Tag Archives: Trials

Guard Against Pride

Galatians 6:3-5 (KJV)

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Am I deceiving myself? When anyone thinks that they am something special or that they have accomplished mighty things by themselves they are deceiving themselves. Others may think they are a special person, or have special gifts and talents, and that is fine.  They might see gifts flowing through that person and realize God has blessed them in certain ways, and in their eyes that person is special.  But when they start believing that in their special-ness, and start to verbalize that belief, they are in trouble. Everything good that we do and everything we have comes from God. When we start to take credit for it then pride is rising up within us.  Pride will always deceive us. We must guard against the appearance of pride in our lives.

You cannot get rid of this pride.  It is an element of our flesh.  You can only learn to control it, but first you must acknowledge it is there.  Until you do that, you have lost the battle.  Once you acknowledge it is there, then you can start to guard against it.  The best way to guard against pride is to have somebody who will help you watch for it. It must be somebody you can trust and that you allow yourself to be accountable to. It always comes down to your decision to listen or not to listen. In my case my accountability partner is my wife. She sees pride in me very quickly and very easily. She knows when it is rising up. When I went through my struggles years ago with pride I came home and I gave her permission to point out pride anytime it came up in my life and I promised her that I would listen. Through these last 10 years I can’t tell you how many times my pride has crept back up. And every time she has corrected me I have listened.

How can she tell that pride is creeping up? My pride will manifest in several   ways.  The first is know-it-all pride. I demand that I know better about something and I boast that I know the right way. I demand in my way be listened to despite her saying that it will hurt or it’ll do damage. Or I might diminish someone else’s ability.  These are all signs of know-t-all pride.  Plus there’s the most obvious one – the person who always says “I Know” when you are trying to help them correct something.   They think they know, but since they have not done anything about it yet, they really don’t know.  I was there and still find myself there a lot.  When I get in these situations, my wife is quick to point them out now.  When I listen to her I can look back and see how I was wrong and I go and ask her forgiveness. This is the one I struggle with the most.

Another area of pride is needing to be in control. I was always a very controlling person. I had to have my way, or I had to have my way followed.  I want to direct the choir, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what we are singing! But I’ve learned it it’s much better to roll with the punches so to say. It is easy for her to point out when I get controlling because once she says something I usually recognize it right away and I back off. In most cases I have not been given the authority to be in control. Turns out I’m robbing that authority from somebody else. I must guard against this all the time.

These are the two types of pride that I struggle with the most.  Some other types are vanity, a haughty spirit (arrogance),  unapproachable pride, spiritual pride, and so on.  I challenge you to ask God to show you the ways pride rises up in your life. I pray God will send an accountability partner to you that can help you with your pride so that you do not think you are something when you are nothing. The last thing we need to do is to be deceiving ourselves.  Because when we deceive ourselves, we certainly deceive others.  Deception is never God’s  way!

Proving your own work is not prideful. It is showing that we have done the research and done what God has asked us to do.  God desires to work through us to accomplish His means not our own. So when you are looking over the works of your hands, the words that come out of your mouth and the thoughts that are in your heart, who gets the glory for those? When you prove these things out, do they bring glory to you or to God? If they are bringing you glory then there is something amiss. But if they are bringing God glory then your work is proven and you can rejoice in it.

I often get many compliments on the beauty of the poems and songs that God gives me and I write down. It is imperative that I do not think these songs and poems come from me. I cannot start to think that I created them.  They are not the work of my mind and my words, they are God’s. When I start to think they are mine, I am in trouble.  It is then that I will start to accept the glory for myself. It is my obligation to deflect all the glory to God and let people know that these words were given by God and I am just a vessel. Even

Now we come to what seems like a contradicting from verse 2 where Paul writes that we should bear one another’s burden. He now says we should bear our own burdens. But both are true. We need to lift one another up with intercessory prayer and help others through the trials and tests that they face. That is one of our primary calls as Christians – top intercede.  Another is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:11-21).  Both have to do with bearing the other persons burden.  At the same time we must make sure that we are walking on the straight and narrow. We must be doing what God is asking us to do and not becoming proud or boastful about it. Then we are putting the other person first and not ourselves.

