Stitch

Last week we spoke about the fact that we need to prepare for whatever race we are in if we want to win. The race of life is no different and the race for God’s heart isn’t either. Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”  So I asked you to start training with me by reading the Book of James.

If you read that book then you may have found a passage in there that almost seems to be a continuation of what Paul said.

James 1:12-18

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

 16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

How many of you actually took the hour “tops” that it takes to red James this week. You persevered.

12 “Blessed are those who preserver under trial”

OK, maybe you think that isn’t so much of a task to preserver through, but I can tell you that for some of us finding an extra hour this week was not so easy.

Some of you got up at 2am and got on a doughnut truck to drive till afternoon when we would be expected to be available for our family or Church.

Some of you got up and dealt with children screaming, laughing, pulling at each other…. All day long. Only to be expected to be shiny happy house wives for our husband when he arrived.

Some of us are working two jobs or are working two jobs and going to school.

Some had health trouble this week. You dealt with medications that challenged you to even stay awake, eye sight that made simply reading a challenge, or pain that stole any morsel of concentration you might have.

Some are healing a broken heart and could care less about any book.

Yes, for some of us a single hour of reading seems like a far off pipe dream or worse… just another trial in the constant struggle that is our life.

12 “Blessed are those who preserver under trial”

It is so much easier to list the reasons why we cannot train for the race and sometimes we have good reasons. But here is the tough reality of it all… the race continues whether we run it or not.

The other competitors continue on with us or without us.  The end of the race is coming one way or the other.

As we run this race James tells us that we will be shown many alternative ways to run it.

James 1:14-15 “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

For those who have run a race who is your toughest competitor?

YOU

“My shins are killing me. I bet I have shin splints. I should probably stop before I hurt myself.”

“Wow, that stich in my side is probably a sign that my appendix is going to burst. Can’t keep running with that.”

How about these excuses for the race that is our faith?

“I have tried so many times to read the Bible and then I just can’t get past the begets. I mean, Chronicles is like the Great Wall of China. It keeps going and going and going.”

“I can’t call them and tell them I’m praying for them. It’s feels creepy. They’re not very friendly and they don’t believe anyway.”

“Everybody fudges on their taxes. It’s expected. It’s like the speed limit. The Government makes it so impossible to comply that I have to cheat.”

What James is telling us is the same in a physical race and in our spiritual race. We always seem to find a reason why we can’t make the next mile. More often than not that reason is someone else.

Looking back at humans from the beginning this has been our pattern. When God addressed Adams about eating from the tree his response was “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12)  So when God turns to Eve she point at the serpent. (Genesis 3:13)

The serpent… He just smiles and rolls away.

The Devil made me do it… No, James won’t let you play that card.

When I first returned to Church one of the first things I cornered my Pastor about was this simple fact. Man doesn’t seem to need the Devil to come up with ornery things to do. James puts it this way.

James 1:14 “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire”

We are so consumed with ourselves that we twist things and turn them to be what we need them to be.

“My shins are killing me. I bet I have shin splints. I should probably stop before I hurt myself.”

“Wow, that cramp in my side is probably a sign that my appendix is going to burst. Can’t keep running with that.”

“I have tried so many times to read the Bible and then I just can’t get past the begets. I mean, Chronicles is like the Great Wall of China. It keeps going and going and going.”

“I can’t call them and tell them I’m praying for them. It’s feels creepy. They’re not very friendly and they don’t believe anyway.”

The ultimate end to this is to finally blame the one in charge because it cannot be us.

“Everybody fudges on their taxes. It’s expected. It’s like the speed limit. The Government makes it so complex that I have to cheat.”

“God meant for Adam and Eve to sin. He put that tree there so they would. It really wasn’t their fault at all.”

James’ reaction, “Impossible!”

James 1:13-14 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”

From a human perspective this may be hard to grasp, but you must understand this. There are things God cannot do. Even as the most powerful being of all. One of those things is to be or cause evil.

John tells us, “all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

No, God is the answer not the problem.

If we will take the time. If we will preserver then we will see it. But like that man who got a stitch in his side and stopped running; if we will never push on then we will never receive our reward. We will get that same stitch in our side every time we run. We must push past it and God is not stopping us.

God is not competing with us in the race. He has no reason to cheat us or to set us up to fail. To quote to the cheesy old method actor, “What my characters motivation?”  What does God gain by our failure?

He loses a child born in His image.

He lost His son in vain for that child.

He loses what he longs for most…Relationship

No, God isn’t competing in the race. He is standing at the finish line waiting on you with a medal.

He has already won. He wants to share the joy of wining with you. But He will not cheat for you either. You must run your own race.

“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)

What happens for that man with the stitch in his side if he will just run a little bit further? Come on… You remember this from gym class. About one more lap around the track that stitch will disappear. It just goes away.

You can only convince others of this fact if you have passed through it. If you can preserver then the cramp doesn’t come back. It was your trial and God let you go through it. But if you will perserver your reward will be an eternity without that cramp.

We must keep running the race.

James 1:16-18 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

He is rooting for you… Will you run through it?

If you will take the time to come to Him, read that bit of scripture, pray, stop and listen for Him, Call out to Him, then he will meet you at the end of the race and comfort you. If you will look for Him where you are now He will be there and you will find what you are looking for in Him.

 

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About toddcbrown

The body of Christ will never grow if the Pastor is the one using his gifts to MAKE IT grow through some cool program or inspiring turn of a phrase.
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