James 1:2-4 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials of Various Kinds
Are you going through a trial right now? Trials are not easy, which is why they are called trials, because they test our character and our faith. God uses them in our lives to prune us, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves.
When we respond to our trials by calling on God for help, and by yielding to his sovereign will for our lives, the result should be that we are strengthened in our faith and in our steadfastness (perseverance), so that we grow to maturity in Christ Jesus.
But, we are not to be just accepting of our trials or just to grow through them in our walks of faith with our Lord, but we are to count them all joy.
Yet, it is not that we are to jump up and down and shout “yippee” at the moment we are first hit with a trial, for we may have to cry our burden out to the Lord in prayer first, and we may have to grieve a loss first. And, then as we work it all through in prayer with our Lord, and he brings peace to our hearts, then we can also experience the joy of the Lord in accepting that our trial is for our good, and that God will bring good out of it in our lives.
James 1:5-8 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Praying for Wisdom
When we go through difficult times, such as these, we need wisdom. I pray for wisdom often so that I might respond to my trials as God would have me to respond, for every situation is different.
But, when we pray for wisdom, we need to listen to the Lord, and do what he says, and not second guess God. There is no point in asking God for help if we are not willing to do what he says to do.
But, we may need clarification or more specifics, and we may need to make certain it is God’s voice we are hearing and not other voices in our heads.
But, when it is clear that it is God speaking, and he is giving us the guidance that we need, then we need to act on it and not vacillate and do nothing. If we vacillate and then do nothing, we are double-minded, for we are not willing to follow the wisdom (guidance) we sought after.
James 1:12-15 ESV
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
To Those Who Love Him
Trials are difficult, for sure, but they do have their rewards in both this life and in the life that is yet to come when we go home to be with our Lord forever. But, often we have to work through the emotions of the trials in prayer and in calling out to God in our distress before we can reach that realization that God is working good in our lives through our trials.
But, for us to gain those rewards and those blessings from God, we need to remain steadfast in our faith through our difficulties, calling on God for help, and not yield to our sinful flesh as a way to medicate ourselves.
For, it is easy to turn to other things other than to the Lord to bring us comfort in our times of difficulty, for that is what our flesh wants to do. But, we must resist our flesh, and we must follow the Spirit, and the blessings will come. For, the Lord rewards those who love him, and to love him means we obey him.
This is not saying we will be perfect, or that we will never sin, but that loving God means we walk in obedience to him. It is our daily practice. And, if we do sin, we repent of it, and we keep moving forward by faith in him. We don’t continue in willful sinful practices while claiming we love God, for that is like someone telling his or her spouse that he or she loves her or him all the while he or she is cheating on the spouse with someone else.
James 1:19-20 ESV
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Human or Righteous Anger
The emotion of anger, in and of itself, is not a sin, for we read in Ephesians, chapter four, that we should be angry and sin not. And, God gets angry, too. Yet, the reasons we get angry may be rooted in sins of pride, selfishness, bitterness, hatred, guilt (from unrepented sin) and unforgiveness. And, we may sin in our anger, too, by how we respond to the anger.
Sometimes getting angry is just a habit that we learned. For example, a very long time ago in my life I used to get angry if I had to stand in a line for very long at a grocery store, or if the person ahead of me had some problem with their stuff that made it take much longer. But, that was a learned behavior, for there was absolutely no cause for me to get angry.
Then, one day, as I stood in such a line, God spoke to my heart, and he helped me to see how foolish I was. He helped me to laugh at my situation rather than to get upset about it. I learned to accept the fact that I was going to get in lines where there was a problem with the purchases of the person ahead of me or with the cash register or whatever, and I came to just accept it and to find joy in it, in fact, and all the anger went away.
But, notice with me here that this says we are not to be quick to anger and that it says that the anger of MAN (human anger) does not produce the righteousness of God. But, there are some things we should get angry about, like the things God gets angry about, for that anger will serve to motivate us to do something about it, even if it is just to pray.
James 1:21-25 ESV
Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Not Just Read It, but Do It!
The reason that Jesus Christ died on that cross many years ago is that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. This is what our Christian life is all about.
It is about us leaving our lives of living for sin and self behind us in order for us to follow our Lord Jesus in surrender to his will for our lives. We are to be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who by faith in Jesus Christ are being made holy (Acts 26:16-18; Eph. 4:17-24).
Faith in Jesus Christ, though, is not a religion or religious practices. It is not merely forgiveness of sins or the promise of heaven when we die, either. Obedience to Christ and to his Word is not optional. His grace is not a free license to continue in sinful practices without guilt or with the assurance of heaven as our destiny no matter how we live our lives on this earth.
We must be doers of the Word of God, and not hearers only. But, first of all we must be hearers, which means we need to be in the Word daily, so we know what it says, so that we will do what it says. But, when we read the Word, we need to not walk away and forget it. We need to be those look intently into the law of liberty, and persevere in our walks of faith, and do what God’s word teaches us, and then we will be blessed in what we do.
Your Servant Witness
An Original Work / March 13, 2012
Humbly I bow, Lord, before You,
Bringing my requests to You.
May I listen; hear You speaking.
May I follow You in truth.
Gently lead me in Your service.
Guide my steps and strengthen me.
Fill me with Your love and mercy.
May I live for Thee!
Let me be Your servant witness,
Telling others of Your grace.
May I always share the gospel
With those I meet face to face.
May I show the love of Jesus,
Caring for the needs of men;
Be Your servant witness always
For my Lord, Amen!
My desire to be like Jesus,
Living for Him ev’ry day.
May I obey all His teachings
Given me, so I’ll not stray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master.
You are the King of my heart;
Follow You where’er You lead me;
Not from You depart!
Sunday, July 15, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for these instructions from Your Word. Bring your truths home to our hearts, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!