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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pure Joy

Following her stroke my friend, Peggy, shared a dream with me. She was a small child walking home from school. In the distance home waited, but the road offered obstacles that were difficult to maneuver. Her legs scarcely jumped over the large ruts, and her arms, weighed down with books, barely managed the load.

Life is a long road home. Many times we face incredible pitfalls, and obstacles. Hopefully, we will develop the faith that will carry us to the end. “Consider it pure joy,” James writes, “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 complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Greater faith is found through perseverance. Perseverance must be strong in each of us to handle life’s unexpected circumstances. What a riveting image! There is a work inside each believer, and it can only be completed through a willingness to endure! The Lord’s perfect will is for faith to spring up in the midst of heartache, pain, and turmoil.

Trials and suffering should inspire spiritual growth. “These have come,” Peter imparts, “so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7). The trying of your faith during hardship should develop the ability to persevere. Christ reveals that we are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Perseverance is meant to spur each believer on toward this goal (Matthew 5:48).

God has given His divine promises so that we have the strength to stand against sin, to be part of His very nature, and to grow spiritually. To escape sin’s grasp, and to be more like Him, spiritual growth is not an option. Peter explains that we must add to faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. We can’t add these alone (II Peter 1:3-7). Only the Lord supplies the strength for this accomplishment, but we make the decision to step out in faith.

Paul writes in Ephesians, “Be strong in the Lord (be empowered through your union with Him); draw your strength from Him (that strength which His boundless might provides)” (Ephesians 6:10, Amplified Bible) Do I want to be a productive and available tool in God’s hands? Then I must grow in perseverance through times of suffering, and be available for His purposes. My faith in Jesus Christ should be my most valued possession! When Jesus calls me home to test the value of its worth, what will He discover? Shall I have remained a child or endured and matured?

My attitudes, thoughts, and desires should be those of a mature adult, and should be first to arise in difficult circumstance. Most of all, they should spur me on toward the perfection found only in Christ. What I have within must be tested to see if it has any worth. Untried, it has no value, but tried, it is refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit. My friend, Peggy, faced the road ahead of her with a strength of character that she had learned in her walk with the Lord. How you we face ours? “Consider it pure joy,” James writes. We should joyfully learn perseverance from suffering. God wishes us to understand that it is a joy of the purest kind.

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