Saturday, December 31, 2011


James 1: 2-3 Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith proudces endurance.

This has been one of the most difficult years of my life, and I have no desire to relive it.  I can honestly say though, that I wouldn't trade what I've learned for the world.  At church, we have been studying James 1, and for the first time in many years, I've been going through a very difficult time while studying "Count it all joy . . . when you fall into various trials."  I remember thinking, "Are you kidding God? I know You see what we are going through.  You can't possibly want me to be joyful!" as I watched my dreams appear to go down the toilet. 

I learned that God seems to prepare people for His service in the wilderness.  Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus . . . they all spent time in the wilderness before they began their ministry.  2011 was my year in the wilderness.  I'm not sure if my time in the wilderness is over or not, but I know one thing . . . He is all that I need.  So when something difficult comes along, I want my response to be, "Okay God.  You are about to do something really cool, and I can't wait to see what it is.  Please give me the strength to see it through!"

I learned that life truly is about serving the Lord.  Nothing is more important.  My job, my health, my husband, my future . . . nothing.  God is all that matters.  Everything on this earth is temporary except what you accomplish for the Lord.  God hasn't given me all the things on this earth that I desire (as I made reference to earlier "watched my dreams appear to go down the toilet"), but I'm more than content with what He has given me . . . His joy which is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). 

I didn't have any choice except to delight myself in Him.  He didn't give me the earthly desires of my heart (at least not yet), but He has changed my desires to be what He desires.  That is where the joy and contentment come from.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

So as the sun sets on 2011 and I wait for the sun to rise on 2012, I look forward to what the Lord has in store next year. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

James 1

We've been studying James 1 over the last few weeks, and I think this is the first time that I have been studying James 1 while going through a very difficult time.  It has been extremely challenging.  It is quite easy when things are going well to say, "Yes!  We need to have joy in the midst of trial!" and quite another thing to do it. 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. (James 1:2). Yes!  Another trial.  Woohoo!  Thanks God!  But the passage doesn't stop there.  . . . knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4).  Focusing on the trial certainly doesn't bring joy at all, but focusing on the end result does.  Enduring trial helps us to be better people.  It makes us more like Christ, AND THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.  Focusing on how difficult things are will just depress us.  Focusing on how God is getting the glory by us rejoicing in the fact that He loves us enough to refine us and use us to show God's grace . . . that is worth rejoicing about. 

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12) If you are persevering under significant trial, you are blessed!  Don't run away from God saying, "How dare You put me through this!"  Trial is a gift from Him; an opportunity to trust Him in a new way.  An opportunity to stop depending on yourself, and put all of yourself into His hands. 

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:16-18).  Don't be deceived . . . God doesn't tempt you.  Everything that He sends you is good and perfect, even if you don't like it.  He doesn't change.  You can always trust that He will do what He says He will do.  He will never leave you.  He will always give you good gifts.  He will always love you.  He will always do what is for your best.  You can trust your life to Him.  What a relief when it seems like life is slamming you around like a ping pong ball!  You can trust all of your pain and your joys to Him.  He brought us forth by truth because we are His most prized possessions!  Trust Him. 

I skipped some verses throughout this passage so that this wouldn't get too long . . . but this whole chapter has just been convicting me and convicting me.  I have to trust Him with my life.  All the things going in on in my life that I don't like . . . they are gifts from Him to make me more like Him.  He has my best interest at heart.  It is all about Him and His glory . . . not me.  How blessed to know that God is giving me the chance to bring Him glory through my trial. 

Thanks God for the opportunity.  Increase my faith.  Help me to reflect You accurately!