Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 3, 2015

January 3, 2015 “A Character Assessment”

” And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5)

Good Morning Prayer Champions!

No doubt many of you have turned on the television over the last week or so to watch one of the many bowl games that have been played around the nation. Some have been real yawners, while others have featured some quite memorable contests. Like most people I know, it’s those nail-biters that capture my attention more. I don’t much care to see  team blown out by some overwhelming score, even if the willing team is one I support as a fan. I’d much rather see a game where both teams come prepared and battle it out to the finish. Sometimes, this may mean that one team battles back from a large deficit and prevails in the end. At other times, a team may prevail over the adversity of losing a star player due to injury and still battle on to victory. A word commentators often use to describe such a team is the word “character.” It is a word applicable to an individual as well as a team, and it’s a strong, definitive word. Not only that, but it’s a word Paul applies to a persevering Christian.

In his epistle to the Christians in Rome, Paul writes these great words of encouragement to believers facing almost unimaginable persecution at the hands of the forces of the Roman empire. The Roman emperor Nero went so far as to make sport of them in the arenas, where Roman citizens would cheer the spectacle of these noble Christians being torn apart by wild animals or forced to battle one another to the death. If that weren’t enough, he’d use them as “living torches”, tying them to poles and setting them ablaze to light the streets of the city. Much of this epistle addresses these persecutions with words of encouragement. Here in Romans 5: 3-5, Paul, no stranger to persecution himself, speaks of their suffering , encouraging them with the words,  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Like a team with its back to the wall…and in this situation, quite literally, Paul lifts up this rallying cry for these weary warriors of the faith so persevere, reminding them that their suffering produces endurance, and endurance character!  A little later in the same letter, he writes, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8: 38-39) 

Pastor Rick Warren noted, “God is much more concerned about your character than your career, because you will take your character into eternity, but not your career.” 

At the beginning of this new year, I invite you to make an assessment of your character. You may be facing some particular adversity at this time. How are you dealing with it? Don’t give up! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  Let’s pray!

Glorious Lord; each day as I face life and its challenges, may your Holy Spirit that dwells within me rise up and remind me of your ever-present love. May I never lose hope, but be a person of character. This I pray in Jesus’ Great Name. Amen!

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