A Heavenly Prize

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 
As I think about this scripture from the book of James, I can't help but think of actual people I know who persevere in their faith. Names keep coming to mind of folks battling illness or working hard on their relationships. I recall someone searching for their purpose and another one seeking to find a job. These ones I’m thinking of endure challenges without losing hope and face trials while trusting God. Their faith provides motivation and education. In the throes of their difficulties, they welcome God’s presence to guide them and strengthen them.  
Perseverance is an ability to press forward despite difficulty. It’s when someone walks right into the fire or the rain with courage and presses on through. Maybe you watched some of the Olympics this year as they unfolded in Tokyo, Japan. I’m always impressed by the stories of competitors who endured years of preparation. They all had a goal in mind: to get to the podium. Whether they secured a gold medal or not, each individual story is an illustration of perseverance. As followers of Jesus, we are aiming for a heavenly prize. It’s worth the tough workout, and the life-giving love of Jesus leads the way. Are you feeling weak in your resolve to be a faithful follower? Sign up for a Bible Study. Jump into a ministry area and serve. Pray for others and for yourself. Begin a daily workout of devotion. May you discover the strength you need to persevere in faith and remember to run to Jesus. He helps us face our trials and inspires us to run this race together. Serving and loving in his name gives us a heavenly prize. 

Memory Building

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NRSV) 

A friend of mine got me hooked on some memory building games on my phone. There is a “Word Search” app, a “Word Scramble” app and a “Word Stack” app that I try to run through each morning. The goal is to sharpen my memory and challenge my brain at the start of each new day. So far, I’m not exactly sure the memory sharpening is happening, but I’m not giving up hope! I think about the apps and how someone should create one to sharpen our spiritual memory with scripture. I’m not exactly sure how it would work, but I imagine it would help us build our memory and embed scripture into our heads and hearts.  

Our scripture focus today is from Paul and Timothy’s letter to the Colossians. In it, we are reminded to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” When we let God’s word dwell within us, we are more prepared to call on scripture for encouragement, advice, comfort, and God’s wisdom. In addition, letting God’s word dwell within us informs our words and actions with others because it reveals our heart. I have many scriptures that I have memorized that I call upon daily: Philippians 4:6-7, Philippians 4:13, and Proverbs 3:5-6 are just a few.  

These scripture verses guide me when I encounter a moment in my day when I need strength, peace, and patience.  

In the coming days and weeks, challenge yourself to seek the scriptures and memorize one or two so that you can have the peace that passes your understanding and deepen your understanding of God’s presence in your life.  

Posted by Betsy Butler

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