At It's Finest

Do you feel like you’re in the middle - emotionally, financially, relationally? Your situation is better than it used to be, but you’re not where you know you’re supposed to be. In James 1:2-4, James tells us “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” For some background, the book of James is one of the oldest New Testament writings. James was a prayer warrior. He was also known as “Camel Knees” because his knees showed evidence of much time in prayer. He died a martyr. He was pushed from a building but didn’t die, so was beaten to death. He prayed the whole time he was being beaten. Most significantly, he was Jesus’ half-brother. Even though he grew up with Jesus, he questioned the idea of Jesus being the messiah until after he had seen miracles and the resurrection. In his book, he never refers to Jesus as his brother, but as Lord and Savior. I believe his words carry some weight.

James starts this passage with “count it all joy when”. WHEN. Not IF. We are going to face trials and they will come in all different types. Don’t be surprised when they come. It’s good to note that James is writing to converted and Jewish Christian’s who have been dispersed because of persecution. But he tells them to count it all joy!Trials are part of life but, we tend to ask “why” when we’re going through trials.  Know this, your trial could be divine. God is not trying to take you out. He has a purpose. The goal is not to quit in the trial but to go through it. Trials are different from temptation. Temptation lures you away from faith. Divinely purposed trials are like gold in a fire. The impurities rise to the top and the dross is skimmed off…and then the gold is put back in the fire. Trials perfect our faith. In trials we look for when it’s going to stop. We wait for God to intervene. We say “When” but James says to say “Win”. Stay with it. Go through it. Get the victory. Realize the truth that we are more than conquerors through Him. What are we winning - God’s purpose for our life fulfilled. How do we get through the trial? We have a choice. When you’re being hit from all sides, count it all joy. Joy is different from happiness. Joy conditions and sets the environment. Joy is the unrelenting thankful trust in God in spite of circumstances. Have feelings but don’t let feelings have you. Working on your mind, what you listen to and watch, helps you command the feelings. Don’t go by what you see. Go by faith in God. Faith is stepping out when you’re not sure, knowing God’s got you.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him. The trial of the cross was on the way to the benefit. There is something waiting on the other side of your trial. The devil will work to convince you that God is not a good father and will lie to you regarding your situation. And, enduring with joy does not mean we won’t experience pain. But in joy, we will have hope and purpose through the process. Joy yields patience. Trial produces active endurance, like a runner finishing a marathon, one step at a time. If we deal with trials opposite of faith we can become bitter, fearful, and full of doubt. It limits creativity. God is producing something in you so count it all joy, no matter what it feels like. God is more concerned with your character than your comfort. 

Set your mind and let God produce what He wants for your life. Faith is tested by trials so understand, faith is already there. All you need is already in you. You are tested to reach your potential. Let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Perfect doesn’t mean without flaws but finished rightly and with better maturity, matured to the reflection and nature of its purpose, God’s will for your life. Trust that God’s got something in mind for you. 

When is faith at its finest? Is it a good church service or a much needed miracle? Is it answered prayer or when everything falls into place? No. It’s in the middle of the deepest and darkest times. Think of the three in the fiery furnace, joined by a fourth. Think of David with Goliath declaring “Who are you compared to my God?”  Think of the thief on the cross saying “I believe!” and was with Christ that same day in paradise. It was Jesus on the cross, proclaiming “It is finished”. In the middle of the trial, faith is at its finest. The trial is working for you. It is producing everything needed to bring God glory. Don’t listen to the enemy. He’ll make it someone else’s fault. He does not want you to produce and bring what you have to the world. He wants you to stop in the middle. But faith is at it’s finest, not when everything is right, not when everything feels good but in the midnight hour when God turns it around and you win. 

You’re going to have trials. Are you going to complain? Retaliate? Give up? Count it all joy.  The question to ask is “Where am I going to grow through this?” Don’t get stuck in the middle. Maybe you’re in the trial because your faith needs to be perfected. If you will furnish the faith, God will furnish the finish. Trust Him. Don’t quit. And watch how He will bring about your victory.

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