How to be Perfect!

Thoughts from James 1:4

But let patience have its work finished

Patience doesn’t come all at once.  I’m reminded of a comic strip I saw once that shows a man with his teeth gritted, his forehead crinkled, and his eyes tightly shut as he says the words, “Lord, give me patience, and I need it right now!”  Patience is like a human—it starts off small, and it takes care and nurturing to make it grow. 

The gist of what James is saying here is that we are to continue to endure temptation so that our patience can grow to the level of Job—and then to the level of Christ!  This is a true test of your faith in God.  Can you rely on Him so completely through your trials that nothing worries you anymore?  That is perfect patience—complete patience.

The word perfect means mature, complete, or finished.  We’re supposed to let our patience get to a complete state.  And we do this…

So that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

We need to let our patience grow so that we can grow.  The person who has patiently endured through trials and temptations has grown to a state of maturity.  Simply put, when our patience becomes complete, we become complete.  When our patience has reached a state of perfection, so have we!  Christians often wonder what they can do to be more like Christ—here is the answer!

The word entire means a state of complete wholeness.  There is nothing missing.  In fact, James stresses this point by saying entire, lacking nothing.  When you have built up this amazing level of godly patience and endurance when surrounded by trials and temptations, you have reached a state of maturity and wholeness that few people ever enjoy. 

It is highly likely that you know someone who fits this description.  No matter what comes their way, they are calm and resilient, always showing complete trust in God.  They’ve got it all together.  I’d be willing to guess that they weren’t always that way.  It took going through some difficult times to teach them obedience and submission to God.  The Scriptures say the same thing about Jesus.

Even though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus Himself had to endure suffering so that He could be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.  And Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself.

It is not easy at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.  Where are you at in the process? 

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Going Through Life with Your Turn Signal On?

Almost everyone who has been driving very long has had this experience.  Someone on the road in front of you is driving along with their turn signal on.  For a few moments you prepare for him to slow down, because his turn must be coming up soon.  But it doesn’t take you long to realize that the man in front of you has no intention of turning.  He’s just left his turn signal on.

He’s sending out a message through his forgetfulness: I may be signalling one way, but that isn’t really where I’m going.

This is the way that more than a few Christians live their lives.

They signal that they are going to heaven, but after a short time, others can see the truth.

They signal that they are good, moral people, but those who look at them can see that’s not really the case.

They signal that they are living out Christ in their lives, but anyone who looks very long sees that their mind isn’t on Jesus.

I would wager to say that you see these turn-signal Christians frequently.  They are the ones who assemble with the saints, but who are not engaged in worshiping God.  They are the ones who text while in the pews.  They are the ones who pay little to no attention to the lessons.  Oh, but they are there!  They are signalling “I am a Christian” by showing up, but their actions don’t match up with it.

You may think I’m being unfair and harsh.  Please read on.

I fear that all of us become turn-signal Christians at one point or another–even if it is just for a short time.  By that, I mean that there are times when each one of us gets distracted from our goal, and we slack off in being what God wants us to be.  We stop living out Christ in our lives.  Just like the drivers who leave their turn-signals on, it is usually not intentional–but it happens nonetheless.

Keep that in mind when you see someone who needs to know that they are sending mixed signals.  They probably didn’t even realize it.

The Bible calls for us to constantly examine ourselves (II John 8 among others).  So, examine yourself.  Ask yourself honestly, “Am I a turn signal Christian?”

The great part is that if you find the answer is “yes,” then there is something you can do about it.  Go to God in prayer, admit your sin, and ask for forgiveness (Acts 18:22, I John 1:9).  And then live out your life in a way that matches your profession of Christianity.

Think about it.

Make it Personal Through Study.

For part one of this series, click here.

We would all love for our relationship with Jesus to be more personal.  By this, I mean that we really want to feel a closeness to Christ.  We want to truly feel the friendship of Jesus and know that we too are friends to Him.  But how do we do that?

First, make your relationship with Jesus personal through study.

From childhood, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (II Tim 3:15)

The scriptures can make us wise.  I’ve often heard wisdom described as the ability to apply knowledge to ourselves and others.  Obviously, if you want a personal relationship with Jesus, the first thing you have to do is have knowledge of Him.

How are we to even know who Christ is if we do not study the scriptures?  If you take away the Bible and any reference to the Bible, you are left with very little knowledge about Jesus Christ. Study of the Scriptures is the first step in having a truly personal relationship with Jesus.

