Lord, Have Your Way

James 1:2-4,12 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.”

“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.”

In the New Testament Scriptures, I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is probably the predominant subject above all. And included in that, or next to that is warnings about deceiving spirits and false teachers and false gospels and against being deceived and falling away from the faith and back into sin. But following that, I believe messages about trials and tribulations which come to test our faith, and about persecutions and difficulties that cause us suffering, seem to be the uppermost subject in the New Testament.

But when you think about it, the gospel is what we are to live out in our daily lives, so the gospel message impacts everything we do in this life. For the gospel message is not just about Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection and his ascension back to heaven and him coming again one day to take his faithful ones to be with him for eternity. But the gospel is all about how we are to live and how we are not to live, and it includes warnings that tell us if we live one way, we have eternal life, but if we live another way, we don’t have eternal life, despite what our lips profess.

And going along with that, the gospel message also includes messages about trials and tribulations, because those are what are necessary to come into our lives in order to keep us humble, and in order to test our faith to see if it is genuine or to see where it is weak and in need of repair and in need of strengthening, or if we need to believe in Jesus, in truth, for the first time. So our trials are an important part of the gospel message, for they let us know why these things are necessary in our lives for us to sustain our walks of faith and to keep us from falling away and back into sin.

And so we are to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds, for the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, if we respond to the tests by submitting to the will of God, and if we do not resist the Lord and fight against him, and if we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and accept his will for our lives, even through much pain and suffering, at times. And for some people the pain and suffering is all the time, or it seems to be so for sure. So, it is important that we have a faith response to our trials.

And then when we are going through the trials which test our faith, and we do submit to the Lord, and we do cooperate with him in letting him do his work in our hearts in changing us and in pruning us so we will be more fruitful, and in teaching us steadfastness, then we need to let these lessons have their full effect in our lives, and we need to not go back to business as usual once the trial is over. For the trial served a purpose in our lives to make changes to our lives, so we aren’t supposed to be the same.

And “perfect and complete” are words which both indicate an end result, something having reached its end, like when Jesus Christ returns for his faithful ones (his bride) and he takes us to be with him for eternity, which is when our salvation will be complete and we will be perfect, which is also when our marriage to Christ will be spiritually consummated (completed). For right now we are in the process of being perfected, but we won’t be absolutely perfect until we are with Jesus and no longer in flesh bodies. But we won’t get there if we aren’t being perfected now by our trials.

And verse 12 fits perfectly here with verses 2-4 because it gives the same message. For we must remain steadfast under trial, and this is not about just one trial, but all the trials of our lives which come to test our faith, for one builds on another and then on another. For during all this we are being perfected by Jesus Christ. We are being pruned so we can be more fruitful. And we are learning to rely on him and not on ourselves, and we are growing and maturing in our walks of faith, and we are changing, and we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is all a process.

And, of course, all of this happening is contingent on us responding to our trials with faith and perseverance and not with retreating and giving up and walking away from God. We have to stand the tests and keep obeying our Lord, and keep walking in his holiness and righteousness, and keep on being his servants and messengers despite what other people do to us or say to us or about us – all in his power, strength, and wisdom, by the grace of God, and not of ourselves, and not of our own fleshly works.

And again we have the message that when we have stood the test we will receive the crown of life, i.e. we will be rewarded with heaven as our eternal destiny and with being with our Lord (Savior and husband) for eternity, which is when we will be perfect and our salvation will be complete. And all this God promises to those who love him. And he says and his word teaches us that those who love him are those who obey him, and that if we do not obey him that we do not love him, and we do not know him, and so we are not born of him, but we are of the devil. So, please take this to heart.

So, when the trials of life come into our lives to test us, we must respond with faith and with allowing our Lord to do his work in our lives in making us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. And since we still live in flesh bodies, this is a process of a lifetime of being pruned and of being conformed to the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord. But the end result is that we will be with our Lord for eternity provided we have stayed the course and we have not deserted the faith and we have not returned to our lives of sin.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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