Thursday, July 21, 2011

James 1: 16-18 Faith and Endurance (part 5)

 “16So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.  17Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights.  Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.  18In His goodness He chose to make us His own children by giving us His true word.  And we, out of all creation, became His choice possession.”

(James 1:16-18 NLV)


Yesterday we discussed how God doesn’t lead us into sinful temptation.  The reason God allows us to go through troubles and trials is to grow our faith and endurance in Him.  We will know that He is trustworthy.  He will never EVER give us trials to where He presents Himself as fraudulent.  As our faith is grown and perfected, we learn that no matter what we face, His motives for our lives are genuine.  Our trials do have a purpose.  They are meant so that we grow our wisdom and faith simultaneously.  We also become reliant upon Him for our source of help (or refuge).  He is there right beside you in your present struggle(s), and He desires that you learn to depend on Him to get you to the end. 


James begins these verses using a term of endearment for his audience.  “My dear brothers and sisters” he cries out in (almost) desperation as he gives us fair warning of our future misconceptions.  He says, “Do not be misled.”  He goes on to talk about the gift and the giver by saying “Whatever is good and perfect” comes to us by God.  He gave us the ultimate gift, His only son to die on a cross so that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).  How differently those words would sound if it read, “For God so loved His son, that he gave Him the world….” (Source here)  Instead, His gift to me is eternal life (Romans 6:23).  Even though trials and tribulations may come into our lives, God chooses to lavish us with His love and grace, giving us far more than we ever deserve.  He is good, and all that is good in our lives come strait from Him. 


So, why if He is good does He allow bad things to happen?  Think of it this way: 

Many people make New Year’s resolutions of exercising.  Some people fail because they push their bodies too hard too quickly.  Once they resolve to miss a session or two, they are thrown completely off track and eventually give up.  (I’ve been there!)  However, modern exercise programs are designed to start off slow and build up your endurance so that you can handle a little more every day.  I said that to say this:  Basically, by handling troubles through out our lives, God is training us up to handle more and more difficulties.  We do live in a world full of tribulation and trials.  But, we can turn that trial into triumph.  That is His desire for us.  He is building our endurance and faith so that we can finish strong.  He will be our Coach! 


Sometimes God uses bad things to get people’s attention.  At times when you hit rock bottom, all that’s left to look towards is Him.  Its bad circumstances that God uses to make us perfect…or complete.  We still may have the bad thing hovering over us, but we are better off with God by our side.


As I struggled with infertility, I often felt as if I was being punished by God for my past sins.  I bought into this “lie” for a really long time before I was able to distinguish that there was difference in punishment and disciplined.  Jesus was punished for all sins (past, present, and future) at Calvary.  I cannot be punished for something He has already taken care of.  However, I can be disciplined in a way that any loving parent strives to correct their children.  I am a child of God, and He may discipline me to draw me away from sinful behavior, but He will always do so in a loving manner.  If He turned a blind eye to our sin, He would contradict all that He is, was, and will ever be.  He’s unchanging.  He loves us so much that we are His choice possession, and He corrects us for our benefit.  The discipline itself may not be enjoyable, but it is an opportunity to learn and conform ourselves to the image of Christ.  So, you see…even when we don’t think it’s good (let’s say we are being lovingly corrected by God), it really is…a greater good will come of it.


One thing that really grabbed hold of me as I studied this portion of the text (James 1:1-18) is that although life seems so unbearably hard for us now, even in biblical times Christians faced struggles, heartache, and trials.  The enemy didn’t waste any time in making life difficult on Christians, did He?  We often see that today even in our own churches.  We look around at fellow Christians who are struggling just as much (if not more) than the people James is talking to.  There are an abundance of Christians who are facing tests.  Being a Christian doesn’t omit you from struggles.  You may even be subjected even more to tribulation.  However, you no longer have to handle them on your own.  He is waiting on you to ask Him for wisdom.  He will use this time in your life to make you more like Him and bring glory to His name if you allow Him to.   



I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Faith and Endurance as much as I have.  I have learned so much about why my faith is tested, and I now understand that I face those things to bring me more and more reliant upon God to supply my needs.  He, and He alone, will be my source of refuge.  He will grow my faith.  He will give me wisdom.  He will pour out His blessings upon me.  He is good. 


Thanks for sticking around!



1 comment:

Terri said...

I have been so blessed by this Bible study, Elaine! I have enjoyed it so much and have felt God speaking to me through this study. Thank you so much for working hard on this study and sharing it on your blog. I hope that planning and preparing this study has blessed you as much as it has those, like me, who have had the pleasure of reading it!

I began blogging several years ago in search of new friends who, like me, were having a difficult time getting pregnant. Five years, 2 miscarriages, 4 failed IUI's, and a doctor who told us "It will never happen" later, we are the proud parents of Kade and Kohen. They are each an example of God's absolute perfection. We thank God where medical intervention stops, Divine intervention begins.