James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Per·se·ver·ance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
The issue isn’t whether we’ll have trials. They come in all sizes and shapes, and to everyone. One thing all trials have in common, large or small, is they focus our attention on a specific situation. Perseverance becomes a spiritual exercise for us without a known end date or predictable outcome. Perseverance in the midst of the trial is where our faith and expectations begin to rely on the value of just getting through this one day. All we have is the hope we can endure.
Endurance is the byproduct of the spiritual exercise of perseverance. It’s a result of doggedly putting one foot in front of the other every day during the trial and letting “perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Perseverance is the muscle-building exercise of faith that results in endurance.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters”…not for the pain, fears. tears, stress and struggle of the trial but that it reminds you every day of your need to depend on Jesus to get you through. God is building your endurance and insuring your survival on that one fact alone. You just need to show up every day.
II Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare…14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. [NIV]
History records the action of evil we remember of “yesterday.” It’s over and done with and we emerged still standing. “Today” feels like it’s a heads-up time. There are a lot of signs Satan is working hard to destroy our world ahead of time and that makes it especially important for each of us to consider just what it is we are “looking forward” to and begin to let that impact our own daily life.
Here’s what I know: Jesus wins. I intend to invest my time, my behavior and my efforts to “to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” I’m looking forward to a new heaven and earth: a kingdom of Grace. I’m not looking forward to the destruction of the heavens disappearing, or the elements being destroyed by fire and the earth being laid bare even though I trust God’s word all that is somewhere between today and tomorrow.
“Today” is teaching me how important it is to read Scripture, to stay informed and most of all to pray. Those three things are the heads-up for me. My prayers in the midst of “today” aren’t targeted, eloquent or lengthy. They are dependent on the sovereign power of God: “Be present here Lord. Watch over this world you created and protect us. Raise up your people and give me the courage to trust that you are. Amen, Amen and Amen again!
I Corinthians 12:12 Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the “body” of Christ…14 Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part…17 Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? 18 But that isn’t the way God has made us. He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. [TLB]
“Our Maker gives assignments to people, “to each according to each one’s unique ability.” As he calls, he equips. Look back over your life. What have you consistently done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness.” Max Lucado – Cure for the Common Life
Finding out which “part” of the body of faith you are can be challenging and confusing. Churches recognize that and try to help offering “find your Spiritual gift” classes. The intimidating thing about those classes is our mind goes first to the “highlight’s” list: preaching, teaching, healing, discernment and maybe even the grand service of the mission field. That’s a big list that most of us are not quite able to see ourselves in. Instead our choices become the confusing: “I don’t fit into any of those” or the challenging “I should.” Those are unworthy and limited choices that have nothing at all to do with the truth in I Corinthians.
Therein lies the beauty of that wisdom from Max Lucado. It takes every “part” to complete the body. Any gift put together with the body and your love of Christ is vital to complete his image. I’ve seen the love of sewing, knitting, artwork and even technology elevated to become valued gifts in the body of Christ. They become the eyes and ears of the image of Christ in the church and are gap fillers for the world outside to see as well. Those may seem to be unlikely gifts but when dedicated to Christ they have Spiritual power to draw others into the body too. Isn’t that the whole point of spiritual gifts?
Don’t waste another minute on discovering where you don’t fit! Look for that “intersection” Lucado speaks of in your life as a believer. Then consider this: God has given you that “gift” to make you a perfect fit for the body of Christ. “He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it.
If by chance you have been reading my readandponder.com blog posts on Facebook AND if by chance you have sent me a friend request that I’ve ignored, this post is for you. I am just not comfortable accepting friends I don’t know but I want you to know it means a great deal to me if you are following my posts. I would love to continue sharing my thoughts on faith with you but my request is that you click the link to take you to the WordPress page and select “Follow” there and take advantage of the Comment section to share your thoughts with me as well. You will continue to be able to read the posts on Facebook as usual but you will be encouraging me by that process. Just like you I’m on a journey I believe God has chosen for me. It’s a journey of learning to live by faith every day and with every post. My comfort comes from the realiation that I’m not alone because you’re there with me. ❤
My approach to reading the Bible has been the same for a long time now. I read and write about small portions of a chapter, often just a couple of verses. I know God is trying to speak to me and sometimes it’s just easier to narrow my focus in that way so I can hear better. I really had no good explanation of why that method works so well for me until I found this quote attributed to Jean-Pierre de Caussade in the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life.
