Derek Prince
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Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

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(Tape begins with a prophecy in tongues)

“O, the Lord thy God goeth forth to war. The Lord has drawn the lines of battle. He has set up his encampments, he has established his artillery, he has prepared his engines of war and the Lord is going to fight the battle for his people. Stand still and see the salvation of God amongst you for the Lord will watch over you and stretch his wings of protection, mercy, provision and blessing over you. And he will guide you and direct you. He will be with you in the night, he will be with you in the dark and lonely hour. He will strengthen you and uphold you. He will not suffer your foot to be dashed against the stone. He will uphold you with the angels of his presence and he will show his might and his glory, his wisdom and his power in the people whom he has chosen. For he has determined to manifest himself to all the earth.”

To tell the truth, I feel more like singing than preaching. For those that know me, that’s a miracle! I feel good! I want to speak to you tonight about one single word, and the word is endurance. I suppose it’s not a very popular word. Before I go into my message, I’d just like to line up the modern translations with the King James because some use one and some use another. The King James, as you know, was translated well over three hundred years ago and the meaning of some English words have changed. Normally, the King James uses the word patience where today we would use endurance. And where we would talk about patience, the King James talks about longsuffering. Patience in modern English, or longsuffering in King James English, is being willing to put up with irritating people, situations, circumstances and not lose your temper, remain composed and not fly off the handle. That’s patience in modern English, longsuffering in King James English. It’s a very valuable Christian virtue. I’m well aware that I could do with more of it myself. But when the King James talks about patience, the modern equivalent is endurance or perseverance. And those are the words that are used in most of the modern translations. But the verb that the King James uses is usually to endure. I’ll give you two texts by way of introduction to my subject. Matthew 24, the text that I want is verse 13. I also want to read Mark 13:13. In each case it’s the 13th verse. Each of these chapters is a prophetic preview given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives, of the situation that would exist in the world immediately prior to his return. And many of the things that he spoke about we see very definitely manifested in the world today. Now my purpose is not to give a prophetic interpretation, but just to focus on the one thing that Jesus said we were going to need to get through days like this. In Matthew 24:12 and following:

“And because iniquity shall abound, [in modern English it’s lawlessness] the love of many shall wax cold.” (KJV)

That really is the text I’m going to take my next message from. There is a direct connection between lawlessness and lovelessness. When people become lawless, they become loveless. We often think of love as something free, spontaneous, that requires no laws and no discipline. That’s incorrect. Love and discipline go hand in hand. And when discipline and law break down, love grows cold. In the midst of this very somber picture: lawlessness abounding and love growing cold—and I would point out to you the word for love there is agape which is essentially the love of Christians. I don’t think it’s talking about the love of the world growing cold; the love of Christians growing cold. Then Jesus says:

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (KJV)

You have to endure unto the end. The Greek says “He that has endured unto the end, it is he who will be saved.” You’ve got to get to the end to be saved. And Mark 13:12, Jesus says:

“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: [again that’s a very somber picture. Treachery, disloyalty, rampant even within family relationships. Christians being hated of all men. And then Jesus says:] But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (KJV)

What does that tell us? We have to endure, we have to hold out. Sometimes holding out is all God asks you to do. It’s a full time job.

I met a Swedish missionary who had worked in France for many years. And he told me that he had visited a prison near Marseilles in the South of France where the French Huguenots, the Protestants of that time, had been imprisoned for their faith. And many of them had gone into that dungeon and never come out alive. And he said somebody amongst them had engraved in the stone of the dungeon one single word which was in French ?resistay?. Or in English, resist. Hold out. Don’t give in. That was what one believer left as his message to the others who would follow him. Don’t give in, resist. Hold out. Endure. And I really believe that God is speaking those words to us. I pray tonight that God, through his word, would put steel in your soul. That he’d give you a backbone if you didn’t have it, a spiritual backbone to you, to me.

I want to take just a few scriptures about endurance or perseverance and look at them, and then I want to consider the two main things we have to hold out against and some very simple principles on how to achieve endurance. I’d like to turn to Romans 5. Again I believe I’ll be using this text for my next message also. I could read the first few verses of Romans 5:

“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (KJV)

We rejoice because of what the future holds for us. But Paul goes on to say not only do we rejoice in the light of the future, but we also rejoice in what the present offers although it’s very different.