If we are not bearing our own burden then we will find ourselves drifting away from God instead of drawing near to him. There is no middle ground. You’re always going one direction or the other and I have convinced that if you’re falling away from God you’re not bearing your own burden. You’re not studying the word as you should be or you’re not spending time with God In prayer. You’re not praising Him as you should be. You’re taking the glory for yourself instead of giving the glory to Him. That’s what happens when you don’t bear your own burden. These are all things that you should be doing on a regular basis. And you should be doing them with joy but God loves a cheerful Giver. He loves it when you give yourself to him wholeheartedly.

Through your day today remember to bear your burden and bear your brother’s burden. Imagine if you’re bearing his burden and he’s bearing yours on a daily basis!  When trouble comes, you are there to help each other through.  When the storms arise, you offer a safe haven to talk and weep about the pain and suffering that is going on.  When it’s time to rejoice, you rejoice together.  Neither of you think of himself as better or superior, and n either of you take credit for the success of the other.  That goes to God!  This is how it should be.  This is the love of Christ manifesting itself in our lives.

 That’s really all Paul is after here.  He wants us to follow Christ, and give of the love that He gave to us.  Let us all go and do so!

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A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer : Chapter 1C – Prayer is Faith-In-Action

Our third definition of prayer is an obvious choice. When we pray, we are acting on faith that God will hear answer. Prayer is an action that we take, and the amount we pray, along with the fervency of our prayers, dictates exactly how much action we are willing to put into our praying. I believe God loves it when we really put a lot into praying. I have to admit that my prayer life is not where it should be in my mind. I am hopeful that doing this study again will re-energize my prayer life so that I am taking action when it is needed.

Let’s start in James 1:2-3 which says:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

This verse shows us that there is a purpose for every trial. That is why we should consider it joy when these things come up. One of the biggest benefits of a trial is that they exercise our faith. Now, we all know in the natural world that exercise will make one stronger in whatever area they focus that exercising. If I want to be stronger in my legs, I will walk or run. That is what we do!

And we also know that practice makes perfect, right? If someone wants to learn a musical instrument, they will never do it if they don’t practice (unless God decides to perform a miracle for them). If I want to be a doctor, I will have to spend a lot of time studying. If I want to do sales, I must find new customers, and that means knocking on a lot of doors and perfecting my skills. No matter what I want to do, it will take persistence.

I have been in sales for over 35 years. My current position is an Independent agent for Aflac Insurance. When I started with Aflac, I needed to find my own customers. What this involved was going to businesses I knew or didn’t know and trying to get an appointment with the owner. One of the big advantages I had was that I knew people in over 500 businesses due to my previous sales experience. We learned a script that worked, and we customized it to our own style. Even with the terrific contact list I had and the rapport I had previously gained with these businesses, I still could only get an appointment with about 1 out of 15. When I started knocking on doors where I did not know anyone, that ratio went down. It took a lot of exercising my sales skills to become successful.

Faith is no different. The more we put it to work – the more we exercise it – the better we get at it. Putting our faith into action trough prayer helps us make it through those trials and tests that come our way. That I why we should be joyful n trials – they are the best means to exercise our faith! We see this truth throughout the bible. Trials come upon a person or someone they know, they put their faith in action through prayer, and their situation improves. Let’s look at some examples:

Abraham was worried abut his nephew Lot. The young man had chosen the lush valley that was around Sodom, and had been enticed to live in that wicked city. God revealed to Abraham that he was going to destroy Sodom. Abraham exercised his faith in conversational prayer with God. He kept asking for more and more mercy to be granted to Lot, and God honored Abrahams faith. He removed Lot from Sodom before it was destroyed. This story can be found in Genesis 18:16-33.

Another time, Abraham had caused a problem himself. It seemed he was afraid Abimelech the king would kill him and take his wife, so he told Abimelech Sara was his sister. Abimelech thought that was great and married Sara. God was quite displeased with this, so he made all of Abimelech’s other women barren. Upon seeing this, Abraham prayed to God, and God lifted their barrenness. (Genesis 20:17)

Moses interceded for the sins of Israel more than once. The most incredible one to me was in Exodus 32. Moses had been on the mountain with God for a long time, so the people enticed Aaron to make idols to worship. God was all set to destroy the whole nation and build a new nation starting with Moses. But Moses put his faith into action by praying to God, and the bible says “God repented of the evil he thought to do”.

