard experiences?  Power for True Success defines endurance as “experiencing the power of God’s love by rejoicing in trials and tribulations.”  Why do we as Christians often give up so easily or make soft choices?  In our culture, what are some areas where we need to endure?    

 

WATCH IT:   A good movie about endurance is March of the Penguins  – because of the goal of raising up another generation, the parent penguins endure repeated long walks to breeding grounds, harsh winter storms, extended times to protect the egg and then the chick, etc.  Note that one of the keys to survival is “sticking together” with other penguins.  Use it as a teaching tool for your family (be prepared to counteract the evolutionary teaching at the beginning).

 

Helps developed by Deanna Guy