But where did scripture come from?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Tim 3:16-17)

Now we see that all scripture came from God!  And in studying it, we me be complete, and fully ready and able to accomplish all the good that can be done!

Study  to show yourself approved to God, a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly dividing the word of truth. (II Tim 2:15).

All these verses show the benefit of studying God’s Word.  But how does that make it personal?  After all, many people study the Bible like they study for a history test.  They memorize the main names, places, and events and can rattle them off without much problem, but they still don’t understand the reasons for them.  Yes, they know Jesus was born and died on the cross, but do they know why?

When you study the Bible and look beyond just the people, places, and events you can start to see what you need to learn from it.  For example: Jesus died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for us.  Sin came into the world, and those who sinned deserved death.  God, in his grace, allowed animal sacrifices to be used in place of the sinners.  Then Jesus came to earth and allowed himself to be the ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so, ended all need for animal sacrifices, as well as paying the debt that we owed–that being our own lives because of our sin.  That’s pretty important.

What kind of person would go before the judge and say “Judge, I know this man has been sentenced to death for what he’s done, but I would like to take the death sentence in his place”?

Only a true, personal friend!

In reading and studying about Jesus and His death on the cross, we can see that He’s ready and willing to be a true personal friend to us.  In fact, Jesus declared His friendship to each one of us almost 2,000 years ago when He said, “No man has greater love than this: that he would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)

Are we ready to make the same commitment to him?

Make it Personal!

Have you ever heard religious people talk about making Jesus their personal Lord and Savior?  We all know that when you become a Christian, Jesus becomes our Savior and our Lord.  But why do they stress the word “personal”?  Is there something we’re missing here?  Let’s take a look at that today.

How can you tell if it’s personal?

Have you ever had someone say something that aggravated you?  Perhaps they insulted your favorite football team.  Perhaps they contradict you on politics.  Perhaps they spoke ill of your family.  Perhaps they even insulted you.  How did that make you feel?  Mad? Upset?  Why would that be?  It’s because those things are all personal to us.  Our family means a lot to us.  To some, college football is their life and to insult their team is to insult them.  If someone insults you, does it not hurt?  Is there something that gets you bent out of shape?  You know those things are personal.

Do you feel the same way when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain?  Or when someone speaks of the earth being here for billions of years (contrary to the Biblical record)?  Does it really bother you when people twist the Word of God around and lie about what it teaches?

If someone trashing you football team bothers you more than someone trashing the Bible, then something is wrong.   Your relationship with Christ is not personal.

Do you have a friend that you would always stand up for?  Perhaps someone you’ve known for a long time and would do anything for?  If someone called them stupid, or went so far as to even hit them, would you stand up for this friend?  Christ should be your best friend.  If you are not willing to stand up for Christ as He’s insulted, you do not have a personal relationship with Him.

You know the words of the song:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, No not one, No not one!
There’s not an hour that he is not near us, No not one, No not one!
Jesus knows all about our struggles, he will guide till the day is done!

That’s personal!  We need to make sure our relationship with Christ is personal.

But how?

That is what we will cover over the next few days.

Fear

The events of Monday morning echo through our minds.  If you’ve seen footage of the carnage in Boston, you likely won’t be able to forget them for some time.  Blood on the streets.  Chunks of brick and concrete strewn around.  People crying.  And fear.

Fear is powerful.

Fear can completely immobilize us.

Fear is something that everyone wants to avoid.

No one likes being afraid.  The feeling of utter helplessness that overcomes us when something like 9/11 takes place is something we never forget—and never want to relive.

It is especially in times like these that we need to remember that there is something greater than this life.  These events should encourage us even more to strive for that eternal city where there will be no terrorist attacks, no death, no sadness—and no fear.

Jesus promised His followers an abundant life (John 10:10).  But how does that fit in with what is going on in the world with shootings and bombings and…well, fear?

True followers of Jesus Christ understand that there are certain things which are simply beyond their control.  As such, worrying about them isn’t going to do any good, for it will not change the outcome. 

Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34).  A true, faithful child of God can have the peace that passes understanding, knowing that even though man may kill your body, he cannot harm your soul.  Look deep into your heart and ask yourself, “Am I living with complete faith in God?  Do I really have peace even in times of incredible uncertainty all around me?”  And when you find that the answer is “no,” take it to the Father in prayer.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7).

With God, you don’t have to fear.  Though uncertainty abounds around us, Christians “have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure,” and that is Jesus Christ.