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.”
Yes! Trials do come in various kinds, don’t they? Some of them may be obvious, while others may be more subtle in nature. If you throw out your back, or you lose your job, or someone you love dies, or you get in an automobile accident, those are fairly obvious. You know what you are facing, so it is easier to know how to deal with it, but it is still a trial.
And, then there are those trials that are not so obvious, although you may think that they are. On a surface level they may appear as one thing, while underneath something else is going on that you didn’t anticipate, or that you didn’t see coming, and so you weren’t prepared, and then BAM!
You were so focused on what you could see, or on what you thought you were seeing, that you didn’t see coming what was lying underneath. So, the real trial ended up being in what you couldn’t see, not in what you could see. Does this make sense?
Good versus Good
And, then there is the good versus the good. For, Satan doesn’t always come at us with what is obviously bad. Sometimes the bad is disguised as good because the bad is mixed in with the good and it is subtle, and so it is harder to see. Let me give you a personal example.
Every day the Lord gives me a song in my head to go with what he has me write each day. So, I know that the song is always going to agree with the passage of Scripture. If it doesn’t, then I will question whether or not the Scripture is the one he wants, or if this is the right song. And, sometimes a song will be in my head, and then when I get ready to write, another song will be in my head, and so I have to examine if the first song or the second song is the one the Lord wants.
So, what I am saying is that Satan has access to planting things in our minds, and they may be good things, and they may come into our minds just as gently as they do when it is the Holy Spirit speaking. But if it produces confusion in our minds, then we need to test the spirits, and we need to see if the good being introduced into our minds is the good that God has for us, or if this is a distraction from the good that God wants, and its intention is to confuse us, instead. Does this make sense to you?
We just need to understand that Satan is not how he is pictured in cartoons wearing a red costume, with a tail, with horns on his head, and holding what looks like a pitchfork in his hand. He comes to us, instead, like an angel of light, and his servants masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Co. 11:14-15).
So, the trial here is not one that can be seen outwardly with human eyes. For, the trial is Satan using his wicked schemes against our minds to try to trick us, to manipulate us, to get us distracted, to confuse us, to get us off target, and to give us other “good” options that would take us away from God’s best for us, or from what God is desiring to accomplish through us.
So, when you come up against things in your life, that on a surface level may appear as one thing, know that if what you are experiencing is more subjective, or if it is something that you are just being told, or that you are being led to believe, that it may not be what is being presented.
And, there may be a devil in an angel’s costume deceiving you in order to distract you and to get you focused on something that may not even be true, so that you will neglect what is true. So, just saying we need to test everything.
But, in all of these trials, we are to thank the Lord that he is allowing us to go through these things in order to mature us in our walks of faith, and in order to make us more savvy so that we don’t easily fall into deception.
James 1:12 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.”
To remain steadfast under trial is not just about enduring the trial. It is about testing the trial to see what is at its core, to see who or what is behind it all, and to examine it before God to see if what we are seeing or hearing is the reality of the trial, or if there is something more sinister going on underneath that is trying our faith in ways we cannot see with our eyes.
For, again, we may think we are being tested in one way while truly we are being deceived, and deception is the real trial, to see if we will discern the deception and if we will have our eyes opened to it so that we don’t fall prey to it.
And, believe me when I tell you that even believers in Jesus Christ who are grounded in the Word of God, and who are walking in faithfulness to their Lord, can be deceived if they are not testing what they hear and see, as a matter of daily practice, and if they are not willing to accept that not everything is as it appears outwardly.
For, exercising spiritual discernment is a huge part of remaining steadfast under trial, for if we get the wrong idea regarding the trial, and we think it is one thing, while it is another, then we may not have stood the test at all. And, that is because we got sidetracked on to the wrong things because we were listening to the wrong voices instead of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit who will open our eyes to these things which are hidden, if we are willing to let him show us the things hidden in the darkness.
Let me give you an example. Much of today’s church, at least here in America, has united with the US government in an unholy union under the 501c3. They have incorporated the church, the body of Christ, and they have turned it into a business of men, marketed just like any other business of men. So, they are doing what is contrary to God’s will by being unequally yoked together with unbelievers, and by turning God’s house, his body, into a marketplace, and by putting another god (the government) before God.
So, they see this present trial we are going through, which has led to the closing of the doors of buildings called “church,” as Satan closing the doors of the church. Thus, they feel that if the doors to these buildings are reopened, that somehow that is a spiritual victory. It isn’t.
For, these buildings are not the church. And, these businesses of men, marketed like other businesses, are also not the church. So, it is God who closed those doors. So, it isn’t remaining steadfast under trial by enduring not being able to go to these businesses. God has allowed this to take place to move his people away from these institutions of men back to the cross of Christ, and back to functioning as the body of Christ, as God intended.
So, to endure this trial and to remain steadfast under it would be to hear from God, to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, and to heed God’s messages to his church, his body, at this time. And, it would be to forsake these institutions of men, and it would be to unite with the body of Christ outside of these institutions, and it would be to let Christ be the head of his church, and to get back to the cross of Christ and away from man-made religion.
For, to love God is to listen to him, to hear his voice, and to let him show us what is really going on right now, not what men are saying what is going on right now, for many of them are liars, deceivers, and manipulators who want us off track, and who want us following them instead of us following God.
So, we need to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches right now, in our day and time. And, we need to see that the church is us, the people of God, not these buildings and man-made religions. And, we need to have eyes to see how far the church has gotten away from God, and from what he has called his church to be and to do. And, then we all need to begin to function as the body of Christ, with Jesus as our true head.
And, then we will have stood the test, and we will have remained steadfast under trial. And, one day we will receive the crown of life God has for us who love and who obey our Lord.
Sing to Me of Heaven
Songwriters: Ada Powell / Benjamin Burke Beall
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that song of peace
From the toils that bind me it will bring release
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so
Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow
Sing to me of Heaven, as I walk alone
Dreaming of the comrades that so long have gone
In a fairer region ‘mong the angel throng
They are happy as they sing that old, sweet song
Sing to me of Heaven, tenderly and low
Till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go
When my heart is weary, when the day is long
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that old, sweet song
Sing to me of Heaven, let me fondly dream
Of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall
Sing to me of heaven, sweetest song of all
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