Although James addresses this letter to the “twelve tribes”, the Holy Spirit included it in the Bible for our benefit as well. We are brothers and sisters of the Christian Jews, James and Jesus Christ. It emphasizes the statement that Jesus made when He said “in this world, you will be offended”. Troubles will come our way, of that we can be sure. There is a reason God allows trials and temptations to come into our lives. God knows our maturity level and what decisions we will make in those trying times. He allows those times so we will know where we are spiritually. Most of the time, if not all the time, we find that we have a long way to go to get to where God wants us to be. When the trials come, do we whine and complain or do we accept the situation realizing that God has put us here so we learn to depend on Him? There is nothing more sobering than when we realize that we have done what Peter did when he said he didn’t know Jesus. Oh, I am sure that we would never verbalize that, but what do our actions tell those around us? Like Paul, we should always realize that we are not there yet, but we should be focused on getting there.
23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. — Mark 8:23-25 NLT
John tells us that if all the miracles that Jesus did were written down, all the books in the world would not be enough to hold them (John 21:25). What we read about is a sampling of the things He accomplished while He walked the earth as one of us. Those samples are given to show us not only His great love and mercy toward us but, also to show us that He uses all kinds of methods and people to demonstrate that love. Sometimes the healing was immediate, sometimes they were a process. Some required only a touch of the hem of His garment, others required a word and others a word and a touch from Him. He has the authority to answer our requests in any way or time frame He chooses. But know this, He always answers. Just because the answer wasn’t what we wanted to hear or did not come in the expected time does not mean that He didn’t hear and answer. Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. Paul could have said that God didn’t answer his prayer, but after the third time, Paul accepted “No” as the answer. God’s answers can be compared to a traffic light, green is “go”, yellow is “go slow” and red is “no”. We always want the green light, but when we have the red light, it gives others the opportunity to move. We must wait our turn. When we see the yellow light, we know that there is danger in proceeding, so we must be careful and prepare to wait, but be prepared to go when God gives us the green light. (Isaiah 40:31) The old saying that hindsight is 20-20 is true. When we look back over our lives, we can see clearly that God’s answer was the correct answer. The times we refused that answer is the times we experienced our troubles and sorrows.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Every day our natural, physical bodies are responding to the passing of time. God designed the human body to age chronologically, but until sin came into the world, the bodies did not “age”. The wasting away of our natural bodies is a result of sin. We see these outward changes and sometimes we are tempted to lose heart. But inside these old tents of clay is the real us, the us that is being renewed day by day. As we travel through our journeys here on earth, we have problems and troubles. These things are temporary and fleeting. They are as nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits us. We must train ourselves to focus on the unseen, eternal Spiritual things. If we allow our minds to focus on the things and people around us, we will be filled with doubts and fears. When we focus on things eternal and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we can live abundant, joy-filled lives. That is what God wants us to do. As humans, we must come to the conclusion that “we cannot”, but we can allow God to do all things through us. To do that, we need to fill our minds with bible verses that encourage us and sing songs of praise all day long. Listen to the Holy Spirit and we will be encouraged and renewed minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Then we can live in peace.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:26, 27 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
1 The Lord said to Moses,2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. — Leviticus 24:1 NLT
Consider the olive. The tree grows in stony soil where other trees cannot grow. A new tree is started with a seed or a cutting and then transplanted.It grows for seven years before it has any berries on it and it is about fourteen years before the crop reaches maturity. In Old Testament times, the fruit was harvested by shaking and beating the tree with a reed or a stick. This injures the tree so much that it will only produce fruit every other year. Once it starts to produce fruit, it will continue to produce fruit for centuries. After the fruit is harvested, it is pressed to get the oil from it. This oil was then used to keep the light in the Tabernacle lamps burning continually. Jesus said that we are now the light of the world. For us to be the pure light that we should be, we must go through much of the same process as the olive. God transplants us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light and we start on a journey. It will take some time for us to mature and produce fruit. We need to be shaken at times to get us out of our comfort zones. We need to be disciplined at times to get us back on the straight and narrow path. We have sinful, fleshly desires and those desires are not going to go away without a fight. So, God allows us to be pressed down until there is nothing left but a heart with pure motives. Then and only then are we able to be the light to the world and deliver it from the darkness of sin.
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.– 2 Cor. 4:8-10 NLT
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. — 2 Cor. 1:8-11 NIV
When we read these verses, we need to consider our brothers and sisters who live in places where persecution and imprisonment are still common practice today. They need our prayers and our encouragement on a daily basis. There are numerous testimonies from these Christians about being able to endure their harsh treatment because they received cards and/or knew that other Christians were praying for them daily. They, as Paul, have learned to rely on God to deliver them from deadly perils. Until recently we, in the free world, have not been subject to such unfair and brutal treatment. That time has passed and we are being tested here in America, as well as other so called free countries. Christians are being ridiculed, beaten to death and imprisoned for refusing to deny their faith and their beliefs. We need to pray and encourage each other daily. Our hope is still in Jesus Christ. He is our Redeemer, our Savior and our Lord. There is no other God that is capable of loving their followers and delivering them from every situation. We need to understand that some times that deliverance includes physical death. But we need to count it all joy and say along with Paul:
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. — Phil. 1:20, 21 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,so also you share in our comfort. — 2 Cor. 1:3-7 NIV
Everything that we have belongs to God. Whatever He has given to us is to be shared with those around us. The things with which God has blessed us should be held very loosely in our hands. They are to be used to bless others and further the work of the Kingdom here on earth. The early church understood and practiced this principle of giving and receiving. There are many verses that teach us to give to the poor, widows and orphans. We must open ourselves up to be channels of blessings. This is also true in Spiritual things as well as natural. In the Spiritual area, we don’t do quite as well in giving or receiving. God has given us the Comforter to comfort us in all situations and we need to learn to share that message with a hurting world. But, we also need to learn to accept that comfort when it is offered to us. Every one of us needs help in some area of our lives whether we want to admit it or not. As long as we deny it, the pain and the chaos will not go away. None of us can fix ourselves, even though, satan would love for us to believe that we can. Reach out and touch someone was a Biblical principle long before it was a commercial.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Eccles. 4:9-12 NIV
2 Corinthians 4: 14-18 (NLT) 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Can you imagine the power that was manifested when Jesus was resurrected from the grave? There must have been tremendous spiritual warfare occurring around that location and that time in history. Don’t you think satan realized his big mistake and knew that if Jesus arose from the dead and left that tomb, not only this battle, but the war, was lost. We have that power to use for God’s glory today. Our mortal bodies are rotting away, but our Spirits should be getting stronger each day as we allow God to renew them. Paul says the problems we have today are trivial and temporary compared to the glory they will produce. When we endure small problems here, they produce a greater glory that will last an eternity. So, each day we should be focusing on Jesus and looking forward to the things that we cannot see now, but God says when they are manifested in the future, they will last forever. So, when troubles seem many and satan is trying to defeat you at every turn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”