Sunday, June 16, 2013

Perseverance (James 1:12-18)

Perseverance is trusting in God's work. It is never giving up, because you trust that God is at work in the world even when you can't see it. It is never giving in, because you trust that God is at work in you.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

The author of Hebrews says life is like a race that we are to run with perseverance. Whenever I run, it's easy for my mind to get distracted by how tired my legs are or how short of breath I am. Sometimes I think about the runners next to me or my friends and family in the crowd. It's the same with life. Sometimes I get distracted by how tired I am, how hard it is to wait on God's timing, how it feels like I am alone and no one else is doing the right thing. So how do we keep running?

Hebrews 12:2 says we fix our eyes on Jesus. We don't look at our legs and think about how tired we are. We don't look at the other runners and think about how much faster they are. We don't look in the stadium and worry about letting people down. We look at Jesus, and we keep running.

Jesus ran the race with perseverance. He did not give up or give in. He went through the hardest trial of all (being betrayed, mocked, beaten, crucified, and abandoned). What gave him the strength to not give up? It was the joy set before him. He saw that obedience to the Father would bring joy (both to himself and to the whole world). And he kept running.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24 that we should run in such a way as to get the prize. What is the prize at the end of the race? It is the crown of life.

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when full-grown, gives birth to death.

If those who persevere receive the crown of life, what is reserved for those who give in? Death. Why do we sin if we know sin gives birth to death? Well, there are many reasons we sin. One reason we sin is because it's hard for us to wait. A neuroscientist named David Eagleman observed, "Things that are offered right now have so much more power than things that are offered in the future." We will make all sorts of poor choices if something is offered right now, rather than later.

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Sometimes we think God wants us to fail. We think he tempts us just to watch us fall. But that is not true! Sometimes we think God likes to keep good things from us, that he makes up rules so that we will be unhappy. But that is not true, either! God is the giver of every good gift.

Did you know that Satan does not have the power to create. He can only destroy. He can only take what God made for good and twist it for evil. He tempts us to take the gifts God has given us in the wrong way or at the wrong time. He is the trickster. He is the deceiver. James encourages us not to be deceived but to listen to the word of truth. If Satan is the liar, God is the truth-teller. Let's listen for the voice of Jesus. Let's look for God's good work in the world. Let's trust in the Holy Spirit's good work in us. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run with perseverance. Don't give up when trials come. There is a crown waiting for you. Don't give in when temptations rise. Life and joy come to those who stand strong.

1st Service Kingdom Kids = 4
Kingdom Kids = 29
Kinder-Kingdom = 10

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