“And not only so, but we glory [the same word is used in Greek, rejoice, boast, exult] in tribulations also: [why should we exult in tribulation? Because of what tribulation does.] knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope...” (KJV)

I particularly like the New American Standard Bible version of that.

“Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance produces proven character...” (NAS)

That’s really what I’m talking about tonight. Character that has stood the test. And the next verse goes on to say:

“...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost...” (KJV)

I could almost preach my next message now, but I won’t. But in essence, what I’m going to say is love is a matter of character. It’s a matter of character. And what we’re talking about tonight is the forming of our characters.

All right. We rejoice, we boast, we glory, we exult in tribulation because tribulation is the only thing that produces perseverance. And perseverance produces proven character. I know men that I’ve walked with, shared hardship with, opposition, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, even misunderstanding between them and me. But today, for me, their character is proven. I know I can trust them. That’s what I’m talking about. In the midst of treachery and lawlessness I want to know whom I can trust. First of all, I want to be sure that you can trust me. I cannot think of anything that I would desire less than to be found unfaithful to my brothers. I say that in all sincerity. And I’m well aware of the pressures that make us unfaithful to one another. And I’m subjected to probably as many of them as most of you. But I would be horribly ashamed if pressure could make me unfaithful or disloyal to my committed brothers. I can’t think of anything worse.

Let’s go on to a few other passages. Colossians 1:10–11. Well, they’re so good we’ll give you verse 9 as well. We won’t ration you on that! Colossians 1:9–11:

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding...”

Isn’t it wonderful to think that that’s what God wants. God wants you to be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. And anything less than that is less than the will of God.

“That ye might walk worthy [when you’re filled with the knowledge of God’s will, it will affect the way you live.] unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [what tremendous verses those are. Now notice one other requirement, verse 11:] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, [the Greek says the power of his glory] unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...” (KJV)

It’s one thing to suffer long, it’s another thing to suffer long with joyfulness. And it takes endurance and strength to do it. Strengthened with all might, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

Patience and endurance are marks of strength. They are not marks of weakness. Hebrews we’ll turn to for a moment. One of the great themes of Hebrews, one of them, is the danger of going back on your profession of faith in Christ. It’s a theme that runs consistently through Hebrews. There are five distinct passages in Hebrews, one after the other, that warn us of the danger of going back. They’re some of the most solemn words in scripture. And therefore, one of the key words that Hebrews emphasizes is this word that we’re talking about: endurance. Hebrews 6:11–12:

“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (KJV)

Faith and endurance. Some people tell you all you need to claim God’s promise is faith. But that is not true. You need faith and endurance. It takes both. Looking on in Hebrews 10:35–36:

“Cast not away therefore your confidence....” (KJV)

The word means freedom of speech. You talk boldly about Jesus, about what he’s done for you and what he’s going to do for you.

“...which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (KJV)

You’ve done the will of God, but you haven’t yet received the promise. What do you need? Endurance. To hold out from the point where you did God’s will and claimed the promise to the point where you actually receive the promise. Now some people do the will of God and claim the promise but they don’t hold out. Then they say it didn’t work. It doesn’t work without endurance. You need faith and endurance. And then in Hebrews 12, some very famous and beautiful words.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses...” (KJV)

Paul envisages a kind of Olympic game setting with the race that has to be run. And right at the end where the runners will break the finishing tape, there’s a great throng of spectators waiting to watch who’ll win. This throng of spectators is all the great saints of the Old Testament who finished their course and are sitting there ready to cheer us from the balconies of heaven. And so Paul says seeing we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us:

“let us lay aside every weight, [he’s talking about running a race. The runner empties his pockets and wears the lightest, most flexible clothing he can. He doesn’t carry a single, unnecessary ounce of weight.] and the sin which doth so easily beset us, [some things are not sins but they’re weight. They burden you down. They hold you back. They exhaust your strength. You spend too much time and attention on them. You can’t run the race.] and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (KJV)

It’s not a sprint, it’s not a dash. It’s a long, slow race. And the characteristic that’s required is endurance. I’ve seen many people start off the Christian life as if it were a dash. And a little while later they’re panting beside the track, they’re finished and they hardly began the race. It’s a long race.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 says this:

“...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong...” (KJV)

It isn’t speed, it isn’t strength. It’s endurance that counts.

