Tag Archive | James 1:2-4

Moving forward though trials persist

   

IMG_4555

Trials and Temptations

     2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    Once we grasp the truth that God has a plan for our lives, (and that hopefully happens early on) we begin to move forward in that plan. As we exercise our faith muscles, our faith increases in strength. The more mature our faith grows, the wiser we become.  The expectation is that we would move forward consistently as our faith develops. 

     Our new nature, given to us at our spiritual birth, desires to please God. Yet, we will always struggle with our old nature always wanting its way.  Trials come and trials go, but with every one our character is improved upon. 

     But what about those trials that refuse to ‘go away’? They perhaps contain the strongest of life lessons.  You know, those every day trials that prevent us from living life victoriously. 

     Trials of this nature usually involve learning how to get along with others.  Nothing we say or do brings improvement in them or the relationship. Instead of growing wiser and resolving the situation, despair sets in. Satan manipulates and deceives our flesh, our old nature. Lying to us about what is wrong and setting our focus on ourselves. 

     We are primed to become distracted by human reasoning and false assumptions. Without realizing it, we have become influenced by Satan to do his will.   We get mired down in these kinds of trials with every lie cast upon us by the enemy. We take on the attitude that nothing is going to change and spiritual growth and/or pleasing God fades into the mist. Blindness rules on both sides of the equation.

     Perhaps accepting things the way they are in these situations may be the best way to move forward through them. By moving on we leave it up to God to make changes in His timing and will. Forgiving and accepting permits us to throw off the shackles of judgement and condemnation. The liberty to breathe free is ours to claim by the power of God’s word. This sort of example, is a lifeline for those  searching for comfort in their own stubborn trials .

     So, when trials persist without bringing the desired solution, there is still a way to move forward. Moving forward is possible but it takes a mindset that requires a high level of trust in God. A trust that even though the desired solution has not been realized, our confidence that God is in control and is working out His plan remains steadfast.

 Remember: God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than ours.

He ALWAYS knows what is best.

Weathering the storms…

    peter-sinking

 

     The years 2020 & 2021 have completely upended our lives! We have been challenged to seek solutions to problems that are unprecedented.  Our days are interspersed with highs and lows. Nothing seems constant. And just when we think we can breathe easy, pow!  Suddenly, we are knocked off our feet again!!!!

     Trying to live life under these circumstances with any measure of victory is humanly impossible. As Christians many are looking to us (whether they or we realize it or not) watching for any clue as to how to stay afloat as the storms rage.

     We know to cry out to the LORD but I wonder how long do we wait around to hear His voice? If He doesn’t remove the problem, bring the healing we ask for, or miraculously intervene to make everything better, we throw up our hands in despair. 

     I’m learning that when it gets this rough, there are choices we can make that will rebuff the enemy and strengthen our witness. First of all, we need to examine our expectations. Do we really think that being a child of God’s means we will know nothing but blessings? Suffering will be minimal and problems will be easily resolved? Do you know any Christian whose life can be described as such? I sure don’t!

   The fiery darts’ intent is cause us to feel abandoned by God, feel overwhelmed by our problems, or wander around aimlessly when we fail to understand why God allows us to suffer.  By focusing on negative thoughts such as these, the truths of James 1:2-4 are hidden from our view. We are of little help to ourselves or to others. 

     If God removed every problem, healed every sickness, or never allowed us to suffer what would that accomplish? Satan doesn’t want us to consider that question. For he knows that solutions are never realized unless there is a problem  to resolve. It is in the exertion of muscles that increases strength.  A diamond becomes a precious jewel due to intense and lengthy pressure. Satan doesn’t want us exercising our faith muscles. We might get too strong for him, if we do!

Here’s the point:

     Like Peter, we will sink when we allow the storms of our days to overtake us. Cooperating with God as He protects and strengthens our witness through the storms will be a lifeline to others to weather their present tempest. 

The Fear of Witnessing?

   I listened to a sermon today, that revealed a fiery dart that too many of us fall prey to! May I ask you something, as one Christian to another?

Does the idea of witnessing to someone strike fear in your heart. Do thoughts like:

I’m just not cut out for this witnessing thing; not my gift!.

I wouldn’t be able to remember any of the verses, much less quote them.

What if they get mad at me or make fun of me?

 I don’t think I am a good enough Christian to witness.

