Saturday, June 25, 2011

Count it all joy - no really - all joy

James 1:2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I think this may sound weird, but bear with me. Why is it that when someone is going through a trial, we don’t tell them to "count it all joy?" You lost your job? Praise the Lord! Your illness is back? Great is His faithfulness! Struggling through fill-in-the-blank? You should be so JOYFUL right now!

Trust me, I don’t think this is easy to do. And done in the wrong way could be disastrous. Much discernment is needed, and the word of God should be central in the conversation. But I was jarred a few months ago, when I said to a friend – who had struggled with singleness, but had gotten married and pregnant before their first year was over – “wow, God is so faithful to you!” And yes, I was able to tell her that He was faithful during those years that she struggled. But just not in the same way as I did when He had so sweetly answered her prayers.

So yes, He was (and still is) faithful to her. Just as He had been every day of her life. Just as He had been with me through my unemployment; as He is now through ongoing migraine issues. Faithful.

But back to my first (weird) point. As I read the Holy Spirit inspired words of James, I see that:

1) He is telling believers (my brothers), to count it all joy when;

2) We meet various kinds of trials.


1) Our faith is being tested so that;

2) Steadfastness (perseverance, NIV) can be produced.

Why would we want steadfastness/perseverance in our faith?

1) So that that steadfastness/perseverance in our faith will take its full effect (finish it's work NIV), therefore;

2) We may be perfect (mature, NIV) and complete, lacking in nothing.

Count it all joy? When I meet trials? Really? YES! Why? Because your faith is being tested. But why? Why is it being tested? Because the testing produces steadfastness/perseverance in your faith. So what, why should I care? I don't want to be tested! So that steadfastness/ perseverance will have its full effect/finish it's work, which is that we may be perfect/mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

What does it mean to be perfect/mature and complete, lacking in nothing? The only thing I can think of is that when we are glorified. When we are finally with Him. Without sin. Perfectly and completely made like His Son. Home.

Going further: God uses trials to test our faith, and when put to the test, we must turn to God (James 1:5-8) when we don't know what to do. We must have faith that when we ask, He will give us wisdom. We must be humble enough to know that we can't do it on our own. He wants us to realize our utter dependence on Him.

It seems to me that these "various kinds of trials" are the means by which God prepares us for glory.

We Christians are strange creatures, are we not? Born in sin, saved by His grace. But still not seeing the point. This life that we live in this fallen world is brief. It is fleeting. We are in the wilderness, making our way Home. And this life is not all about us. Not all about comfort or "good things" (which, let's face it, are really just things that we want). This life is readying us for Heaven. To be in perfect relationship with God, which is what we were created for. And all for His glory. Our good, yes, but ultimately for His glory. And He knows what "our good" is so much better than we do.

Hopefully when a dear friend in Christ is going through a trial, I will be able to point him or her to the words of James. Count it all joy! Trust the Lord through this. You are being prepared for glory.

We Rest on Thee lyrics:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!

We go not forth alone against the foe;

Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,

We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

Yea, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!

In Thy dear Name, all other names above;

Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,

Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,

And needing more each day Thy grace to know:

Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,

“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!

Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;

When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,

Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

Words: Edith G. Cher­ry, cir­ca 1895.

Music: Fin­land­ia, Jean Si­bel­i­us, 1899

* blogged after praying this morning "all that matters is that You love me." John 3:16

Friday, June 3, 2011

Studying Proverbs

Have decided to study Proverbs during my quiet times (with occasional breaks back to Leviticus). After studying Proverbs 31 for awhile, decided to get to the whole book!

Zeroed in on 1:1-7.

Verse 1 - The opening: these are the proverbs of Solomon*, son of David, the very king of Israel who was a man after God's own heart.

Verse 2 - To know - wisdom** and instruction. To understand - words of insight.

Verse 3 - To receive - instruction in wise dealing (in righteousness, justice, and equity).

Verse 4 - To give - prudence to the simple. Knowledge and understanding to the youth.

Whoa. These reflect RESPONSIBILITY. Also, a readiness to obtain wisdom. To seek it. To learn from it. And to use it to help others.

Who does this, and how does he/she go about it?

Verse 5 - The wise hear and increase in learning. The one who understands obtainsguidance.

Verse 6 - To understand proverbs and sayings. To understand the words of the wise and their riddles***.

Well, the wise person does the things in verse 2-4. But how? These last two verses made me think about hearing. And the difference between active and passive hearing. If one is actively hearing, then they will increase in learning. Passively hearing/listening? I'm thinking that person will not increase in learning. The person in verse 5 hears in such a way that increases his/her learning, and obtains guidance to understand proverbs, sayings, the word and riddles of the wise.

Verse 7 - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."****

Fear/reverence for the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. If you are seeking wisdom, it's where you begin. Conversely, only a fool despises wisdom and instruction. Could it be that the passive hearer is a fool? And could the all out not-ever-going-t0-listen-person be a fool, as well?


I'm looking forward into studying this further. Just jotting down some thoughts before I got to bed. Kinda sleepy thoughts, hope they make sense when I'm more awake! Definitely want to pray that by God's grace He would make me yearn to be more wise than foolish. That my heart will set towards Him and His word. That He would continue to teach me with it as He has so faithfully, lovingly, gently has. That I would rely on Christ's strength (and now my "own") as the Holy Spirit works in me.


*1 Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore.

**What is wisdom? See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Hint: it's not the wisdom that this world celebrates.

***Made me think of when the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables in Matthew 13.

****Definitely made me think of the blessed man and the wicked man in Psalm 1. Not that a fool is always wicked, mind you. Just interested in the seemingly parallel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Swim in the Ocean of His Love

Borrowing a quote from Ray Ortland's blog:

“Then the church shall be brought to the full enjoyment of her bridegroom, having all tears wiped away from her eyes, and there shall be no more distance or absence. She shall then be brought to the entertainments of an eternal wedding feast, and to dwell forever with her bridegroom, yea, to dwell eternally in his embraces. Then Christ will give her his loves, and she shall drink her fill, yea, she shall swim in the ocean of his love.”

Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage to her Sons and to her God,” in Works(Edinburgh, 1979), II:22.

Made me think of Psalm 16:

Psalm 16

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

A Miktam of David.

1Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

2I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."

3As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

5The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.

6The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.

8I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.

10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

11You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.