And then in James 1:2–4:

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations...” (KJV)

Or trials. Do you do that? Well you need to. I need to. I need to praise God that he counts me worthy of the trial. That he trusts me enough to let me be tried. And let me bear in mind always that the trial is for my good. And James explains how it’s going to do you and me good.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience [endurance] have her perfect work, [don’t give up too quickly] that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (KJV)

What James is saying is if you hold out, if you’ll go through the test, it will surely shape every area of your character and personality. It’ll make you a complete fully rounded Christian. There won’t be areas in your character that haven’t been dealt with.

Do you know one of the great tests that really check on our character. It’s the test of close committed fellowship. The cell group type where you meet every week with the same people, and not too many of them. And you share your life. And after a little while it becomes uncomfortably clear to you that there are some areas of your life that have never really been dealt with. And when you didn’t get too close to people and too intimate, you could cover them up. But when you’re exposed week by week to regular, intimate, close fellowship; you’ve either got to back out or correct your life.

I heard Bob Mumford say this, he said, “Suppose there are ten areas in our character that need to be changed. You can probably deal with six yourself. But the remaining four is going to take other people to put their finger on.” And I think that’s a pretty good average. If I don’t expose myself to others, I can deceive myself about areas of my character. And every time I could be tested, I back out, walk it alone. Somebody said about fellowship, it’s like this: Roof off, walls down. Well, we don’t mind getting the roof off because God sees through the roof anyhow. But what about getting the walls down and letting people see? That’s the test. There is no greater test of our Christian character than close fellowship.

I want to read you one other scripture on this line of endurance, it’s in 2Corinthians 12:12. Paul says:

“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in [what is the first sign of an apostle?] patience. [Then it says:] in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (KJV)

Most of us would pass over the patience and focus on the miracles. But Paul says the first evidence of an apostolic ministry is not miracles, it’s endurance. The apostle is the one who hangs out when everybody else gives up. And if you study the life of Paul in the New Testament you’ll find that several time she was the only one. At my first answer, he says in the Epistle to the Philippians, all men forsook me, no one stood with me. But he held out.

Then I’d like to read some words from the second epistle of Paul to Timothy. 2Timothy 4, this was the last epistle he wrote, probably just very shortly before his execution by a Roman executioner. He’s writing to Timothy and he says in verse 9:

“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica: Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” (KJV)

Right at the end his coworkers left him in prison. What did they lack? Endurance. What marked the apostle? Endurance. That comes before the miracles. Some people have miracles but no endurance.

Now what are the kinds of tests that we’ll have to go through. I want to offer you one very, very simple outline of the tests. In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the well known parable of the sower who went forth with the seed and he speaks about the different kind of soil; each representative of a different kind of person who hears the word of God. One fell by the wayside, never entered into the ground, was caught up by the birds. Another fell on rocky ground. Another fell amongst thorns. And he goes on to describe the type of person represented by each kind of soil. I just want to read this. It’s very, very simple, there’s nothing profound in it. In Matthew 13, beginning at verse 19:

“When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside. [It never gained entrance into his life at all. It just lay on the ground until a bird came and picked it up.] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (KJV)

Did you notice one little word there? It said when. It didn’t say if. It didn’t say if persecution and tribulation arise, it said when tribulation and persecution arise. They will arise. Then he goes on:

“He that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (KJV)

Very simply stated, there’s two kinds of tests. When it’s too hard, and when it’s too easy. The first one is persecution, the second one is riches. Some people can’t stand the persecution. Some people can’t stand the prosperity. We have to go through both tests. Some people can make it when they’re persecuted. But when God blesses them, they have a beautiful home and two cars, a boat, they get much more wrapped up in the things of this world than in the kingdom of God. There are others who receive the word with joy, they’re tremendous. They pop up the first night after they get saved, they give their testimony, they get baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, prophesy. As the saying goes, they’re like a house on fire. But three months later you just don’t know where they are. Because the moment the opposition and trouble came, they just wilted away. They had no root. I’m almost scared when a new Christian starts too quickly. I’ve seen so many. I’d rather see somebody have a little struggle at the beginning.

