My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
Do you count it "all joy" when you fall into various trials? It's not an easy thing to do is it? It's hard to find joy when it seems like your life is falling apart. I speak from experience. I have had my fair share of trials. From a tumour the size of a grapefruit, to an incurable disease, to mistakes by doctors and a fall down a flight of stairs that left me partially disabled - I am, according to the above verse, to count those trials as "all joy". Seems a bit much to ask, but look at who wrote those words. James, the brother of Jesus, whose death is debated even to this day, prayed so much on his knees that they became calloused and hard. Some commentaries say he was stoned to death because he refused to deny the Lord. Others say he was beheaded. Either way, he endured his fair share of persecution as did the rest of the Apostles. Peter was crucified upside down on a cross. The Apostle John was boiled in oil - survived! - and was then exiled to the Island of Patmos where he would write the book of the Revelation. The Apostle Paul endured prison, snake bites, whippings, beatings, and shipwrecks. Knowing the extreme persecution each new believer faced, James still asked us to count our trials as "all joy" because they are necessary for us to grow in our faith. When our faith is tested we learn patience.
But we need to, as James suggests, let patience have it's perfect work. If we only look at our trials and all the bad things that seem to keep happening to us, our focus gets really distorted. We become depressed when nothing positive happens in our lives. We become discouraged, and if we don't see the real reason for our trials, we might even begin to doubt that God even loves us. Trials, sickness, hardships, call it what you will, if you are enduring them and you don't look at their ultimate purpose for your life, you will not count them as all joy.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him,
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven,
Throughout the week I like to look on the verse of the day on Biblegateway. I do this for two reasons - to help me focus on a particular scripture verse to memorize, and to read the entire chapter the verse is in, in order to keep it in context. I often find by doing this something else will jump out at me that God wants me to see so that I can write about it here.
The verse above comes after King Solomon had finished the Temple in Jerusalem. He and the people celebrated it's completion for twenty-three days, with offerings and sacrifices, music and praise. It was a joyful time and God had made His presence known by causing fire to come down from heaven to consume the burnt offerings (2 Chronicles 7:1). His glory filled the Temple and because it did, even the priests who were dedicated to Him could not enter the Temple. Try to imagine what that was like. Fire came down from heaven and this fire represented the glory of God. It completely filled the Temple and everyone who was there saw it, bowed with their faces to the ground and worshipped God. Imagine how you would be feeling if you had been there. Certainly you would be afraid. Fire from heaven is not a normal thing you see every day. You would also be in awe. You would be grateful, because as a person in that era, you would know about the gods of the other nations and you would now be comparing them to the Most High God. And you would realize without a doubt that there was only one God and all the rest were fake. You would also feel loved because the God of the universe had blessed your people by showing favour to you. The honour, the implications of that alone would be overwhelming. Would you ever be able to get off your knees?
But the day came when the celebrations ended and King Solomon sent everyone back to their homes. That night, God came to him and told him that He had heard his prayer (2 Chronicles 6) and reminded Solomon that He had chosen the Temple as a place for Himself, a house of sacrifice. Then He said:
While reading Colossians 1:9-14 I was struck by the prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the people of Colosse. He prayed that God would fill the people of Colosse with the knowledge of God's will, through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9). Why did he pray for that in particular? He answers that in the rest of the verse. So that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. By asking God to fill the people of Colosse with the knowledge of His will, Paul is asking for them to grow in their faith. And how do Christians grow? Through the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives. Where do we find wisdom and understanding? Through God's Holy Word. As we read it, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to its message and we grow in the knowledge of God's will.