The Bible provides us many examples to encourage us to seek the Christian virtue of Perseverance. James 1:2-3 states; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” I don’t know about you, but as long as I am not the one going the trial, I can see the “pure joy.” That joy becomes a little fuzzier when it is me going through the trial. When all is said and done, it does become more obvious that whatever I was facing continues to develop my perseverance.
In researching information on perseverance, I ran across a sermon by the great theologian Charles Spurgeon. He related perseverance to a race. The only way you can determine a winner is by looking at who crosses the finish line first. Looking at the starting line, everyone looks capable of winning. But only one gets the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24; “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
That got me to pondering, who are we in a race with? Fortunate for me, the answer was in the Max Lucado devotional on February 23 (the day I am writing this). From Ephesians 6:12; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Wow! I sure hope I am in shape for this race, it is not one I want to lose. “This dark world and against spiritual forces of evil,” I know who Paul is talking about here. You do too, it is the devil.
If we are in a race with you know who, I am sure he is going to lie, cheat, (he specializes in lying and cheating), and do everything possible to win “as he knows his time is short.” Revelation 12:12. Good news we have Jesus on our side. Remember Jesus has already defeated the devil. I can see all of you crossing the finish line ahead of you know who, but it is worth noting the techniques he used in tempting Jesus. Knowing how Jesus defeated him, will give us a tool to use in our race of perseverance.
In Matthew 4:1-4;” Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that come from the mouth of God.”
Thanks again to Max Lucado on February 16th from his devotional. “We know Satan will attack weak spots first. Forty days of fasting left Jesus famished, so Satan began with the topic of bread. Jesus’ stomach was empty, so to the stomach Satan turned.”
Max continues; “Where are you empty? Are you hungry for attention, craving success, longing for intimacy? Be aware of your weaknesses. Bring them to God before Satan brings them to you.”
Hebrews 12:1b-2a is a great way to end this message; “…Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Amen – God bless you!
Don I, Session – Administration / Finance