Archives For Simple Thoughts

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. – James 1:2-4

The book of James is a very practical book that helps us to live out our faith and actually do it – not just read it or hear it!

James starts chapter one by telling us who it is he is talking to – “…the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”. He is talking to fellow christians. These were the people who were scattered throughout the world by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

count-it-all-joyJames jumps right into verse two by saying, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”. Joy in trials…really? I have been through my share of trials and it is very difficult to be joyful. But this is what God is telling us we should do – count it all joy!

WHY? Why are we to count the trials as joy?

Answer: Because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness – and steadfastness, when it is finished, helps us to be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James is telling us that the trials we are going through are not wasted times in our lives. They are not coincidence.  This “testing of your faith” is something that God wants to use in your life, my life, to make us more like Him.

That phrase “testing of your faith” is awesome when you break it down. “Testing” is a phrase that silversmiths would use when they wanted to purify silver. They would fill a pot with silver and then heat it up. At a certain temperature, all of the impurities would rise to the top and the silversmith would scoop the top layer off and discard it.

The silversmith would then look into the pot of silver. If he did not see his own reflection then he would repeat the process. This process, or the testing of the silver, was done until the silversmith was able to see his own reflection in the silver.

That is what God is doing with us! He is telling us that the trials or test that we are going through are there to challenge our faith and to make our faith more genuine. The tests are there to burn the impurities out of our lives, so that we will look more and more like Jesus. Each trial is there for a purpose – for God to look down and see more and more of himself in our lives.

So, how do you look at “trials of various kinds”? As nothing more than bumps in the road of life or something that will make you look more and more like Jesus?

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog entitled  Trusting God in the Middle of Political TurmoilI talked about how Habakkuk came to the realization that God was sovereign and in control of everything, even when we think everything is falling part. This conclusion was reached only after he had questioned God’s justice, but in the end realized his justice is far beyond  our comprehension.

Today, I want to continue talking about the prophet Habakkuk and give you 4 takeaways from this book that I believe we all can learn from and put into practice.

Takeaway #1: God is just and merciful, even though his people may not always understand his ways (2:4)

  • This goes back to the overall point of Habakkuk that God is sovereign and in control of everything! We must wait patiently for God’s plan to unfold and to believe that God will accomplish it.

Takeaway #2: Wickedness will eventually be punished, and the righteous will ultimately see God’s justice (2:5-20)

  • God has given us HIS promise that He will punish the wicked but it will be in HIS time – not our!

Takeaway #3: God uses some wicked nations to punish other wicked nations, but ultimately God will judge all nations (1:6 & 2:5-20)

  • God was the one that “raised up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who marched through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own”. God used the Chaldeans to begin to punish Judah.

Takeaway #4: The key phrase “but the righteous will live by faith” summarizes the path of life God sets for his people. (2:4).

  • The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes is continuing trust in God and clinging to God’s promises, even in the darkest days.

* Takeaways were taken from the ESV Study Bible

Just reading the title one would think that I am talking about the political scene in America in 2016, and I am. But I am also talking about the days during the life of Habakkuk. Little is known about the prophet Habakkuk but there is so much we can learn from this book of the Bible.

Habakkuk was a prophet to Judah. During this time, Judah was morally and spiritually corrupt (sound familiar?). They worshipped Baal. Offered their children to Molech (a Canaanite god) and allowed the temple to fall into ruin.

Judah was also in the middle of a very political turbulent time. Assyria has ruled Judah for over a hundred years but was beginning to weaken. Babylon would soon be growing into a world power.

The book begins with Habakkuk complaining (also sounds like 2016) about how God is letting sin go unpunished and that therefore there is no justice to speak of (v.2-4). God quickly responds to Habakkuk’s complaint with the following:

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.

Habakkuk 1:5-6

God was letting Habakkuk know that HE was in control of EVERYTHING! Look at verse six where it says, “I am raising up…”. God was telling Hubakkuk that He controls the political scene and uses nations for his own purposes. Just look at the book of Daniel.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;

Daniel 2:21

God is telling Habakkuk to wait on me and TRUST ME! I know what I am doing! I am doing something that you would not even believe if I told you.

So, in the mist of this crazy, turbulent political time in America, I am sure that God is trying to remind us of the same exact thing – wait on me and trust me! I know what I am doing.

There is peace found in knowing that God is sovereign and in control of everything!

When was the last time you actually stood in AWE of Jesus?

Today?

Yesterday?

Last week?

Last year?

The dictionary defines AWE as the following:

an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful

Have you felt that toward Jesus?

The old hymn says, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene”. A newer chorus says, “I stand, I stand in awe of You”.

But are we really doing that? Do we truly grasp who HE is and what HE has done for us? If we did, I am positive that we would stand in AWE of Him each and every day. Listening for Him to speak and then doing what HE has told us to do.

I am excited to introduce a song to my church entitled “At The Cross (Love Ran Red)”. This song was written by Chris Tomlin in 2014 and used several times at Passion Conferences. Here are the words to the first verse and chorus:

Verse 1:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies. There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide; where all the love I’ve ever found comes like a flood, comes flowing down.

Chorus:

At the cross, at the cross, I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You; I’m in awe of You. Where Your love ran red, and my sin washed white; I owe all to You, I owe all to You, Jesus.

Are you standing in AWE of Jesus today?

My prayer is that I would have this type of “AWE” toward Jesus Christ! An awe that compels me to give Him everything I have.