Will you continue to love and obey Him? He is teaching you to persevere and endure. If you have fallen down, will you get up and continue to run your race? Are you allowing the Lord to develop the fruit of the Spirit known as “long-suffering”?​

What does it take for an athlete to become a champion? Desire, natural ability, being teachable, personal discipline, commitment, perseverance, endurance, self-sacrifice, etc. They train, practice, buffet their bodies, and deny themselves to reach their goal, all for a crown that will perish. Why is it, that even with the grace of God, the power of His Spirit, most Christians won’t give themselves wholeheartedly to run the race that is set before them – to serve the One who loves us? 


“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, 27). 


Do you remember when we had to achieve or accomplish something to receive a certificate or trophy in sports, academics, etc.? Today, they hand them out just for showing up. You can be sure the rewards in heaven will not be given in this manner. Great sacrifice will bring great reward (Matthew 19:29,) and only those who persevere under the trial will receive the crown of life. (James 1:12). 


Endurance is “using strength and wisdom to continue, learning to bear the pain, fatigue, and discouragement so that you can finish.” Many of God’s children have been experiencing prolonged problems and adversity in this hour. Why is He allowing these things? God is testing you—He is preparing you. Please be aware that endurance is necessary for your salvation. Far too many walked away from the Lord when things got tough. Jesus said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). 


What must we endure? The temptations of a very seductive society, persecution, and all of the difficulties that will unfold in these last days. God is preparing you, and He will help you. He expects you to endure all the way to the end. 


Enduring is difficult, but God doesn’t want you to give up or settle for less than He intended for you. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:36-39). You must also persevere. 


Perseverance is defined as “continuance till the end, pressing on, remaining steady in hopes to finish.” Too many of God’s servants quit before they complete their assignment. Do you know that 90% of the clergy in America leave the ministry before they are 65 years old? Several times during my years in ministry I would get discouraged because things didn’t happen fast enough, others hurt me, or to be truthful, I was disappointed with God because revival tarried. The Lord didn’t want me to quit. When I fell, He helped me get up and continue the race. 


The amazing thing about all of this? If you get up again, you will be more humble and continue by God’s grace and in His strength. You will learn a lot, growing in spiritual insight and wisdom. You become more valuable to the kingdom of God. Will you continue to love and obey Him? He is teaching you to persevere and endure. If you have fallen down, will you get up and continue to run your race? 


Are you allowing the Lord to develop the fruit of the Spirit known as “long-suffering” (Galatians 5:22)? There is only one way for this fruit to form: by suffering for a prolonged period. Suffering is a part of life. Everyone, sooner or later, will suffer physical and/or emotional pain. (Psalm 34:19). Sometimes it comes from the devil, sometimes it’s caused by others or the results of your own bad choices. Sometimes you suffer because you are Christian. Sometimes it comes from God Himself. (Revelation 2:22-23). It’s important to remember that your response is pivotal. It’s all about how you handle it. 


I had a good friend who was a great minister. Mid-life, he contracted a neuromuscular disease; it had him walking with a cane, then crutches, and then he was confined to an electric wheelchair. Eventually, he could hardly lift his arm to shake your hand. Even so, he was an amazing counselor, ran support groups (drugs, alcohol, anger, etc.), and trained others to lead these groups. He also did a weekly radio show. The disease finally got the best of him – he is now in heaven. 


At his funeral, the church was full of those who were helped, healed, and came to salvation through the ministry of my friend, Joe Ricci. When Joe first got the disease, he received prayer from powerful healing ministers. I watched him stand in faith and attempt to walk, only to fall on his face. He wasn’t healed, but it certainly wasn’t because he didn’t have enough faith. As you know, I believe in miracles and have seen many, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen – we don’t know why. Apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that didn’t go away even though he begged God to remove it. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Nevertheless, this kept Paul humble, and he pressed on to do great things in the Lord. Sadly, some blame God and others are filled with self-pity and become bitter, making their physical and emotional condition worse. 


Please know this: If you will trust God and praise and thank Him while suffering, you will draw closer to Him, grow spiritually, and mature in your faith. If you continue to grumble and complain, your suffering could become worse, and you may lose your faith. The Lord loves you and wants you to be aware of these things. He will surely help you overcome. 


Life was never meant to be easy (John 16:33); you need to know this. Life is a testing ground: You hear the gospel, you believe and are saved, and you continue to obediently follow the Savior. Your love for God will be tested through inconvenience, discomfort, various trials, and infirmities because the Lord is looking for those who will truly love Him even in times of trouble, not just religion and lip service. There will also be times of persecution. In the midst of it all, you draw near to God and He gives you comfort, encouragement, and the strength to press on. 