“Fix your attention upon what you are reading without thinking about what follows. . . . Pause briefly, from time to time, to let these pleasant truths sink deeper and deeper into your soul, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work. . . . Simply let the truths sink into your heart rather than into your mind.”
I read the Word and other resources because I believe there is the reality of the life of Christ in them. I expect that reality to change my life in Christ too. Up to this point in this post I’d only read from the book Discernment. That quote was good but it felt incomplete without a Scripture reference so I did the digital version of randomly opening the Bible hoping for an unexpected surprise of applicable truth from the Word and up popped this verse of the day from biblegateway.com: Colossians 2:9-10.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” [NIV]
That truth isn’t particularly mystical because of course the Bible is full of applicable wisdom. Nevertheless it’s interesting to consider that particular truth in that particular moment could be the reality of blessing from the Holy Spirit to remind me that “In Christ” is where I want to be. In Christ I am being brought to fullness of both heart and mind. May it be so!
Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
God gave his riches for your power through his Spirit for your inner being SO…
that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith SO…
you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God and the love of Christ SO…
you may be rooted and established in His love that surpasses your knowledge SO…
You may grab hold of how wide and long and high and deep that love is. SO?
Isaiah 12;1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Today I will praise you Lord:
You are faithful even when I deserve anger:
Faithful to intervene because of need
Faithful to love even before obedience
Faithful to teach that need can lead to obedience
You are the Comforter:
When I am uncomfortable
When I am sorrowful
And finally when I am repentant
You are Salvation:
From life with no purpose
Or purpose with no life
You are the reality of life and purpose
You are the power and defender of my salvation:
You make known what seems unknowable
You defend the faith you’ve given
You draw life-giving water up from the deep wells of salvation so we can drink together.
You have become my Salvation for the sake of your own joy:
Your joy has become my shared joy.
Thanks for sharing Lord!
2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance…
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Time and opportunity are God’s gift to keep us aware “he is patient…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We focus on that gift because it’s personal but it’s interesting to consider it’s about so much more than us. The “more” is based on these words from John Piper in Desiring God: “God has the right and power to do whatever makes Him happy.” Think about that for a minute before you read the rest of the quote.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115: 3). That is what it means to say that God is sovereign… Just as our joy is based on the promise that God is strong enough and wise enough to make all things work together for our good, so God’s joy is based on that same sovereign control: He makes all things work together for His glory.”
It’s good to acknowledge the impact of God’s gifts on our happiness but it’s a blessing of humility to realize God has a vested interest in our happiness for himself; his own glory. When we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” it’s evidence of His glory and that makes him happy.
2 Peter 3:1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
“We are so often in the position of men whose need is not so much to be taught as to be reminded of what we already know.” William Barclay
One of the snags of being devoted to reading the Word of truth over and over again and blogging about it is feeling you need to come up with something new. But you know what? When the time comes to hit “publish” and all your hours of thought, writing and rewriting don’t even make sense to you it’s time to hit “delete” first. The Word that remains is that stand-alone scripture of last Wednesday from Isaiah “so that you [I] may know and believe me [the Lord] and understand that I am he.” That’s the first lesson of faith.
That, my internet friends, has become part of what I call a custom designed object lesson. I share it because I know Christ lives in me. That one thing is so important that if I never learned anything else that would be enough for God. But…I need these daily reminders so I can live what I already know. Today that lesson is completed and confirmed by the Apostle and Barclay.
The object of what I read is to…
* stimulate you [me] to wholesome thinking
* recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior
– be reminded of what I already know