Joshua was in the middle of a battle and wanted to finish it, but it was near the end of day. Joshua did the unthinkable – he asked God to extend the day so he could finish the fight. And God did so! He stopped the sun and moon in place for a day so Joshua would finish off his enemy. Now that’s a great exercise in faith! (Joshua 10:12-14)

Samson had been deceived and had lost his strength. They put his eyes out and ridiculed him. But in the end, Samson prayed to God that he could have his strength back one more time, and he pulled down the Philistine temple, killing over 1,000 of Israel’s enemies in one act. Supernatural strength through one simple prayer. (Judges 16:25-30)

Elijah prayed it would not rain, and it did not. Then he prayed it would rain, and it did. (James 5:17-18)

When Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, the king who cast him in actually prayed and fasted for him, and that prayer worked! (Daniel 6:16-20)

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Prayer – faith in action – gets God’s attention very time. The truth is that God rewards our faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Did you catch that – God rewards those that diligently seek Him. How do we seek Him – through active prayer! The Psalmist says in Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

The way I use my words with God are either praise or prayer.  When we pray in faith, believing that He will reward that faith, God is pleased.  We can make this Psalm a reality in our lives every day.  I don’t know of anyone who comes to God with prayer because they don’t think it will work.  That would be plain silly.  That would be like turning the oven on to bake something and expecting it not to work!  If it’s not going to work, why turn it on!  If prayer is not going to work, why pray!  That is why prayer is our faith taking action.  And it will produce results!

One more verse I’d like to take you to is James 5:16 which states

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I covered this verse in a post a few weeks ago that you can find HERE. When we put our whole heart into a prayer it takes that prayer to another level. This may be a spur of the minute prayer in which you reach deep down inside yourself and reach the throne of God, or it may be a prayer that you have prayed for someone many times, desiring God to move. Either way, if it is with fervency – with action in your spirit, it avails much. To me that means it moves God.

I do not believe that it means a miraculous healing will take place immediately, although it may. God is, and always will be, in charge of the timing of answers. He will bring things about in His time. When I came down with cancer, many people prayed earnestly and fervently for an immediate healing. And He could have done that – I have no doubt. But so much good has come out of this fight, and so much more will. God knew what He was doing. He always does!

Faith-in-action – that is what prayer is. Our words take our faith to God. Then He moves! What a great gift He has given us in this gift of prayer. The next, and last definition of prayer is my favorite one. I hope you’ll stay tuned!

Going Through

James 5:10-11 KJV

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

There are so many examples in the bible of people who have persevered through adversity and come out on top.  We could spend days going through the whole list.  I’m glad James narrows it down to the prophets for his example here.  If not, we could look at Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Gideon, – on and on the list goes.  The fact is that I cant think of anyone who had clear sailing while serving God.  There were intense in the lives of everyone we hold dear to our faith.  And everyone of them endured through those trials.  In fact, isn’t that what we draw the most strength from?

James says we should look at the prophets first in looking for those who endured.  The prophets who told the nation of Israel what God is going to do, an hat they should do in response.  I think of Isaiah, who was the most positive of prophets and was given the most vivid prophecies of the coming Messiah.  I am sure Isaiah wanted more than anyone to see those prophecies come to pass.  I imagine he longed for that day, but he never saw it.

I think of Jeremiah, who over and over again told the nation of Israel that if they did not turn back to God, they would be taken into captivity just like the northern kingdom had already been taken.  He was beaten, put in stocks (Jer 20:1-2), had a death sentence pronounced over him (Jer 26:11), and as left for dead in the mud (Jer 38:6).  Yet he never stopped giving the words God was giving him.  He stuck to the message of doom despite the opposition.

I think of Ezekiel who delivered his message partly in Israels homeland and partly in captivity.  He preached a message of doom and judgement for years and saw much of his words come to pass.  Once in captivity, he preached a message of op for a future Israel free from captivity.  He was told to bake his bread over cow dung for 390 days as he lay on his side to prophecy (Ezek 4:9-15).