Will you continue to love God if you lose everything in the days ahead? Will you continue to thank and praise Him? (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Keep your eyes on the prize. You have been called to a glorious eternity, living forever with the King of Glory! 


If you can only see the simplistic view: “God wants to bless me, the devil wants to hurt me,” you will find yourself frustrated and wondering why life is so difficult. Instead, I have been trying to help you understand how this works. First, God is in control of ALL things, including the devil. Second, He purposely designed life on earth to be a testing ground, a training camp, a place where you are refined and conformed to the image of Christ. 


Consider this: The Creator placed man’s spirit in a carnal body and gave our flesh carnal appetites. We are to control these appetites, overcome our carnal nature, and learn to walk in the Spirit. You are learning to love God above all things and to love others. You are dying to yourself, and you are becoming dependent on Him. God is teaching you to hear His voice and obey Him because you are being prepared to rule and reign with Christ in the life to come! (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10). What type of preparation would be necessary for that? Difficult? You can be sure it is! Stop complaining and begin to praise and thank Him. You have been chosen by God! 


Don’t forget that it is offensive to the Lord when you grumble and complain; it is sin. You are also poisoning yourself with negativity and contaminating the people around you. It is so much better to give praise and thanksgiving in every situation; this is well-pleasing to God and shows that you trust Him. Ask the Lord to forgive you now and make it your habit to offer Him praise and thanksgiving instead; this will require some practice, but you must learn to do this. 


Have you seen the Christian movie “The Hiding Place?” This is the true story of Corrie ten Boom, whom I previously mentioned. She and her family hid several Jewish people in their homes during the Nazi occupation of their country. They were eventually arrested and sent to a concentration camp. They were beaten and abused, cold and hungry, and forced to do hard manual labor in the mud and rock quarries. They lived in absolute squalor and slept on lice-infested mattresses. And yet, even under such horrendous conditions, Corrie and her sister served their fellow prisoners and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. 


Perhaps one of the most powerful scenes showed the women huddled together in the cold, their lips chapped and split open, their faces and hands bruised and bloodied. Corrie’s sister, with eyes shining, reads 1 Thessalonians 5:18 from the Bible they had managed to conceal, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Incredible! Another quote from the film, “When you suffer, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you.” Lord, grant us the grace to continue to thank You amid pain and suffering to come, and that we will always remember that You love us. 


I think you know I’m not saying that if you praise and thank God you won’t have any problems. I am saying you will be able to get on top of those thoughts and feelings much quicker if you respond with praise and thanksgiving rather than by grumbling and complaining. Let this be a measure of your spiritual maturity. How long does it take for you to convert from the typical human response that comes after an unpleasant situation until you begin giving praise and thanks to God? Of course, you won’t feel like it, but offer a sacrifice of praise and continue to praise Him until you break through into peace, even joy. This helps us refocus and shows God that we trust Him. You will feel better by doing this, and it will be well-pleasing to your loving Father who is at work in your life. 


Again, life is filled with challenges. As a child, you learned to ride a bike (probably fell a few times, but tried again). You went to school and took tests and you learned to play sports. Some things you liked, some you didn’t. Some things you did well and continued to do, other things were difficult or uncomfortable and you quit. Life in the Spirit is no different. 


God will challenge you to do things that you don’t know how to do – things that are uncomfortable and difficult. Will you say yes to Him and accept the challenge? He will surely help you! Or will you complain, tell God you don’t want to do it and remain comfortable? If you say yes to God, you will grow spiritually. If you say no, He may give you another chance, but as you continue to say no, you won’t grow, regardless of how much you think you know about the Bible. 


Something the Lord has shown me: 

  • First, the wheat is harvested (your salvation). 
  • It’s brought to the threshing floor and mashed with a threshing sledge (your breaking, learning to do His will, not yours). 
  • Then a winnowing fork is used to separate the grain from the chaff (your separation from the world). You think you are now ready, not yet. 
  • The grain is now crushed with a millstone to make flour (your refining). Are we there yet? Sorry. 
  • Now comes the sifting (removing your hidden impurities). This is the final preparation. 


Your Master plans to bring you far beyond the immature state of “self” to a place of intimate communion – to become His friend and a self-sacrificing, obedient disciple who will bear abundant fruit. He wants to take you deeper, and deeper. 


“I have been testing My people, says the Lord. I am looking for those who will love and obey Me and follow the leading of My Spirit – those who will praise and thank Me even in the midst of difficult situations. I am calling out My remnant Church, says the Lord. These will shine brightly in the days ahead; they will carry My glory. Will you be counted among them?” 