When I worked as a pastor in London, in those days God was not moving very manifestly in the miraculous. To get one person baptized in the Holy Spirit was a victory. And you know what I observed? For every ten persons we got baptized in the Spirit, one would stand, the rest would fall away. The opposition was so intense in those days. And we didn’t see many miracles, but every now and then we saw some outstanding miracles of healing. But you know what stumbled me? They were our worst converts. They basically never amounted to anything. The people who had to struggle and fight were the ones you could rely on. That’s not logical and I don’t want to discount healing, but for a long while I was not impressed by getting people healed. Because I just seen certain miraculous healings and the results in the lives of those that were healed were pitifully disappointing. And others who had to struggle every inch of the way stood the test and stand today. So bear in mind you’re going to be tested by tribulation and you’re going to be tested by success. And you’ve got to hold out through both.

Now just let me give you a few suggestions as to how the Bible teaches that we can achieve endurance. I would want to make to you four suggestions. The first one is that we make a really firm wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ without any reservations. And we begin our Christian walk that way. I’d like to give you just two scriptures. Both of them describing from the book of Acts how the ministers of the Lord spoke to new converts. Acts 11:23, it speaks about Barnabas coming to a group of new Christians in the city of Antioch in Syria. And it says:

“When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” (KJV)

Purpose of heart, I think, is the key phrase. You really make your mind up that you are going to stick with the Lord regardless. No matter who does, who doesn’t. Your friends don’t, you will. Your family don’t, you will. That’s purpose of heart. You’re going to stick to God.

And in Acts 14:22 we find again Barnabas and Paul exhorting new converts in another Antioch, Antioch in Pisidia, another city of the same name. And it says in verse 22:

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (KJV)

There is no other way into the kingdom of God but the tribulation way. I understand the kingdom of God in two senses: I understand the kingdom future which Jesus will bring and establish, but I understand the kingdom as Bob Mumford and Ern Baxter have been preaching it, as something that we enter into now. And we live now in the kingdom. But I will tell you that it’s through much tribulation that you come into kingdom living. You’ll be subjected to pressure in every area of your life. And you say, “Why does it happen to me?” The answer is God is preparing you for the kingdom. And we owe it to people when they come to the Lord to warn them that if they’re going to move into the kingdom, it will be through tribulation and opposition. I think it’s unfair to tell new converts, “Now you come to Jesus, all your problems are solved.” Because it certainly won’t work that way. In fact, you’ll have problems you never knew existed before.

All right. What’s the second principle of enduring. I’d like to read to you one of my favorite passages of scripture from Hebrews 11:27. It’s speaking about Moses. You know that Moses grew up in Egypt, was destined to inherit the throne as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, had education, wealth, social privileges, everything that the world could offer. At the age of forty he turned his back on it, fled from Egypt and spent the next forty years looking after a few sheep in the back side of the desert. That’s a test of character. And in Hebrews 11:27 I believe this secret is laid bare.

“By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (KJV)

That, I believe, is really the essence of enduring. It’s seeing him who is invisible. How do you see that which is invisible? What faculty enables you to see it? My answer is faith. Faith is related to the unseen. Faith is a sure conviction concerning things not seen. And if you and I are going to hold out, the unseeing world has got to be more real to us than the seeing. Otherwise, we’ll fall in love with the world system as Ern preached last night. We’ll turn out back on the unseen realities of God’s kingdom.

Just two other verses of scripture along that line in 2Corinthians. Chapter 3 and chapter 4. It’s remarkable that the last two verses of each of these chapters, both of them numbered 17 and 18 are almost exactly parallel in their thoughts. 2Corinthians 3:17–18:

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are [continually being] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (KJV)

What’s the mirror? The mirror is the word. The Bible says while we look in the mirror the Holy Spirit reveals to us the glory of the Lord and we’re changed into the likeness of what we see. Where do you see the invisible? You see the invisible in the mirror of God’s word. God’s word is a mirror that shows the invisible. And while you look in it, the Holy Spirit can work upon you revealing the glory of God and changing you into the likeness of what you see.

And then coming back to the same theme in the last two verses of the next chapter, the 4th chapter of 2Corinthians, Paul says:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment...” (KJV)

And when you think what he went through, that should make you pause before you complain about your affliction. Beaten four times, stoned once, shipwrecked twice, left to die, hunger, thirst, nakedness, peril, and he says:

“But our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; [they’re impermanent, they not truly real, they don’t last, they look glamorous, seductive, tremendous, exciting, thrilling, but they’re not permanent] but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (KJV)

Years ago, about twenty years ago in London, we had living with us the daughter of the pastor of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Sweden. She stayed with us about two or three months learning English. And I taught her English. A very beautiful, talented girl with a lovely singing voice. And as I say, her father was the pastor of the largest Pentecostal church in Sweden and she’s grown up in a very strict Pentecostal environment. A very good church, strict, somewhat legalistic, you mustn’t go here, you mustn’t do this, you mustn’t do that. The type of thing that many of us have been through.

