Thursday, February 25, 2016

NTDS (78): Trials, Perseverance, Wisdom and Faith

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…NIV

Have you been through any trials lately? Are you going through one currently? It often seems like life in this world can be just one trial after another. When life is like that, we often get very weary and discouraged. We begin asking God the two common questions, “Why am I going through this” and “when will this end?” Since we do not always get these questions answered, we can become even more despondent.

There may be a better question to ask. One that has a definite answer. “Does it always have to be this way?” James would say to us an emphatic NO! In this first chapter of his epistle, he gives us a radically different approach to facing the trials in our lives.

He starts by telling us that we should consider it joy when we face trials. “What, is he crazy? Why in the world would I be joyful to have a trial?” He explains why in verse 3. A trial is a testing of our faith. It will give us feedback on how much we really trust in God. He already knows our level of faith and trust, but we don’t. It is important for us to find out whether or not we are willing to trust God during the toughest times of our lives.

The good news is that James does not just give us an impossible command, and leave us with no help in how to follow it. In verse 5 he implies that we will need wisdom to endure a trial with joy. He then tells us that there is a simple solution to that. Ask God! James guarantees us that if we ask, we will receive God’s wisdom, on one condition. That condition is, that we trust God to deliver it. He also guarantees us, that if we doubt that God will give us what He promised, we will not receive it.

You may be thinking, “That’s not fair. Just because I doubt a little, God won’t give me wisdom?” Well, let me ask you a question, why would He? It would be a waste of time since you won’t believe it is from Him. It would be worthless to you, because you would not respond and act upon that wisdom. You would just go back and forth like a wave in the sea, trying to figure out if it was really God giving it to you. It shows a lack of faith in God and His written word when you do that. So, when you ask God for wisdom, expect to get it and be ready to act upon it! That is how faith works and that produces endurance in our lives.

A common question that comes up is, how goes God deliver that wisdom to us? I believe it generally comes in four different ways.

1.   Through His Word- The general wisdom given throughout God’s word will help us to discern His guidance in a particular situation. Often times we can even find a very specific answer to our need in a passage of scripture.
Ps 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. NASU

2.   Through other believers- though we want to always seek God first, He may choose to bring you wisdom through another believer.
Prov 11:14 where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory. NASU

3.   Through The Holy Spirit, speaking to our heart- many examples of this are found in scripture
Acts 11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. (Peter speaking)
Acts 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they (Paul and Barnabas) went down to Seleucia… NASU

4.   Through arranging of circumstances, sometimes leaving you with no other options. The story of Jonah is a good example. Also read about Paul’s experience of being shipwrecked in Acts 27

Finally, there is a great reward in going through a test of faith, trusting God, applying the wisdom He brings to you and not giving up. James 1:4 says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. NIV

What a promise and what a reward to look forward to! I pray that the next time you face a trial, you will choose to find the joy of going through that trial, by trusting God, seeking and acting upon the wisdom He promises to give you and enduring to the end.

God bless you,

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