Joy within Trials

James 1:2-4, 12

 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.

How does one consider trials a joyous event? 

When one loses their job, or one’s business is forced to close and one faces financial ruin, or a meaningful relationship ends, are Christ-followers supposed to rejoice?

When one’s health is broken, or one is constantly being bullied into submission, or one’s life work is hanging on the balance of being destroyed by outside destructive influences, is one to accept being a victim without hope in the situation changing for the better? 

Why would a good God allow such events occur in our life? Doesn’t HE want us to live a life of comfort and ease? Why would HE want us to temporarily suffer such pain and misfortune?

I am sure we have all asked similar questions as we face the challenges of life each and every day. Yet when one better understands God’s macro purpose for yours and mine life, the quicker one accepts the moment and places trust in HIM to move you through the process for the sake of others, yourself, and HIM.

Most often our initial reaction from such a negative event may cause temporary shock. We are in shock because of the unexpected potential negative consequences on the matter. We may then become angry at God or others for making such a destructive impact with our life at this moment in time. Somewhere in the process we will also grieve of our loss. These are all natural human responses to an ugly situation. Any of these emotional events may last for a few minutes or a few years and are necessary for healing to commence.

But as Christ-followers, during the entire ordeal, our faith in God will be tested. Either we will lean on HIM throughout the entire process, or not. If we do lay our pain at HIS feet, HE will provide us with the internal strength to remain firmly trusting HIM to lead you to work out the situation for the best long-term outcome for all parties involved.

When we continue to lean on HIM, trials will strengthen our faith in HIM. We become participants in HIS handiwork. HE is molding and shaping you and me to maximize our potential as a child of HIS. You may not see it at the moment. You may still be on an emotional roller coaster, but you are also being held in HIS grip.

HIS Spirit full of love, joy, and peace becomes more active and alive within you as you lean on HIM through the ordeal. The joy James writes about is the paradox of being a Christ-follower. Even when you are suffering, HIS joy lives in you and HE cannot stop expressing who HE is even during bad times.

However, if you do not lean on HIM during your trial, then you will feel the immense pain of living life without HIM and without hope for a better future.

As Christ-followers, we know HIS macro-plan is to prepare us for eternity. HE desires us to have the divine character of Jesus Christ fully empowered within us at all times. However, the building of this character takes time to work through the fiery circumstances, plus a willing participation on our part to complete. As we endure in HIS arms, as we firmly abide in HIM, we are being perfected into HIS image. Like the athlete, short-term pain leads to long-term gain.

We may not fully recover in this life what we loss through the trial. But we know God promises us the crown of life for our faithful endurance through our journey in this world.

Yes, we will be blessed for hanging in there to the end. Meanwhile, the short-term pain hurts, the shock and grieving are emotionally draining, and the future looks temporarily hopeless. But as we face our fears, holding unto HIM one step and one day at a time, HE is with us through the entire ordeal. As we are at our weakest moment, HE becomes our strength. HE walks with us and at times may even carry us.

And yes, during our trial everything may seem a blur. But in hindsight, when you review the matter, you will see HIS hand working out circumstances, and bringing people into your world at the proper moment to launch you closer to the end of the trial and the beginning of a new adventure.      

Bottom line: Trials are God’s opportunity to shape us into HIS image and reveal HIMSELF to others. Be steadfast. Lean on HIM. Rejoice in HIS presence. HE will lead you through the ordeal.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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What Is Truly Important?

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

How does one best maximize leverage of time and resources to live a full and enriching life?

When one understands the wisdom of building your life on the foundation of eternal values, you have an advantage over most people. Many of us awake one day to realize our efforts over the last umpteen years hasn’t given us the results we anticipated. We have climb the worldly ladder of success only to find the view disappointingly unappealing on the wrong wall.  So, we move the ladder to another wall and climb again. Only to find over the years the same unfulfilled result.

Shocking to most, the issue is not which wall we climb, but the ladder we use for the climb. When you consider each step of the ladder as values, the ladder with eternal values will lead to a more abundant life than a ladder with humanistic ideals.

Most of us start climbing with ladders built by sincere people with great intentions but without a clue of the types of ladders available for our use. If a stool is all you need to reach the top of the shelf, than use a stool. But if you have to climb multiple floors, than a stronger, well-built proven ladder is required. The same is true when leveraging life’s goals.

Jesus provides us with critical values which when employed allows one to climb the walls placed before us with the certainty of the end result. The ladder HE provides is one built for eternal purposes because for HIM this life is only a learning process preparing one for leadership and service in HIS Kingdom.

When one places her foot on each step of HIS ladder, each movement has the assurance and confidence of when reaching the top, the view will be better than anticipated. No matter how strong the wind blows, or when the ground shakes, we simply look at the foot of the ladder and see Jesus holding the ladder in place rooting us upward toward HIS view and purpose of life.

If you need a review what Jesus values, reread the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew’s gospel chapter six. The prayer identifies the hierarchy of values from God and HIS kingdom to personal needs and human relations. Each value is the foundational step you and I need to live a full and enriching life today while being prepared for eternity tomorrow.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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Why Read the Bible?

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

There are multiple reasons to read the Bible. Though one of the first options you may want to choose is simply to transform your thinking to better understand the mind of God.

My recommendation for those who have not read the Bible and do not know where to start, is to begin with one section – the Book of Ecclesiastes. (I accidentally did over fifty years ago which began a life journey searching for God, Purpose, and Truth). Many scholars believe Ecclesiastes was written approximately three thousand years ago to a worldwide audience responding to life’s more metaphysical questions which are still pertinent today – the pursuit of happiness and meaning.

Afterwards, then begin a plan to read the Bible from the first page in Genesis through the last page in Revelation with only the theme of discovering the mind and character of God. You can skim through many of the details this way and focus on the parts which reveals God’s interaction with humanity and how specific people walked with God. These sections will give you greater insight in who God is and how he relates similarly and differently with people in various circumstances.

Such an exercise will open your mind to better understand who you are choosing to follow in a relational, covenantal agreement. Don’t you want to know everything you can about a person you want to spend the rest of your life within marriage? The same is true with our relationship with the Living God.

On the other hand, if you have a certain topic on your mind, you may want to use an online concordance to search all the Scriptures pertaining to your subject. This is the way I initially started to study the Bible. In fact, the first topic I ever chose to search was money. Since I was going into the business arena and enjoyed making money, I wanted to know everything the Bible discussed on the topic. Years later, I am still learning and still find enjoyment to discover new aspects about money, which was always in the Bible, but now viewed from a more holistic perspective.

You probably have subjects which currently are at the top of your mind. Why not search the pages of the Bible and discover what 1,500 years of collective writings by forty authors assembled together with the same Spirit reveals about human nature, God’s divine nature, and solutions which have proven successful over time?

The pages within the Bible reveal the mind and heart of God in comparison with the heart and mind of humanity. Over time you will acquire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of how people may best apply themselves to live an enrich and fulfilling life now and hope for the future. You learn how God designed the world with purpose, mapped out for us how best to succeed, and provide the means and resources to live a free, flourishing, and fulfilling life when done according to HIS way.

Yes, it requires relearning the falsehoods taught by this world’s culture, and accepting personal responsibility for one’s choices, but as one learns God’s good Will and lives by HIS way, one moves into a new created order reserved for HIS children who want to experience life the way HE created you and I to live from the beginning of time.

Read the Book. You will be astonished by the insight you gain about yourself, others, and God.   

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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