   Think about it my friends. If Satan can convince us that we don’t have what it takes to share Christ with others, then the weapon he has formed against us, has prevailed.We allow ourselves to be convinced we can’t witness and you know what? That’s a lie!

   As I listened to this pastor, it became clear to me that our hesitation in sharing Christ was based on two things: 1)failure to spend time with God in prayer 2) failure to spend time with God in His Word.

It’s quite simple really. Allow me to illustrate.

   As we spend time with God in prayer and bible study, we are becoming equipped to deal with the trials in our life. (James 1:2-4)  Not only will we learn how to deal with these trials we will grow stronger as a result. From Scriptures we learn to have a grateful heart in the good times and as well as the bad. Philippians 4:6-7  Peace will guard our hearts as a result. Fear will be kept at bay. 2 Timothy 1:7

   The more this happens the more our love for Christ grows. Our thoughts will center less on ourselves and more on Christ. We will want to share what Christ has done in our lives. Especially when we see others who are living in the bondage that Christ set us free from. 2 Corinthians 1:4

   The Bible contains the answers to life’s questions. When we find it working for us, we will be compelled to share those answers with others. It will come as naturally to us as breathing. There will be nothing to fear.  So learn to recognize this fiery dart, reject it, and replace it with these Truths.

(Refer to The 3 R’s of Fighting Fiery Darts, page 7 of this blog)

Where does your strength come from?

god-strenght

   What keeps a person, who finds themselves in the darkness of a trial, from finding the light needed to escape the trial? Why is it that often they find themselves spiraling downward as one trial after another bears down upon them–draining them of any hope of rescue?

   As Christians we know that trials are a part of life. No one can escape them! Yet, when they happen to us we are tempted to think God is against us, that He doesn’t care that we are struggling or hurting, that God has forgotten us, that we don’t deserve what has happened to us and we wander around in our negativity confused and unable to come to terms with the trial.

   Sometimes we become so focused on the trial that like Peter we begin to sink in it (Matthew 14:22-33). Hope gives way to despair and we ask ourselves, “Where are you God?” And if we don’t get the answer we desire, we begin to pull away from God. Slowly our faith is drained away, leaving us in an anemic spiritual state, unable to believe we matter to God.

   My heart breaks for individuals who find themselves in such a state. For I know that in this weakened state, we are particularly vulnerable to negative thinking (fiery darts). Satan takes advantage of our loss of focus and attitudes are formed which lead to actions of destruction.

Chapter Three of Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice explains:

What we think determines how we feel and what we feel influences our actions. A negative action is often the result of negative thinking. Understandably, if Satan can negatively influence our thinking then temptations to act negatively will be harder for us to resist. p. 15, FD
The psychologist will say that if behavior is to be changed, then the flow must be interrupted either at the thought or feeling point.p.16, FD

Look to the Light of God’s Word for therein lies your Hope!

   First we must recognize the temptation to think negatively for the fiery dart that it is. Keeping in mind that Satan’s plan is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a) the abundant life God has planned for you (John 10:10b).

   For you see, those very trials that are an inevitable part of life, if responded to as God planned, have the potential to provide a greater strength and a deeper joy than we had prior to the trial.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:1-4

  We will find our hope and our direction as we search the Scriptures for Truth thoughts that address our trial. Perhaps, discovering that the source of our weakness was in neglecting time with God in prayer and absorbing the counsel of His Word. (the Source of our strength)

Fiery dart: If you are unhappy in your marriage, bail out!

broken marriage

   My heart is breaking as I hear of young couples, so dear to me and at one time so close to God, giving up on their marriage. I can understand and even relate to the temptation to bail out of a marriage that is slowly becoming depleted of the happiness and contentment with which it began.  But succumbing to this temptation only sets in play Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a) the very happiness and contentment they are seeking. 

   We live in a world that defines happiness from a self-centered perspective. But according to God’s definition, genuine happiness is found by delighting ourselves in Him. (Psalm 37:4)   When we reject this Truth, Satan stands ready to fire at us a volley of fiery darts designed to convince us that the only solution to unhappiness or discontentment in our marriage is to bail out of it. Then slowly we become blind and deaf to God’s plan that He has come to give us life in abundance (John 10:10b) even in our marriage. 

   When we become more focused on what we desire than on what God desires,then happiness and contentment in our marriages (and life) will always elude us. Satan’s fiery darts make sure of that. My prayer is that their sight will be restored and their enemy will be exposed. And in every situation they will take up their shield of faith in God’s Word and extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

Then the Truth below will become their new reality!