I think of Daniel, who was taken into captivity.  He decided to not eat the king’s food.  His buddies were thrown into the fiery furnace, where they received a great deliverance.  He was thrown into the lion’s den, only to be spared by almighty God.  He waited for answers from God, yet never turned away.

Shall I continue?  The point James is making is that if we are people of God, and He is working in our lives, there will be trials.  People will mock us as they did all of those listed above.  We can expect all of this and more.  If those men who God entrusted with His inspired word were persecuted, why should we think anything different will befall us?

Then he brings Job to our attention.  The bible tells us Job was upright in all his ways (Job 1:8) yet God allowed satan to afflict him.  His outcome was great but what he went trough would shatter anyone. I often question if I would stay the course if I lost everything, absolutely everything, in the course of a few hours.  It is the most tragic story in the bible.  But Job remained faithful and was rewarded in the end.

We are to endure with patience.  Wait the trials out.  Not get anxious over them.  Allow God to do what he will, or allow what He will, and we just trust Him.  Here are a few scriptures to remember when going through  hard time.

Prov 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

1 Cor 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 40:31  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Phil 4:6-7   Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Matt 6:34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

Be blessed

Listen and Be Quiet

James 1:19  KJV

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

This verse is golden in my book.  It is an area where I struggle everyday.  Isn’t it odd how the simplest things can trip one up in their pursuit of a Godly character?  The truth contained in this verse is advantageous in all areas of life, and we should give all diligence to carry out this assignment as if our lives depended on it.  We will all find our lives so much smoother if we can do that, and the sooner the better.  Let us begin.

Wherefore means “as a result”.  This verse is addressing the previous 18 versus and tells us what we should do once we have realized the truth of that section.  Let’s  quickly capsulize the truths contained there for those who may just be joining our study.

  1. Have joy in temptations, trials and tests
  2. The reason to have joy is because these things are sent to us so that our faith will work to produce patience
  3. When patience has full become a reality in our life, and we have learned to wait on God with joy, we will be ready to fulfill the plan God has for our lives
  4. If we need wisdom to understand the reason for these trials, we must ask with a faith that does not waver, for if we do not we will be unstable in all our ways, and will receive nothing from God
  5. We must seek the lower seat, not to be noticed in our trials or our good deeds, for God will raise us up at the right time
  6. When we endure the trials with patience, we will be rewarded with the crown of life
  7. We should always realize that God is not putting the trial on us, but our heart’s lust has brought it on.  God merely uses our trails as a means of perfecting us.  He only gives good gifts.  We must not be in error on this point, but rely on His word to guide us through.

Wherefore – as a result, we should be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

We must be swift to hear because our God is always speaking to us.  I have become so aware of this since May of last year as my life slowed down and I went through cancer treatments.  I have been able to hear His voice very clearly as I quieted down.  As a result, you have been able to receive the studies on Philippians, Ephesians, Psalms and now James.   Thousands have read the 500+ poems, songs and Psalms the Lord has given me.  All because I learned to listen.

Beyond that, we must learn to listen to those around us.  I know that I am a terrible listener.  I have a habit of interrupting people, I  don’t remember conversations and what was said, and I am always thinking about what I will say in response when I am in a conversation.  It is terrible and I need God’s help to change this.  I know this is my pride creeping in all the time.  Why do I say that?

First, Pride will interrupt because I feel like what I have to say is more important than allowing the other person to finish first.  Pride assumes it knows where the the person is going, and has an answer before the do finish.  Pride thinks it knows it alll, so can bump in anytime.

Second, pride isn’t concerned with remembering what was said in a conversation.  It deems it as unimportant in the long run and only keeps those things  it deems important/   The problem is that I don’t remember the little things, like kinds names and the hobbies/sports they are into.  Like if they are going on vacation or trying something new in their lives.  These things are unimportant to me when I have pride because they don’t affect me, but in reality they are very important to them, and if I can remember them, it will be better for me.

Third, when I think about what I am going to say next, it is also pride because what I have to say is more important to me than listening to what they are saying.  At least I deem it to be so.  These bad listening habits all stem back to pride.  I know I have pride, and I continually need to keep an eye on it.

