James 1:2-4 TPT: 2 My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! 3 For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. 4 And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.
Gen 39:19,20 ERV: 19 Joseph’s master listened to what his wife said, and he became very angry. 20 So Potiphar put Joseph into the prison where the king’s enemies were held, and that is where Joseph remained.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. What it means to be a mature Christian.
In our passage (James 1:2-4), the Apostle James does a great job of painting the picture of what maturity in Christ looks like.
a) A mature believer lives by faith. This is a person who opens their heart to God’s plans for his/her life. This person is then willing to exercise his/her faith — by doing, saying, or financially sowing — whatever is required of them to bring to pass what God revealed. This person also knows that their faith will be tested, which leads me to the next point. Also, I will also add, a mature believer, lives to sanctify their lives and walk in holiness. Mature believers, also try to do everything we can to bring glory to God and not ourselves! We realize, it’s all about God and HIs will and not our own. To bring Him glory and His will be done on the earth. Mature believers know this!
b) A mature believer knows he/she must develop patient endurance. This person understands that to truly believe God, and to live by faith in earnest, your faith must be tested. As your faith is tested, over and over again, and you pass the tests by living with a dogged determination to see what God said, never allowing yourself to be moved or dissuaded in any way, it is then and only then that patient endurance is developed in your life. When you get to this point (the point where faith and patience are in operation), you are mature. The King James Version called this state “perfect”. The Easy to Read Version says there will be “nothing missing and nothing lacking” in your life, because you have grown up. You know how to believe God and to keep on believing, no matter how long it takes and no matter how much opposition you face. This is why faith and patience are so important.
c) I will also add mature believers know it’s all about God! We bring glory to Him and not us. We live Holy Lives! We try to bring glory to God in everything we do, at all times, not just 2 hours on Sunday. Holiness is a lifestyle for us, not a one-time event. We read the Bible not just to read it or memorize it, but to live it! The Bible is not just a textbook to read but is our lifeline to live! Maturity elevates God and HIS will and not ours! Not my will but your will God be done is our battle cry! Saints, please remember that.
2. It takes maturity to make the most of your present-day circumstances, when you know you are called to GREATER. (I will add as greater is defined by God and not us)!
God calls us to do great things, again, many definitions for that, like we talked about last week. His purpose for our lives tied to a lifelong journey. Many of us don’t have the patience, or the maturity, to look at the BIG PICTURE. Life is lived out in levels and stages, and times and seasons. The fact that you are CALLED to do something may not mean that you are supposed to be doing it RIGHT NOW. This is why, while you are pursuing your purpose, you must learn to be content. This is not always easy. Personally, I have seen this many times with preachers. They know they are called and then they want to preach or pastor next week! It doesn’t work that way. There is a preparation and learning phase first!
The definition of the word content in Noah’s Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 is: “Rest or quietness of the mind in the present condition; satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restraining complaint, opposition, or further desire, and often implying a moderate degree of happiness.” As children of God, we must learn to be content.
While Joseph was living in Potiphar’s house he knew his state is not his fate. He knew he was called for greater, (or we can deduce that since the text never tells us he gave up on the dream God gave him). But he did not allow his awareness of FUTURE GREATNESS to rob him of his present-day joy, focus, or dedication to excellence. It’s a good thing to know that you are CALLED to be and to do more than where you are right now. But if you don’t learn to be content, as you walk with God, your life will be stripped of the joy of your today while you wait on your tomorrow. Bottom line: God wants you to make it to His overall expected end for your life, but he also wants you to ENJOY THE RIDE along the way!
So, when you look in the mirror, and you know in your heart that you are called to GREATER, (whatever God says that is) maintain your Godly expectation for tomorrow. But do so while you also maintain the level of focus required to make the most of today. If you don’t make the most of your today, you run the risk of losing out on your tomorrow.
As we close out this point, we will bring in our current circumstances. Most of the world is under pressure from COVID still. It’s almost like the world stopped for weeks and months. Many of us are not experiencing what we wanted, and certainly not what we planned right now. Personally, I lost my mother back in September due to COVID complications, so I know the struggle right now. So, this is a time when it is very easy to daydream about your tomorrow. You can, and should, spend time thinking and praying about your future. But don’t forget to make the most of TODAY! Even in the middle of a global pandemic, we serve a God who can cause you to thrive while you ride out the storm. Stay focused. Make the most of today. God has plans for tomorrow, but those plans will not manifest today! Again, today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present!
3. It takes maturity to embrace the reality of present-day pain and disappointment, without losing HOPE for the FUTURE God revealed to you!
Last week we introduced you to the concept of spiritual amnesia.
When you have amnesia you cannot remember that past. As the amnesia wears off your recollection of the past starts to come back. Spiritual amnesia is different. I am not talking about remembering the past unless it helps us focus on the goodness of God. I am talking about remembering what God said to you about your future or talking about the goodness of God. Pain sometimes tries to make us forget that!
You were born with a predestined purpose. But you were born ignorant of your divine assignment. Once you are Born again, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal TO You the things that were prepared FOR you, but concealed FROM you! It’s like God gives you glimpses of your future. This is what He did with Joseph when He gave him the dream.
God shows you glimpses of the future He planned for you and the goal is for you to then spend the rest of your life becoming what He revealed. But when things happen in life that do not line up with what God revealed, it is easy to get spiritual amnesia.
*** Natural amnesia is about forgetting your past. Spiritual amnesia is about forgetting your future or forgetting the goodness of God, both who He is, or what He has done and is doing in your life.
Sometimes a painful situation can cause us to forget what God said, to forget what God planned or forget His goodness. When Potiphar’s wife lied on Joseph, falsely accusing him of sexual assault, and causing him to wind up in prison, no one would have blamed Joseph if he stopped believing. No one would have blamed Joseph if he gave up on the dream. No one would have blamed Joseph if he developed spiritual amnesia because of the pain.
But we will learn in this series that he did not. Remarkably, through it all, Joseph kept believing, as far as we know. He had faith and patience. This is a true sign of Christian maturity. May we all strive to get there! May the pain in our present not make us forget about God’s goodness! Not that what we may be going through right now is good, because it may not, but God is still good in spite of that!
Closing Prayer: Father, I live by faith and I develop Godly patience along the way. I balance the hope I have for my future with the focus You require of me for my present. I make the most of my today, while I know GREATER is waiting on me in my tomorrow. And I know my faith will be tested. When it is, I refuse to allow the PAIN I FEEL to cause me to forget about the PROMISE you REVEALED. No matter how painful life gets, I will never give up on what You said. Every promise You have ever given me shall come to pass in my life before I die! I pray this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.