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Trials - James 1:12
Life Lessons from the Book of James
Welcome back to the fourth in an online Bible Study Series called: Life Lessons from the Book of James.
I pray that as you read those inspired words of scripture that the earthly veil be pulled back allowing you to see people through God's eyes.
"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b.
Today, we will be studying one verse.
James 1:12: "Blessed is the man that endures testing and temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him."
If you are a child of God; you are no stranger to trials.
Did you know that trials have a purpose in the Christians life. What is that purpose and how are we to face testing trials or the temptations that threaten to bring us down?
Join me as we see what God has to say.
This verse states that God blesses the one who patiently endures trials and temptations.
To help me understand and analyze what it looks like to endure patiently I did a brief WORD STUDY on the word ENDURE and here is what I found:
SYNONYMS: bear hardship, to face it, to hang in, to permit, be subject to, to accept, to receive, to persist and persevere
ANTONYMS: leave, quit, refuse, stop, despise, dispute, reject, resist
As you read the descriptive words above take a moment to reflect on your own response to trials and temptations.
What does it look like, in your life, when you face trials and temptations? Do you identify with any of these responses? Do you:
- Tense up and fight (opposite of patiently endure)
- Give in (opposite of persist)
- Blow up and gripe and complain about how unfair this trial is (opposite of patience and trust)
- Get blown away and shocked when hit (not prepared)
If your emotional reaction looks something like the reactions above; frustration and misery will surely follow you throughout the hardship.
Let's consider the futility of these wrong responses:
- Fight it: To fight trials is to deny God's hand at work. It is to deny our dependence upon God when we are in no position to face them without His wisdom and strength.
- Give in: If we buckle or give in we fail the test of endurance and fall into sin.
- Blow Up: If we blow up we lose the opportunity to listen and grow: "Be still and know that I am God." Ps. 46:10. The Holy Spirit speaks in a still small voice, teaching us, encouraging us and strengthening us through the trial.
- Blown Away: If we are unprepared for the storms of life we will fall apart thinking a tragedy has overtaken. We see the trial as a mountain that is too high to climb.
Let me use a real life situation to help illustrate a failed test of patient endurance. Have you ever been wrongly accused or attacked? How did you respond?
- Did you feel your blood pressure rise and did you plot your steps determined to fight the unjust claims in your own strength?
- Did you give in to defeat; responding as a victim by licking your wounds?
- Were you indignant and angry thinking yourself too good to be treated like that?
- Did you fall apart not expecting such a hard blast?
Do you see the common denominator in the first three scenarios? At the base of each response to being wrongly accused is pride. Pride is our enemy and it blinds us from God's hand at work in ALL things.
Pride defends itself, thinks too much of self, fights correction, feels victimized, quits rather than endures hardships, it fails to submit or to see God in the midst of the storm.
Even when hit with vicious and untrue accusations we are to see God's hand and respond with patient endurance. Jesus is our example: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." I Peter 2:23
Pride is the enemy of patient endurance. Humility will submit to the test being convinced that God is the Blessed Controller of ALL things. We, as children of the most high God, are not victims of our circumstances.
God has given us His word to prepare us for trials and temptations: God has said: "do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you..." I Peter 4:13
It is only by His grace and our submission we will make it through to the other side of a trial. There is wisdom to be gleaned through every test. While in the midst of a heavy blast of testing or temptation we may feel lost - we are not - cling to Jesus and His promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Phil. 4:13 If we patiently endure through the test God will bless us and we will see the fruit of spiritual growth and contentment in our lives.
You may not understand the why's of your trial or temptation - you would not need faith if you did.
Make no mistake God is not up in Heaven pacing the floor or worrying about what is happening to you.
God created you and He does not allow anything to touch you that is not designed to be for your good . "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28
Trials and temptations are designed to teach us lessons we can learn no other way. God is in control and He hasn't turned away from you. He makes ALL things beautiful in its time.
When we trust that our loving Father God is in control we tap into His strength to persist and endure with hope in our hearts. Our heart rests in the knowing that He is present and He is good.
In faith we respond to the test with patient endurance until God has finished His work right in the midst of the mess. Patient Endurance is a mark of the child of God who has learned to trust God. The child of God will be rewarded with the Crown of Life.
In 1 Peter we receive additional instructions for preparedness in temptation:
- Be Self Controlled (Calm and collected, reasonable, peaceful)
- Be vigilant (alert, attentive, cautious)
- Resist the devil (counteract, remain firm, stand up to)
- Remember you are not alone.
1 Pet 5:8-10 "Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, remembering that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have born these sufferings a very little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to share his eternal splendor through Christ, will himself make you whole and secure and strong".
Be Still and Know That I am God
What does this scripture verse mean to me?
James 1:12 "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
TESTING TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS
When testing trials and temptations come my way, and they surely will, I need to be prepared. God has given me the key to dealing with adversity. The key to being an over-comer is to patiently endure testing and temptation.
The word picture in my mind for patience is serenity. I can only be serene by applying God's word to the trial and acting on what He has told me to do. To fight the test inwardly or outwardly is opposite of being patient.
I have to confess that my past has been filled with way too many wasted emotions as I fought against testings in an effort to get rid of or to conquer it in my own strength.
One day I made this statement to a friend, "It seems God keeps bringing me back to the same place over and over again. A place where I feel lost and there are no answers. I try to figure it out in my own wisdom, I fight it determined not to cave, I use up all of my own resources before I realize I can't do this and I finally release control and admit only God holds the answer." My friend said in a reflective kind voice, "Susie, did you hear what you just said?" I paused as my words played over in my mind. He continued, "What do you think that means?"
It was one of those DUH moments for me - My friend helped me to see that I was going through the same process (different trials) over and over again because I still had not learned to relinquish control and trust God in the storm. When I relinquish control to God it is then I open my heart to what He wants to teach me through the test."
God has been so faithful throughout the years and as I look back I thank Him that He not only brought me through testing but He has taught me to trust Him at a deeper level through it.
Every test that comes into my life is just that .. a test. Every test is in my life for a reason. As I am learning to be prepared and expect trials (instead of fight or hide) I tune my ear to the Spirit and trust my heart fully and completely to God. I am not an expert at this by any means but God has brought me a long ways and I have more peace than I had ever thought possible.
When I respond to trials with a teachable heart and trust in God the result is patience and endurance. The sooner I recognize a test or temptation the sooner I can move on to patient endurance.
It is in obedience to God I trust and patiently endure finding rest and peace right in the midst of the storm. Ultimately I enjoy and experience the blessing of God.
My natural response to trials was to run or to be thrown for a loop. As I have been learning - this is not God's way. Oswald Chambers says it like this: "We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings round about us. Never! God engineers circumstances and whatever they may be like we have to see that we face them while abiding continually with Him... They are... temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. The honor of Jesus Christ is at stake in your bodily life."
In our next study titled, When You Are Tempted on James 1:13-15, we will be looking at the strong tie between temptation and sin. Temptation does not have to lead to sin.
What do we need to do in order to be prepared for temptation?