If you decide to stop serving God the heavens will not be shaken, nor will His eternal purposes be thwarted. Everything will continue without you. Nevertheless, you will miss all of the incredible things the Lord had planned for your life, if you had only remained faithful. You will have walked away from the abundant fruit He promised you and the unfathomable eternal rewards that are given to those who serve the Most High. Are you sure you want to quit and lose all of that? Continue to trust Him; His plan is still unfolding. 


Even still, let us not become so intent on doing His work that we fail to spend time with the God who loves us; this has happened throughout Church history. The flames of love for God propel us forward only to be extinguished by our rushing forward in ministry. Do you understand? We serve the Lord with diligence because we love Him but later get caught up in the serving, like a mom or dad who diligently works to provide for their family but then gets so engrossed in their work that they end up neglecting their family. Be careful! Let’s not fall into this trap. 



Over the years I have seen many Christian ministries rise and then decline, for various reasons. But there is a common thread. Genuine, God ordained ministry is always birthed in prayer and sustained by prayer. When a ministry begins to grow, and extends beyond its prayer support, it will eventually become stagnant and then decline. You need to understand the importance of prayer, beloved, and the seriousness of spiritual warfare. Without sufficient prayer you WILL NOT succeed, you may even be destroyed. Without sufficient prayer, it is very difficult to overcome the devil and advance God’s kingdom. Some leaders have been deceived and now teach false doctrines. 


Some have been overtaken by sexual temptation, pride, the love of money, etc. Even if they manage to escape these snares, many have settled for just a nice Sunday service that has no power to change lives. Those who spend time with God are far more likely to hear Him clearly and proceed with accuracy. They will stand in spiritual authority and defeat the enemy, taking ground from him.


Dear Christian leader, make prayer a priority in your personal life and, for your ministry, raise up intercessors! If you are desirous of becoming one who runs the race to win, a true disciple of Jesus Christ, then you must hear this: Search the extended collection of Christian biographies (past and present), and you will be hard-pressed to find a servant of the Most High who accomplished their God-given assignment, consistently bearing fruit, without having a significant prayer life. I mean, the Son of God needed to pray. Sometimes Jesus prayed all night. Do you think you can bear eternal fruit while sidestepping this necessary ingredient? 


Perseverance, endurance, humility, faith – all of these are essential, but there is no substitute for spending time with God in prayer. Intimacy with God is the foundation for everything. You should sit with Him and talk, like a friend. Tell Him the things on your heart and listen for the things on His heart, then pray them back to Him. Fruitful ministry flows from that place of communion with God. Any good thing that is accomplished in God’s kingdom is birthed and sustained in Holy Spirit led prayer. 


Intimacy with God is a deep personal relationship with the One who loves you; this is marked by frequent conversation, heartfelt worship, and obedient service. Your first step toward intimacy is a simple prayer: “Lord, give me a hunger for more of You, and draw me closer. Help me to truly know You and love You.” Over the years ministers have asked me, “What is the best advice you can give me?” This is what I say, “PRAY! You must spend time with God!” 


It’s pretty rough out there; the devil is destroying Christians every day. If you are a minister and don’t pray, you have little to offer. Please don’t say you don’t have the time – make the time. Go to bed earlier, and get up earlier to pray. Pray in the car, in the shower, while you are working, and pray in the Spirit. For your own sake, and for the sake of those you will pray for, make the time pray. 


Nevertheless, there are many Christians who pray for the things that they think should be occurring. They try to make something happen that was not led by the Holy Spirit. These prayers are not answered; God does not even hear them. He only hears the prayers that are prayed according to His will. 


For example: When the pandemic hit in 2020, many began to fast and pray, prophesy, decree, and declare that the pandemic would be over in a few months. That didn’t happen. Why? It was not God’s will! God was bringing judgment on the Church and the world. 


And there were many Christians wondering why their prayers weren’t answered for President Trump to be reelected in 2020 – it was not God’s will. You cannot steal something out of God’s hands! As I mentioned, the Biden presidency is the judgment of God on a stiff-necked, rebellious nation. 


Spirit-led prayers are always God’s will; His desire for you or others. They will surely be answered. If you want things to change in your life and the lives of others, you must persist in prayer. Are you praying? 


How Prayer Works: 

John Wesley said, “God does nothing without prayer and everything with it.” How does man’s free will and God’s sovereignty blend? God has given us free will. If He manipulated us like puppets that would certainly nullify free will. Here is how it works: God uses our prayers! When we pray, we invite God to operate in human affairs. Do you understand? 