Being slow to speak follows right along with that, as you can obviously see that I speak to quickly all the time.  If I can listen better, I will slow down on speaking,  Another good things about being slow to speak is that I will take time to think about what I am going to say so that it does not hurt the hearer.  Boy, do I need to practice that in my marriage!  I am regularly saying things that hurt my wife, and I don’t even think about how what I am going to say could be taken wrong.  I must be more careful there.

And being slow to wrath should be obvious to all of us.  Being angry is never justified unless it is a righteous anger over things in the Kingdom.  Even Jesus displayed that toward the scribes and pharisees.    That is the only time we see this side of Jesus.  Wrath, or anger, is also a result of pride when it is aimed at another individual.  It says that I have a right to be angry because you have done something to me to make me angry.  Usually it comes because of what we deem as something they have done to offend us.

I have saying I try to live by when it comes to being offended – “f I am offended I need to ask myself what miserable piece of flesh s left in me that can still be offended?”  We are supposed to be dead to the flesh and walking in the spirit.  Only my flesh can get offended by earthly things.  Living above that is essential in this life.

These three little things – swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath – are so essential to our effective witness.  People see these things in us and will  wonder how we can remain so calm, so caring and so in tune with what is going on.  They will wonder how we can do that, and this will give us an opportunity to witness.  Remember, James is tying this in with His discourse on facing trials.  These three principles should be specially practiced when we are going through tough times.  Swift to hear the voice of God guiding us through, slow to speak to anyone else about the troubles we are having, and slow to wrath as we try to survive and make it through.

I know this post has run rather long (1155 words so far), but it s essential that we learn these things.  i easily could have broken it up and talked about each one of these three things in a separate post, but I felt it important to keep them together.  I hope you don’t mind.  I wonder how you are doing with these three things in your life?  I hope you are doing better then me!

Good From Bad

James 1:13-15 KJV

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

I’m sure you have all heard it many times, just as I have.  “God is just testing me!”.  It implies that God has put a temptation or a test before us to see if we will pass this certain test, or to see if we will learn a lesson necessary for our growth as we go through this circumstance.  It also implies that God will use any means to cause our growth in His kingdom.  Any of these scenarios are wrong.  God does not test us, tempt us, put trials upon us, or bring about bad circumstances so we will grow.  We will touch on this in the next lesson, but God only gives good gifts.  God does’t even consider anything evil – it is not in His vocabulary.

However, God will use every situation that comes into our life for our good.  Every single time!  No exceptions!  Do you really believe that?  I do – I not only believe it, but I know it is true.  How do I know this?  Because the word tells us so.  You all know the verse.  Romans 8:28 :

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The key words in this verse are the first three.  “And we know”.  This is something we have to know, something that has to be so true to us that whenever a temptation or trial comes our way, we immediately know that God will use it for our good in the end, no matter how bad it looks.  Our human nature tends to look at the worst case scenario, but God looks  at what He can teach us through the situation and He goes about doing just that.  if we encounter a financial problem, God will use it to teach us about integrity with our possessions.  if it’s a family problem, God will use it to teach us about humility or servant-hood or perhaps holding our tongue.  If it’s a problem with a co-worker, God will use it to teach us to love our neighbor, or to rejoice with those that rejoice.  Whatever come sour way, God can use ti for our good.  No exceptions!

James is very clear here where the temptations and tests come from – our own lusts.  Of course, we do not want to admit that, and even in the end we will often blame someone else for our troubles.  But it really all boils down to our own lusts – they get us in the most trouble.  The chief culprit is pride.  I believe pride causes every problem we have with other people, and many of the problems we have on our own.  Now sickness can come without pride being involved, and it will, but will we handle the sickness with pride.  Saying things like – “I can take care of myself!”  “I’m OK, I don’t need to go to the doctor”  “I prayed and God will heal me,  I don’t need medicine” – all imply we know better – Pride!  Even the last one about praying is prideful, because it signifies that God has to heal me – He has no choice!  I beg your pardon!!!!!  God will decide when and how you will be healed – your prayers please Him immensely, but He will work His timetable.  Prayer can speed up the process, or, if you pray wrong, it can slow it down!  This is true with any pray about any situation.

