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Sermon: "Perseverance, Joy, and Prayer"--Romans 12:12
The Apostle Paul
Perseverance With Joy
Dedicated Christians Must Persevere With Joy (v. 12).
Despite difficulties, they exude joy because of the “blessed hope” (v. 12a).
The Apostle Paul wrote these exhortations to persecuted brethren in Rome. Faithful service often brings trouble, but the hope of rest and reward that God promises motivates believers to serve Christ with joy.
1 John 3:2-3 read: “Beloved, now we are the children of God. And it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
They persevere during trying times (v. 12b).
James 1:2-4—“My brethren, count (consider) it all joy when you encounter various kinds of trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (endurance). And let perseverance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James says in verse 4 that we should let this perseverance have its perfect work that we may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. We should not fight against what God in His wisdom brings into our lives. Instead, we should approach the trial with a joyful attitude, trusting Him to give us the wisdom to handle it properly, so that we can grow up into Him in all respects.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such a mature faith that we can say, “Jesus is in control of all things; I need and want for nothing,” . . . and know it deep in our soul.
The writer to the Hebrews exhorted his brethren not “to cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (10:35-36).
They pray without ceasing during times of trouble (v. 12c).
I own a little classic by Miles Stanford called The Principle of Position. In a section dealing with fellowship, Stanford makes a very perceptive statement, and a vital one to take to heart. He writes, "When service is given predominance over fellowship with and growth in the Lord Jesus, doing instead of being takes over in the life" (30; emphasis his).
Prayer is part of that fellowship (koinonia) with the Lord Jesus that Stanford discusses. He is right in what he has proposed: we should invest much time talking with God about every detail of our lives, because we are united with Christ. Since we have so much in common with Him, we should not have much difficulty or reluctance pursuing God in this matter of prayer. But, let's face it: most of us do struggle in this area. Most of us would rather read and work and serve than pray. We frankly do not fully appreciate God’s design that to acquire divine power for service, we must first labor before His throne.
"So," you might ask, "How will knowledge of Christ’s coming improve my personal prayer life?" Permit me to engage in a little exhortation.
Your prayer life will only progress in fruitfulness and meaningfulness as you focus on Christ: the very Person the imminent return encourages you to pursue. Now as you concentrate on who Christ is—daily reviewing and meditating upon some of His attributes in prayer—the Holy Spirit may illumine your mind regarding how you ought to walk.
If He does, then you must determine if you will think seriously about what He points out. Perhaps at this crossroads you will have to start talking to the Lord about how you can change your behavior, so that it will become more conformed to His standards.
Focus unceasingly on Him as the One who will judge your works.
Keep in mind, however, that He is also your loving and gracious Savior.
What other step might you take to help you continue steadfastly in prayer?
Develop a Partnership
Having a prayer partner (or two) who shares your desire to grow spiritually would definitely help you discipline your prayer life in obvious ways.
Encouragement is not the least of the benefits. When you get together for the first time, you can agree together on regular places and times, and then begin to assemble a prayer list, dividing it into categories among you.
As you come together, you should determine to spend an unhurried time of praise, thanksgiving, and confession before you begin serious intercession and petition about specific requests and needs.
Remember: prayer is not something to rush through just so you can get to work! It is intense work in itself. Anyone who has attempted to pray for any length of time knows this reality. Those who minimize the mental and spiritual strain pressed into these hours do not understand prayer. You should also realize that you will be facing spiritual battles as you continue. So, determine together to persevere, no matter what happens.
So then, seek to follow these directives:
(1) Focus your heart on Christ as the One who will judge your works (for reward, not for salvation).
(2) Spend serious time in praise, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession.
(3) Start building a prayer list with a partner, and divide the requests among the days of the week.
(4) Leave space for answers to these specific prayers.
(5) Share these answers with your church family.
We must always bear in mind that, as members of the body of Christ, we are both privileged and responsible to carry out (through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit) what only we can do.
Let’s conclude this morning’s message with a word from John MacArthur:
A Christian who loves without hypocrisy, hates evil, and sticks to what is good will be tenderly affectionate to other believers and humbly seek to honor others rather than be honored himself. That Christian’s service to Jesus Christ will be wholeheartedly zealous. As a result, trials and tribulations will appear in his life, but he will overcome them by a strong hope of future glory and reward. That hope will allow the Christian to endure everything he encounters as he constantly commits himself and all he does to the care of the Lord. That’s the way to live the Christian life. It’s all summed up in Romans 12:9-12.