   If our marriage is built upon the foundation of God’s design, we will understand that there will be times when we will be unhappy in our marriage and/or with our spouse. This is a reality that will be dealt with in a godly manner so that it does not become an excuse to bail out but an instrument of God’s will in conforming us into His image. This is what centering your marriage on Christ means……“Frustration, hardship, loss is rooted in the gospel. In that context (centering your marriage on Christ) your faith may be shaken but your marriage will remain rooted.” (words in quote from a dear friend who is a mighty teacher of God’s Truth)

         You see, the type of suffering or problems that we encounter in our marriages will often reflect something that is lacking therein. It stands to reason then, that if we cooperate with the sanctification process in order to provide what is lacking in the marriage, then we aren’t likely to see breaking up the marriage as the solution.

James 1:2-4 makes this quite clear: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

Excerpt taken from p. 71-72, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

A Way Out of the Darkness!

In the past, long before I had learned about waging a successful war regarding fiery darts, I was in bondage to some pretty devastating thoughts.  One in particular was the idea that if I failed in a particular area of my life that would automatically spill over into all other areas of my life and inflict damage on them as well.  The unfortunate thing regarding these lessons on fiery darts that have now secured my freedom, is that way back then I was clueless about how the fiery darts were messing with my mind and ensuring my extended bondage.  That’s the bad news, but the good news is

In looking back on my journey, I have wondered at times why it took me so long to recognize the path out of the darkness of negative thinking that God had illuminated for me. . . . My hope then is that by my sharing what I have learned on my journey out of the darkness of negative thinking, you will be able to recognize much sooner than I did your own path out of the darkness that God has illuminated for you. (pg. 3, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice)

 Therefore, if you will permit me, I would like to encourage your heart with a Truth God has often sustained me with.

Isaiah 43:18  “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. 19  Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming.  Do you not see it?  Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

Just because you have experienced failure in the past, that doesn’t mean that because of that  particular failure, you are doomed to fail or at least not measure up in all areas of your life.  I carried that burden of a lie for more years than I care to remember.  Only by God’s grace and what He taught me concerning fiery darts have I been set free.

You have only to research some of the Greats of Scripture to see what God thinks of failure.  Look at David, in spite of  his  serious failures, the Bible calls him, “a man after God’s own heart”.  How is that possible after what he did–murder and adultery to name only two?  I think I’ve discovered something here.  The righteousness of David had it’s source in God.  Read what Paul said about that kind of righteousness:

And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Philippians 3:9

Ok, we confess our failure to God and ask His forgiveness, then we move on with our lives and by His grace break free of the bondage that the knowledge of our failure has the capability to place us in.  As a Christian we have a very unique course set for us as we deal with the failures in our lives.  First of all, we don’t allow one failure in our lives to convince us that we are a failure at life!  That’s a big huge ole fiery dart.  It’s nothing but a lie.  Aren’t you glad that the Bible greats didn’t fall for that?

Trials have the potential to highlight areas in our lives that when responded to appropriately can increase our faith and produce endurance.  Take a look at James 1:

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing o your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 

How you deal with your crisis, what you learn from your crisis will all work together to reestablish your credibility. (Rom. 8:28)  Others may come against you (these are instruments of fiery darts remember) but if in your own mind you have come to the successful and healing conclusion that God can still use you, then you’ll know how to put up your shield of faith and ward off those fiery dart minions!

So go ahead and rejoice with God in those areas where you don’t feel like a total failure.  Be thankful for them and praise God for them.  Don’t allow the fiery dart that says you’d be a hypocrite to think you could still be used of God when you have failed Him so miserably. There are some areas in your life that you have gotten right so know that you have a valid testimony in that area.

Look again at the phrase, ‘a way in the wilderness’.  You have two choices to make.  You can choose to focus on the wilderness or you can focus on ‘the way’. You could choose to focus on the negatives if you like, but be prepared a cloud of negativism will become your constant companion.  On the other hand, you could choose to focus on God’s faithfulness to lead you out of the wilderness. You can choose to focus on the good He brought out of that wilderness experiences, how He strengthened you.  And I’ve got a sweet thought for you, if you focus on how God brought you out of the wilderness.

The more you focus on the good, the more good you’ll notice AND the better you are going to feel.  The more hopeful you’ll become.  Goodbye, despair; for hope and despair don’t share the same space.

Gotta a verse for you:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.