I find the best thing to do when I am going through a test or trial, or when I am facing temptation, is to bow before Almighty God and ask for mercy!  Then I must acknowledge His mercy at all times – He is always working for my good.  It doesn’t matter what comes, He is working for my good.  It doesn’t matter how bad it gets, He is working for my good.  We can look at example after example in the word of how God uses our circumstances to help us grow and minister to those around us. Consider these situations (if you’re not familiar, please read the verses listed):

Abraham tells Pharaoh His wife is His sister to avoid trouble – twice! Gen 12:19-29, Gen 20:1-18)

Joseph sold to the Midianites and taken to Egypt (Gen 37:1-18) To find out all that happened, read the rest of Genesis – quite a story!

Moses reluctant to do what God asks from the burning bush (Exodus 3)

Samson gives away the secret of his strength (Judges 16)

I could go on and on, but you get the point.  All of these people trusted in their pride (in Josephs case t was the brothers that were prideful).  But even though they got into trouble,God turned that trouble for good.  He does every time!  You are no exception!  If you think you are, that’s pride!

Trials, tests and temptations come because of of our own lust or pride, but God will always bring good out of it if we trust Him to do so, and if we know that He will work all things for our good.  This is why we can have  joy in tribulation – yes I’m back to that!  This is why I live in Proverbs 3:5-6.  To me, these two verses are the ultimate expression of knowing that He is always there for me!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.   In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Obtaining the Crown of Life

James 1:12  KJV

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The first 11 verses all lead up to this one.  The blessing that comes from enduring temptation is nothing short of amazing.  We will talk about the crown of life in a moment, but let’s take a look at the other blessings that come from enduring temptation.

The word endureth here is a very interesting word. It literally means to remain under, speaking of staying under a load which has been put on you.  This means we have born the burden of the load until it is finished.  It does not mean that we escape the load, or that we pass it on to someone else, or that we decide to only go part way through a find a means of escape.  It means we carry the load until it has been taken from us – in this case by God.  It also means to persevere, which is to continue in a course of action even if it is difficult or there seems to be no solution.  It is translated endure throughout the New Testament.

As you loom at that definition, does that define how you go through temptation and trial?   Remember, James told us to count it joy when these trials come.  When you enter into a difficult, almost impossible area of temptation or trial, are you determined to go through it all the way to the end?  Or do you look for a way of escape?  The blessing comes with enduring to the end.  God is with you every step of the way, even if you don’t feel Him there, even if you can;t sense His presence.  Many times, God is working the hardest on us when we don’t even know He is working. the  blessing comes when the test is over.

What blessings do we receive?  Joy comes when we realize we have gone all the way through.  Our faith grows because we know if God brought us through that trial He can do it again.  We gain peace because we know, with God’s help, we are through with that battle. Hope is restored that God is with us in every situation.  Our patience is stretched and therefor will be able to withstand more in the future.  Our testimony is alive and vibrant because we can tell others God can help them through their trials as well.  We gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding into the ways of God. because of what we learned as we endured.  We have a deeper sense of how much God loves us, and experience an extra dose of His mercy and grace.  All of these things come as a result of enduring through the trial.

Then there’s the crown of life.  This crown is mentioned here and in Revelation 2:10, where it is promised to those who are faithful until the end, similar to the terms given here.  The crown of life is not associated with eternal life. It is a reward given to those who endure through trials and tests, those who persevere despite the odds, who trust God to bring them through.  It is given at the end of the trial or temptation. I believe it is worth the effort.  I plan to remain faithful and receive that crown from Jesus!  How about you?

Working through the trials that come our way is one of the most rewarding things any Christian can do. The blessings that come to us once the trial is over are well worth the battle, no matter how long it takes to get through it.  I pray that every one of you will not avoid the various trials and tests you will face, but will work through them with the strength of the Lord holding you up, and with your faith and patience fully on display.  This is a testimony that will speak to others in a most dynamic way.  Endure to the end, my friends!