And she grew up to the age of about fourteen, she herself told us this story. But at school she was listening to what all her friends at school were talking about, all the pleasures of the theater and dancing and things like that. And she became more and more interested. So one day she went to her father and said, “Father, I want to thank you for the care that you’ve given me, the way you trained me and brought me up. But I want to tell you that from now on I want to go another way. I want to find out what the world has to offer. I hear all my friends talking about it and I want to find out for myself.” And her father who was a wise man said, “Barbara, your mother and I will pray for you.” He didn’t argue, he didn’t say it was wrong, but he said, “We’ll pray.”

That night, and I can remember this vividly, every word. She said, “I had the most vivid dream of my life. In this dream I saw two cities and one was like Stockholm, [which is a big, modern city if you’ve ever been there. Beautiful city.] It was just filled with neon lights flashing and glittering everywhere. Then there was another city across a kind of valley which had a different kind of light. It didn’t flash, it didn’t glitter, but it was steady and calm. While I was looking at the city with the glittering neon lights, a man came to me and introduced himself to me and he was very cultivated, very educated and he was very well dressed. And he said I’d like to show you around this city.” And she started out with him and she said, “The further I went, the uglier he became.” And after awhile she realized it was the devil himself. And as she stopped there in horror, all the lights in this neon city began to go out one by one by one until the city was in total darkness. She turned to look across at the other city and it was as bright and as clear as it had always been. The next day she went to her father and said, “Daddy, I’m coming to church with you.” She was a wise girl. She listened when the Lord spoke.

And often when my wife and I are in a big, modern city and we see all these neon lights and the traffic and the excitement, exhilaration and the pleasure, we turn to one another and say, “Do you remember Barbara’s dream?” One night all those lights will go out. That’s coming very, very soon. Very, very soon all those lights are going out. But our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look at what? Not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. Because they’re eternal, they don’t change, they’re in the word. Stay in the word. Don’t take just five minutes a day with your Bible, live in it. Read it, meditate on it. Believe it. Ask the Holy Spirit to make it real to you. And that word will become so real to you that they’ll be nothing in this world that could tempt you or attract you in any disloyalty to Jesus Christ.

Now I believe in enjoying life, I believe in exercise. I believe in pleasure. I have been delivered from Pentecostal legalism in which I spent many years. But I don’t want to love the world nor the things that are in the world. Because if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him. And I owe everything to my Father. I don’t want to be disloyal to him, I want to show him my gratitude and appreciation. He’s made me his child, he’s made me an heir of Christ, and I want to show him I appreciate his goodness. I want to keep my eyes on the things that are not seen. I’m a realist. I live a very practical life. I believe in having things in order. I answer my letters, I pay my bills, I got both feet on the ground, but my eyes are on the unseen. To me, tonight, there’s just a very, very thin veil between me and eternity. I don’t know just when I’ll be leaving. I don’t anticipate going immediately, but it could be nearer than seems probable. I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard that very simple, old song that says, “sometimes I grow homesick for heaven.” Well, I really do. And yet, I’m not complaining about earth. God has treated me better than I could have ever hoped or deserved. But there is something beyond time. And we can live in eternity now. Paul says, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Between the world and me, there’s the cross. We sang that song last night, what was it? The cross before me, the world behind me. Should no one join me, still I would follow. For I have decided to follow Jesus. I smiled. You know the first time I ever heard that chorus? Was a November night in l947 in the City of Jerusalem. My wife and I and our eight girls had just fled at 9:00 o’clock at night from our home and taken refuge in an American mission in the center of Jerusalem without food, without a home, without anything. We’d walked out in the middle of the night and left everything. When I got to that mission, they were singing the first time I had ever heard it, “Should no one join me, still I would follow.” It’s one thing to sing it in a meeting, it’s another thing to sing it when there’s no one joining you.

