PERSEVERANCE UNDER PRESSURE WILL BRING WITH IT A GREAT REWARD

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

To persevere is always admirable. Just keep thinking “I can do it!” I remember in High School when I ran my first cross country race thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I can make it to the finish line.” I began to set goals to help me make it from one point to another. Finally, the finish line was in sight and it became my final goal. I persevered and overcame to receive the prize. James has added another dynamic to “perseverance” that is “under trial.” If I had been sick and running, that would have qualified for “under trial”. Many are running the race of this life and are under trials. I think of members of the “persecuted church” throughout the world, trying to live as a Christian in some of the most impossible situations. Many personal e-mails I receive are from people that are enduring some of the toughest situations. My heart especially goes out to parents that are carrying an extra load because of the illness of a child.

The Holy Spirit has come to guide us through the obstacles that interfere with our race toward the goal of His high calling. It is a race not in terms of speed, but rather the goal for the prize. The goal is the Throne of Grace and the Prize is the Lord Himself. James speaks of the “crown of life.” He states that the Lord has promised the crown of life to all those that love Him. We receive His life when we are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit. As we enter into His life, we find that this natural life is full of trails determined to hinder our progress. You are blessed as you persevere through those trials. Although the life of Christ is presently in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a promised day approaching when we will enter into the fullness of His life. We will be crowned with His Glory and enjoy His presence constantly. Receiving God’s love and ministering it back to Him in doing His will assures us of the promise. Only in the power of the Holy Spirit can we successfully persevere under trial.

Today, cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Ask the Holy Spirit for strength to “persevere under trial.” Keep drawing from the Comforter, who is an ever-present help in time of need.

LIFE FADES LIKE THE GRASS AND FLOWERS OF THE FIELD

James 1:9-10 – The brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.

Here we read of the wisdom of God. The Lord always sees both sides of the coin. On the one hand, the person who does not possess a lot of this world’s goods should recognize in Christ that he has been highly exalted. He is the son of a King and everything his Father would choose for him to have is his for the asking. On the other hand, the one who has been blessed with this world’s goods should walk in humility. He only has what he has by God’s goodness. Life is a fleeting journey that will end in death for both the rich and the poor. Possessions and pursuits will all fade away like the grass. The Holy Spirit wants us to focus on those things that will remain, which principally have eternal substance attached to them. The question for each believer remains, “Is this God’s will?” The transforming power of Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is to help us live for God’s pleasure and not our own. This is good proof of a more complete restoration to God’s plan and purposes.

If I am poor, I am not to dwell on my poverty, but rather embrace my wealth which is found in Christ Jesus. If I am poor because of laziness or misuse of funds, I need to repent and ask for the Holy Spirit to help me. But if I am poor because of my plight in life, I am to rejoice, as James states, “in my high position” as a son of God, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). If I am rich, then I am to make the riches secondary. My rejoicing is to be in the saving grace of God. I am to rejoice that the riches did not stop me from humbling myself before almighty God and confessing my absolute poverty and my hopeless condition without God’s saving work. The Scriptures are so incredible when made alive by their author, the Holy Spirit. He helps us to apply their eternal truths in this temporal life.

Whatever your situation may be, take the appropriate position. By the power of the Holy Spirit, claim your portion in the Lord Jesus for your daily need. Remember your high state in Christ. Glory in your absolute poverty without Him and give thanks in the midst of plenty. Always remember, He saved you in spite of your temporal position.

THROUGH FRUSTRATION AND PAIN WE GROW AND BECOME STRONG IN FAITH

James 1:2 – Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

This scripture is hard for many to receive because it appears to be a negative statement. It is not our human desire to encounter different kinds of trials, but James says to “count it all joy”! We are to count “trials” as joy, because if we endure them, they will produce maturity in us. The word “perfect” here means “mature,” so James instructs us “to let endurance have its perfect result.” The translators put the word “its” in italics for emphasis. It takes endurance to go through problems. Many times, we want to just give up. The Holy Spirit is always with us as He supplies the grace and the vision for us to see and endure our trials until the end. Then, and only then, will we see the fruit of our enduring trials as we hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What a great promise to each believer. When we are in the midst of a trial, it is wisdom that we need the most. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent to give us the “wisdom of God.” His promise is that we will receive a generous portion from Him, and we do not have to be ashamed to ask for it. Verse 6 says that the asking must be in faith without any doubting. Of course, when one is in the midst of a trial, doubt is lurking and ready to defeat us. It is a battle to continue in faith.  That is why James uses the word “endure.” Asking God is the beginning of faith, but not the end. Jesus said to “ask” in Matthew 6. The literal translation is to “ask and keep on asking.” Thus, we need to endure, to keep on asking and expecting God’s help. He will give you wisdom to know what to do. The result will be growth.

Identify whatever trial you may be presently having and ask God to give you wisdom through His Holy Spirit to endure those trials. Keep asking until the victory appears and you will rejoice in the growth you will experience in your life.

HOW ARE YOU BUILDING, ON SAND OR ON A ROCK?

Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Building is an ethical issue. God is a builder, from the time He spun off universes to building a church that the gates of hell will not prevail against! If we find ourselves going through life without purpose or productivity, the Bible considers it to be unethical. The Book of Proverbs speaks of two kinds of men, those that are building on solid ground and those that are carelessly drifting along, whose lives are headed for destruction. Jesus teaches it is in the hearing and acting on His words that one receives wisdom. Too many of God’s people go week after week hearing God’s Word, but not applying what was taught. We must chose to act upon what is biblically taught. By not acting upon God’s Word one is being unethical. In effect, one is building on sand and this will prove to be unwise and devastating. One example is found in Christian marriages that are in trouble. Many go for counseling, but they do not act upon the word given to them. Thus, nothing changes and many times the marriage relationship becomes worse.

The Holy Spirit is waiting for believers to act upon the Word of God. As we act upon the word given, He, the Holy Spirit, goes into action to help us understand and apply God’s Word. The net result becomes wisdom to build a life which becomes more and more Christ centered. In our lessons, beginning in Matthew 5, we read of Jesus speaking of those who will be blessed through their action. We learn of being salt and light in the world. We learn of a righteousness that exceeded that of the religious leaders. We also learn in Matthew 5 of the correct relationships that begin in the heart as well as the outward actions that follow. We learn how our forgiving others releases God to forgive us. We also have learned the correct response concerning money, anxiety, and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, with the promise that everything else will be added to us. Finally, we learned that the way we judge others is in turn the same way we will be judged. Furthermore, we should ask and expect to receive the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is bringing forth a good tree that produces good fruit.

Let the Sermon on the Mount become a well-known portion of Scripture. Allow the Holy Spirit to build into your life these principles in an ever-deepening way. These chapters reveal the Laws of the kingdom of God which guide the new man born of God’s Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, pray daily for the Father to give to you His plans for building and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you in the application.