Welcome to Week Two of James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore!
I am amazed by how God works. He arranged for this bible study to come into my life at a time when I needed it most and then he orchestrated it all in such a way that I would have the opportunity to share on the very verses that are challenging me to the core and have the power to change my life.
I've always loved the book of James, the raw honesty, the no-nonsense approach to life and trials. It's real, it's relevant, but it's rarely easy to digest. In fact, if I'm completely honest, the opening verses of this chapter have always been kind of mind-boggling to me.
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" James 1:2-3
I'm supposed to what? Consider it joy when we face joblessness, hurricanes, heartache, and loneliness? Long before we started this bible study, God would remind me of this verse and I have to admit I've misinterpreted it. I've tried to make myself feel joy for the trials I've been walking through and I've only ended up frustrated and disappointed in my inability to do so. But what a revelation God has brought to me through this in depth study of the book of James!
Considering it joy does not mean I have to feel joyful, paste a phony smile on my face and pretend everything's fine. It simply means I must thoughtfully consider that what I'm going through is an opportunity for God to develop in me a faith that endures, that presses on despite all odds, that clings to Jesus even when the ground caves under my feet.
And then here is the joy of it all: God ASSURES me that if I allow him to use my trials to accomplish endurance and steadfastness within me, then I will lack nothing and will be fully developed in my full potential as a follower of Christ. (James 1:4). And there's nothing I want more in my life than to bring him glory.
But endurance and perseverance aren't developed overnight.
It's more often refined over years of trials. And the temptation to escape, to relieve the pressure for ourselves, to force our own way, ahead of God and ahead of his timing, is a very real one. James talks about this in verse 14, how we are led astray by our own selfish desires.
There have been times in this past year when I've felt like God was purposefully holding out on me. I felt he had dangled a carrot in front of us, allowed us one glorious year of our dream of serving him in ministry and then yanked the rug out from under our feet and abruptly forgot us. I felt like God must have found me lacking and decided I wasn't perfect enough to serve him. And the temptation was there to go out and make my dream happen, to prove myself to God.
Beth Moore talks about this in her study and it cut me to the quick. The origin of sin in the garden was that very belief: that God was withholding something good from them. And James goes on to remind me that God "gives liberally to everyone without reproach or fault finding" (James 1:5). In fact, "every good and perfect gift" is from the "Father of the heavenly lights". (James 1:17)
God's not holding out on me. He isn't up there shaking his head in disappointment, thinking "What has she gotten herself into now? When will she ever get her act together?"
He wants to bless me-- to lavish me with gifts only a daddy can give. And we're not talking about gifts that line my pocket. James readily establishes the fact that riches aren't eternal and should not be boasted in. (James 1:9-11). We're talking about the gifts that will bring us everlasting joy--the gifts of love and faith that endures, that weathers every storm and produces the most bountiful harvest, the sweetest fruit.
And who knows what gift of surprise God has waiting for us at the top of that mountain, if we will only stay the course and not give up or turn and forge our own way around the mountain instead of over it?
What has ministered the most to your heart this week in our study of the first verses in James? Has God given you gifts born out of trials that you need to remember?
Please feel free to share in the comments or write a post on your own blog and link it up here. It's so encouraging to hear your hearts!
-Grab a button and add it to your blog to show you're a study participant.
-Write a post on your blog sharing your journey through the week's work. Add it to our weekly linky party as a way to connect with other participants. Be sure to link your individual post, not your blog. Links can be added throughout the week.
-Share your journey through the study with Twitter or Instagram by using hashtag #berooted.
-Subscribe to our free Mercy Triumphs newsletter to receive weekly encouragement.