PERSEVERANCE WORKS EXPERIENCE
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:1-4, KJV). " . . . and perseverance, proven character . . . " (NASB). " . . . perseverance, character . . . " (NIV). "And steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope" (ASV).
Devotion 7 of 24
POSSESS YOUR SOULS!
"In your patience possess ye your souls," KJV. "By your endurance you will gain your souls," NRSV. (Luke 21:19)
Your soul is the expressive part of your person. Rationality, emotion, and will are housed, so to speak, within the soul. The word "soul" is not easily defined from an etymological view. Academic definitions include "inner life, physical life, life principle, breath, and life on earth." Some versions of the Scripture often translate the word "soul" as "life." "For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" (Matt 16:26, NRSV). I am going to use the word "soul" as primarily the expressive part of our nature.
This part of our being is not yet saved, or regenerated. It is capable of the grossest thoughts as well as the highest ones. It must often be exhorted because of its vacillating nature. As it is written, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance" (Psa 42:5,11; 43:5). It is a stewardship from God, and is to be maintained through faith.
Your work is to possess your soul--to bring it under the administration of "new man," or "new creation" (Eph 4:24; 2 Cor 5:17). Your ultimate possession of all things will take place in the world to come, where we will inherit all things (Rev 21:7). Until that time, your faith must rely upon the working of God Himself for this good work. As it is written, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:23, NKJV).
Jesus alludes to this in His counsel to those who would suffer the opposition of the wicked. "In your patience ye shall win your souls" (Luke 21:19). This is the opposite of losing your soul (Matt 16:26). Perseverance is underwritten by God, and is the appointed means of saving your soul, or life (Matt 16:25).
Your "patience," or "perseverance" will have a calculated effect upon you. It will contribute to your spiritual maturity. As it is written, "And let patience have (its) perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4). Any form of spiritual advancement requires your consent, your faith, and your effort. You must extend yourself for Christ when called upon to do so. Our theology must not lead us to believe grace excludes human effort, or that Divine power does not require our involvement.
Jesus commanded a lame man to pick up his bed and walk (John 5:8). He told a man with withered hand to stretch it forth (Luke 6:10). A woman with a bowed back was commanded to stand up (Luke 13:11-13). A dead man was commanded to come out of a tomb (John 11:43). Peter was bidden to walk on water (Matt 14:29). Israel was commanded to walk across a sea (Ex 14:15). The Lord has always asked people to do things that were impossible from the human point of view! No person should be surprised that we are told to "stand fast" "keep the faith," "run the race," and "be faithful unto death" (1 Cor 16:13; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:2; Rev 2:10).
The mandate of Jesus to you is this: "In your endurance, possess your soul!" Do not allow your soul to wander about without the supervision of your faith. The required possession will take place as you persevere in the faith. As you keep the faith, the faith will keep you. As you keep the rejoicing of the hope steadfast to the end, it will directly impact upon all of your emotion, intellect, and will. Your thoughts, words, and deeds will yield glory to God, and contribute to your personal stability and joy in the faith.
PRAYER POINT: Father, through Jesus Christ, I thank You for the stewardship of my soul. Give me grace to possess it for your glory, and my ultimate blessing.
-- Tomorrow: TIME IS THE GREAT TESTER --