Your friend drives his car off of a steep embankment. He is alive but pinned in his car. God sees him, and what does He do? He wakes you in the middle of the night; your friend immediately comes to mind. You sense something is wrong and you begin to pray. God answers your prayer and soon after, someone finds the wreck, and your friend is rescued. When God wants to do something in an individual’s life or in any given situation, He first stirs someone to pray (or many), and then He answers the prayer. This is how God’s will is accomplished on the earth. God initiates the prayer, we pray, and God answers. Free will is not violated because we are asking God to intervene. 


You can hold back the enemy, and help advance the kingdom of God through prayer. Start with ten minutes. After you have that solid in your life, add five minutes. Allow that additional 5 minutes to become a part of your regular prayer routine, and then add another 5 minutes. Continue to increase your prayer time in 5-minute increments. 


Make 1 hour per day your goal. And when you reach that goal, add another 5 minutes, etc. With God’s help and some personal discipline, you can build a significant prayer life – one that will save souls, change lives, and affect the world. 


So, what should you pray for? Jesus taught His disciples to pray the “Lord’s Prayer.” This is a great prayer, but don’t stop there. Give God praise and thanks… then pray for yourself, your family and friends. Pray for the Church… for repentance and revival, also for church members and leadership. Pray for the salvation of the lost and for backsliders to come home… and laborers for the harvest. Pray for the persecuted Church and for the grace to endure persecution when it comes to you. Also be listening. God may bring people or situations to mind that need prayer. And if you have the gift of tongues, spend time praying in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18). 


If you will do this, your life will change as you draw closer to God… and your fruitfulness will be abundant. You will gain greater spiritual insight and have a better understanding of what God is currently doing… and what He is about to do (John 15:15). Believe me; this is God’s will for you. “…pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8). 


Something else to consider: When you have a prayer meeting, please understand that there are conditions for answered prayer: 

  • The one who prays must have repented of their sins. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Psalm 66:18). 
  • You must abide in Christ and be able to hear Him. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7). 
  • You must pray according to God’s will. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14). 
  • You must believe that God will answer. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22). 

Call the people to repentance and teach them these things before you begin to pray. There’s no sense in having an unfruitful prayer meeting. Of course, this also applies to your personal prayer time. 


Trust God 

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7). “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?” (Lamentations 3:38).


I hope you are convinced by the truth of Scripture that God is in control of ALL things. Here is another profound truth and your key to inner peace: Trust God! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).


How is your faith, beloved? Is it increasing or diminishing? Trials, disappointments, and delayed answers to prayer can wear you down. Sometimes you need to ask God to increase your faith, but that may look different than you expect. There are so many things you do each day that don’t require faith. You know how to do them and are comfortable. However, as I’ve said, faith grows when you are asked to do something you are unfamiliar with, afraid to do, or perhaps, don’t want to do; it is this challenge that stretches you beyond your comfort zone. Your faith will grow because you must depend on God. He works through you and you watch with amazement and joy, and your faith grows! Continue to say “yes” to God when He takes you beyond the comfortable; this is where your faith will grow. 


Some years ago, I asked the Lord about Matthew 18:3, the necessity of becoming like a child. I said to Him, “What is childlike faith?” I didn’t receive an answer and then forgot about it. A few months later I took my little daughter to a play-ground. She climbed up on something and was about 4 feet above the ground. I told her to jump into my arms, and she immediately jumped. At that moment the Lord spoke to me, “This is childlike faith.” She didn’t measure how far away I was or the distance to the ground. She didn’t wonder if I would catch her. She simply trusted me and jumped into my arms. I received my answer and completely understood. 


Life is full of problems that come from others, the devil, sickness, finances, etc. The natural man always wants to take the easy way out. Be careful! In prolonged conflict or difficulty, it is quite tempting to believe the deception that you should quit. You may even find yourself looking for others who will agree with this desire. But what about all that God has been teaching you regarding perseverance, endurance and overcoming? Far too many have abandon ship when it could have been brought safely into harbor. In doing so, they have suffered great loss. The Lord has been faithful to you in the midst of every storm. He will surely help you now. Will you continue to trust Him? 



The word “surrender” means to: “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” During a war, those surrendering may wave a white flag. Then they are taken into captivity / imprisoned. What about surrendering to God, the One who loves you? He wants you to stop striving to manage your own life. Why is this so difficult? Are you still fighting to hold on to something that you need to let go of? Please believe me; the Lord will not take you captive – He will set you free! Do you think your way is better? Do you think you can run your life better than the One who created you? Are you that proud? 


