Daily Devotionals

Pressure Point Week 1: Thursday

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

“Eyes on the prize!” If you are like me, you have heard this command many times. Perhaps you have also given the command a time or two as well. This saying, while occasionally overused, is profoundly true. You see, what we focus on drives us and motivates us. For example, if we run a race and focus on our pain and weariness from running, we will probably not finish our race. If we focus on the prize, our end goal, instead, we will run faster, stronger, and more effectively. This is true in all areas of life, especially our faith.

James encourages us to keep our eyes on the prize when we face difficult times and trials, just like when we run a race. He writes in James 1, "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation" (verse 12). I do not know about you, but I am not particularly fond of testing or temptation. Yet, when we endure testing and temptations, God blesses us. The question we have to ask ourselves is, how does God bless us when we endure these tests and temptations? James answers this question by continuing his teaching in verse 12, "Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." God rewards us when we walk through testing and trials and endure. This is where our focus ought to lie: On Christ and the rewards waiting for us when we endure. The author of Hebrews put it this way in chapter 12, “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith" (verses 1-2). In the middle of the trials we face, this passage of Scripture reminds us to focus on Jesus, who is, indeed, the prize and the treasure.

Where are your eyes focusing on right now? Are they focused on your difficulties, your busy schedule, or the people in your life who you are trying to please, or are they focused on Jesus and the reward promised for those who love Him and endure trials? Maybe today, it is time to shift your gaze and focus on Jesus, who rules and reigns above everything.

Moving toward action

Write down James 1:12 on a notecard. Place the notecard where you will see it often. Let this verse continually remind you to keep your eyes on the prize, Christ Jesus and the crown of life. Let the words of this verse drive you to run your race well.

Going Deeper

Hebrews 12:1-13

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

"My child, don't make light of the Lord's discipline,
and don't give up when he corrects you.
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child."

7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong."