God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

Earlier in the week we saw the Christian life likened to a “race’ that God sets before us. God’s race is all about the advancement of his kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life. Our redemption in Christ is all about moving away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. No longer are we to run in the “rat race” of life but we are to run in the “race set before us” by God. It is a challenge to run well in “God’s race” when all around us people are caught up in the “rat race” of life. Truly we need endurance if we are going to have fulfilled in our lives that which God has called us to.

To help us have endurance for running the race that God has set before us, we looked at Jesus for our model. Jesus needed endurance when he was here on earth accomplishing our redemption. Here is what the Scripture we looked at said, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” This leads rather nicely into today’s passage. The key word is “afterward.” Jesus kept focused on what awaited him afterward and we must do the same. It is a constant challenge to go in one direction when the world is going in another. This path is filled with testing and temptation.

There is so much that militates against our living fully for God and the advancement of his kingdom. We feel the constant pull to live for ourselves and the advancement of earthly life. Knowing that God blesses those who patiently endure is huge. This means that his favor rests on those who endure; it means that he is pleased with those who stick with living fully for him and the advancement of his kingdom. These are the ones who afterward will receive the crown of life God has promised. Salvation is a free gift that is equally distributed to all who have believed. But, rewards for the life we live subsequent to placing our faith in Christ are not equally distributed. It all comes down to running “God’s race” with endurance.

The “crown of life” is merely an acknowledgement that we “endured” and ran well. But remember that the Christian life is a life of dependence on Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We are told in Scripture that in heaven when all is said and done we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. “Looking to Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed on him” is the key to endurance. Dependence on him is how we run the race well. Knowing that rewards await that we can give back to Jesus for his glory and honor because of all that he will have enabled us to do, keeps us going steady and strong now. One last thing: living fully for God always begins and ends with loving him fully. So much awaits us as ones who love God fully and live for him fully for the long haul.    

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

(We are going to let “Lord’s Prayer” from Mathew 6:9-13 serve as our prayer response today)“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” Amen!