God wants You – He wants your heart. You are to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You must surrender your life to Him. You can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit. You give Him your life and you live for Him, as a factory worker, scientist, mother and housewife or minister; this is normal Christianity. It’s not just an hour in church on Sunday and then living your life for yourself. 


You must follow Jesus, being led by His Spirit. He will help you do this! Jesus will return for a bride who loves and obeys Him, not just a churchgoer who fits Jesus into their life. Surrender is usually a process. We give ourselves completely, to the extent that we can, we give everything. As you continue in Christ, you will find there is more to surrender. He continues to take you deeper. At each level, you have a choice; will you go deeper or not? Many Christians stop short of the goal, refusing to surrender the things they love the most: their “rights,” their security, comfort, safety, possessions, family, and friends. Go all the way! Don’t settle for anything less than the fullness of God’s purpose for you. 


You will need to surrender your life to Jesus to avoid deception. Instead of following your own opinions and desires or the opinions of others, you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. You want God’s will to be done in you and through you. 


“I want to take you deeper, says the Lord. I want you to abandon your life to Me. It was never meant to be just church on Sunday, a few dollars in the offering, a few songs and a few prayers. I love your prayers and worship, but what I want is you. I want you to surrender your life to Me. I want to live My life in you and through you. My servant Paul said, ‘…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ I love you and gave My life for you. Will you love Me and completely give your life to Me and allow Me to live my life in you and through you?” 


As you mature in the Lord, He refines everything about you. Are you allowing Him to do that? Of course, He corrects your actions but then takes you deeper. The Lord will even refine the words you speak. Are your words truthful and edifying? At the deepest levels, they must also be precise. Do you exaggerate? If you say “many” when there were far fewer, you didn’t speak the truth. Some Christians unintentionally embellish their stories or use adjectives that take things to the extreme when it didn’t happen that way. Ask the Lord about this. He expects you to walk in the truth. 


When you ask God to take you deeper, do you know what you’re asking? Of course, this means a deeper relationship with Him, but you are also asking to go where you can’t touch the bottom – where you are no longer in control. It’s an uncomfortable place where your faith is stretched, and your character grows. The way to “deeper” is usually a narrow place, sometimes dark and lonely. You may have trouble hearing the Lord, and even think He’s abandoned you. The truth is, He has never been closer. In His perfect timing, you will break through into deeper humility and dependence on Him, a deeper level of trust, a deeper love for Him and others, and a deeper understanding of His Word. You will be learning to surrender. Please don’t think you’ve “arrived.” There are deeper and deeper levels until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4:19). You haven’t arrived yet, and neither have I. 


Are you willing to be uncomfortable and inconvenienced for Jesus? I was getting ready to preach the gospel at Capital Park in Albany, NY. Hundreds of State workers eat lunch there. Our team had already been doing this once a month for about four years. As I was preparing, the Lord spoke a word to me, “perfunctory.” I didn’t know what it meant, so I checked the dictionary: “performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial, lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic.” The Lord was correcting me! 


Let me explain: I was always uncomfortable when preaching there. I knew it was God’s will for me, but the truth is, I just wanted to do it and get it over with because it made me so uncomfortable. Have you ever felt like that? Of course, obeying God is far better than not doing it at all, but this is not all that the Lord requires. He wants you to fulfill His purpose, whatever it is, fully with all of your heart, giving your heartfelt attention to the matter at hand. Beloved, it is a privilege to be uncomfortable for Jesus. Offer Him your life as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1). 


“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24). 


How many have desired to operate in signs and wonders, seeing people miraculously healed and delivered every time we prayed for them? Many of us! Now consider this: If that were to happen today, do you realize how many people in need of healing would begin to demand your attention, knocking on your door day and night and stopping you in the street? Are you willing to completely surrender your life to serve the Lord in this way? The anointing is not just for “church on Sunday.” God wants to use you as His vessel. He wants to fill you with His Holy Spirit and use you to bless many, according to the call, gifts, and talents that He has given you. 


You will never really know the depths of Christ or enter the fullness of God’s plan for your life until you surrender ALL. Will you give Him your time, money, and reputation? Are you willing to leave family and friends to go wherever the Lord leads? Are you willing to be imprisoned and martyred for Him? I’m not saying that everyone is called to sell all they own or be martyred, but would you be willing if Jesus asked you? If not, you have not surrendered all. 


I can tell you now, the day is soon coming when you will either rejoice with abounding joy or regretfully wish you had surrendered all. In this hour, when everything is being shaken, ask Jesus to take you deeper and help you completely surrender everything to Him. He is so worth it.