Monday, August 22, 2011

Brother James Got Perseverence

Do you really understand what it means to endure through whatever God leads you to? Do you really know what it’s like to get through the storm as though it were nothing? This, in fact, is what it means to have God’s strength. Consider the words of James: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Why endure through hardships? Because it makes you mature and complete.

Looking Past the Here and Now

1. If you break down the text of this, the same word used to say “trials” in this passage is the same word used to say “temptations” and “tests” in others. So whatever you’re facing – hardships, struggles, anxiety, difficult temptations, addictions, or whatever – you need to look past the here and now and see what’s at the other end: growth, strengthening and perseverance, so that you will become more of the man or woman that God has in mind for you to become.

Now I know, it will still be difficult, whatever you’re going through. I understand more than you would think what it means to feel as though your life is about to end. Not that you think you’re literally going to die, but whatever it may be – emotional, relational, whatever – I know how it feels to have the only thing that matters to you seem to end. So I would have to ask you: what really matters to you?

The Lies That Condemnation Tells Us

2. Is it of any wonder to you why the 3rd leading cause of death in America is suicide? What’s the point of suicide? “Because there’s nothing worth living for.” Because the enemy comes to us at our weakest point and tells us these little lies…and we believe him. Do you wonder why you or someone you know was so self-conscious in school? Do you wonder why so many people you know today are still so worried about it? Because of those little lies that we believe. Have you ever felt that way? Like you had to change or achieve something in order to be acceptable?

Though it’s very different for men and women, the principal is pretty much the same: “You won’t be cool unless you do this…You won’t be beautiful unless you change this…you won’t be accepted unless you are this…” Do you think God feels the same way about you? Think about this: God formed you from conception (Psalm 139:13-16). He planned who you were to be – what shoes He would have you fill. He, being the most sovereign God, knit you together in intricate detail, so that you would just be…you. Now, if God wanted your skin to be a little darker, or if he wanted your hair or eyes to be a different colour, of if he wanted you to be taller or shorter or bigger or smaller or anything different…wouldn’t he have made you that way?

Persevering Through Lies and Depression

This, brothers and sisters, is why it is so important to endure through the hardships. No matter how hard it gets, consider God’s perspective: You are still a child of his, and nothing will ever take you away from him. Want an illustration? Listen to how Paul describes you: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble of hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

“No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:31-39).

If You Believe In God, Then Do Not Have Fear

So let me ask you, do you really love God? Is He really enough for you? Does he really satisfy? Then do not listen to these lies, whoever you may be. They are nothing more than just that. Satan is the best sociologist in the world, and he knows when you’re struggling. But if you truly love God, and you truly believe that he is who he says he is, do not fear, for “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.” No matter how much the enemy takes from you, and no matter how much you’re struggling, stay strong and endure, for the prize is well worth the struggle.


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