Any time God allows me to teach I learn more than any other time – God takes that head knowledge and gives me life lessons to learn and grow while giving me life application moments.
Head knowledge without heart knowledge is wasted brain space.
I enjoy sharing some of what God is teaching me. Currently our Sunday School Class is working through a series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Each fruit is spread out over a six week study as we encounter the many faces of each fruit. I was not in the class for the first one, LOVE, but since I am teaching some of these I decided to do each study as if I am teaching. I will eventually go back through and post notes on Love as I work on that particular study.
Because my pages of notes are many I will try and consolidate, posting the outline and highlights. This one will be longer because of the explanations before the study.
I have shared before how I struggle with comprehension. Because of that I use many forms of material when I study – severals translations of the Bible, commentaries, video lessons, Bible Studies, and I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes I will use the outline in a study book I find helpful and build on that. I am thankful for a dear friend that teaches grammar and often helps me with words so I am better able to comprehend what the writers of letters are trying to convey. God gives us what (and who) we need to help us and grow us in Him. I’m thankful for that. What I share may seem basic to you but I have learned the struggle I have in comprehension is actually a gift that allows me to break down the complicated and make it simple so that new believers can understand – and even the believers that should be mature but aren’t growing will be able to grasp and hopefully spark a fire for growth.
So lets begin –
I want you to think of – or even list – some of the trials you have encountered in your life. I recently asked on facebook if anyone would be willing to share their trials and many responded – death of a spouse, fertility challenges, consequences (even after salvation) of homosexual lifestyles, divorce, death of a child, poverty . . . the list went on and on . . . but I need you to think about those trials.
Now I want to focus on some adjectives that describe God – Alive, ever present, alpha and omega, discerning, devoted, love, empowering, forgiving, Holy, gracious, a “JUST” God, perfect, righteous, trustworth, truth, victorious, and all knowing were just a few we came up with.
So the question I posed next was, how does it make you feel knowing the trials you have walked through were allowed by God? The scriptures are clear that Satan must get permission to come to us. I wanted to know if I was the only person that ever asked, “Why, Lord?” And of course I wasn’t, but I wanted us to think beyond ourselves because IF we are truly believers in Christ THEN we understand none of this life is REALLY about ourselves . . . but I think sometimes we forget that along the way.
Now I want you to think how those trials benefited you. What good came from them? If you are still going through them, don’t give up – this study may just be for you and me both!
How do we find joy in the trials or turn trials in to victories? By following four commands: having a joyful attitude, an understanding mind, a surrendered will, and a believing heart.
- COUNT – A Joyful Attitude, James 1:2
The word count refers to evaluate – to consider. When Paul became a believer he evaluated his life and set new goals/priorities. The old way of life became garbage and was tossed out. I didn’t understand for a long time how I was supposed to do that so I looked up the word consider. I knew what it meant but I was missing something. Consider means to think carefully about something before making a decision. To examine or contemplate before moving forward in a course of action. I then re-read James 1:2 like this, “Stacey, think about carefully the trial that is before you in order that you will consider it joy.” and also like this, “Stacey, examine and contemplate your motives before moving in to his course of action in order that I (God) will be glorified through your actions during this trial and the end result (God’s glory) will bring you joy.” Basically, THINK BEFORE I ACT AND SPEAK! One of the quotes I read says this, “OUTLOOK DETERMINS OUTCOME and ATTITUDE DETERMINES ACTION”.
- KNOW-An Understanding Mind, James 1:3-4
God always TESTS us to bring out the best in us.
Satan always TEMPTS us to bring out the worse in us.
The testing of faith will prove we are truly born again. Trials will take us up what I call the ladder of virtue. God will allow trials in our lives in order to produce patience, endurance, and the ability to keep going – persist! Romans 5:3 and 2 Peter 1:5-7 speak specifically to this. In 2009/2010 my pastor did an amazing series on 2 Peter 1:5-7. I tried to find the link to the sermons but here is a link you can order the book from – Eight Callings of God, Ted Traylor. God does not help us by removing the trials from our lives BUT He uses the trials to grow us in His image. Remember! Satan wants to use the testing to tear us down BUT God wants to build us up!
- LET- A Surrendered Will, James 1:4,9-12
God can only build our character IF we LET Him. IF we resist THEN He chastens us into submission. IF we submit unto Him THEN He can accomplish His work in us.
I John 2:12-14 tells us that God’s goal for us is to become mature believers. Many believers avoid trials and as a result there is no spiritual growth. In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul tells us there are three evidences of a Christian (Believer in Christ) – He is NOT saying these are needed for salvation because salvation is GRACE + NOTHING – BUT the evidence of a complete Christian life includes: 1. Salvation 2. Sanctification. 3. Service. HOWEVER – before God can use us in areas of service He has to work in our own lives.
~God spent 25 years working on Abraham’s life before He gave Him a promised son. ~God worked 13 years in Joseph’s life allowing various challenges before He could put Joseph on the throne of Egypt.
~God spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service.
In order for God to perfect in us His plan for our life we MUST surrender –
- ASK – A Believing Heart, James 1:5-8
Why did James use the oceans/waves at sea to describe a doubting believer? Because they give us an amazing visual – waves are up one minute and down the next. They are unstable and untrustworthy. One should never turn their back on a wave – it can take you by surprise, drench you, cause you to lose your footing and pull you under – even with the sun shining.
FAITH SAYS YES
UNBELIEF SAYS NO
DOUBT SAYS YES ONE MINUTE AND NO THE NEXT TIME
What made Peter sink in the waves as he was walking to Jesus? He took his eyes off the goal and became distracted by the circumastances. When our faith is new and fresh we are excited and ready to jump in fresh and new. We keep our eyes on the Lord and have excitement that spews out of us but then – that first trial comes and we easily become distracted by the circumstances and the “what if’s” in our mind. Instead of focusing on the Lord we focus on our circumstances. When going through God-ordained difficulties we should be asking God for wisdom. Why do we need wisdom over knowledge, strength, grace, deliverance? I’ve prayed for each of those – they are scriptural – Strength – Psalm 46:1-3, God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble; Grace – Colossians 4:6 – Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Deliverance – Psalm 34:17 – The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from our troubles.
KNOWLEDGE IS THE ABILITY TO TAKE THINGS APART-WISDOM IS THE ABILITY TO PUT THEM TOGETHER.
Wisdom gives us the right use of the knowledge we have.
The Purpose of Trials:
- James isn’t saying we are to pretend trials are easy but we are to look beyond the difficulty to the spiritual benefit of the trial. James 1:2
- The growth – the ladder steps of virtues – to develop moral excellence, knowledge, self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. James 1:3-4
- Increase wisdom. James 1:5
- The believer must believe and not doubt – expect answers to our prayers. James 1:6-7, Matthew 21.21
- To prevent double-mindedness – double mindedness hinders maturity.
- For grounding – to show the gospel is available for all – the rich and the poor. James 1:9-10
- We learn to adopt the right attitude when walking through trials and acknowledge that our trials are being used for God’s glory and drawing us in to Christian maturity. James 1:12
IF GOD ALLOWS IT HE HAS A PURPOSE FOR IT.
This study in particular has given me cause to change the way I pray when facing trials. “Lord, use this trial to grow me in to the person You want me to be, to touch the lives of the people You want touched, and bring glory to You that others will come to know You and be changed by You.”
There is so much more I could have shared but I encourage you to dig in and see how God uses the study on trials to speak to you. I will try and post these studies on Monday’s after I teach them. I should have posted this last Monday. Hopefully I’ll have the next one – Joy in Weakness – on time.