James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
“Trial” refers to any difficulty in life that may threaten our faithfulness to Christ: physical illness, financial reversal, the death of a loved one.… James, then, uses the crown to refer to the idea of reward, [and] the word life following crown will indicate what the reward is. Revelation 2:10.. is similar, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[Moo, D. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James. p. 70]
After going through most of our Loving Jesus Series, I am not sure what sounds more beautiful – the “crown of life” that those who endure will receive, or the description that God gives them as “those who love him.” Of course, they are both amazing works of God’s grace.
Let’s take to heart this truth of this passage. Let’s pray for ourselves, whether we are in a time of “trial” or not, that we will be those who persevere in loving Jesus. Let’s pray for one another in our families, campuses, missional groups, and churches, that we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
John 21:17-19 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus’ threefold repetition of his question may reflect the Near Eastern custom of reiterating a matter three times before witnesses in order to convey a solemn obligation… Peter is not relieved but rather saddened that Jesus has asked him the same question a third time. Peter’s response, “Lord, you know all things,” rather than pointing to actions of his own that prove his loyalty, defers to Jesus’ knowledge of him… Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than in Jesus’ enablement. [Kostenberger, A. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. p. 597-598]
In our “yes” to Jesus, let’s rely upon Him. We trust in Him Who, knowing all things including our greatest need, went to the cross in love. We take the commission to feed His sheep by, and only by, following Him.
Let’s pray for our churches today, that Jesus’ sheep will be well cared for. Let’s gladly say “yes” to following Jesus today. We can also worship in song – May the Words of my Mouth (Tim Hughes) (click here)
Romans 12:1-2a Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
What is precious to us? It seems that it would be noble if the answer to that were at least another human being. Yet it so often seems, when I get down to the core of things, that it is often: me. I am precious to me. When I apply Abraham’s test to my life, I do hand my children, my husband, other people and things over to the Lord in prayer. But then I so often end up at this place – where God asks for me, all of me.
Here Paul uses a vivid, indeed shocking, idea: One’s whole self (that’s what Paul means by ‘body’) must be laid on the altar like a sacrifice in the Temple… Christian living… begins with the glad self-offering of one’s whole self to God whose mercy has come all the way to meet us in our rebellion, sin, and death.[Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone: Romans Part Two. p. 70]
Let us respond to this passage with “glad self-offering” of our whole selves unto the Lord. While doing so, we can worship God in song with Build My Life (Housefires) (click here).
Hebrews 11:17 17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
[Abraham] is the only exemplar mentioned in [Hebrews] 11 who is said to have been tested by God… The trial before him was the command to take Isaac [and] ‘sacrifice him…’ It was on this son’s survival that the fulfillment of God’s promises depended… Did God’s command, then, to sacrifice Isaac flatly contradict his own promise?
Surprisingly, neither the Genesis narrative nor the account in Hebrews dwells on the inner turmoil within Abraham’s heart. In fact, the impression one gets is that Abraham regarded it as God’s problem… When the command was given, Abraham obeyed: By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.[O’Brien, P. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews. p. 423-424]
I like this description of faith – “…Abraham regarded it as God’s problem.” Abraham’s part was reverence and obedience. What would happen, how God would reconcile two impossible seeming things, was God’s.
Today, let’s offer our lives and what is precious to us to the Lord, in reverent obedience. Let’s do so trusting Him, knowing that the One who raised Jesus to life is able to do with our offerings what will bring Him glory.
1 Peter 1:6-8 … for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…
Quite a bit of this letter is concerned with the suffering of the early Christians. Here Peter states the theme which he will develop: that this suffering is the means by which the quality of the Christians’ faith can shine out all the more, and when Jesus is finally revealed this will result in an explosion of praise. Meanwhile, they are to live their lives… with love for Jesus in their hearts and ‘a glorified joy (v. 8) welling up within them. [Wright, N.T. The Early Christian Letters for Everyone. p. 51]
If we are in a current time of trial, let’s take these words of 1 Peter to heart. I also invite us all to pray that we, together with God’s church around the world, will live our lives with love for Jesus in our hearts and joy welling up within us.
Let’s worship to One Thing Remains (Bethel Live) (click here), proclaiming His love that will keep us for the day when Jesus is revealed.