November 18, 2021
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
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.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Finally, today, we come to v.4. And it is the pay-off verse. (as though they aren’t all pay-off, right?)
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
It is so clear isn’t it? Perseverance is not something we are doing. It I something that is being done within us. Perseverance is what Jesus through his Spirit is doing. To persevere is to participate with the Holy Spirit’s work to image us in the image of Jesus. The operative word is let. Oh how we need this kind of holy imagination in the face of a test or trial. Let perseverance finish its work . . .
Can you “let perseverance finish its work?” In the deepest pit of despair can you muster the faith to mouth the words, “Jesus, I belong to you”? This trial is happening to you, but the work of Jesus is happening in you. Don’t fight the trial. Lean into Jesus. This trial can break you down. It can break you up. These are the conditions for Jesus to break in and to break through. And look what happens when perseverance finishes its work:
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The Bible word is telios. It actually means perfect. It’s not perfect as in flawless and without error but perfect as in flourishing and fullness, and fullness as in the fullness of God. A trial, in the hands of Jesus, becomes the process of becoming empty of all that needed emptying out so that a new and mature and complete fullness could come in its wake.
I sense I am talking to quite a number of people directly today. I sense I am talking to someone in particular who is contemplating ending your life today. We forbid it in Jesus name and break the curse of death over you and call forth the Resurrection Life and Power of Jesus to begin to fill you like a well. (You email me today and we will talk and pray together over the phone firstname.lastname@example.org.)
To the man or woman reading this (when it becomes a book), sitting in a prison cell, thinking all is lost—be assured, perseverance is finishing its work in you. Jesus didn’t want this awful suffering for your life, but he is making you whole and mature and full—yes, perfect—through the suffering. Let perseverance finish its work.
Be encouraged today. From this trial, though it be a testing of your faith, will come deep humility, profound authority, and breathtaking love. It is already happening.
Father, we especially pray for the one who is thinking of taking their own life today. And we pray for the eyes to see and he ears to hear and the heart to turn to who that may be in our own context—especially the young among us—and love them extravagantly. Lord Jesus, we want to let perseverance finish its work in us. the Bible tells us you were made perfect through what you suffered and you were already perfect so we know you did that for us to show us what it looks like. You are THE ONE who perseveres for the joy set before you and we bless you to persevere in and through us today. Come Holy Spirit and make us mature, complete, and perfect—filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. IN Jesus name, Amen.
How is perseverance finishing its work in you right about now? How is that going? What does it feel like? How are you understanding and interpreting it?
P.S. AS GOES THE PASTOR SO GOES THE CHURCH. AS GOES THE CHURCH SO GOES THE WORLD.
Friends, this is a Macedonian call. We are saying yes. And I want you to be part of the We. Seedbed is a lay movement. After all, the Church doesn’t have lay people. The Church IS lay people. Our pastors and leaders play a crucial role. This is a moment to invest big love into them. Let’s do this.*
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*We are hearing from Jesus a long game calling to encourage, build-up, and deeply invest in the Shepherds of the Kingdom—our local church pastors. The global pandemic has challenged us all, but it has uniquely challenged our shepherds. In 2022 we will begin a multi-year campaign to renew the heart and restore the awakening calling of these leaders.
For the Awakening,