 

Mercy In Trials

 

My pastor and I were talking yesterday about the trials God allows.  We believe similarly on this and had a wonderful discussion.  The conclusion that we came to was that God certainly does not cause the trial or test, He allows it to come into our lives to grow our faith.  The thing we don’t often see is the mercy that God gives us when we are in that trial.  Instead of piling one trial on top of another, God displays mercy over and over again while we are going through the main trial. Let me take some time to explain because I have seen this in my own life so beautifully.

In December of 2015, I woke up one night thinking I might be having a heart attack.  My chest was tight as I had never had it before, and my arm was hurting.  My wife got me to the emergency room where they gave me some nitro and ran an EKG.  No heart attack.  It was pneumonia.  MERCY.  I stayed overnight an was released the next day with medications.  Then at the end of January I came down with pneumonia again.  This time it was a 4 day hospital stay.  My doctor said he wanted to check a little deeper because something else must be going on.  I asked him if he was thinking cancer, and he said he was hoping to eliminate that.

He ran a CT scan first.  When he called me back to his office for the results, he told me that the radiologist said something he had never heard one say before.  He looked at the lesions on mu bones that the scan showed and told my doctor they were Myeloma lesions.  My doctor said radiologists never say that, but this one did.  So my doctor ordered a more sure urine test to look for the particular protein that goes with Multiple Myeloma.  And it was very positive.  I had Multiple Myeloma.  But there was no panic in me.  There was a calm assurance that God would take care of us.  I had no doubt. MERCY.

My doctor was amazed.  Usually, before someone is diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, they have experienced severe back problems, ruptured disks, bone pain, maybe kidney problems or even dialysis.  all things things before the diagnosis. I had none of these.  MERCY.  In fact, I felt quite healthy. MERCY.  But a bone marrow biopsy would be the final test to make sure.  That showed my blood was 63% cancer cells!  Stage 2 out of 3, bordering on 3.  God revealed it just in time. MERCY.

I chose the University of Iowa for treatment because their long term remission rates were much higher than anyone else in the country, only 3 hours away.  MERCY.  My daughter lives within 15 minutes of the hospital so my wife had a place to stay when we were down there.  MERCY.  I would be undergoing two stem cell transplants in the next 4 months.  Very vigorous treatment for long lasting results.  My good health allowed this. MERCY.

The harvest went well in May as they sued my own stem cells, and in June of 2016 I had the first stem cell transplant.   A week after the transplant I woke up one morning and my right shoulder would not work ( I am right handed).  It was painful the first couple days, but then the pain went away.  MERCY.   I thought I had somehow re-injured my shoulder from some tears I had 5 years earlier, so we tied physical therapy.  No pain.   My arm worked from the elbow down, but nothing from the shoulder.

We left he hospital and came home in that condition.  But through the summer we ran some tests and it was determined I had Parsonage-Turner Syndrome.  No known cause, no known cure.  The interesting thing is that only 12% of sufferers have no pain, and I was one of them.  MERCY.    During this time, The Lord started giving me poetry again – lots of poetry, and I started these blogs on WordPress.  Daily he would give me words to share.  MERCY.

The summer went well and I went in for the second transplant in September.  Much harder this time, I was very weak when I came home and slept in the living room on the main floor for 6 months.  God led me to start a study in Psalms on this blog, and that would take me over a year to finish.  A year of intense reflection on the Psalms will change a persons perspective, and it certainly did mine.  MERCY.

I am going to stop there, except to say I never had any pain through this whole thing.  MERCY.  I never had mouth sores from the chemo. MERCY.  I never had any bone pain from the  Myeloma, which it is common to have.  MERCY.  I had one fall but it was limited in damage.  MERCY.  My shoulder is almost fully restored when they said it would most likely be at least 2 years before it came back, and then would most likely be very limited.  MERCY.   All of my medical bills were covered, and my income was replaced by a an Aflac cancer policy I had sold to myself (I am an agent).  MERCY.  I had prayer warriors all over the world praying for me and there prayers were constantly felt and answered.  MERCY.

You can easily see where I am going here.  During my trial, I did not focus on the difficulty of the trial,  I focused on how good God was being to me – how merciful He was to me over and over again.  And this built my faith to a point where I completely trust Him to bring me through anything I may face.

I have rambled on long enough on this post, but I wanted to show you how mercy is so prevalent in our lives before I discussed the double minded man in James.  We will get to him next time.