All right. Just two more things about enduring. Very simple. I’ve already mentioned two things. First of all, start by a firm commitment to the Lord with purpose of heart. Secondly, keep your eye on the invisible. Thirdly, very simple. If you fail, don’t give up. Others have failed before you. You’re looking at one of them. That’s one of the devil’s cleverest tricks is to say you’re a failure. “You might as well give up. God’s given up with you.” Don’t believe him. He’s a liar. Let me give you two scriptures. One is in Psalm 37:23–24.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” (KJV)

Have you ever fallen? Well remember you’ll not be utterly cast down because the Lord still has your hand. You know how David knew that? Because he’d fallen. Fallen terribly, fallen tragically. Committed adultery. Procured the death of the man whose wife he’d stolen. And yet God forgave and restored David. So David said even if you fall, don’t give up. God will pick you up.

Then there was another man in the New Testament who fell too. His name was Peter. I just want to read you two verses that Jesus spoke to Peter knowing that Peter was going to deny him three times. It’s Luke 22:31–32.

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, [all of you, all of you apostles] that he may sift you as wheat: [separate you one from another so that you’ll never come together again] But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not...” (KJV)

What a depth there is in that. He didn’t pray that he wouldn’t deny him. He said, “Even though you deny me I’m praying your faith won’t fail.” You’ll fall, but you’ll get up again. If his faith had failed, then there would have been no way back. So if you fall, just stretch out your hand and let the Lord pick you up and don’t give up. Because the Lord hasn’t given up on you.

The last thing I want to say, it’ll only take a moment, about how to endure is this: Remember the prize giving. Not all the issues of life are settled now. There are some things that remain for the future. And I’d like to go back to the words of Paul written from that jail to Timothy, 2Timothy 4:7–8.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith...” (KJV)

You know, I believe those three things go together. I believe if you’re going to keep the faith you have to fight the fight. I believe faith is a fight. You can’t escape the fight and keep the faith. If you’re going to finish your course, you’ve got to fight the fight. Paul said, “I’ve done all three. I’ve finished the course. I fought the fight. I’ve kept the faith.” Then he said, “from now on I’m waiting for the prize giving.”

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, [a laurel wreath, the victor’s crown] which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day...” (KJV)

You see, Paul had been condemned to execution by a very, very unjust, unrighteous ruler, the Emperor Nero. There had been no justice in his trial but he said that isn’t the last word. He said there’s going to be another judgment day. There’s going to be a prize giving. And the judge will be absolutely just. It’ll be the Lord himself. And he’ll give me my prize.

Now that maybe just part of my background, but for me, for many years, prizegiving was a very important part of my school days. And I won many, many prizes. But there’s one prize that still has to be won, and that’s only for those who keep the faith, fight the fight, and finish the course. And I believe that Paul was kept true to the end because he saw something beyond time. He looked out into eternity and he saw the great prizegiving. When the gold medals, silver medals and the bronze medals will be given out. And I think some of us will be rather surprised at who gets the gold medals. It won’t be the speed with which we ran. It’ll be the faithfulness with which we served. The Lord’s emphasis is on faithfulness. “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

So that’s what I have to say tonight. I really believe for many of us, the days that lie ahead are days that are going to test our endurance. I have a kind of inner witness in my spirit. Brother Mack Johnson was talking to me as he brought me from the airport to the camp. He said, “I was listening the other day to the closing talks that you’d given at the Tennessee/Georgia camps over the last three years. Every one of them were prophetic.” And I believe tonight what I’m telling you is in some sense prophetic. Things are not going to be easy. It was either at Moorhead earlier this summer or it was at the spring camp here that Father Sherwood got a prophecy. I don’t know whether anybody else remembers it, but it stuck with me. “You are going to endure persecution, such persecution as you never even imagined.” I believe it’s here. And it’s going to test one thing above all others: our loyalty. I want to be able to look you brothers and sisters in the face when I come back next year and say if I meet you, “I’ve kept the faith. I haven’t been disloyal, I haven’t betrayed you. I haven’t believed the lies and the slander and the insinuations against you.” If I have anything against you I’ll tell you face to face. But I will not stab you in the back. I really believe that’s the test that lies ahead of us. The test of character and loyalty. And if you’ll stand the test, glory to God, you’ll come out like gold that’s been tried in the fire. Bless the Lord. Let’s stand to our feet and worship God. Brother Bob, come and sing that one again just for me.

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